Hamilton equals Senna’s record of F1 wins at Suzuka

Lewis Hamilton achieved his hero’s record of 41 Grands Prix victories with a commanding drive at Suzuka.

The Mercedes driver won the Japanese Grand Prix on the opening lap thanks to a better start from his team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Just a week on from the struggle around Singapore’s Marina Bay street circuit, normal service was resumed for Mercedes as Hamilton led home Rosberg by 18.9 seconds, scoring their eighth one-two of the season.

By winning the Japanese Grand Prix, Hamilton has now equalled the three-time world champion Ayrton Senna with 41 victories and from his 162nd start, one more than the Formula 1 legend.

The championship leader is now 48 points clear of Rosberg with 125 available from the remaining five races, with Sebastian Vettel falling 59 points adrift after the Ferrari driver could only manage third.

The key moment came in the opening seconds, as Rosberg and Hamilton ran side by side through the first corners.

With the preferable inside line at Turn 2, Hamilton was able to edge Rosberg aside, leading to the latter running marginally off track, allowing Vettel and Valtteri Bottas to sweep by into second and third place.

Aside from one complaint shortly before his second pitstop after 31 laps about “vibrations so big” that left him “struggling”, Hamilton was never troubled through to the chequered flag.

Rosberg limited the damage to his team-mate by passing Bottas on lap 17 before the undercut worked on Vettel 13 laps later come the second round of pit-stops.

Behind Vettel was team-mate Kimi Raikkonen as Ferrari made its own undercut work on Bottas who, from third on the grid at the start, had to settle for fifth place.

Williams team-mate Felipe Massa’s race was ruined in just a  few hundred metres as the passing Daniel Ricciardo’s left-rear tyre collided with his own front-right.

Both drivers suffered punctures, with Massa also requiring a new front-wing from damage sustained on the slow crawl back to the pits.

Massa finished P17 and two laps down, with only Manor duo Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens and late retiree Felipe Nasr behind him.

Ricciardo was P15 and a lap adrift, a week after finishing second in the Singapore Grand Prix.

Red Bull team-mate Daniil Kvyat – whose car was completely rebuilt following his heavy crash in qualifying, requiring a new chassis, power unit and gearbox – endured a frustrating race and multiple issues as he could only manage P13.

From P13 on the grid, after serving a three-place penalty for causing a collision with Massa in Singapore, Nico Hulkenberg put in a fine sixth in his Force India, gaining ground at the start and then jumping both Lotus drivers at the first round of pit-stops.

Despite the Enstone-based team’s ongoing financial woes, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado were seventh and eighth, with the Toro Rosso pair of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr rounding out the points scorers.

Verstappen had started P17 after serving his own three-place penalty for stopping in a potentially dangerous place in qualifying after his car suffered an electrical failure.

Sainz had his own moment in the Japanese Grand Prix, hitting a bollard on the entry to the pitlane, forcing his pit crew into an unexpected front-wing change. He then lost out in a late battle with Verstappen.

As for McLaren, on Honda’s home track, Fernando Alonso could have done no more to suggest he wants a swift exit from his three-year contract…

During the race, Alonso bemoaned his lack of pace, saying “it’s embarrassing, very embarrassing”, before later labelling Honda’s power unit as “GP2” standard, followed by an exasperated cry of frustration.

Alonso eventually finished P11, with Jenson Button P16.

So not the most exciting Japanese Grand Prix but for championship leader Lewis Hamilton, this was an important victory. He matches his hero’s achievement and extends the points advantage over Mercedes team-mate.

Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka after 53 laps:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1h28m06.508s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    18.964s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    20.850s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    33.768s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    36.746s
6    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India/Mercedes    55.559s
7    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1m12.298s
8    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m13.575s
9    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m35.315s
10    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
11    Fernando Alonso    McLaren/Honda    1 Lap
12    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
13    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1 Lap
14    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
15    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1 Lap
16    Jenson Button    McLaren/Honda    1 Lap
17    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    2 Laps
18    Alexander Rossi    Marussia-Ferrari    2 Laps
19    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    3 Laps
20    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    Not running

Drivers’ standings:

1    Lewis Hamilton    277
2    Nico Rosberg    229
3    Sebastian Vettel    218
4    Kimi Raikkonen    119
5    Valtteri Bottas    111
6    Felipe Massa    97
7    Daniel Ricciardo    73
8    Daniil Kvyat    66
9    Romain Grosjean    44
10    Sergio Perez    39
11    Nico Hulkenberg    38
12    Max Verstappen    32
13    Felipe Nasr    17
14    Pastor Maldonado    16
15    Carlos Sainz    12
16    Fernando Alonso    11
17    Marcus Ericsson    9
18    Jenson Button    6
19    Roberto Merhi    0
20    Will Stevens    0
21    Alexander Rossi    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    506
2    Ferrari    337
3    Williams-Mercedes    208
4    Red Bull-Renault    139
5    Force India-Mercedes    77
6    Lotus-Mercedes    60
7    Toro Rosso-Renault    44
8    Sauber-Ferrari    26
9    McLaren-Honda    17
10    Marussia-Ferrari    0

Next race: Russian Grand Prix, Sochi. October 9-11.

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Rosberg takes pole at Suzuka as Kvyat crashes out

Nico Rosberg achieved his second successive pole position at the iconic Suzuka circuit for the Japanese Grand Prix, as a spectacular accident for Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat brought a premature end to qualifying.

Rosberg was fractionally faster than his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton during the first runs in Q3, taking provisional pole by a small margin of 0.076 seconds.

Rosberg had just improved by 0.007 seconds in the first sector when Kvyat put a wheel off the track turning in to the kink on the approach to the hairpin.

His Red Bull was spat off into the barrier on the outside, tearing off the left-hand side of the RB11 before digging into the gravel trap and rolling over.

The Russian walked away from the wreckage but the accident brought out the red flags and halted any hopes for Hamilton of striking back, thus Rosberg confirmed his first pole since May’s Spanish Grand Prix, and only his second all season.

The Williams of Valtteri Bottas set the third quickest time, just under four tenths adrift of Hamilton, and ahead of Singapore Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel.

Felipe Massa made a mistake at the chicane on his best lap and ended up fifth, just 0.010 seconds clear of Kimi Raikkonen, who complained of too much understeer in his Ferrari.

Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull and the Lotus of Romain Grosjean rounded out the top eight, ahead of the Force India of Sergio Perez and Kvyat, who both failed to set a time in Q3.

Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz, and Pastor Maldonado all failed to make the top ten shootout after a close battle at the end of Q2.

Hulkenberg lost out to Grosjean by 0.112 seconds, dropping the crucial time in sector one, while Sainz was slow in sector two (the Degners, the hairpin and Spoon), which meant he missed the cut by almost two tenths.

Maldonado was just 0.044 seconds further back in P13, followed by Fernando Alonso in the best of the McLarens, and Max Verstappen, who failed to take part in Q2 after stopping on track in the first part of qualifying when his Toro Rosso broke down with electrical problems.

Verstappen’s stranded car on the exit of the hairpin spoiled any hopes Jenson Button’s McLaren had of making it through to Q2.

The 2009 world champion earlier complained of problems with in correct engine settings on his first run, which required him to pit.

After aborting his second run because of the yellow flags, Button told his team firmly on the radio: “in the position we’re in we cannot make any mistakes” after winding up P16, just under two tenths adrift of team-mate Alonso.

Sauber suffered an even worse session, as both drivers had to abort their final flying laps.

Felipe Nasr complained: “I was on a good lap!” after qualifying P18, less than a tenth behind team-mate Marcus Ericsson, who spun under braking at Spoon Curve on his first run, after clipping the artificial grass with his right-rear wheel.

Will Stevens won the private battle of the Manor Marussias by default, after team-mate Alexander Rossi was late joining the session then also had to abort his flying lap due to the yellows.

Qualifying positions, Suzuka:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m32.584s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m32.660s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m33.024s
4    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m33.245s
5    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m33.337s
6    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m33.347s
7    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m33.497s
8    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1m33.967s
9    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes
10    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    No time
11    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m34.453s
12    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m34.497s
13    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m34.785s
14    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault No time
15    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m35.664s
16    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m35.673s
17    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m34.390s*
18    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m35.760s
19    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    1m38.783
20    Alexander Rossi    Marussia-Ferrari    1m47.114s

*Three-place grid drop due to a collision with Felipe Massa at the Singapore Grand Prix

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Victorious Vettel in Singapore as Hamilton retires

Vettel Singapore GP 2015

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel won the Singapore Grand Prix from pole as championship leader Lewis Hamilton retired with an engine problem.

The Ferrari driver led away from the start and negotiated one virtual safety car period and two full safety car deployments to achieve his third victory of the season and fourth in Marina Bay.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo finished second with Kimi Raikkonen completing the podium in the other Ferrari.

The second safety car reacted to a fan getting on the track, walking on the straight after the Anderson Bridge before climbing over the barriers.

Hamilton was running in fourth position when he reported a loss of power and though his Mercedes team spent several laps trying to find a solution, it decided to retire the car after the reigning champion dropped to P16.

It was Hamilton’s first retirement in twenty races, and Mercedes’ second engine problem in as many races following Nico Rosberg’s non-finish at Monza.

Rosberg finished fourth, 14.2 seconds adrift of Vettel, to cut Hamilton’s lead to 41 points, with Vettel now just eight points further back in third position.

After a quiet opening stint of the race, and with Ricciardo starting to close on Vettel as the leader’s pace dropped away, the virtual safety car was called into action when Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg collided at Turn 3.

Massa had just pitted and was rejoining the track when he met with Hulkenberg at the apex, with the Force India crashing into the barriers.

The race stewards deemed Hulkenberg was at fault and handed him a three-place grid drop for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Massa continued, but had to pit because of a puncture to his front-right tyre before he later retired with gearbox issues.

His Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas survived a gearbox glitch in the closing stages to finish fifth, ahead of Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat who pitted before the virtual safety car and dropped out of contention for a podium as a result.

Force India’s Sergio Perez was seventh place, holding off Max Verstappen, who fought back after failing to get away from the grid.

Toro Rosso got him going again and though he was a lap down, he fought back into the points. Was able to unlap himself when the safety car was deployed.

Following the second round of pit-stops, Verstappen was up in ninth and fought his way past Romain Grosjean to finish eighth.

His team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr lost several places when his car dropped into neutral, something that affected Massa and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso too, but Sainz rescued points with ninth after also passing Grosjean.

Verstappen was told by his Toro Rosso team to swap positions with Sainz on the final lap but did not do so.

Felipe Nasr scored the final point in the heavily-updated Sauber after a late pass on Grosjean with team-mate Marcus Ericsson P11.

Pastor Maldonado’s survived contact with Jenson Button to finish P12 with Grosjean stopping before the end but classified as P13.

It was a difficult day for McLaren-Honda, with Button and Alonso failing to finish. Both drivers forced to retire with gearbox problems.

The Manors were the last of the finishers with Alexander Rossi beating his team-mate Will Stevens to finish P14 on his Formula 1 debut.

So a brilliant victory for Sebastian Vettel. His fourth at the Marina Bay street circuit and the 42nd career in the sport.

Ferrari Singapore GP 2015 race

Singapore Grand Prix, race results after 61 laps:

1    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    2h01m22.118s
2    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1.478s
3    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    17.154s
4    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    24.720s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    34.204s
6    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    35.508s
7    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    50.836s
8    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    51.450s
9    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    52.860s
10    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m30.045s
11    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m37.507s
12    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m37.718s
13    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    Not running
14    Alexander Rossi    Marussia-Ferrari    2 Laps
15    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    2 Laps
–    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    Gearbox
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    Retirement
–    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    Power Unit
–    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    Power Unit
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    Collision

Fastest lap Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, 1m 50.041s (lap 52)

Drivers’ standings:

1    Lewis Hamilton    252
2    Nico Rosberg    211
3    Sebastian Vettel    203
4    Kimi Raikkonen    107
5    Felipe Massa   101
6    Valtteri Bottas    97
7     Daniel Ricciardo   73
8    Daniil Kvyat    66
9     Sergio Perez   39
10    Romain Grosjean    38
11     Max Verstappen   30
12    Nico Hulkenberg    30
13    Felipe Nasr    17
14    Pastor Maldonado    12
15    Fernando Alonso    11
16    Carlos Sainz    11
17    Marcus Ericsson    9
18    Jenson Button    6
19    Roberto Merhi    0
20    Will Stevens    0
21     Alexander Rossi 0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    463
2    Ferrari    310
3    Williams-Mercedes    198
4    Red Bull-Renault    139
5    Force India-Mercedes    69
6    Lotus-Mercedes    50
7    Toro Rosso-Renault    41
8    Sauber-Ferrari    26
9    McLaren-Honda    17
10    Marussia-Ferrari    0

Next race: Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka. September 25-27.

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Vettel lights up in Singapore to take Ferrari pole

Singapore GP 2015 qualifying

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel achieved his 46th career pole position in Formula 1 with a superb performance in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix.

The four-time world champion was the only driver to lap the Marina Bay street circuit in less than one minute, 44  seconds in qualifying, and he ends an unbroken run of 23 consecutive races of P1 slot for Mercedes.

The championship-winning team has struggled to be competitive so far in Singapore, and the best Lewis Hamilton could manage was the fifth quickest time, a massive 1.415 seconds adrift of Vettel.

Hamilton would later say it was down to the tyres. Not surprising following the controversy post-race at the Italian Grand Prix…

Vettel set the pace throughout Q2 and Q3, and found 0.4 seconds between his first and second runs in the top ten shootout to secure Scuderia Ferrari’s first pole position since the 2012 German Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo was second quickest for Red Bull, 0.543 seconds further back, while Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was third, just ahead of the Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat.

Nico Rosberg rounded out the top six, 0.115 seconds slower than his Mercedes team-mate Hamilton.

The Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen made just a single run in Q3, but he managed to split the Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas in seventh and Felipe Massa in ninth.

The teenager was only 0.122 seconds slower than Bottas, but 0.279 seconds quicker than Massa.

Romain Grosjean’s Lotus completed the top ten, nearly four tenths adrift of Massa’s Williams.

Others with hope of making the pole position shootout were scuppered by Carlos Sainz Jr striking the wall heavily at Turn 19 in his Toro Rosso, which brought out yellow flags and spoiled the end of Q2.

However, Force India reckoned Q3 was just beyond its drivers regardless.

Nico Hulkenberg improved a bit on his first run, but his one minute, 46.305 seconds lap was only good enough for P11, while team-mate Sergio Perez was bumped to P13 by the McLaren of Fernando Alonso.

Sainz wound up a lowly P14 on account of his error, yet 0.125 seconds faster than Jenson Button, who felt he had too much understeer.

A last-gasp effort from Button earlier in Q1 meant both Sauber drivers failed to progress past the first stage of qualifying.

Felipe Nasr looked set to make it through in the heavily revised C34, but he ended up 0.054 seconds shy of the cut-off.

The Sauber driver will start P16, 0.083 seconds quicker than team-mate Marcus Ericsson.

The Lotus of Pastor Maldonado was 0.225 seconds adrift in P17, but well ahead of the Manor Marussias.

Alexander Rossi, making his Formula 1 debut this Singapore Grand Prix weekend, led team-mate Will Stevens after the first runs in Q1, but the American ended up half a second adrift, thanks to a substantial improvement from Stevens at the end.

So a refreshing grid order for the race. With Ferrari and Red Bull in the mix. A non-Mercedes front row for quite some time but the speed of the Silver Arrows can never be discounted. Can Vettel win his third race this season or will we see Ricciardo scoring a top result? We shall find out on race day in Marina Bay.

Ferrari Singapore GP 2015

Singapore Grand Prix, qualifying results:

1    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m43.885s
2    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m44.428s
3    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m44.667s
4    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1m44.745s
5    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m45.300s
6    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m45.415s
7    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m45.676s
8    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m45.798s
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m46.077s
10    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1m46.413s
11    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m46.305s
12    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m46.328s
13    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m46.385s
14    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m46.894s
15    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m47.019s
16    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m46.965s
17    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m47.088s
18    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m47.323s
19    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    1m51.021s
20    Alexander Rossi    Marussia-Ferrari    1m51.523s

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Hamilton dominates Italian Grand Prix

Hamilton Italy 2015

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton achieved his 40th career Formula 1 victory at Monza despite late drama which affected his team-mate Nico Rosberg in a fiery retirement.

The Mercedes driver made a clean getaway to lead away from pole, while Rosberg slipped back to sixth. As for Kimi Raikkonen, it was a dreadful start as his Ferrari made a really slow start from the front row.

Hamilton dominated the race from there, but with a few laps remaining, he was told by his team that he needed to push without being given a reason for doing so.

Hamilton did as he was told and took the chequered flag with a 25-second lead over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

After the race Mercedes was referred to the race stewards because its tyres were measured below Pirelli’s 19.5psi guideline on the grid just before the Italian Grand Prix.

Meanwhile, there was more drama for Mercedes as Rosberg’s engine expired with a few laps to go when he was running third and catching Vettel.

It was the first mechanical retirement for Mercedes this season and comes after Rosberg had to revert to an old-spec power unit, which had done six races, after an issue with his upgraded engine.

It means Hamilton, who secured his seventh win of the season, now leads Rosberg by 53 points in the championship with seven races left.

Felipe Massa inherited third, with his Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas fourth and Raikkonen fifth after a strong recovery drive.

Force India’s B-spec car continued to impress with Sergio Perez following up his fifth place finish at Spa with sixth at Monza, one position clear of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.

It moved the Silverstone-based team back ahead of Lotus into fifth place in the constructors’ championship, after the Enstone-based team’s race lasted just a couple of laps.

Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado both suffered contact at Turn 1, with Grosjean pulling off track and Maldonado recovering to the pits and parking the car in the garage.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo recovered from starting P19 after a 25-place grid penalty for changing engine elements to finish eighth with team-mate Daniil Kvyat tenth.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson scored points for the third successive race with ninth.

Carlos Sainz Jr just missed out of points in P11, one position ahead of Toro Rosso team-mate Max Verstappen, who started last and had to serve a drive-through penalty as punishment for his team releasing his car without its bodywork secure in qualifying, P12.

Felipe Nasr was P13 for Sauber ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button, who made a superb start to rise from P15 to ninth before dropping back.

The Manors of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi brought up the rear with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso retired with three laps to go.

Mercedes Monza 2015 race

Italian Grand Prix, race results after 53 laps:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1:18:00.688
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari     +25.042s
3    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes     +47.635s
4    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes     +47.996s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari     +68.860s
6    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes     +72.783s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    +1 lap
8    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault     +1 lap
9    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari     +1 lap
10    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault     +1 lap
11    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault     +1 lap
12    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault     +1 lap
13    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari      +1 lap
14    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda     +1 lap
15    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari     +2 laps
16    Roberto Merhi    Marussia-Ferrari     +2 laps
17    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    DNF
18    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda   DNF
–    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    DNF
–    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes   DNF

Drivers’ standings:

1    Lewis Hamilton    252
2    Nico Rosberg    199
3    Sebastian Vettel    178
4    Felipe Massa    97
5    Kimi Raikkonen    92
6    Valtteri Bottas    91
7    Daniil Kvyat    58
8    Daniel Ricciardo    55
9    Romain Grosjean    38
10    Sergio Perez    33
11    Nico Hulkenberg    30
12    Max Verstappen    26
13    Felipe Nasr    16
14    Pastor Maldonado    12
15    Fernando Alonso    11
16    Carlos Sainz    9
17    Marcus Ericsson    9
18    Jenson Button    6
19    Roberto Merhi    0
20    Will Stevens    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    451
2    Ferrari    270
3    Williams-Mercedes    188
4    Red Bull-Renault    113
5    Force India-Mercedes    63
6    Lotus-Mercedes    50
7    Toro Rosso-Renault    35
8    Sauber-Ferrari    25
9    McLaren-Honda    17
10    Marussia-Ferrari    0

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Hamilton powers to Monza pole

Hamilton Monza 2015

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton achieved his seventh consecutive pole position this season at the classic Monza circuit.

The Mercedes driver edged out both Ferraris and his team-mate to score his 49th career pole. Hamilton was able to benefit from Mercedes latest ‘development’ F1 engine to good effect to take P1 by 0.234 seconds from Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton wasn’t able to improve on his one minute, 23.397 seconds on his second qualifying run, but both efforts were good enough for pole.

Raikkonen edged out his Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel by just 0.054 seconds on his final run to be best of the Scuderia’s two drivers in front of its passionate home crowd.

Running Ferrari’s newly upgraded power unit, they were less than a tenth quicker than Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Rosberg.

Rosberg noticed a “strange oscillation” with his new Mercedes power unit in final free practice, so the team reverted to the less powerful spec used in the previous race at Spa-Francorchamps.

The lack of horsepower revealed a telling truth as he trailed team-mate Hamilton by 0.306 seconds.

Williams team-mates Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas locked out row three of the grid, nearly half a second clear of the Force India of Sergio Perez.

Spa podium finisher Romain Grosjean split the Force Indias by placing his Lotus eighth fastest, 0.428 seconds further back from Perez.

Nico Hulkenberg suffered a loss of power after his first run in Q3, so didn’t run again.

The Force India driver’s time of one minute, 25.317 seconds was only good enough for ninth on the grid, well clear of the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson, who was the final car in the top ten shootout.

Pastor Maldonado missed out on making Q3 by just a tiny margin of 0.015 seconds, as just over two tenths of a second covered sixth to P11 places in Q2.

Felipe Nasr ended up 0.441 seconds adrift of Sauber team-mate Ericsson and also missed the cut, winding up P12.

The Renault-powered cars were far too slow to have a realistic chance of making Q3.

The Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz pipped Daniil Kvyat’s Red Bull to P13 by 0.178 seconds, but they will be hit with grid penalties for various engine component changes at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull required an engine change after a problem in final free practice, and he only took to the track with less than three minutes remaining of the first part of qualifying.

He was a tenth faster than team-mate Kvyat with that single run in Q1, but didn’t venture out on track again, so ended up P15 overall after Q2.

Ricciardo’s late show in Q1 meant neither McLaren-Honda escaped the first part of qualifying, though Jenson Button leapfrogged team-mate Fernando Alonso by 0.096 seconds right at the end.

Will Stevens again defeated Roberto Merhi in the private battle of the Manor/Marussias, just under two tenths clear.

Both were trailed by the Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen, who was delayed by an engine change and joined the session too late to set a time.

His only significant contribution to the session was to see his STR10 shed its engine cover at Curve Grande as the first part of qualifying concluded.

Mercedes Monza 2015

Qualifying positions, Monza:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m23.397s
2    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m23.631s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m23.685s
4    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m23.703s
5    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m23.940s
6    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m24.127s
7    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m24.626s
8    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1m25.054s
9    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m25.317s
10    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m26.214s
11    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m24.525s
12    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m24.898s
13    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    1m27.731s
14    Roberto Merhi    Marussia-Ferrari    1m27.912s
15    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m25.633s*
16    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1m25.796s*
17    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m26.058s*
18    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m26.154s*
19    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    No time*
20    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull/Renault   1m25.63s3*
*Engine-change penalties for Sainz, Kvyat, Button, Alonso, Verstappen, Ricciardo

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Hamilton extends championship lead thanks to Spa victory

Hamilton Spa 2015 race

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton produced a masterclass display at Spa-Francorchamps to record victory number 39 and thereby extending his lead in the championship from Nico Rosberg to 28 points.

The Mercedes driver made a good start from the grid and held off the challenge from Sergio Perez in the Force India at Les Combes to lead.

Rosberg was slow off the grid, dropping down to fifth, and though he recovered to second and started closing the gap to Hamilton, he was unable to get close enough to challenge.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was on course to complete the podium, after attempting a one-stop strategy that required a 29-lap stint on the mediums, but a right-rear tyre failure with a few laps to go ended his race.

That allowed Romain Grosjean, who had been chasing Vettel, to give Lotus its first podium of the season – a big boost considering uncertain future and legal battles inside the team.

The start was initially aborted when Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg suffered mechanical issues on the grid, waving his hands to signal he would be unable to get away.

The field went round for a second formation lap while Hulkenberg was pushed into the pits where he retired the car.

At the second start, the field got away with Perez battling Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo into La Source and coming out on top to take second.

Red Bull ran its low downforce setting at Spa, which allowed Daniil Kvyat and Ricciardo to attack on the straights.

Kvyat charged to fourth after going out of sequence on tyre strategy, but last year’s winner Ricciardo was in contention for a podium, running third early on, before slowing and retiring on the exit of the Bus Stop. A brief virtual safety car was required while the Red Bull was taken away.

Perez secured his best result of the season with fifth in the Force India ahead of Williams’s Felipe Massa and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who rescued some points after starting P16.

Max Verstappen tried a move on Raikkonen at Les Combes on the last lap but ran out of space and had to settle for eighth, ahead of Valtteri Bottas, whose race unravelled when Williams mistakenly fitted his car with three soft tyres and a medium, which earned him a drive-through penalty.

Sauber fitted the 2015-spec Ferrari engine to its cars for the first time this season with Marcus Ericsson benefiting from Vettel’s late tyre failure to snatch the final point with tenth, one position ahead of team-mate Felipe Nasr.

Vettel was classified P12 for his first non-scoring finish of the season.

McLaren’s Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso made brilliant getaways, on a weekend when drivers had to find their own clutch bite point under new rules.

Alonso climbed from last to P12 while Button rose from P19 to P14, but duo struggled on the high-speed Spa circuit and finished P13 and P14 respectively.

Carlos Sainz Jr pulled into the pits after the formation lap, citing a loss of power, and though Toro Rosso managed to get him going, he retired with 11 laps to go.

Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado was unable to take advantage of his top ten start as he parked the car early in the race with a mechanical problem.

So another Mercedes one-two with the championship leader winning at Spa-Francorchamps for the first time.

Congratulations to Lotus in scoring a podium finish with Romain Grosjean. Finally a positive result considering the future of the Enstone-based team.

Mercedes Spa 2015 race

Belgian Grand Prix, race results after 43 laps:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1h23m40.387s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    2.058s
3    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    37.988s
4    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    45.692s
5    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    53.997s
6    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    55.283s
7    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    55.703s
8    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    56.076s
9    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m01.040s
10    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m31.234s
11    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m42.311s
12    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    Tyre
13    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
14    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
15    Roberto Merhi    Marussia-Ferrari    1 Lap
16    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    1 Lap
–    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    Retirement
–    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    Retirement
–    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    Retirement
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    Not started

Drivers’ standings:

1    Lewis Hamilton    227
2    Nico Rosberg    199
3    Sebastian Vettel    160
4    Kimi Raikkonen    82
5    Felipe Massa    82
6    Valtteri Bottas    79
7    Daniil Kvyat    57
8    Daniel Ricciardo    51
9    Romain Grosjean    38
10    Max Verstappen    26
11    Sergio Perez    25
12    Nico Hulkenberg    24
13    Felipe Nasr    16
14    Pastor Maldonado    12
15    Fernando Alonso    11
16    Carlos Sainz    9
17    Marcus Ericsson    7
18    Jenson Button    6
19    Roberto Merhi    0
20    Will Stevens    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    426
2    Ferrari    242
3    Williams-Mercedes    161
4    Red Bull-Renault    108
5    Lotus-Mercedes    50
6    Force India-Mercedes    49
7    Toro Rosso-Renault    35
8    Sauber-Ferrari    23
9    McLaren-Honda    17
10    Marussia-Ferrari    0

Next race: Italian Grand Prix, Monza. September 4-6.

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Hamilton leads Mercedes power top five at Spa

Hamilton Spa 2015

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton achieved his tenth pole of the season at the magnificent Spa-Francorchamps circuit by beating his team-mate Nico Rosberg by quite some margin.

This was Hamilton’s 48th career pole in P1 and his sixth consecutive, matching Michael Schumacher’s record in 2000 and ’01. This achievement also clinched the FIA pole trophy for 2015.

Rosberg was narrowly faster than his team-mate in Q2 at Spa, but the reigning world champion reversed the situation by a massive 0.446 seconds after their respective first runs in Q3, then lowered his lap time to a 1m47.197s on his second run to secure pole.

Valtteri Bottas achieved a solid third for Williams while Romain Grosjean recorded his best-ever qualifying position with fourth. Big shame for the Lotus driver to drop down the grid come race day no thanks to the penalty.

Sergio Perez made it a Mercedes-powered top five for Sauber, showcasing the serious grunt ‘the three-pointed star’ at Spa.

Ferrari would normally be expected to fill row two of the grid, but Sebastian Vettel could only lap ninth fastest in his SF15-T, while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen failed to make it into Q3 at all after his car broke down on track with what the team believes was a loss of oil pressure.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top six, ahead of Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado.

Carlos Sainz Jr’s Toro Rosso completed the top ten, despite well adrift of the rest of the Q3 runners.

Perez had set a solid fourth-best time in Q2, but Nico Hulkenberg failed to make the top ten, finishing up over three tenths adrift of his Force India team-mate in P11.

Daniel Kvyat was another surprise failure in Q2, finishing up P12, ahead of Marcus Ericsson.

As for the ‘king of Spa’ Kimi Raikkonen, The Iceman ended up in P14, ahead of the Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen, who took not part in Q2 after suffering a suspected loss of power with his Renault engine in Q1.

Sauber’s Felipe Nasr was the big loser among the tight midfield battle in Q1.

Verstappen’s Toro Rosso was vulnerable thanks to a suspected loss of power early on in his final flying lap, but Nasr fell short of beating the teenager by 0.121 seconds, so wound up P16.

Jenson Button was a second further back in the best of the McLaren-Hondas.

The 2009 world champion described his time of one minute, 50.978 seconds effort as “the best lap I’ve done for a long time”, but it was only good enough for P17…

Team-mate Fernando Alonso was nearly half a second adrift in the other MP4-30, after sitting out the final practice session with an exhaust leak.

Will Stevens won the private battle of the Manor/Marussias at the bottom of the timesheet, beating team-mate Roberto Merhi by 0.151 seconds.

Spa 2015 Mercedes

Qualifying times from Spa-Francorchamps:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m47.197s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m47.655s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m48.537s
4    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1m48.561s
5    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m48.599s
6    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m48.639s
7    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m48.685s
8    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m48.754s
9    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m48.825s
10    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m49.771s
11    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m49.121s
12    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1m49.228s
13    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m49.586s
14    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    No time
15    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m49.952s
16    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    1m52.948s
17    Roberto Merhi    Marussia-Ferrari    1m53.099s
18    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    No time
19    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m50.978s*
20    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m51.420s*

*Grid penalties for changing power units

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Vettel wins thrilling Hungarian Grand Prix

Ferrari Hungarian GP 2015

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel achieved his 41st career victory in a thrilling and drama-filled Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg suffered a terrible race despite dominating qualifying.

This was Sebastian’s first win at the Hungaroring and his second this season, bringing the four-time world champion on par with the great, late Ayrton Senna of 41 race victories.

It was also the first time since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, a run of 29 races, where Mercedes failed to score a podium finish with either car with Hamilton sixth and Rosberg eighth.

This was a messy race for Lewis Hamilton. A poor start from pole position. Running wide at the chicane on the first lap when he felt Rosberg crossed his line and then losing time when he pitted for a new wing and then having to a drive-through penalty after colliding with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

But in defending second with a few laps to go, Rosberg clashed with Ricciardo at Turn 1, giving the Mercedes a puncture and damaging Ricciardo’s front wing.

Rosberg was forced to pit and rejoined in eighth, two positions behind Hamilton who had fought his way back through the field to increase his championship lead to 21 points.

Hamilton and Rosberg got away poorly from the front row at the start, allowing Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen to get ahead, with Rosberg running third ahead of Hamilton.

Ferrari looked on course for its first one-two since the 2010 German Grand Prix before a MGU-K problem cost The Iceman’s power. Raikkonen eventually retired after the team were unable to fix it.

The virtual safety car was called into action when Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India suffered a front wing failure, pitching the German head-on into the tyre barrier at Turn 1.

When it became clear there was too much debris on the track, the real safety car was sent out, bunching the field up and reducing Vettel’s sizeable lead – setting up a thrilling finale.

Daniil Kvyat scored a career-best second, to become the youngest driver to score a podium since Vettel in the 2008 Italian Grand Prix, the Russian benefitting from Ricciardo’s clash with Rosberg late on.

Ricciardo survived the contact, which the race stewards decided to take no further action on, with Rosberg to give Red Bull a double podium with third.

Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen, who had a drive-through penalty for making contact with Valtteri Bottas, battled his way up to a career-best fourth place.

The drama in the second-half of the race allowed Fernando Alonso to finish fifth, scoring McLaren-Honda’s best result of the season, with Jenson Button finishing ninth.

Romain Grosjean was seventh in the Lotus while Marcus Ericsson gave Sauber an unlikely point with tenth, a few seconds clear of team-mate Felipe Nasr.

Williams failed to score for only the second time this season, with Massa – who was given a time-penalty for being out of position on the grid and forcing an aborted start – P12 and Bottas P13.

So a dramatic race with Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel. Winning the Hungarian Grand Prix in honour of Jules Bianchi, who sadly passed away last week after losing his fight for survival.

Red Bull Racing scored their first podium finishes with Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo. While McLaren-Honda achieved a double points finish in the hands of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.

Despite a troubled race, Mercedes were able to score points to maintain the lead in the championship.

The sport goes into the summer break and yet it will be fascinating if anyone can catch and challenge the Silver Arrows in the second half of the season.

Vettel Ferrari Hungarian GP 2015

Hungarian Grand Prix, race result after 69 laps:

1    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1h46m09.985s
2    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    69    +15.748s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    69    +25.084s
4    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    69    +44.251s
5    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    69    +49.079s
6    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    69    +52.025s
7    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    69    +58.578s
8    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    69    +58.876s
9    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    69    +67.028s
10    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    69    +69.130s
11    Felipe Nasr       Sauber-Ferrari    69    +73.458s
12    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    69    +74.278s
13    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    69    +80.228s
14    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    69    +85.142ss
15    Roberto Merhi    Marussia-Ferrari    67    +2 Laps
16    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    65    Retirement
–    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    60    Retirement
–    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    55    Power Unit
–    Sergio Perez    Force India/Mercedes    53    Retirement
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India/Mercedes    41    Retirement

Drivers’ standings:

1 Lewis Hamiton 202
2 Nico Rosberg  181
3 Sebastian Vettel 160
4 Valtteri Bottas 77
5 Kimi Raikkonen 76
6 Felipe Massa 74
7 Daniel Ricciardo 51
8 Daniil Kvyat 45
9 Nico Hulkenberg 24
10 Romain Grosjean 23
11 Max Verstappen 22
12 Felipe Nasr 16
13 Sergio Perez 15
14 Pastor Maldonado 12
15 Fernando Alonso 11
16 Carlos Sainz 9
17 Jenson Button 6
18 Marcus Ericsson 6
19 Roberto Merhi 0
20 Will Stevens 0

Constructors’ standings:

1 Mercedes 383
2 Ferrari 236
3 Williams-Mercedes 151
4 Red Bull-Renault 96
5 Force India-Mercedes 39
6 Lotus-Mercedes 35
7 Toro Rosso-Renault 31
8 Sauber-Ferrari 22
9 McLaren-Honda 17
10 Marussia-Ferrari 0

Next race: Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps. August 21-23.

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Dominant Hamilton achieves pole at the Hungaroring

Hamilton Hungary 2015

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton achieved his 47th career pole position in Formula 1 with a commanding performance at the Hungering. Fastest in every session to take his fifth P1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

His Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg struggled to match his rival’s pace and had to settle with second position. But half a second adrift is a major defeat.

Rosberg complained about the handling of his car throughout the different stages of qualifying and couldn’t recover sufficiently to put up much of a fight.

Hamilton and Rosberg were separated by 0.358 seconds after the first runs in Q3, and the German ended up over half a second adrift of Hamilton, who set the fastest lap of the weekend so far on his final effort to claim his fifth career pole in Hungary.

The expected close fight for best of the rest behind Mercedes materialised, as less than half a second covered Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams in Q2.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel ended up taking third on the grid, but was just 0.035 seconds clear of his former team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull.

Kimi Raikkonen finished up 0.246 seconds further back in fifth, while Valtteri Bottas took sixth for Williams.

Daniil Kvyat lines up on row four with Felipe Massa, just ahead of Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso, which only made one run in Q3.

Romain Grosjean’s Lotus rounded out the top ten, over half a second adrift of the next fastest car.

Neither Force India made it through to the top ten shootout, along with Carlos Sainz and Pastor Maldonado.

Hulkenberg and Sainz were less than a tenth away from Grosjean’s tenth position Lotus in Q2, while Perez was almost six tenths further back in P13.

McLaren headed into qualifying hoping to challenge for a place in the top ten, but could do no better than P15 and P16 after both drivers encountered technical trouble.

Fernando Alonso made it through to Q2, but stopped at the entry to the pitlane during his first run, bringing out the red flags and ending his session early.

As for his team-mate Jenson Button, an issue with the ERS deployment meant the McLaren driver missing out on the Q2 cut by lapping just over a tenth of a second shy of Sainz’s Toro Rosso.

Button estimated his problem cost him 0.3 seconds on his final flying lap.

The 2009 world champion joined the Saubers and Manors in dropping out during the first phase of qualifying.

Felipe Nasr felt he “lost it in the last two corners” and finished up 0.154 seconds adrift of Sauber team-mate Marcus Ericsson, who felt he drove a good final flying lap in the C34.

Roberto Merhi comfortably out-qualified his team-mate Will Stevens by 0.533 seconds, as the Manor cars filled their usual place on the final row of the grid.

So another front row lock-out for Mercedes. Five pole positions in a row from Lewis Hamilton at this twisty, tight circuit. The championship leader is super fast around the Hungaroring and is the favourite to take victory come race day.

Mercedes Hungary 2015

Hungarian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m22.020s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m22.595s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m22.739s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m22.774s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m23.020s
6    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m23.222s
7    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1m23.332s
8    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m23.537s
9    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m23.679s
10    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1m24.181s
11    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m23.826s
12    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m23.869s
13    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m24.461s
14    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m24.609s
15    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m24.563s
16    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m24.739s
17    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m24.843s
18    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m24.997s
19    Roberto Merhi    Marussia-Ferrari    1m27.416s
20    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    1m27.949s

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