FORMULA 1

HAMILTON ON POLE WHILST VETTLE DENIES ROSBERG FRONT ROW START

Lewis Hamilton won pole position for Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix with a blistering lap in the wet after Q3 had been delayed by the weather.

It was Hamilton’s 40th pole and his third on this track after he was almost knocked out in Q2. He said: “I think the first lap was good, it’s always difficult in conditions like that and not one of us have driven in the wet this weekend.”

The Mercedes’ of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were split by the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel in a replica of last year, though then Vettel was a Red Bull driver; this year’s Red Bulls will start fourth and fifth.

At one point in Q3 Rosberg appeared to slow and impede Hamilton just as the British driver had posted the quickest first sector time. Hamilton, though, gained a small measure of revenge by passing Rosberg and then slowing himself, suggesting there are still mind games going on between the duo. At one point Rosberg asked his Mercedes team to tell him the lines Hamilton was driving. But they replied: “We can’t tell you that.”

As qualifying started the high temperatures started to plummet, the clouds gathered and the thunder and lightning arrived. By the time Q2 started the priority was to bank a lap time before the rain arrived – and when it rains here it really means business.

When the heavens did open and the session was aborted it was particularly bad news for Kimi Raikkonen. He had been held up by Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber and was in 11th place when the driving came to a halt, putting him out of Q3. He said: “We got it wrong. We should have been out earlier but that is how it is. The lap time is there or thereabouts so we expected to be strong in qualifying. We finally find some speed and this happens, that’s part of the game but it is disappointing.”

There was also a close call for Hamilton, who was in eighth place. And he was annoyed by it. “You got us out too far behind everyone,” he told his team.

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Fernando Alonso finished last of the 18 cars that ran in Q1, when he was out-qualified, in the final seconds, by his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button. Alonso said: “We know we are struggling with the pace but we are much closer now and I don’t think I will be [giving interviews] after Q1 for long.”

Beating Alonso was at least some consolation for Button on another difficult day for the Woking team. He said: “It is a lot closer than in Australia and I think our race pace is better than our qualifying pace. We should be happy with the step taken, but there is still a long way to go.”

But it was even worse for Manor, for whom Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi did not even get onto the track. Stevens’ car was still in pieces a short time before the start of qualifying. He said: “It’s been a tough day. Not getting out in qualifying was disappointing. There was a fuel issue. We will have to see if we can get sorted overnight.” The other driver to miss out was Felipe Nasr in his Sauber.

The Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat line up fourth and fifth on the grid, with 17-year-old Max Verstappen sixth for Toro Rosso. The Dutch youngster becomes the first teenager in 54 years to start in the top six.

The eye-catching performance in the first session was that of Carlos Sainz, who was fourth. But the eye-catcher of the afternoon was once again Lewis Hamilton.

Final Positions after Qualifying
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1min 49.834sec, 2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:49.908, 3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:50.299, 4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:51.541, 5 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:51.951, 6 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:51.981, 7 Felipe Massa Williams 1:52.473, 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 Team 1:52.981, 9 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:53.179, 10 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1:53.261, 11 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:42.173, 12 Pastor Maldonado Lotus F1 Team 1:42.198, 13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:43.023, 14 Sergio Pérez Force India 1:43.469, 15 Carlos Sainz Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:43.701, 16 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1:41.308, 17 Jenson Button McLaren 1:41.636, 18 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:41.746, 19 Roberto Merhi Manor Marussia F1 1:46.677, 20 Will Stevens Manor Marussia F1 No Time

F1Weekly podcast #674

Nasir tries to convince Clark the Australian Grand Prix was an exciting race to behold! We have a special report from long time listener and F1W forum member Jason Bentley and I also want to share some news from the BTCC testing at Donington Park…

Team BMR sets the pace in Season Launch test at Donington Park

Two-time Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion Jason Plato laid down the gauntlet to his rivals today (24 March) at the Season Launch official test at Donington Park. The seasoned campaigner set the fastest time during the afternoon running – a 1:10.249s – just pipping his new Team BMR stable-mate and reigning BTCC champion Colin Turkington by 0.006s.

In identical VW CC machinery, the pair look set to lock horns throughout what will undoubtedly be another thrilling campaign, and with times already so close at the top there are sure to be fireworks when racing commences at Brands Hatch in Kent on 4/5 April.

With the top two from last year’s championship setting the pace, it was a very impressive showing from the two Mercedes A-Class machines of Aiden Moffat and Adam Morgan that saw them placed third and fourth in the time sheets for Laser Tools Racing and WIX Racing respectively. Morgan secured his first ever BTCC win at the Brands Hatch finale last October, and as Moffat makes the switch to a new car it looks like an exciting season in prospect for the ambitious young duo.

A team pairing took up station in fifth and sixth, as Triple Eight Racing drivers Jack Goff and Andrew Jordan put in a formidable tally of laps around the Donington Park National Circuit. Indeed the only driver to complete more circulations than Goff was Team BMR owner Warren Scott, who managed to post the eighth fastest time having lapped the 1.98-mile track an impressive 68 times.

Hunter Abbott was seventh fastest in his Exocet AlcoSense Audi A4,  with the returning Honda Civic of Martin Depper in ninth. Sam Tordoff secured top BMW honours in his first timed session for the newly-announced Team JCT600 with GardX squad in tenth, just ahead of Dave Newsham who has switched to a Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet for this year.

Honda Yuasa Racing unveiled the stunning new Civic Type R this morning in front of a huge media gathering, and the car will surely grab headlines as the it hits the track in earnest even before the production car hits the showroom floor. Matt Neal piloted the #25 car to the 12th fastest time.

Attentions now turn to Brands Hatch for the first three BTCC battles of 2015.

Jason Plato said: “We had an issue which cost us about an hour today which is a little frustrating as we had a plan of things we’re trying to get though and it’s left us with a couple of questions on the set-up that aren’t 100 per cent answered. It was a good day though – the guys have had a tough six weeks and I think now it’s time to down tools, get everything ready and checked for Brands Hatch and make sure we don’t have any reliability issues. We’ll be on the pace at Brands – if we’re not quickest we’ll be there or thereabouts and I think we can win races.”

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FORMULA 1

WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX RACE PREVIEW

Kuala Lumpur’s Sepang International Circuit was first in the spate of modern tracks in emerging markets for Formula One. The likes of Bahrain, China, Singapore, South Korea and India would later follow, but Hermann Tilke’s first foray into Asia set a new standard and lay pressure to modernise on the historic European circuits. One feature the more traditional venues could not apply is the tropical Malaysian climate, which has unleashed spectacular downpours on Formula One sessions over the last 15 years. Williams’ only victory at Sepang came in 2002 with Ralf Schumacher leading home teammate Juan Pablo Montoya in a 1-2.
Rob Smedley
We are heading to Malaysia after a good start to the season, very much in a position to be finishing with both cars scoring good points. We have been working hard on all areas of performance and to close up any margins we had in Australia. Sepang is one of the first of the Herman Tilke circuits and the drivers like it as it includes fast corners and overtaking opportunities. The ambient conditions always play quite a big part in the weekend and the drivers have to be ready for those challenges. The circuit itself starts off with quite a lot of front graining and finishes being rear limited during the race. As it is a purpose built circuit we should be able to see more of the strengths of the FW37 and it should suit us a bit better.
Felipe Massa
Malaysia is always very hot and very humid, so very difficult physically for the drivers. The car also has its challenges as the temperature plays its part, so our cooling is very important. The rain is an issue as it always rains at the time of day when the race is, but we will be prepared for it. I have trained very hard in the heat just for this race and cardio has been important.
Valtteri Bottas
As always, Malaysia is a very hot and humid race, and although these aren’t the ideal conditions for the car we have had some exciting races in Sepang over the years. There is also always a risk of rain which we have to be aware of, but it brings some more spice in the suspense. After Melbourne I have stayed in Asia to acclimatise to the hot conditions and adjust to the right time zone. I trained a lot over the winter to prepare for these physically difficult conditions. After such a frustrating Sunday in Australia, I have taken the necessary measures to make sure I arrive in Malaysia fit to race and ready to bring the results home.

FORMULA 1

2015 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix Preview …Sahara Force India gets ready for this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.

Vijay’s Vision
Vijay Mallya reflects on Melbourne and looks ahead to this weekend’s race in Malaysia.
“Starting our season in Melbourne with both cars in the points was the ideal way to open our 2015 account. Those seven points were an important reward for all the hard work of everyone in the team over the winter and give us something to build upon as we head for Malaysia.
“Despite scoring well in Melbourne, we know the VJM08 is only just beginning its development journey and that we need to add performance if we want to finish consistently in the points. There will be some small tweaks this weekend before bigger steps can be made during the European season.
“Malaysia is an interesting track for us. We had a good race there last year with Nico and it’s a track that generates good racing. The hot weather usually plays to our strengths and the risk of rain can add another dimension to the strategy. Hopefully we can capitalise on these elements to be competitive and come away with another strong result.”
Nico on Malaysia
Nico Hulkenberg gets ready for racing in the heat of Malaysia.
Nico: “I am really looking forward to getting back to action in Sepang after a fairly positive start of the season. We knew the VJM08’s reliability was one of our strong points and we were able to play that card well. We didn’t make any mistakes and we had a good strategy, and that helped us capitalise on a day when others ran into trouble. We need to keep our feet on the ground, however, because we know the circumstances in which we got this result and we know the next races will be tough.
“The track in Sepang is quite challenging and is very different compared to Melbourne. The various sectors have unique characteristics: there is a nice variation of high and low-speed corners and two very long straights. You need to balance your setup between top speed and downforce to make the most of your car in each of them. The high temperatures and humidity add to the challenges of this track, and you always have a threat of rain, especially at the start of the race.
“I have spent the week after Melbourne in Indonesia, having a bit of a holiday, but also training and getting used to the climate. It’s always better to stay on the local time zone and I’m feeling in good shape for this weekend.”
Sergio on Malaysia
Sergio Perez looks forward to round two of the season in Sepang.
Sergio: “Malaysia is a very special place for me. It is where I got my first podium in Formula One, in one of the best races of my career in 2012, so I will always have happy memories about this circuit. The track is really interesting and the three sectors each have their own character. The track is physical but it has some very technical parts as well. You also have some very long straights at the end of the lap that offer a lot of opportunities for overtaking.
“The weather always makes it interesting. When you are racing in Sepang it is something that is always in the back of your mind, because you know a sudden rainstorm can throw up some unexpected strategies and opportunities you can exploit. The heat and the humidity are a big challenge, but as a driver you are prepared for this. You work really hard during the pre-season and every day with your trainer to be at your best in these circumstances, so I know I am ready.
“I am looking forward to going racing again after our first run in Melbourne. We are still learning a lot about the full potential of the VJM08 and every time we hit the track we are going to find some improvements. We are aware of the work needed to make our car more competitive, but we also know it is going to take time. The car feels really promising but it needs development and I look forward to getting some upgrades soon.
“Malaysia is a very beautiful country, but I can’t say I have any favourite spots. You don’t get to see much of a place when you arrive for a race weekend, but sometimes you manage to squeeze in some nice experiences. I heard Kuala Lumpur has a lot of great dining opportunities so I hope to be able to try a few – I really like Asian food!”

12 HOURS OF SEBRING

REPEAT WINNERS TOP THE PODIUM

While the first full day of Spring 2015 was notable in the Northern Hemisphere for a solar eclipse and a supermoon, it was a day for the motorsports record books with the running of the 63rd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. As temperatures at Sebring International Raceway soared into the high 80s, a field of 46 entries took the green flag that set into motion the 12-hour endurance test on this notoriously rough track.

Temperatures on the track reached a high of 120 degrees as the clock approached 1500 EDT, which translated into faster lap times as the rubber deposits on the track allowed for better grip. Almost eight hours into the timed test, the heat of the day eased with the setting of the sun while giving drivers the additional challenge of keeping their cars on the pavement of the unlit course

With Portugal’s Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi of Brazil and Sebastien Bourdais of France sharing the driving duties, the #5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP successfully repeated as overall and class (Prototype) winner.  In addition, the win also broke a 50-year drought – marking the first time since 1965 that a Chevrolet-powered car won the 12-hour race.

“It all starts back at the shop and not at the track on Friday morning,” said Fittipaldi after the awards presentation. “A lot of people think we arrive on Friday and practice, and then we qualify and then we race and that’s it, but that is not it, it begins at the shop.  When we tested at Daytona we were well off the pace.  We brought the car back to the shop and analyzed everything we did and when we returned to Daytona for the race we did quite well and finished in second place.  Like Joao mentioned, for us to finish every single lap that has thus far been run in this series is quite remarkable, 10,415 miles and still counting. Hats off to Action Express Racing and Chevrolet and all the guys in the shop who put such a strong and competitive car together.”

In two classes, the winners of the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona picked up their second endurance race win of the year:  the #52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09, driven by Americans Mike Guasch and Andrew Palmer and British driver Tom Kimber-Smith, won the PC class; and the #3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R, driven by Denmark’s Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia of Spain, and American driver Ryan Briscoe, won the GTLM class.

In the GT Daytona class the #23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America, driven by American Ian James, Mario Farnbacher of Germany and Alex Riberas of Spain, took the win

GP3

Goschung sets the pace on day two in Estoril

Jenzer Motorsport’s Ralph Boschung quickest in Portugal
Swiss rookie Ralph Boschung topped the timesheet on the second and final day of pre-season testing at Estoril. The Jenzer Motorsport driver posted a best laptime of 1: 27.789 in the morning session. Carlin’s Mitchell Gilbert was quickest in the afternoon.
Dry but breezy conditions greeted the GP3 paddock for the final day of testing in Portugal. ART Grand Prix’s Alfonso Celis Jr set the early pace before Gilbert claimed P1. It was a busy start to the morning test with the drivers making the most of the good weather.
Birthday boy Marvin Kirchhöfer (ART Grand Prix) was first to lap in the 1m27’s with a 1:27.969 and he sat pretty at the top of the timesheet until Boschung pipped the German by a tenth. Arden Motorsport’s Emil Bernstorff and Koiranen GP’s Jimmy Eriksson were third and fourth as the session approached the final hour. There was a short stoppage when Kevin Ceccon’s Arden Motorsport car stopped at turn one.
However, nobody was able to improve on Boschung’s best efforts and at the chequered flag the Jenzer Motorsport driver held on ahead of Kirchhöfer, Bernstorff, Eriksson, Antonio Fuoco, Gilbert, Luca Ghiotto, Jann Mardenborough, Esteban Ocon and Sandy Stuvik.
As the temperature increased and the sun shone down, the afternoon session commenced with the Carlin trio of Gilbert, Mardenborough and Fuoco leading the way, until Koiranen GP’s Matthew Parry rose to P3. Alex Fontana (Status Grand Prix) shot to second quickest at the midway point, six tenths off Gilbert’s best.
In the latter stages Ghiotto jumped up the order to P2 ahead of Ceccon, two tenths adrift of the Australian. Matheo Tuscher, Pal Varhaug and Boschung made their way into the top five in the final ten minutes with Ghiotto holding P3.  Try as they may but the pack was unable to deny Gilbert of top spot in the afternoon session. Behind Gilbert at the chequered flag were Tuscher, Bernstorff, Ghiotto, Varhaug, Boschung, Ceccon, Fontana, Artur Janosz and Mardenborough.
The second pre-season test will run in Valencia, Spain on 09-10 April.
Estoril: Day 2
Morning Results
Driver
Team
Laptime
Laps
1.
Ralph Boschung
Jenzer Motorsport
1:27.789
36
2.
Marvin Kirchhöfer
ART Grand Prix
1:27.967
36
3.
Emil Bernstorff
Arden International
1:28.049
39
4.
Jimmy Eriksson
Koiranen GP
1:28.050
25
5.
Antonio Fuoco
Carlin
1:28.268
36
6.
Mitchell Gilbert
Carlin
1:28.312
35
7.
Luca Ghiotto
Trident
1:28.366
38
8.
Jann Mardenborough
Carlin
1:28.520
37
9.
Esteban Ocon
ART Grand Prix
1:28.546
33
10.
Sandy Stuvik
Status Grand Prix
1:28.594
37
11.
Matheo Tuscher
Jenzer Motorsport
1:28.601
39
12.
Alex Palou
Campos Racing
1:28.749
37
13.
Matthew Parry
Koiranen GP
1:28.772
33
14.
Pal Varhaug
Jenzer Motorsport
1:28.848
30
15.
Seb Morris
Status Grand Prix
1:28.941
31
16.
Alex Fontana
Status Grand Prix
1:29.015
19
17.
Alfonso Celis. Jr
ART Grand Prix
1:29.031
35
18.
Adderly Fong
Koiranen GP
1:29.052
33
19.
Oscar Tunjo
Trident
1:29.091
29
20.
Kevin Ceccon
Arden International
1:29.239
34
21.
Artur Janosz
Trident
1:29.866
29
22.
Aleksander Bosak
Arden International
1:29.932
24
23
Zaid Ashkanani
Campos Racing
1:30.846
27

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