Mercedes drive Nico Rosberg sailed to an easy victory at today’s German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring.
Valtteri Bottas (Williams) prevented a Mercedes 1-2 finish, as he held Lewis Hamilton at bay in a feisty battle to the flag.
Up front, the world championship leader rarely had to check his mirrors. Leading every lap, the German drew out a commanding lead, without appearing to ever push beyond the limits of his Silver Arrows machine.
Ending the 67-lap race with an advantage of 20.7s, Rosberg did not need to rip chunks out of the opposition on a lap-by-lap basis – the incremental steps were more than enough to crush the opposition.
It was an imperious drive from the Mercedes man and he showed delight in crushing his opposition at what he considers to be his second “home” race.
Pitting on lap 15 and 41, Rosberg never looked troubled and his light touch and confidence were rarely in doubt. Once the Pirelli softs had been set aside, Rosberg settled his pace on the prime tyres, allowing him to draw the lead out as battles were being fought in the distance.
Such was Rosberg’s dominance, Rosberg rarely appeared on screen, with the television directors understandably concentrating in the many (tighter) battles in the field. It is unlikely Rosberg will care – the only thing on his mind was the 25 points on offer – a prize he never looked ever losing.
While Rosberg’s handled his machine with the delicacy required to bring his Mercedes home a victor, Bottas and Hamilton were somewhat more robust. Having made his final stop two laps later than Bottas (lap 40, as opposed to lap 42), Hamilton reeled the already fuel-thirsty Finn; however there was little Hamilton could do to impress a move on the Williams racer.
Such was the speed of the Mercedes-powered entry, Bottas eeked out enough of a gap on the straights each time by to keep the charging Hamilton behind; however the push also took some life from the Mercedes’ tyres, creating an effective status quo.
It was another fighting podium for Bottas with a team who last year struggled to pull a points finish together. Hamilton, meanwhile, can take some value from a race where started a distant 20th following yesterday’s qualifying crash and a forced change of gear box prior to the race.
Hamilton’s brilliant start was key for the Briton was already in the points by the time ten laps had elapsed. Thereafter, the 29-year-old pressed into up the order along with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and was running 2nd when Bottas stopped on lap 16. With Rosberg long gone, Hamilton used the best of the clear air to make positions untroubled by traffic and emerged 8th after his first stop.
Moves on Riccairdo, Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) and unfolding strategies brought Hamilton back into the podium places, where he escaped the clutches of Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) to make the best of more clear air and capture Bottas.
Vettel took 4th in his Renault-powered Red Bull machine. The reigning champion drove a solid race from 6th on the grid, enjoying a nail-biting wheel-to-wheel battle with Fernando Alonso over the course of seven laps during the middle section of the race.
The duo also ran each other close in the opening portion of the race, culminating in a marvelous move when both went around either side of the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.
Alonso fell behind following his final stop and faced a fight from the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo over the latter stages of the race. It was a close run thing between the pair, with Alonso edging his Australian rival by less than a tenth-of-a-second over the line.
While a top six would acceptable in normal circumstances, Ricciardo was left to pull his way up the order after a first lap crash between Felipe Massa (Williams) and Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) forced Ricciardo to take to the gravel trap to avoid being collected. The escape route dropped Ricciardo to 15th, after which he carved his back up the order, followed by a canny Hamilton.
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg once again showed his prowess in underpowered machinery, mixing it with Alonso and Vettel during several stages of the Grand Prix.
Hulkenberg’s pace dropped off toward the end of a very long stint in the second half of the race, causing the German to disappear from Ricciardo’s mirrors as the laps ticked over; however the Force India driver enjoyed enough of an advantage over the McLaren of Jenson Button.
Button, too, clung to some points taking 8th. Starting from the sixth row of the grid, the Briton made an encouraging start and was placed 6th in the early running, before the frailties of the current chassis McLaren played their hand once again.
The Englishman led his rookie teammate Magnussen home. The Dane may look upon 9th as a disappointing effort considering he started 4th; however Magnussen was lucky to continue after he was involved in an accident with Massa in the first corner, which brought out the safety car.
Turning into the opening curve, both Massa and Magnussen eyed a move on Bottas; however neither appeared to see the other, leading to a blind collision as the apex closed. Receiving the full brunt of the clash; Massa’s car overturned in the gravel trap and slid on its lid for several seconds, before flipping back onto its wheels. The stewards declared it a racing incident.
Sergio Perez brought the second Force India home in the points. During what was, at times, an active race, Perez clashed with Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and also enjoyed several running battles with Romain Grosjean (Lotus), Raikkonen and Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso).
As the strategies unfolded, Perez had stretched enough of an advantage over Raikkonen to keep the Finn from taking any points, with the Ferrari man coming home lapped and over eight seconds shy of his Mexican rival.
Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado narrowly beat Vergne for 12th and 13th, while Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) made an appearance in 14th place. Jules Bianchi drove a lonely race for Marussia, as he took 15th – two places ahead of teammate Max Chilton, while the Caterham’s of Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson ended the day an invisible 16th and 18th.
There was some surprise in the final quarter when Adrian Sutil spun his Sauber exiting the final corner and stalled. The Ferrari-powered entry sat still on the start / finish straight for two laps before marshals were able to clear the stricken machine.
Kvyat did not finish either. The rear of his Toro Rosso blew itself apart on the 45th lap, while Grosjean’s Lotus also stopped on track during the 26th tour.
With ten rounds of the world championship now completed, Rosberg’s victory extends his gap over Hamilton back out to fourteen points, while Ricciardo, Alonso, Bottas and Vettel fight over 3rd place in the distance.
Hungary, the last race before the break, is only one week away and Hamilton – a former winner at the Hungaroring – will be looking to full advantage at Budapest to reel Rosberg back in.
Lotus F1 team have opted upon re-signing the excitable Pastor Maldonado for the 2015, it was revealed this weekend.
During Q&A on the team website on Friday evening, Lotus’s co-chairman and Team Principal, Gérard Lopez, revealed the first of his 2015 drivers.
“I don’t want to give too much away,” commented Lopez before revealing all. He continued: “As it’s half way through the season I can confirm 50% of our driver line-up for 2015 as Pastor is with us for next year.”
This season has proved a tricky one for Lotus and especially Maldonado who has struggled in the unco-operative E22 machine. Maldonado’s teammate Romain Grosjean has scored eight points and resides 14th in the standings.
Speaking of their current issues and future potential, Lopez put on a brave face. “Despite the difficulties we’ve had so far this season, [Pastor] recognises our true potential as a team and we recognise his true potential as a driver. We will achieve great things together.”
The controversial Maldonado is supported by Venezuela’s state-owned natural gas and oil company, PDVSA. It is believed the association brings something in the region of USD $20-30 million per season.
There had also been a small rumour floating around this weekend that Formula Renault 3.5 driver Jazeman Jaafar may be in line for a seat with the Enstone squad, should they secure Mercedes engines for next season.
Jaafar, a Petronas protégé, has been competing with ISR Racing this season and has scored two podiums, leaving the Kuala Lumpur native 9th in the standings. Jaafar is also set to race in next weekend’s Total Spa 24 Hour Race with HTP Mercedes alongside reigning victors Maximilian Buhk and Maximilian Gotz.
Where this leaves Grosjean is anyone’s guess, but considering Lotus’s form this season, it would surprise no one if he was found announcing a drive with another team rather soon.
Mitch Evans won the 200th GP2 Series race at the Hockenheimring today thanks to a mixture of clever strategy and stellar driving by the RUSSIAN TIME racer.
The 2012 GP3 Series champion kept a stifled Stoffel Vandoorne and Jolyon Palmer at bay through the final few laps, to take the race by just 0.414s after 38 tours.
Under the intense heat, tyre degradation was originally thought to be the deciding factor; however while the drop off was less than expected, the soaring temperatures did alter the on track approach considerably.
Starting 15th on the soft Pirelli tyres, Evans escaped a first lap scare when he collided with Alexander Rossi; however the Kiwi emerged undamaged. Rossi was less fortunate.
From there, Evans maintained a steady pace, before pitting on lap 13, dropping the New Zealand pilot just behind the recently stopped Stéphane Richelmi, whom was dispatched within three laps.
Now just over thirty seconds adrift of the lead, Evans began to cut small clumps of time out of the leaders; only lose tenths here and there when traffic came into play; however the RUSSIAN TIME threat remained.
As Vandoorne controlled the front with a series of laps in the 1’28” bracket, Evans launched into the 1’27s on harder Pirelli’s, yet the once the edge peeled away Evans began lapping approximately one second slower, while Vandoorne began to dip into the 1’29s.
It was enough. As Vandoorne returned to the track after stopping on lap 25, the Belgian dropped in behind Evans, but unusually held back. With a faulty radio and under the belief that Evans had still to pit, Vandoorne held steady until the later laps, before realising that the RUSSIAN TIME man had already made his compulsory tyre change.
For Vandoorne, it was too late. With the best of his tyres gone, the ART Grand Prix could little to force an error from the leader, even though Evans was beginning to struggle with his rears. Vandoorne made one final attempt on lap 38, but Evans held his nerve and his lead to take his 2nd win of the season.
Make no mistake – this was a brilliantly gauged victory for the RUSSIAN TIME team. Having discovered a problem with the front anti-roll bar after qualifying, the team realigned and pushed into the race using information from Silverstone. It worked and Evans’ intelligent drive thereafter did the rest.
Palmer dropped two seconds behind Vandoorne in the last couple of tours, but the championship leader was well ahead of 4th place driver Stefano Coletti come the end. Coletti, however, only narrowly pipped Felipe Nasr at the flag, after the pair had an astonishing battle with Simon Trummer, Johnny Cecotto Jr and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs.
After running 4th for much of the race, Nasr stopped on lap 24 – one after Coletti – however having dropped three seconds behind the Monegasque driver in the first portion of the race, there was little Nasr could do to overhaul his rival, despite Coletti setting an astonishing slow in-lap. It’s another points finish for Nasr, but also more points lost to Palmer in the standings.
Amidst the quick Coletti / Nasr fight, the early stopping Quaife-Hobbs proved a blockage late in the race, while Trummer and Cecotto Jr stumbled over each other as each tried to break the Englishman.
Trummer followed through into 6th place – setting his fastest lap on the last one –while Cecotto Jr’s pace fell away. Nathanaël Berthon persevered to take 8th after stopping on lap 13 – a brilliant drive to the points and reverse grid pole for Race Two.
Marco Sørensen finished 9th after climbing up from the penultimate row of the grid and Stéphane Richelmi closed out the top ten, scoring the final point for DAMS.
The race was briefly interrupted after the start by the safety car. Following collisions between Sergio Canamasas and Conor Daly, Artem Markelov and Jon Lancaster and the Evans / Rossi incident, the area from the exit of turn two, through the Parabolika and the Hairpin became littered with debris. With punctures a very real possibility, the race was neutralised for three laps until the carbon fibre remnants were cleared.
Daly was also hit with a drive through penalty for pit lane speeding, when his speed sensor failed for the fifth time this season.
2014 GP2 Series Round of Germany (Rd 6, Feature Race, 38 laps) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Mitch Evans Russian Time 58m15.099s 2. Stoffel Vandoorne ART +0.414s 3. Jolyon Palmer DAMS +2.755s 4. Stefano Coletti Racing Engineering +20.191s 5. Felipe Nasr Carlin +20.687s 6. Simon Trummer Rapax +23.432s 7. Johnny Cecotto Trident +30.583s 8. Nathanael Berthon Lazarus +33.160s 9. Marco Sorensen MP +35.879s 10. Stephane Richelmi DAMS +36.857s 11. Rene Binder Arden +37.111s 12. Tom Dillmann Caterham +38.081s 13. Takuya Izawa ART +43.096s 14. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs Rapax +47.572s 15. Sergio Canamasas Trident +49.996s 16. Julian Leal Carlin +58.217s 17. Raffaele Marciello Racing Engineering +1m02.333s 18. Andre Negrao Arden +1m04.818s 19. Arthur Pic Campos +1m05.181s 20. Daniel Abt Hilmer +1m09.082s 21. Conor Daly Lazarus +1m09.244s Classified, not finished Rio Haryanto Caterham +1 lap Retirements: Jon Lancaster Hilmer +14 laps Daniel de Jong MP +26 laps Alexander Rossi Campos +33 laps Artem Markelov Russian Time +38 laps
Marvin Kirchhöfer scored his first GP3 Series victory this evening, mere hours after securing his maiden pole position.
The German racer also scored the fastest lap of the eighteen-lap race, with the bonus points helping Kirchhöfer into 3rd in the championship stakes.
Series leader Alex Lynn took a reasonably comfortable 2nd position ahead of the new podium regular Emil Bernstorff.
Although Lynn maintained close proximity throughout, Kirchhöfer rarely appeared threatened under the tough Hockenheim heat.
With a clean start, the ART Grand Prix racer held the lead at just over one second for the opening two-thirds of the race, before extending the gap to almost four seconds during the final six tours.
Bernstorff held on to the leading pair admirably, with the Carlin man finishing just 4.4s down on the eventual victor.
Despite a track temperature that hovered around the 50°C, the tyres largely held intact, promoting something of static race in the higher order. With the frontrunners generally holding a set pace, few overtaking opportunities were presented.
Behind the front three, Nick Yelloly finished 4th, having been past by Bernstorff off the line, but could not keep with the tougher pace. The race was less profitable for Dino Zamparelli, whose pace collapsed in the final two laps, leading to Dean Stoneman to slip by into 5th before the flag.
Title challenger Jimmy Eriksson drove a solid race to 7th, gaining three places during the eighteen laps, including two off the line. The Swede had the next position handed to him by an errant Mathéo Tuscher, who momentarily fell off the circuit on the twelfth tour.
Tusher’s made a second error on the following lap, allowing Nissan GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough in the frame.
By this point, the charging Mardenborough had already made moves on Luis Sá Silva (lap 7), Mitch Gilbert (lap 8), Robert Visoiu (lap 13) and Richie Stanaway (lap 15), before taking Riccardo Agostini two laps from the end. Mardenborough’s late burst also gives him reverse grid pole for the Sunday morning Race Two.
Agostini hung on to claim 9th, while Visoiu passed Stanaway three laps from the end to make sure of the last points paying position.
While he would have certainly appreciated the victory, the result does give Lynn an extra advantage over Eriksson in the points standings, with the Briton leading by a solid twenty scores.
The race was not without other action. Alfonso Celis Jr and Ryan Cullen clashed on the 2nd lap at the hairpin – Celis Jr received a three-place grid penalty as a result. Also Sebastian Balthasar made silly contact with Nelson Mason, also in the hairpin, three laps from the end.
However Kirchhöfer is beginning to hit his stride and the German F3 champion, so confident of his own skills, may eventually become a championship challenger yet.
2014 GP3 Series Round of Germany (Rd 4, Race 1, 18 laps) Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Marvin Kirchhofer ART 27m47.577s 2. Alex Lynn Carlin +3.359s 3. Emil Bernstorff Carlin +4.459s 4. Nick Yelloly Status +9.770s 5. Dean Stoneman Manor +12.928s 6. Dino Zamparelli ART +14.922s 7. Jimmy Eriksson Koiranen +16.702s 8. Jann Mardenborough Arden +17.173s 9. Riccardo Agostini Hilmer +18.231s 10. Robert Visoiu Arden +18.752s 11. Alex Fontana ART +20.483s 12. Patric Niederhauser Arden +29.000s 13. Richie Stanaway Status +29.462s 14. Mitch Gilbert Trident +29.672s 15. Adderly Fong Jenzer +29.873s 16. NelsonMason Hilmer +32.628s 17. Luis Sa Silva Carlin +36.620s 18. Matheo Tuscher Jenzer +37.224s 19. Pal Varhaug Jenzer +37.444s 20. Ryan Cullen Manor +37.635s 21. Roman de Beer Trident +41.959s 22. Santiago Urrutia Koiranen +46.976s 23. Victor Carbone Trident +47.277s 24. Sebastian Balthasar Hilmer +1m22.062s Retirements: Patrick Kujala Manor +2 laps Carmen Jorda Koiranen +11 laps Alfonso Celis Jr Status +17 laps
Richie Stanaway ended GP3 Series practice at the Hockenheimring as the quickest man yesterday.
The Status Grand Prix man ended the session just two-tenths up on ART Grand Prix racer and local man Marvin Kirchhöfer, while Stanaway’s teammate Nick Yelloly claimed 3rd.
Despite the close of the evening, practice was still held very much in hot conditions, as track temperatures remained in the mid-40s° Celsius range, ensuring
Stanaway’s quickest reference point – a 1:29.473 – came in the five minutes of the session, although the Kiwi had spent much of the session near the top of the order.
ART Grand Prix also had a second car in the top four as Dino Zamparelli ran well, just edging ahead of Patrick Kujala (Koiranen GP) and Emil Bernstorff (Carlin) – the latter of whom enjoyed an adventured through the gravel at one point.
Patric Niederhauser (Arden) was the first of the driver’s unable to breach the 1’30s barrier. He pipped points leader Alex Lynn (Carlin) by just 0.008s come the end of the 45-minute session. Lynn’s title rival Jimmy Eriksson (Koiranen) could do no better than 22nd.
There were two quite embarrassing moments, as first Adderly Fong ran wide at turn one, but kept his foot down and eventually lost control, pitching him into the inside barriers at pit exit.
Also Riccardo Agostini ended the practice beached on the fake grass in the stadium section after he ran off at the tail end of the session.
It may matter little. This is only practice and qualifying comes later this morning and conditions may vary wildly under the morning sun.
2014 GP3 Round of Germany (Rd 4, Free Practice) Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Richie Stanaway Status 1m29.473s 16 2. Marvin Kirchhöfer ART 1m29.678s +0.205s 18 3. Nick Yelloly Status 1m29.729s +0.256s 14 4. Dino Zamparelli ART 1m29.740s +0.267s 18 5. Patrick Kujala Manor 1m29.792s +0.319s 20 6. Emil Bernstorff Carlin 1m29.814s +0.341s 18 7. Patric Niederhauser Arden 1m30.085s +0.612s 21 8. Alex Lynn Carlin 1m30.093s +0.620s 17 9. Roman de Beer Trident 1m30.241s +0.768s 20 10. Riccardo Agostini Hilmer 1m30.295s +0.822s 18 11. Dean Stoneman Manor 1m30.352s +0.879s 18 12. Alex Fontana ART 1m30.459s +0.986s 19 13. Mitchell Gilbert Trident 1m30.475s +1.002s 17 14. Luis Sa Silva Carlin 1m30.543s +1.070s 18 15. Sebastian Balthasar Hilmer 1m30.609s +1.136s 25 16. Robert Visoiu Arden 1m30.621s +1.148s 20 17. Pal Varhaug Jenzer 1m30.627s +1.154s 22 18. Matheo Tuscher Jenzer 1m30.706s +1.233s 22 19. Nelson Mason Hilmer 1m30.727s +1.254s 18 20. Jann Mardenborough Arden 1m30.768s +1.295s 22 21. Alfonso Celis Status 1m30.770s +1.29?s 18 22. Jimmy Eriksson Koiranen 1m30.979s +1.506s 16 23. Ryan Cullen Manor 1m31.166s +1.693s 22 24. Adderly Fong Jenzer 1m31.792s +2.319s 13 25. Victor Carbone Trident 1m31.813s +2.340s 14 26. Santiago Urrutia Koiranen 1m32.401s +2.928s 18 27. Carmen Jorda Koiranen 1m35.289s +5.816s 19
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton strode to the top of times in today’s second free practice at the Hockenheimring.
The Briton set a quickest alp of 1:18.341; just 0.024s quicker than teammate and championship leader Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton set his quickest toward the end of his qualifying simulation. The Englishman ran fastest just after Rosberg suffered a brief off on his opening flyer on the super-soft Pirelli’s.
Rosberg did improve the next time by, but fell short of his archrival.
Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) was 3rd quickest for Red Bull, finishing a tenth down of the silver pair out front.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was next on the timesheets, with Kevin Magnussen’s following through in 5th for McLaren.
The session was cut short for Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi whose engine gave up at the halfway point, while Marcus Ericsson also suffered mechanical difficulties in the second green machine.