Ricciardo and Hulkenberg’s yellow racer, the Renault RS19

This is the Formula 1 racer that Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg will compete in this season’s world championship.

Renault hopes that this new RS19 will close the performance gap to the top three teams – Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull – in 2019.

With new driver Daniel Ricciardo joining the squad, Renault has faith that the ongoing improvements to its infrastructure and staffing levels will pay dividends in allowing it to keep up the progress it has made since it returned to Formula 1.

“We feel ready, we feel it is the right time to show you all what has been going on in the background of the last three years and are extremely proud of,” said team boss Cyril Abiteboul.

“When you walk around Enstone you feel the passion and dedicated to racing.

“The first phase of the plan was regeneration as you have seen. You will see pretty much every single area of the factory has been improved if not completely transformed, from wind tunnel instrumentation, manufacturing, milling machines, clean room, race bays, every single area improved in order to compete on the same level as the best.

“In Viry it has been a bit more tactical, some recruitment here or there, some equipment we will be commissioning in a few weeks, a brand new state-of-the-art dyno fully compatible with the 2021 regulations, plus a new building venture that should come out of the ground in 2020.

“Hopefully by 2020 we should get there with brand new engine workshop. We’ve invested a lot in Enstone and we ill be investing in Viry.”

The Enstone-based outfit finished fourth in the constructors’ championship last year, but is under no illusions about the performance gap that still remains to Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull ahead of it.

Renault has been aggressive with the development push for the black and yellow RS19, leaving the sign off of parts as late as possible in a bid to maximise development time.

While that means it is having to work flat out to ensure the car is ready for testing next week, it is hopeful that there will be performance benefits.

The car also features what Renault believes is a much-improved Formula 1 engine, with a new design building on the promise of last year’s C-spec power unit that Red Bull used at the end of the 2018 season.

Best of luck in this upcoming season and I am excited by the partnership of the honey badger and the Hulk. Hopefully Renault can challenge with consistent points finishes. Want to see Ricciardo’s shoey podium again!

Bold new look to Williams for 2019

A new title sponsor for Williams Formula 1 team has resulted in a radical new livery for the FW42.

Previously, the team had Martini Racing branding. The alcohol sponsorship first ran in 2013. But for the upcoming 2019 season, Williams has signed a deal with emerging British-based telecommunications company ROKiT.

The ROKiT deal was announced at an event at Williams’s factory, attended by team principal Claire Williams and their 2019 drivers Robert Kubica and Formula 2 champion George Russell.

The 2019 Williams is not expected to be seen until the start of pre-season testing next season.

Announcing the deal, the team described ROKiT as a “new telco brand challenging the status quo, offering premium smartphone technology, performance and design at an affordable price and installing innovative Wi-Fi networks to make the world a better place”.

Deputy team principal Williams said: “We are delighted to welcome ROKiT to our team as our title partner for the 2019 season and beyond.

“We share many similar values and aspirations with ROKiT; primarily putting engineering and innovation at the core of everything we do in our pursuit to be the best – the perfect platform from which to start a partnership.

“ROKiT is on an exciting journey in their world of telecommunications, as we are at Williams as we build the team for a successful future.

“Taking that path together will make us both stronger in our endeavours and so I can’t wait to get started.”

ROKiT co-founder Jonathan Kendrick previously worked in Formula 1 as a Goodyear tyre engineer, including on Alan Jones’s car at Williams in the 1978 season.

So a blue and white livery for Williams. A complete change from the Martini Racing colours over the last few seasons.

As for the drivers, so pleased that Robert Kubica is back in Formula 1 after many years away from the sport. It will be fascinating to see how well the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix winner will go alongside last year’s Formula 2 champion George Russell. Best of luck to Williams!

Familiar colours and yet all new chassis from Toro Rosso

Scuderia Toro Rosso has revealed images of its 2019 Formula 1 car online, providing the first clear look o this season’s new aerodynamic regulations.

While Haas became the first squad to publish images of its new car last week, its new mostly black livery shrouded much of the detail on the VF-19 beyond the simplified front wing.

Toro Rosso unveiled its Honda-powered STR14 online, revealing a dramatically different bargeboard arrangement in line with this year’s greater aerodynamic restrictions.

The team’s blue, silver and red livery, first introduced in 2017, remains.

Toro Rosso finished ninth in the constructors’ championship last season and will have a closer relationship with main factory outfit Red Bull this year by using parts from its senior team’s 2018 car.

Franz Tost, Toro Rosso team principal, said: “The aim is to always improve in order to compete at the highest possible level and this winter we have worked intensively to bring a few organisational changes, which we hope will help smooth a few issues we experienced in the past.

“We have analysed all the internal procedures in order to optimise our strengths and minimise our weaknesses.

“Compared to other teams, Toro Rosso count on a smaller number of people, but the synergies with Red Bull Technology for the non-listed parts, now that Red Bull will also be equipped with the Honda engine, will leave more time for our technical working groups to focus more on the details.

“Attention to detail makes the difference and this translates to more performance.”

Tost explained that components that relate to the Honda engine will be the same specification as Red Bull’s.

He said that “most of the remaining parts” will be last year’s specification because Toro Rosso would not be able to match Red Bull’s rapid development of 2019 parts.

“We have very good technical people to follow the in-house design, and the reliability of last year’s synergy project parts will put us in a more favourable situation to develop quicker during the season,” Tost added.

As for the driver line-up in the upcoming season, newcomer Alexander Albon will make his Formula 1 debut, driving alongside the returning Daniil Kvyat, who was Ferrari’s development driver.

Haas unveils new black and gold livery for 2019

American Formula 1 team Haas has revealed its new race livery in the upcoming 2019 season featuring the branding of title sponsor Rich Energy.

The car was presented at the Royal Automobile Club in London and even though its not the definitive chassis, the car does feature the 2019-style aerodynamics, especially the front wing.

“We’re absolutely over the moon to be in Formula 1,” said Rich Energy CEO William Storey. “It’s a perfect platform for our brand.”

“We’re looking forward to taking Red Bull on, on and off the track, and challenging them. We’ve got a perfect partner in Haas who I believe are the best-run team on the grid and we’ve got an awful lot in common as organisations.”

Haas announced last October it had secured backing from the British energy drink brand. It is believed to have beaten competition from at least two rival teams who were linked to Rich Energy.

The American-owned, British-based squad is heading into its fourth full season in Formula 1. It has worked its way up the constructors’ championship standings during its first three seasons, rising to fifth last season.

The team has retained its driver line-up of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean for a third consecutive time.

Hamilton ends the season with Abu Dhabi victory

Five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton ended this epic Formula 1 season by dominating the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which featured a dramatic first-lap crash for Nico Hulkenberg.

Hamilton ran the longest second stint of any driver after pitting under an early virtual safety car period, but he remained comfortably clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to the flag.

Max Verstappen overcame an early engine scare and resisted his charging Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to finish third and deny the honey badger a podium on his final race for the team before switching to Renault next season.

Hamilton held his advantage from pole but the race was neutralised after only half a lap thanks to Hulkenberg’s accident.

The Renault driver attacked Romain Grosjean into Turn 9, the left-hander at the end of the first long back straight, but Grosjean hung on around the outside as he was forced to the edge of the track.

Hulkenberg turned in to the apex of the right-hander that immediately follows and was hit Grosjean’s front-left, which pitched the Renault into a barrel roll.

It came to a rest upside down against the outside barrier, briefly caught fire, and the unhurt Hulkenberg had to wait for trackside staff to arrive and reposition the car before he could extract himself.

Hamilton nailed the restart at the end of the fourth lap to lead team-mate Valtteri Bottas by more than a second over the line.

The leader stopped early, on lap seven of 55, when Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari switched off exiting the final corner and stopped on the start-finish line, sparking a virtual safety car.

Bottas and Vettel stayed out, with only Charles Leclerc – running a stunning fourth after jumping both Red Bulls on the opening lap and passing Raikkonen’s ailing Ferrari – and seventh-place man Romain Grosjean following Hamilton into the pits.

Bottas, Vettel and Ricciardo extended their stint on ultrasofts and Verstappen tried to make his hypersofts last as long as possible.

Ricciardo and Verstappen were given engine warnings early on by Red Bull but these passed and were traced to “unexpected power unit protection”, suggesting a failsafe had briefly been erroneously activated.

Bottas pitted nine laps after Hamilton and rejoined nine seconds adrift, and although Hamilton complained about his tyres, he was able to maintained a relatively comfortable gap.

Hamilton was still six seconds or so clear of Bottas when his team-mate lost his grip on second place thanks to some problems under braking.

A lock up at Turn 5 and then the end of the first long back straight allowed Vettel to steal second on lap 35, and then three laps later a smaller mistake at the same place let Verstappen get a run on Bottas down the second back straight and pass him – with a bit of wheel bumping – through the little chicane that follows.

One lap later Bottas lost another place to Ricciardo, who had led for a while thanks to extending his first stint to lap 33, and Mercedes decided to pit Bottas for fresh tyres after spotting a possible problem after the Verstappen contact.

Though Bottas’s troubles freed up Vettel to attack Hamilton, and hack the gap down to 2.5 seconds at the flag, he never got close enough to trouble the leader.

Victory was Hamilton’s eleventh of the season, matching his best-ever haul from a single campaign.

By keeping Ricciardo at bay for third, Verstappen was able to nick ahead of Bottas for fourth in the drivers’ championship.

Bottas finished his winless season with a distant fifth, ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr.

Sainz ended his time with Renault with a best-of-the-rest victory earned by virtue of a long first stint, that allowed him to overhaul Leclerc’s Sauber.

Leclerc had to survive pressure from Racing Point Force India driver Sergio Perez to hold onto seventh, while Haas duo Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen completed the top ten.

Fernando Alonso finished just outside the top ten on his likely final Formula 1 appearance, despite picking up two five-second penalties late on for a track limits offence when he cut the chicane at the end of the first backstraight.

Three drivers joined Hulkenberg and Raikkonen in not making it to the finish.

Marcus Ericsson’s stint with Sauber ended in retirement after running in the points early on, before Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly retired within two laps of each other with smoke coming from their respective cars.

And so ends Formula 1 2018. It has been an epic season full of drama and excitement. Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes ending the season on a high with victory.

As for Fernando Alonso, thanks for the memories. It won’t be the same without the double title winner on the grid next season.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 55 1h39m40.382s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 55 2.581s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 55 12.706s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 55 15.379s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 55 47.957s
6 Carlos Sainz Renault 55 1m12.548s
7 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 55 1m30.789s
8 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 55 1m31.275s
9 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 54 1 Lap
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 54 1 Lap
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 54 1 Lap
12 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 54 1 Lap
13 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 54 1 Lap
14 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 54 1 Lap
15 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 54 1 Lap
– Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 46 Retirement
– Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 44 Retirement
– Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 24 Retirement
– Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 6 Retirement
– Nico Hulkenberg Renault 0 Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1 Lewis Hamilton 408
2 Sebastian Vettel 320
3 Kimi Raikkonen 251
4 Max Verstappen 249
5 Valtteri Bottas 247
6 Daniel Ricciardo 170
7 Nico Hulkenberg 69
8 Sergio Perez 62
9 Kevin Magnussen 56
10 Carlos Sainz 53
11 Fernando Alonso 50
12 Esteban Ocon 49
13 Charles Leclerc 39
14 Romain Grosjean 37
15 Pierre Gasly 29
16 Stoffel Vandoorne 12
17 Marcus Ericsson 9
18 Lance Stroll 6
19 Brendon Hartley 4
20 Sergey Sirotkin 1

Constructors’ standings:
1 Mercedes 655
2 Ferrari 571
3 Red Bull-Renault 419
4 Renault 122
5 Haas-Ferrari 93
6 McLaren-Renault 62
7 Force India-Mercedes 52
8 Sauber-Ferrari 48
9 Toro Rosso-Honda 33
10 Williams-Mercedes 7

Hamilton signs off season with pole position at Yas Marina

The 2018 Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton scored his eleventh pole position in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver was fastest on both runs in the Q3 top ten shootout to take pole by 0.162 seconds from team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Although Bottas had a slight advantage in the middle sector and was up on his team-mate at the start of the final part of the lap, Hamilton was quicker in the first and third sectors to take P1.

Sebastian Vettel couldn’t improve by enough on his last run thanks to losing time in the final sector and admitted there was maybe half-a-tenth missing, which would not have been enough to get onto the front row.

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen jumped Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo for fourth position on the final runs despite the honey badger setting a stunning pace in the final sector – fastest of anyone.

Max Verstappen was sixth fastest after abandoning his final run having complained about the tyres being too hot when he left the pits.

Five of the top six will start on the ultrasofts Pirelli having used that compound to set their times in Q2, the exception being Verstappen.

The Red Bull driver wasn’t quick enough on his ultrasoft run in Q2 and reported struggling for grip on turn-in, meaning he had to use hypersofts for his second run to ensure he reached Q3.

Carlos Sainz was unable to make Q3 after being relegated to P11 by Verstappen’s late improvement on hypersofts in Q2.

He was a tenth-and-a-half faster than Ericsson, who beat Haas driver Kevin Magnussen to P12.

Force India driver Sergio Perez was P14, two tenths ahead of McLaren driver Fernando Alonso – who is making, for now, his final Formula 1 appearance.

Despite a P15, Alonso has achieved a remarkable qualifying result by out-qualifying his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne in every Grand Prix. That’s 21 out of the 21 events. Incredible achievement in speed and commitment.

The Toro Rosso pairing of Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly were fastest of those eliminated in Q1 in P16 and P17.

They were shuffled back by improvements by Magnussen, Ericsson and Perez despite both improving on their final laps.

Hartley complained of a lack of entry stability compared, while Gasly suffered an engine problem at the end of his fastest qualifying lap and was ordered to stop on track after reporting smoke from the rear of the car.

Stoffel Vandoorne ended his final Formula 1 qualifying session before heading to Formula E in P18, just ahead of Williams pairing Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll – the duo separated by less than half-a-tenth.

So congratulations Mercedes in ending a wonderful championship-winning season with a front row lock-out. The sheer class by the W09 chassis is just magnificent and Lewis Hamilton admits this 2018 car will join the hall of fame of Silver Arrows achievements.

Qualifying positions, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m34.794s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m34.956s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m35.125s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m35.365s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m35.401s
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m35.589s
7 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m36.192s
8 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m36.237s
9 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m36.540s
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m36.542s
11 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m36.982s
12 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m37.132s
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m37.309s
14 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m37.541s
15 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m37.743s
16 Brendon Hartley Toro Rossa-Honda 1m37.994s
17 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1m38.166s
18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m38.577s
19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m38.635s
20 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m38.682s

Mercedes wins constructors’ title with Hamilton victory in Brazil

Newly crowned Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton sealed the constructors’ title for Mercedes with race victory at Interlagos, after Max Verstappen was taken out of the race lead while lapping Esteban Ocon.

Verstappen had blasted past Hamilton early in his second stint and was edging clear when his Red Bull was pitched into a spin having tangled with Ocon at the Senna S.

That dropped Verstappen behind Hamilton, who managed engine and tyre concerns to stay clear and win the Brazilian Grand Prix after clinching the title for the first time – he was winless in the Grands Prix he completed after wrapping up the championship in 2015 and 2017 respectively. The result also clinched the constructors’ championship for Mercedes.

Kimi Raikkonen took advantage of a mistake from Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel early on and Valtteri Bottas’s challenge fading to complete the podium.

Hamilton had maintained his pole position advantage at the start as Bottas jumped Vettel for second place.

Verstappen started fifth but made short work on the Ferraris by passing them both on successive laps into the first corner, nailing Raikkonen around the outside under braking before diving inside Vettel.

Max caught Bottas quickly and cleared the Mercedes on lap ten when Bottas inexplicably failed to close the door properly into Turn 1.

Hamilton pitted on lap 19 of 71, one lap after Bottas, as Mercedes switched to fresh Pirelli much earlier than its rivals.

Verstappen continued until lap 36 but emerged behind Hamilton despite initially looking like he might build a big enough lead and Hamilton growing frustrated by what he thought was a lack of information from his team.

By running so long in the first stint Verstappen was able to switch to the soft compound and with much fresher, faster tyres, he cruised up to the back of Hamilton and blasted past on the start-finish straight with 31 laps to go.

With Mercedes protecting Hamilton’s engine that should have set Verstappen up a relatively simple run to the flag, but four laps later Verstappen’s win was out of the picture at the first two corners.

Verstappen put a lap on Esteban Ocon but his ex-karting and Formula 3 rival fought back into Turn 1 to the outside of the Red Bull then held firm as track went back to the right.

Ocon did not back out and Verstappen turned in, with the resulting contact spinning both and leaving Verstappen with floor damage, although he was lucky to only lose a position to Hamilton.

Verstappen was able to gradually cut into Hamilton’s five-second advantage over the rest of the race, but Hamilton was just able to hang on despite voicing engine concerns and complaining of a lack of grip late on.

Raikkonen made it through to third after passing Bottas into Turn 1 just as Verstappen was being taken out.

After passing Vettel in the opening stages when the German ran wide at Turn 4, Raikkonen was repassed by his team-mate in the pitstop phase.

But Vettel let Raikkonen go to attack and successfully pass Bottas – while Vettel had to make a second stop after dropping to the tail of the top six, behind the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.

The recovering Ricciardo made it up to fourth after passing Bottas as well, which triggered a second stop, who was complaining with blistering.

Bottas and Vettel therefore completed the top six, while Charles Leclerc took seventh for Sauber after dominating the best-of-the-rest fight.

The 2019 Ferrari driver finished comfortably clear of Romain Grosjean’s Haas after passing team-mate Marcus Ericsson at the start.

Grosjean finished eighth ahead of fellow Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, while Sergio Perez took the final point in tenth.

Brendon Hartley was first finisher outside the top ten after an ill-tempered conclusion in which he raged over the radio at Toro Rosso team-mate Pierre Gasly refusing to comply with an order to swap positions.

Gasly, who was also angry, eventually let Hartley past on the final lap but also lost a place to Renault Carlos Sainz Jr.

There were only two retirements from the Brazilian Grand Prix. Ericsson stopped early on after picking up damage at the first corner, slipping down the order and suffering a spin after his pitstop.

Nico Hulkenberg was ordered to stop as Renault recorded a high engine temperature.

So congratulations to Mercedes in winning the constructors’ title. All that team effort in preparing the race-winning cars for Lewis Hamilton has paid off with this championship victory.

Real unlucky for Max Verstappen to miss out on race victory. That clash with Esteban Ocon when lapping was messy and was the key moment in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Brazilian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 71 1h27m09.066s
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 71 1.469s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 71 4.764s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 71 5.193s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 71 22.943s
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 71 26.997s
7 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 71 44.199s
8 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 71 51.230s
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 71 52.857s
10 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 70 1 Lap
11 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 70 1 Lap
12 Carlos Sainz Renault 70 1 Lap
13 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 70 1 Lap
14 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 70 1 Lap
15 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 70 1 Lap
16 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 69 2 Laps
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 69 2 Laps
18 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 69 2 Laps
– Nico Hulkenberg Renault 32 Retirement
– Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 20 Retirement

Drivers’ championship:
1 Lewis Hamilton 383
2 Sebastian Vettel 302
3 Kimi Raikkonen 251
4 Valtteri Bottas 237
5 Max Verstappen 234
6 Daniel Ricciardo 158
7 Nico Hulkenberg 69
8 Sergio Perez 58
9 Kevin Magnussen 55
10 Fernando Alonso 50
11 Esteban Ocon 49
12 Carlos Sainz 45
13 Romain Grosjean 35
14 Charles Leclerc 33
15 Pierre Gasly 29
16 Stoffel Vandoorne 12
17 Marcus Ericsson 9
18 Lance Stroll 6
19 Brendon Hartley 4
20 Sergey Sirotkin 1

Constructors’ championship:
1 Mercedes 620
2 Ferrari 553
3 Red Bull-Renault 392
4 Renault 114
5 Haas-Ferrari 90
6 McLaren-Renault 62
7 Force India-Mercedes 48
8 Sauber-Ferrari 42
9 Toro Rosso-Honda 33
10 Williams-Mercedes 7

Hamilton takes 100th pole for Mercedes at Brazil

Lewis Hamilton claimed his 100th pole position for Mercedes in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix, while nearest challenger Sebastian Vettel faces a race stewards investigation.

Hamilton went fastest using supersoft Pirellis on the first runs in the pole position shootout, setting a time of one minute, 07.301 seconds.

The Mercedes driver was the only one of the frontrunners to improve on his second run, shaving off a further two-hundredths of a second to make sure of P1.

Vettel had been up on Hamilton after the first sector on his final run, but a lock up in Turn 8 contributed to him losing time and he had to settle for second based on his earlier lap, 0.093 seconds down.

Valtteri Bottas was third fastest in the second Mercedes, pipping Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen by 0.015 seconds.

As expected, the Red Bull drivers annexed the third row with just 0.002 secondss separating Max Verstappen in fifth and Daniel Ricciardo in sixth. However, the honey badger will drop five places on the grid following a turbo unit change.

Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson was the only driver other than Hamilton to improve on his second run, ensuring he held onto the seventh place he secured on his first attempt.

That put him two tenths faster than his Sauber team-mate Charles Leclerc, with Haas driver Romain Grosjean ninth and comfortably ahead of Pierre Gasly.

Both Ferrari drivers will start the race on soft Pirellis after aborting their initial Q2 runs on supersofts to change tyres, with the rest of the top ten qualifiers all locked in the softest compound.

But Vettel was frustrated to be called to the FIA weigh bridge early in Q2 when he dived into the pits while in a hurry to change tyres in case of racing.

He was reported to the stewards for refusing to turn off his engine, then driving onto the scales and leaving under his own power.

Technical delegate Jo Bauer’s report to the stewards pointed out this made it difficult to get a stable weight, and that in driving off Vettel “destroyed the scales”.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was knocked out at the end of Q2 by a superb lap from Leclerc, who looked set to miss out on a place in the top ten when rain hit with six minutes remaining.

At that point, Magnussen had just pushed Leclerc down to P11, but the Sauber driver returned to the track after the rain eased and returned the favour.

When the rain came, Racing Point Force India driver Esteban Ocon did improve his lap time on a second set of supersoft Pirellis but it was only good enough for P13 behind teammate Sergio Perez.

Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg was P14 after improving his time, but not his position, with a late lap to end up ahead only of the Williams of Sergey Sirotkin.

Sirotkin had to swerve and skirt the grass on the approach to the Juncao left-hander while on an out-lap after Hamilton attempted to move out of his way by jinking to the left too late.

The Williams driver then appeared to express his frustration by attempting a pass on Hamilton into Turn 1 on the following lap.

Renault driver Carlos Sainz was the fastest of those eliminated in a frenetic Q1 session, during which spots or rain made it difficult for drivers.

Gasly bumped Toro Rosso team-mate Brendon Hartley into the drop zone with a few minutes remaining, putting Ocon into P15.

But Sainz then posted a lap 0.005s slower than Ocon to take P16, and slot in 0.011 seconds ahead of Hartley, who complained of a lockup on his best lap that cost him time.

McLaren pairing Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were P18 and P20 respectively and separated by 0.199 seconds – as well as the second Williams of Lance Stroll.

Qualifying positions, Brazilian Grand Prix:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m07.281s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m07.374s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m07.441s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m07.456s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m07.778s
6 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m08.296s
7 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m08.492s
8 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m08.517s
9 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1m09.029s
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m08.659s
11 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m07.780s
12 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m08.741s
13 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m08.834s
14 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m10.381s
15 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m09.269s
16 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 1m09.280s
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m09.402s
18 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m08.770s
19 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m09.441s
20 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m09.601s

Verstappen wins at Mexico as Hamilton is crowned five-time champion

Lewis Hamilton achieved his fifth Formula 1 championship despite finishing out of a podium result in the Mexican Grand Prix, which was won by Max Verstappen.

Poleman Daniel Ricciardo was swamped by team-mate Verstappen and Hamilton on the opening lap and Verstappen went side-by-side with Hamilton to take the race lead.

Verstappen eased clear to a dominant victory ahead of the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen as Hamilton slipped down to fourth at the finish, but that was enough to clinch the championship with two races left.

Hamilton went into the race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez knowing he only needed to finish seventh to secure the title and did not need to finish at all if Vettel failed to win.

Vettel started fourth and briefly dropped to fifth at the start as Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas mugged him into Turn 1, but the Ferrari driver fought back aggressively at Turns 4 and 5 to reclaim fourth position.

Hamilton tried to keep pace with Verstappen over the opening stint but gradually slipped back and came under pressure from Ricciardo, but held onto second until pitting on lap 11 of 71.

Ricciardo stopped on the next lap while Verstappen went one further, and the undercut gave Hamilton a brief reprieve from Ricciardo but not enough to come close to challenging Verstappen.

With the Dutchman looking untouchable out front, Hamilton started to be caught again by Ricciardo and Vettel after the long-running Ferraris finally stopped.

Hamilton edged clear again as the front runners negotiated the backmarkers, and a virtual safety car for Carlos Sainz Jr’s broken down Renault – which had been comfortably in the points but suffered a complete shutdown – put a temporary hold on the Ricciardo and Vettel scrap behind.

It re-engaged after a couple of laps and more heavy traffic allowed Vettel to size up his former team-mate before, on lap 34, throwing a superb move inside Ricciardo under braking for the first corner.

Vettel was four seconds behind Hamilton at this stage but made rapid inroads as Mercedes struggled to keep its tyres alive.

Five laps after he cleared Ricciardo, Vettel passed Hamilton at the same place when Hamilton attempted to defend, locked up and skated across the grass.

Mercedes brought Hamilton into the pits on the same lap, with Bottas following suit having lost sixth to Raikkonen in an identical lock-up/off-track incident at Turn 1 moments after Hamilton’s.

With the lead Mercedes out of the picture the race boiled down to a Red Bull vs Vettel fight, with Ferrari going aggressive by pitting Vettel for a fresh set of ultrasofts.

That brought him within ten seconds of Verstappen once Red Bull brought him in for fresh supersofts, but Ricciardo stayed out and kept track position ahead of Vettel.

That stunted Vettel’s bid to catch Verstappen and as Ricciardo’s pace held up in the closing stages Vettel looked unable to get close enough to launch an attack.

However, with ten laps ago smoke emerged from the rear of the Renault-powered Red Bull and Ricciardo went straight on at Turn 1, stopped and suffered his eighth retirement of the season.

Verstappen asked Red Bull if he needed to be worried or conserve the engine but he had a trouble-free run to the finish to record his second victory of the season.

Vettel and Raikkonen completed the podium as Hamilton struggled to fourth, frustrated with Mercedes’ lack of pace compared to its rivals.

Hamilton’s mood lifted swiftly, though, as he celebrated a fifth title that moves him level with Juan Manuel Fangio on the list of all-time championship successes.

Bottas completed the top five – a lap down – having stopped for a third time, setting the fastest lap of the race on hypersofts at the end.

Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth for the second race in a row as Renault secured best-of-the-rest honours behind the leading three teams.

Hulkenberg executed a one-stop strategy well to keep comfortably clear of Sauber’s Charles Leclerc in seventh.

Stoffel Vandoorne produced an unexpected boost at the end of a difficult season by rising to eighth in his McLaren, ending a run of 14 races without points that stretches back to Azerbaijan.

Marcus Ericsson made it a double-points finish for Sauber in ninth to vault the Swiss team above Toro Rosso into eighth in the constructors’ championship, despite Pierre Gasly rising from the back to score a solitary point.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton in achieving this brilliant result with title number five. He becomes the most successful British driver in Formula 1 and equals the achievement of Juan Manuel Fangio.

As for Sebastian Vettel, this was a challenging season and the mistakes was very costly in terms of points. Hopefully next year he can cut out these errors and go for title glory for Ferrari.

Mexican Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 71 1h38m28.851s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 71 17.316s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 71 49.914s
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 71 1m18.738s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 70 1 Lap
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 69 2 Laps
7 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 69 2 Laps
8 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 69 2 Laps
9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 69 2 Laps
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 69 2 Laps
11 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 69 2 Laps
12 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 69 2 Laps
13 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 69 2 Laps
14 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 69 2 Laps
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 69 2 Laps
16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 68 3 Laps
– Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 61 Retirement
– Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 38 Retirement
– Carlos Sainz Renault 28 Retirement
– Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 3 Retirement

Drivers’ standings:
1 Lewis Hamilton 358
2 Sebastian Vettel 294
3 Kimi Raikkonen 236
4 Valtteri Bottas 227
5 Max Verstappen 216
6 Daniel Ricciardo 146
7 Nico Hulkenberg 69
8 Sergio Perez 57
9 Kevin Magnussen 53
10 Fernando Alonso 50
11 Esteban Ocon 49
12 Carlos Sainz 45
13 Romain Grosjean 31
14 Pierre Gasly 29
15 Charles Leclerc 27
16 Stoffel Vandoorne 12
17 Marcus Ericsson 9
18 Lance Stroll 6
19 Brendon Hartley 4
20 Sergey Sirotkin 1

Constructors’ standings:
1 Mercedes 585
2 Ferrari 530
3 Red Bull-Renault 362
4 Renault 114
5 Haas-Ferrari 84
6 McLaren-Renault 62
7 Force India-Mercedes 47
8 Sauber-Ferrari 36
9 Toro Rosso-Honda 33
10 Williams-Mercedes 7

Ricciardo denied Verstappen pole in Mexico

Daniel Ricciardo denied Max Verstappen his first P1 in Formula 1 by snatching pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix as title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel completed the second row.

Ricciardo beat his Red Bull team-mate Verstappen on the final runs in qualifying to take his second pole of the 2018 season.

Hamilton was quickest on hypersofts in the opening phase of qualifying but Verstappen had the edge on ultrasofts in Q2 and took that momentum into Q3 to hold provisional pole after the first runs.

His one minute, 14.785 seconds was almost two tenths of a second clear of Vettel, while Hamilton lost time in the middle sector but snuck ahead of the second Red Bull of Ricciardo to hold third spot.

Vettel, Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas all failed to improve on their second runs, but Ricciardo vaulted to top spot on a one minute, 14.759 seconds.

That only put him 0.026 seconds clear of Verstappen but was enough for pole given that Mad Max failed to improve despite setting a fastest first sector and Hamilton only managed a one minute, 14.894 seconds.

Bottas will line up fifth with Austin race winner Raikkonen sixth on an all-Finish third row.

Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari were all able to progress to Q3 without using the softest compound.

That means they will all start the race on the more preferable ultrasoft tyre and can avoid the problematic hypersofts.

Renault continued to hold an advantage in the best-of-the-rest fight through qualifying but it was Charles Leclerc who hauled his Sauber to seventh on the first runs.

Leclerc outpaced Nico Hulkenberg by less than a tenth before the Renaults hit back on their second laps, with Hulkenberg leading Carlos Sainz Jr as Leclerc was shuffled to ninth.

His Sauber team-mate Marcus Ericsson completed the top ten and was fortunate to make it through to the shootout having failed to improve on his second run in Q2.

With the hypersoft tyres degrading so rapidly in Friday practice Esteban Ocon has arguably the most favourable position of the midfield teams as the first of those who did not make Q3.

Ocon was P11 after Racing Point Force India opted to use supersofts and then ultrasofts in the second part of qualifying.

It means he and Sergio Perez, who qualified P13, will have freedom of choice over the tyres they start the race on.

Fernando Alonso split the Force Indias in his McLaren, while the under-pressure Brendon Hartley was limited to P14 after a mistake on his final lap – Toro Rosso suggested he was on course for a lap time that would have been good enough to progress.

Hartley’s team-mate Pierre Gasly did not complete a timed lap in Q2 because Honda’s engine strategy and a gearbox change meant he went into the session consigned to a back-of-the-grid start, so Toro Rosso opted to save tyres and mileage.

Romain Grosjean was first of the drivers to be eliminated in the opening part of the session, missing out on progressing by just half a tenth.

He and Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen used three sets of hypersofts in their bid to make Q2 but still fell short.

Magnussen was 18th-fastest after failing to improve on his final run, with the McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne in between the Haas pair.

Williams duo Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin were slowest but will not fill out the last row of the grid as Gasly will drop back because of his penalty.

So congratulations to Daniel Ricciardo in achieving that second pole position this season. Leading a Red Bull 1-2 with Max Verstappen. It was unfortunate that Max missed out on his first pole after setting the pace in all practice sessions. Maybe Verstappen can have the last laugh by winning the Mexican Grand Prix.

Qualifying positions, Mexican Grand Prix:
1 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m14.759s
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m14.785s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m14.894s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m14.970s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m15.160s
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m15.330s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m15.827s
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m16.084s
9 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m16.189s
10 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m16.513s
11 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m16.844s
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m16.871s
13 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m17.167s
14 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 1m17.184s
15 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m16.966s
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m17.599s
17 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m17.689s
18 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m16.911s
19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m17.886s
20 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda –