Bottas leaves Williams for Mercedes as Massa returns

Valtteri Bottas will line-up alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in 2017 after Williams agreed to release the Finnish driver from his contract. Valtteri’s place at Williams will be Felipe Massa, who is to come out of his short retirement to re-join the team on a one-year deal.

It brings to an end a saga that has run since Nico Rosberg announced his shock retirement from Formula 1 just days after winning the 2016 world championship.

Bottas quickly emerged as Mercedes’ leading candidate to partner Hamilton but the discussions ran for several weeks before an agreement was reached.

With teenager Lance Stroll signed up for 2017, Williams wanted an experienced driver if it was to release Bottas, especially given the dramatic regulation changes for this season.

Williams also could not field a second young driver as that would cause problems with key sponsor Martini. As this would create a bad image for an alcoholic brand.

It is believed Williams was initially uncertain whether Felipe Massa would accept an invitation to return.

But after making contact and holding an initial meeting, an agreement for a one-year deal was swiftly reached.

“I am very happy to have an opportunity to return to Williams,” said Massa.

“I always intended to race somewhere in 2017, but Williams is a team close to my heart and I have respect for everything it is trying to achieve.

“Valtteri has a great opportunity, given the turn of events over the winter, and I wish him all the best at Mercedes.

“In turn, when I was offered the chance to help Williams with their 2017 campaign, it felt like the right thing to do.

“I certainly have not lost any of my enthusiasm for racing and I’m extremely motivated to be coming back to drive the FW40.”

Deputy team principal Claire Williams said: “I’m delighted that Felipe has agreed to come out of retirement to be a part of our 2017 campaign.

“With Valtteri having a unique opportunity to join the current constructors’ champions, we have been working hard to ensure that an agreement could be made with Mercedes to give Valtteri this fantastic opportunity.

“Valtteri has been part of the Williams family since 2010 and in that time has proved a huge talent, securing nine podium finishes.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank him on behalf of the whole team, and wish him a successful season as he joins Mercedes.

“Felipe has always been a much-loved member of the Williams family, and having the opportunity to work with him again is something we all look forward to.

“Felipe re-joining us provides stability, experience and talent to help lead us forward. He is a great asset for us.”

Bottas joins Mercedes having scored nine podiums but he has yet to reach the top step in 77 starts.

The Finn is looking forward to the new challenge driving for the world champions.

“It’s mega to be driving a Silver Arrow this year,” said Bottas in an address to the workforce at Mercedes’ UK factory in Brackley. “I can’t wait to get working properly.

“My goal is immediately at the first race to get all the points that are available. I guarantee I will be giving it all.

“I want to thanks Toto (Wolff, Mercedes-Benz head of motorsport) and everyone at the Mercedes and Daimler boards for this opportunity.

“This is my fifth season in F1. I got nine podiums with Williams, but I’m still missing my first win, so that’s my first mission.”

On lining up alongside three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, the Finn added: “I think with Lewis we are going to be a strong pair together. I really respect him as a driver and a person.

“I’m sure we are going to close, and we’re going to be both pushing each forward. I’m sure we can work as a team.”

Toto Wolff, Mercedes-Benz motorsport chief, said Bottas was the ideal candidate to replace outgoing world champion Nico Rosberg.

“I think Valtteri fits very well in our team, as a driver he’s very fast, and he has also the heart in the right place.

“He shares our values and passion,” Wolff added. “He’s modest and humble and he’s hard working.”

Best of luck to Valtteri in his new racing team, while Felipe briefly enjoyed his retirement away from the sport. It’s going to be fascinating how Bottas will cope in a highly competitive environment at Mercedes this season.

F1 world champion Rosberg annouces retirement

After winning the Formula 1 world championship on Sunday, Nico Rosberg made a shocking announcement with the news that he is retiring from the sport with immediate effect.

The Mercedes driver beat his team-mate and old racing rival Lewis Hamilton to the title, sealing the crown in a tense season finale in Abu Dhabi last weekend.

Speaking ahead of the sport’s governing body prize giving gala in Vienna, Rosberg announced his retirement via social media.

“Since 25 years in racing, it has been my dream, my ‘one thing’ to become Formula One World Champion. Through the hard work, the pain, the sacrifices, this has been my target.And now I’ve made it. I have climbed my mountain, I am on the peak, so this feels right. My strongest emotion right now is deep gratitude to everybody who supported me to make that dream happen.

“This season, I tell you, it was so damn tough. I pushed like crazy in every area after the disappointments of the last two years; they fuelled my motivation to levels I had never experienced before. And of course that had an impact on the ones I love, too – it was a whole family effort of sacrifice, putting everything behind our target. I cannot find enough words to thank my wife Vivian; she has been incredible. She understood that this year was the big one, our opportunity to do it, and created the space for me to get full recovery between every race, looking after our daughter each night, taking over when things got tough and putting our championship first.

“When I won the race in Suzuka, from the moment when the destiny of the title was in my own hands, the big pressure started and I began to think about ending my racing career if I became World Champion. On Sunday morning in Abu Dhabi, I knew that it could be my last race and that feeling cleared my head before the start. I wanted to enjoy every part of the experience, knowing it might be the last time… and then the lights went out and I had the most intense 55 laps of my life. I took my decision on Monday evening. After reflecting for a day, the first people I told were Vivian and Georg (Nolte, from Nico’s management team), followed by Toto.

“The only thing that makes this decision in any way difficult for me is because I am putting my racing family into a tough situation. But Toto understood. He knew straight away that I was completely convinced and that reassured me. My proudest achievement in racing will always be to have won the world championship with this incredible team of people,the Silver Arrows.

“Now, I’m just here to enjoy the moment. There is time tosavour the next weeks, to reflect on the season and to enjoy every experience that comes my way. After that, I will turn the next corner in my life and see what it has in store for me…”

Rosberg began his Formula 1 career with Williams in 2006 before moving to Mercedes for the 2010 season. He won his first Grand Prix with the Silver Arrows in the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix and went on to take a total of 23 victories from 206 starts, twice finishing championship runner-up to team-mate Lewis Hamilton before taking his maiden drivers’ title this year.

Nico goes out on a high thanks to his championship success and it will be fascinating to see what Mercedes will do in terms of placement. Pascal Wehrlein seems the likely candidate following a strong season with Manor and Mercedes rate him strongly thanks to his title win in the DTM in 2015.

So farewell Nico Rosberg. Thanks for the racing memories. Earn that well deserved rest with your family and best wishes in the future.

Rosberg wins Formula 1 title at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg has clinched his maiden Formula 1 world championship by fending off Sebastian Vettel to finish second in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as title rival Lewis Hamilton won the race.

Rosberg entered the twenty-first and final Grand Prix of the season with a 12-point lead and simply needed to be third or higher to take the title no matter where Hamilton finished.

Hamilton kept the pace slow in the final stint when leading Rosberg, backing his Mercedes team-mate into the pack, despite persistent calls from his team to up speed.

But the tactic failed to pay off, with Rosberg soaking up the pressure from Vettel to guide his car home second.

As a result, Rosberg won the world championship by five points at Yas Marina to become the sport’s 33rd world champion, 34 years after his father Keke achieved the feat.

Hamilton led Rosberg away at the start but the Silver Arrows duo did not pull away from Kimi Raikkonen, who jumped Daniel Ricciardo, and Vettel.

Rosberg pitted a lap after Hamilton, ditching the ultra-softs for the softs, and like Hamilton was held in his box while a Ferrari entered the pits.

He rejoined behind Max Verstappen, who had spun at the first corner after contact with Nico Hulkenberg and had cut his way back through the field on the super-softs and was looking to extend his stint.

Mercedes told Rosberg he needed to pass Verstappen because the Red Bull driver was going purposefully slow, setting up a tense couple of moments as the two went wheel-to-wheel with Max holding firm.

After backing off for a few laps, Mercedes told Rosberg to attack again and this time, Nico made a pass stick through Turns 8 and 9 before covering the line into Turn 11 to retake second.

The second stops for both Hamilton and Rosberg were smooth, with the duo retaining formation as they rejoined second and third behind Vettel, who was running a long second stint, until Rosberg pitted.

The gap hovered around the one-second mark for much of the remainder of the race, with Hamilton appearing to attempt to back Rosberg into the chasing pack.

The main threat was Vettel, who was last of the frontrunners to make a final stop and took on fresh super-softs. He passed both Red Bulls and closed in on the two Mercedes, bringing Verstappen with him.

Rosberg complained Hamilton was too slow while Mercedes instructed Hamilton to up the pace, including a message from technical boss Paddy Lowe, but the reigning champion replied at one point “let us race”.

Ultimately, it didn’t pay off as Hamilton crossed the line to win his tenth race of the season, compared to nine wins for Rosberg, with his team-mate second.

Vettel, Verstappen, Ricciardo and Raikkonen completed the top six.

Force India’s Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were seventh and eight respectively, securing fourth position in the constructors’ championship for the outfit for the first time.

Felipe Massa finished the final race of his Formula 1 career in ninth, with Fernando Alonso completing the top ten.

McLaren team-mate Jenson Button had a disappointing final race before his likely retirement. Button hitting a kerb at Turn 10 hard, causing damage to the steering and forcing him out.

Carlos Sainz retired with a gearbox problem, moments after he was hit by Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, while his Toro Rosso team-mate Daniil Kvyat also failed to finish.

And so ends a tense and dramatic season of Formula 1 racing. Hamilton put on a brave fight but it was his Mercedes team-mate and rival Rosberg who achieved the dream result. Congratulations Nico Rosberg. 2016 world champion.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, race results after 55 laps:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari
4    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault
5    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault
6    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes
10    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda
11    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari
12    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari
13    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes
14    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes
15    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari
16    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari
17    Jolyon Palmer    Renault
–    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari
–    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari
–    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda
–    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes
–    Kevin Magnussen    Renault

Final drivers’ standings:
1    Nico Rosberg    385
2    Lewis Hamilton    380
3    Daniel Ricciardo    256
4    Sebastian Vettel    212
5    Max Verstappen    204
6    Kimi Raikkonen    186
7    Sergio Perez    101
8    Valtteri Bottas    85
9    Nico Hulkenberg    72
10    Fernando Alonso    54
11    Felipe Massa    53
12    Carlos Sainz    46
13    Romain Grosjean    29
14    Daniil Kvyat    25
15    Jenson Button    21
16    Kevin Magnussen    7
17    Felipe Nasr    2
18    Jolyon Palmer    1
19    Pascal Wehrlein    1
20    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
21    Esteban Gutierrez    0
22    Marcus Ericsson    0
23    Esteban Ocon    0
24    Rio Haryanto    0

Final constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    765
2    Red Bull-Renault    468
3    Ferrari    398
4    Force India-Mercedes    173
5    Williams-Mercedes    138
6    McLaren-Honda    76
7    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    63
8    Haas-Ferrari    29
9    Renault    8
10    Sauber-Ferrari    2
11    Manor-Mercedes    1

Hamilton strikes with Abu Dhabi pole

Lewis Hamilton scored a vital pole position at Yas Marina in his quest to win his fourth world championship over his Mercedes rival Nico Rosberg.

The reigning world champion held provisional pole after the initial runs in Q3, just over three tenths quicker than Rosberg, and eventually completed two laps good enough for pole by breaking into the one minute, 38 seconds on his final run.

Championship leader Rosberg also improved on his second Q3 run, but ended up more than three tenths behind Hamilton.

If Hamilton wins Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Rosberg only needs to finish third to clinch his first Formula 1 world title.

Daniel Ricciardo qualified his Red Bull third fastest, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari by just 0.015 seconds on his final Q3 run.

Ricciardo and his Red Bull Racing team-mate Max Verstappen, who qualified sixth fastest, will both start the race on the super-soft tyre, after progressing through Q2 without using the ultra-soft favoured by Mercedes and Ferrari.

Sebastian Vettel was fifth quickest for Ferrari, less than a tenth slower than Raikkonen.

Vettel suggested he lost time in Turns 16, 17 and 18, and that he went the wrong way on set-up for qualifying.

The Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez locked out row four, just 0.018 seconds apart, while Fernando Alonso qualified his McLaren a tenth faster than Felipe Massa’s Williams, which rounded out the top ten.

Massa’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas just missed out on making Q3, finding time on his final Q2 lap but narrowly losing out to Alonso, who was quicker than Bottas by just 0.040 seconds.

Jenson Button qualified P12 for McLaren, dropping two tenths to Alonso in the middle sector and suggesting his car picked up understeer.

Esteban Gutierrez beat Haas team-mate Romain Grosjean to P13  by just under a tenth of a second, while Jolyon Palmer was P15 in the best of the Renaults, 0.175 seconds clear of Pascal Wehrlein, who put his Manor into Q2 for the fifth time this season.

Both Toro Rosso drivers fell in Q1, after losing most of Friday’s second practice to FIA safety checks to its cars, following punctures suffered on Daniil Kvyat’s car.

Kvyat was only P17, a tenth slower than Wehrlein, while Kvyat’s team-mate Carlos Sainz qualified on the last row of the grid.

Renault apologised to Kevin Magnussen after he failed to go quicker on his final Q1 run and wound up P18, ahead of Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, who complained of an ERS problem exiting Turn 14.

Esteban Ocon was P20 for Manor, after a slow first sector, while Marcus Ericsson qualified last, the Sauber driver apologising to the team for locking up under braking for Turn 17 and ruining his final flying lap in Q1.

So an important qualifying session for the Mercedes drivers. Hamilton has been quickest in every session so far but the one that counts will decide the championship. Rosberg just need to bring the car home in the race to win the title.

Qualifying positions, Yas Marina:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m38.755s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m39.058s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m39.589s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m39.604s
5    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m39.661s
6    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m39.818s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m40.501s
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m40.519s
9    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m41.106s
10    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m41.213s
11    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m41.084s
12    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m41.272s
13    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m41.480s
14    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m41.564s
15    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m41.820s
16    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m41.995s
17    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m42.003s
18    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m42.142s
19    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m42.247s
20    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    1m42.286s
21    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m42.393s
22    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m42.637s

Hamilton victorious in wet Brazilian Grand Prix as Verstappen stars

Lewis Hamilton was victorious in a chaotic rain-affected Brazilian Grand Prix to take the Formula 1 championship battle to a title decider in Abi Dhabi.

The reigning world champion crossed the line 11.4 seconds ahead of his Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg and reduced the points gap to 12 with 25 available.

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen pulled off a sensational display – making up 13 positions in 16 laps to snatch third at Interlagos in a race that included two red flags and required the safety car on five occasions.

Heavy rain delayed the start by ten minutes, with the conditions so treacherous that Romain Grosjean, who was due to start seventh, crashed on the way to the grid.

FIA race director Charlie Whiting elected to start the race behind the safety car, which stayed out for seven laps.

Hamilton pulled out a big lead over Rosberg immediately at the start proper, with Verstappen passing Kimi Raikkonen into the Senna S to snatch third.

Several drivers switched to intermediates but conditions remained tricky, as fifth-placed Sebastian Vettel proved by touching the white line at Juncao and spinning.

The safety car was called back out when Marcus Ericsson aquaplaned into the wall after touching the kerb on the inside of the final corner.

At the next restart on lap 20 of 71, Raikkonen aquaplaned on the main straight and slammed into the wall, prompting an almost immediate red flag.

After a 35-minute delay, the race restarted behind the safety car only to be red-flagged again eight slow laps later as the conditions failed to improve, leading to boos from the race crowd.

It finally got back under way following a 27-minute stoppage and this time ran to the finish.

As it resumed, Verstappen pulled off a sensational pass around the outside of Rosberg at Turn 3 to take second.

The youngster also held a high-speed half-spin at the final corner without even losing a place to Rosberg. That was an epic save from Verstappen.

But soon afterwards Red Bull chose to switch to intermediates, first with Daniel Ricciardo and then with Verstappen.

It proved the wrong call – Rosberg demonstrating how bad the weather still was as he had a half-spin out of Juncao without losing second place – and when the safety car came out again following a crash for Felipe Massa, Red Bull chose to bring its drivers back in for wets.

Massa was in tears as he walked back to the pits, a Brazilian flag draped around his shoulders, in what will be his final home race.

The safety car came in for the last time with 15 laps to go, setting up a frantic finish as Verstappen fought his way up the field and the race finished just inside the two-hour limit.

A series of outside-line passes brought Verstappen from P16 to the podium, while Hamilton pulled clear of Rosberg up front to seal a third-straight win.

Sergio Perez finished fourth, followed by the recovering Vettel, who felt Verstappen pushed him off the track in the closing stages, and Carlos Sainz.

Nico Hulkenberg was seventh, ahead of Ricciardo and Felipe Nasr, who scored Sauber’s first points of the season and moved the team ahead of Manor into tenth in the constructors’ championship. Manor ran in the points with Esteban Ocon for much of the afternoon but he eventually slipped to P12.

Fernando Alonso completed the top ten having been another spinner out of Juncao.

So the longest race of the season. Just over three hours with plenty of stoppage for safety reasons. The championship will go down to the wire between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

The reigning champion has to win while Rosberg just needs to finish on the podium to land the title. All to play for at Abu Dhabi.

Brazilian Grand Prix, race results after 71 laps:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    3h01m01.335s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    11.455s
3    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    21.481s
4    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    25.346s
5    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    26.334s
6    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    29.160s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    –
8    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    –
9    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    –
10    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    –
11    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    –
12    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    –
13    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    –
14    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    –
15    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    –
16    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    –
–    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    –
–    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    –
–    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    –
–    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    –
–    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    –
–    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    –

Drivers’ standings:
1    Nico Rosberg    367
2    Lewis Hamilton    355
3    Daniel Ricciardo    246
4    Sebastian Vettel    197
5    Max Verstappen    192
6    Kimi Raikkonen    178
7    Sergio Perez    97
8    Valtteri Bottas    85
9    Nico Hulkenberg    66
10    Fernando Alonso    53
11    Felipe Massa    51
12    Carlos Sainz    46
13    Romain Grosjean    29
14    Daniil Kvyat    25
15    Jenson Button    21
16    Kevin Magnussen    7
17    Felipe Nasr    2
18    Jolyon Palmer    1
19    Pascal Wehrlein    1
20    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
21    Esteban Gutierrez    0
22    Marcus Ericsson    0
23    Esteban Ocon    0
24    Rio Haryanto    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    722
2    Red Bull-Renault    446
3    Ferrari    375
4    Force India-Mercedes    163
5    Williams-Mercedes    136
6    McLaren-Honda    75
7    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    63
8    Haas-Ferrari    29
9    Renault    8
10    Sauber-Ferrari    2
11    Manor-Mercedes    1

Next race: Abu Dhabi. November 25-27.

Hamilton achieves his sixty career pole at Brazil

Lewis Hamilton recorded his sixty career pole position in Formula 1 with an important qualifying session at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Championship rival Nico Rosberg put on a brave fight to wrestle that pole from his Mercedes team-mate but had to settle for second place.

With rain threatening, but never arriving beyond a few spots, throughout qualifying, Hamilton had the advantage after the first runs in Q3.

While Rosberg did make a small improvement on his second run, Hamilton was fast enough to defend top position – with his pace in the long middle sector particularly strong.

Kimi Raikkonen capitalised on the Red Bull drivers and Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel failing to improve on their second runs to jump to third late on, 0.668 seconds off pole.

Max Verstappen shaded Vettel for fourth by just a hundredth of a second, complaining about losing rear grip mid-way through his second flying lap, with Ricciardo aborting his final quick lap in the middle sector and not able to do better than sixth.

After qualifying last in Mexico, Romain Grosjean equalled the Haas team’s best grid position of the season as he went seventh fastest.

Nico Hulkenberg had the edge in the Force India battle, lapping half-a-tenth quicker than team-mate Sergio Perez, with the pair in eighth and ninth place.

McLaren-Honda returned to Q3 after a three-race absence, Fernando Alonso ending up tenth.

Williams pairing Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were both eliminated in a late flurry of improvements in Q2 as some spots of rain fell.

Bottas missed out on the top ten by just 0.060 seconds to Hulkenberg, while Massa had a poor first run then was unable to make a big enough improvement to do better than P13.

The Williams cars sandwiched the Haas of Esteban Gutierrez, with the Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz P14 and P15, and Renault driver Jolyon Palmer P16 after several lock ups on his only Q2 lap on fresh rubber.

Jenson Button was the highest-profile casualty in Q1 in P17, lapping almost six tenths slower than team-mate Alonso and complaining of a lack of front grip having failed to improve his time on his second attempt.

Kevin Magnussen did improve on his second run having been slowest on the first, but that was only good enough to jump up to P19, ahead of the Manors of Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon.

Ocon complained about Wehrlein holding him up on his final run, while Wehrlein complained about being overtaken by his team-mate.

But Ocon was the only driver to get in trouble with the stewards, who will investigate whether or not he impeded Palmer as the Descida do Lago downhill left-hander during the session.

Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr take the back row, with the former finding a bigger improvement on his second run to jump ahead of his team-mate by just 0.058 seconds having earlier been over three tenths slower.

Nasr complained about traffic during his second run, although he was still able to improve on his first-run time by over four tenths.

Brazilian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m10.736s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m10.838s
3    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m11.404s
4    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m11.485s
5    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m11.495s
6    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m11.540s
7    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m11.937s
8    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m12.104s
9    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m12.165s
10    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m12.266s
11    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m12.420s
12    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m12.431s
13    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m12.521s
14    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m12.726s
15    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m12.920s
16    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m13.258s
17    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m13.276s
18    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m13.410s
19    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m13.427s
20    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    1m13.432s
21    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m13.623s
22    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m13.681s

Hamilton wins in Mexico to keep hopes of title battle

Lewis Hamilton made it back-to-back victories by taking the chequered flag in the Mexican Grand Prix to keep his Formula 1 championship fight with Nico Rosberg alive.

As in the United States last weekend, Hamilton spearheaded another Mercedes one-two, finishing 8.3 seconds clear of Rosberg to close the gap to 19 points with two races remaining.

Rosberg had a scare on lap 50 when Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen dived down the inside into Turn 4 after Rosberg had made a small mistake at Turn 1.

Verstappen locked up as he made the pass, sliding past Rosberg and getting out of shape, allowing the Mercedes driver to get back through into second.

After that, Verstappen slid back into the clutches of Sebastian Vettel, and on lap 68 the youngest locked up at Turn 1 and took to the grass to hold onto his third position.

The race stewards handed a Verstappen a five-second time penalty soon after the chequered flag, enough to drop him to fifth place, meaning he had to leave the cool-down room as he prepared to take the podium.

That promoted Vettel – who was very angry on the radio at Verstappen and the FIA before the penalty – to third position.

The stewards will investigate another incident involving Vettel and the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo as they fight for fourth into Turn 4 on lap 69, touching wheels as the Ferrari held the position.

Up until those moments, the race at the front had been uneventful, with Hamilton maintaining the lead as Rosberg tried to keep a safe gap in second.

After Hamilton stopped on lap 17 Rosberg led for three laps before his stop, with Vettel then taking over for seven laps before taking on new rubber, with Hamilton regaining the lead after 31 laps from which there was no looking back.

For the second race running a good start off the line from pole gave Hamilton his platform for the victory, although he did suffer a significant lock up with his right-front wheel into Turn 1.

That resulted in Hamilton taking a trip across the grass and cutting out Turn 2 completely, while Rosberg also went off the track at Turn 2 under attack from Verstappen.

Further back, Esteban Gutierrez tagged Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein, who in turn spun into Marcus Ericsson in his Sauber, sending both off track, with the Manor driver retiring immediately.

Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz earned himself a five-second time penalty for forcing fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso off track in his McLaren on the run from Turn 3 to Turn 4.

With debris on the track, and Wehrlein’s stricken car, the safety car was deployed at the end of lap one, staying out for two laps.

Red Bull made an early tactical gamble, bringing in Ricciardo immediately and stripping him of the super-soft tyre and sending him on a long stint on mediums, dropping him to P17.

Ricciardo pitted again after 50 laps for a late run on softs, claiming fourth pending the stewards’ investigation, with Verstappen fifth.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was sixth, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg seventh, with the German surviving a late spin after tangling with The Iceman.

Williams duo Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were eighth and ninth, with home hero Sergio Perez tenth.

The championship may not have been settled at Mexico but the fight goes on for Brazil. If Nico Rosberg wins the race at Interlagos, then the Mercedes driver will be champion unless Lewis Hamilton has other ideas. Game on!

Mexican Grand Prix, race results after 71 laps:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    71    1h40m31.402s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    71    8.354s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    71    17.313s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    71    20.858s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    71    21.323s
6    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    71    49.376s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    71    58.891s
8    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    71    1m05.612s
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    71    1m16.206s
10    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    71    1m16.798s
11    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    70    1 Lap
12    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    70    1 Lap
13    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    70    1 Lap
14    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    70    1 Lap
15    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    70    1 Lap
16    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    70    1 Lap
17    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    70    1 Lap
18    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    70    1 Lap
19    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    70    1 Lap
20    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    70    1 Lap
21    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    69    2 Laps
–    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    0    Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1    Nico Rosberg    349
2    Lewis Hamilton    330
3    Daniel Ricciardo    239
4    Sebastian Vettel    192
5    Kimi Raikkonen    178
6    Max Verstappen    175
7    Sergio Perez    85
8    Valtteri Bottas    85
9    Nico Hulkenberg    60
10    Fernando Alonso    52
11    Felipe Massa    51
12    Carlos Sainz    38
13    Romain Grosjean    29
14    Daniil Kvyat    25
15    Jenson Button    21
16    Kevin Magnussen    7
17    Jolyon Palmer    1
18    Pascal Wehrlein    1
19    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
20    Esteban Gutierrez    0
21    Marcus Ericsson    0
22    Felipe Nasr    0
23    Rio Haryanto    0
24    Esteban Ocon    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    679
2    Red Bull-Renault    422
3    Ferrari    370
4    Force India-Mercedes    145
5    Williams-Mercedes    136
6    McLaren-Honda    74
7    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    55
8    Haas-Ferrari    29
9    Renault    8
10    Manor-Mercedes    1
11    Sauber-Ferrari    0

Next race: Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos. November.

Hamilton takes Mexican Grand Prix pole

 

Lewis Hamilton achieved his fifty ninth pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix, while championship rival Nico Rosberg recovered from fourth to take second with his final lap.

Hamilton did a lap time good enough for pole on his first run in the Q3 top ten shootout and was unable to improve on his second attempt.

But Rosberg had the most to do on his second runs, as he was initially only fourth quickest, behind Hamilton and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

With all drivers using super-softs during Q3, Verstappen and Ricciardo were only able to make tiny improvements on their second runs in an attempt to consolidate second and third positions.

Rosberg, who has had a tough weekend, managed to do enough on his final run to jump to second, one tenth faster than Verstappen.

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg first run in Q3 was enough for fifth position. A solid effort.

Ferrari had a disappointing qualifying, with Kimi Raikkonen unable to improve on his first run time and ending up sixth and Sebastian Vettel moving from eighth to seventh on his final run.

Williams pairing Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were eighth and ninth, with Carlos Sainz completing the top ten.

The Silver Arrows drivers, as well as the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers, will start the Mexican Grand Prix on the soft-compound Pirellis having set their fastest times in Q2 using the slower rubber.

Raikkonen did go out on super-softs in Q2, but did not improve on his soft time.

McLaren driver Fernando Alonso missed out on a place in Q3 by 0.113s seconds to Sainz, and will start P11.

Crowd favourite and hero Sergio Perez was unable to improve his lap time on his second run using super-softs, having set a time ultimately good enough for P12 using the softs.

Jenson Button took P13 for McLaren ahead of Renault’s Kevin Magnussen, Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.

Wehrlein had earlier put in a brilliant last lap on a third run in Q1 to reach Q2.

Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez was fastest of those eliminated in Q1 having spun in the Esses while trying to improve on his final flying lap.

Although he held P16 at the time, Wehrlein’s late effort then bumped him down to P18.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was only able to complete a single four-lap run, reporting a total loss of power and returning to the pits and not running again.

Felipe Nasr was P19 and ahead of the Manor of Esteban Ocon, while Romain Grosjean had a trouble session.

Grosjean was unable to post a lap time on his first run after locking up and going off at Turn 12, before being called back into the pits because he didn’t have enough fuel to do another run.

Although the Haas driver did set a time during a seven-lap run on his second set of super-softs, he was unable to threaten the top 16 and lost time on his final attempt when Gutierrez spun in front of him.

Jolyon Palmer was unable to participate in qualifying after suffering chassis damage from clouting a kerb during the final practice session.

Mexican Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m18.704s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m18.958s
3    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m19.054s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m19.133s
5    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m19.330s
6    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m19.376s
7    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m19.381s
8    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m19.551s
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m20.032s
10    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m20.378s
11    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m20.282s
12    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m20.287s
13    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m20.673s
14    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m21.131s
15    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m21.536s
16    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m21.785s
17    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m21.401s
18    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m21.454s
19    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m21.692s
20    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    1m21.881s
21    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m21.916s
22    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    No time

Hamilton achieves 50th career victory in Austin

Lewis Hamilton achieved his 50th victory in Formula 1, leading his championship rival Nico Rosberg at the Circuit of the Americans.

The reigning world champion, who has won four times at Austin to add to his 2007 US Grand Prix success at Indianapolis, finished 4.5 seconds ahead of Mercedes team-mate Rosberg, with Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo third.

Rosberg’s championship lead has been cut to 26 points over Hamilton, but it could have been more as Ricciardo and team-mate Max Verstappen had an opportunity in upsetting the Mercedes one-two.

Hamilton and Rosberg made clean starts, although Ricciardo took advantage of the wide first corner to get alongside Rosberg, ultimately completing the pass around the outside through Turn 2.

Verstappen, who passed Kimi Raikkonen on lap 12 to claim fourth, then began to push Rosberg who found himself sandwiched between the Red Bull pair.

But Verstappen’s race unravelled from lap 26 when he mistakenly thought he had been called into the pits, with his crew not ready when he arrived.

Three laps later Verstappen suffered a gearbox failure, and he tried to get his car back to the pits rather than stopping trackside.

When Verstappen eventually parked up, the virtual safety car was deployed, which gave Mercedes pair Hamilton and Rosberg what Ricciardo described as “a free stop”.

Having stopped for a second time on lap 25, before the virtual safety car, Ricciardo therefore found himself third, losing what Red Bull estimated to be ten seconds to Rosberg thanks to the virtual safety car.

From that point on the top three positions were sealed, with Ricciardo safe in third as Raikkonen was on a three-stop strategy and had another stop to make.

Raikkonen’s third stop led to the end of his race though, as he pulled away too quickly, with the right-rear tyre gun yanked off in the process.

As Raikkonen began to climb up the hill out of the pitlane he was forced to pull over after being told to stop, from where he rolled his car back down the slope and out of harm’s way.

Raikkonen was the fourth retirement of the race, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg first out after a Turn 1 collision with Valtteri Bottas in his Williams, sustaining trackrod damage with his car unable to turn left.

Bottas suffered a right-rear puncture that dropped him to the back of the field, and after an early pitstop he could only manage P16.

Along with Verstappen, Esteban Gutierrez was the other driver to retire after 18 laps with what appeared to be a brake problem that led to him going off at Turn 11.

Behind the leading trio, Vettel salvaged fourth for Ferrari, with Fernando Alonso fifth for McLaren after passing Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz on the penultimate lap of the 56.

Alonso, though, is under investigation for an incident with Felipe Massa on lap 54 that led to a front-left puncture for the Williams driver, who managed to hang on to seventh ahead of Sergio Perez.

The Force India driver suffered a lap one spin after an incident with Daniil Kvyat that led to a ten-second time penalty for the Russian who finished P12.

Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean were ninth and tenth, the latter claiming a point for Haas at the team’s maiden home race.

United States Grand Prix, race result after 56 laps:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    56    1h38m12.618s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    56    4.520s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    56    19.692s
4    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    56    43.134s
5    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    56    1m33.953s
6    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    56    1m36.124s
7    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
9    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    55    1 Lap
10    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
11    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    55    1 Lap
12    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
13    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    55    1 Lap
14    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
15    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
16    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
17    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
18    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    54    2 Laps
–    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    38    Retirement
–    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    28    Gearbox
–    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas/Ferrari    16    Retirement
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India/Mercedes    1    Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1    Nico Rosberg    331
2    Lewis Hamilton    305
3    Daniel Ricciardo    227
4    Sebastian Vettel    177
5    Kimi Raikkonen    170
6    Max Verstappen    165
7    Sergio Perez    84
8    Valtteri Bottas    81
9    Nico Hulkenberg    54
10    Fernando Alonso    52
11    Felipe Massa    49
12    Carlos Sainz    38
13    Romain Grosjean    29
14    Daniil Kvyat    25
15    Jenson Button    21
16    Kevin Magnussen    7
17    Jolyon Palmer    1
18    Pascal Wehrlein    1
19    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
20    Esteban Gutierrez    0
21    Marcus Ericsson    0
22    Felipe Nasr    0
23    Rio Haryanto    0
24    Esteban Ocon    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    636
2    Red Bull-Renault    400
3    Ferrari    347
4    Force India-Mercedes    138
5    Williams-Mercedes    130
6    McLaren-Honda    74
7    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    55
8    Haas-Ferrari    29
9    Renault    8
10    Manor-Mercedes    1
11    Sauber-Ferrari    0

Next race: Mexican Grand Prix, October 26-30.

Hamilton takes United States Grand Prix pole position

Lewis Hamilton achieved his 58th career pole position with a scorching lap around the Circuit of the Americans with a time of one minute, 34.999 seconds.

That lap from Hamilton breaks the previous track record set by Sebastian Vettel in his 2012 season racing for Red Bull.  Highlighting the pure speed and performance from the Mercedes.

Championship leader Nico Rosberg put on a fight for top spot against his team-mate but had to settle for second position.

Despite missing out on P1, Rosberg can afford to finish behind Hamilton to seal the championship, so pole position is not that big a deal.

The reigning world champion did his damage through the first sector, where he was almost three tenths faster than Rosberg, who ran wide at Turn 1 on both of his Q3 laps.

Rosberg, who briefly held top spot due to finishing his lap before his team-mate, was still fast enough to set the second quickest time, almost three tenths clear of Daniel Ricciardo in the best of the Red Bulls.

Max Verstappen was fourth, ahead of Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

The Mercedes drivers and Verstappen will start the race on soft tyres after all making it through Q2 on that compound.

Nico Hulkenberg was seventh fastest for Force India, well clear of the remaining top ten runners.

Hulkenberg was in superb form, lapping inside the top six in the first two segments of the session.

He was also the only non-Mercedes, Red Bull or Ferrari driver to break into the one minute, 36 seconds.

Williams pair Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa headed an impressive performance from the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz  in rounding out the top ten.

Hulkenberg’s Force India team-mate Sergio Perez missed out on making Q3 by just over a tenth of a second.

Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda was six hundredths of a second further back in P12, ahead of the Toro Rosso of newly re-signed Daniil Kvyat, Esteban Gutierrez’s Haas, and Jolyon Palmer’s Renault.

Marcus Ericsson completed a cursory run on old tyres in Q2 so wound up P16, after lapping quicker than both Gutierrez and Palmer in Q1.

Palmer complained about his final Q1 run being a “fucking disaster” as he held up Jenson Button’s McLaren on his out-lap, but the Renault still made it through to Q2.

Button was furious to drop out in Q1, after encountering the Renault entering the final corner of his best lap.

The 2009 world champion ended up a lowly P19 in his McLaren-Honda, fractionally behind Romain Grosjean’s Haas and Kevin Magnussen’s Renault, which both also missed the cut.

Pascal Wehrlein recovered from binning his Manor in the gravel in final practice to qualify P20, ahead of Felipe Nasr – who complained about his Sauber’s brakes – and Manor team-mate Esteban Ocon.

Qualifying positions, Circuit of the Americans:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m34.999s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m35.215s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m35.509s
4    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m35.747s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m36.131s
6    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m36.358s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m36.628s
8    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m37.116s
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m37.269s
10    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m37.326s
11    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m37.353s
12    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m37.417s
13    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m37.480s
14    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m37.773s
15    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m37.935s
16    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m39.356s
17    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m38.308s
18    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m38.317s
19    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m38.327s
20    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m38.548s
21    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m38.583s
22    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    1m38.806s