Dominant victory for Hamilton in Sepang

Hamilton Rosberg Sepang 2014 winners

Lewis Hamilton kicked off his new Formula 1 season in style by dominating the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver made up for his disappointing early retirement from the season-opener in Australia by beating his team-mate Nico Rosberg to victory by 17 seconds at Sepang.

Albert Park winner Rosberg maintained his position as championship leader by finishing second.

He jumped reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel off the line and successfully repelled both Red Bulls after a massive tank-slapper coming through Turn 3 on the first lap.

He reported struggling with his rear tyres in the early stages and could not keep pace with Hamilton, who stretched out an early and decisive lead before racing on to record the 23rd Grand Prix win of his career.

Rosberg finished a comfortable 7.2 seconds clear of third-placed Vettel, who put his first championship points on the board after his own early retirement in Australia.

The Red Bulls were side-by-side through the opening sequence of turns, as Vettel’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo went round the outside at Turn 2.

Rosberg’s massive twitch coming though the long sweeping right-hander at Turn 3 allowed the reigning world champion to come back at his team-mate briefly, but Ricciardo held firm, only to be passed on lap four when Vettel slid up the inside at Turn 1 unchallenged.

Ricciardo had to get his elbows out again after the first round of pitstops, successfully brushing off the efforts from Fernando Alonso to pass as he rejoined. The Red Bull winning the battle over the Ferrari after more side-by-side action through Turns 1, 2 and 3.

But this proved a moot point ultimately, as Ricciardo suffered a botched late pit-stop that required mechanics to push his car back to the Red Bull pit to refit the front-left wheel correctly.

Daniel rejoined the race, but then suffered a front wing failure on the start-finish straight, having broken it by running wide out of Turn 14 coming onto the back straight. He retired with a few laps to the flag.

And to rub more salt to his injuries, the race stewards have applied a ten-place grid penalty to Ricciardo in the next race at Bahrain, for unsafe release in the pit-stop. Terrible back luck for the Red Bull driver.

Ricciardo’s misfortune promoted a personal duel between Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg, in which the Spaniard again prevailed to take fourth position.

Hulkenberg’s Force India used an unconventional two-stop strategy to get ahead of the Ferrari, but ultimately Alonso used the advantage of fresher Pirelli to get ahead in the final moments of the race.

Jenson Button completed a stealthy climb from tenth on the grid to complete the top six, ahead of the duelling Williams of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. The Brazilian finished in front of the Finn after ignoring orders from his team to let him through.

Button’s McLaren team-mate Kevin Magnussen recovered from an early five-second stop-go penalty for puncturing the right-rear tyre on Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari to finish ninth, while Formula 1’s youngest ever points scorer Daniil Kvyat scored again by rounding out the top ten for Toro Rosso.

Raikkonen recovered to a pointless P12, behind Romain Grosjean’s much-improved Lotus.

So a brilliant result for Mercedes. The first one-two for the manufacturer since the Italian Grand Prix back in 1955. Nico Rosberg still leads the drivers’ championship with the Brackley-based team now in first position in the constructors’ standings.

Malaysian Grand Prix race results, 56 laps:

1. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes               1h40m25.974s
2. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                +17.313s
3. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        +24.534s
4. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 +35.992s
5. Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes    +47.199s
6. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        +1m23.691s
7. Felipe Massa          Williams-Mercedes       +1m25.076s
8. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Mercedes       +1m25.537s
9. Kevin Magnussen       McLaren-Mercedes        +1 lap
10. Daniil Kvyat          Toro Rosso-Renault     +1 lap
11. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault          +1 lap
12. Kimi Raikkonen        Ferrari                +1 lap
13. Kamui Kobayashi       Caterham-Renault       +1 lap
14. Marcus Ericsson       Caterham-Renault       +2 laps
15. Max Chilton           Marussia-Ferrari       +2 laps


Daniel Ricciardo      Red Bull-Renault        49 laps
Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari          35 laps
Adrian Sutil          Sauber-Ferrari          32 laps
Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Renault      18 laps
Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Ferrari        8 laps
Pastor Maldonado      Lotus-Renault           7 laps
Sergio Perez          Force India-Mercedes    0 laps (Non-start)

Drivers’ championship:

1. Nico Rosberg       43
2. Lewis Hamilton     25
3. Fernando Alonso    24
4. Jenson Button      23
5. Kevin Magnussen    20
6. Nico Hulkenberg    18
7. Sebastian Vettel   15
8. Valtteri Bottas    14
9. Kimi Raikkonen     6
10. Felipe Massa       6
11. Jean-Eric Vergne   4
12. Daniil Kvyat       3
13. Sergio Perez       1

Constructors’ championship:

1. Mercedes                 68
2. McLaren-Mercedes         43
3. Ferrari                  30
4. Williams-Mercedes        20
5. Force India-Mercedes     19
6. Red Bull-Renault         15
7. Toro Rosso-Renault       7
8. Sauber-Ferrari           0
9. Lotus-Renault            0
10. Caterham-Renault         0
11. Marussia-Ferrari         0

Next race: Bahrain Grand Prix, Bahrain International Circuit. April 4-6.

Hamilton equals Clark’s record with pole in Sepang

Sepang qualifying 2014

Lewis Hamilton achieved his second successive pole position in the new era of Formula 1 at Sepang, following a rain-delayed qualifying session.

The heavy rain caused a 50-minute delay to the action. Once Q1 was underway, the call on using the right wet weather tyres was crucial in getting track position and speed.

Hamilton’s first flying lap of one minute, 59.431 seconds was respectable enough to secure pole position.

By securing pole, Lewis Hamilton has now equalled Jim Clark’s record of 33 pole positions in Formula 1. An impressive achievement.

His margin over the four-time world champion was small though, just 55 thousandths of a second faster than Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.

Nico Rosberg showed disappointing pace on his first flying lap, ending up only fourth fastest, but with track conditions a little worse in the closing stages, he did enough to improve to third.

Fernando Alonso was the driver he bumped down to fourth, although the Spaniard was fortunate to make Q3 after surviving a collision with Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat at Turn 9 during Q2.

The Spaniard suffered front-left suspension damage in the clash, which happened when he was struggling back to the pits on the intermediate tyre while most were on full wets.

The Russian had closed rapidly on Alonso and dived to the inside of the slow left-hander, but Alonso turned in and Kvyat slid into him.

That race incident will be investigated by stewards after the session.

Daniel Ricciardo was fifth fastest ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who was the only driver other than Hamilton to head the times during Q3, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg seventh.

Behind him was Kevin Magnussen, who started Q3 on intermediates but pitted to change to wets, salvaging eighth position while team-mate Jenson Button stuck with the inferior tyre and ended up slowest in tenth.

Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne was the other driver to reach the top ten shootout, ending up ninth.

Williams pairing Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were the big-name casualties during Q2.

With everyone setting their times using wet Pirellis during the middle segment of the session, the Williams FW36 again struggled for traction in the low-grip conditions. And the pair ended up P13 and P14 respectively.

Vergne prevailed in a tense battle for the final Q3 slot, bumping his Toro Rosso team-mate Kvyat from the position in the final seconds of the session.

Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez ended up P12 ahead of the Williams duo, with Lotus driver Romain Grosjean suffering a late spin and unable to do better than P16 after making Q2 for the first time this year.

Pastor Maldonado was unable to join his Lotus team-mate in the second phase of qualifying, ending up the fastest of those to miss the Q2 cut 0.385 seconds slower than Vergne.

After the delayed start, every team apart from McLaren opted to send their drivers out on intermediate rubber in wet conditions, with the majority of the order dictated by pace during the first half of the session.

Sauber’s Adrian Sutil, Marussia pairing Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton and the Caterhams of Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson were the others to fall in Q1.

The session was brought to a premature close when Ericsson lost it on a wet kerb at the exit of Turn 3 after what the Swede described as a “silly mistake” and spun into the barrier, rebounding and coming to rest on the track.

Qualifying positions, Malaysian Grand Prix:

1. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes              1m59.431s
2. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1m59.486s
3. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              2m00.050s
4. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               2m00.175s
5. Daniel Ricciardo      Red Bull-Renault      2m00.541s
6. Kimi Raikkonen        Ferrari               2m01.218s
7. Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  2m01.712s
8. Kevin Magnussen       McLaren-Mercedes      2m02.213s
9. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Renault    2m03.078s
10. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      2m04.053s
11. Daniil Kvyat          Toro Rosso-Renault    2m02.351s
12. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari        2m02.369s
13. Felipe Massa          Williams-Mercedes     2m02.460s
14. Sergio Perez          Force India-Mercedes  2m02.511s
15. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         2m02.885s
16. Pastor Maldonado      Lotus-Renault         2m02.074s
17. Adrian Sutil          Sauber-Ferrari        2m02.131s
18. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Mercedes     2m02.756s*
19. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Ferrari      2m02.702s
20. Kamui Kobayashi       Caterham-Renault      2m03.595s
21. Max Chilton           Marussia-Ferrari      2m04.388s
22. Marcus Ericsson       Caterham-Renault      2m04.407s

107 per cent time: 2m05.385s

*Five-place grid penalty for impending Kimi Raikkonen

Rosberg victorious in Melbourne

Australian GP Rosberg winner 2014

Nico Rosberg kicked off the new era of Formula 1 with victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes team delivered on their pre-season promise by dominating the race in Albert Park, Melbourne.

Rosberg took the lead at the start and was never headed on his way to his fourth career victory, which he took by a comfortable twenty-four seconds.

The German made a superb start from third on the grid, passing Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull and his team-mate Lewis Hamilton to take the number one spot.

Rosberg made the most of the W05’s speed advantage to streak away from the field at will. Even with the safety car called out following Valtteri Bottas’ brush against the wall and shedding the right-rear tyre, didn’t affected the Mercedes driver’s race.

Rosberg’s team-mate Hamilton slipped back to fourth on the first lap as he struggled with an engine problem in his Mercedes.

After initial confusion as to whether he should carry on, the 2008 world champion retired his W05 into the pits as early as the third lap of 57.

Australian home hero Ricciardo completed a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for Red Bull Racing by narrowly beating McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen to finish second.

The world champion team looked to be in desperate trouble in pre-season testing, but made enormous steps with its Renault-engined car in Australia, allowing Ricciardo to score an unlikely maiden podium in his first race for the Milton Keynes-based outfit.

And yet hours after the Australian Grand Prix, the race stewards discovered that his Red Bull was found to have “exceeded consistently” the limit on peak fuel consumption of 100kg per hour, a new rule introduced for the 2014 season.

The end result means a disqualification for Daniel Ricciardo. Such a big shame after a brilliant drive in his home Grand Prix.

As for Sebastian Vettel, the defending world champion had a really short race affected by reliability problem in his RB10.

He started out of sequence on the medium tyre after a disappointing result in qualifying consigned him to a row six start.

His struggles with a lack of power from his Renault engine continued into the race and he joined Hamilton in retirement after only five laps.

McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen finished on the podium on his Formula 1 debut, after surviving a wild oversteer moment shortly after the start.

The reigning Formula Renault 3.5 champion beat team-mate Jenson Button to second spot by 3.2 seconds.

The 2009 world champion started down on row five after his final flying lap in Q2 was spoiled by yellow flags, but he used smart strategy to jump from the fringes of the top ten to sixth as the safety car came out, then overhaul Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari and Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India at the second round of stops.

Williams driver Bottas overcame Jean-Eric Vergne’s wildly oversteering Toro Rosso and Hulkenberg in the closing stages to finish sixth, but will rue what might have been after a messy race.

The Finn starred in the early stages as he worked the Williams through to the top six from P15 on the grid, but the Finn touched the wall coming out of Turn 10 on lap 11 and broke his right-rear wheel.

He avoided suspension damage and pitted for a replacement, before working his way back through the field. A decent points finish was at least some reward for Williams after Felipe Massa was wiped out by Kamui Kobayashi’s locked-up Caterham at the first corner on the first lap.

Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari beat the Toro Rossos of Vergne and Formula 1 rookie Daniil Kvyat as these three completed the top ten.

At 19 years and 322 days, Kvyat becomes the youngest driver ever to score a championship point.

Perez’s Force India, both Saubers, and both Marussias also made the flag as 15 cars in total made the finish.

Jules Bianchi finished eight laps down and unclassified after failing to make it off the grid, causing an aborted start and forcing him to start from the pitlane behind the Lotus of Romain Grosjean.

Grosjean made it to lap 45 before retiring his troublesome twin-tusk E22, while team-mate Pastor Maldonado and Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson also stopped out on-track shortly after half-distance.

So a fascinating race featuring the new rules for this season. Mercedes proved their impressive pre-season testing form with victory but reliability remains an issue.

Australian Grand Prix, race results after 57 laps:

1.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes              1h32m58.710s
2.  Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes          +26.777s
3.  Jenson Button      McLaren-Mercedes          +30.027s
4.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari                   +35.284s
5.  Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes         +47.639s
6.  Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes      +50.718s
7.  Kimi Raikkonen     Ferrari                   +57.675s
8.  Jean-Eric Vergne   Toro Rosso-Renault      +1m00.441s
9.  Daniil Kvyat       Toro Rosso-Renault      +1m03.585s
10.  Sergio Perez       Force India-Mercedes    +1m25.916s
11.  Adrian Sutil       Sauber-Ferrari              +1 lap
12.  Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber-Ferrari              +1 lap
13.  Max Chilton        Marussia-Ferrari           +2 laps
14.  Jules Bianchi      Marussia-Ferrari           +8 laps*

DSQ  Daniel Ricciardo   Red Bull-Renault          +24.525s**

*Not classified
**Disqualified over fuel flow


Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault              43 laps
Pastor Maldonado   Lotus-Renault              29 laps
Marcus Ericsson    Caterham-Renault           27 laps
Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull-Renault            3 laps
Lewis Hamilton     Mercedes                    2 laps
Kamui Kobayashi    Caterham-Renault            0 laps
Felipe Massa       Williams-Mercedes           0 laps

Drivers’ championship:

1.  Nico Rosberg      25
2.  Kevin Magnussen   18
3.  Jenson Button     15
4.  Fernando Alonso   12
5.  Valtteri Bottas   10
6.  Nico Hulkenberg   8
7.  Kimi Raikkonen    6
8.  Jean-Eric Vergne  4
9.  Daniil Kvyat      2
10. Sergio Perez 1

Constructors’ championship:

1.  McLaren/Mercedes      33
2.  Mercedes              25
3.  Ferrari               18
4.  Williams/Mercedes     10
5.  Force India/Mercedes  9
6.  Toro Rosso/Renault    6

Next race: Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang. March 28-30.

Hamilton denies Ricciardo dream pole in Australia

Hamilton qualifying 2014

The new 2014-spec Formula 1 cars may lack the noise when compared to the V8 era, but the Melbourne crowd had a moment to cheer when their home driver was going to get his maiden pole position.

And yet, race favourite Lewis Hamilton snatched that opportunity from Daniel Ricciardo in the final moments of an exciting Q3 session.

The Mercedes driver will start on pole position for the 32nd time and he now equals Nigel Mansell’s qualifying achievement in the sport.

As for the four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, the Red Bull driver failed to make into Q3 and will start the Australian Grand Prix down in unlucky P13.

The Mercedes driver, on wet tyres, knocked Vettel’s Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who was on intermediate rubber, off top spot by three tenths of a second in the final seconds of a rain-hit session.

Nico Rosberg, who had briefly taken provisional pole before Hamilton and Ricciardo improved late on, was third ahead of McLaren’s rookie Kevin Magnussen.

Both drivers, as well as fifth-placed Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, set their times on wet rubber with opinion split among the ten runners as to which tyre compound was preferable.

Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne showed his wet weather prowess with a superb sixth position ahead of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, both setting their times on intermediates.

Behind the pair was Formula 1 rookie Daniil Kvyat, who impressed despite an off in Q3 on the run between Turns 10 and 11.

He took eighth place on wet rubber, ahead of Williams drivers Felipe Massa (intermediates) and Valtteri Bottas (wets), although the latter must serve a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change before qualifying.

Several of the drivers who failed to advance from Q2 to Q3 were unable to improve thanks to yellow flags caused by Kimi Raikkonen’s late crash as rain returned in intermediate conditions.

The Ferrari driver lost the rear at the exit of Turn 3 and spun into the wall, with Vettel among those who were attempting to jump into the top ten at the time.

With both failing to make the cut in P12 and P13, Jenson Button made it three world champions to fail to make the top ten shootout in P11.

Sauber’s Adrian Sutil, Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi and Force India driver Sergio Perez, who ran through the gravel at Turn 2 on his final flying lap, also fell in Q2.

Marussia driver Max Chilton was the fastest of the drivers to be knocked out in Q1, which was effectively ended at a point when most had managed only one run thanks to rain at the halfway mark.

Chilton was just nineteen thousandths of a second slower than Kobayashi, who did make the cut but was unable to do better than P15 in the second stage of qualifying.

Chilton’s eam-mate Jules Bianchi, Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez (who will be hit with a five-place penalty for a gearbox change) and Caterham rookie Marcus Ericsson were also eliminated in Q1.

Joining them were the Lotus E22s of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, the latter not able to attempt a lap until the damp conditions late on and having two off-track excursions before aborting his run.

This was a shocking qualifying session for Lotus and starting on the back row is not ideal.

As for the stars of qualifying – Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen – this was a brilliant achievement. Out-qualified their highly impressive team-mates first time.

Qualifying positions for the Australian Grand Prix:

1.  Lewis Hamilton     Mercedes              1m44.231s
2.  Daniel Ricciardo   Red Bull-Renault      1m44.548s
3.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes              1m44.595s
4.  Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes      1m45.745s
5.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari               1m45.819s
6.  Jean-Eric Vergne   Toro Rosso-Renault    1m45.864s
7.  Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes  1m46.030s
8.  Daniil Kvyat       Toro Rosso-Renault    1m47.360s
9.  Felipe Massa       Williams-Mercedes     1m48.079s
10.  Jenson Button      McLaren-Mercedes      1m44.437s
11.  Kimi Raikkonen     Ferrari               1m44.494s
12.  Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull-Renault      1m44.668s
13.  Adrian Sutil       Sauber-Ferrari        1m45.655s
14.  Kamui Kobayashi    Caterham-Renault      1m45.867s
15.  Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes     1m48.147s*
16.  Sergio Perez       Force India-Mercedes  1m47.293s
17.  Max Chilton        Marussia-Ferrari      1m34.293s
18.  Jules Bianchi      Marussia-Ferrari      1m34.794s
20.  Marcus Ericsson    Caterham-Renault      1m35.157s
21.  Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault         1m36.993s
22.  Pastor Maldonado   Lotus-Renault         No time
22.  Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber-Ferrari        1m35.117s*

*Five-place penalty for gearbox change

107 per cent: 1m37.129s

Williams unveils Martini Racing livery

Martini Williams FW36

Williams have confirmed a new sponsorship deal with Italian drinks company Martini by unveiling the FW36’s striped colour scheme to the world’s press.

The Martini Racing colours was last seen on the Brabham cars back in 1975 and it also marks Martini’s largest Formula 1 programme since it sponsored Lotus in 1979.

Team founder Sir Frank Williams said: “We are thrilled to welcome Martini to the Williams family and officially launch Williams Martini Racing.

“Williams and Martini share a rich history in the world of motorsport, and the values of our two brands and our shared passion for racing make this partnership a natural fit.

“It will be great to see the distinctive stripes of Martini Racing return to Formula 1 once again in unison with Williams.”

Martini Williams car

Andy Gibson, president of Martini parent company Bacardi Global Brands, added: “Williams Martini Racing provides a powerful, integrated marketing platform and delivers dynamic opportunities that will strengthen the Martini brand.”

Williams ended pre-season testing with the fastest time in the Bahrain tests, and seems poised for a resurgence in the upcoming Formula 1 season after a disappointing 2013 campaign.

“2014 is going to be a fascinating season, with regulation changes of this scale often shaking up the grid and creating opportunities for teams to make a good step forward,” said Williams.

“Over the winter we have proved our ambition by making a number of positive changes; we welcome a new driver pairing, new senior technical personnel, and a number of new commercial partners for 2014.

“In Martini we have a brand that shares a passion for motor racing and winning championships. This partnership is a milestone in our history and we look forward to working closely with Martini over the coming years.”

The Martini colours on the Williams FW36 certainly looks beautiful and after an encouraging test at Bahrain, the team could even challenge the might of Mercedes for race victory.

Even the drivers overalls for both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa look great. Let’s hope Martini Racing will bring much success to Williams this season.

Williams Martini drivers