Ferrari lead the way in Saturday Practice | 2016 Bahrain GP FP3 report

A stunning Arabian sky greeted the F1 fraternity after the cloudy weather of Friday, and it was Ferraru’s Sebastian Vettel who clocked the fastest time on Saturday afternoon.

It was a session including a lot of medium-tyre running for most teams, including McLaren and Force India, who appeared well down the order.

Mercedes set the early pace with Nico Rosberg, but later on in the session Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen topped the sheets, at the track where he got his best result the previous year.

He was then pipped in the last few minutes by team mate Sebastian Vettel, who posted a time just four hundredths quicker.

It was a trying session for McLaren debutant Stoffel Vandoorne (who deputises for the injured Fernando Alonso this weekend) when a suspected oil leak left him in the garage with the floor off for most of the session. He was, for the first 45 minutes, the only driver not to have set a time, but when the oil leak was revealed just to be a spillage, he headed out and set a time just behind that of McLaren team mate Jenson Button.

Jolyon Palmer’s baptism by fire in F1 continued as the chequered flag came out, when a right-rear puncture manifested itself on his final lap, presumably due to running over a kerb in the middle sector.

Ferrari look strong, but it remains to be seen whether Mercedes were sandbagging, or the Scuderia are a genuine threat.

Times from FP3

1) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari 1:31.683 (22 Laps)
2) Kimi Räikkönen, Ferrari 1:31.723 (13 Laps)
3) Nico Rosberg, Mercedes 1:32.104 (18 Laps)
4) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes 1:32.160 (14 Laps)
5) Valtteri Bottas, Williams-Mercedes 1:32.675 (18 Laps)
6) Romain Grosjean, Haas-Ferrari 1:33.082 (14 Laps)
7) Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1:33.113 (10 Laps)
8) Esteban Gutiérrez, Haas-Ferrari 1:33.337 (14 Laps)
9) Felipe Massa, Williams-Mercedes 1:33.363 (18 Laps)
10) Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1:33.519 (20 Laps)
11) Marcus Ericsson, Sauber-Ferrari 1:33.569 (16 Laps)
12) Kevin Magnussen, Renault 1:33.617 (9 Laps)
13) Jenson Button, McLaren-Honda          1:33.704 (12 Laps)
14) Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren-Honda  1:33.744 (11 Laps)
15) Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:33.778 (20 Laps)
16) Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:34.003 (20 Laps)
17) Felipe Nasr, Sauber-Ferrari 1:34.013 (15 Laps)
18) Nico Hülkenberg, Force India-Mercedes 1:34.128 (16 Laps)
19) Sergio Pérez, Force India-Mercedes 1:34.281 (15 Laps)
20) Jolyon Palmer, Renault 1:34.424 (9 Laps)
21) Rio Haryanto, Manor-Mercedes 1:35.546 (15 Laps)
22) Pascal Wehrlein, Manor-Mercedes 1:35.724 (16 Laps)

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Hamilton leads soggy first session of 2016 | Australian GP FP1 Report

The first official Formula 1 session of the 2016 Season got underway at 12:30 local time in Melbourne on Friday, ending fifteen weeks without the fastest sport on earth.

Sebastian Vettel was first out on track as the Albert Park Street Circuit took the honours of first round of the season – twenty years on from its first slot on the calendar.

Damp conditions saw a very stop/start session, punctuated by both drizzly and bright spells.

A particularly wet period caught out Valtteri Bottas at Turn 7, and the Finn damaged the floor of his Williams machine, sending him back to the pit lane.

Max Verstappen pushed hard throughout, even daring to fly over the sodden astrotruf on the exit of the super-fast T12 chicane, but it was a much slower corner that caused the Dutch teenager to spin; as he spun his STR10 on the exit of T7 at low speed, due to more damp run-off.

Team mate Carlos Sainz also hit trouble, when his car toured the circuit slowly and then ran out of power in the pit lane.

A third unfortunate Red Bull driver – Daniel Ricciardo – ended the session in the gravel trap at T14 as the rain fell heavier at the end of FP1, beaching his car with less than a minute to go.

Everyone kept it out of the barriers though, including the new Haas team, the re-vamped Manor team, and the returning Renault boys, clad in a new glowing gold paint scheme.

Times from FP1

1) Hamilton, Mercedes – 1.29:725 (14 Laps)
2) Kvyat, Red Bull – 1.30:146 (14 Laps)
3) Ricciardo, Red Bull – 1.30:875 (13 Laps)
4) Hulkenberg, Force India – 1.31:325 (7 Laps)
5) Verstappen, Toro Rosso – 1.31:720 (13 Laps)
6) Rosberg, Mercedes – 1.31:814 (11 Laps)
7) Alonso, McLaren – 1.33:060 (11 Laps)
8) Button, McLaren – 1.33:129 (16 Laps)
9) Perez, Force India – 1.33:370 (5 Laps)
10) Magnussen, Renault – 1.34:060 (12 Laps
11) Bottas, Williams – 1.34:550 (6 Laps)
12) Massa, Williams – 1.34:679 (6 Laps)
13) Nasr, Sauber – 1.34:796 (7 Laps)
14) Palmer, Renault – 1.35:477 (12 Laps)
15) Ericsson, Sauber – 1.37:956 (6 Laps)
16) Wehrlein, Manor – 1.40:401 (5 Laps)
17) Raikkonen, Ferrari – 1.40:754 (10 Laps)
18) Gutierrez, Haas – 1.41:780 (8 Laps)
19) Haryanto, Manor – 1.43:372 (6 Laps)
20) Grosjean, Haas – 1.43:443 (6 Laps)
21) Vettel, Ferrari – No time (8 Laps)
22) Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso – No time (3 Laps)

Peaks and troughs for Hamilton | 2015 Canadian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2

After the Mercedes cars showed their might once more in the First Practice session more tumultuous times were to be endured in the second free practice session ahead of the Canadian GP.

With rain fast approaching the man-made Ile Notre-Dame in Montreal, the emphasis in the first half hour was on getting dry laps in, and fast.

The haste that this necessitated caught out Lewis Hamilton not once, but twice at the final chicane. Firstly, the Briton nearly hit the back of a slow Romain Grosjean, who was preparing for a flying lap, and then, just a few laps later, the reigning World Champion launched his Mercedes over the bumps at the final chicane. He was, however, able to keep his W06 out of the barriers.

Nico Hulkenberg also ran into trouble, picking up a puncture on the left-rear tyre of his Force India.

Daniil Kvyat’s fourth place in Monaco was his career-best performance, but FP2 included some issues with his right-rear brake, which came back to the pits in a sorry state, overheating.

Just after half an hour the rain began to fall, with everybody heading back to the pits to escape the damp. That’s where everyone remained for 15 minutes or so, but the Mercedes boys were feeling brave and both took to the track to test out the conditions…

…Conditions that would prove too much for Hamilton.

After recovering from his adventures in the first half of the session, he set fastest lap before the rain came, but on damp tarmac the Mercedes driver was not quite as handy, and when braking for the hairpin, he locked both front tyres and nudged the barrier.

The session was then red flagged so that the stricken Merc could be removed from the barriers, and Berndt Maylander headed out in the Safety car to test out the conditions. After about 15 minutes the red flag was lifted, but nobody else emerged from the garages.

Mercedes, Ferrari, Williams, Lotus, and Red Bull ensured there was no room for anyone else in the top ten, with Merhi and Stevens – now with sponsorship – propping up the timing once more.

Times from Practice 2

1) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG, 1.15:988 (22 Laps)
2) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1.16:304 (19 Laps)
3) Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1.16:310 (20 Laps)
4) Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG, 1.16:440 (22 Laps)
5) Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, 1.16:600 (15 Laps)
6) Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1.16:849 (18 Laps)
7) Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1.16:864 (15 Laps)
8) Felipe Massa, Williams, 1.17:041 (19 Laps)
9) Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 1.17:092 (10 Laps)
10) Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1.17:111 (16 Laps)
11) Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1.17:120 (15 Laps)
12) Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1.17:261 (17 Laps)
13) Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1.17:318 (23 Laps)
14) Sergio Perez, Force India, 1.17:367 (20 Laps)
15) Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1.17:627 (21 Laps)
16) Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1.17:657 (23 Laps)
17) Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1.17:751 (21 Laps)
18) Jenson Button, McLaren, 1.18:135 (20 Laps)
19) Roberto Merhi, Manor Marussia, 1.19:531 (15 Laps)
20) Will Stevens, Manor Marussia, 1.19:734 (12 Laps)

Hamilton storms to Pole in Melbourne | 2015 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying

The sky on Saturday afternoon had clouded over from the dazzling sunshine, and wind became a factor.

Turns 1 and 15 in particular saw many drivers go wide, including Hamilton, Button and Hulkenberg at the former, and Carlos Sainz at the latter, who was incidentally the first on-track in the session.

Everyone initially set out on the Medium tyre, which most driver struggled with in Free Practice 3. Everyone, except for Ferrari, whose drivers Raikkonen and Vettel opted for the softer rubber. Kimi set a time easily faster than anyone else, at which point everyone realised that  they should probably put the options on too.

With both McLarens out, the pressure was off teams like Force India and the sole remaining Sauber of Nasr, but they fell at the next hurdle. Daniil Kvyat, who just barely got a lap in in time during Q1, could go no further.

The final session was a fight for the front row between the two Mercedes drivers, but behind it was anyone’s game. Hamilton set the initial pace with a staggering time of 1.26.419. It would turn out to be infallible, with Nico Rosberg not able to come up with a response. Valtteri Bottas nearly lost it at the final corner, and scraped 6th place, while his team mate took best of the rest in 3rd.

They sandwiched the Ferraris, but it was an incredible show by rookie Carlos Sainz to get up to 8th in his first Qualy session.

Sainz has every reason to smile ahead of tomorrow's race
Sainz has every reason to smile ahead of tomorrow’s race

Here’s how the drivers will line up for tomorrow’s race:

The Top 10
1) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1.26
2) Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
3) Felipe Massa, Williams4) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
5) Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
6) Valtteri Bottas, Williams
7) Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull
8) Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso
9) Romain Grosjean, Lotus
10) Pastor Maldonado, Lotus

Eliminated in Q2
Felipe Nasr, Sauber
Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull
Nico Hulkenberg, Force India
Sergio Perez, Force India

Eliminated in Q1
Marcus Ericsson, Sauber
Jenson Button, McLaren
Kevin Magnussen, McLaren
Will Stevens, Manor (No time)
Roberto Merhi, Manor (No time)

Manor will not start the race due to not qualifying.

The race begins at 5am UK time on Sunday, 15 March.

Magnussen crashes in FP2 | 2015 Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2

Mercedes led the way again in FP2 ahead of the Australian GP in Melbourne, but a crash for Kevin Magnussen at Turn 6 was the main focal point of the session.

The Dane, deputising this weekend for the recovering Fernando Alonso, took too much speed into Turn 6, lost the rear end, and careened into the wall after a jaunt through the gravel. He was unhurt, but his car was not so fortunate, and with a broken front-left corner, he was out of the session.

It brought the red flag out for the first time this season, but when the session was resumed, the drama did not stop.

After so much turbulence in the run up to the weekend, Sauber needed to get some time on the board after neither driver ran in FP1. However, this was not to be the case.

Marcus Ericsson exited the final corner with 40 minutes gone, but the car reacted strangely, and the left-rear suspension broke. The Swede was unfortunate enough to have to complete an entire lap in this condition, during which the tyre began rubbing violently against the bodywork, creating a large amount of smoke.

Ferrari showed some impressive pace on the medium tyre before switching to the soft, the latter of which was the tyre that everyone set their best lap on.

Jenson Button managed better running that in the first session, but reported a loss of power late on. Couple that with blue flags for apparently being too slow in front of Valtteri Bottas

Felipe Massa was unable to get out in FP2 due to a water leak. He was joined in the ‘no running club’ by Daniel Ricciardo who had an engine change, and both Manor drivers.

Times from Practice 2

1) Rosberg, Mercedes, 1.27.697 (29 Laps)
2) Hamilton, Mercedes, 1.27.797 (25 Laps)
3) Vettel, Ferrari, 1.28.412 (33 Laps)
4) Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1.28.842 (33 Laps)
5) Bottas, Williams, 1.29.265 (32 Laps)
6) Kvyat, Red Bull, Kvyat, 1.30.016 (27 Laps)
7) Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 1.30.071 (41 Laps)
8) Maldonado, Lotus, 1.30.104 (11 Laps)
9) Grosjean, Lotus, 1.30.205 (37 Laps)
10) Hulkenberg, Force India, 1.30.473 (30 Laps)
11) Nasr, Sauber, 1.30.755 (33 Laps)
12) Perez, Force India, 1.30.980 (32 Laps)
13) Button, McLaren, 1.31.387 (21 Laps)
14) Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1.31.395 (6 Laps)
15) Ericsson, Sauber, 1.32.303 (14 Laps)
16) Magnussen, McLaren, 1.33.289 (4 Laps)

– No Time –

Ricciardo, Red Bull
Massa, Williams
Stevens, Manor
Merhi, Manor

Mercedes continue to Reign | 2015 Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1

The first official session of Formula 1 in 2015 got underway on Friday morning in Melbourne, Australia, and it was a familiar tale, as Mercedes eased to the top of the timing screens, Rosberg a smidgeon (0.029 Sec) faster than Hamilton.

First on track was F1’s youngest ever driver Max Verstappen. After a tough time in testing, McLaren also got Kevin Magnussen out on track early. The Dane deputising for Fernando Alonso.

David Croft had some words regarding McLaren’s car, which had a tough time in testing:

The MP4-30 makes a rasping noise on downshift that sounds like an old 1950s blues singer clearing his throat.”

Whatever the noise may be, McLaren’s morning went as well as can be expected, with an unlucky 13 laps for their two drivers combined.

Magnussen did go wide at turn 3 after half an hour, as did many other drivers, including Felipe Massa.

McLaren had to end their running 15 minutes early due to what they described as a small mechanical issue.

Sebastian Vettel’s first outing in the car he has dubbed ‘Eva’ went well, and he clocked 5th fastest overall, despite an off at the super-fast Turn 11-12 complex toward the end of the session.

Sauber did not run due to the ongoing court case of Giedo van der Garde vs Sauber F1 Team, in which the Ductch driver is pursuing a race seat after unfair dismissal in 2014.

Times from Practice 1

1) Rosberg, Mercedes, 1.29.557 (19 Laps)
2) Hamilton, Mercedes, 1.29.586 (19 Laps)
3) Bottas, Williams, 1.30.748 (20 Laps)
4) Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 1.31.014 (32 Laps)
5) Vettel, Ferrari, 1.31.029 (13 Laps)
6) Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1.31.067 (31 Laps)
7) Massa, Williams, 1.31.188 (19 Laps)
8) Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1.31.310 (14 Laps)
9) Maldonado, Lotus, 1.31.451 (22 Laps)
10) Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1.31.570 (9 Laps)
11) Kvyat, Red Bull, 1.32.073 (18 Laps)
12) Perez, Force India, 1.32.247 (22 Laps)
13) Hulkenberg, Force India, 1.32.261 (19 Laps)
14) Button, McLaren, 1.34.542 (6 Laps)
15) Magnussen, McLaren, 1.34.785 (7 Laps)

– No time –

Grosjean, Lotus
Ericsson, Sauber
Nasr, Sauber
Stevens, Manor
Merhi, Manor

Caterham’s Will-power prevails

Caterham F1 Team have pulled off an unlikely turnaround to race in this weekend’s Abu Dhabi GP. The struggling outfit have been in administration since October, but earlier this month started a crowd-funding project to try and raise money for the team in order for them to compete.

Their target was £2.35 Million, mainly to cover logistics, but the team actually fell short of this, finishing up with around £1.9 Million. A nudge from Bernie Ecclestone and some sponsor power from their new driver (More on that in a moment) pushed them the rest of the way.

#REFUELCATERHAMF1

The fund-raising scheme requested donations from fans around the world in exchange for exclusive pieces of merchandise and even bits of race-used equipments. Front wings, sidepods, drivers’ gloves and boots, HANS devices – you name it! They were all up for grabs. There were even sponsor opportunities for a larger amount of money, and those who forked out 1, 2, 5 or 10 thousand pounds will feature on the car with their name, logo, or both.

Personally, I loved the idea of helping get the team back on its wheels(?) and so chipped in £40 to get a limited edition hat.

#RefuelCaterhamF1

ABU DHABI

2014 driver Marcus Ericsson announced a move to Sauber for 2015 and has since severed all ties with the team, leaving just Kamui Kobayashi as the team’s driver. Much speculation discussed many drivers as his colleague for Abu Dhabi. Max Chilton’s name was thrown around, as was Andre Lotterer, their driver for the Belgian Grand Prix. Charles Pic’s name also surfaced after he was dropped from Andretti Autosport’s Fomula E team.

However, it was World Series by Renault driver Will Stevens who was given the spot.

_77955609_willstevens_getty

The young Brit tested for Caterham last season in the young driver test at Silverstone, and it looks like his performance, as well as a financial leg-up from his sponsors, have landed him the role. It will return the grid to its state of three British drivers after Max Chilton was lost from it along with Marussia.

They were not as fortunate as their green young team counterparts. There were rumours that they could get a hurried freight shipment over to Yas Marina Circuit to make the race, and they are currently in talks with a new buyer which could see them return next year, but ultimately, missing the Wednesday 4pm scrutineering checks dashed all hopes of racing in the season finale.

Caterham are currently joint-tenth with Sauber on zero points in the championship, and must pull of a spectacular weekend if they are to change that.