Red Bull’s Monaco Dominance Continues in FP2

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo continued the team’s strong start to the weekend to lead home team-mate Max Verstappen in FP2.

24/05/18

This is my report for Essaar GP that I did covering the second free practice in Monaco ahead of the GP weekend.

It was Verstappen’s blistering pace early on that put him to the top of the time-sheets with a 1:12:071 just before a red flag was called for track repairs with just over an hour to go in the session. Marshals and the FIA assessed the track between Turns 4 and 5 to fix a drain cover.

The streets of Monte Carlo are littered with these drain covers and with the amount of running the F1 cars and support series do over the weekend, these covers are checked regularly. In 2016, Jenson Button’s McLaren ran over a drain cover in FP1 after it was sucked up by Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes. The cover damaged Button’s front wing and just goes to show what can happen if these covers aren’t properly secured.

After 15 minutes the drivers headed back out onto the track after the cover was repaired. Ricciardo and both Ferrari’s improved rapidly to close the gap to Verstappen but the Dutchman improved again to a 1:12:035.

Verstappen had a hairy moment when letting the Haas of Romain Grosjean past. Grosjean went round the outside of Verstappen at Loews Hairpin (Turn 6), slight contact was made to Verstappen’s front wing but not enough to slow the Red Bull driver down.

Ricciardo knocked Verstappen off the top-step by being the first driver into the 1 minute 11’s and ended the session quickest, nearly two tenths ahead.

Behind the Red Bull’s it was Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel nearly six tenths behind the Australian in third with Championship leader Lewis Hamilton nearly seven tenths down in fourth and appeared to be struggling with the rear of his Mercedes.

Kimi Raikkonen was just behind Hamilton in fifth while the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas was sixth, eight tenths off the pace.

While the gap from Red Bull to Ferrari and Mercedes is quite big, both teams predicted that Red Bull would be very strong here.

Renault continued their impressive pace with Nico Hulkenberg seventh and Carlos Sainz 10th while the McLaren’s of Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso sandwiched in between in eighth and ninth. This was a drastic improvement for McLaren after a tough FP1, although they admitted that they are still struggling in the slow corners.

It was also another impressive performance from Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley who was ahead of team-mate Pierre Gasly and both the Force India drivers in 11th place. Toro Rosso showed impressive pace at the start of the session with both drivers running inside the top 10.

Williams’s Sergey Sirotkin was 15th and four places ahead of team-mate Lance Stroll, who touched the wall exiting Turn 16 but sustained no damage.

Haas’s Kevin Magnussen was 16th ahead of Sauber’s Charles Leclerc in 17th, the other Haas of Romain Grosjean in 18th, Lance Stroll in 19th with Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber completing the field in 20th.

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Has the Renault gamble paid off for McLaren – Part 1

McLaren’s three turbulent and outright embarrassing years with Honda came to an end with the British team signing with Renault instead for 2018. But has the gamble to Renault power proven to be more of a success?

This is the first part in a four-part series that’ll take place over the course of the F1 2018 Season. The 2nd review will take place after the German GP, the 3rd review taking place after the Russian GP and the 4th at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

16/05/18

The answer after just 5 races in 2018 is Yes.

McLaren’s 2018 Pre-Season testing however painted a very different picture, a picture the team had seen many times over the past few years and contradicted the answer. Due to the late switch to Renault engines for the upcoming season was followed by reliability problems with the new car in testing with McLaren having admitting that their upgrade schedule is behind schedule.

After the Azerbaijan GP, in which drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne scored points in, the 3rd time they had done that in only 4 races, the team had already scored 6 more points than their 2017 total of 30pts. Plus, the team were ahead of Renault in 4th by a single point.

Although, there was cause for concern after the Bahrain GP. Toro Rosso, who now have Honda engines were able to finish in 4th with Pierre Gasly at the reigns. In just two races with Honda, Toro Rosso were able beat McLaren’s best result of 5th, achieved just 3 times over the course of 3 years.

In F1, most of the talking and action happens on race day, on the Sunday. So in many cases, depending on the race circuit, Qualifying is not as important on some tracks as it is on others. Having said this, McLaren have scored points at each race despite starting outside the top 10. Not once had a McLaren car reached Q3 so far this season.

Having stated after the Bahrain GP, Alonso said “We need to understand what’s the gap to those in front and improve, because for sure we had a difficult weekend, more than expected.”

After the Chinese GP, McLaren targeted the Spanish GP, round 5 of 2018, as the race where they will start to form a clearer judgement on their 2018 car with big upgrades planned.

This was followed by the removal of Tim Goss as the chief technical officer. This was part of the team “undergoing a review of its technical operations as part of its programme to return the team to success”. Coupled with it’s poor qualifying performances, this has led McLaren to realise that they have a wider problem with their design department.

Racing director, Eric Boullier said the problems were caused by McLaren being too ambitious with what they thought they could achieve while switching engines.

McLaren ran the upgrade package in Spain running a new nose design and new barge-boards. This helped the team to finally break the barren run and get a car into Q3. Alonso eventually qualified 8th and then finished 8th with Vandoorne retiring marking the first retirement for McLaren so far this season. Although, with Renault’s Carlos Sainz in 7th, Renault gained 2 more points than McLaren to move the French team to 4th just one point ahead of McLaren.

The season ahead

After 5 Rounds of F1 2018, McLaren are well and truly in the fight to finish “best of the rest” in 4th behind the leading trio of  Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

It’ll be tough but I think just manageable for Alonso and Vandoorne to hold off the likes of Renault, Force India and Haas but getting near the top 3, that might have to wait.

What is most certain is that McLaren have made a positive start to the season and as a fan it’s great to see them back fighting competitively every race in the mid-field.

Total Points from each Race

  • Round 1, Australia: 12pts
  • Round 2, Bahrain: 10pts
  • Round 3, China: 6pts
  • Round 4, Azerbaijan: 8pts
  • Round 5, Spain: 4pts

McLaren Stats Rounds 1 – 5

  • Best Qualifying: 8th, Spain
  • Best Finish: 5th, Australia
  • Total Points: 40pts
  • Wins: 0
  • Podiums: 0
  • DNFs: 1

 

Hamilton takes dominant Spanish GP win

Mercedes Lewis Hamilton breezes to a dominant Spanish GP victory ahead of team-mate Valterri Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen as only 14 drivers make it to the end of the race.

13/05/18

Grid Formation

1.Hamilton  2.Bottas  3.Vettel  4.Raikkonen  5.Verstappen  6.Ricciardo  7.Magnussen  8.Alonso  9.Sainz  10.Grosjean  11.Vandoorne  12.Gasly  13.Ocon  14.Leclerc  15.Perez  16.Hulkenberg  17.Ericsson  18.Stroll  19.Sirotkin  20.Hartley

Race

There is a chance of rain with clouds forming over the circuit. The lights go out with Lewis Hamilton leading ahead of a fast-starting Sebastian Vettel who has overtaken Valterri Bottas. Contact has been made behind. Romain Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly are out as Grosjean lost his Haas going round turn 3. Grosjean then uncontrollably spins and goes back across the track. Hulkenberg and Gasly then hit the Haas and are out. The Safety Car has been deployed and all three drivers are out of their cars and seem to be okay.

Under the SC, Sergey Sirotkin and Brendon Hartley have made pitstops. Big gainers at the start are Charles Leclerc, who is now 9th after starting 14th and Lance Stroll, who is now 12th after starting 18th. Fernando Alonso, who is on the Supersoft tyre, is now 11th after starting 8th and will be pitting earlier than everyone else. Lap 7, racing continues as the SC comes into the pits. Alonso overtakes Esteban Ocon round the outside of turn 3 – very brave move into 10th.

Lap 9, Hamilton now leads by 3 seconds ahead of Vettel, who is 2 seconds of Bottas in 3rd. Stoffel Vandoorne has a 5 second time penalty for not failing to stay right of the bollard at turns 1 and 2. Lap 14, Hamilton has increased his gap to Vettel by another 3 seconds to now 6 seconds. Bottas is less than a second behind Vettel with Daniel Ricciardo now hunting down his Red Bull team-mate in 5th and 6th. Lap 18, Vettel pits for the Medium tyre. He rejoins in 7th with Mercedes calling Bottas in for his pit-stop soon.

Lap 20, Bottas pits and rejoins on the Medium tyre. On his in-lap, Bottas was setting fastest sectors times but it wasn’t enough as he rejoins behind Vettel and Magnussen in 7th. Lap 23, Alonso pits, rejoins on the Medium tyre and comes out in 16th behind Leclerc, who has kept ahead of the Spaniard after his pit-stop. Bottas has got his Medium tyres up to temperature as he sets the fastest lap of the race and now the gap is now 1.3 seconds.

Lap 25, Kimi Raikkonen has got a problem. Both Red Bulls have breezed past the stricken Ferrari down the pit-straight. Lap 26, race leader, Hamilton pits. He rejoins on the Medium tyre and back out in 2nd behind Verstappen, who hasn’t pitted. Carlos Sainz pits also pits on lap 26 and rejoins on the Medium tyre. Raikkonen has made it back to the Ferrari garage but that is it for the Finn’s race as he is out.

Lap 32, Verstappen still leads but hasn’t made a pit-stop with Hamilton in 2nd, Ricciardo who hasn’t made a pit-stop in 3rd, Vettel in 4th and Bottas in 5th. Lap 34, Magnussen pits, rejoins on the Medium tyre and back out in 6th. Lap 34, Ricciardo pits, rejoins on the Medium tyre and is now 5th. Lap 34, Verstappen pits, rejoins on the Medium tyre and rejoins in 4th – way ahead of team-mate Ricciardo. Lap 36, Vandoorne pits from 8th, takes his 5 second time penalty, goes onto the Medium tyre and rejoins in 13th.

Lap 38, Alonso is still behind Leclerc who are battling over 8th and 9th place. Magnussen and Sainz are holding down 6th and 7th while Sergio Perez occupies 10th. Lap 40, Ocon has pulled over just before turn 5 with some plumes of smoke coming out of the back of the Force India. The VSC is deployed. Vettel pits, goes onto a new set of Medium tyre, rejoins behind Verstappen in 4th after a very slow pit-stop by the Ferrari crew.

Lap 43, Verstappen has ran into the back of the lapped Williams of Lance Stroll as the VSC ends. The Dutchman has front-wing damage as Sergey Sirotkin pits after spinning his Williams. Meanwhile, Alonso has been able to overtake Leclerc for 8th as Perez overtakes Stroll for 10th as Perez made a pit-stop under the VSC and is now on the Soft tyre. Lap 47, Vandoorne pulls over in the pit-lane exit on the the pit-straight and is out marking the first McLaren retirement of the season.

Lap 59, Perez overtakes Leclerc down into turn 1 for 9th. Lap 60, Hamilton leads by 18 seconds ahead of Bottas with Verstappen 9 seconds behind Bottas by only 2 seconds ahead of Vettel. Hamilton crosses the line to win the Spanish GP ahead of Bottas and Verstappen.

Hamilton now extends his gap in the Driver’s Championship to 17 points over Vettel in 2nd as Mercedes move clear of Ferrari in the Constructors Championship. Important day for Renault as they leapfrog McLaren to 4th as Haas move into 6th.

Race Result

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 66 Laps (Fans Driver of the Day)
  2. Valterri Bottas, Mercedes, +20.593s (25th podium finish)
  3. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, +26.873s (1st podium of 2018 & 150th podium for Red Bull)
  4. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, +27.584s
  5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, +50.058s
  6. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, +1 Lap
  7. Carlos Sainz, Renault, +1 Lap
  8. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, +1 Lap
  9. Sergio Perez, Force India, +2 Laps
  10. Charles Leclerc, Sauber, +2 Laps
  11. Lance Stroll, Williams, +2 Laps
  12. Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso, +2 Laps
  13. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, +2 Laps
  14. Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, +3 Laps
  • Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, DNF
  • Esteban Ocon, Force India, DNF
  • Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, DNF
  • Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, DNF
  • Pierre Gasly, Torro Rosso, DNF
  • Romain Grosjean, Haas, DNF

 

 

Hamilton heads first Mercedes 1-2 in 2018 in Spain

Mercedes Lewis Hamilton breaks Ferrari’s 2018 Pole Position streak of 3 races as he takes pole position ahead of team-mate Valterri Bottas and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel as McLaren finally break into Q3 for the first time this season.

12/05/18

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes pulled it out of the bag to grab pole position, the first for a Mercedes car since the season start in Australia. Hamilton said that he “needed” this pole, in fact his 74th career pole position. Hamilton’s team-mate Valterri Bottas was a close 2nd making sure that Mercedes secured their first front-row lock-out of the season.

Ferrari looked favourites for pole but their first laps in Q3 were horrendous. Sebastian Vettel was 4th and Kimi Raikkonen, who ran wide at turn 2, was 7th. In the end, both were able to improve to 3rd and 4th but not enough to get onto the front-row. Raikkonen will start on the Soft tyre tomorrow.

Red Bull were one of the notably teams who brought upgrades to Barcelona in a hope to close the gap further to the top 2 teams and reach the front-row. However, this wasn’t the case with Max Verstappen once again out-qualifying Daniel Ricciardo to 5th and 6th. Ricciardo will start tomorrow’s race on the Soft tyre as well.

It was a strong performance from Kevin Magnussen to get his Haas car to 7th on the grid. With Romain Grosjean 10th, it mirrored a performance the team showed in Australia. Both will be hoping to score points as they hope to leapfrog Toro Rosso and Force India in the Constructors Championship.

Home favourite Fernando Alonso put the McLaren upgrades to the test with the team celebrating their first Q3 appearance of the season. Alonso wasn’t quite able to out-qualify Magnussen but was quicker than fellow countryman Carlos Sainz. Stoffel Vandoorne however had a close shave in Q1 after nearly being knocked out but was able to slot into 11th.

It was a mixed day for Renault. Carlos Sainz made it into the top ten eventually qualifying 9th ahead of his home race. It was a different story for Nico Hulkenberg who suffered a fuel pressure issue with a couple of minutes to go in Q1. He was able to get out and put in one flying lap but that wasn’t enough to secure a place in Q2.

It was a mixed day for Toro Rosso as well. Pierre Gasly did well to beat both Force India’s to go 12th while team-mate Brendon Hartley didn’t participate in Qualifying. Hartley, crashed heavily in FP3, wrecking the car and therefore not being able to take part in Qualifying. Hartley, is fit to race tomorrow but appears to be “sore”.

It was another wonderful performance by Charles Leclerc to get into Q2 and then split the Force India’s to go 14th. His Sauber team-mate, Marcus Ericsson wasn’t able to make it out of Q1 but again was able to beat both Williams cars to 17th.

It was a frustrating day down at the Force India garage. Both appeared to be in the mix for the top ten, but lacked outright pace come qualifying. Esteban Ocon was able to out-qualify team-mate Sergio Perez to 13th while Perez languished in 15th. It’ll be a tough ask for a repeat of Baku where Perez was able to stand on the podium however some points are more likely to be on offer.

Williams’s woes continued from Friday into Saturday. Lance Stroll took a trip through the gravel in FP3 before crashing at the end of Q1. Sergey Sirotkin kept his FW41 on the track but didn’t fare much better. Sirotkin carriers a 3-place grid drop earned at the last race for colliding with Perez.

Qualifying Result

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:16:173
  2. Valterri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:16:213
  3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:16:305
  4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:16:612
  5. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:16:816
  6. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:16:818
  7. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 1:17:676
  8. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:17:721
  9. Carlos Sainz, Renault, 1:17:790
  10. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:17:835
  11. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:18:323
  12. Pierre Gasly, Torro Rosso, 1:18:463
  13. Esteban Ocon, Force India, 1:18:696
  14. Charles Leclerc, Sauber, 1:18:910
  15. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:19:098
  16. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:18:923
  17. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:19:493
  18. Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, 1:19:695
  19. Lance Stroll, Williams, 1:20:225
  20. Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso, DNC

Previewing the Spanish GP

Formula One heads to Spain for Round 5 of the 2018 Season. After an exciting and extraordinary race in Azerbaijan which saw Lewis Hamilton claim his first win of the season, what will be the outcome come Sunday?

06/05/18

Alonso wins on WEC debut

Two time champion and McLaren driver Fernando Alonso started his World Endurance Championship campaign off in style as his car won the 6hr of Spa. Alonso teamed up with former F1 drivers Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima to win his first major race since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix. It was also the first time that Alonso had stood on the podium since 2014.

Alonso’s car qualified in P2 but was promoted to Pole after the other Toyota car was penalised. Alonso’s Toyota TS050 hybrid finished just ahead of second Toyota claiming victory. The next race in the series is the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 16-17 June.

Red Bull and Honda begin 2019 talks

Red Bull and Honda have started “positive” talks regarding a 2019 engine supply. This is after Red Bull’s junior team, Toro Rosso, managed to finish 4th at this year’s Bahrain GP showing that Honda have made some progress after 3 difficult years in the sport. The relationship between Renault and Red Bull have been very tense and close to breaking point in the past.

Speaking to Sky F1, Honda F1 chief Masashi Yamamoto said “Yes, it was positive. We do believe we were both satisfied. There is a good relationship between us. However, it’s the first time we have an official meeting. It’s the starting point for a potential future.”

Driver Standings  – After Round 4

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 70pts
  2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 66pts
  3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 48pts
  4. Valterri Bottas, Mercedes, 40pts
  5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 37pts

Constructors Standings – After Round 4

  1. Ferrari, 114pts
  2. Mercedes, 110pts
  3. Red Bull, 55pts
  4. McLaren, 36pts
  5. Renault, 35pts

Spanish GP Facts

  • Lap record: 1:21:670s, Kimi Raikkonen, 2008
  • Laps: 66
  • Circuit length: 4.655km
  • Race distance: 307.104km
  • Corners: 16
  • First held: 1991
  • Past Winners: Lewis Hamilton (2017), Max Verstappen (2016) & Nico Rosberg (2015)
  • Past Pole-sitters: Lewis Hamilton (2016 & 2018), Nico Rosberg (2015)

My Predictions

Pole Position will go to Sebastian Vettel. He is on a roll of Pole Position’s stretching back to the Bahrain GP.

The race, I think, will go Vettel’s way as well. Vettel and Lewis Hamilton had a very close battle here last year in which Hamilton came out on top. Hamilton will be second with Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen 3rd. Raikkonen, although will take the Fastest Lap Award.

My ones to watch out for this weekend is McLaren and Red Bull. Red Bull need a solid and clean race here after Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen collided in Baku. McLaren are bringing a couple of upgrades and claim that this is where everyone will see the “real” 2018 car. 

 

 

 

 

Hamilton wins as Red Bulls clash in chaotic Azerbaijan GP

Mercedes Lewis Hamilton wins a chaotic Azerbaijan GP ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Force India’s Sergio Perez as Red Bull drivers of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen collide.

29/04/18

Grid Formation

1.Vettel  2.Hamilton  3.Bottas  4.Ricciardo  5.Verstappen  6.Raikkonen 7.Ocon  8.Perez  9.Sainz  10. Stroll  11.Sirotkin  12.Alonso  13. Leclerc  14.Hulkenberg*  15.Magnussen  16.Vandoorne  17.Gasly  18. Ericsson  19.Hartley  20.Grosjean

Hulkenberg* qualified 9th but received a 5 place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Race

The drivers are facing the added factor of wind today which could spell trouble. The lights go out and Sebastian Vettel leads Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas. Down into turn 3, Esteban Ocon and Kimi Raikkonen clash with Ocon getting punted into the wall and out. Sergey Sirotkin has also stopped with the Safety Car now being deployed. Fernando Alonso has picked up a right-front puncture.

Raikkonen pits, changed the front wing and goes onto the Soft tyre. Brendon Hartley, Kevin Magnussen and Marcus Ericsson also stop for necessary pit-stops. Raikkonen is now 14th after his pit-stop and is now on a 1 stop strategy with Pierre Gasly now 9th after starting 17th. Sergio Perez has also pitted for a front-wing change.

Lap 6, the Safety Car comes in and racing continues with Max Verstappen overtaking Daniel Ricciardo down into turn 3 with Carlos Sainz also nipping past the Australian. Lap 7, Vettel’s gap to Hamilton has grown to 3 and a half seconds with Sainz now all over the back of Verstappen for 4th. Raikkonen is now 11th behind Charles Leclerc.

Lap 9, Sainz overtakes Verstappen before turn 1 with Hulkenberg overtaking Ricciardo down into turn 2. Lap 10, Hulkenberg is now able to overtake Verstappen down into turn 1, who has used up most of his battery, is now 5th. Lap 11, Hulkenberg pulls over after hitting the wall at turn 4. Lap 12, Ricciardo is now trying to overtake Verstappen with Verstappen locking-up into turn 1 and banging tyres with Ricciardo on the out-side.

Lap 15, Raikkonen overtakes Lance Stroll for 8th down into turn 1 as there is yellow flags in sector 1 for a tree branch which has fallen onto the track. It is quickly recovered with Sainz pitting and rejoining on the Soft tyre in 13th. A replay shows Hamilton running wide at turn 16 which has increased the gap to Vettel to 4 and a half seconds. Lap 20, Ericsson has received a 10 second time penalty for an incident involving Magnussen and himself. Lap 22, Hamilton has locked-up massively into turn 1 with the gap now increasing to over 8 seconds. Mercedes call him in for a pit-stop.

Hamilton pits, goes onto the Soft tyre and rejoins in 3rd. The FIA has issued Sergio Perez with a 5 second time penalty for overtaking under yellow flags. Lap 25, Leclerc pits from 7th, goes onto the Soft tyre and rejoins in 11th. Lap 27, the Ricciardo-Verstappen battle resumes with both getting ultra close together. This is costing both of them huge amounts of time. Lap 30, Vettel pits from the lead, goes onto the Soft tyre and rejoins in 2nd behind Valterri Bottas who hasn’t pitted yet.

Lap 35, Ricciardo finally overtakes Verstappen round the out-side of turn 1 for 4th. Lap 38, Ricciardo pits for the Ultrasoft tyre and rejoins in 5th ahead of Raikkonen. Lap 39, Verstappen pits and fits the Ultrasoft tyre and rejoins ahead of Ricciardo. Ricciardo is given the encouragement from his engineer to re-overtake his Red Bull team-mate.

Both Red Bull’s has crashed! Ricciardo has ploughed into the back of Verstappen. Both are out. Bottas, Vettel and Hamilton have pitted for new tyre as the Safety Car is deployed. Bottas leads ahead of Vettel, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Perez, Grosjean, Sainz, Leclerc, Stroll and Alonso. The replay shows that Ricciardo moved to the inside with Verstappen covering him off with Ricciardo locking-up and hitting the back of his team-mate. Bottas, Vettel and Hamilton went onto the Ultrasoft tyre. Raikkonen has also gone onto the Ultrasoft tyre with Perez going onto the Supersoft tyre.

Lap 43, behind the Safety Car, Grosjean has crashed! The Frenchman has binned it into the wall after losing control of his car after trying to warm up his tyres. Lap 48, racing resumes with Bottas leading but Vettel is behind. Vettel overtakes Bottas into turn 1 but locks-up and runs wide with Bottas taking the lead of the race back. Lap 49, Bottas has got a puncture! Hamilton takes the lead down into turn 1. Bottas pulls over and is out as Perez is now 3rd after overtaking Vettel. Vettel is now struggling after that lock-up as he has flat-spotted his tyres.

Onto the final lap, Perez sits 3rd just ahead of Vettel with Leclerc now 6th and Stroll 8th. Hamilton comes round to win ahead of Raikkonen and Perez.

Hamilton takes his and Mercedes first win of 2018 with Perez taking Force India’s first podium of the season. Leclerc and Hartley score their first points of their career with Stroll taking Williams first points of the season. Red Bull and Haas are the only two teams not to take any points away from today.

Baku has delivered once again to give us exciting racing! Thank-you!

Race Result

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 51 Laps (First win of 2018)
  2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, +2.460s
  3. Sergio Perez, Force India, +4.024s (Force India’s first podium of season)
  4. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, +5.329s
  5. Carlos Sainz , Renault, +7.515s
  6. Charles Leclerc, Sauber, +9.158s (First F1 points & Fans Driver of the Day)
  7. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, +10.931s
  8. Lance Stroll, Williams, +12.546s (Williams first points of the season)
  9. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, +14.152s
  10. Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso, +18.030s (First F1 points)
  11. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, +18.512s
  12. Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso, +24.720s
  13. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, +30.663s
  14. Valterri Bottas, Mercedes, DNF (DHL Fastest Lap Award)
  • Romain Grosjean, Haas, DNF
  • Max Verstappen, Red Bull, DNF
  • Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, DNF
  • Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, DNF
  • Esteban Ocon, Force India, DNF
  • Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, DNF

Ricciardo wins thrilling Chinese GP

Red Bulls Daniel Ricciardo wins the Chinese GP ahead of Mercedes Valterri Bottas and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen as Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel collide.

15/04/18

Grid Formation

1.Vettel  2.Raikkonen  3.Bottas  4.Hamilton  5.Verstappen  6.Ricciardo  7.Hulkenberg  8.Perez  9.Sainz  10.Grosjean  11.Magnussen  12.Ocon  13.Alonso  14.Vandoorne  15.Hartley  16.Sirotkin  17.Gasly  18.Stroll  19.Leclerc  20.Ericsson*

Ericsson* was given a 5 place grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags in Q1

Race

Both Ferrari and Mercedes drivers will start on the Soft tyre with both Red Bulls will be starting on the Ultrasoft tyre. The lights go out and it’s a good start by the top 3 of Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Valterri Bottas. Out of turn 4, Vettel leads ahead of Bottas, Raikkonen, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. Exiting turn 6, Verstappen goes round the outside of Raikkonen for 3rd. Meanwhile, it’s been a great start for Lance Stroll who is now 12th after starting 18th.

Behind the top 6, Nico Hulkenberg heads team-mate Carlos Sainz in 7th and 8th with Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen rounding out the top 10. Lap 6, Grosjean and Magnussen swap places as Magnussen appears to be the faster Haas driver at the moment. Vettel’s lead ahead of Bottas is staying around 2.4s with Verstappen a further 4.6s behind Bottas on lap 10. At the end of lap 10, Brendon Hartley pits for the Medium tyre.

Lap 11, Esteban Ocon pits and goes onto the Soft tyre. Lap 12, Sainz pits, emerging on the Medium tyre.. Lap 13, Hulkenberg pits and goes onto the Medium tyre. Lap 17, Verstappen pits and rejoins on the Medium tyre with Ricciardo pitting behind on the Medium tyre as well. Lap 18, Hamilton pits and rejoins on the Medium tyre.

Lap 19, Bottas pits, rejoins on the Medium tyre and ahead of Verstappen. Lap 20, Vettel pits, rejoins on the Medium tyre and behind Bottas. The undercut has worked for Bottas who has jumped Vettel for the effective lead of the race. Ferrari have not pitted Raikkonen who now leads and when he does pit, he will rejoin in 6th. Lap 25, Vettel is now just 1 second behind Bottas who is just 2 seconds behind Raikkonen. Lap 27, Bottas overtakes Raikkonen round the outside of turn 1 & 2 but Raikkonen has a little look and holds back with Vettel getting past his Ferrari team-mate.

Lap 28, Raikkonen pits rejoins on the Medium tyre and out in 6th. Lap 29, Charles Leclerc spins at turn 1 but rejoins the race. Lap 20, the Toro Rosso team-mates collide as Pierre Gasly hits Hartley at turn 14. Hartley comes of worse but both continue on. The Safety Car has been deployed with Verstappen pitting, rejoining on the Soft tyre. Ricciardo follows in behind and also goes onto the Soft tyre. Both Force India drivers of Perez and Ocon pit as well.

The SC comes out as for the amount of debris at turn 14. Bottas leads ahead of Vettel, Hamilton, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Grosjean and Perez. Verstappen and Ricciardo have made the extra stop and therefore on fresher tyres. Lap 35, the SC comes in and racing continues. The Stewards have given Gasly a 10 second time penalty for the incident with Hartley.

Lap 37, Ricciardo overtakes Raikkonen for 5th down the inside of turn 14. Lap 39, Verstappen tries to overtake Hamilton round the outside of turn 7 but runs wide and Ricciardo nips past. Lap 40, with Ricciardo for company, Hamilton has to defend but Ricciardo dives down the inside of the Brit into turn 14. Lap 42, having composed for a couple of laps, Verstappen overtakes Hamilton down the inside of turn 6 for 4th.

Ricciardo, within DRS range, overtakes Vettel for 2nd down the long back straight before turn 14. Hamilton seems to be struggling and has got Raikkonen right behind him. Lap 43, Bottas locks-up going into turn 14 and behind Verstappen hits Vettel! Bottas holds onto the lead with Verstappen and Vettel spinning. Raikkonen is now 3rd after overtaking Hamilton. Vettel is now under serious pressure and is overtaken by Hulkenberg.

Lap 45, the Stewards are looking into the incident between Vettel and Verstappen with Ricciardo now only half a second behind Bottas. Down into turn 6, Bottas defends to the inside but somehow, Ricciardo is able to go down the inside to take the lead! What a move, Ricciardo now leads ahead of Bottas, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Verstappen, Hulkenberg and Vettel. Lap 46, the Stewards have awarded Verstappen with a 10 second time penalty.

Lap 38, Verstappen overtakes round the outside of Hamilton down into turn 6. As things are, with Verstappen ahead of Hamilton and Hulkenberg, Vettel would not be in the 10 second zone of Verstappen. Lap 53, Hartley is in the pits and is out of the race. The battle for 2nd is on with Bottas holding off Raikkonen and Verstappen. Lap 55, Fernando Alonso overtakes Vettel round the outside of turn 3. Lap 56, Ricciardo comes round the final corner to win the Chinese GP with Bottas and Raikkonen rounding out the top 3.

Verstappen was demoted to 4th after finishing 3rd on the track after his 10 second time penalty was applied.

Race Result

  1. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 56 Laps (6th GP win, Fans Driver of the Day & DHL Fastest Lap Award)
  2. Valterri Bottas, Mercedes, +8.894s (100th GP start)
  3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, +9.637s
  4. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +16.985s (28th consecutive points finish)
  5. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, +20.436s
  6. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, +21.052s
  7. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, +30.639s
  8. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, +35.286s
  9. Carlos Sainz, Renault, +35.763s
  10. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, +39.594s
  11. Esteban Ocon, Force India, +44.050s
  12. Sergio Perez, Force India, +44.725s
  13. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, +49.373s
  14. Lance Stroll, Williams, +55.490s
  15. Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, +58.241s
  16. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, +62.604s
  17. Romain Grosjean, Haas, +65.296s
  18. Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso, +66.330s
  19. Charles Leclerc, Sauber, +82.575s
  • Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso, DNF