May 30, 2016

Mercedes gambles, Red Bull blow it: Hamilton wins in Monaco.

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 The slim margin between Hamilton and Ricciardo, but did Lewis cut the chicane on the previous lap?

You might not realize it reading UK racing media this morning but Hamilton's brave gamble to stay on full wet tires on a drying track, long after the rest of the field had switched to the intermediate Pirellis,  was not paying off.

Had the Red Bull not comically botched poor Ricciardo's stop, the Australian would have been a good 10 seconds up the road and set to win his first Monaco GP.

But you can't take too much credit away from Mercedes and Hamilton, gambling on the one stopper was a bold move and luck certainly favored the brave on Sunday.

Many fans will take objection to the move Hamilton used to block Ricciardo exiting the Neuvelle Chicane.  It was a similar move to the one Rosberg made in Spain with the difference that Ricciardo backed off from driving into that cone.    Stewards found he left a car's worth of space,  Ricciardo probably disagrees.   It's racing in Monaco,  Hamilton handing the champagne bottle to Justin Bieber before his team was far more tasteless.

(Lars Baron/Red Bull Content pool)

Now, to the mysteries of the week end.

What happened to Rosberg?   You can idolize Hamilton as much as you want but in now way is Rosberg a driver that in the same healthy car ends almost a lap behind in the rain.  Sorry but, no way.
It's bizarre the team gave no technical justification and we got just vague excuses from Nico himself.

Team orders:  Hamilton would never have moved over had the situation been reversed.    Rumors of threats and recriminations between Hamilton and the team,  threats to leave, sudden calls for unscheduled test drivers, Rosberg's contract renewal, how do they play into it,  just smoke or is there some fire?
Shades of Spa 2014?

Another mystery:  Pirelli brought many different colors of rubber yet they all seem to perform and last the same.  Hamilton had the fastest race lap at the front with a 1:17.939 with the purple Ultra-Soft and Vettel had the second fastest, 1:18.005 on the hardest available, yellow Soft rubber.  

So much for the hoped for spread in strategies,  it must make Ricciardo feel even more miserable, Red Bull could have put whatever tires they had in the pit box rather than running out back to get the yellow ones.    Screwed again.

Sergio Perez-Force India (Fabrizio Cannetti/Flickr)

Great drive for Checo Perez.   Should Ferrari consider him to replace Raikkonen?

The driver market is suddenly buzzing, there are a few unhappy drivers and some very unhappy teams.  It's hard to imagine Palmer staying at Renault next year,  Magnussen did not seem so steady either.   Bottas continues to underwhelm and Massa may possibly retire along with Jenson Button.  Ericsson and Nasr are a bit of a disaster and Kvyat is completely adrift after getting "Marko-slapped".

Interesting.  Red Bull has re-signed with Renault,  they have had a lot of input in the coming 2017 regulations,  shades of the Bernie-Mercedes deal of 2014?  Are Red Bull favoring Verstappen to get an open seat for Hamilton?

Sci-fi?  Maybe, but stranger things have happened in F1.

1Lewis HamiltonMercedes781h 59:29.133
2Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/Renault787.252
3Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes7813.825
4Sebastian VettelFerrari7815.846
5Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/Honda781:25.076
6Nico HulkenbergForce India/Mercedes781:32.999
7Nico RosbergMercedes781:33.290
8Carlos SainzToro Rosso/Ferrari771 Lap
9Jenson ButtonMcLaren/Honda771 Lap
10Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes771 Lap
11Esteban GutierrezHaas/Ferrari771 Lap
12Valtteri BottasWilliams/Mercedes771 Lap
13Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari762 Laps
14Pascal WehrleinManor/Mercedes762 Laps
15Rio HaryantoManor/Mercedes744 Laps
-Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari51Collision
-Felipe NasrSauber/Ferrari48Collision
-Max VerstappenRed Bull/Renault34Spun off
-Kevin MagnussenRenault32Spun off
-Daniil KvyatToro Rosso/Ferrari18Collision
-Kimi RaikkonenFerrari10Spun off
-Jolyon PalmerRenault7Spun off

1Nico Rosberg106
2Lewis Hamilton82
3Daniel Ricciardo66
4Kimi Raikkonen61
5Sebastian Vettel60
6Max Verstappen38
7Felipe Massa37
8Valtteri Bottas29
9Sergio Perez23
10Daniil Kvyat22
11Romain Grosjean22
12Fernando Alonso18
13Carlos Sainz16
14Nico Hulkenberg14
15Kevin Magnussen6
16Jenson Button5
17Stoffel Vandoorne1
18Esteban Gutierrez0
19Jolyon Palmer0
20Marcus Ericsson0
21Pascal Wehrlein0
22Felipe Nasr0
23Rio Haryanto0
3Red Bull/Renault112
5Force India/Mercedes37
6Toro Rosso/Ferrari30

May 27, 2016

All the 2016 Nürburgring 24 Hours Live Streams

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Schedule: PDF download

Live Timing

All the best to:

Dale Lomas:  SP2T #136 Manheller Racing Ford Fiesta ST  Qualified 141st  10:38.401

Gabriele Piana: V4 #141 Fixum Team Adrenalin Motorsport BMW E90 Qualified 131st 10:29.154

Sergio "Sergini" Negroni: #SP7 #68 HRT Performance Porsche 991 GT3 Qualified 48th 8:53.043

Alessandro Cremascoli: Cup 5 #302 Fixum TeamAdrenalin BMW M235i Qual:114th 10:14.932

English language feed and onboard cameras...

May 26, 2016

Ricciardo gives Mercedes and Ferrari the finger in Monaco practice.

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Daniel Ricciardo was a bit tense on Thursday morning,  he had the latest spec Renault... no wait, Tag Heuer power unit...  yet that "plucky teen" from the land of tulips was ahead on the time sheets.

That probably accounted for his bit of a hissy fit towards Kimi Raikkonen,  guilty in his eyes of not moving over fast enough.   Sorry Daniel, it's free practice not qualifying.

In any case,  the " i is silent" Australian had the last laugh. In the afternoon he set a blistering lap, over a half second faster than Hamilton.  Mighty impressive stuff from Red Bull and just the thing the Honey Badger needed going into qualifying on Saturday.    
It's been a rough two weeks for Ricciardo,  Red Bull had their own corporate interests in mind when they engineered Verstappen's win in Spain.   You can't fault the team, from a commercial point of view it made the most sense, the most ROI to have the teen take the win.

Ricciardo gets some payback in Monaco.  A new engine behind him,  he looks on his way to making the most of it,  even if power is not necessarily the key factor at the principality.

Ricciardo vs Verstappen is not the only "tension point" in F1 this week end.  Some readers get upset when intra-personal dramas are discussed but F1 is a sport and sport is conflict between men as much as chronometer readings.

At Mercedes, Hamilton need to show something special this week end.  He's had mechanical issues, he's had his own performance issues, he's hinted the team stopped him from winning in Russia.  

The "conspiracy vs Hamilton" theory floating out there, does it have a basis in fact?

While it's true Mercedes is denying it a bit too loudly, it's also true the same people calling foul now where ridiculing anyone who suggested Hamilton had been favored over Rosberg the past two seasons.

Certainly, if you were running Mercedes, you might want to get the point across that it's not the driver, it's the car.

Again, ROI over sport?

While Mercedes or Red Bull have found themselves in the enviable position to choose between two possible winner, things are not so rosy at Ferrari.

Vettel had a good first session but hit the barrier twice in the second.   He ended up far behind the leaders and, once again,  behind Kimi Raikkonen having failed two fast lap attempts on the new purple striped Ultra Soft tire.

Vettel seems to be a cool character but pressure from the bloodthirsty Italian media is mounting.

Leading journalists  such as Pino Allievi of Gazetta dello Sport, who have been asking for Raikkonen's head over the past two years, are now they are starting to turn their anger towards the German.

Not good.

The SF 16T is a brand new car, a  complete departure from the 2015 car, but Ferrari does not have the luxury to "learn" the car,  results were expected out of the box and it will be a tough blow to have  Red Bull in front again.

ROI demands it.

FP2 Results

May 16, 2016

Crash to the Max: the 2016 Spanish GP:

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It was bound to happen, everyone expected it sooner or later.

If there's little doubt the silver cars would have dominated the race had they managed not to hit each other, the Nico-Lewis fratricide set up a magic moment in F1 history.

The youngest Grand Prix winner ever, the first ever Dutch winner, on his first race with a new team on his third day in the car,   if it was a distinct possibility Max Verstappen had not had time in his life to even have sex, that's probably going to change after today.

Verstappen took his opportunity and did not put a foot wrong the whole race, not a single error, not a lock up, not a bobble,  nothing.  Remarkable.  

If you had any doubts before, it should be perfectly clear why Red Bull moved him up,  Ferrari and Mercedes must have been sniffing pretty hard and you just don't let someone with this kind of potential out of your grasp.

It's important to remember Maldonado won a GP, so let's not immediately declare Max the next Schumacher but I get the feeling this will not be a one off, perhaps even this year.

Who must be a bit shaken is Ricciardo.   Tough to keep a smile when a guy steppes into your same car and wins his first time out, the first win for the team in 30 races.  

After the race everyone is a strategy genius but it's hard to see how the three stop strategy Ricciardo an Vettel executed could have worked on a track, like Barcelona,  where passing is close to impossible.

It must sting for Ferrari too.  After all they were supposed to be the ones threatening Mercedes, not Red Bull.   Once again their loss comes first and foremost from qualifying.    In the race, Raikkonen made a terrible start and Vettel got passed by Sainz in the Toro Rosso in the first couple of turns.    Later in the race Ferrari had their #1 driver cover Red Bull's #1 and Raikkonen cover their #2....  except they covered the wrong #1 at Red Bull.

In any case, the RB12 had an incredible traction and stability advantage over the Ferrari in the final chicane and particularly the last turn before the start finish.  There was no way Raikkonen could ever get close enough to even have a go a Verstappen.      Now you know why neither Ferrari nor Mercedes want to give Red Bull their top tier engine.

Now to the Mercedes mano-a mano:

For as much as Hamfosi the world over are freaking out tonight,  the race stewards got it exactly right to call it a racing incident.    

At no time did Rosberg violate any sporting regulations, the stewards were explicit about that in their verdict,  Hamilton simply went for a low percentage gap.    I'm sure if he watches the video he will bang his head against the wall and wonder why he tried to do it the hard way.

What is ridiculous is hearing people blaming Rosberg:  what he did makes perfect sense,  if you are slow out of a corner you will try make your opponent go around the long way on the next.   This was clearly Rosberg's intention and you can see he starts for the inside before turn 3 is even finished, he never fully tracks out.    Rules state he is allowed one move, the move was not in the braking zone.

At no time is Hamilton fully alongside Rosberg, Rosberg does not start to move right as a direct reaction to Hamilton, he starts before.   He fully expected his good friend to go for the left.

So an error in judgement for Hamilton, things like that happen,  look at Alonso in Canada.

Perhaps Lewis was thinking how he had once again lost the lead after starting on pole,  or how Rosberg outbraked and passed him on the outside of turn one.    It must be tough for Hamilton to hit such a string of bad luck,  especially after spending so much time proclaiming his own superiority over Rosberg as a driver when Nico his his bad patches.

On to Monaco then.  Scene of much drama last year  and now with a great buildup in 2016.

Maybe the Merc boys will keep this up and we can have more entertaining races.

Pass the popcorn!.

Scheisse! from AC on Vimeo.

May 14, 2016

Hamilton fastest but Red Bull schools Ferrari in Spanish GP Qualifying.

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A shocker at the worst possible time for Ferrari:  after no breaks in the first four races in Asia, a dramatic loss of performance in qualifying for  the first European meet will do nothing to quash the rumor mill.
Another dramatic management shakeup before the end of the season is unlikely but at the very least Ferrari will need to ask how it managed  1:22.7 in pre season testing but could do no better than 1:23.1 today.

Mercedes, on the other hand improved over a second on their testing time. The irony is they turned almost 2000 laps more than their competitors in testing yet they have had reliability issues on Hamilton's car the past two races.

The real surprise is Red Bull, for all their bellyaching about Renault power,  it's clear why neither Mercedes nor Ferrari wanted to give them a top spec power unit:  on a technical track like the Circuit de Catalunya,  the matte blue RB12s  easily bested the Ferraris, with Ricciardo less than 3/10th from Hamilton.

Catalunya usually turns into a procession,  Rosberg has no reason to take the fight to Hamilton so he will be perfectly happy in second if that's how it will play out.   Let's put our hopes in "teenage" Max Verstappen and "Honey Badger" Ricciardo pulling off something special at the start tomorrow.

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