Citroën cars continued to set the pace at Marrakech’s street circuit.
After Yvan Muller topped yesterday’s testing and Sébastien Loeb this morning’s practice one, it looked it was Jose María López’s turn to be fastest in the second practice. Midway through the session, the Argentine missed the braking point at T10, however he was able to avoid contact with the wall and in the following lap clocked a provisional fastest lap of 1:43.500. But Muller came back. After spoiling a first try due to cutting a chicane, the reigning champion was eventually able to oust López from the top, stopping the clock at 1:43.437. Loeb was classified third with a best lap of 1:44.572. A trio of Chevrolet cars ranked behind the Citroën trio: Tom Chilton (1:44.975) in fourth, Dušan Borković (1:45.264) in fifth and Hugo Valente (1:45.528) in sixth. They were followed by Rob Huff’s LADA (1:45.695) and Mehdi Bennani’s Honda (1:46.154). Franz Engstler continued to reign in the TC2T class ahead of Petr Fulín. The session was red-flagged once after eight minutes because of an incident between Gabriele Tarquini and Gianni Morbidelli at T5. Tarquini’s Honda was trying to rejoin after missing the braking point and it was t-boned by Morbidelli’s Chevrolet. Both Italian drivers were sidelined for the rest of the time. Once again James Thompson was forced to skip most of the session due to a technical issue, while Tom Coronel was only able to join in the final minutes after the ROAL Motorsport crew finished repairs following his crash in the first practice.
Following intense preparations during the collective test in February, the Formula Renault 3.5 Series will get underway at Monza on 11-13 April. On the fastest circuit on the calendar, who will be the first drivers to win in the 10th season of the headliner category of the World Series by Renault?
After the tests at Motorland Aragón and Jerez, the teams and drivers of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series are now ready to begin the 2014 season, which looks to be one of the most competitive ever. Organized outside the World Series by Renault, which begins at Motorland Aragón on 26 and 27 April, this first confrontation on the Autodromo di Monza should live up to all its promise, especially as cars badged Renault Sport Technologies always put on a great show.
With a minimum of six race winners per year since the creation of the championship in 2005, each season has been extremely competitive. The winter tests confirmed the trend with five different drivers setting best time during the six days of testing.
Among the favourites are the Fortec Motorsports drivers. Second in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 last year, Oliver Rowland is the only competitor to have dominated two days of testing. However, the Englishman will have to keep on team-mate Sergey Sirotkin. The Sauber F1 Team reserve driver was often at the sharp end of the testing time sheets.
They will have to contend with members of the Red Bull Junior Team. After contesting the second half of the 2013 season, Carlos Sainz inherits Kevin Magnussen’s seat at DAMS and hopes for the same destiny. Winner of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Pierre Gasly (Arden Motorsport) is making the most of the scholarship awarded to the champion to move on to the next level. The Frenchman will try to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors Robin Frijns and Stoffel Vandoorne, who both battled for the title in their first year in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
Among the outsiders, Pietro Fantin (International Draco Racing) was consistently quick during winter testing, as was Jazeman Jaafar (ISR). The only driver in the field to have already triumphed in the category, Marco Sørensen (Tech 1 Racing) can’t be over-looked.
Right off the rear wheels of Kevin Magnussen at the end of the 2013 season, Will Stevens (Strakka Racing) will give all he has to solidify the confidence that has been placed in him. His team-mate Matias Laine will have the same objectives. Norman Nato (DAMS), William Buller (Arden Motorsport), Marlon Stöckinger (Lotus), Zoël Amberg (AVF) and Nikolay Martsenko (Comtec Racing) all want to move up the hierarchy this year.
Among the newcomers, pundits will keep an eye on the progress of Luca Ghiotto (International Draco Racing), winner of the Formula Renault 2.0 Pau Trophy last year. Matthieu Vaxivière (Lotus), Roman Mavlanov (Zeta Corse) and Meindert van Buuren (Pons Racing) are the other candidates for rookie of the year honours, as well as Beitske Visser (AVF). The native of Holland is the first woman to take on the challenge of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series since Pippa Mann in 2008.
The two Formula Renault 3.5 Series races will be aired live on Eurosport International and Eurosport 2 France.
“To come to Monza for the start of the season is always a pleasure’’, details Renault Sport Technologies Competition Director, Arnaud Boulanger. “The ‘Temple of speed”, is a true challenge that all the competitors await. The last few times we were here it was spectacular on the track and very advanced in terms of the set-ups. The little downforce and the use of the DRS highlight the skills of the talented drivers. It was not by accident that last year Kevin Magnussen, Stoffel Vandoorne and Antonio Felix da Costa raced for the win before battling for the title.’’
The Driver’s Eye Marco Sørensen (Tech 1 Racing): “I am really looking forward to Monza. The history and atmosphere there is just amazing and it makes you proud to think about all the famous drivers that have been driving on it. The Parabolica is properly what I like most. It is so important to have a good exit speed out of that corner, and for to do that you need to have a very stable car. You need to be very careful when you are driving in the rain at Monza. The track doesn’t leave you any space for mistakes, and the visibility is always very bad. The water keeps hanging between the trees, so you always need full concentration.’’
Status GP driver quickest in morning pre-season test session
Nick Yelloly (Status Grand Prix) recorded the best time of the day with a 1:31.350 set in the morning session whilst Emil Bernstorff (Carlin) was top in the afternoon session.
The second official pre-season test was held at the Circuito de Jerez, Spain. This test marked the first appearance of Hilmer Motorsport, newcomers to the Series. There were also two new faces to the test: Christopher Hoher (Austrian) testing for Jenzer Motorsport and Denis Nagulin (Russia) testing for Trident.
Day one of testing opened under blue skies with very blustery conditions. The Status GP drivers of Yelloly and Richie Stanaway were first onto the circuit with the Brit holding the P1 slot early on. Alex Fontana (ART Grand Prix) and Carlin’s Alex Lynn soon jumped to the top of the timesheet until Yelloly split the pair. Koiranen GP’s Santiago Urrutia went quickest at the midway point by almost half a second before Lynn took control, improving on the Uruguayan’s best effort by over three tenths.
There was a short stoppage covered by a red flag when Hoher spun. Once the action resumed, Yelloly was back on it and clocked the fastest time of the session to end the morning P1. Lynn, Urrutia, Dino Zamparelli, Marvin Kirchhofer, Stanaway, Fontana, Jann Mardenborough, Pal Varhaug and Patrick Kujala completed the top ten.
Following the two hour break, the afternoon session commenced with many drivers practising race starts whilst some teams opted for race runs. Urrutia again led the way for the beginning of the session before Kirchhofer moved to the top of the standings. A second red flag occured when Hilmer Motorsport’s Nelson Mason stopped on track.
With a flurry of activity as almost all drivers headed onto the circuit for the final thirty-five minues, Koiranen GP’s Jimmy Eriksson flew to P1 with Fontana and Adderly Fong hot in pursuit. Bernstorff then became the pace setter, with five minutes remaining the session was red flagged after Kujala stopped on track.
The session did not resume, therefore at the close of play, Bernstorff headed the timings in front of Fontana, Eriksson, Zamparelli, Pal Varhaug, Kirchhofer, Yelloly, Robert Visoiu, Mardenborough and Fong.
The schedule for Day 2 of the test sees the test commence at 09.00 – 12.00 with a one hour break. The afternoon session will begin at 13.00 and end at 16.00.
MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS concluded the first in-season test of 2014 at the Bahrain International Circuit today, with Lewis Hamilton taking the wheel of the F1 W05 for the second of two days’ running in Sakhir this week. Lewis’ best time of 1:34.136 from 120 laps put him first on the time sheets.
- Today’s programme focused on tyres, with the team conducting a range of tests on behalf of Pirelli in line with the 2014 Formula One Sporting Regulations - A successful session saw the team complete the requested tyre evaluation programme - Lewis emerged for his first run at 09:00 local time, completing 50 laps in the morning - A further 70 laps followed in the afternoon, running right up to the chequered flag at 17:30 - Mercedes-Benz Power Units today completed a total of 1,472 km between all teams
The team now returns to Brackley and Brixworth to prepare for the Chinese Grand Prix next weekend.
Lewis Hamilton It’s been a long day, running lap after lap to analyse the tyres but driving a Formula One car is never boring. Of course, the nature of a tyre test means we haven’t learnt anything in particular in terms of improving the car but it’s useful for Pirelli and therefore useful to us in the long term. They just gave me different sets and I told them how each felt. The plan was just to get in as many laps as we could. The times mean nothing as everyone had their own programmes to run. It’s been a fantastic few weeks for the team but also a long stint away, so I’m sure everyone is looking forward to heading back home for a well-deserved rest. Of course, it’s a short turnaround before China so I’ll be in the factory to work on ways we can improve.
Serrallés sets first fastest test time for newcomer team West-Tec F3
In bright sunshine, the young drivers of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship completed their third official pre-season test day at the Red Bull Ring in Austria today. Félix Serrallés (Team West-Tec F3, 1:25.244 minutes) from Puerto Rico ended up as fastest driver of the day at the 4.326 kilometres long track and ensured that the newcomer team topped the time sheets already after only its second official outing. Italian Antonio Giovinazzi (Jogonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:25.328 minutes) was classified second, followed by compatriot Riccardo Agostini (Eurointernational, 1:25.617 minutes) and Swede Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, 1:25.657 minutes).
Contrarily to all the forecasts, the sun shone brightly all day long over the Formula 1 circuit in Styria. At the end of the day, Félix Serrallés emerged as the fastest driver and was very happy with the performance of his new team West-Tec F3: “This fastest time is very nice, of course, and even more so considering that we only had our car ready last week.”
Third-placed Riccardo Agostini was equally happy. With his time, he was the fastest rookie in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship; only Formula 3 stalwarts Serrallés and Giovinazzi were even faster at the Red Bull Ring. “After last week’s two days of testing at Hungaroring, we have made good progress and I am starting to feel well prepared for the season opener at Silverstone. I am also happy that I am now able to race in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship after having tested only one day last season.” Agostini is also positive about the paddle-shift system, new for this season, with which drivers select gears by means of shift paddles behind the steering wheel: “It makes driving easier and safer, because we no longer need to take our hands off the steering wheel to shift gears.”
Fifth-placed Edward Jones (Carlin, 1:25.794 minutes) ended up as the second-fastest rookie in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship on Tuesday. “I have learned from my experience after the two days of testing in Budapest and I have adapted my driving style to suit the car even better. Today, I was fast both in the morning and in the afternoon, which is very important. After all, I believe that consistency is the key to a successful season.” Jones was pleased with the paddle-shift system, too: “These technologies from Formula 1 are arriving in junior single seater series, which in turn is bringing them closer to the pinnacle. According to me, that is very important.”
Jones was followed by Canadian Nicholas Latifi (Prema Powerteam, 1:25.847 minutes), rookie drivers Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam, 1:25.851 minutes) and Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1:25.863 minutes) and Jordan King (Carlin, 1:25.956 minutes), plus novice Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam, 1:25.974 minutes).
Lewis Hamilton. The Racing Knight of Arabian night.
In one of the greatest grand prix finishes in recent memory, Lewis Hamilton held-off Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg to win the Bahrain Grand Prix under bright lights in the Arabian night.
The wind and win were blowing in the way of Mercedes team from practice to qualifying, where Rosberg surprised Hamilton by grabbing pole position. Hamilton took the lead on the opening lap going into turn one.
The 2008 World Champion was challenged hard by his teammate. Hamilton had established a lead of over eight seconds over Rosberg before their final pit stop and looked set for his second win of the season. Then Esteban Gutierrez was Pastorized, the Mexican’s Sauber was flipped by the Lotus of the Venezuelan driver who was coming out of the pits. Gutierrez got out of the car on his own and was unhurt. Maldonado was given a 10-second stop and go penalty.
The final sprint was going to be exciting as pole sitter Roberg had softer tires than Hamilton. Their boss Paddy Lowe got on the team radio and requested his drivers to bring both cars home.
The remaining laps and the dicing between the two drivers will long be remembered in F1 folklore, much like Nürburgring ’57, Dijon ’79 and Donington ’93. Racing was intense but fair.
Rosberg admitted he was ‘very disappointed, despite being faster and not winning.’
The Mercedes package is much like the Red Bull package last year. Hamilton and Rosberg were teammates in their karting days, and their rivalry promises a great 2014 season.
Sooner or later the competition will catch up, especially when Adrian Newey and Sebastian Vettel get their mojo moving at top speed. The four time world champion must be thinking, probably for the first time in his F1 career, about competition from within his own camp. Aussie mate, Daniel Ricciardo, has been very impressive and earned his first F1 points in Bahrain with his fourth place.
Sergio Perez was third in his third race for Force India. This is the first podium finish for the team since Giancarlo Fisichella’s second place finish from pole at Spa in 2009.
Nico Hülkenberg put in his usual good performance and was fifth, ahead of his compatriot Vettel.
The Martini men, Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, were seventh and eighth respectively for the much improved Williams team, now powered by Mercedes-Benz.
Ferrari, with Luca di Montezemolo in attendance,could only manage the last two point paying places. Fernando Alonso finished ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, the last man to win the world championship for Maranello in 2007.
Rosberg, winner of season opener in Australia, still leads the championship with 61 points. Second successive win for Hamilton puts him only 11 points behind. Hülkenberg is third with 28 points, two ahead of fourth place Alonso. Button completes the top five on 23 points.
The 2014 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix was 900th F1 race and saw the 250th start for Jenson Button and 150th for Toro Rosso. Victory at the Sakhir circuit was the 24th for Hamilton, same as the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio.
Round four is on April 20, the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai.