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“Thoughts on WRC All Live”

Sebastien Ogier (FRA) and Julien Ingrassia (FRA) perform during FIA World Rally Championship 2018 in Monte Carlo, Monaco on 28.01.2018

The début of WRC All Live at last week’s 86th Rally de Monte Carlo showcased a championship willing to take risks with its coverage.

It may have been shaky at times, but it worked and is a step in the right direction.


After a time, there was a notable groan, or a slight sinking in the voice or breath from Becs Williams – lead commentator for WRC Live.

These deep breaths came relatively regularly during the first running of Monte Carlo Rally’s famed Sisteron stage – run in reverse for the first time since the early-80s – when the onboard cameras chopped and slipped froze, before eventually cutting to a rendering of the stage tracking map.

If it was frustrating in the studio, it was equally as frustrating for the viewer and yet at the back of one’s mind, it didn’t matter as much as it should or could have. The future – it seems – is finally here.

The World Rally Championship has for so many years been dogged by poor television or online coverage, while their rally live radio package has excelled. Those years in the doldrums has mostly been characterised by a variety of maladies, such as lack of investment or simple lack of interest. To a degree, the WRC has been a championship that no one quite knew what do with.

With time, the series has found a purpose again. The introduction of live stages a few years ago helped and while this form of coverage has existed in various forms before, rarely was it as polished.
Yet the creation of WRC All Live is something entirely different. Logistically, the project is deeply ambitious and shows a measure of courage and belief on behalf of WRC Promoter. Utilising onboards on each car, a helicopter feed and several stage cameras, directing a constant feed of the stages was always going to be a mammoth task, but the WRC All Live crew managed it – just about.

Come the Friday stages, the dropouts decreased – probably helped by more stable weather conditions – and the turning of the stages gave hosts Kiri Bloore and Jon Desborough more meat to play with, while Molly Pettit, Paul King and Julian Porter added much from the service park.
The exploitation of live pictures from the stages also lifted the commentary significantly. Rather than merely feed listeners information using just tracking maps and split times, Williams, Porter and Colin Clark were able to describe the scenes and situations in a more vibrant manner.

By Saturday, expanded sets of on-screen graphics told more of the story in stage; however if one did not have a live track map to hand, there was little indication as to where a driver was on stage. Losing the radio crew for the live television broadcast stages was a bit jarring, but it is nothing that a better lead-in couldn’t solve.

Was it perfect? Of course not. The expected dropouts and camera cuts were annoying, but hopefully these are merely teething problems and the relative lack of in depth WRC-2 or WRC-3 coverage often meant that the eleven car WRC covered the entirety of the twelve hour broadcasts over the Friday and Saturday.

These are small things however. For a first run, WRC All Live was very impressive and I – and many others – will be keen to see how this develops over the coming events and seasons.

Kris Meeke (GBR), Paul Nagle (IRL) perform during FIA World Rally Championship 2018 in Monte Carlo, Monaco on 27.01.2018


“2017 GP3 Series season review: All About George”

Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service.

The GP3 Series offered something of a mixed bag in 2017, with a collection of truly wonderful performers and performances.

However, it was difficult to ignore the number of drivers who appeared to be desperately out of their depth.

Live European Formula 3, the GP3 Series has struggled for drivers and teams in recent seasons, but despite a shrinking field (averaging nineteen-to-twenty drivers) the series had plenty to offer up front.

Talented pilots, such as champion George Russell and ART Grand Prix teammates Jack Aitken and Nirei Fukuzumi showcased some superb skill, with the trio taking every ‘Race 1’ victory, apart from the final running in Abu Dhabi.

Despite this, ART Grand Prix were also in a different league – indeed the team have scored every Race 1 pole position since Spain 2016. There is no doubt that ART Grand Prix is a great team, but that level of dominance in a single-make formula is brutal and astonishing, although not completely unheard of.

Giuliano Alesi displayed a decent level of skill up front; taking three wins in the lesser-valued reverse grid ‘Race 2’ events, while Dorian Boccolacci, Alessio Lorandi, Arjun Maini and Raoul Hyman also took Sunday morning honours.

This season also introduced new high degradation tyres to the GP3 format, while the series also utilised DRS for the first time with mixed results – too effective in Barcelona, virtually non-existent at the Red Bull Ring for example.

After a move from F3 to GP3, Russell seemed a bit lost at the season opener in Barcelona, as he struggled to get his head around the GP3/16 Dallara and its new Pirelli tyres, but following a test in the gap between the opening two meetings, the Englishman was on a roll.
Following a win at the Red Bull Ring, Russell hammered home his championship challenge a week later in Silverstone, only for mechanical gremlins to slow his charge at the midway point in Hungary. However two wins and a 2nd place in the three races that followed did much to kill off the challenge from Aitken and Fukuzumi.

The title came in the penultimate round in Jerez, but rather than sit back and take points for the crown, he showed his ruthlessness to twice force his way past Aitken to seal the deal.
Russel scored 220 points out of a possible 384 and was still some 79 points ahead of the next-placed Aitken. That in fourteen races, he only finished outside of the top four on three occasions tels you everything you need to know about his season.

There were times when Aitken was excellent. His Race 1 win at Hungary was superb, whilst his battle with Fukuzumi in Spa and with Russell and Anthoine Hubert in Monza was astonishing in its cleanliness and briliance. Retiring from the season opener with a mechanical issue while in 2nd place killed his opening weekend.
On the other hand one can’t help but think that his sweeping collision on the Kemmel Straight during Spa Race 2 was clumsy; he lacked aggression against Russell in Jerez and endured an anonymous weekend in Abu Dhabi – all of these things helped to nullify his championship challenge.

After a solid debut season in the category last year, Fukuzumi stepped up his performances in 2017 and made his mark with a win and two podiums in the opening two rounds. Yet his title aspirations died almost as quickly with a non-score in Silverstone and a retirement in Hungary, followed by a non-start from pole in Monza. Victory in Jerez offered him an opportunity to take the runner-up spot from Aitken, but Fukuzumi fell short in the finale.

Hubert was the only ART Grand Prix driver to not win a race, but he still made it 4th in the standinsg through sheer will and consistency. The French driver is not the most monied of racer’s and performed well despite being 4th of the four at the French squad. If he can turn that consistency into race wins in 2018, he could be a good shout for title honours.

On paper, Alesi is recorded to have taken three GP3 wins in 2017, yet the fact that they were all reverse grid races takes a huge shine off of them. Of them all, his performance at Spa was a masterstroke – holding a quick pace out front, while maintaining enough tyre life to keep Russell at bay was wonderful to watch, but when these successes come about due to indifferent performances in qualifying and Race 1, then it is somewhat less impressive.

Boccolacci moved to GP3 having stepped back from F3 to Formula Renault 2.0 litres in 2016 and one wonders how much the French teen is taking in. The Trident racer may have won the reverse grid finale in Abu Dhabi in great style and will be remembered for his inspired pass on Aitken through Copse at Silverstone, but in Austria he was lost out when caught napping as the virtual sfaety car ended in Race 1 and then was involved in a supid and violent crash with Lorandi the following morning. His apparent struggles with making the Pirelli’s last often killed his pace three-quarters through Race 1, too often rendering his challenge mute.
Former Pau Grand Prix winner Lorandi, meanwhile, started the season well with three podiums in the opneing three rounds – and then dropped off the face of the earth for the next three meetings. The Italian took a smart reverse grid win at Jerez, only to dullen his reputation with a silly, misjudged collision with Stein Schothorst in Abu Dhabi.

Ryan Tveter (Trident) did well to score three reverse grid podiums to secure 8th in the series, but beyond that rarely looked like escaping the midfield mire, while Arjun Maini (Jenzer) scored a well crafted reverse grid win in Barcelona and then settled into the role of consistent low-points scorer until a late podium elevated his position somewhat. It is quite incredible that Maini didn’t get a black and orange flag at Monza when his rear wing was collapsing and spewing debris for several laps – how Maini did not pit of his own accord is beyond me.
It is difficult to class Niko Kari’s season. From a dire start to mid-season consistency to becoming the only non-ART Grand Prix driver to win a ‘Race 1’ in the season. Amidst this, he misjudged the VSC restart in Silverstone, stupidly took out Dan Ticktum in Jerez Race 2, before doing the same to teammate Schothorst in Abu Dhabi. His sole defensive ability and knowledge amounts to violently chopping across the front of rivals at the circuit, including squeezing a competitor off the road on the Kemmel Straight. Kari has speed, but he is also an accident waiting to happen and it was no surprise that Red Bull cut their ties with him.

Ticktum did very well in his few short appearances and in Abu Dhabi became DAMS sole podium scorer, despite a penalty. Kevin Jörg took a nice reverse grid podium at Silverstone, but rarely troubled the siginificant positions beyond that, while Raoul Hyman’s reverse grid win at the Red Bull Ring was a single high-point in what was a poor season for the South African.
Leo Pulcini drove superbly to take a podium in the opener in Barcelona, but then scored no points for the rest of the season, apart from two for setting the fastest lap in Hungary. The Italian was so unfortunate to lose 3rd place in Abu Dhabi Race 1 through a puncture, but other than that, the only time his presence was noted was when he crashed over and onto the top of Lorandi at Monza.

Beyond Pulcini, many of the remaining full-season entries were utterly anonymous. Bruno Baptista gets desperate when things aren’t going his way and his two accidents with DAMS teammate Tatiana Calderon at Spa and Abu Dhabi could have easily avoided by both. Amidst this, Baptista was lucky not to seriously injure his back when airborne at Red Bull Ring; had a wheel-to-wheel banging session with Kari at Silverstone, while his unwillingness to give places back to Maini and Kari after skipping a chicane in Abu Dhabi was dimwitted. Calderon had a pretty awful year, although the nadir came at both the Silverstone and Spa weekends.
Santino Ferrucci gave up the DAMS ghost after three meetings and moved (prematurely) to Formula 2, with Matthieu Vaxivière and Ticktum filling his seat.

Lastly, the inability of large portions of the field to handle racing at Monza was utterly shameful. For their petulant efforts Kari, Marcos Siebert and Schothorst should probably think about new careers after their respective performances in that round, while Juan Manuel Correa should have had his racing licence ripped up on the spot.

Photo: Zak Mauger/GP3 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _56I2189

“Evening Time at the Red Bull Ring”


© Leigh O’Gorman

The drawing sun at the Red Bull Ring can be unwittingly pretty. As it pours over the distant hills and valleys and pirouettes the grandstand, a sullen dusk draws.

There’s still plenty of noise, however, as in the background, drills spin and tools clang, as teams prepare for the next day.

For this particular DTM Saturday, it was all a little quieter than usual. Mercedes and BMW had been thoroughly trounced and team orders at Audi ensured Mattias Ekstrom rose through the field to win with ease, with Jamie Green gifting his Swedish teammate the victory on the final lap.

There were precious few celebrations following this folly, but the sunset removed some of the ill-feeling of the day.

“Defining the Message”

It may seem obvious, but while working to dig out developing stories, a rather significant proportion of motorsport journalism revolves information fed to us through various press officers.

Much of this is quite mundane stuff and are for the most part session reports with quotes, the announcement of new sponsors or a declaration that one is joining a team/series for the following season.

In the case of a driver, the press release will, in theory, do its best to promote the qualifications of said racer, followed by an excitable quote that normally tells of how they have always wanted to tackle said series and are looking forward to the challenge ahead. All well and good. All well and expected, but in the grand scheme of things, these are rarely headline breaking stories, but still informative enough to bank either way.

For some drivers, there is precious little need to dig deep to outline their qualifications – Lando Norris’ record, for example, speaks for itself. When a press release from Ralph Boschung’s team arrived this morning (Friday, November 17th), I could only raise an eyebrow.
If one is to be brutally fair, Boschung is a solid, if unspectacular driver. He has score three points finishes so far in this year’s FIA Formula 2 Championship with Campos Racing and is 19th in points, but the Swiss driver split with the team following the penultimate round at Jerez. Realistically, I am unsure how much more is expected of Boschung – if he were to stay in Formula 2 for another season, he would potentially fare a little better, but it is unlike that Boschung will set the world alight and I doubt that will ever change to any great detail.

But… a press officer still needs to sell it and when you need to grab things to bolster your subject, you do so with gusto. If you are lucky, the journalist writing the story will knock a piece out without thinking anything about it – that is quite poor practice, but increasingly common at a time when all news counts all of the time and research merely is seconds lost to the clock.
According to the press release, “[Boschung had] an impressive maiden FIA Formula 2 Championship season – in which he scored a pole position and three points finishes…” As I have already referred to the points finishes already (two 8th‘s and a 9th), I will leave them at that; however I could only smile at the concept of his scoring a pole position.
In one sense, Boschung did just that. He scored a pole position at Baku in June… for the reverse grid Sprint Race. Having come home 8th on the Saturday, the top eight finishers were reversed for the next morning’s reverse grid race and thus Boschung “scored a pole position.” It’s clearly spin, but the one of the main jobs of a press release is to sell you as positive a story that’s possible.

But what happens when the message gets confused, lost in translation or only partially translated?

An important part of what a journalist does is decipher the conversations one enjoys with those within the paddock. For example, if I were to ask a leading member of the DTM paddock whether they feel the Super GT-based GT500 teams will have an advantage should the Class One regulations (aerodynamic, chassis and engine) be approved for the 2019 season, then he might say “no”, because the Class One regulations have not been enacted yet and therefore no one has the advantage, as the ruleset does not yet exist in competition.
Yet GT500 is running to Class One regulations – albeit a version of Class One regulations that have yet to be ratified – and has been since 2014.While the chassis regulations are relatively close to what DTM currently utilise, the GT500 manufacturers will have had five full seasons of running what many believe will be the make-up of the Class One engines, but it still is not Class One.
It could then be argued – rightly – that the question was wrong and in that one would be right (that the question is wrong). If one asked if the GT500 teams had an advantage due to their exploitation of the proposed GT500 framework regulations, then the answer from the DTM senior member might be different. Senior members of teams, particularly manufacturers, are media trained and will know how to deflect questions if needed, particularly if the question itself has a narrow definition.

It is not inconceivable that one will occasionally be sought out, in order to have a very deliberate conversation. Sometimes that conversation might start naturally; mostly though the party could also wait for you to merely open the subject, offering up the opportunity for them to get a view across and ultimately make a statement.
Recently during a meeting with two very senior members of the European Formula 3 paddock, I was informed that during a conference, a senior individual in the Formula One community mentioned that “Formula 3 should be about entertainment and low costs” and that “driver development is not a key priority.” Upon contacting the office of the individual, his communications officer informed me that this comment was “made during a private chat and extrapolated out of its proper context, therefore […] cannot attribute it on the record…”
Not exactly the strongest of rebuttals admittedly. Alas the message from the Formula 3 personnel was delivered, digested and coded and my return query was – to a degree – responded too as well.
As a philosophical aside, this raises the question as to whether the very concept of junior categories in their original sense is now null and void, instead limiting the likes of Formula 3 to be merely support categories for your entertainment and drivers bish, bash, bosh and DRS-pass their way up reverse grid orders. This meeting in the paddock served to remind me of a rather tongue-in-cheek comment from a former colleague a few years ago as we pulled into the car park at Rockingham to cover a British F3 round. “If these championships were serious about driver development, then these races would be taking place on a Tuesday afternoon behind closed doors and without television cameras, followed by some sort of tuition…”

The conversation with Formula 3 members also turned to disappointing news that Formula 3 will officially become a spec category from 2019, when it more or less replaces GP3 in all but name and car. The pairing lamented how drivers are learning less and less in these junior categories, while Formula One continues to accelerate development at a rate never before witnessed. There were mentions of how the spec cars become more expensive due to the part restrictions placed in the regulations.
It was cited, for example, the cost of a new carbon fibre front wing, should even an endplate become damaged; the purchase of which could only be made from the manufacturer, as per the regulations. In theory, a new front wing could come to over £1,000, whereas the team have in their factory the people, tools and materials to construct the spare part for approximately one-quarter of the price, albeit from aluminium. Which as an aside, makes one question why the extremities of a Formula 3 car “need” to be constructed from carbon fibre at all? Surely, this is in itself a bit of a nonsense (however, this is to be the subject of another article coming at you at another time).

Press releases, conversations and the deeper meanings of the messages are usually coded in some respect, and this is a hugely important pieces of journalism and storytelling and if one does not extrapolate, attempt to decipher the code or look through the epic bullshit, then one is merely spewing crap.

“F1: A five-star Hamilton victory, as Vettel blows it”

Großer Preis von Singapur 2017, Sonntag – Steve Etherington

Lewis Hamilton came through from 5th on the grid to win the Singapore Grand Prix yesterday, but it required some luck, skill and a start line crash that took out three of the top four qualifiers.

In a race peppered with safety car periods, Daniel Ricciardo drove well to score a podium in his ailing Red Bull, while Valtteri Bottas made it two Mercedes’ on the podium, with a quiet drive to 3rd.

‘What a day – I can’t believe it, I’m so happy! I came in today and I saw that I was raining and I knew that this balances everything out. I love racing in the rain, then everything unfolded in the beginning.’

That’s one way to put it. Realistically, Mercedes were nowhere for much of this weekend. Their pace was weak compared to the Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s – a facet fully exposed in qualifying – and yet a mistake by Ferrari poleman Sebastian Vettel initiated a start crash that took Vettel, his teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen out of the running instantly. But, oh, what a mistake!

With rain having fallen in the hour leading up to the green light, parts of the track were sodden, while other sections were merely wet, but liveable. Thankfully, there was no call for a safety car start, although Haas’ Romain Grosjean did get in a lively moan on the warm-up lap, but that is not completely unexpected.

As the lights counted up and flashed off, wheel spinning away from the line, Vettel saw Verstappen coming on the inside, but missed Raikkonen’s blistering start on the inside of both of them. ‘I had an average start and then I moved slightly to the left trying to defend my position from Max,’ said a disappointed Vettel.
Raikkonen’s ace start mixed with Vettel’s swerve to the left only served to squeeze the helpless Verstappen and the trio pinballed off of each other, with Verstappen and Raikkonen clashing and Vettel and taking another hit as the crash unfolded. The Finn was phlegmatic as always: ‘I don’t think I could have really done anything differently to avoid it, apart from doing a bad start and not being there,’ Raikkonen said flatly afterward. Had all gone to plan, it should have been a Ferrari 1-2 going into turn one.

Although one could point the finger of blame at Vettel, it was a racing incident and no additional sanction was declared or deserved. In the eyes of Ferrari and Vettel, Hamilton taking the lead was sanction enough.Verstappen, meanwhile, was a touch more blunt about the outcome. ‘My start was a little bit better than [Vettel’s] and I think he saw that so he tried to move to the left to squeeze me out of the line a bit but he did not know Kimi was on my other side.
‘I think it wasn’t the smartest move and you can’t make excuses for it when you are fighting for a world championship. Kimi had a great start and was alongside me very quickly, I didn’t try and defend that as I knew it would be a long race, he then started to squeeze me also, at which point there wasn’t a lot I could do.’


In the middle of all the start melee, McLaren racer Fernando Alonso had made a very good start and had jumped from 8th to 3rd, having missed much of the initial carnage, only to be pummelled by the spinning Raikkonen and Verstappen as he negotiated the first bend. ‘I wasn’t aware of what was happening on the inside,’ Alonso said. ‘All I know is that at Turn One some cars crashed and hit us. In that situation, you are just a passenger, there’s nothing you can do.’ Alonso continued for a time, but in the end eight laps was all he could muster, as damage to his ailing MCL32 ended his day prematurely.

Aside from the crash, a good start by Hamilton allowed him to jump the slow-moving Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) and when the recovering Vettel spun again on the straight exiting turn three – leaving Vettel facing oncoming traffic – the lead belonged to the Englishman as the safety car was called.
Such was the mesh of carbon fibre through the opening chicane, the field was brought through the pitlane until the restart on lap six and from there, it did not take much for Hamilton to draw away from Ricciardo. It was an element that surprised the Mercedes leader somewhat. ‘Starting on the Intermediates I thought it was going to be much closer pace-wise. These conditions give you the opportunity to really make a difference with your driving.’

The Red Bull’s had been expected to do well; however Ricciardo’s RB13 began losing oil pressure from the gearbox early doors, rendering his charge null and void. In theory, the slow start didn’t help Ricciardo’s cause, but the Australian was – for once – thankful for the poor getaway. ‘My start was quite slow off the line. In hindsight probably a good thing, because it allowed the chaos to unfold in front of me.’
The gap grew slowly – Ricciardo’s mechanical issues served to dampen Hamilton’s own handling issues at a Marina Bay circuit, with the lead growing to just 5.1s when the second safety car was called – this time for Daniil Kvyat, who planted his Toro Rosso in the barrier only a turn after passing Magnussen. ‘Unfortunately I made a mistake and missed a good opportunity of scoring a good result today. I managed to overtake Magnussen and straight after that I locked my front wheel and went straight into the wall…’
Ricciardo pitted, but Hamilton, his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso), Lance Stroll (Williams) and Grosjean all stayed out – all of whom having started on inters.
Interestingly, having run 3rd and 5th in the early running, both Renault’s of Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer decided to stay out an extra lap before swapping their wet Pirelli’s for intermediates. The delay dropped both to 5th and 7th respectively, with Bottas climbing to 3rd, ahead of the impressive Sainz (4th), with Sergio Perez (Force India) running 6th.

Upon the restart on lap 15, Hamilton again pulled away from Ricciardo, only this time the rate was less emphatic. With the track drying very slowly, the Mercedes runner made the best of the damp and greasy conditions and was almost immediately lapping in the 2’01s range while those behind remained in the 2’02s-2’04s range.
Building a gap to Ricciardo, Hamilton was giving the Formula One field a masterclass performance. Come the halfway mark, the three-time champion became the first man to break the two-minute barrier and repeated this feat a few more occasions when he stopped to change from inters to Pirelli’s ultra-soft tyres on lap 29. Ricciardo and Bottas had actually done the same on lap 28, while Sainz swapped over to super-softs on lap 27. Felipe Massa (Williams) and Kevin Magnussen (Haas) had got the ball rolling on lap 24, although arguably this was a touch early.
At first, Ricciardo made the best of the ultra-softs and took a modicum of time out of Hamilton’s lead. The only problem was, Hamilton was still over 9s down the road and it would require more than a tenth-or-two per lap to make any significant difference to the lead.

Only the race hit another bump in the road when Marcus Ericsson binned his unforgiving Sauber while entering the Anderson Bridge. The crash itself was minor, but the Swede’s awkward finishing position ensured a tow vehicle was required to move the Ferrari-powered Sauber.
For Ericsson, the incident was the result of a double-whammy, beginning on lap 27, when he pitted and changed to the Pirelli soft tyres – the slowest tyres on offer for the weekend. The stop was not a pretty one and Ericsson lost 20s in the pits, before stopping again four tours later to change to ultra-softs. ‘I was pushing hard to make up for lost time, and went a bit over the limit,’ said Ericsson, sheepishly adding,‘Unfortunately, that caused me to spin out of the race.’


© Red Bull Content Pool

The final restart came on lap 42 and, as before, Hamilton eased himself away from Ricciardo, who was now under threat from a resurgent Bottas. The race leader was urged by the pitwall not to pull too much of a gap, lest he bring Ricciardo and Bottas with him and create a gap for them to fall into to allow for a late tyre change should another safety car period come to play. But it was not necessary.

Hamilton opened up the gap to Ricciardo again and was comfortable in doing so, building a 4.5s lead come the flag, securing his third consecutive win in the process. At a venue where the Anglo-German squad were expecting the worst, the race incredibly fell into Hamilton and Mercedes’ lap, gifting the Englishman a 28-point lead thanks to Vettel’s non-score. ‘We came to a track that was potentially our weakest circuit and we leave with a win like this and so many points – that’s a very fortunate scenario for us.
‘It was the first time for all of us driving here in the rain, so it was a massive challenge. But I love that when you have to rise to the toughest of challenges, that’s the most exciting part for me. Then it was all about staying focused and not making any mistakes.’
Despite this, one can’t help but wonder how much more Hamilton had available to him had he been under real pressure. From nowhere, he scored the fastest race lap – a 1:45.008s – three tours from the end, setting a time that was almost a second faster than what he had been registering up until that moment. Satisfied, he dropped back to his “normal” pace to the chequered flag.

For Ricciardo, the eighteen-points for 2nd place gave the Australian a welcome gap over Raikkonen in the Driver’s Championship, but considering the pace the Red Bull’s showed over Friday and Saturday, it was not difficult to understand if he were deflated. ‘Normally I’m happy with a podium; obviously it’s great. It’s more that we didn’t have the pace that we showed on Friday in the long run,’ said the Red Bull man. ‘Then in the first few laps I felt we were okay in the wet but then I felt we were a bit harsh on the tyres. Even when we pitted and had fresher tyres, we couldn’t really make an impact on Lewis.’
The subtle loss of oil pressure added another element to his race, but as Ricciardo noted, when it came to the rain, the playing field was levelled. ‘The rain made it all pretty hectic today. Everyone was in the same boat though and we hadn’t driven in the wet here before so it’s all about switching on early, being aware of the situation and trying to adapt as quick as you can. Of course I came here to win and really wanted it, but second place is great and I’m not going to complain about it.’

Großer Preis von Singapur 2017, Sonntag – Wolfgang Wilhelm

After a brief surge, Bottas fell backwards again in the later laps, but the Finn had more than enough of a gap ahead of Sainz to not worry too much about the Spaniard. It was a curious performance from Bottas, who appeared to be a geniune threat up until the summer break, but who has fallen by the wayside in the races since.
Scoring his 10th podium of the year, Bottas acknowledged that his Mercedes W08 felt better in the dry conditions that came later in the race, but the early wet laps were tricky. He was fortunate in one sense – a bad start was softened by the Vettel / Verstappen / Raikkonen clash, but from 6th on the grid, Bottas was passed by Hulkenbeg and Perez, while Palmer got by on the lap six restart. ‘Our approach today, it was all about damage-limitation. I think this was pretty good damage limitation today, so we can be quite happy about that.’
Staying rewarded Bottas, but beyond that, it was not a weekend to shout about.

One driver who had plenty to celebrate was Sainz. The Toro Rosso man ran 9th in the early laps, with a bold lap nine pass on Esteban Ocon gifting another position. There is some irony that it was the crash by teammate Kvyat that helped propel Sainz up the order – as with Bottas, staying out proved a worthwhile tactic that gained him four positions in one swoop. Thankfully for Sainz, such was the lack of heavy tyre degradation, he found ample grid against those behind, despite running on older rubber.
The move to supersofts meant his pace was slower than the chasing Perez; however Sainz had just enough speed to solidify the position and keep the Mexican at bay, to score his best finish in Formula One. ‘I have to say that the most difficult part of the race for me was the start of my stint on the supersoft – it was not easy at all! From then onwards it was all about defending from [Perez], who had been faster than us on Friday and also was on ultras! It was very difficult to keep him behind, looking in my mirrors the whole time, but in the end we did it!’
A very worthy effort.

Perez eventually came home 5th, just 2.6s shy of Sainz. It had a brilliant start by the Force India racer, who jumped from 12th to 4th amidst the festival of carbon fibre on the opening lap. Pitting at the second safety car period cost Perez positions to Bottas and Sainz, but the Mercedes-powered racer pressed hard thereafter, but could do nothing about Sainz ahead.
Perez’ 6th place became 5th when Hulkenberg pitted with an oil leak on lap 38 – an issue that would cause the Renault’s retirement nine laps later. Having run 3rd in the early laps, it was a great shame for Hulkenberg who finally like breaking his 128-race run without a podium – this result now makes the German the driver who has competed the most races without a podium in Formula One history. ‘It was a very disappointing race, you put in a lot of hard work throughout the weekend and then these things happen,’ a disappointed Hulkenberg said. ‘It’s not great but it is a technical sport and a team sport. Unfortunately we had some technical issues with the engine and we had to retire the car.’

Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17.
Singapore Grand Prix, Sunday 17th September 2017. Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore.

There were celebrations on the other side of the garage when Jolyon Palmer – finally – picked up his first points of the season with a fine drive to 6th place. It is a good response from Palmer, whom was confirmed to be dropped by Renault last week. ‘I’m so happy, it’s been a long time coming but today everything fell into place. It was a tricky race with the drama at the start and the heavy rain but the circumstances put us in a good place to score some points,’ commented the clearly delighted Englishman.

Stoffel Vandoorne drove another excellent race to 7th place in the McLaren-Honda. The Belgian’s race was compromised slightly after he ran over debris on the first lap and then further still when he lost nine seconds during his second pitstop, costing him a place to Palmer.
Stroll secured four points for Williams with a solid drive to 8th place, despite starting a lowly 18th. Pre-race, Williams split their driver strategies with Stroll beginning on inters and Massa starting on wets – a strategy that worked best for the Canadian teen.
Romain Grosjean took 9th place for Haas. The French/Swiss racer enjoyed a brief battle with Stroll and later Ocon, the latter of whom would finish 10th to round out the point scorers.

Felipe Massa endured a poor day with three stops that hampered his race – he came home 11th. From wets, the Brazilian left it too long and stayed out until lap 17, before pitting for inters, only swap to new ultra-softs seven tours later. Massa stopped again for ultra-softs on lap 38, before taking his Williams machine home.
Massa finished just one place ahead of the final runner, Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber), who ended the Singapore Grand Prix two laps adrift of the winner. Like Massa, Wherlein started on wets, but inexplicably, was brought in for new wets on lap two and then left on aging rubber until lap 21. Thereafter he managed seven laps on interes, before pitting for ultra-softs on lap 28 and then doing the same again nine tours later.
On a day where some of the big names were taken clean out of the race, there is an opportunity for the midfield and lower runner to take some significant points, but strategic thinking needs to be pinpoint accurate. On Sunday, this did not come to pass for the Swiss squad.

The pre-race formbook said that Mercedes would take some punishment at Marina Bay, yet the opposite happened. Vettel’s startline implosion opened the door up for a dominant Hamilton run to the flag and instead of retaking the lead, the Ferrari racer dropped 28 points behind the Briton, while Mercedes opened up a 102 point lead in the Constructor’s Championship.
This was a disastrous day for Ferrari and the glum faces on TV said everything.

Großer Preis von Singapur 2017, Sonntag – Wolfgang Wilhelm

“F1: Hamilton takes championship lead with emphatic victory”

2017 Italian Grand Prix, Sunday - Steve Etherington

Mercedes racer Lewis Hamilton scored an emphatic victory at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday, taking with it the championship lead over Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas came home 2nd to make it a Mercedes 1-2 finish, while Vettel completed the podium.

‘This is obviously an incredibly exciting season; the last two races have been really strong for us as a team. The way things have come together in the second half of the season is exceptional.’ And so it was. The victory – the 59th of Lewis Hamilton’s Formula One career – was never in doubt.

Admittedly his start wasn’t perfect and it trapped fellow front row starter Lance Stroll (Williams) slightly, just enough to allow Force India’s Esteban Ocon through into 2nd, demoting Stroll to 3rd. But Hamilton himself was never under threat. As those behind squabbled for position, the Briton eased away and looked untroubled thereafter as he drew away.

It only took until the fourth tour for Bottas to climb to 2nd place, but the task was not completely straightforward. ‘The start was quite poor for me, just a lot of wheelspin.’ The Finn enjoyed a brief, but fantastic dual with Kimi Raikkonen having lost a spot to the Ferrari-man off the line. This culminated in a wonderful overtake by Bottas around the outside of Parabolica, before Raikkonen fought back, with Bottas solidifying the deal soon thereafter. He continued, ‘One of the Ferraris got ahead and I had to get him first, which was normally going to be the difficult part and the most important part for us today. But also then pretty quickly got to P2, which was good.’ Taking Stroll and Ocon was less stressful, but by this point Hamilton was already 3.3s up the road.

For a time, the Mercedes duo swapped fastest laps, showcasing their domination of the class, although one wonders just how far the power unit at the back of the W08 was truly pushed. Team boss Toto Wolff was keen to emphasise that his drivers were keeping it sensible. ‘We were looking at the damage matrix and were trying to find a sensible way of letting them race, while not damaging the engine,’ he said in the Mercedes motorhome after the race.
Hamilton had built a gap of 3.6s on lap, before Bottas pulled it back to 2.7s within a few tours, before Hamilton drew away again. The gap toed-and-froed and was never greater than 5.07s, although this only occurred as the leading pair lapped backmarkers for the first time.

The lead had stabilised at around 4.5s by the time Hamilton pitted on lap 32, to change from his super-soft Pirelli’s to the softs, with Bottas doing the same a lap later – it would be the only time in the race that lead swapped hands – but such was the smoothness of the Monza Autodrom, tyre degradation was not a factor. ‘The car felt fantastic, particularly on that first stint. As we had a bit of breathing room behind us, it was easier for us to extend the life of the tyres,’ said the race leader. With the stops out of the way, Bottas charged again, but this race was always going to be Hamilton’s.

The Mercedes duo ticked off the remaining twenty laps with relative ease; Hamilton securing the win ahead of Bottas by 4.4s, and securing twenty-five points and the championship lead in the process. It ensured the Briton also became the first back-to-back winner of the season. ‘Today the car was fantastic and really a dream to drive. I think it’s all just to do with the team pulling together and trying to maximizing everything on the car and Valtteri and myself really trying to do the best job we can with the car.’ Yet as the European leg of the season draws to a close, Hamilton knows the battle will be tougher in Singapore. ‘The fight will continue, the Ferrari’s have been really quick this season, especially on the high-downforce tracks. It will continue to be really close between us, so it will be ‘ beast mode’ all the way to the last chequered flag.’

Bottas, meanwhile, seemed quite happy to have finished 2nd, considering his early dramas with Raikkonen. Yet while describing the virtues of the W08 machine, one couldn’t help but sense a slight hesitation, as – maybe – deep down he knows his championship shot has gone. ‘The car was so well balanced today and so strong. For sure we were quick in a straight line, but this weekend also we were really quick in every corner of the track,’ noted Bottas. ‘I think we just found a different kind of stability this weekend that we haven’t found before. We had a perfect result; Lewis won, so well done for that, me 2nd is great for us, but now it’s whether we can learn from this weekend what we need to and be strong again in Singapore…’

2017 Italian Grand Prix, Sunday - Wolfgang Wilhelm

© Daimler AG

Where Hamilton pulled away from the start, the scene in his mirrors was far more tense. Following a slow start from the front row, Stroll dropped behind Ocon, before being swarmed by Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari). Stroll briefly held his own in 3rd place, only Bottas to slip by on lap three, with Vettel – having eased past Raikkonen – following two laps later.
Ocon, too, would succumb to Vettel’s charge, but despite the championship being very much on the line, the German was unconcerned about pressing his quick, but inexperienced rivals. ‘I knew that I had to get past quickly […], but I think Lance knew we had stronger pace, so he was quite fair,’ Vettel said of the Williams rookie; however the Ferrari man was conscious the Ocon would prove a more aggressive challenge, with Vettel passing on lap eight. ‘Esteban tried to cover a bit more but I had a very good run out of the last corner so for me it was clear I would get past and I just had to choose left or right and I just wanted to make sure, so that’s why I dived down the inside.’

By then, Vettel had already lost over 9s to the lead, but even then in clear air, the Ferrari’s pace fell well shy of the leading Mercedes’. Whereas Hamilton was clearing laps in the early 1’25s, Vettel was routinely some six-tenths or so slower and as the fuel diminished, the pace increased, but the gap in pace remained. And at their home event, Ferrari had no answer. It was only at the end of his tyre stint did Hamilton’s pace edge toward what Vettel was managing, but when the Scuderia brought Vettel to the pits on lap 31, Hamilton had already built a pitstop’s worth of an advantage.
The Ferrari situated was exasperated somewhat when Vettel had a slight off at the Rettifilo with twenty lap remaining, with Vettel claiming that he was struggling thereafter. ‘I went off in Turn 1 and I think something broke in the car. The left-hand side of the steering was a bit down and I couldn’t trust the car, especially on braking and it’s a braking track. So the last laps I don’t think they showed the pace we could have gone.’ But if one is to honest, the race was a distant ghost long before this… Vettel would eventually finished 36.3s behind Hamilton, at the most Ferrari of tracks. This was more a slaughter than mere defeat…


© Ferrari F1 Media Site

If the Ferrari-man had nothing for the pair up the road, he certainly had to turn it on to keep Daniel Ricciardo at bay. Starting 16th due to power unit penalties, the Australian made quick work of the lower-midfield runner and had climbed to 12th place by lap four. In the following tours, he picked off Nico Hulkenberg (Renault), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Kevin Magnussen (Haas), before settling into a catch-up game with Sergio Perez (Force India).
Interestingly Ricciardo simply had the better pace over his Mercedes-engined rival and drew to the back of Perez by lap 12 and passing the Mexican six tours later. He was doing the same to Williams’ Felipe Massa and Stroll, when both eventually removed themselves to the pits, gifting Ricciardo some precious free air and chasing Vettel.
This would be critical of course. Having started on Pirelli softs, the Red Bull racer was going for a long first stint and time in clear air clocking fast laps was time well spent. Solid points was a target, but with a change to super softs coming on lap 37, was a podium possible..? When Vettel did stop, Ricciardo kept up his charge, with laps remaining in the mid-1’25s, knowing that Vettel’s fresh tyre pace would be strong as well.
Once both had changed, the gap had extended to 17s, but then there was Vettel’s little off and over 3s went missing. Suddenly Ricciardo was catching quickly as Vettel’s pace fell away… ‘Some good overtakes in the race kept me excited and I had some real pace in the end. I could see Seb and the thought of a podium was tempting me, so I was obviously trying to catch him right up to the end.’

For each tour that passed, the Red Bull closed by just under a second and it was looking close, until Vettel raised the bar in the final four laps. Considering that Ricciardo had originally qualified 3rd before his penalty, one might think the Australian would be aggrieved with his final outcome, but he remained upbeat with 4th. ‘We couldn’t have done much more from where we started. Of course I wanted to be up there on the podium as it looked unreal, but I believe it will come next year. Today has been a really good boost for everyone.’


© Ferrari F1 Media Site

Raikkonen concluded what could be bets described a s a quiet run to 5th. The Finn struggled for balance throughout the entire weekend and simply never looked at one with the Ferrari. ‘Most of the time we were lacking the grip and the pace. It was not an easy weekend, we were fighting in all conditions, in the dry and even more in the wet. This is something that we have to fix for these kinds of circuit.’

Ocon and Stroll expected to fall down the order and so fell to 6th and 7th respectively, with Massa and Perez just behind. It had been a feisty encounter for the Ocon/Stroll/Massa trio, who spent much of the event covered by less than 2s, although one wonders just how much Massa was really challenging his younger teammate.
There was tension late on when in an effort to keep the charging Perez at bay, Massa took some rather odd and aggressive lines into the Rettifilo and Roggia chicanes in order to create a roadblock and keep Perez in 9th. There were other dramas too – Massa and Perez also had minor contact early on, with Massa also clattering with Verstappen, as the Dutchman attempted to surge up the order. Perez then lost time with a slow pitstop, as did Stroll.
Verstappen rounded out the point-scorers, after he took Magnussen for 10th on lap 46. It was a trying day for the Red Bull man, who pitted for super softs on lap 3, after the clash with Massa gave him a puncture. Verstappen spent much of the first half of the race playing catch up at the back of the field, but began to make up time and positions when pitted for more super-softs on lap 27. Verstappen’s second-half push was impressive, as he took Romain Grosjean (Haas), Fernando Alonso (McLaren), Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso), Hulkenberg and Kvyat, before turning his attention to Magnussen.


© Ferrari F1 Media Site

It made Magnussen the first of the non-scorers, after his almost race long fight with Kvyat and Hulkenberg came to naught. A difficult weekend for Toro Rosso was completed when Sainz could do no better than 14th, while Grosjean crossed the finish line in 15th. Wehrlein was the final finisher in 16th, although both Alonso and Marcus Ericsson were both classified, despite retiring in the final few tours.
Stoffel Vandoorne retired with a power unit issue on lap 33 after an impressive run and Jolyon Palmer was the first retiree on lap 29 with a transmission issue, but not before receiving a drive through penalty for taking an unfair track advantage when battling with Alonso early on.

The Italian Grand Prix was not a stellar one, but rather a pivotal one. Mercedes’ pace was ominous and if this advantage carries through to Singapore, then Ferrari and Vettel will find themselves in trouble very quickly. But then there’s Ferrari’s new engine…

2017 Italian Grand Prix, Sunday - Wolfgang Wilhelm

© Daimler AG

f1 result monza


“Italian GP: Vandoorne turns it on”


© McLaren-Honda Racing

McLaren racer Stoffel Vandoorne may have retired at the end of lap 33 of the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday, but the Belgian racer impressed many with his performance at Monza.

On paper, the 2017 was a disaster for McLaren. Another race and another pair of retirements for the Honda-powered team, with neither Stoffel Vandoorne nor Fernando Alonso making it to the end of the race.

Curiously, however, it was Vandoorne who carried the flag for the Woking-based McLaren’s. It helped initially that Vandoorne got his MCL32 into Q3 during Saturday’s lengthy qualifying session, although Alonso’s soft run in Q2 opened the door slightly for the Belgian.
With a 35-place grid penalty coming for the Spaniard, it made little sense to impede his teammate, as he explained on Saturday evening. ‘We needed to keep an eye on Stoffel’s position too, as we didn’t want to be in Q3 with the wrong car,’ said the former champion. ‘We didn’t want to push too much in qualifying because there was no point – we’ll start last anyway, due to the penalty – so we just saved the tyres and used the engine in a lower power mode, but we still did a decent qualifying.’

At a circuit where it was feared McLaren’s pace would ultimately be destroyed, Vandoorne edged in car into the top ten and was elevated to 8th place once grid penalties for both Red Bull’s were taken into account. But this was a wet qualifying session and the race was expected to be dry.
Although not obvious at the time, but Vandoorne’s qualifying run was hampered somewhat. His final run was nixed by a developing engine problem, forcing McLaren to change to replace several elements of the power unit. Vandoorne said, ‘It’s a shame because I really think we could have pushed our way further up. We could have taken more time to find the limit and taken a few more risks, but we didn’t get that chance.’ This resulted in a grid penalty for the Belgian, dropping him an 18th place start, just ahead of Alonso.

And yet while running, Vandoorne’s pace was not ultimately destroyed. From his lowly grid spot, the 25-year-old emerged from the usual turn one melee ahead of Jolyon Palmer (Renault) and Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber), before the other Sauber of Marcus Ericsson dropped behind on the next tour and a pitting Max Verstappen (Red Bull) brought Vandoorne to 14th by the end of lap three.
Thereafter Vandoorne sat in behind Carlos Sainz in the Toro Rosso and maintained a solid pace in the early-1’28s. Alonso was there too; however when Vandoorne passed Sainz on lap six, Alonso could do nothing but sit under the rear wing of his young Spanish rival, until the Toro Rosso racer pitted on lap 15. By this time, Alonso was beginning to suffered gearbox sensor issues and Vandoorne was already eleven seconds up the road.


© McLaren-Honda Racing

At this stage, those ahead of Vandoorne were making stops and clearing the way for the Belgian to climb to 9th position on lap 20, at which point the speed of the McLaren began to ebb away. Fights with Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Nico Hulkenberg (Renault), Vandoorne appeared potent force and appeared quite able to keep with the midfield pack.
Peeling into the pits, Magnussen and Hulkenberg would soon depart the battle, but on this relatively low degradation surface, Vandoorne was able to keep in the early 1’27s, aided by a dropping fuel count, although getting passed Kvyat proved a little too tricky. At this stage, the only drivers quicker than Vandoorne were the leading pack and those on fresh Pirelli’s, but towards the mid-point of the race, the McLaren’s pace began to fade. ‘It’s a similar issue to yesterday, and it’s a shame because we changed the engine overnight for a brand new one today. To have another problem in a race which was going very well is obviously frustrating.’

Passed by both Williams’ of Lance Stroll and Felipe Massa, Vandoorne was beginning to struggle to hang on and eventually pitted at the end of lap 33, but despite the non-finish, it was a very positive performance by the Belgian. ‘From my side, it had actually been a really positive weekend in terms of my driving and the performance I’ve put in – it’s been very strong. The last few races have been very strong for me, in fact. It’s just such a shame to finish with another retirement, and not have any reward for all of that. And we’ve had another issue today, but we have to move on.
‘I guess it’s possible I’ll have another grid drop in Singapore, although we don’t yet know exactly what the issue was today, despite it looking like a similar problem. We’ll have to wait and see.’

McLaren’s Racing Director, Eric Boullier, was certainly very pleased with Vandoorne’s run while it lasted. ‘His performance all weekend has been stellar, and this afternoon he was running in the top ten for the duration of his race – at one point as high as seventh from 18th on the grid.’
However when addressing the technical issues suffered by Vandoorne over the weekend, Boullier was less forgiving. ‘It’s both frustrating and a huge shame that once again engine reliability issues have meant that he was not only forced to waste the opportunity to start the race in eighth place on the grid, but that all the hard work he would ultimately put in to make progress through the pack and aim for points would be rendered pointless.
‘For the whole team – who have all worked so hard to give us a fighting chance on this most challenging of tracks – it’s an utterly frustrating and disappointing way to end our Italian Grand Prix weekend and the European season.’

Alonso, meanwhile, carried on and although largely uneventful, he would have a brief tussle with Palmer, prompting some exasperated radio messages from the Spaniard. His day would also end prematurely and Also eventually retired from a distant 15th place with three laps remaining – although there may a touch of strategy at play with this.

The Grand Prix circus visits the streets of Singapore for a race around Marina Bay. With a high number of twisty sections and relatively few straights, this may be venue that plays well for McLaren, but when it comes down to it, it may still only be for minor points. But for Vandoorne, it will also be another opportunity to display his growing confidence and untapped skill.


© McLaren-Honda Racing

“F1: Hamilton claims pole position record at Monza”

Mercedes racer Lewis Hamilton claimed a record 69th pole position in Formula One at a damp and dreary Monza this evening.

In a session that stretched to over three hours-and-forty minutes following numerous rain delays, Hamilton secured the top spot with a best of 1:35.554s – a lap some 1.1s faster than the next quickest driver Max Verstappen.

Verstappen’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo recorded the 3rd quickest time; however as both Red Bull’s are taking severe grid penalties, 4th fastest qualifier Lance Stroll will start on the front row alongside Hamilton.

After a lull, rain return for the final part of qualifying prompting a move to full wets for much of the top ten. Both Mercedes’ and both Ferrari’s started on intermediate weather tyres, but returned to the pits immediately to make a switch to wets.

Hamilton was nothing if not consistent in Q3. With each quicker lap, the Briton jumped to the top of the timings, swapping regularly with Verstappen and Ricciardo, while Stroll and Force India’s Esteban Ocon ran the leading trio close.

Verstappen set his stall out in the opening minutes and where Hamilton would set a 1:37.227s, Ricciardo responded by going one-tenth quicker, before the Mercedes man took another two-tenths off of his time.

After a final switch to wet tyres, Verstappen recorded a 1:36.762s, but Ricciardo could only go one-tenth slower to sit just behind his teammate. Hamilton meanwhile hooked up a spectacular final half-a-lap, as conditions began to dry.
A 30.7s left the Mercedes racer level with Verstappen through sector one, but gained four tenths on the Dutchman through the Lesmo’s. Hamilton then went one step further and was eight-tenths quicker than Verstappen in the final sector, gifting the Briton a huge margin as he crossed the line.

Ricciardo was three-tenths quicker than his teammate in the final sector, but lost a similar amount to Verstappen in the middle of the lap. The difference between the pair came down Ricciardo losing a tenth through the Rettifilo chicane, leaving the Australian just shy of Verstappen.

Stroll and Ocon did excellently to set the 4th and 5th best times respectively, while Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas recorded a disappointing 6th. The Ferrari’s of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel ended the session a downbeat 7th and 8th, while Felipe Massa (Williams) and Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) closed out the top ten.

Sergio Perez missed out on Q3 by just 0.002s, when he fell short of teammate Ocon. The Mexican headed Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg by half-a-second, while McLaren’s Fernando Alonso could do no better than 13th. Toro Rosso suffered a dreadful session, as they could only take the 14th and 15th slots, before penalties drop them to the rear of the grid.

Kevin Magnussen the best of the Haas duo, after teammate Romain Grosjean crashed at the start Q1. Following this, the opening part of qualifying was red flagged as the Frenchman aquaplaned on the start-finish straight, pitching Grosjean into the barrier on the outside of the straight.
The Frenchman’s now out-of-control machine then crossed the sodden circuit, eventually finishing on the inside of the Rettifilo chicane. With several other drivers, including Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Renault pair Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer all missing the chicane at the Rettifilo, it was decided to bring out the red flag.
Before spinning, Grosjean had set a time of 1:43.355, but was audibly ruffled by the conditions on track, calling the session ‘dangerous’, adding that ‘it was stupid to run [qualifying].’ With rain coming down hard, there followed a two-and-a-half hour gap before conditions were deemed safe enough to continue.

Beyond Magnussen, Jolyon Palmer (Renault) qualified 17th, ahead of the Sauber duo Marcus Eriksson and Pascal Wehrlein.

“F1: Kerb extension laid at Parabolica”

Following a lengthy drivers meeting yesterday, an additional kerb has been added to the exit of Parabolica for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.

With drivers using the excess run-off at Parabolica to obtain a better drive onto the start-finish straight, it was agreed to add an additional kerb to dissuade competitors from going too far off track during sessions.

© FIA.

© FIA.

© FIA.

“F1: Rain renders meaningless FP3 session”

Williams duo Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll topped a wet and meaningless FP3 session at Monza this morning.

With the track sodden following several hours of constant rainfall, only seven drivers set times, with the rest of the field completing installation laps before returning to the pits.

Thanks to the cool conditions and with no end to the rain in sight, it is likely that qualifying will also be run under very wet conditions.

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