Formula One: Alonso could have split the Williams

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Mclaren Honda continued their resurgence to the top of the grid this weekend with both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button finishing in the points, finishing 6th and 10th respectively.

For the first time since his return to the team Alonso appears able to push the car with confidence:

“Fernando drove a brilliant race, displaying all the guile, aggression and opportunism for which he is so well known” commented Racing Director Eric Boullier

The team are confident the result could have been even more impressive. Fuel efficiency is still an issue for the Honda power unit, the Sochi circuit represents most challenging event for fuel consumption on the 2016 calendar. Yusuke Hasegawa Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer commenting:

“We knew that our longer stints were good here, but it was a job well done for our team and drivers to manage our one-stop strategy and fuel-saving during the race, which led to today’s results. 

Eric Boullier went on to comment:

“We can see that we are the team that have a lot of fuel saving for obvious reasons, But with Fernando you could see towards the end of the race he was more than 1.2s faster [per lap]. without fuel saving we’d save another 50s which we would’ve had at the end of the race.”

Had Alonso been able to approach the race without a fuel saving mindset and chased the 50s Boullier refereed to he would have had the pace not only to pass Massa, but also challenge Bottas, elevating his finishing position to 5th, challenging 4th.

Considering challenges the team faced through the 2015 season, progress seen through 2016 to date has been deeply impressive. Honda have 14 development tokens available to them through the 2016 season, leaving the scope to make further advancements significant. Boullier has been keen to point out the Mclaren Racing and Honda are not the only factor contributing to the teams resurgence;

“This race showcases the collective efforts of the entire organisation – not just McLaren Racing and Honda, but also our key technical partner, Mobil 1, whose oil and lubes have played such a key role in our ongoing development. To our partners, too, their faith and belief is starting to be repaid”

Improved performances from the team could make them a formidable challenger by the end of the 2016 season and a genuine contender for 2017. A competitive Mclaren in 2017 could add further spice to ‘silly season’ with many driver contracts expiring at the end of this season.

Mclaren Honda now sit 7th in the  Constructors Championship with all 3 of the teams drivers having scored points this season.

Formula One: Rosberg Humanising F1

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Fresh of the back of his 4th win of the year at the Russian Grand Prix Nico Rosberg took to social media to share the experience of his return flight to Monaco.

Sharing a rare glimpse into the life of an F1 driver away from the circuit Nico was joined on the flight by fellow Monaco residents Felipe Massa, Jenson Button, Max Verstappen, Esteban Gutiérrez, Nico Hulkenberg, Jean Eric Vergne, Alex Wurz, & David Coulthard.

In addition to a cost and environmentally conscious mindset, the film highlights a growing comradery amongst certain drivers on the grid. Whilst such relationships are unlikely to impact a drivers approach when they are racing against each other on track, but as the season progresses and individual prospects are diminished consciously or subconsciously drivers may make life that little bit easier for friends.

Perhaps in a bid to further bring F1 to the fans the GPDA should consider running competitions for a fan to join these flights…

You can follow Nico Rosberg’s personal season diary through his You Tube Channel here

 

Formula One: Silver Arrows seal Sochi one-two in high tension Russian Grand Prix

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Nico Rosberg has continued his run of victories (started at the 2015 Mexican GP) by winning from pole in Sochi, starting on the supersoft tyre then switching to the soft on lap 21. In second place was his team mate Lewis Hamilton who used the same strategy to make up eight places from 10th on the grid: the result of a technical problem before Q3.
Most drivers used a one-stop supersoft-soft strategy, but an alternative tactic was used by both Red Bull drivers, who were caught in the incident at the start that caused a brief safety car, which influenced strategy. Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat both switched to the medium tyre, with Kvyat completing more than 50 laps on this compound to finish 15th from the back, despite picking up a 10-second penalty.
A different alternative strategy was adopted by Force India’s Sergio Perez, who switched to used soft tyres on lap one under similar circumstances, then switched to more used softs with just over 20 laps to go. Perez finished in the points but he was not the highest-placed two-stopper: that was Williams driver Felipe Massa in fifth, who completed a final stint on supersofts. Only six drivers stopped twice, with the rest all stopping once.
Following a cool day yesterday, temperatures during the race were much warmer.

Nico Rosberg
This weekend really went really perfectly for me. Already in Qualifying I had found a perfect balance and that continued throughout the race, which was fantastic. I had a great start and from there was able to control the pace at the front. Thank you so much to everybody at the factories for building such an amazing car. If you have a car like this, you are really able to push to the limits and that’s an awesome feeling. Lewis drove really well to come back up to second so quickly, so well done to him too. The only down side to the weekend was to see that reliability is becoming a bit of a concern, as Lewis obviously has a problem yesterday and both cars had issues during the race today. But we have a great team behind us and I’m fully confident that we will sort this out. It´s unbelievable to go into the European races with four wins and I really look forward to Barcelona now. Thanks, Russia – you were very good to me!

Paul Hembery:

“The early safety car certainly added an interesting dimension to the race, with a number of drivers trying an alternative strategy. In the end, Daniil Kvyat completed an entire race distance on the Medium compound, in an era when there is more load going through the tyres than there ever has been before in Formula 1 history. We saw some other different strategies: Fernando Alonso, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were able to maximise their opportunities with a one-stop strategy to make up several places compared to their grid positions. Generally speaking, the one-stop strategy was the way to go as we predicted, with low wear and degradation across all three compounds.

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Formula One: Rosberg’s race at risk?

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With the Mercedes AMG Petronas team unable to clearly determine the root cause of Lewis Hamilton’s power unit failure both in Shanghai and during yesterday’s Sochi qualifying session, the team can not categorically state Nico Rosberg will not suffer a similar fate in today’s race.

It is understood the team have flown in replacement components for Lewis Hamilton’s power unit overnight. Although not confirmed by the team, once fitted it is possible these components may result in further grid penalties for Lewis. It is unlikely any modifications will be made to Nico’s power unit, as any change would likely lead to grid place penalties.

Following the power unit failure Lewis Hamilton suffered in Shanghai, Mercedes published an overview of the assessment process undertaken by the team to understand the route cause of the issue. This assessment can be found here. Observers have questioned how the team, after a trouble free winter testing in which the team were able to complete 19 race distances on a single power unit can now be facing such reliability issues.

The troubles the team are facing are a testament to a team not resting on their laurels, pushing to extract the maximum performance out of the team and power unit.  Such an approach suggests the team see a true credible threat from Ferrari and Red Bull Racing as the season processes.

Upgrades to the Mercedes power unit applied ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, which used two of the teams performance tokens for the season and included the introduction of a new lubricant from Petronas are not thought to have contributed to the power unit issue. The upgrade has been applied to all Mercedes power units on the grid and has been applied without needing to introduce a second power unit in the season.