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

A comfortable victory for Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel sees the team extend its leads in both the drivers and constructors titles. The German took the lead from Hamilton on the first lap and was never challenged after that point. Elsewhere there was triumph for McLaren as a solid sixth place lifts them above Force India in the constructors. There is also drama as Pastor Maldonado causes chaos at his pitstop colliding with both Force Indias and earning himself a penalty. Here is how each team got on.

Red Bull
Vettel took a comfortable if slightly boring win in Spa. He managed to pass polesitter Lewis Hamilton on the first lap and was challenged little after that. IMG_2875He leads the drivers championship by 46 points and could be on course for his fourth title after a Kimi Raikkonen retirement leaves his title hopes in jeopardy. Whether the post race boos were for Vettel or the Greenpeace protestors we will never know. Teammate Mark Webber was unhappy with his clutch on the grid and once again he suffered a poor start. He made his way through the field and was closing on Nico Rosberg for fourth but fell off the pace to finish a respectable fifth. A good weekend all round for the team but focus will once again shift to who will replace the departing Webber next season. Principal Horner says the decision is weeks away but with Raikkonen discounting himself and Webber telling the media the decision has been made and it will be a compatriot, rumours are rife.

Ferrari
A hectic qualifying left the Ferrari’s of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa in ninth and tenth on the grid. However they demonstrated impressive race pace on Sunday to emphasise suggestions had qualifying been dry they could have been on the front row. Alonso got a good start and began to make his way through the field. He ended the day in second some 16 seconds down on Vettel. The result boosted his championship chances with him moving to second in the title race. Massa recovered from a bad start to end the day in seventh. He overtook the one-stopping Lotus of Grosjean late on in the race with just four laps left to run.

Mercedes
IMG_2955Hamilton was unable to convert yet another pole into a race winning performance despite an impressive performance last time out in Hungary. The Briton was passed by Vettel on the first lap and could not keep in touching distance of the German. He was later passed by Alonso but maintained the gap over his teammate Rosberg to finish third. Hamilton’s title hopes remain in tact but he will need another win to help bridge the gap to Vettel. Rosberg finished in the points with a strong fourth keeping Webber at bay. He ended the day just two seconds off Hamilton.

McLaren
Jenson Button finished in sixth in Spa in what was a welcome result for McLaren. The team have been battling it out with Force India and Button’s eight points see them move into fifth in the constructors title four points ahead of their rivals. Button had been running in the podium positions at points in the race after a impressive start and even led the race briefly. He didn’t have the pace of the front runners and ended the day behind Webber. Sergio Perez finished the day 11th after a drive through penalty for squeezing Romain Grosjean off the track on lap eight.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean was Lotus’ sole finisher with a drive to eighth place. The Frenchman – on a one stop strategy – had been fighting it out up and down the field. Late in the race he was passed by Massa stopping him from claiming a well deserved higher finish. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen was forced to retire ending run of 27 consecutive point finishes. His hopes of points ended after a brake problem on the car. It may have also seen his championship hopes suffer after he fell to fourth in the standings – he had been in second behind Vettel.

Force India
IMG_3069Paul di Resta had looked on course for his first pole position for a few moments on Saturday before eventually qualifying fifth. His day didn’t get much better on Sunday after a poor start left him falling behind. He recovered some of the places before being passed by his teammate. Later in the race when both he and Sutil tried to pass a pitting Maldonado, Di Resta was taken out of the race. The Venezuelan had been battling with Esteban Gutierrez before being passed by Sutil. He hit the Germans car before braking and heading for the pits taking out Di Resta in the process. Sutil managed to hang on for ninth and two valuable points but was less than impressed with Gutierrez’s tactics.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo produced an impressive late surge to pass Nico Hulkenberg and his teammate Jean-Eric Vergne and claim the last point. The Australian had started 19th one place behind his teammate but produced a good race to finish tenth. The result will continue to boost his confidence as rumours continue to gather pace that he may be on his way to Red Bull. Vergne ended the day 12th after being on course for the last point. He escaped a penalty after apparently causing Hulkenberg to go off the track as they battled it out.

Sauber
The Sauber drivers finished a disappointing 13th and 14th. Hulkenberg had started well getting from 11th to eighth on the opening lap but tyre degradation forced an early stop and a move to the harder compound tyre did not yield results. He was passed by Vergne and Ricciardo late in the race to move further down the field. Gutierrez had been on course to finish close to his teammate but was caught in the Maldonado crash and was also given a drive through penalty for gaining an advantage by going off the track.

Williams
Maldonado’s hopes of points didn’t materialise after he crashed into both Force India’s when trying to pit. The Venezuelan had been battling with Esteban Gutierrez before being passed by Sutil. Di Resta then attempted to follow the move. Maldonado hit Sutil’s car before braking and heading for the pits taking out Di Resta in the process. He received a ten second stop and go penalty for the incident and ended the day in 17th. His teammate Valtteri Bottas was 15th as Williams’ higher placed finisher.

Caterham
Giedo van der Garde drove an impressive race having reached Q2 on Saturday. He had started 14th for Caterham and held off Pastor Maldonado to finish a strong 16th on Sunday. Charles Pic failed to make Q2 on Saturday starting 22nd and last. He retired on lap 8.

Marussia
Both Marussias made it into Q2 with Jules Bianchi starting the race from 15th and Chilton from 16th. The battle between the Marussias and the Caterhams continued in the race but they were quickly falling towards the back and ended the day in 18th for Bianchi and 19th for Chilton.

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.

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.

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

Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix may have been won by Sebastian Vettel but the main talking point of the race was the use of team orders in the final few laps from both Red Bull and Mercedes. The decisions from both teams led to an awkward podium and could prove to have ramifications for harmony within both teams. I take a look at the wider picture and see where each team stands after round two.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel may have won the race but the majority of F1 fans felt he had taken the victory from teammate Mark Webber. This race has certainly shown Vettel in a different light- and it’s not a positive one. Vettel appeared to show arrogance at points in the race telling the team over the radio: “Mark is too slow, get him out of the way. He is too slow”. He continued to race Webber closing in on him despite both being told to turn down their engines and hold station after the final round of pit stops. Vettel continued to ignore team orders pushing Webber for the lead and eventually passing him. His blatant decision to ignore the team orders didn’t go down well with either Webber or Christian Horner. What should have been a positive result for Red Bull has turned into a rift between their drivers that doesn’t show any signs of healing soon.

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton may have taken his first podium for Mercedes but there was a similar feeling between the drivers as at Red Bull. Hamilton had benefitted from Rosberg being told to hold station despite him having the pace to pass Hamilton. Speaking on the podium Hamilton admitted Rosberg should have secured third place since he had the better pace during the race. Despite appearing angry following the team decision Rosberg said he knew if he had been ahead the situation would have been the same. There was also a moment early in the race when Hamilton attempted to pit at his former team McLaren’s pit box, he apologised to the team for the mistake. Despite the issues surrounding the team orders it was a good result overall for the team who are fourth in the constructors championship just three points behind Ferrari.

Ferrari
Felipe Massa took fifth for Ferrari despite having start on the front row. Massa lacked the pace of the leaders but fifth was well deserved after a battle with the Lotus’ of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen. The race was a disaster for Fernando Alonso on his 200th Grand Prix appearance when his damaged front wing collapsed underneath his car. Alonso had run into the back of Vettel on lap one and then gambled his damaged wing could last until his first pit stop. Massa now leads Alonso in the driver’s championship by four points and the team have slipped to third in the constructors championship. Malaysia will appear like a missed opportunity for the team.

Lotus
Malaysia proved to be a disappointing weekend for Lotus despite a double points finish. The team took sixth and seventh position with Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen but the car showed none of the tyre preservation it had in Melbourne. Both drivers had a battle with Felipe Massa throughout the race. Raikkonen also battled with Nico Hulkenberg, with the Finn becoming frustrated with the German’s defending. He eventually passed the Sauber driver and both drivers finished the race with just three pitstops compared to their rivals four. Raikkonen is now second in the driver’s championship and the team are also second in the constructors.

Sauber
Nico Hulkenberg recovered from the disappointment of not starting the Australian Grand Prix with a points finish in Malaysia. The German battled with Kimi Raikkonen before finishing the race in eighth and securing Sauber’s first points of the season. The race was also positive for Hulkenberg’s teammate Esteban Gutierrez who finished 12th after having earlier ran in the points. Although the team may have benefitted from some of the misfortune of other teams, the pace they showed today seems to suggest they will be in contention for points throughout the season.

McLaren
A mixed day for McLaren with only Sergio Perez finishing in the points. Perez took two points for McLaren after a ninth place finish taking their constructors total to just four points from two races. Jenson Button’s race had started off well with him holding fifth for much of the early stages and then leading at the third round of pitstops. However a botched pitstop saw his right front wheel not secured properly and despite recovering to 12th he later retired with mechanical problems. McLaren were not expecting things to be much better in Malaysia but they have missed an opportunity for a reasonable result and those 10 points that Button could have finished with will be sorely missed.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne secured tenth place and Toro Rosso’s first points of the season in Malaysia. Despite a pitstop incident in which Vergne and Caterham driver Charles Pic tangled his tenth place was not affected. Vergne had been released from his stop as Pic turned into his pitbox in front of him, the impact breaking the front wing on both cars. Vergne kept going and the team were consequently fined $10,000. Daniel Ricciardo failed to make the finish retiring on lap 51 with exhaust issues. Overall an average weekend and a well deserved point for the team.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas finished 11th for Williams after starting the race from 18th. Despite a commendable drive it was not enough to secure points and Williams remain in ninth in the constructors title with no points. Pastor Maldonado failed to finish a second race in a row after an off track adventure broke his front wing and he later stopped on track. Bottas‘ performance will be encouraging for the team but Maldonado will need to improve his consistency.

Marussia
Sunday was a good day for rookie Jules Bianchi who finished the race in 13th place beating Caterham rivals Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde and also his teammate Max Chilton. British driver Chilton was the final finisher of the race and it is the second time he has been beaten by his fellow rookie teammate this season.

Caterham
Caterham failed to match backmarker rivals Marussia with both Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde being beaten by Jules Bianchi. Pic picked up a damaged front wing after a collision with Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne. Toro Rosso were later fined $10,000 for the incident.

Force India
Sunday was a disastrous day for Force India’s pit crew. Issues at Adrian Sutil’s pitstop delayed both him and teammate Paul di Resta who had pitted behind him to replace his intermediates. Both drivers fought back but when Di Resta pitted issues with wheel nuts prolonged his pitstop and he was left at the back of the field. The drama continued with Sutil who faced a similar problem and found himself at the back of the pack. Both drivers later retired which the team were disappointed about considering the pace the car had shown over the race weekend.

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

Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix proved to be an exciting return for the sport. The race saw an unexpected win from Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen who has made his intentions clear- he is one of the contenders for the 2013 championship. I take a look at how each team faired at the first Grand Prix of the 2013 season.

Lotus
Lotus secured an unexpected win in Australia, with Kimi Raikkonen managing a two stop race. The Finn had only qualified seventh but Raikkonen kept out of trouble and over the race dispensed of those in front of him to take home the 25 points and lead the drivers championship. The day was of a contrasting nature for Romain Grosjean. He qualified in eighth behind his teammate but he found himself battling with Jenson Button for much of the race in the lower midfield. Grosjean took the final point of the day with 10th position and this sees Lotus sitting in second in the constructors championship, four points behind Ferrari. One thing is certain after the race- Raikkonen has asserted himself as a championship contender.

Ferrari
Sunday was a positive day for Ferrari with Fernando Alonso securing second and Felipe Massa finishing fourth. Massa outqualified Alonso and stayed ahead of him at the start of the race until an ill-timed pitstop saw him fall from leading the race to seventh position. Alonso stayed with race leader Kimi Raikkonen in the latter stages of the race to secure a podium for Ferrari. The team leave Australia with 30 points and lead the constructors championship. All round a good weekend for Ferrari who will be confident heading to Malaysia.

Red Bull
Heading into the race weekend Red Bull looked strong and some wondered if they would be unstoppable, topping FP1 and FP2 and qualifying first and second. However the race was a different story. Whilst Sebastian Vettel led from pole, Mark Webber lost numerous places at the start falling from second to seventh. Vettel pitted on lap seven surrendering the lead and eventually went onto finish third, securing his first podium of the season. Mark Webber had a contrasting day but fought back to secure sixth and eight valuable points. Overall an average weekend for Red Bull who sit in third place in the constructors championship.

Mercedes
Mercedes had a mixed weekend. Lewis Hamilton qualified third and Nico Rosberg sixth and both were in contention for podiums and points in the early part of the race. Rosberg found himself having to retire on lap 26 with an electrical issue despite having earlier led the race. Hamilton survived to the finish but had to resort to ‘Plan B’ and three stops after attempting a two stop race. He eventually went on to finish fifth, over ten seconds behind fourth place Felipe Massa. The performance overall was good from Hamilton but the team will want to eradicate mechanical issues to have any hope of challenging in the constructors championship.

Force India
The Force India drivers qualified 9th and 12th respectively with Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil and it was Sutil who benefitted from exiting in Q2. The German, making his F1 return after a year out, started on the Medium compound tyre and stayed with the front runners before taking the race lead. Sutil kept stayed ahead of Vettel, Alonso and Raikkonen until lap 21 when he pitted. Sutil would later lead the race again before having to pit for the Supersoft tyre and end up finishing in seventh place. Behind him teammate Di Resta finished in eighth place, taking Force India’s points total to 10 and fifth in the constructors. Di Resta said after the race he felt he had been ‘robbed‘ of seventh as the team had asked him to stay behind Sutil.

McLaren
McLaren struggled over the weekend with Jenson Button only qualifying 10th and Sergio Perez a lowly 15th. The race didn’t get much better with Button having to pit on the fourth lap to change his Supersoft tyres for Mediums and he only ran in the midfield for much of the race. Ninth position is all Button could manage with Perez finishing 11th. McLaren will want to improve their performance since scoring just two points from a Grand Prix does not bode well for the rest of the season. They will hope to rectify this next weekend in Malaysia.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne finished in 12th for Toro Rosso whilst Daniel Ricciardo failed to finish at his home Grand Prix after an exhaust issue. Vergne was in contention for 10th, battling Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean in the late stages of the race but could only finish in 12th after a failed overtake attempt on Grosjean. Overall a disappointing day in the office for Toro Rosso and it looks as if they may struggle to score points in the opening races of the season. They will hope for better in Malaysia.

Sauber
Sauber only had one car start the Grand Prix after the team decided not to race Nico Hulkenberg because of issues with the fuel system. Hulkenberg has not had any luck in his three races at Albert Park, failing to make it to the end of lap one with Williams in 2010 and Force India in 2012. Esteban Gutierrez made his F1 debut as the sole Sauber driver and put in a good performance. The Mexican kept out of trouble and was the top rookie finisher with 13th place. The team will want to take steps to prevent issues with the car and make sure both cars do actually start the race in Malaysia.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas was Williams sole finisher in Australia after Patsor Maldonado beached his car in the gravel following a trip over the grass. Bottas put in a strong performance and finished 14th on his debut in F1. The FW35 brought to Melbourne seems to be a step back from the promising times seen in pre-season testing. The team will hope to be more competitive in a week’s time in Malaysia.

Marussia

Sunday proved to be a good day for rookies drivers Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi. After 58 laps Bianchi beat Caterham rival Charles Pic to 15th and Chilton overcame Van der Garde for 17th. Both drivers looked impressive on their debuts and Marussia look set to be taking the battle to Caterham for 10th in the constructors.

Caterham
Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde finished 16th and 18th respectively as they battled with the Marussia drivers to lead the back of the grid. The two backmaker teams looked much closer during the race and this should prove to be a good battle for 10th in the constructors.

2013 Team Preview: Mercedes

Drivers: Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg

2012 Constructors position: 5th
2012 Drives position: Rosberg 9th, Hamilton 4th (driving for McLaren)

Mercedes started 2012 well securing their first ever win since being renamed from Brawn GP. Their win in China was also Nico Rosberg’s maiden win and seemed to suggest that the team had finally produced a car that was capable of keeping up with the big boys of Red Bull and Ferrari. The first part of the season remained average despite Michael Schumacher taking a podium at Monaco and after the summer break Mercedes struggled to replicate their early season form. After such promise they failed to score at the last six races of the season and were one of the most disappointing teams of the 2012 season.

Ros Mercedes

Whilst Rosberg stays with the team for 2013 Schumacher retired at the end of 2012 and was replaced by Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg may have had the measure against Schumacher during their time together at Mercedes but he faces a more difficult teammate challenge in the form of Hamilton. The former McLaren driver will most likely outscore Rosberg but a win or multiple wins for the team are possible but not guaranteed. Many have questioned the motives behind Hamilton’s move and suggest that it could be a mistake but only time will tell. It may be a change of scenery but it is yet to be seen if it was the right decision.

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 20.26.14

Despite some teething problems during the first of the pre-season tests in the last test in Barcelona the Mercedes looked good over one lap and showed promise in the long runs. The 2013 car could surprise this season but it should be remembered that in 2012 the car also showed promise early in the season only to fade away.

Predicted 2013 Constructors position: 4th

Barcelona testing: Hamilton tops the timesheet on penultimate day of testing

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time on the third day of the final pre-season test in Barcelona.

Hamilton set the time in the 1m20s on a soft set of tyres during the morning session and went on to complete 117 laps in the Mercedes.

Behind him Massa set the second fastest time in the Ferrari, but he nearly a second slower than the Mercedes.

His best time was set on a pair of super-soft tyres in the afternoon session before his day came to a premature end when the wheel came off the F138 bringing out the red flags.

Adrian Sutil set the third fastest time on a set of soft tyres in the morning session before completing a race simulation in the afternoon and racking up 109 laps for Force India.

The Williams’ of Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas set the fourth and fifth fastest times as they shared the day completing 65 laps between them.

Esteban Gutierrez set the sixth fastest time for Sauber in the morning session and focused on long runs in the afternoon completing 99 laps.

Mark Webber was seventh for Red Bull after spending the day completing aero work and testing the harder tyres. Behind him Sergio Perez was eighth for McLaren and Jean-Eric Vergne ninth for Toro Rosso after completing longer runs.

Romain Grosjean set the 10th fastest time after returning for Lotus in the afternoon following Kimi Raikkonen’s illness. Davide Valsecchi had run in the morning setting the 11th fastest time.

Jules Bianchi’s first run in the Marussia saw him set the 12th fastest time ahead of Giedo van der Garde in the Caterham.

Pre-season testing finishes tomorrow in Barcelona.

Barcelona testing: Hamilton tops the timesheet on day four

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time for Mercedes on the final day of the second pre-season test in Barcelona.

Hamilton set the time on medium tyres in between the rainy conditions of the morning session. The Briton completed 52 laps on a day that saw eight red flags, with one of the final caused by Hamilton himself.

The final red flag of the day was caused by Jules Bianchi and the session was cut short following this. Bianchi had taken over the Force India from Adrian Sutil and he set the fourth fastest time although this was over two seconds slower than the time Sutil had set on Thursday.

Jenson Button recovered from a disappointing day on Thursday to set the second fastest time and completed 70 laps for McLaren.

Jean-Eric Vergne was the only driver to use the softer compound tyre and he set the third fastest time of the day.

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Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez set the fifth fastest time of the day despite causing one of the first red flags of the day after ending up in the gravel trap.

Giedo van der Garde was sixth ahead of Felipe Massa in the Ferrari and Mark Webber in the Red Bull.

Max Chilton was ninth for Marussia and Romain Grosjean set the 10th fastest time for Lotus.

At Williams Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado shared duties, completing 36 laps between them but not setting a time.

It should be remembered that the times set in testing are unlikely to be a true gauge of each cars performance.

The final pre-season test will take place in Barcelona next week.

For full times, laps completed and tyre compounds see http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/105679

Jerez testing: Grosjean and Lotus ahead on day two as Hamilton crashes

Romain Grosjean set the fastest time on the second day of the first pre-season test in Jerez.

Grosjean led both the morning and afternoon sessions, going faster in the afternoon after switching to short runs on the softer tyre.

The Frenchman ended the day ahead of Paul di Resta who looked impressive in the Force India. Behind them Daniel Ricciardo set the third fastest time despite causing the first red flag of the day stopping on track between turns 10 and 11.

The second red flag of the day was caused by Lewis Hamilton who ended up in the gravel trap after just 15 laps because of a brake issue on the car. Mercedes were unable to fix the car and their day finished early for the second day running. Hamilton finished the day with the sixth fastest time despite the limited running.

The third red flag of the day was caused by Luzi Razia who had only been announced as a Marussia driver earlier in the day. Razia came to a stop in the Marussia along the pit straight but finished the day with the 12th fastest time.

Mark Webber completed the most laps on Wednesday with 101 and set the fourth fastest time ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the Sauber who set the fifth fastest time and completed 99 laps.

Sergio Perez got his first taste of the McLaren setting the seventh fastest time ahead of Felipe Massa in the Ferrari with Pastor Maldonado completing 71 laps in the old-spec Williams and setting the ninth fastest time.

Force India switched drivers late in the afternoon with James Rossiter completing 19 laps of the Jerez circuit and setting the 10th fastest time. Behind him Giedo van der Garde set the 11th fastest time in the Caterham.

Towards the end of the session both Grosjean and Hulkenberg stopped on track. Sauber later revealed the car stopping had been planned as a ‘run-dry’ test.

Testing continues tomorrow in Jerez with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen getting their first taste of the 2013 cars.

It should be remembered that the times set in testing are unlikely to be a true gauge of each cars performance.

Mercedes unveil F1W04

Mercedes have launched their 2013 challenger the F1W04 at the Jerez circuit ahead of pre-season testing.

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were on hand to unveil the new car that has been described as a clear step forward in design by the team principal Ross Brawn.

The car is visually similar to last year’s car and features an exhaust layout similar to to McLaren.

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The F1W04 has also taken advantage of the modesty panel that teams can use to hide the stepped nose of the car.

Unlike the McLaren and Ferrari, Mercedes have not opted to use pull-rod suspension instead retaining its push-rod front suspension.

Both drivers got a taste of the new car with Rosberg driving the car for filming in the morning and Hamilton getting a taste in the afternoon.

The team will be hoping that the F1W04 will be able to help Hamilton challenge at the front of the grid and with few changes to the 2013 rules this may allow the team to catch its race winning rivals.

2013 will be Hamilton’s first year with Mercedes having left McLaren in 2012 and he believes the team is ready to produce results, he said: “I have never seen a group of people that is hungrier for success than this one.”

Testing begins in Jerez tomorrow with Rosberg driving for the first day before handing the car over to Hamilton for the second day.