2014 Qualifying & Race Reports: Rounds 1-6
|Choose a Race Report Below|
|Round 1: Australia - Melbourne|
|Round 2: Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur|
|Round 3: Bahrain - Sakhir|
|Round 4: China - Shanghai|
|Round 5: Spain - Catalunya|
|Round 6: Monaco - Monte Carlo|
Round 1: Australia - Melbourne
This year, Pirelli brought the Medium (Prime) and Soft (Option) tyres. It's a 58 lap race and the race start is 0600 local time, Kimi Räikkönen in his Lotus-Renault was last years winner beating Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari.
Here we are down under for the first qualifying session of 2014. New rules. New drivers. New tracks. The 2014 season is going to be one of the most exciting we've seen in a long while. In pre-season testing Mercedes' put in the most mileage while Red Bull struggled. Due to the new rule changes it's almost certain we'll see a change in the pecking order this year.
Let's jump straight into Q1, which now lasts 18 minutes compared to 20 minutes last season. Both of the Mercedes' drivers were the first out on-track. The weather may play an important part here this weekend. Towards the end of Q1, it had rained and some drivers were struggling to keep all four wheels on-track. Maldonado span twice and didn't make it through into the second part of qualifying. His team-mate Grosjean also didn't make it into Q2. Kobayashi was 16th on the timing sheets and as a result made it into Q2, a great start to the season for Caterham. Ricciardo set the fastest time in Q1. Drivers out were: Chilton, Bianchi, Gutierrez, Ericsson, Grosjean and Maldonado.
Q2 now. Both of the Williams' drivers were first out of the pit lane. I just have to mention, their Martini livery looks stunning. Rosberg crossed the line and set a time of 1:46.708, nearly half a second quicker than Massa in his Williams'. The track was still wet and drivers were either on the intermediate or full wet tyres. Towards the end of Q2, Vettel was struggling, he was in the drop-zone and was called in for a change of tyres to prep him for one final run. Räikkönen hit the wall with around one minute remaining and due to this Vettel had to slow down as yellow flag's were being waved on certain parts of the track, Vettel was out of qualifying! He will start from 13th on the grid. Rosberg set the fastest time in Q2. Drivers out were: Button, Räikkönen, Vettel, Sutil, Kobayashi and Perez.
Finally, Q3, which now lasts 12 minutes compared to 10 minutes last season. Both of the Mercedes' drivers looked quick here but rain was still present on-track. All drivers apart from Alonso were on the full wet tyres. Provisional pole kept changing. Ricciardo was asked on the team radio "Is it time for inters?" in which he replied "It will be if we stay out." Ricciardo did head into the pits for a change of tyres. As the chequered flag dropped, Rosberg was the quickest but we still had Ricciardo and Hamilton to come. Ricciardo did cross the line and his time was quick enough for provisional pole but then Hamilton crossed the line and knocked Ricciardo off the top. Lewis Hamilton will start the Australian Grand Prix on pole position! His pole time was a 1:44.231, three tenths quicker than Ricciardo.
Lights out in Australia!! Rosberg got a great start and overtook his team-mate Hamilton and Ricciardo before the first corner. Magnussen span his wheels off the line and nearly hit the wall but managed to stay on-track. Kobayashi locked up into the first corner and went straight into the back of Massa in his Williams'. On lap one we had drama as Vettel on his team-radio said "The engine is not running smoothly." Then, on lap three, Hamilton's engineer told Hamilton to retire the car as they needed to save the engine. Hamilton was out of the Australian Grand Prix. Vettel also retired on lap six.
On lap nine, Rosberg set the fastest lap and extended his lead to five seconds. On lap 10, Bottas clipped his right-rear wheel at turn 10 and lost his tyre, he made his way back to the pits, put on a new set and went back out again. On lap 12 it was Button who was the first to pit followed by Rosberg, Ricciardo, Magnussen and Hulkenberg. We had our first safety car of the season as debris had to be cleared from the track. On lap 16, the race got back underway. By lap 20, Rosberg was eight tenths faster per lap than Ricciardo in 2nd.
By lap 29, Rosberg led the race by 9.5 seconds. On lap 31, Maldonado rolled to a stop, 15 cars remained. By lap 33, Rosberg had a 14 second lead and was pulling away from Ricciardo each lap. On lap 45, the other Lotus driver, Grosjean, retired. Towards the end of the race, Rosberg led the race comfortably, he was 24 seconds ahead on the final lap. It was Rosberg who dominated the Australian Grand Prix with Ricciardo finishing his home Grand Prix in 2nd place. Magnussen had a great debut as he finished 3rd.
However, after the race, Red Bull were summoned by the stewards as Ricciardo's RB10 was disqualified after breaching fuel consumption rules. This resulted in Magnussen being promoted to 2nd and Button to 3rd. Next up, Malaysia in two weeks time.
View pictures from the Australian Grand Prix.
Round 2: Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur
This year, Pirelli brought the Hard (Prime) and Medium (Option) tyres. It's a 56 lap race and the race start is 0900 local time, Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull was last years winner beating his team-mate, Mark Webber.
In Malaysia the weather can be so unpredictable and that was the case. It rained just before qualifying was due to start. It was delayed by 50 minutes. Minutes before the start of Q1, the two Mercedes' drivers were at the end of pit-lane waiting to go out. Hamilton set the first time in Q1, a 1:57.309. Rosberg crossed the line and was two tenths quicker. On Vettel's team-radio he was told to come in as there was an issue with the car. It was an anti-stall problem but he was soon back out again. Vettel's flying lap was half a second off the pace. With 35 seconds to go, Ericsson crashed and as a result, red flag's were brought out. Out of Q1 were: Maldonado, Sutil, Bianchi, Kobayashi, Chilton and Ericsson.
In Q2, both of the Mercedes' drivers again were waiting at the end of the pit lane, this time though, on the full wet tyres. Two minutes into Q2, we had our second red flag due to debris but we were soon underway again. Everyone was on the full wet tyre apart from Bottas (not sure what he's thinking of as a lot of water still remained on-track). Hamilton again went quickest with Rosberg one second off the pace, Ricciardo spilt the Mercedes' drivers with his flying lap. Out of Q2 were: Kvyat, Gutierrez, Massa, Perez, Bottas and Grosjean.
It was certain that a Mercedes' driver would get pole position here, but who? In Q3, Räikkönen set the first time of the session, a 2:01.218 but Hamilton crossed the line and put in a 1:59.431. On the team-radio Hamilton was told to keep pushing. Towards the end of Q3, many drivers were backing up at the final hairpin to try and find a gap and to put in that final flying lap, however, Vettel misjudged the amount of time remaining and didn't cross the line in-time. It was Hamilton though who took his second pole position of the season here in Malaysia. His time of 1:59.431 was just enough. Vettel will start 2nd on the grid. Let's hope this time around Hamilton can convert his pole position into a race win.
Lights out in Malaysia!! Hamilton got off the line well but it was Rosberg who got the better start as he overtook Vettel before the first corner for 2nd. We had no incidents in the second corner as Hamilton started to create a gap between him and his team-mate Rosberg. On lap two, Magnussen gave Räikkönen a tap and that was enough to puncture Räikkönen's rear tyre. By lap five, Hamilton had a 3.9 second lead. Bianchi was issued a five-second stop-go penalty for making contact with Maldonado on the first lap. Lotus-Renault's woes continue as Maldonado was told to box and retire the car.
Magnussen was the first to pit on lap 10 from 8th place. On lap 13, Ricciardo pitted and rejoined on-track with Alonso. Vettel pitted on the next lap and came back out ahead of his team-mate Ricciardo. On lap 16, Hamilton pitted from the lead and headed out on a new set of medium tyres. He rejoined the track in 2nd place behind Hülkenberg who had yet to pit. Hamilton breezed past Hülkenberg on his fresher tyres. By lap 18, Hamilton had a lead of nine seconds. Hamilton's race engineer on the team radio said "Look after this engine, we're just going to turn it down a bit. We're doing that for both cars." Both of the Mercedes' drivers were cruising.
A race update on lap 26 then. Hamilton led the race from Rosberg, Vettel was in 3rd, Ricciardo in 4th, Alonso in 5th and Hülkenberg in 6th place. Both of the Williams' drivers were in the top 10. Bottas pitted from 7th place and put on a new set of the medium tyres. On lap 32 Vettel pitted which then triggered Rosberg to pit on lap 33. The race leader, Hamilton pitted on lap 34. By lap 36, Vettel was only 0.5 seconds behind Rosberg and was now close enough to use DRS. On lap 41, Ricciardo pitted but stopped halfway down the pits, his front-left tyre wasn't secured correctly! His pit crew had to push his car all the way back to the pit box and secure the tyre, this, effectively destroyed Ricciardo's race.
As a result, Ricciardo received a 10-second stop-go penalty. Towards the end of the race, the top three all pitted to put on the hard tyre, Ricciardo however, retired. We had our first team orders of the season thanks to Williams'. Massa was ahead of Bottas and was told to let him through. Massa ignored this however. Hamilton though, 14.7 seconds up the road took the chequered flag here in Malaysia. It was a faultless race by Hamilton. Rosberg finished in 2nd and this also meant it was Mercedes' first 1-2 since 1955. Vettel finished in 3rd place with Alonso in 4th. Who knows what would of happened in Australia, one thing's for sure, Mercedes' are way ahead of the pack at this moment in time and it's going to take a while until other teams catch up. Next up, Bahrain (which is an evening race this year as they are celebrating the 10th anniversary) in one week!
View pictures from the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Round 3: Bahrain - Sakhir
This year, Pirelli brought the Medium (Prime) and Soft (Option) tyres. It's a 57 lap race and the race start is 1600 local time, Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull was last years winner beating Kimi Räikkönen in his Lotus-Renault.
It's the 10th anniversary of the Bahrain Grand Prix and to celebrate it will be an evening race this year. Mercedes' again looked outstanding and it was a case of what Mercedes' driver would get pole position here. In Q1, it was Hülkenberg who set the first flying lap, 1:36.883, six tenths quicker than Grosjean in his Lotus. Rosberg then crossed the line and put in a 1:35.400 but was soon bumped down to second as Hamilton beat him by one tenth. Vettel was on the soft tyre and his lap put him in 7th place, six tenths slower than both of the Mercedes' drivers who set their lap times on the medium tyre. Out of Q1 were: Maldonado, Sutil, Kobayashi, Bianchi, Chilton and Ericsson.
In Q2 it was Hülkenberg once again who set the first flying lap, a 1:35.682. Massa went 2nd with Perez 3rd. Hamilton had the soft tyres on and set an impressive time, a 1:33.872, seven tenths quicker than Ricciardo. Rosberg though went one tenth quicker than his team-mate. Button completed his flying lap and was 4th on the timing sheets. Towards the end of the session we saw Vettel head out. He only went 8th quickest and was under pressure as he didn't have enough time for another lap. Vettel was out of qualifying! Out of Q2 were: Vettel, Hülkenberg, Kvyat, Vergne, Gutierrez and Grosjean.
So, who would get pole here in Bahrain, Hamilton or Rosberg? Mercedes' here are around one second per lap faster. Bottas and Massa were the first two drivers out on track and with eight minutes remaining all drivers apart from Räikkönen were on-track. Bottas laid down the marker, a 1:34.247. It was no trouble for Rosberg as he set a time of 1:33.185 while his team-mate Hamilton was two tenths slower. The chequered flag was out but all drivers were still on-track. Ricciardo managed a good enough time for 3rd place but received a 10 place grid penalty after an unsafe release at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Hamilton made a mistake into the first corner and backed out of the lap. It was Rosberg who got pole position here at the Bahrain Grand Prix with Hamilton starting alongside him. Bottas will start 4th with Perez in 5th and Räikkönen in 6th.
Lights out in Bahrain!! Hamilton got the better start out of the Mercedes' drivers and was neck-and-neck with Rosberg into the first corner. Hamilton was the later braker and gained the lead from Rosberg. Into turn four, Rosberg fought back and tried to go around the outside but Hamilton squeezed him to hold on to first place. On lap two, Vergne got a right-rear puncture and said that it a Lotus driver that hit him. It would be interesting to see who would get the last place on the podium here, if the Mercedes' drivers have no issues it's safe to say they will be the first two across the finish line.
By lap six, Vettel was in 10th place, 0.8 seconds behind the Ferrari driver, Räikkönen. Vettel's team-mate Ricciardo was in 12th place, it was Magnussen who was splitting the Red Bull drivers. It was an early pit-stop for Sutil as on lap 8 he ditched the medium tyre and went on to the soft tyre. We'll jump foward a little bit as on lap 17 Hamilton still led the race but was only 0.8 seconds ahead of Rosberg. On the next lap, Hamilton was starting to struggle on his tyres and Rosberg launched an attack down into the first corner but Hamilton took the wider line and cut back to hold his position.
On lap 20, Hamilton pitted releasing Rosberg. His pit-crew put on the soft tyres and he was well on his way again, a nice stop from Mercedes' there. Nothing unexpected but Mercedes' are well out in front, there was a 30 second gap from Hamilton in 1st to Bottas in 3rd place. On lap 22, Rosberg pitted, his crew fitted the medium tyres. Meanwhile, Vergne and Sutil retired from the Grand Prix. Nearer the front, Massa was putting pressure on his team-mate Bottas for 3rd place.
This was turning out to be a great race. On lap 33, Räikkönen's lap times were slowing due to his tyres, Ricciardo and Bottas soon made their way past him. An update then. Hamilton led by 9.7 seconds from Rosberg and Bottas was a massive 46 seconds adrift in 3rd place. Perez was in 4th and Hülkenberg in 5th. On lap 41, Gutierrez had a big moment, Maldonado t-boned Gutierrez and spun upside down and landed the right way up. He was fine and got out of the car, a penalty for Maldonado there surely. As a result, we had a safety car and this meant Hamilton's lead would no longer be. On lap 42, both of the Mercedes' drivers pitted, Hamilton first followed by Rosberg. On lap 43, Magnussen retired from the Grand Prix.
The safety car was out for quite some time as the lapped cars had to un-lap themselves, this is a rule I hate in F1. We have to wait ages for lapped cars to drive all the way around the track and on to the back of the pack. Anyway, this set us up for a grand finale as Hamilton was on the medium tyre while Rosberg was on the faster soft tyre. Both Mercedes' drivers were told by Paddy Lowe on the team-radio: "With 10 laps left to race, can we just make sure we bring both cars home." On lap 47, you guessed it, both Mercedes' drivers came very close to each other but Hamilton shut the door on Rosberg. Somehow though, Hamilton was setting fastest laps on his medium tyres. On lap 50, Rosberg was close enough to use DRS and was only 0.8 seconds behind his team-mate. On lap 52, Rosberg lauched another attack into the first corner but Hamilton defended and both drivers were side-by-side into turn four, Hamilton squeezed Rosberg off track and kept the lead, brilliant racing from both of the Mercedes' drivers here in Bahrain. On lap 53, Rosberg yet again tried to overtake Hamilton down into the first corner but he outbroke himself and Hamilton retook the lead.
Somehow, Hamilton on the slower harder tyres kept his lead and took the chequered flag here in Bahrain. What a race, it was certainly one of the best races I've seen in a long while. Hamilton finished one second ahead of Rosberg. It was Perez though who took the last place on the podium, a massive 22.9 seconds behind Rosberg. It was a fantastic battle between the two Mercedes' drivers! Next up, China in two weeks time,
View pictures from the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Round 4: China - Shanghai
This year, Pirelli brought the Medium (Prime) and Soft (Option) tyres. It's a 56 lap race and the race start is 0800 local time, Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari was last years winner beating Kimi Räikkönen in his Lotus-Renault.
Here we are in China. With Mercedes still looking very strong, could any team challenge them this weekend? The Marussia’s were the first out and they had selected the full wet tyres. Rosberg was also on the full wets and, on his lap, ran wide at turn six. With around eight minutes to go, Lotus confirmed that Maldonado would miss qualifying so that meant only five drivers would be eliminated from Q1. Out of Q1 were: Gutierrez, Kobayashi, Bianchi, Ericsson and Chilton.
In Q2, Sutil was the first on track and set a time of 1:58.188 but Hamilton crossed the line and took almost a massive four seconds off the time, Rosberg went second fastest. Massa, Alonso and Perez had brief runs but all went off-track which ruined their times. With two minutes to go, Hamilton was the pacesetter, his time of 1:54.200 was three tenths faster than Vettel’s time. Räikkönen and Button were in trouble and couldn’t improve their times, both were out of Q2! Other drivers out were: Kvyat, Sutil, Magnussen and Perez.
Q3 now. It was Vettel who set the benchmark with a 1:54.981. Hamilton crossed the line next and put in a time of 1:54.348, six tenths faster than Vettel. After recording the ninth best time on full wet tyres, Hülkenberg pitted and put on a new set of the intermediates tyres. Towards the end, Rosberg was in 3rd place and was on a final flying lap, however, into the last corner he span and couldn’t improve his time, Lewis Hamilton took pole position here in China! It’s his third of the season and Mercedes’ fourth.
Lights out in China!! Hamilton got a good start but his team-mate Rosberg had a terrible start and slid down to 6th place into the first corner. Massa got the best start but hit Alonso hard but somehow no damage was done on impact. By the end of the second lap, Hamilton led Vettel by 2.4 seconds. Rosberg had some catching up to do and used his DRS to his advantage. He overtook Massa but was still over four seconds behind his team-mate Hamilton, who, in front, was increasing the gap lap by lap. On lap 10, Massa pitted but as a result of the incident at the start with Alonso, had a disastrous pit-stop, in total, it was around 50 seconds before Massa went back out on track again, he was now in last place. Firstly, his pit-crew had the wrong type of tyres out ready and secondly, his team struggled to get the left-rear tyre on.
On lap 13, Vettel pitted from 2nd and put on a set of medium tyres. After his stop, Vettel was in 4th place with Alonso ahead of him. On lap 17, the leader, Hamilton pitted and he had a 31.3 second cushion over Alonso in 2nd. His pit-stop was clean and rejoined the track still in the lead. On lap 22, Rosberg was nearing the front and Vettel was his next target. Into the first corner, Rosberg overtook Vettel and it was now Ricciardo Vettel had to look out for. On the next lap, Ricciardo overtook his team-mate Vettel. Hamilton was 7.7 seconds ahead of Alonso in 2nd place by lap 23.
By lap 32, Rosberg was closing in on Alonso, on the next lap, Alonso pitted and put on a fresh set of medium tyres. On lap 34, Vettel was passed by Kobayashi after having fresher tyres, Vettel was soon on team-radio complaining about the move. Vettel pitted and rejoined the track in 5th place. On lap 39, Hamilton made his final stop, put on a new set of medium tyres and rejoined the track with a 12 second lead over Alonso while he had a 5.6 lead over Rosberg. On lap 41, the inevitable happened, on the longest straight in F1, Rosberg simply cruised past Alonso to take 2nd place, it looked like it would be another Mercedes' 1-2 here in China.
On lap 42, Hamilton had a 15 second lead over his team-mate Rosberg. Alonso now had Ricciardo behind him. By lap 46, there was a 5.4 second gap between Alonso and Ricciardo. By lap 50, there was a 16.1 second gap between Ricciardo and Vettel, this would be the second race in a row that Ricciardo finished higher than his team-mate. Ricciardo was told to keep pushing as the gap in front was getting smaller and smaller. However, up front it was Hamilton who took the chequered flag here in China! It was Hamilton’s first hat-trick of wins since he started off his career in F1 and another Mercedes' 1-2. Alonso drove a brilliant race and took the last step on the podium as he kept Ricciardo at bay towards the end of the race. Next up, the Spanish Grand Prix in three weeks time.
View pictures from the Chinese Grand Prix.
Round 5: Spain - Catalunya
This year, Pirelli brought the Hard (Prime) and Medium (Option) tyres. It's a 66 lap race and the race start is 1300 local time, Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari was last years winner beating Kimi Räikkönen in his Lotus-Renault.
So, we are back after a three week break, which, in my opinion, was too long. The summer break is four weeks. Anyway, could Mercedes' keep the gap here in Spain as we return to Europe for the first time? Many teams brought updates here. In Q1, Hülkenberg set the early pace, a 1:28.856 which was four tenths quicker than Gutiérrez. However, seven minutes in we had a red flag, it was Maldonado in his Lotus. He was out of qualifying. Three minutes later, the session resumed. Rosberg went quickest on the hard tyre, he set a time of 1:26.764. Hamilton was on a flyer but made a small mistake so he backed out of the lap. It was Rosberg who set the fastest time in Q1. Sutil, Bianchi, Chilton, Ericsson, Kobayashi and Maldonado were all out of Q1.
Hülkenberg was again the first out in Q2. Räikkönen set the early pace with a 1:27.454 which was three tenths quicker than Massa. Rosberg again set the faster lap out of the two Mercedes' drivers after their first runs in Q2. Hamilton was only one tenth slower. Ricciardo was third as he continued to hold the advantage over Vettel. We saw Magnussen in the garage with only three minutes remaining with no time set, he got out of the car. There was a problem with his car, Magnussen was out of Q2. Again though, it was Rosberg who finished at the top of the timing sheets. Out of Q2 were: Hülkenberg, Perez, Kvyat, Gutiérrez, Magnussen and Vergne.
In Q3 it was both of the Mercedes' drivers first out of the pit lane, it was a question of what Mercedes' driver would get pole here, not what team. Two minutes into Q3, Vettel's misery continued as on the team-radio he said "I have no drive. I'm sorry. I have no drive." Vettel was out and would start no higher than 10th this weekend. What a season a difference makes, last year he was pretty much unbeatable, this season, his RB10 just isn't performing. It was Rosberg who set the benchmark with a 1:26.561 but Hamilton crossed the line and set a time of 1:26.288, both times were on old tyres. Ricciardo went third quickest with Alonso in fourth. However, he just keeps the best till last as Hamilton put in an incredible lap to take pole position here at the Spanish Grand Prix! He was two tenths quicker than Rosberg in 2nd. Ricciardo was in 3rd, Bottas in 4th and Alonso, at his home race, in 7th.
Lights out in Spain!! Hamilton got a great start and after the first lap led his team-mate Rosberg by 1.1 second. Grosjean had a massive lockup into the first corner and locked both of his front tyres. Maldonado was in the wars yet again as he made contact with Ericsson for 20th place. Maldonado then passed Kobayashi for 19th place on lap five. By lap eight, both Mercedes' drivers were lapping around one and half seconds quicker than the rest of the field. Vettel was making his way up the field from 15th as he passed Gutiérrez for 13th place. By lap 10, Hamilton had a 2.3 second lead over Rosberg while he was a massive 12.9 seconds ahead of 3rd place, Bottas. For Maldonado's contact with Ericsson he received a five-second stop-go penalty.
On lap 13, Vettel pitted which was very early, even for a three stop. He rejoined the track in 21st place just behind Chilton. On lap 15, his team-mate Ricciardo pitted, put on the medium tyres and rejoined in 13th place. What a season a difference makes, on lap 16 we saw Vettel fight for position with Kobayashi, Vettel passed him into turn 10. On lap 19, the race leader, Hamilton pitted. A small adjustment was made to his front wing, his pit crew put on a fresh set of medium tyres and let him on his way again. It was quite a slow stop however. This meant Rosberg could push hard and hope to overtake Hamilton during the pit phase, he set the fastest lap of the race on lap 20. Hamilton responded on the next lap. Rosberg did pit on lap 22 and, like in Bahrain, Mercedes; again decided to split the strategy as his pit crew put on the hard tyres. It was a faster stop but Hamilton drove past to retake the lead.
By lap 23, Vettel was up to 9th place, 1.6 seconds behind Massa. On lap 25, Vergne had to retire the car due to an exhaust problem. On lap 26, Alonso overtook Grosjean for 6th place. His team-mate, Räikkönen was 2.5 seconds up the road. At the front though, the two Mercedes' drivers were in a race of their own. Rosberg was on the quicker tyre at this point and was closing in on Hamilton. Were we going to see a repeat of all the antics in Bahrain here in Spain? On lap 50, Rosberg set the fastest lap of the race, a 1:29.247 to reduce the gap to 3.1 seconds. Rosberg was getting closer and closer and by lap 52 was only two seconds behind Hamilton. On lap 54, Vettel and Alonso both made their final pit stops. With just two laps to go, Rosberg was only 0.9 seconds behind and was now in the DRS zone. However, Hamilton again kept Rosberg at bay to win his fourth race in a row here in Spain! Rosberg finished just 0.6 seconds behind with Ricciardo a further 50 seconds adrift. It was also Mercedes' fourth one-two of the season, the first time since 1955. Next up in two weeks time, the most exotic race on the calendar, Monaco.
View pictures from the Spanish Grand Prix.
Round 6: Monaco - Monte Carlo
This year, Pirelli brought the Soft (Prime) and Super Soft (Option) tyres. It's a 78 lap race and the race start is 1300 local time. Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes' was last years winner beating Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull.
Here we are at the most exotic place on the calendar where the boats cost more than the Formula 1 cars. Red Bull were hoping that due to the unique track they could close the gap to the dominant Mercedes'. In Q1, it was both of the Mercedes' drivers first out of the pits. Rosberg's first lap was a 1:25.256 but was soon bumped down by Hamilton's 1:22.837. Both were slow laps and drivers were just getting the heat into the tyres which, this year, took a lap or two longer. Kvyat lost control coming out of the tunnel and his front wing made contact with the wall. He went into the pits for a new nose. Times were getting quicker as Ricciardo set the 5th fastest time. Mercedes' were the only team to stay on the soft tyres, all other teams went on to the super-soft tyres. Out of Q1 were: Gutierrez, Sutil, Bianchi, Chilton, Kobayashi and Ericsson.
In Q2, again, the two Mercedes' drivers were the first out. Alonso crossed the line and went 4th, 0.6 seconds off the pace. His team-mate Räikkönen was in 5th. On the radio Vettel wasn't very happy as it seemed like his ERS-K system wasn't working at full capacity. At one point, all 15 cars were on-track. Perez went 8th quickest pushing Button into the drop-zone. Hamilton set the fastest time, a 1:16.354, one tenth quicker than Rosberg. Vergne put in a great final lap as he went 8th quickest which as a result pushed Hülkenberg into the drop-zone. Out of Q2 were: Hülkenberg, Button, Bottas, Grosjean, Maldonado and Massa.
So, who would grap pole here this weekend? So far it seems Mercedes' are still ahead. Perez was the first man out of the pits. Vergne set the first flying lap of Q1, a 1:18.030. Up front though it was Rosberg who set the benchmark, a 1:15.989. Hamilton couldn't beat that on his first flying lap, he was 0.059 slower. Rosberg, Hamilton and Ricciardo headed back into the pits for a set of brand new super-soft tyres. On Rosberg's final lap, he lost control of the car slightly and ended up off the track at Mirabeau. That was it. Everyone else had to slow down through that sector as yellow flag's were out and as a result Rosberg's first flying lap was good enough for pole. Rosberg will start the Monaco Grand Prix from pole position! Hamilton will start alongside him with Ricciardo in 3rd and Vettel in 4th.
Lights out in Monaco! Rosberg got away off the line well and stayed in the lead into the first corner. Räikkönen made a stunning start to move up to 4th after Riccardo bogged down off the line. Perez's race was over within the first lap as Button clipped the rear of Perez's car and off he went into the wall at Mirabeau. The safety car came out as there was debris on-track. On lap three, the safety car went back in and the racing resumed. On lap five, Vettel's poor season continued as he was down on power. He came into the pits and on the team-radio heard "Come on guys....I mean you're trying everything." Red Bull serviced the car and went back out. Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race on lap six and was only 0.6 seconds behind Rosberg.
On lap eight, it was no surprise that Vettel came into the pits yet again, this time though, to retire the car, Vettel was out of the Grand Prix. After a great qualifying session in which Kvyat started in 8th, during the race, on lap 13, he had to retire the car. He was the fourth retirement of the race. By lap 15, Rosberg had a 1.7 second lead with Räikkönen a lonely third, 7.3 seconds behind Hamilton. On lap 25, Sutil hit the barriers and that resulted in having the second safety car of the race. Most teams reacted and pitted. On lap 27, Mercedes' quickly changed the tyres on Rosberg's car followed by Hamilton's car. On lap 30, the safety car came back in but it was bad news for Räikkönen as he pitted again dropping him from 3rd to 13th. On lap 32, Hülkenberg made a fantastic pass on Magnussen into Portier corner just before the tunnel. That was for seventh place. Bianchi was up to 12th place, would Marussia get their first World Championship points here in Monaco?
Alonso was closing the gap to Ricciardo, the gap was 1.7 seconds by lap 41. On lap 44, Rosberg was told to save fuel, that's not what he wanted to hear as Hamilton was still breathing down his neck. Bottas retired on lap 57 as a lot of smoke could be seen coming out of the rear of his car. On lap 65, on Hamilton's team-radio he said "I can't see out of my left eye, I've got some dirt or something in my eye." Very rare that dirt gets inside the driver's visors' nowadays. The gap between the two Mercedes' drivers increased and by lap 68, it was a 5.6 second gap. Hamilton had another issue though, he had Ricciardo catching him up, fast. By lap 73, there was just 1.9 seconds between Hamilton and Ricciardo. It was Nico Rosberg who won the Monaco Grand Prix! The second time he has won here in two years, he just loves street circuits doesn't he? Hamilton managed to keep Ricciardo at bay and help Mercedes' take yet another 1-2. Bianchi helped Marussia get their first ever points in F1 as he finished in 9th place, great to see!
View pictures from the Monaco Grand Prix.