Vettel streets ahead over his rivals in Singapore

Vettel Singapore GP 2013 winner

Sebastian Vettel achieved one of his most dominant performances of the season with victory in the Singapore Grand Prix.

The championship leader left the rest of the field to entertain themselves, as differing pit tactics following a mid-race safety car shuffled the distant chasing pack.

In the end it was Fernando Alonso who came through yet again to give Ferrari second place, while Kimi Raikkonen shrugged off his back problem to turn P13 on the grid into an impressive third position.

Mercedes gained fourth and fifth for Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton respectively. As for Mark Webber, his Red Bull grounded to a halt on the final lap in flames.

Rosberg did his best to make a race of it at the start as he edged ahead of pole sitter Vettel and outbraked him into Turn 1.

But the Mercedes ran slightly wide and Vettel was able to get back his lost lead, with Rosberg’s retaliation attempt on the outside of Turn 3 failing to come off.

Vettel was not going to take any more chances and began pulling away from Rosberg and the rest, leading by six seconds after as many laps.

Alonso made another amazing start, but it was his late-braking move down the outside into the Turn 1, which gained him the most ground, as he surged into third position.

Up front, Vettel was not only able to outpace the pack with ease, but could also make his tyres last longer.

Rosberg’s second place became a little more secure when Alonso emerged from his first pitstop behind Paul di Resta’s yet-to-stop Force India, which would stay in front for six laps.

That delay would have halted Alonso’s chances of making further progress had Daniel Ricciardo not crashed his Toro Rosso and prompted a long safety car period just before half-distance.

Most of the frontrunners, led by Alonso, came in for tyres, while Vettel, Rosberg, Webber and Hamilton stayed out.

As it turned out, most of those who had stopped could make their tyres last the rest of the race.

While this was no problem for Vettel, who pulled away at such a ferocious rate he could easily pit again and stay ahead, the other three tumbled into the midfield traffic when they had to come in again in the final part of the race.

That promoted Alonso to second, ahead of Jenson Button and Raikkonen.

The Ferrari pulled well clear of the McLaren and Lotus, which engaged in an increasingly spectacular battle as Button’s tyres faded.

With seven laps to go, Raikkonen pulled off a brilliant move around the outside of Button to deny McLaren a podium and get himself into third from P13 on the grid.

Webber had jumped Rosberg in the final stops. The Australian then led the two Mercedes as they hacked back through the field, overtaking the Saubers and McLarens and setting their sights on the podium.

Alonso and Raikkonen were always likely to be out of reach though, and then Red Bull ordered Webber to back off following a growing technical problem in the final laps.

He was powerless to prevent the Silver Arrows powering pass and his car then came to a stand with an apparent engine failure with half a lap of the race to go.

Felipe Massa had to make three pitstops and finished sixth, ahead of a train of tyre-troubled cars in Button, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, chased by three-stopper Adrian Sutil.

Di Resta crashed out late on, while qualifying star Esteban Gutierrez fell back to P12 behind Pastor Maldonado as his tyres faded.

So, a superb performance by the world champion. His third consecutive win at Marina Bay and now 60 points clear of his rival. Just six races left and Vettel is looking the favourite to scored his fourth title.

Singapore Race results after 61 laps:

1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault   1:59:13.132
2.  Alonso         Ferrari             +32.627
3.  Raikkonen      Lotus-Renault       +43.920
4.  Rosberg        Mercedes           +51.155
5.  Hamilton       Mercedes            +53.159
6.  Massa          Ferrari        +1:03.677
7.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes        +1:23.354
8.  Perez          McLaren-Mercedes         +1:23.820
9.  Hulkenberg     Sauber-Ferrari           +1:24.261
10.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes       +1:24.668
11.  Maldonado      Williams-Renault        +1:28.479
12.  Gutierrez      Sauber-Ferrari            +1:37.894
13.  Bottas         Williams-Renault          +1:45.161
14.  Vergne         Toro Rosso-Ferrari       +1:53.512
15.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault        +1 lap
16.  van der Garde  Caterham-Renault        +1 lap
17.  Chilton        Marussia-Cosworth        +1 lap
18.  Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth        +1 lap
19.  Pic            Caterham-Renault         +1 lap

Not classified/retirments:

Di Resta       Force India-Mercedes    54 laps
Grosjean       Lotus-Renault           37 laps
Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      23 laps

Fastest lap: Vettel 1:48.574 on lap 46

World Championship standings, round 13:

1.  Vettel        247
2.  Alonso        187
3.  Hamilton      151
4.  Raikkonen     149
5.  Webber        130
6.  Rosberg       116
7.  Massa          87
8.  Grosjean       57
9.  Button         54
10.  Di Resta       36
11.  Sutil          26
12.  Perez          22
13.  Hulkenberg     19
14.  Ricciardo      18
15.  Vergne         13
16.  Maldonado       1

1.  Red Bull-Renault          377
2.  Ferrari                   274
3.  Mercedes                  267
4.  Lotus-Renault             206
5.  McLaren-Mercedes           76
6.  Force India-Mercedes       62
7.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         31
8.  Sauber-Ferrari             19
9.  Williams-Renault            1

Next race: Korean Grand Prix, Yeongam. October 4-6.

Supreme Vettel takes pole in Singapore

Seb Vettel. Singapore GP qualifying 2013

Sebastian Vettel achieved his fifth pole position of the season with a supreme performance in qualifying around the Marina Bay street circuit.

The Red Bull Racing driver opted to do just a single Q3 run as his initial one minute, 42.841 seconds lap put him six tenths clear over his rivals. The triple world champion had also outpaced the pack by nearly a second in Q2.

Vettel’s casual approach to the top ten shootout almost proved costly, as first Mark Webber, then Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean all hinted at the top spot pace on their second attempt.

In the end, they all fell short. Rosberg’s Mercedes came closest, just 0.091 seconds down on Vettel, who is separated from team-mate Webber by Grosjean’s Lotus.

Lewis Hamilton was only fifth for Mercedes, while the Ferraris were down in sixth and seventh, with the departing Felipe Massa ahead of team number one Fernando Alonso again.

Massa had earlier only just made it beyond Q1 having encountered traffic at the wrong moment.

It emerged just before qualifying that Kimi Raikkonen was struggling with back pain and that Lotus had been sufficiently concerned to get reserve driver Davide Valsecchi prepared.

The Iceman only managed to qualify P13, lapping 0.7 seconds slower than team-mate Grosjean in Q2. It will be interesting if Raikkonen continues to take part despite his bad back.

Esteban Gutierrez was among the stars of qualifying as he put aside recent Saturday woes to reach Q3 for the first time. He was nearly knocked out in Q1 until a last-gasp effort was enough to get through.

As for his Sauber team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, he was completely overshadowed for once and will line up P11 on the Singapore Grand Prix grid.

Sauber was not the only team to have one driver either side of the Q2/Q3 divide.

Jenson Button sneaked into the top ten for McLaren by just 0.058 seconds and took eighth, while the under-pressure Sergio Perez was down in P14.

Jean-Eric Vergne was within 0.091 seconds of joining Toro Rosso team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in Q3 but will start P12, three places behind the Australian.

Gutierrez and Massa’s late laps in Q1 caught out Paul di Resta, who was already in the pits and was pushed back to P17. Team-mate Adrian Sutil only managed two positions higher.

Pastor Malonado was also knocked out in Q1, though Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas made it to Q2.

Caterham was again quicker than Marussia, Charles Pic coming out in front among the tail-end pack.

So, a dominant performance by the triple world champion. Just one flying lap to take pole position and a nervous wait for his rivals to beat him. No one came close to Vettel and it was fascinating if he can keep up this winning speed into Sunday’s race.

Qualifying positions for the Singapore Grand Prix:

1.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault      1m42.841s
2.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes              1m42.932s
3.  Romain Grosjean      Lotus-Renault         1m43.058s
4.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault      1m43.152s
5.  Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes              1m43.254s
6.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari               1m43.890s
7.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari               1m43.938s
8.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes      1m44.282s
9.  Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m44.439s
10.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari        No time set
11.  Nico Hulkenberg      Sauber-Ferrari        1m44.555s
12.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m44.588s
13.  Kimi Raikkonen       Lotus-Renault         1m44.658s
14.  Sergio Perez         McLaren-Mercedes      1m44.752s
15.  Adrian Sutil         Force India-Mercedes  1m45.185s
16.  Valtteri Bottas      Williams-Renault      1m45.388s
17.  Paul di Resta        Force India-Mercedes  1m46.121s
18.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Renault      1m46.619s
19.  Charles Pic          Caterham-Renault      1m48.111s
20.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham-Renault      1m48.320s
21.  Jules Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth     1m48.830s
22.  Max Chilton          Marussia-Cosworth     1m48.930s

107 per cent time: 1m51.489s

Rush film review

RUSH movie

Based on the true events of the 1976 Formula 1 season, Rush is set against the sexy and glamorous golden age of motor racing. Focusing on two of the greatest sporting icons battling over the ultimate prize, the world championship.

Directed by Ron Howard and with the screenplay written by Peter Morgan, this film is a story on a great rivalry between handsome English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), and his methodical, brilliant opponent, Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl).

The story follows their distinctly different personalities on and off the track, their loves and the astonishing 1976 season in which both were willing to risk everything to become world champion in a sport with no margin for error.

As the season progresses both men enjoy a number of successes but also suffer a series of setbacks, both personally and professionally.

Hunt’s marriage to feisty model Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde) hits the rocks and his eccentric supporter Lord Hesketh (Christian McKay) runs out of money, while Lauda survives a horrific crash at the German Grand Prix, requiring him to need extensive surgery.

Incredibly, Lauda recovers and makes a heroic comeback – inspired in large part by his rivalry with Hunt – before the ultimate showdown between the two at the Japanese Grand Prix.

The attention to detail in Rush is just a revelation. The sound and sights of 1970s racing is just perfect and the camerawork from cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, puts you right in the heat of the battle on track.

As for the two leading stars, both Hemsworth and Brühl deliver exceptional and complex performances that really showcase their desire and dedication to win.

In addition, it was really fascinating to see their mutual respect and admiration to one another despite their obsession to outrace and go for glory.

And yet, in my honest opinion Brühl’s role in Rush edges ahead of Hemsworth. His Austrian accent was spot on and even though he was playing a methodical and calculated character, which was a complete contrast to the wild and spectacular James Hunt, the German-speaking actor nails the personality of Niki Lauda perfectly.

Ron Howard’s direction is good and assured throughout the film, with the drama and excitement in the racing sequences the major highlight. With the cars screaming away off the grid, frantic gear-changes and overtaking moves really created the sense of exhilaration and thrills from an actual Grand Prix race.

In equal measures were the scenes involving the recovery of Lauda following his horrific Nürburgring crash, especially the surgery procedures. That was genuinely shocking.

As for the decision to include the real-life video footage of Hunt and Lauda in the final moments of Rush, this was inspired and it reveals the very significant moments that affected these two sporting heroes after the highs of winning the world championship.

So in conclusion, Rush is a truly excellent film. Beautifully directed by Ron Howard with a great script penned by the talented Peter Morgan, who also written the complex relationship between David Frost and Richard Nixon in the classic Frost/Nixon.

The film also showcases Formula 1 as more appealing to the non-petrolhead with fascinating characters, emotional scenes and thrilling races. Just like the actual sport itself!

Massa leaves while Raikkonen rejoins Ferrari for 2014 season

Massa Ferrari 2013

In a space of twenty-four hours, the driver line-up for Scuderia Ferrari in 2014 has been resolved with the news that Felipe Massa has left, with Kimi Raikkonen announced as his replacement.

After serving the Manarello-based squad for eight years, Felipe Massa tweeted on Tuesday night that he would leave Ferrari at the end of this season.

“From 2014 I will no longer be driving for Ferrari,” Massa announced on the social networking site.

“I would like to thank the team for all the victories and incredible moments experienced together. Thank you also to my wife and all of my family, to my fans and all my sponsors.

“From each one of you I have always received a great support! Right now I want to push as hard as possible with Ferrari for the remaining seven races. For next year, I want to find a team that can give me a competitive car to win many more races and challenge for the championship, which remains my greatest objective! Thank you all.”

The Brazilian joined Ferrari in 2006 and scored his first victory at the Turkish Grand Prix that year. In 2008, he came very close to winning the world championship at his home race at Sao Paulo, but lost out to title rival Lewis Hamilton by a single point.

The following season, Massa was seriously injured in a crash at the Hungaroring and was out of action for the rest of 2009. He returned a year later but since then has struggled to get on terms with his new team-mate Fernando Alonso in terms of outright speed.

Since his crash Massa has not added to the eleven wins he scored for the Scuderia. He was on course for victory at Hockenheim in 2010 but was issued the infamous team orders that “Fernando was faster than you” resulting in Alonso scoring the race win instead.

Massa has started more races for Ferrari than any driver, apart from Michael Schumacher.

Raikkonen Ferrari 2009

With Massa out, the rumours of Raikkonen taking over the seat reached fever pitch and by Wednesday afternoon, Ferrari officially confirmed that The Iceman was back at the team.

It has been seven years on since Raikkonen first joined Ferrari and in that year, he won the world championship in a dramatic Brazilian Grand Prix.

By rejoining the team in 2014, alongside Fernando Alonso, the Manarello-based squad has without doubt, the strongest line-up in terms of title success.

Raikkonen’s deal is a two-year contract and it will be deeply fascinating to see how these two champions will get on in terms of bringing home the silverware for Ferrari.

A statement from Ferrari confirmed he will “join Fernando Alonso in the driver line-up for the next two racing seasons”.

“I am really happy to be returning to Maranello where I previously spent three fantastic and very successful years,” said Raikkonen. “I have so many memories of my time at Ferrari, memories which have stayed with me these past years, first and foremost, winning the world championship title in 2007, which was really unforgettable.”

“I can’t wait to be driving a prancing horse car again and to reacquaint myself with so many people with whom I had such close links, as well as working with Fernando, whom I consider a great driver, in order to bring the team the success it deserves.”

As for Fernando Alonso, who competed against Kimi Raikkonen for championship honours back in 2005 while racing for Renault and McLaren respectively, he said of the new partnership: “I’d like to welcome my new travelling companion: together, starting next year, we will have to tackle a very demanding technical and racing challenge.”

“I want to thank Felipe for all the support he has given me and the team during this journey we have made together over all these years,” he added.

“Come the end of the season, it will not be easy to say goodbye to a team-mate like him. He has always been truly professional and loyal to the team and I am sure that right to the end, he will do his utmost for the Scuderia that he loves so much.”

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali added: “I am pleased to welcome Kimi back to the Scuderia, the team with which he won his world championship title.”

“I sense he is very happy to be returning to Maranello and very determined to tackle the work that awaits him in the best way possible.”

Domenicali expressed his gratitude to Massa for eight years of service as one of the team’s racing drivers: “I wish to thank Felipe with all my heart and also on behalf of all our fans around the world, for the extraordinary job he has done for the team over so many years.”

“Felipe has always behaved like a real team player. Together we have lived through some great times and also a few dramatic moments, which have helped to cement a truly unique relationship on both a professional and personal level.”

“He will always be part of our family and we wish him all the very best for the future. Now we must concentrate all our efforts on the remaining seven races of the season and we know that, as always, we can count on Felipe’s contribution, while we work together to reach our goals. Our determination will not waver one iota right to the very end.”

So, an exciting line-up at Ferrari next year in the shape of two former champions. Not since 1953 have the Scuderia got two title winners representing the team. It’s going to be thrilling to see Alonso and Raikkonen fighting for poles, fastest laps, race wins and hopefully championships in the years to come.

Vettel victorious at Monza

Sebastian Vettel. Italian Grand Prix 2013 winner

Sebastian Vettel took a commanding victory at Monza, extending his championship lead with an impressive 222 points.

This was the triple champion’s sixth win of the season and his 32nd in the sport. Vettel achieved his maiden victory five years ago for Toro Rosso.

As for Fernando Alonso, competing in front of the passionate Tifosi, the Ferrari driver won the battle for second position.

With the lead Red Bull out of reach from the start, the best Ferrari could hope for was the ‘best of the rest’ honours, which Alonso secured after a long battle with Mark Webber.

Both Red Bulls were ordered to short-shift to protect a potential gearbox issues in the closing moments of Italian Grand Prix, which halted Webber’s pursuit of Alonso and yet Vettel had enough in hand to ease off and still take the flag in style.

In further good news for Vettel, his championship contenders in the shape of Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen were left fighting for minor points after some early incidents.

Vettel was threatened by both Webber and the second Ferrari of Felipe Massa into a busy first chicane, locking up his right-front tyre which caused his team a concern.

A beautifully judged move around the outside into the Roggia chicane on lap three took Alonso past Webber’s Red Bull for third, as they went wheel to wheel right through the complex, making only slight contact on the exit.

Massa then made life very easy for Alonso when he came to overtake for second, and the Spaniard was able to stabilise Vettel’s lead at six seconds.

But when Alonso tried a slightly divergent strategy by running four laps longer before his sole pitstop, Vettel’s lead increased to over 10 seconds.

Alonso came back out only just ahead of Webber, who had jumped Massa in the stops, and had several close calls in the closing laps as the Red Bull attacked, before claiming second.

Nico Hulkenberg lived up to his qualifying performance by settling his Sauber into fifth place.

He had Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes in often very close company all afternoon, but kept his compatriot at bay and finished just a few seconds behind Alonso, Webber and Massa after an outstanding weekend.

Raikkonen had to pit for a new front wing after bumping into Sergio Perez at the start, while an early slow puncture put Hamilton onto a two-stop strategy, hampered further by radio problems.

The recovering Lotus and Mercedes then ended up in the same place on track late on having an epic battle both with each other and the midfield traffic.

Daniel Ricciardo stayed just far enough ahead of late chargers Romain Grosjean and Hamilton to take seventh, while Jenson Button just denied Raikkonen a point.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez chased them home. Grosjean reached the end despite Paul di Resta’s Force India slamming into his Lotus at the Roggia on lap one, an impact that ended the Scot’s race.

Jean-Eric Vergne was another early retirement, having battled in the top ten before smoke erupted from the right-rear of his Toro Rosso.

So a fantastic result for Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel. Victorious for the sixth time this season. That championship is looking very good in favour of the dream team and driver combination now.

Italian Grand Prix, race results after 53 laps:

1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault           1h18m33.352
2.  Alonso         Ferrari                    +5.467
3.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault           + 6.350
4.  Massa          Ferrari                    +9.361
5.  Hulkenberg     Sauber-Ferrari             +10.355
6.  Rosberg        Mercedes                   +10.999
7.  Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +32.329
8.  Grosjean       Lotus-Renault              +33.130
9.  Hamilton       Mercedes                   +33.527
10.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes           +38.327
11.  Raikkonen      Lotus-Renault              +38.695
12.  Perez          McLaren-Mercedes           +39.765
13.  Gutierrez      Sauber-Ferrari             +40.880
14.  Maldonado      Williams-Renault           +49.085
15.  Bottas         Williams-Renault           +56.827
16.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes       +1 lap
17.  Perez          McLaren-Mercedes           +1 lap
18.  van der Garde  Caterham-Renault           +1 lap
19.  Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth          +1 lap
20.  Chilton        Marussia-Cosworth          +1 lap

Fastest lap: Hamilton, 1:25.849

Not classified/retirements:
Vergne         Toro Rosso-Ferrari           35 laps
Di Resta       Force India-Mercedes         1 lap

World Championship standings, round 12:

1.  Vettel        222
2.  Alonso        169
3.  Hamilton      141
4.  Raikkonen     134
5.  Webber        130
6.  Rosberg       104
7.  Massa          79
8.  Grosjean       57
9.  Button         48
10.  Di Resta       36
11.  Sutil          25
12.  Perez          18
13.  Ricciardo      18
14.  Hulkenberg     17
15.  Vergne         13
16.  Maldonado       1

1.  Red Bull-Renault          352
2.  Ferrari                   248
3.  Mercedes                  245
4.  Lotus-Renault             191
5.  McLaren-Mercedes           66
6.  Force India-Mercedes       61
7.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         31
8.  Sauber-Ferrari             17
9.  Williams-Renault            1

Next race: Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay. September 20-22.

Vettel leads Red Bull front-row at Monza

Vettel Italian GP 2013 qualifying

Sebastian Vettel achieved his 40th career pole position in Formula 1 with a dominant performance, as his rivals made a complete mess of the qualifying session.

Fernando Alonso could only managed fifth after another failed attempt in slipstreaming by Ferrari, while neither Lewis Hamilton nor Kimi Raikkonen made it into the top ten.

Mark Webber did however make it a Red Bull one-two, while an impressive effort from Nico Hulkenberg gave Sauber a shock third place on the Italian Grand Prix grid.

Ferrari had experimented with its drivers giving each other slipstreams in final practice, but its efforts to recreate that same strategy in Q3 fell apart.

The cars were never close enough to make the strategy work and appeared to end up spoiling each other’s laps. Felipe Massa eventually qualified in fourth place ahead of Alonso.

Webber looked to have a shot at displacing Vettel right at the end of Q3, but was first on the scene as Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso ploughed through the Parabolica gravel.

That left Vettel clearly on pole with a time of one minute, 23.755 seconds lap, two tenths quicker than his Red Bull team-mate.

As for Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 world champion admitted it was poor driving on his part – running wide on the exit of Parabolica – which meant a disappointing qualifying result.

Lotus appeared to be simply short of pace, with Raikkonen and team-mate Romain Grosjean only P11 and P13.

While they all under-performed, Hulkenberg starred with a Q3 lap just 0.037 seconds off Webber’s Red Bull and ahead of the Ferraris and Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes.

Toro Rosso got two cars into the top ten shootout, with Daniel Ricciardo seventh but Vergne’s mistake leaving him tenth.

The McLarens will start behind them, with Sergio Perez out-qualifying Jenson Button.

Force India looked in jeopardy of a Q1 exit until late improvements for both drivers, but there was little progress in Q2.

Post-qualifying, the race stewards handed a three-pace grid penalty for Adrian Sutil. The Force India driver had impended Lewis Hamilton’s run into Parabolica.

Paul di Resta ended up P16, just behind fellow late Q1 escapee Pastor Maldonado.

Rookies Esteban Gutierrez and Valtteri Bottas were ultimately the drivers who joined the Caterhams and Marussias at the back.

So a great result for Red Bull Racing. The team’s fifty pole in the sport, with the triple world champion scoring his fourth pole position of the year. Will we see the superb driver/team combo win again on Sunday? We shall see on one of the fastest tracks on the calendar and the final European race of the season.

Qualifying times from Monza:

1. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m23.755s
2. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m23.968s
3. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari       1m24.065s
4. Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m24.132s
5. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m24.142s
6. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m24.192s
7. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m24.209s
8. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes     1m24.502s
9. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m24.515s
10. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m28.050s
11. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m24.610s
12. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes             1m24.803s
13. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m24.848s
14. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m25.011s
15. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m25.077s
16. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari       1m25.226s
17. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m24.932s*
18. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault     1m25.291s
19. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault     1m26.406s
20. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault     1m26.563s
21. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth    1m27.085s
22. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth    1m27.480s

107 per cent time: 1m30.221s

*Three-place penalty for impeding Lewis Hamilton

Ricciardo to drive for Red Bull Racing next year

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing

After the endless rumours on who will be the most likely driver to replace Mark Webber, the championship-winning team have officially confirmed Daniel Ricciardo to take over the role at Red Bull Racing.

The announcement was made on Red Bull’s Servus TV channel.

Ricciardo will now follow in the footsteps of his Australian compatriot Mark Webber, who is retiring from Formula 1 to compete in sport cars racing.

This is great opportunity for Daniel Ricciardo and he will make the switch from the sister team, Scuderia Toro Rosso, to the main hot seat alongside Sebastian Vettel in 2014.

By confirming Ricciardo, the team have ended the sport’s so-called silly season of possible drivers aiming for a drive at Red Bull. He headed off the challenges from Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso for the top honour.

“I feel very, very good at the moment and obviously there’s a lot of excitement running through me,” said Ricciardo.

“Since joining F1 in 2011, I hoped this would happen and over time the belief in me has grown; I had some good results and Red Bull has decided that this is it, so it’s a good time.”

“Next year I’ll be with a championship-winning team, arguably the best team, and will be expected to deliver. I’m ready for that. I’m not here to run around in tenth place, I want to get the best results for myself and the team. I would like to thank the team for giving me the opportunity to show what I can do.

“I know the team quite well already since being its reserve driver in 2010, which should make the transition easier. It will be a great challenge to be up against Sebastian Vettel, I’m looking forward to that. My aim is to finish this season as strong as possible, for myself and Scuderia Toro Rosso. Then, once the off-season is here, I’ll be fully focussed on next year and the next stage of my career.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “It’s fantastic to confirm Daniel as the team’s race driver for 2014.”

“He’s a very talented youngster, he’s committed, he’s got a great attitude and in the end it was a very logical choice for us to choose Daniel.”

“He joined the Red Bull Junior Team in 2008 and we’ve seen in his junior career in Formula Three and Renault World Series that he’s capable of winning races and championships. He’s stood out in each of these categories and we’ve followed his progress with great interest.

“He’s got all the attributes that are required to drive for our team: he’s got a great natural ability, he’s a good personality and a great guy to work with. Daniel knows what the team expects from him; he’ll learn quickly and it’s very much a medium to long term view that we’re taking in developing him. The seat within the team is a wonderful opportunity and I think he’s going to be a big star of the future.”

Kimi Raikkonen was in the running for the seat but in the end the team opted for Ricciardo, as Adrian Newey explained:

“We could have taken an experienced driver, somebody guaranteed to deliver to a relatively known level, or equally we could take on a much younger driver in the hope that they’ll develop to a very high level. We looked at the latter option and concluded that of the younger drivers, Daniel is the most promising.

“From Red Bull’s point of view that also fits well because the driver that Christian and I feel is the most promising is part of the Red Bull young driver programme.

“The decision actually reminded me a little bit of a similar situation we had when I was at Williams. Nigel Mansell was leaving and we needed someone alongside Alain Prost. We could stick with Riccardo Patrese or take a punt on a young driver called Damon Hill who was our test driver at the time. I think it’s good to bring young blood in and give promising drivers a chance.”

Best of luck Daniel in the new Formula 1 season. He deserved this opportunity and it will be fascinating to see if he can fight against his new team-mate Sebastian Vettel in equal cars.