F1’s midfield in 2013: a story of struggles and triumphs

Heading into F1’s midseason break it seemed an appropriate time to take a look at some of the struggles and triumphs of the sports midfield teams. They have smaller budgets and are most dependent on upgrades to keep their season going. For the teams in this category it isn’t always plain sailing – there are so many factors to contend with from the car and drivers to luck and results. Some of the teams are former front runners whilst others are teams on their way to the top but one thing is for sure life is not easy in the midfield.

In 2013 Sauber finished as F1s leading midfield team with 126 points. The team took podiums in Malaysia, Canada, and Italy with Sergio Perez and one in Japan with Kamui Kobayashi. Yet they started the season with neither of these drivers. Replacing them were Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez. Having seen the performance of last years car they may have been expecting more but a risky car design did not yield benefits. From 11 races they have scored seven points all of which came from Hulkenberg.

The highlight of the season would have to be Hulkenberg’s four points in Malaysia in what has proved to be a less than impressive car. They may be scoring some points but Sauber was a team in financial difficulty.IMG_2809 There were reports of Hulkenberg not being paid and suggestions the team would not last the season. Last month they signed a major cash deal with a trio of Russian companies. Whilst the announcement at least brought some stability to the team it is now thought Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin will make his debut for the team in 2014. He would be aged just 18 and is yet to get a super licence. The team’s chances of seeing a further improvement in the second half of the season look quite unlikely and both drivers will be wondering who will be replaced by Sirotkin.

Force India have had a mixed season. Leading the midfield teams they have been able to challenge McLaren for fifth in the constructors. Their two drivers also sit in tenth and 11th in the drivers championship. Whilst last season the team was hit by financial issue rumours this year the team has been out of luck on numerous occasions. IMG_3036Adrian Sutil returned to drive alongside former teammate Paul di Resta and the season started where Force India had left off in 2012 with Sutil leading a number of laps at the Australian Grand Prix – this was the second race in a row a driver from the team had done so. Both Sutil and Di Resta finished in the points with seventh and eighth place. Yet bad luck was to strike the team in Malaysia where they had a double retirement.

Highlights for the team have seen Di Resta take a strong fourth place in Bahrain and Sutil a strong fifth in Monaco. Whilst races have been good for the team qualifying has often not gone to plan. Di Resta had failed to make the top ten seven times and has not made Q2 on three occasions. Whilst luck has played a big part the team has also been hurt by the change in tyre structure after the blowouts in Britain. They may lead McLaren in the constructors championship for now but it is only by two points. If they want to have any chance of beating McLaren they will need to be back on the pace in Spa.

IMG_3550Much of Toro Rosso’s season has been overshadowed by the talk over the second Red Bull seat. Both of Toro Rosso’s drivers were thought to be in contention but it is now expected to be a battle between Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen (and Alonso depending on what rumours you read). Yet Ricciardo is being beaten by teammate Jean-Eric Vergne in the standings.

So why is the Australian getting the nod over his teammate? Ricciardo has excelled in qualifying getting into the top ten four times yet Vergne has made the top ten on one occasion.In the races Vergne has found himself having to retire on four occasions yet has beaten Ricciardo to the flag five times and holds Toro Rosso’s best finish of sixth place at the Canadian Grand Prix. If only the team could mix Ricciardo’s qualifying and Vergne’s race performance then they may have a few more points. At the last race before the summer break they failed to score any points but will be hopeful of a resurgence in Spa.

IMG_3024Williams went into the summer break ending a points drought of 11 races. They had not scored a single point since the US Grand Prix back in 2012. Pastor Maldonado scored the treasured point after finishing tenth place. He was undoubtedly helped by a few late retirements and penalties for other drivers. However Williams will savour the point. For a team who had showed so much promise after the Venezulen’s win in Spain last year 2013 will be a season to forget. They have finished 11th three times so had been close to a points finish on a few occasions.

Whilst Maldonado’s point is clearly one of the teams triumphs Valtteri Bottas’ third place on the grid for the Canadian Grand Prix may just pip it. The Finn had been touted as the next big thing but hasn’t been given a car to really show his potential. Canada may not have finished as he expected but it shouldn’t be to long before Bottas scores his first points in F1. Maldonado expects Williams to move forward after the performance in Hungary but whether this is possible is unknown.

As the season has gone on the midfield has got closer and closer. The changes made to the tyres after Britain have helped and hindered a number of teams and this is seen most in the midfield. There is still time for plenty of shuffling among the teams aiming for sixth in the constructors. How much progress each team will make in the second half of the season will be an interesting battle to watch.

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Team-by-team look at the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton took a emphatic win – his first for Mercedes – as he held off both Raikkonen and Vettel. Impressive strategy helped him to the win whilst Grosjean’s hopes of converting his qualifying into a win for Lotus ended in multiple stewards inquiries. There were plenty of stories up and down the field as Ferrari struggled to keep up with their Red Bull rivals as Williams took their first point since the US Grand Prix in 2012.

Mercedes
IMG_2955Lewis Hamilton took his first ever win for Mercedes at the Hungarian Grand Prix. He kept his cool alongside a clever strategy to convert the pole into a win. Hamilton kept hold of first position as the lights went out with all the drama happening behind him. Sebastian Vettel initially closed on Hamilton but the Mercedes was not struggling with high tyre degradation. Hamilton was the first of the front runners to pit coming out behind Jenson Button. He quickly regained second but Vettel was caught behind and Hamilton extended his gap to the championship leader. As the race went on it was clear Mercedes had a real chance of the win and Hamilton did not disappoint. The long wait for his first Mercedes win was finally over. Conversely Nico Rosberg lost out in the race. He struggled from the start losing time after a clash with Massa. His afternoon ended in smoke and fire with an engine failure just a few laps from the finish.

Lotus
Lotus will have mixed feelings after Sunday’s race. Romain Grosjean had avoided a penalty post qualifying to start third and had looked set to challenge for the win. He started well despite being squeezed by Vettel on the opening lap. His strong pace kept him in the running and he made an impressive pass on Massa. He later made a pass on Button whilst following Vettel and clipped the McLaren. He was also given a drive-through penalty for passing Massa whilst all four wheels were off the track. At the end of the race he received a 20 second penalty for the Button clash but it did not change his finish of sixth place. Kimi Raikkonen took another podium with a strong second place. He had come under pressure from Vettel in the closing laps but withstood and went on to claim another 20 points. A good points haul for the team but there will be questions over whether the stewards were fair with Grosjean and a sense of what could have been.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel took third place ahead of his teammate Mark Webber in fourth. Vettel’s podium came after a number of close battles throughout the race. The German squeezed out Grosjean at the start to hold onto second place before challenging Hamilton in the early laps. After the first round of pit stops he was caught behind Button who was on the medium tyre. Hamilton had passed Button and pulled away to help him towards the win. Vettel then struggled to pass Raikkonen in the closing laps. Vettel still leads the drivers championship. Webber had a disaster of a day on Saturday to only qualify tenth. He made steady progress through the race to recover to an impressive fourth.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso hung on to fifth place after a tough race in a less than competitive Ferrari. Grosjean had been chasing him in the closing laps but he kept hold of IMG_3575the position to take home the ten points. Alonso’s race was rather anonymous much the same as teammate Massa. The Brazilian finished eighth behind Button’s McLaren. He had been passed by Grosjean in turn four but the Frenchman was later given a drive through penalty for going over the white lines. Massa had also avoided a close call with Rosberg in the early laps suffering minor damage to his front wing. Much of the talk after the race was surrounding rumours Alonso’s management had held talks with Red Bull about a possible move in 2014. Alonso and Ferrari dismissed the claims but Red Bull did little to calm the storm.

McLaren
Jenson Button had a good race to finish seventh after some battles throughout the race. His decision to start on the mediums kept him among the front runners early in the race. Hamilton and Vettel both came out behind him after the first stops. His fellow Brit passed him easily but he managed to keep Vettel behind for a number of laps. It did not help his race overall but gave McLaren some much needed airtime. A clash with Grosjean saw the Frenchman given a post race 20 second penalty but it did not affect the race result. Sergio Perez had a uneventful race to take ninth place.

Williams
Williams took their first point in the 2013 season with Pastor Maldonado finishing tenth place. This was Williams first point since the 2012 United States Grand Prix. IMG_3024The Venezuelan had run in the top ten at different points in the race but benefitted from Rosberg’s late retirement and penalties for other drivers. Valtteri Bottas’ race ended early with a hydraluic problem. A good weekend for Williams with the change in tyre compounds looking to have benefitted the team.

Sauber
A drive through penalty ended Sauber’s chances of scoring at a third consecutive race. Nico Hulkenberg had been on course to secure a single point for the third race in a row having qualified 12th. The German just held onto 11th from then two fast catching Toro Rosso’s. He had a drive through penalty after speeding in the pit lane due to a shift down problem. Esteban Gutierrez didn’t make it to the end of the race having to retire due to a gearbox problem.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo failed to convert his impressive qualifying form into a strong race performance as he only finished 13th. He was once again beaten by his teammate Jean-Eric Vergne with the Frenchman passing the Australian with just four laps to run. The car lacked pace but some will be left wondering why Vergne is being disregarded in the Red Bull race despite comfortably being ahead of Ricciardo on a number of occasions.

Caterham
Caterham are now comfortably leading the Marussia’s in race conditions. Giedo van der Garde led teammate Charles Pic for the whole race. A strong performance from both drivers will help to put their minds at rest amid rumours one of them may lose out to another driver in 2014.

Marussia
Marussia suffered from a disappointing lack of pace. The team had worked to close the gap to Caterham in practice and qualifying but it was not enough to beat them on Sunday. Jules Bianchi once again led home teammate Max Chilton.

Force India
Force India’s season seems to have stalled as once again the team faced a hard weekend. Things had looked slightly better than Germany with Sutil qualifying 11th but he lost out at the start and later retired from his 100th race with a hydraulic leak. Paul di Resta only started 18th after a poor qualifying but made up a number of places on lap one. He later struggled outside the points before retiring with three laps to run.

Who will race where in 2014: F1’s complicated driver market

Speculation has grown over the last few weeks about where certain drivers will find themselves next season. Mark Webber’s announcement he will be leaving F1 at the end of 2013 has started a flurry of rumours surrounding Red Bull next season – and the knock on effect this will have on other teams. With seats potentially up for grabs at Red Bull, Lotus and Ferrari we look at which drivers are in contention.

IMG_3183Prior to Webber’s announcement in June there had been speculation over who would replace him. So many will be unsurprised the name at the top of the list appears to be Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn is capable of winning championships and is known to be friends with potential new teammate Sebastian Vettel. The lure of a team which has won three consecutive driver and constructor titles since 2009 – and could be set to win a fourth this season – may sway him towards the Austrian team.

Current team Lotus know Raikkonen is not keen on being rushed on where he will race next season. They appear to be prepared to wait and hope the Finn will continue to race with the team in 2014. Yet there must be some doubt since it has become apparent over the last few days talks are being held with other drivers thought to include Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta. Whether these talks are in preparation to replace Raikkonen or current teammate Romain Grosjean it is unknown.

IMG_3550Other drivers thought to be in contention for the Red Bull drive seem to be Toro Rosso drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne. Between the two of them Ricciardo seems to be leading the battle to land the seat despite Vergne heading the pair in the drivers championship. They are currently separated by just two points. Ricciardo qualified fifth at the British Grand Prix going on to finish eighth whilst there was another impressive performance in Germany where he qualified sixth.

Ricciardo is relatively unknown only in his second season of F1. He may be out-qualifying and out-racing his teammate but this doesn’t necessarily mean he will be able to perform in a top-team. If he can continue to show he can perform and score points he will keep himself in contention. Red Bull plan to make a decision around F1s summer break but with Raikkonen appearing reluctant to commit progress could stall.

IMG_2809Raikkonen’s potential defection to Red Bull would leave a place free at Lotus. However it seems neither driver currently with the team has a secure future. Both Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta are thought to be in contention should a place at Lotus arise. Hulkenberg made the move from Force India to Sauber for this season and things have far from gone to plan. Just seven points from nine races is not quite what he was anticipating. Having look set for a top seat he was overlooked by McLaren last season and his move to Sauber seemed to have more to do with its Ferrari connections. The German has performed extremely well in a car which is extremely bad. A Lotus seat would allow him to show the flashes of brilliance seen last season in Brazil where he led the race.

Paul di Resta is also said to be in talks with Lotus. The Force India driver is looking to have the better of teammate Adrain Sutil and has amassed 36 points this season. Stand out performances include a four place finish in Bahrain. Di Resta is also thought to be keen to make a move to Ferrari should a place open up. Also overlooked by McLaren last season he feels he deserves a chance to show he is capable of driving a race winning car.

IMG_2712At Ferrari Felipe Massa’s recent bad luck has left people questioning if he could find himself without a seat in 2014. The Italian team continue to say they support him. But a number of crashes and with just 57 points to his teammates 123 have people asking whether it is time for Ferrari to look elsewhere. Should they chose to part company with Massa their options could include Hulkenberg and Di Resta but a long term option is thought to be Jules Bianchi. The Frenchman has looked impressive in his rookie season but is not thought to be ready to make the step up to Ferrari. If the team are looking ahead to Bianchi it may spare Massa another season.

Who will end up where in 2014 is a question which will continue to run. With 10 races left in the season it may not be long before the puzzle pieces being to fall into place but until then expect lots of speculation over silly season 2014. How much of it turns out to be true – only time will tell.

**Pictures Silverstone June 28-30 ©Phil Creed**

Team-by-team look at the 2013 German Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel took a fantastic home victory despite being chased by both Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. The two Lotuses took second and third as a differing strategy allowed Fernando Alonso to take fourth. There was drama as a cameraman was caught by Mark Webber’s lose wheel and a rolling Marussia brought out the safety car. 

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel took an emphatic victory in front of a home crowd. The German held off a strong challenge in the closing laps from a fast charging Kimi Raikkonen having withstood pressure from Raikkonen’s teammate Romain Grosjean earlier in the race. Vettel led from the first lap and won by just over a second. Teammate Mark Webber had started third but climbed one place on lap one for a Red Bull 1-2 in the early laps. His chances of a podium ended after his first pit stop when he was released from his pitstop without the right rear tyre secured. The tyre flew off hitting a cameraman who had to me taken to the medical centre. Webber was a lap down when he rejoined  but the safety car period allowed him to recover to seventh to allow Red Bull to take a double points finish. The team were later fined for an unsafe release.

Lotus

Both Lotuses finished on the podium with a second and third place finish. Kimi Raikkonen had challenged Vettel in the closing laps and believed he could have won had he not had to pit again. The safety car had allowed the Finn to close up on Vettel from 12 seconds down on the leader but it was not enough to challenge for the win.  Romain Grosjean had challenged Vettel earlier in the race but could not within the DRS zone to attempt an overtake. The safety car led to him having to pit but Raikkonen was able to leapfrog Grosjean. Grosjean held on to third despite pressure from Fernando Alonso in the closing laps.

Ferrari

A day of mixed fortunes for Ferrari. After choosing to run on mediums in qualifying Fernando Alonso climbed from eighth to fourth. The Spaniard was challenging Grosjean for the last podium spot in the closing laps but did not have enough to pass him. His teammate Felipe Massa’s day ended prematurely after he spun out on lap four at the first corner. The BrazilIan driver had been in sixth place after starting seventh on the medium tyres.

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton was passed but both Red Bulls having started from pole position. The race didn’t get much better after he was running behind late stoppers Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button. Hamilton was sixth in the closing laps but managed to pass Button on the last lap to finish fifth. Nico Rosberg started 11 th and struggled to make much progress. He ended the day in plinth place ahead of fellow countryman Hulkenberg.

McLaren

Germany seemed to signal a turning point in McLaren’s less than impressive season. Having qualified a strong ninth Button ran high up in the order on medium tyres. After pitting he stuck to his strategy to finish a strong seventh after being passed by Hamilton on the last lap. Sergio Perez finished a strong eighth for a double points finish for the British team. Perez had started 13th. Button was unhappy with the backmakers Caterham who he suggested led to him being overtaken by Hamilton on the last lap.

Sauber

Sauber made a rare appearance in Q3 of qualifying on Saturday after a fantastic effort by Hulkenberg in Q2. The team decided not to run in Q3 and started on the medium compound tyre. Hulkenberg started strongly and ran high up until his first pitstop. He kept ahead of the Force India of Paul di Resta to finish where he started in tenth to take he final point of the day. Esteban Guttierrez also had a better qualifying session but started on an opposing strategy to Hulkenberg on the soft tyres. He had a steady race to finish 14th but was fighting throughout to hold position. Whether or not this is a return to form for the team amid its financial problems only time will tell.

Force India

A disappointing weekend all round for the team. They struggled in qualifying with both drivers failing to make Q2. Paul di Resta started 12th whilst Adrian Sutil started 15th. Both failed to make much progress with Di Resta ending the day in 11th and Sutil 13th. Sutil struggled with tyres and had to be switched from a two stop to a three stop strategy. The team were later fined for an unsafe pit release of Di Resta into the path of Jean Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso.

Toro Rosso

A strong qualifying result did not help Daniel Ricciardo during the race. Despite starting sixth on the grid Ricciardo struggled early in the race and found himself back in the midfield fighting for position. He ended the day a disappointing 12th. Jean-Eric Vergne also had a day to forget – he retired on lap 22 with a hydraulic problem. Early in the race he had to taking avoiding action after Paul di Resta was unsafely released in his path during a pit stop. Force India were later fined.

Williams

Williams’ 600th Grand Prix start was a disappointing affair for the team. A bad Saturday saw both drivers miss Q2 but things had looked slightly better in the race. Both Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas battled it out among the midfield. They ran better than in previous races this year but could only manage 15th and 16th by the end of the race. They would have hoped for better for such a momentous weekend.

Caterham

Both Caterham drivers finished the race ahead of the Marussias. Charles Pic ended the day in 17th after a close fight with his teammate Giedo van der Garde . Van der Garde went on to finish 18th. Jenson Button later complained that the two Caterhams had hindered his race in the closing laps leading to Lewis Hamilton passing him on the final lap.

Marussia

Jules Bianchi’s retirement on lap 24 led to the only safety car of the day. Bianchi ground to a halt on lap 22 his car momentarily catching fire and after the Frenchman had left the car it began to roll down a hill and across the track. The marshals had not yet had a chance to recover the car. Max Chilton was unable to make any progress and finished behind the two Caterhams.

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Five things to watch out for at this weekend’s German Grand Prix

Before racing begins in Germany we take a look at five of the things you should be watching out for. From the trouble with Pirelli tyres to Mark Webber’s replacement these are the five key stories to look out for this weekend.

1. Pirelli tyre failures

The furore around Mercedes and Pirelli’s tyre test was forgotten amid multiple tyre failures at the British Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton, Jean-Eric Vergne, Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez were among the drivers to suffer a left rear tyre failure. Drivers and teams alike have branded the tyre failures dangerous and Pirelli will be changing its tyres for this weekend. The FIA have allowed Pirelli to make the changes without the agreement of the teams. It will see Kevlar belts used for the first time this season in place of the current steel ones. Only the rear tyres will be changed. Whether or not this will affect performance only time will tell but either way Pirelli look set to continue to face criticism.

2. Driver boycott

Drivers have threatened to pull out of this weekend’s grand prix should the tyre failures seen in Britain reoccur this weekend. Although Pirelli have acted to make changes to ensure the tyre failures do not happen again the drivers are not prepared to put themselves at risk. Following a meeting of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) on Thursday evening a statement was published saying “the drivers have decided that, if similar problems should manifest themselves during the German GP, we shall immediately withdraw from the event, as this avoidable problem with the tyres endangers again the lives of drivers, marshals and fans”. 19 of the 22 drivers are members of the GPDA.

3. Young Driver Test

At the Young Driver Test at Silverstone later this month teams will be allowed to run their race drivers to allow them to test the Pirelli tyres. This follows the six tyre failures at the British Grand Prix. The test has been extended from three days to four. FIA president Jean Todt said race drivers could take part in the test as long as it was proved it was for tyre testing purposes. Mercedes are still banned from the test following their illegal tyre test with Pirelli in Barcelona. Whilst the teams and Pirelli seek a solution to this the young drivers set to test F1 cars will suffer losing out on their chance to demonstrate their potential.

4. Mark Webber’s replacement

Rumours over who will replace Mark Webber at Red Bull in 2014 continue to grow. Whilst Kimi Raikkonen is still thought to be number one in line Daniel Ricciardo’s impressive performance at Silverstone will only go to help his chances. Jean Eric Vergne is also on the list with his Toro Rosso links but a tyre failure resulted in a disappointing result last weekend. Another name has been added to the list after Jenson Button was mentioned. Button has remained coy over the rumours suggesting he wasn’t actively looking to leave McLaren. Red Bull are unlikely to make any decision this weekend.

5. Brawn to stay at Mercedes in 2014

Ross Brawn has suggested he doesn’t have any plans to step down as team principal of Mercedes is 2014. The arrival of Paddy Lowe at the team was expected to signal the winding down of Brawn’s career. Lowe is thought to be Brawn’s replacement in the long term after his move from McLaren. Brawn told the BBC the team looked in good shape for next season and he didn’t want to miss the fun.

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Team-by-team look at the 2013 British Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg took victory in a chaotic British Grand Prix which saw two safety cars and multiple tyre failures. His victory was under threat after a post race trip to the stewards for speeding under yellow flags late in the race but he escaped with a reprimand. Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso stormed through the field late on to take podium places whilst championship leader Sebastian Vettel’s race ends 11 laps from the finish with a technical problem after leading much of the race.

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton may have taken an emphatic pole position in front of a home crowd but it was teammate Nico Rosberg who finished first on Sunday. IMG_3572The German inherited the lead from Sebastian Vettel with just 11 laps to go. Rosberg was pushed late in the race by Mark Webber after the second safety car came in with eight laps left to run. Hamilton led the race early on but a tyre failure left him near the back of the field having to make his way back into the top ten. With just laps to go he made a number of overtakes to finish fourth. Rosberg faced losing his win after it was revealed he had been speeding under yellow flags he escaped with a reprimand to keep his second win of the season.

Red Bull

Mark Webber’s late charge was not enough for victory on Sunday as he finished second behind Rosberg.Webber’s start left much to be desired as he found himself fall from fourth to back within the midfield after a clash with Romain Grosjean. He benefitted from a number of tyre failures and his teammates retirement – the two safety cars also helped him. Following the second safety car Webber pounced on Daniel Ricciardo for fourth and then Adrian Sutil for third before overtaking Kimi Raikkonen for second. Sebastian Vettel had inherited the lead from Hamilton after his tyre failure but suffered a gearbox failure and he had to park his car on lap 44 bringing out the second safety car.

Ferrari
IMG_3577Fernando Alonso recovered from a disappointing qualifying to finish on the podium. The decision to pit for new tyres at the second safety car proved to be the right one and he stormed through the field in the closing laps to finish third. Alonso did much the same as Webber in the closing lap overtaking Ricciardo, Sutil and Raikkonen. The Spaniard finished just ahead of a recovering Hamilton. Felipe Massa got a brilliant start to make his way from starting 11th but a tyre failure left him way down the field. He coped well with the safety car and damage to his car after the tyre failure to finish the day in sixth.

Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen was denied a podium in the last few laps after failing to pit during the second safety car. On worn tyres he was a sitting target for Webber, Alonso and Hamilton and ended the day fifth. Romain Grosjean had been in the fight for points despite a first lap clash with Webber but was forced to retire on lap 51. Raikkonen sits in third in the drivers championship whilst the team are also third in the constructors with 124 points to Red Bull’s 171 and Ferrari’s 168.

Force India
Saturday may have ended in disappointment for Force India after Paul di Resta was disqualified after setting the fifth fastest time but Sunday was a much better story. His disqualification meant teammate Adrian Sutil started sixth and a good start saw him up to fourth by the first corner. The German managed to keep faster cars behind him and had looked on course for a surprise podium but the late safety car left him with older tyres than those behind him and he was passed by Webber, Alonso and Hamilton. He eventually finished seventh holding off Daniel Ricciardo. Di Resta made steady progress to reach the top ten finishing ninth.

Toro Rosso
IMG_3550Daniel Ricciardo may have qualified fifth after Di Resta’s disqualification but he struggled at the start falling backwards. He recovered to finish eighth after a battle with Sutil. He was passed by Webber, Alonso and Hamilton in the closing lap having been fourth with eight laps to go – but older tyres left him vulnerable to those behind. Jean-Eric Vergne was one of many drivers to suffer a tyre failure on lap 15 – this brought out the first safety car and track sweepers to clear away what was left behind. He retired on lap 35.

Sauber
Sauber’s pointless run came to an end in Silverstone after Nico Hulkenberg held on to finish tenth. The team have not scored since the Chinese Grand Prix back in March and this is only the third time they have scored all season. Hulkenberg diced with the Williams’ of Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas to take the final point. Esteban Gutierrez made a good start and finished the race in 14th. Both drivers suffered issues with their tyres.

Williams
Williams missed out on points at the race where they started the celebrations for their 600th Grand Prix. The team finished 11th and 12th with Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas fighting Nico Hulkenberg in the closing laps. The team continue to knock on the door of the points but have failed in their bid to secure a top ten finish.

McLaren
McLaren looked on course for a double points finish with both drivers running in the top ten at times. Jenson Button was in contention when the second safety car period ended but went from seventh to 13th as other drivers with fresher tyres made their way through the field. Sergio Perez had also been in contention for points but after a tyre failure the team decided to retire the car.

Caterham
Caterham are still behind Marussia in the standings but managed to finish ahead of them in Britain. Charles Pic finished 15th ahead of the two Marussia’s of Bianchi and Chilton. Giedo van der Garde’s problems started before the race when a gearbox issue caused a change and five place grid penalty. He started last and finished in 18th.

Marussia
Max Chilton experienced his first ever home grand prix but was unable to make much progress. He finished 17th behind the Caterham of Pic and his teammate Jules Bianchi. Bianchi was chasing Pic but was unable to catch and pass him.

Five things to watch out for at this weekend’s British Grand Prix

Before racing begins in Britain we take a look at five of the things you should be watching out for. From the protests surrounding Mercedes and Pirelli’s tyre test to the announcement Webber is leaving F1 these are the five key stories to look out for this weekend.

1. Tyre Test
Mercedes have been reprimanded and suspended from this year’s young driver test after an FIA tribunal found their tyre test with Pirelli breached F1 rules. The test held after the Spanish Grand Prix led to Red Bull and Ferrari lodging protests against the team. The matter was referred to the race stewards who in turn referred it to the FIA. The test using a 2013 car with 2013 drivers was essentially run by the team which led to the upset. Both Mercedes and Pirelli claim the FIA knew about the test and let it go ahead. The FIA found whilst Mercedes were in breach of the rules they had no intention of gaining any unfair sporting advantage. Red Bull and Ferrari have criticised the decision.

2.Webber
It was announced on Thursday morning that Mark Webber would be leaving F1 at the end of 2013. With 12 races still left to run this season his decision has come very early in the year. However after Malaysia’s team orders furore some would say it is not surprising. The Australian will leave Red Bull to race Porsche’s new sportscar programme in the World Endurance Championship and Le Mans 24 Hours. Webber made his debut in F1 in 2002 and has raced with Red Bull since 2007 but Malaysia he undoubtedly felt the team were not supporting him – and what point is there staying at a team where you will always be overlooked even when in the stronger position.

3. Webber’s replacement
The announcement will heighten rumours over who will replace the 36-year-old with Kimi Raikkonen, Jean Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo thought to be in the frame. Rumours surrounding a potential move for Raikkonen to the team have been doing the rounds for weeks but he has said the announcement has not chanced his position. However the Finn is yet to sign a contract for 2014. Whilst Ricciardo and Vergne are Toro Rosso drivers and essentially have a shoe in there performances are not in the league of Raikkonen. They will hope to use the coming races to show they deserve a promotion.

4. Williams
Williams will be celebrating their 600th Grand Prix starts at Silverstone this weekend. Although Germany will officially be their 600th Grand Prix start the team have decided to celebrate the achievement at their home Grand Prix. The British Grand Prix holds good memories for the team as they took their first ever win there in 1979 and their 100th win in 1997. The number 600 will be displayed on the sidepods of the FW35 and the livery will have the names of all 691 Williams employees as a tribute to their continued hard work.

5. Paddy Lowe and Mercedes
Paddy Lowe will attend his first Grand Prix in his new role with Mercedes. The former McLaren director had not been to a Grand Prix since late last year following his decision to leave the team for Mercedes. A deal was agreed with Mercedes to release him from his contract and he joined Mercedes as executive director (technical) on June 3. Lowe is eventually expected to run the team in the team principal role when Ross Brawn decides to retire.

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Five things to watch out for at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix

Before racing begins in Canada we take a look at five of the things you should be watching out for. From the protests surrounding Mercedes and Pirelli’s tyre test to the impressive form of Force India these are the five key stories to look out for this weekend:

1.Tyres tests
Tyres once again were a major talking point last time out in Monaco after it was revealed Mercedes and Pirelli carried out a tyre test using their 2013 car. The test held after the Spanish Grand Prix led to Red Bull and Ferrari lodging protests against this. The matter was referred to the race stewards who in turn referred it to the FIA. The test using a 2013 car with 2013 drivers was essentially run by the team which led to the upset. Both Mercedes and Pirelli claim the FIA knew about the test and let it go ahead, however the FIA isn’t so sure. To add to the drama Ferrari will now also be investigated after it conducted a test with Pirelli using a 2011 car. Using a 2011 car is normally thought to be within the rules and regulations but the Italian team will still be investigated. It had been suggested a outcome could be decided by Canada but this looks unlikely – the issues looks set to run and run and who knows who may be next to admit to a tyre test.

2. Sergio Perez
Heading to Bahrain Sergio Perez was being told to ‘toughen up’ by his team but just four races later his new feisty attitude is upsetting his teammate and other drivers. Jenson Button has been unhappy on numerous occasions with Perez’s overtaking with the pair having some near misses. In Monaco the Mexican may have been able to get past Button but it did not end well when a misjudged overtaking attempt on Kimi Raikkonen left Raikkonen with a puncture and having to pit and Perez out of the race. Both blamed each other for the incident with Raikkonen saying Perez should be “punched in the face”. The Mexican needs to find a balance between the aggression he has been showing over the last few races and the control he showed in the early part of the championship. If he can find the perfect balance he has a chance of doing well in Canada.

3. Force India
Force India are having a truly impressive start to a season. They have 44 points from six races and have only failed to score on one occasion in Malaysia due to a wheel nut problem. In Monaco they appeared to be single handedly trying to dismiss the claim you cannot overtake on the streets of Monte Carlo with some impressive moves by both their drivers. Adrian Sutil achieved the teams best ever performance in Monaco with a fifth place – ending his bad luck of recent races – whilst Paul di Resta scored points for the fifth time this season. Historically the team has never done well in Canada having only scored three points there in 2010. This year the car is much better and they have their best chance of scoring some good points and extending their lead over the other midfield teams in the constructors championship.

4. Romain Grosjean
Monaco signalled a return of Romain Grosjean of 2012. His less than impressive drive saw him crashing into the back of the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo ending the Australian’s race. The incident also brought out the safety car. Grosjean seemed to show he hasn’t quite learnt the lesson about controlling his race and after an investigation by the stewards he was given a 10 place grid penalty for Canada. Monaco saw Grosjean have four accidents in just three days – all of which were his own fault. The team repaired the car each time only for Grosjean to go out and reck the car again. Whilst it wasn’t in the same league as Spa last year where he potentially changed the face of the championship he denied Ricciardo the chance of points. Will he have learnt his lesson in Canada or will it be a case of de ja vu?

5. Williams and Mercedes power
After a dismal start to 2013 Williams have announced they will move to Mercedes power in 2014 when the new V6 turbo engines are introduced. The deal is understood to be long term and will see Williams supplied with Mercedes engines and Energy Recovery Systems. Williams have used Renault engines for the last two seasons but haven’t really seen any improvement in fortunes. This season they have had two best place finishes of 11th out of six races. They have no points compared with the 44 they had at this point last season. The move will hopefully produce results next season but until then the once illustrious team need to sort out their difficulties in 2013.

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Team-by-team look at the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg took an emphatic win in Monaco 30 years after his father did the same around the streets of Monte Carlo. There were also some stand out performances from Force India and Toro Rosso as the teams prove you can overtake in Monaco. Controversy continues to reign after Mercedes undertake a three day test with Pirelli after the Spanish Grand Prix which could have major consequences for the team.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg took a dominant lights to flag victory for Mercedes in Monaco 30 years since his father won around the street circuit. This was Mercedes first win of the season after the team have taken four poles. The German managed to withstand pressure from his teammate early in the race and then from the Red Bull’s of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. When the team decided to pit both cars Hamilton lost out and fell to fourth where he stayed for the remainder of the race. However despite the good haul of points a shadow is hanging over the team surrounding its three-day Pirelli tyre test after the Spanish Grand Prix. The stewards of the race considered the position after Red Bull and Ferrari lodged protests and the matter has now been referred to the FIA.

Red Bull
Red Bull achieved a double podium in Monaco taking second and third. Both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber challenged both Mercedes drivers – continuing to push them. Both benefited from Mercedes pitting their drivers at the same time and also from the two crashes from Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado. The team will be happy with the haul of 33 points which extends their lead in the constructors championship. Vettel benefitted from difficult races for Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso to extend his lead in the drivers championship.

Force India
Force India appeared to be single handedly trying to dismiss the claim you cannot overtake in Monaco with some impressive moves by both their drivers. Adrian Sutil achieved the teams best ever performance in Monaco with a fifth place – ending his bad luck of recent races. The German made two stunning overtakes at Loews, passing Jenson Button first and then later Alonso. Meanwhile his teammate Paul di Resta came from 17th on the gird to finish ninth and score two points. Di Resta also produced some impressive overtaking moves as he made his way through the field including a move at Ste Devote. Overall a good weekend for the team with 12 more points to add to their total.

McLaren
McLaren looked on course for a double points finish with both drivers running in the top ten. The pair were again dicing with each other throughout the race with Sergio Perez taking some gambles to pass his teammate. In the end it didn’t end well for the Mexican who attempted to overtake Raikkonen with the pair touching as they both took the same line. Raikkonen had to pit with a puncture and Perez didn’t make it much further having to retire with left-front suspension failure. Button managed to pass Alonso after the Perez-Raikkonen incident before he followed Sutil home for sixth. The team are beginning to achieve better results but they are still a long way from where they were last year.

Ferrari
A disappointing day for Ferrari. Felipe Massa’s race ended early after a near identical crash to the one he was involved in during free practice on Saturday. The Brazilian driver was kept at the side of the track to recover before being taken to hospital for checks. He was understood to have some pain in his neck. Unlike Saturdays incident this crash was due to a car problem rather than driver error. His teammate Alonso finished seventh after succumbing to overtaking moves by both Sutil and Button. As a result the team and Alonso have moved further away from Red Bull who lead both championships.

Toro Rosso
A mixed day for Toro Rosso. Jean-Eric Vergne took a well deserved eighth place as he chased Alonso to the line. The Frenchman took his first points of the season after reaching Q3 in qualifying for the first time. Daniel Ricciardo’s race ended prematurely after Romain Grosjean crashed into the back on him as they exited the tunnel. The resulting debris brought out the safety car to clear away the offending items. The incident was under investigation by the stewards who gave Grosjean a ten place grid penalty for next time out in Canada as a result.

Lotus
A disappointing day for the Lotus team. Kimi Raikkonen was the victim of a failed Sergio Perez overtake which left the Finn with a puncture. He had to pit with just a few laps left in the race leaving him outside the points and looking likely to end his point scoring run. However a number of overtakes in the closing laps lifted him back into points and he finished tenth. Romain Grosjean seemed to show he hasn’t quite learnt the lesson about controlling his race as he crashed into the back of Daniel Ricciardo causing a safety car. The incident was under investigation by the stewards who gave Grosjean a ten place grid penalty for next tim out in Canada as a result.

Sauber
Sauber failed to make Q3 yesterday qualifying 11th and this is where they finished on Sunday. Nico Hulkenberg had looked on course to take the final point as he maintained tenth position but a late overtake by Raikkonen left him outside the points. Teammate Esteban Gutierrez finished 13th but had been on course for 12th before Raikkonen’s charge through the field.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas was once again knocking on the door of the points but couldn’t convert this after finishing 12th. The Finn was chasing Hulkenberg to the line but once again the team are left pointless. Pastor Maldonado was the victim of a collision with Max Chilton. The Marussia rookie moved back over across the Williams after not seeing the car and the two cars made contact. The Williams was launched in the air before a head on crash with the wall. The red flag was brought out as a result to clear up the debris. Maldonado was unharmed and Chilton was given a drive through penalty as a result.

Marussia
Jules Bianchi’s race ended early after a brake issues forced him to retire on lap 58. Teammate Max Chilton was involved in an accident with the Williams of Maldonado causing the car to be launched into the air. The rookie driver moved back over across the Williams after not seeing the car and the two cars made contact. The red flag was brought out as a result to clear up the debris. Maldonado was unharmed and Chilton was given a drive through penalty as a result.

Caterham
Only one Caterham made it to the end of the race with Giedo van der Garde finishing 15th. He was involved in a clash with Maldonado early in the race, forcing them both to pit after they suffered damage to their front wings. Both were able to continue. Charles Pic failed to make it past lap seven retiring with a gearbox issue.

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Monaco Grand Prix 2013: Rosberg dominates the streets of Monte Carlo on Thursday

Nico Rosberg and Mercedes dominated free practice on Thursday at the Monaco Grand Prix.

The German driver led his teammate Lewis Hamilton in the second session after setting the fastest time in both the morning and afternoon. Fernando Alonso set the third fastest time in the Ferrari whilst his teammate Felipe Massa was fourth.

Mark Webber set the fifth fastest time in the first of the Red Bulls whilst the Lotuses of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean were sixth and seventh. Grosjean later clattered the wall in his E21 damaging the left side and front suspension bringing out the red flag. Officials took the opportunity to assess damage to the kerb at Turn 13.

Jenson Button set the eighth fastest time for McLaren just over a second off the pace. Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was ninth fastest with his car undergoing work during the session.

The Force Indias were once again evenly matched with Paul di Resta narrowly outrunning Adrian Sutil for 11th. The German hit the wall during the first session but managed to make it back to the pits for checks to be carried out on his car. Sergio Perez was 12th in the second McLaren.

Nico Hulkenberg was 13th for Sauber whilst his teammate was 15th. Hulkenberg was party to a near miss after Alonso took action to avoid the slow moving Sauber late during the second session. The two Saubers were split by the Williams of Pastor Maldonado in 14th.

Toro Rosso had a disappointing afternoon with Daniel Ricciardo in 16th and teammate Jean-Eric Vergne setting the 17th fastest time. Behind them Valtteri Bottas was 18th for Williams.

At the back Marussia led the Caterhams with Jules Bianchi 19th, Charles Pic 20th, Max Chilton 21st and Giedo van der Garde 22nd.

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