Rosberg back in the title race with Baku victory

After the setback of the past two races, Nico Rosberg returns to the winner circle with victory at the Baku street circuit.

The Mercedes driver’s fifth Grand Prix win this season means he has extended his world championship lead over title rival Lewis Hamilton by 24 points.

Rosberg led into the first corner from pole and set about building a lead he would never give up, while Mercedes team-mate Hamilton can only finish fifth.

Last weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix winner made good progress through the field from tenth, having crashed out in qualifying, but then encountered lower than maximum electrical deployment.

The reigning world champion repeatedly asked his team for help in solving the problem, but Mercedes was unable to tell him what to do under this season’s radio communication restrictions.

Hamilton was able to fix the problem in the closing stages of the European Grand Prix but it proved to be too late and he was unable to improve on fifth position.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished second for the second successive race with Force India’s Sergio Perez scoring his second podium in three races with third place.

‘Checo’ Perez passed Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap to snatch third, but he was set to get the place anyway as Raikkonen had been given a five-second time penalty for crossing the white line on pit entry earlier in the race.

Valtteri Bottas was a lonely sixth while Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen passed Nico Hulkenberg late on to finish seventh and eighth respectively.

The Red Bulls used a two-stop strategy, fitting the softs and the the mediums, while Hulkenberg only did a single pit stop so they had fresher tyres.

Hulkenberg held on to ninth, one position ahead of Felipe Massa, who scored points for the seventh time in eight races.

Jenson Button finished just outside the points in P11 but his McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso was told to pit and retire the car with seven laps to go.

Felipe Nasr scored his best result of the season with P12, ahead of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, who started from the pitlane.

Pascal Wehrlein was running strongly when he suffered brake failure and retired his Manor for the first time this season.

The Toro Rossos were the only other retirements, both Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr suffering suspension issues.

So a great result for Nico Rosberg. Race victory has rebuild his confidence in the championship. As for the action at Baku, it lacked drama compared to the Le Mans 24 Hours, which clashed with the European Grand Prix.

European Grand Prix, race results after 51 laps:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1h32m52.366s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    16.696s
3    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    25.241s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    33.102s
5    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    56.335s
6    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m00.886s
7    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m09.229s
8    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m10.696s
9    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m17.708s
10    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m25.375s
11    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m44.817s
12    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
13    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1 Lap
14    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1 Lap
15    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1 Lap
16    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1 Lap
17    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
18    Rio Haryanto    Manor-Mercedes    2 Laps
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    Retirement
–    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    Brakes
–    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    Retirement
–    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    Retirement

Drivers’ standings:

1    Nico Rosberg    141
2    Lewis Hamilton    117
3    Sebastian Vettel    96
4    Kimi Raikkonen    81
5    Daniel Ricciardo    78
6    Max Verstappen    54
7    Valtteri Bottas    52
8    Sergio Perez    39
9    Felipe Massa    38
10    Daniil Kvyat    22
11    Romain Grosjean    22
12    Nico Hulkenberg    20
13    Fernando Alonso    18
14    Carlos Sainz    18
15    Kevin Magnussen    6
16    Jenson Button    5
17    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
18    Esteban Gutierrez    0
19    Jolyon Palmer    0
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Felipe Nasr    0
22    Pascal Wehrlein    0
23    Rio Haryanto    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    258
2    Ferrari    177
3    Red Bull-Renault    140
4    Williams-Mercedes    90
5    Force India-Mercedes    59
6    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    32
7    McLaren-Honda    24
8    Haas-Ferrari    22
9    Renault    6
10    Sauber-Ferrari    0
11    Manor-Mercedes    0

Rosberg takes Baku pole while Hamilton crashes out


Championship leader Nico Rosberg takes a vital pole position for the European Grand Prix in Azerbaijan, as his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton crashed out in Q3.

Rosberg glanced the wall during his own final run at the Baku city circuit, but still did enough to claim the top grid slot by nearly eight tenths of a second.

The Canadian Grand Prix winner had earlier set the fastest time of all in the first sector but went off at Turn 15.

Hamilton regrouped and tried again, matching Rosberg’s pace in the first sector, but clipped the inside wall at Turn 12 and broke the front-right suspension on his Silver Arrows.

That caused the session to be red-flagged, and eventually left Hamilton down in tenth position, without having set a proper time in Q3.

It was a messy qualifying for the defending champion, who went off during each segment.

Sergio Perez therefore finished the session second quickest for Force India, but he will start seventh thanks to having to change the gearbox following a crash at the end of final practice.

Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel set identical lap times, over four tenths down on the Force India, but Ricciardo takes the honour on the account of being first across the timing line so inherits the front row position.

“Oh come on, you’re joking!” rued Vettel, after Ferrari broke the bad news over team radio.

Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa rounded out the top six, ahead of Daniil Kvyat, the Williams of Valtteri Bottas, and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, who almost collided with Bottas during their first runs in Q3.

Romain Grosjean’s Haas came within a tenth of making the top ten, but ended the session P11, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg. The Force India driver spun on his first run in Q2 and was only P12 on his second attempt, complaining over team radio about a miscommunication of his run plan.

The Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr was P13, ahead of Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda and Esteban Gutierrez, who went off at Turn 7 on his final flying lap.

Felipe Nasr got Sauber through to Q2 for the first time since the Chinese Grand Prix, but couldn’t go any quicker in Q2 so finished up P16.

Manor-Mercedes enjoyed a competitive qualifying session, but missed out on making the Q2 cut by less than two tenths.

Rio Haryanto was fractionally faster than Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein, and both were quicker than Jenson Button’s McLaren-Honda, which wound up P19 after backing out of his final flying lap in Q1.

He ended up 0.054 seconds down on Wehrlein and cursing over team radio.

Marcus Ericsson was P20 for Sauber, despite grazing a wall on his final lap, while Renault pairing Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer brought up the rear of the grid.

Qualifying standings, Baku:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m42.758s
2    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m43.966s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m43.966s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m44.269s
5    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m44.483s
6    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m44.717s
7    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m43.515s*
8    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m45.246s
9    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m45.570s
10    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    2m01.954s
11    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m44.755s
12    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m44.824s
13    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m45.000s
14    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m45.270s
15    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m45.349s
16    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m46.048s
17    Rio Haryanto    Manor-Mercedes    1m45.665s
18    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m45.750s
19    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m45.804s
20    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m46.231s
21    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m46.348s
22    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m46.394s

*Grid penalty due to a gearbox change

Hamilton victorious in Canada

Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton won the Canadian Grand Prix – his fifth at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve – while his championship rival Nico Rosberg lost ground and finished in fifth spot.

The Mercedes driver finished five seconds clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who had a shot at victory following a fantastic start, but failed to make a two-stop strategy work in comparison to the one-stop for Hamilton.

It means after seven of the 21 races this year, Hamilton is now just nine points from Rosberg, who spun near the end trying to pass Max Verstappen for fourth, with the defending champion taking 34 points out of the latter’s early advantage over the last two Grands Prix.

Valtteri Bottas also managed just a one-stop strategy to claim third in his Williams, scoring both his and the team’s first podium since Mexico last season.

Hamilton made another poor start from pole, while from third on the grid Vettel blasted by the Silver Arrows pair to take the lead.

Behind Vettel, Hamilton held the inside line into Turn 1 where he and Rosberg bumped wheels as the latter attempted to pass around the outside.

The slight collision, however, was enough to force Rosberg to go off the circuit, dropping him to ninth place and facing a battle to fight through the field in the cold conditions.

Rosberg lost another place before the end of lap one to fall to tenth, leaving Vettel and Hamilton to fight for the win and a battle of strategies between Ferrari and Mercedes.

Ferrari caused a surprise when Vettel pitted at the end of lap 11 and under a virtual safety car period caused by Jenson Button’s engine blowing on his McLaren, the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix winner pulling his car onto a grass verge.

In switching from the ultra-soft tyre to the super-soft, it was apparent Vettel would have to pit again with the soft compound being the mandatory set for the race designated by Pirelli.

At that stage Vettel dropped to fourth behind the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, although come the end of lap 18 he had cleared both to move up to second behind Hamilton.

Six laps later Hamilton made his only pit stop, taking on the soft tyres, leaving him with 46 to the end, with the prediction from Pirelli being it could run for fifty laps.

It was another 13 before Ferrari pitted Vettel again to take on the soft tyres, retaining his second place and emerging 7.8 seconds behind Hamilton.

Vettel closed the gap to 4.3 seconds behind Hamilton after 55 laps, but he locked up into the final chicane on lap 56 and again on lap 61 to drop him to 6.7 seconds adrift, effectively ending his bid for victory.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen managed to fend off Rosberg to finish fourth, whose attempt at a pass into the final chicane on lap 69 ended with him spinning off track, although he kept his engine running.

Rosberg had had a shot at third earlier in the race, but he suffered a slow puncture to his right-rear tyre with 19 laps remaining that dropped him to seventh at the time.

Kimi Raikkonen was sixth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, the only two other drivers to finish on the same lap as Hamilton.

Completing the points-scoring positions were Force India duo Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez in eighth and tenth, with  Carlos Sainz in between. The Toro Rosso racer started P20 after taking a gearbox penalty before the start.

Also on the list of retirees alongside Button were Renault’s Jolyon Palmer on lap 18 with a water leak and Felipe Massa’s Williams after 37 laps with engine issues.

So a brilliant result for Lewis Hamilton. Fifth victory at the Canadian Grand Prix and now nine points behind his championship rival.

Ferrari’s strategy did not work out for Sebastian Vettel who gave it all in the race.

A new event comes up next at Baku. It’s going to be a fascinating Grand Prix especially in terms of the championship.

Canadian Grand Prix, race results:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    70    1h31m05.296s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    70    5.011s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    70    46.422s
4    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    70    53.020s
5    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    70    1m02.093s
6    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    70    1m03.017s
7    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    70    1m03.634s
8    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    69    1 Lap
9    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    69    1 Lap
10    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    69    1 Lap
11    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    69    1 Lap
12    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    69    1 Lap
13    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    68    2 Laps
14    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    68    2 Laps
15    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    68    2 Laps
16    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    68    2 Laps
17    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    68    2 Laps
18    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    68    2 Laps
19    Rio Haryanto    Manor-Mercedes    68    2 Laps
–    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    35    Retirement
–    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    16    Retirement
–    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    9    Engine

Drivers’ standings:

1    Nico Rosberg    116
2    Lewis Hamilton    107
3    Sebastian Vettel    78
4    Daniel Ricciardo    72
5    Kimi Raikkonen    69
6    Max Verstappen    50
7    Valtteri Bottas    44
8    Felipe Massa    37
9    Sergio Perez    24
10    Daniil Kvyat    22
11    Romain Grosjean    22
12    Fernando Alonso    18
13    Nico Hulkenberg    18
14    Carlos Sainz    18
15    Kevin Magnussen    6
16    Jenson Button    5
17    Stoffel Vandoorne    1
18    Esteban Gutierrez    0
19    Jolyon Palmer    0
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Pascal Wehrlein    0
22    Felipe Nasr    0
23    Rio Haryanto    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    223
2    Ferrari    147
3    Red Bull-Renault    130
4    Williams-Mercedes    81
5    Force India-Mercedes    42
6    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    32
7    McLaren-Honda    24
8    Haas-Ferrari    22
9    Renault    6
10    Sauber-Ferrari    0
11    Manor-Mercedes    0

Hamilton scores Canadian Grand Prix pole

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton achieved his fifth Canadian Grand Prix pole position at the Circuit Gilles Villeueve.

The Mercedes driver edged out his championship rival Nico Rosberg by a tiny margin of 0.062 seconds to earn his fifty-third career pole in Formula 1.

Hamilton held on to top spot despite failing to improve on his second run in Q3 at the Montreal circuit.

Rosberg messed up his second run at the first corner so also failed to improve, while Sebastian Vettel cursed losing some traction at the hairpin on his final flying lap.

Vettel put on a brave fight for Ferrari but was unable to match the sheer speed from the Silver Arrows. Third on the grid is the end result. Just 0.116 seconds adrift.

The Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen qualified fourth and fifth respectively. A solid effort from the charging bulls, ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were seventh and eighth for Williams, with the former less than a tenth away from beating The Iceman.

Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India was almost two tenths further back from Massa in ninth, while Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda rounded out the top ten.

Alonso made Q3 for the third race in succession by bumping Sergio Perez out of the top ten in the closing moments of Q2, so the Force India driver ended up in P11.

Jenson Button was fractionally quicker than his McLaren team-mate Alonso in the first two sectors of his final lap in Q2, but he dropped time in the final sector and wound up P12 – blaming a lack of a tow on the run from the hairpin.

Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso was just 0.020 secondss slower in P13, ahead of Haas pairing Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean, who were separated by 0.232 seconds.

The Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr ended up slowest in Q2 after he bashed against the Wall of Champions at the end of his first proper flying lap, causing the session to be red flagged while the track marshals remove his broken car.

Jolyon Palmer had earlier come within 0.015 secondss of stealing the final Q2 spot from Grosjean, but had to settle for P17 in his Renault.

He was 0.140 seconds ahead of the impressive Pascal Wehrlein, whose Manor was P15 after his first run in Q1, but slipped back when others improved.

Wehrlein’s hopes of improving himself were scuppered by team-mate Rio Haryanto clouting the wall at the exit of the first chicane, which effectively ended the closing minutes of Q1.

Wehrlein at least remained ahead of both Saubers, with Marcus Ericsson over a second clear of team-mate Felipe Nasr, who had to rely on a slow first run in Q1 thanks to the timing of Haryanto’s crash.

The second Renault of Kevin Magnussen failed to participate in qualifying following his heavy crash in final practice, so he will start last on the grid with the stewards’ permission.

Canadian Grand Prix, qualifying result:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m12.812s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m12.874s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m12.990s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m13.166s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m13.414s
6    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m13.579s
7    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m13.670s
8    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m13.769s
9    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m13.952s
10    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m14.338s
11    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m14.317s
12    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m14.437s
13    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m14.571s
14    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m14.803s
15    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m21.956s
16    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m14.457s
17    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m15.459s
18    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m15.599s
19    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m16.663s
20    Rio Haryanto    Manor-Mercedes    1m17.052s
21    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m15.635s
22    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    No time