Vettel takes first victory for Ferrari at Sepang

Vettel Sepang 2015

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel achieved his first victory for Scuderia Ferrari in a thrilling Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver took advantage with track position thanks to staying out during a safety car period and assumed the lead.

Vettel then made a two-stop strategy work while Mercedes did three stops with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

It proved to be the wrong strategy call for the world champion team as neither Hamilton nor Rosberg had the speed, tyre longevity or enough laps to catch and pass Vettel in the final stint.

This was Ferrari’s first victory since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, with Vettel’s first since that year’s season finale in Brazil.

Hamilton maintains the championship lead with 43 points, with race winner Vettel three points adrift and Rosberg, who finished third, seven further back.

Following a dominant Mercedes performance in Australia, this result was well deserved for the sport and Ferrari. The Manarello-based team provided a challenge to the reigning world champion squad.

Vettel held onto second at the start, behind Hamilton, and chose to stay out when the safety car was called into action following Marcus Ericsson’s spin into the Turn 1 gravel on lap four, while Hamilton and Rosberg, in third, pitted for the hard compound.

Vettel pitted at the end of lap 17 and fitted the medium compound before chasing down and passing both Rosberg and Hamilton on their older Pirelli.

The Mercedes had needed to fight back through traffic as several midfield cars followed Vettel’s strategy and Rosberg was delayed in the pits queuing behind Hamilton.

The Brackley-based team then decided to split the strategy when it pitted Hamilton and Rosberg for the second time, with Hamilton taking the mediums and Rosberg the hards.

Vettel only made his final pitstops with 14 laps to the flag after a long middle stint, taking on the hards and crucially rejoining ahead of Rosberg in second.

The Ferrari driver then regained the lead when Hamilton pitted and had hard tyres fitted a lap later.

Hamilton was unhappy with the choice, with the defending world champion saying on team radio: “This is the wrong tyre, man,” but being told Mercedes only had used mediums as an alternative.

While Mercedes assured him that he would be in a position to catch and pass Vettel for the win, it soon became clear that that wasn’t the case, with Hamilton unable to close in.

Kimi Raikkonen recovered from a poor start with a solid fourth position having dropped to the back of the field following a puncture sustained in contact with Felipe Nasr’s Sauber on the first lap.

Valtteri Bottas passed his Williams team-mate Felipe Massa with a brilliant late move around the outside at Turn 5 to finish fifth, with the duo followed by Max Verstappen, who passed Toro Rosso team-mate Carlos Sainz late on.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat, who recovered from a spin having made contact with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, completed the top ten.

And yet, Red Bull faced some embarrassment by being lapped by their former driver during the race. While Toro Rosso scored some championship points to be ahead of the main factory team in the constructors’ standings.

Romain Grosjean had an eventful race, the Lotus driver trying an ambitious move around the outside of Sergio Perez at the fast Turn 12, only to clip the Force India and spin.

Though he rejoined, Grosjean finished outside the points in P11, with Perez receiving a 10-second time penalty for causing the incident and ultimately finishing P13. Felipe Nasr in between them.

Hulkenberg was P14 in the Force India, having been given a 10-second time penalty for hitting Kvyat at Turn 2, with Manor’s Roberto Merhi the last driver to see the chequered flag in P15.

At least Manor made the finish considering a complete lack of testing. A remarkable achievement for everyone  at this little team.

Pastor Maldonado retired the Lotus, having run well down the field after picking up a puncture on the first lap, while the McLaren-Hondas showed improved form but had nothing to show for it as Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button retired with mechanical problems.

Will Stevens did not start the race – his Manor team was unable to cure the fuel system issue that stopped his car running in qualifying.

So a brilliant result for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari. After a period of Mercedes victories, it’s refreshing to see the four-time world champion put on a fight and won. Ferrari have a good car and can mount a challenge to the Silver Arrows.

Vettel Ferrari Sepang 2015

Malaysian Grand Prix, 56 laps:

1    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1h41m05.793s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    8.569s
3    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    12.310s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    53.822s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m10.409s
6    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m13.586s
7    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m37.762s
8    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
9    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1 Lap
10    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1 Lap
11    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1 Lap
12    Felipe Nasr       Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
13    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
14    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
15    Roberto Merhi    Manor-Ferrari    3 Laps
–    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    Retirement
–    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    Retirement
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    Retirement
–    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    Retirement
–    Will Stevens    Manor-Ferrari    Withdrawn

Drivers’ standings:

1    Lewis Hamilton    43
2    Sebastian Vettel    40
3    Nico Rosberg    33
4    Felipe Massa    20
5    Kimi Raikkonen    12
6    Felipe Nasr          10
7    Valtteri Bottas    10
8    Daniel Ricciardo    9
9    Nico Hulkenberg    6
10    Max Verstappen    6
11    Carlos Sainz    6
12    Marcus Ericsson    4
13    Daniil Kvyat    2
14    Sergio Perez    1
15    Romain Grosjean    0
15    Jenson Button    0
17    Roberto Merhi    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    76
2    Ferrari    52
3    Williams-Mercedes    30
4    Sauber-Ferrari    14
5    Toro Rosso-Renault    12
6    Red Bull-Renault    11
7    Force India-Mercedes    7
8    Lotus-Mercedes    0
8    McLaren-Honda    0
10    Manor-Ferrari    0

Next race: Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai. April 10-12.

Hamilton resisted Vettel challenge to take Sepang pole

Sepang 2015 F1 qualifiers

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton edged out Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari to pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix by less than a tenth of a second in a rain-affected qualifying.

Hamilton’s first flying lap on intermediate tyres in Q3 proved enough to secure P1, as Vettel split the reigning Formula 1 world champion from his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg with second.

The Silver Arrows drivers appeared to get in each other’s way in the crucial closing stages of Q3, and Hamilton failed to improve on his final run while Rosberg’s final lap was only good enough for third.

The Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat will line-up fourth and fifth, just ahead of the Toro Rosso of super rookie Max Verstappen, who rounded out the top six.

The drivers who began the delayed Q3 session on full wet tyres and had to switch to intermediates filled the remaining spots in the top ten.

Romain Grosjean’s Lotus split the Williams pair of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, who could only manage seventh and ninth fastest times respectively, while Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber rounded out the Q3 times.

A thunderstorm in the early stages of Q2 effectively reduced the second segment of qualifying to a single-lap shootout, and delayed the final session by 30 minutes.

The big casualty of the scramble for track position to get one dry lap in before the rain came was Kimi Raikkonen.

The 2007 world champion was delayed at the final corner trying to pass Ericsson’s Sauber – the last car to make the cut in tenth –  and by being passed by Hamilton’s Mercedes at Turn 1, and wound up only P11.

Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus, the Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez – who both ran on used medium tyres – and the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr – who impressively matched Vettel in setting the fourth quickest time in Q1 – were also eliminated.

Australian Grand Prix star Felipe Nasr had a troubled Q1, having struggled to get comfortable with his Sauber’s handling since taking his car back from Ferrari junior driver Raffaele Marciello after the first practice session.

The Brazilian qualified almost three tenths adrift of Perez and that same time margin ahead of Jenson Button’s McLaren-Honda.

Yet again, this was a difficult qualifying session for McLaren. With both cars knocked out in Q1. Making his Formula 1 return is Fernando Alonso but this was a shock to the double world champion to only be down in P18.

Manor GP has at least completed some track running this weekend, but failed to qualify within the 107 per cent cut-off in Q1.

Roberto Merhi set a time almost half a second too slow to make the cut-off. 7.4s shy of the outright pace compared to the leading Mercedes.

While a fuel system problem discovered in final practice confined his team-mate Will Stevens to the garage, so no lap time was set in qualifying.

Despite that, Stevens registered a lap quick enough to make the cut in the second free practice session.

Previously the stewards have allowed cars to start the race in such circumstances, even if they haven’t posted a time in qualifying.

The wet weather tried to spice up the establishing order of Formula 1 and yet the same result reveals Mercedes still the quickest car. Ferrari are a close competitor and it’s encouraging to see Vettel splitting the Silver Arrows.

As for Max Verstappen, this talented 17-year-old is doing a solid job for Toro Rosso. Hopefully his car can get to the end and score his first championship points.

Hamilton Sepang 2015

Qualifying times from Sepang:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m49.834s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m49.908s
3    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m50.299s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m51.541s
5    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1m51.950s
6    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m51.980s
7    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m52.473s
8    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1m52.980s
9    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m53.179s
10    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m53.260s
11    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m42.173s
12    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m42.197s
13    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m43.022s
14    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m43.468s
15    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m43.700s
16    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m41.308s
17    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m41.635s
18    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m41.745s
19    Roberto Merhi    Manor-Ferrari    1m46.677s
20    Will Stevens    Manor-Ferrari

Hamilton victorious in Australia

Australian GP 2015 winner

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton scored his 34th career victory in Formula 1 with a commanding drive in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

This was the perfect result for the reigning world champions. Hamilton dominated this race from pole, while Nico Rosberg gave chase but had to settle for second, resulting in a one-two finish for Mercedes.

Hamilton led away from P1 in Melbourne and only momentarily lost the lead to his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg during the pitstop sequence before securing the first win of the new season.

Rosberg crossed the line second, 1.3 seconds adrift, and yet the advantage from Mercedes was impressive. Over 30 seconds clear of the field.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished in third on his debut with the Scuderia. The German benefitted from a mid-race pitstop to jump ahead of Felipe Massa’s Williams.

Just 15 cars started the Australian Grand Prix, with McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat stopping on their way to the grid with mechanical issues.

Valtteri Bottas had already been ruled out on medical grounds because of a back injury sustained in qualifying, while neither Manor ran all weekend as it continues its efforts to get back into the sport.

The field was further depleted after just a few corners, when Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was clipped by Carlos Sainz Jr’s Toro Rosso at Turn 1.

That nudged the Ferrari into Felipe Nasr’s Sauber, which then hit into Pastor Maldonado, spinning the Lotus driver into the barriers and out of the race.

That brought out the safety car and yet, it was further misery for Lotus after just one lap when Romain Grosjean was forced to retire due to a power issue on the formation lap.

Rookie Felipe Nasr provided Sauber with a sensational end to what has been a difficult weekend, which saw the team involved in a legal battle with Giedo van der Garde, as he finished a brilliant fifth.

It was an impressive debut for the Sauber racer, who was 12 seconds clear of home crowd favourite Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull.

Nasr’s team-mate Marcus Ericsson, who started P16, pulled off a late move on Sainz at Turn 13 to finish eighth, which failed to score a single championship point last season.

Nico Hulkenberg scored points for a Force India team that managed just two-and-a-half days of pre-season testing because of delays with the production of the 2015 chassis as ‘The Hulk’ finished seventh.

Sainz crossed the line ninth to score points on his debut, having lost a lot of time with a slow pitstop, while Force India’s Sergio Perez, who had a messy race, round out the top ten.

The Mexican spun, dropping to the back of the field, and then found himself facing the wrong way when he clumsily hit McLaren’s Jenson Button when attempting an opportunistic pass at Turn 3.

Button narrowly missed out on giving McLaren-Honda a remarkable points finish as he crossed the line P11 – and last.

And yet, it was the first time McLaren had managed to complete a race distance with its new car, following a troubled pre-season testing.

Raikkonen was on course to finish fourth, but during his second pit-stop his Ferrari team failed to fit the left-rear tyre properly.

The Iceman rejoined, but pulled off the track a few corners later and retired with his engineer saying “Sorry, Kimi” on team radio.

Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen, who became Formula 1’s youngest driver by taking the start, retired when running ninth with smoke pluming from the rear of the car.

It was a disappointing end for the Verstappen after an impressive 32 lap stint. He was on target to finish the race in the points, but his car let him down.

So a fantastic result for the world champions. Win number 30 for the Brackley-based team and 34 for the reigning world champion. The W06 Hybrid is one seriously fast car. Can anyone stop the Silver Arrows? We shall find out over the course of the season.

Hamilton car 2015

Australian Grand Prix, race results after 58 laps:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1h31m54.067s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1.640
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    25.523s
4    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    29.196s
5    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m26.149s
6    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1 Lap
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
8    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
9    Carlos Sainz Jr.    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
10    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
11    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    2 Laps


Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    Retirement
Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault
Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Honda    Not started
Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    Withdrawn
Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    Not started
Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    Retirement
Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    Collision
Will Stevens    Manor-Ferrari    Withdrawn
Roberto Merhi    Manor-Ferrari    Withdrawn

Drivers’ championship:

1    Lewis Hamilton    25
2    Nico Rosberg    18
3    Sebastian Vettel    15
4    Felipe Massa    12
5    Felipe Nasr    10
6    Daniel Ricciardo    8
7    Nico Hulkenberg    6
8    Marcus Ericsson    4
9    Carlos Sainz Jr.    2
10    Sergio Perez    1
11    Jenson Button    0

Constructors’ championship:

1    Mercedes    43
2    Ferrari    15
3    Sauber-Ferrari    14
4    Williams-Mercedes    12
5    Red Bull-Renault    8
6    Force India-Mercedes    7
7    Toro Rosso-Renault    2
8    McLaren-Honda    0

Next race: Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang. March 27-29.

Hamilton begins his title defence with Australian GP pole

AusGP 2015

Reigning Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton got his title defence off to a perfect start with pole position in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver edged his team-mate Nico Rosberg by almost six tenths of a second. His first flying lap was solid. One minute, 26.419 seconds was enough for provisional pole and that affect Rosberg, who ran wide onto    grass at the penultimate corner.

The 2008 and 2014 champion improved by just under a tenth on his final Q3 run to apply further pressure on Rosberg. The time? One minute, 26.327 seconds. Earning Hamilton his 39th career pole.

Felipe Massa claimed third on the grid for Williams, edging out the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel by just 0.039 seconds on his final run.

The Scuderia looked to have an advantage over Williams in the early stages of qualifying, but Massa found a crucial improvement at the end.

Kimi Raikkonen made it a Ferrari top five, lapping on the same tenth as Vettel and Massa, while the Williams of Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top six.

Bottas looked strong through the early stages in the session, but struggled with the brakes on his FW37 in Q3 and wound up over three tenths slower than his team-mate.

Home crowd favourite Daniel Ricciardo recovered from a pooe set of practice sessions to grab seventh spot on the grid, ahead of Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz and the Lotus E23s of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, which completed the top ten.

Sauber’s Felipe Nasr fell less than a tenth shy of beating Maldonado into the top ten shootout, on what has been a miserable weekend off-track for the team, but the Brazilian’s best lap was good enough for P11 on the grid.

Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen looked a genuine Q3 contender early on, but complained of some discomfort in the cockpit of his STR10 in Q2 and suffered a “big moment” at Turn 5 on his final flying lap, which was only good enough for P12.

Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat couldn’t recover sufficiently from a difficult final free practice session to make to Q3. The Russian wound up a lowly P13, two tenths clear of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez.

The Force India team-mates were separated by just 0.001 seconds as both VJM08s dropped out in Q2.

Manor GP failed to get its cars running in time for qualifying, meaning only three of the remaining entries could be eliminated in Q1.

After troubles in pre-season testing, McLaren-Honda faced an uphill struggle in Melbourne. Qualifying revealed the full result with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen knocked out in Q1.

Button managed to lap within 0.046 seconds of Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber, which was the other victim of the Q1 cut-off.

However, the Swede lapped almost a full second slower than his team-mate Nasr, who was the slowest of the drivers to make it through to Q2.

So a fantastic start by Mercedes. Strongest car with so much speed advantage. Williams and Ferrari are the closest challengers. Should be an exciting race at Albert Park come race day.

AusGP 2015 sparks

Qualifying positions, Australian Grand Prix:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m26.327s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m26.921s
3    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m27.718s
4    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m27.757s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m27.790s
6    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m28.087s
7    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m28.329s
8    Carlos Sainz Jr.    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m28.510s
9    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1m28.560s
10    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m29.480s
11    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m28.800s
12    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m28.868s
13    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1m29.070s
14    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m29.208s
15    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m29.209s
16    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m31.376s
17    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m31.422s
18    Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Honda    1m32.037s

Red Bull Racing unveils 2015 colours

RB11 colour front

Red Bull Racing has revealed its revised colours scheme for the upcoming Formula 1 season, over it’s unique black and while camouflage look.

The Milton-Keynes based outfit ran a spectacular camouflage livery during pre-season testing in Spain.

But for the new racing season, the team has tweaked its normal Red Bull colours.

An increase in purple hue, for title sponsor Infiniti, plus a larger Red Bull branding along the side of the nose.

Team principal Christian Horner mentioned a revamp to the Red Bull Racing livery that would pleased fans following the camouflage version.

They won’t be disappointed, because the livery will be even stronger,” he said.

“The livery is different every year – although you may not have noticed. Every year it has evolved, so just wait and see.”

I have to admit, the back and white camouflage Red Bull looked quite striking. At least this is more colourful!

RB11 colour side