Tag Archives: Russian GP

Formula One: Time for Mercedes to go Aggressive?

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The 2017 Russian Grand Prix looks set to be the race in which Scuderia Ferrari cement their status as the dominant force in the World Championship. Having won two of the first three races of the season, the Scuderia’s pace was unquestionable yet many felt AMG Mercedes Petronas still held an ultimate performance advantage.

However with Ferrari having locked out the front row in qualifying for the first time since 2008 at a circuit which Mercedes have dominated in recent years, it is becoming clear that the boys in red have overtaken the silver arrows in terms of out and out pace. Since the introduction of the current power unit regulations, ignoring a few erroneous races, Mercedes have been the dominant force. The team has adopted an approach in which only an inter team battle is considered as a threat. In so doing, in a bid to ensure equality amongst drivers, race strategies have been safe and mirrored on both sides of the garage.

With a genuine threat from Ferrari for the overall  2017 World Constructors Championship clear, has the time come for this to change? At this point in the season Mercedes and Ferrari are the only team capable of challenging for race wins. Red Bull Racing being the next closest team were 1.8 seconds of the pole lap time in Russia. In this situation the challenging team, in this case Mercedes have two choices; acknowledging the lack overall race pace, they could take adopt the same approach as Ferrari in qualifying and the race, with the hope that driver skill or mistakes will elevate performances, or they could switch to an aggressive strategy, splitting their drivers tyres compound section in the hope of interfering with Ferrari.

For Mercedes to maximise an interference strategy the team should have sent either or both Hamilton and Bottas out into Q2 on Super Soft tyre compounds, with Ferrari qualifying on Ultras softs. This move would have safely taken them through the session and allowed them to run much longer in the first stint of today’s race. In electing not to do this Mercedes opportunity to interfere with Ferrari today will be limited to a strong start, or adopting a two stop approach over the expected one stop norm.

Moving forward, in order for Mercedes to challenge for their 4th successive constructors championship they must adapt to the new norm and consider irregular approaches to race strategy. Simple accepting, ‘the second row was a the best we could expect’ is not good enough from a championship winning team.

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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: 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.

 

Formula One: Rexona promote Magnit partnership through Williams in Sochi

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Lead Williams F1 team partner Rexona (Unilever deodorant brand known as Sure in the UK) are promoting an innovative new partnership with Russian retailer Magnit with revised branding on the FW38 for the Russian Grand Prix.

Magnit branding features on the rear wing endplate of both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa’s in tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix.

In addition Rexona are promoting the brands key antiperspirant in Russia – Cobalt on the FW38 SPLEF. In so doing the driver numbering has been moved to the top left section of the rear endplate.

With Bottas and Massa starting 2nd and 4th on the grid respectively (having qualified 3rd and 5th), Magnit and Rexona will be more than satisfied with the exposure.

Valtteri Bottas: I’m very pleased with our qualifying performance; it was the maximum result I think we could have achieved, and my lap in Q3 was very good. It now puts us in a very good position for the race and we need to focus on turning a good qualifying, into a good race performance. This is a track that I really like and normally do well at, and it’s a track that suits our car. The new parts we have introduced are helping us, so the team at the factory and track have done a good job in improving the car. We have some fast cars starting behind us which will make the race difficult, but a podium will be the target.
Felipe Massa: It was a good qualifying for us as starting P2 and P4 is positive. We were a bit lucky with the penalties for Ferrari and Mercedes but I think it was definitely a good session. We just need to concentrate to have a good race tomorrow. Anything is possible and it’s probably the best track for us so far this season, so we’ll try and put everything together in the race.

Formula One: Rio Haryanto “It was an interesting session for us”

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Temperatures tumble for Qualy creating slip-slidey conditions at the Sochi Autodrom

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Pascal  Q1  P20  10 laps  1:39.399

Rio  Q1  P21  10 laps  1:39.463  

Rio Haryanto:

“It was an interesting session for us; it feels like we’ve made a step up and we’re closer to those around us versus previous races. My last lap could have been better. I suffered a bit with traffic and lost about two tenths in the last sector, so it was frustrating not to get a clean lap. As for tomorrow, I can’t wait. The aim is to get a good clean start, especially with such a long run down to the first corner, then get the maximum from the car. Our long runs on Friday looked positive so with good tyre management I’m looking forward to a strong race tomorrow!”

Pascal Wehrlein:

“Qualifying was a bit frustrating today. This morning the track temperature was much hotter and the sun was out, so it was easier to bring the tyres to temperature. This afternoon it was harder to get them into the working window. We were hoping for more to be honest, because in FP3 we looked good. I think the race will be a different story; you can see from today that my lap times have improved so I think after 5 to 10 laps we’ll be okay. In qualifying you only have one or two laps and when you are just sliding; it’s hard. So, I’m focusing on tomorrow and hopeful that we can have a good battle with Sauber and Renault.”

Dave Ryan, Racing Director:

“After final practice this morning it seemed that the hard work last night had paid off for us but we struggled slightly more in qualifying when the cooler ambient temperature made it more difficult to get the tyres into the right operating window. The tyres were improving with every lap so that bodes well for the race tomorrow and hopefully we can enjoy a good battle with the cars around us.”

Formula One: Lewis “I’ve never been superstitious”

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Bittersweet afternoon for the Silver Arrows in Sochi

Lewis Hamilton
It’s obviously not a great feeling to be on the sidelines again – but that’s life. I knew there was a problem and that it was probably the same failure that I had in China pretty much straight away. I went out for a second run in Q2 to get a feeler lap and felt the same power loss as last time. When it happened in Shanghai it was something we hadn’t seen before and now unfortunately it’s happened again, so we need to understand it. I’ve never been superstitious about these things, though, and I never will be. There’s nothing I can do about it, so I’ll move on and look ahead to the race. I don’t know where I’m going to start yet – we’ll wait to see how that unfolds. But I never give up and I’ll give it all I’ve got to recover whatever I can in the race, like always. It’s not an easy track for overtaking. With the levels of tyre degradation and it being so tough to follow here, it’s not going to be easy to make my way forward. But there are long straights and we’ve got good pace, so if I can keep the car in one piece I’ll be fighting for decent points I’m sure.

Nico Rosberg
That was a very strong Qualifying session for me behind the wheel today. I found a great rhythm in Q2, then just turned the front wing down a bit for Q3 and the balance was then absolutely perfect. This is a really rare feeling to have out there in the car, so thank you to the guys for making that happen. I was able to really nail the first lap in Q3 and was quite confident that it was quick enough, so I gave it everything and more on the second lap and had a huge lock up, which is why I abandoned that attempt. I’m happy to have another pole – but tomorrow is a long race and a lot can happen. Even if we are looking strong pace-wise, I can never write off my opponents, that’s for sure. They’ve had some bad luck once again this weekend – Sebastian with his gearbox issue and Lewis with his engine again. But we’ve seen in previous races that they are able recover quickly and get through the field from behind. Let’s see what tomorrow brings…

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
It’s a bittersweet feeling after qualifying today. Nico took a dominant pole position and the car is really quick here. The team at the track has done a great job and the upgrades we brought are working well. But we didn’t get to see the battle we had all hoped for after Lewis suffered a repeat of the failure he experienced in Shanghai. It’s so unfortunate for him after the problems he has already faced this season – and of course we have the concern that the same thing could happen again. But this is also part of motor racing. The Power Unit is a core element of performance and one of our biggest strengths. We are pushing hard to find lap time in every area and it’s inevitable that sometimes you reach limits in that process. Lewis has handled everything so far this year with calm and professionalism. He is resilient and showing a great attitude, even though this is a tough time for him. For tomorrow, it’s clear we are in a strong position in terms of performance. But like the saying goes, to finish first, first you have to finish…

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
A great pole lap for Nico and our congratulations to him on a fantastic performance throughout the weekend so far. Unfortunately, however, our day has been tainted by a failure which deprived Lewis of a shot at pole – and deprived the fans of what would surely have been a thrilling climax to an immensely close battle between our two drivers. We’ve let Lewis down for the second weekend in a row, so our apologies go to him once again. It’s a cruel twist of fate that, out of eight Mercedes-Benz Power Units on the grid, the problem should befall the same driver twice. We’ve been working very hard over the past couple of weeks to understand what happened in China – but unfortunately there is clearly still more work to be done. Our focus for the immediate future, however, is on making sure Lewis’ car is in the best possible condition for tomorrow’s race to give him the best chance of making the kind of strong recovery we’ve seen him pull off so many times in the past.

Formula One: Felio Siby joins Force India

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Sahara Force India have announced a new partnership with  Felio Siby, which sees the luxury brand become the team’s official lifestyle partner. The Felio Siby logo will appear on the VJM09’s nose starting at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

A purveyor of some of the best leathers in the world, manufactured to the highest standards in a time-honoured way, Felio Siby is a reference for customers whose way of life is to find timeless and unique products. This is a vision that has now been extended to watch-making, as the brand embarks on a new venture with the best Swiss watchmakers to redefine the industry.

To celebrate the start of the partnership, Felio Siby will design a special edition Sahara Force India timepiece, due to be launched at next month’s Monaco Grand Prix.

Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director of Sahara Force India: “A luxury watch-maker and a Formula One team are a perfect match: both pursue excellence, have absolute attention to detail and work to produce awe-inspiring machines through the wonder of human ingenuity. We are delighted to welcome Felio Siby to our family and we are looking forward to sharing the successes of a long and fruitful partnership.”

Dominique Siby, CEO of Felio Siby: “Today is a day with great emotional significance for me, being the ten-year anniversary of my father’s passing. Working with a Formula One team was a project we always wanted to do together. I dreamed of being part of this sport since I was a child, watching the timeless battles between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. I am glad and thankful to be a partner of Sahara Force India: the team is the perfect match for Felio Siby and I can’t wait to show the world the unique watches we will be making for them.”

Formula One: Rosberg SMASHES Sochi lap record

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Nico Rosberg has set the fastest lap ever of Sochi to claim pole on the P Zero Red supersoft, comprehensively beating the previous record of 1m37.113s set in qualifying last year.

Rosberg’s Pole time of 1m35.417 eclipsed the previous lap record, also set on P Zero Red supersoft tyres, by almost 2 seconds.

With every driver using the supersoft in Q2 as well, this is the tyre that the top 10 on the grid will start on tomorrow. As conditions were cool in Russia today, drivers had to concentrate carefully on warming up the tyres. Similar conditions are expected for tomorrow’s race as well.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Russia is by no means a typical track as it features low grip that keeps wear and degradation at very low levels and also enables long stints. For this reason we saw drivers complete multi-lap runs during qualifying, with consistent performance from the tyres. We expect a one-stop strategy to be the preferred choice for most contenders tomorrow, and it’s unlikely that the medium tyre will be used.”

Pirelli Race strategy predictions: A one-stopper should be the favoured tactic on the smooth asphalt of Russia for the 53-lap race. Starting on soft or supersoft makes little difference to the overall race time. Starting on supersoft, the fastest way is to change to soft on lap 18. Starting on soft, it’s best to change to supersoft on lap 35. Some teams may gamble on a two-stopper, which is theoretically the fastest way to do the race but risks traffic. In which case: start on supersoft, change to soft on lap 12, then soft again on lap 32.

Formula One: Red Bull Racing partner with Bristol for the Russian Grand Prix

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Red Bull Racing have announced a one race partnership with convenience chain store Bristol for the Russian Grand Prix.
As such, Russia’s most successful Formula One driver, Daniil Kvyat, and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo will wear Bristol’s logo on their race suits and the chain’s branding will also feature on the nose cone of the RB12. Such branding prominence will maximise the brands exposure over it’s home race.
One of Russia’s fastest growing neighbourhood store chains, Bristol was founded in the city of Nizhniy Novgorod in 2012. As of March 2016, the firm operates over 200 stores across the country, employing over 11,000 people.