Formula One Open Wheel

THREE TAKEAWAYS: 2017 Singapore Grand Prix

Formula 1 treated fans to one of its most exciting races of the year as Singapore celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Marina Bay Street Circuit with the series’ first wet night competition.

On a circuit which is traditionally Mercedes’ bogey track, Lewis Hamilton led every lap to take his seventh win of 2017 ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton is the first driver to take three in a row this year after Belgium and Italy.

He inherited the victory after a dramatic opening lap crash involving poleman Sebastian Vettel, teammate Kimi Raikkonen, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Just 12 of the 20 drivers completed the two-hour distance as the contest had the highest number of retirements in 2017.

The drivers’ championship fight has decreased, with Hamilton extending his three-point advantage to 28, with a maximum of 25 for a win.

Has Vettel Thrown Away The Title?

One of the questions answered after the event was what role Vettel played in the incident.

From multiple viewings of the accident, it appears that the German gradually slides left to try and stop Verstappen from attacking him, with Raikkonen going on Verstappen’s left-hand side to attempt to and snatch first place.

The Finn’s right-rear tire collided with the front left of the Dutchman’s car, sending him speeding without stopping into Turn 1, hitting the side of the Red Bull before Fernando Alonso becomes involved. Vettel continued momentarily before spinning into the Turn 3 wall, destroying his front wing.

The last time before this the German had a DNF was in Malaysia last season. It was then that Hamilton suffered power unit failure and the championship fell away from his grasp and towards Nico Rosberg. Has karma gone back into his direction, with nothing to choose between the two drivers who both have shown strong previous form at the upcoming tracks?

Meanwhile, Alonso was almost up to third early on, but took his ninth DNF of the year, tying his worst career record set back in 2001 at Minardi. Water is wet for the Spaniard.

Hamilton Again Shows Wet Weather Class

The three-time champion is probably one of the few drivers on the grid you would want to drive in damp conditions, and he set multiple fastest laps on his way to victory. His time of 1m45.008s is a new record with the faster 2017 machinery.

He made his way from fifth on the grid thanks to the chaos ahead and an important move around the right-hand side of a slow-starting Ricciardo before carrying on at the very right of the track to avoid becoming a passenger in the debris above.

“I came in and I saw that it was raining and I knew that this balances everything out,” he said. “I love racing in the rain, then everything unfolded in the beginning. Starting on the Intermediates I thought it was going to be much closer pace-wise. These conditions give you the opportunity to really make a difference with your driving.”

Ricciardo’s job to finish 4.5 seconds off the winner seemed impressive when his team principal Christian Horner said after the race that he had to control an issue.

“After the [initial] restart (Lap 5 of 58), Daniel started to lose an awful lot of gearbox oil, which created a lot of problems with oil pressure, and we were feeling that it was looking unlikely that Daniel would get to the end of the race,” he said. “However, he managed to nurse the gearbox of the car incredibly well for three-quarters of the Grand Prix, and though able to hold off any threat from behind from Valtteri, unfortunately he could not attack Lewis ahead.”

It was a familiar story for Valtteri Bottas. Many have wondered whether he can match up in damp or wet conditions after his spin in China earlier in the year, and he finished 8.8s behind in third. Not only that, but his drinks bottle was not fully working in one of the most physically-demanding tracks the series visits.

“In the dry, the car was performing better than expected and the pace was very good for Lewis and me,” he said. “In the wet, I struggled a bit more than him. It’s nice to bring a trophy home after what has been a tricky weekend for me.”

Notable Drivers Suffer Ups And Downs

Days after news of Carlos Sainz swapping Toro Rosso for Renault and Renault powering McLaren next season, all three parties had a solid Singapore night.

Sainz took a career-best fourth-place, while the replaced Jolyon Palmer finished just ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne in sixth. Rumors still say Palmer could have had his last contest with the team, but a positive performance won’t hurt as he looks for a new home on the grid or in another series for 2018.

Two drivers suffered difficult results due to car problems. Nico Hulkenberg was fourth until an oil leak took him to pit lane. He also spent some laps in the top-three, but collects the record for most starts without a podium in F1 history, beating Adrian Sutil’s total of 128. Haas’ Kevin Magnussen was fighting for points until an electrical failure.

What’s Next?

The 10th running doesn’t end Singapore’s story for now, as it signed a new four-year deal before the weekend to continue hosting the sport until 2021, confirming its place on 2018’s 21-race calendar.

Drivers now head to Malaysia for the final event in that country in two weeks’ time as the fight to become champion comes down to the next two months.


FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @PatersonCameron

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Formula One Open Wheel

Force India Keeps Perez, Ocon For 2018

It has been a sometimes stressful 2017 with the drivers at Force India, but the team is keeping faith in their line-up for 2018.

Sergio Perez has signed a contract extension to continue alongside Esteban Ocon for a second season.

It will take Perez into a fifth campaign with the Silverstone-based team after four podiums, 12 top-fives and 306 points from the last 73 races together.

“Staying with Sahara Force India was always my priority,” the Mexican said. “It’s a team that has allowed me to show my talents as a driver and I feel very happy here. I’m proud of everything we have already achieved together and I think there is more to come. The team has done an amazing job this year to develop the car and establish our position as the fourth-best team in F1. In the end, it was an easy decision to continue our journey together.”

Ocon sticks alongside after completing his 14 events with them so far, collecting 13 results with points.

“Since joining us in 2014, he has matured to become one of the quickest and most consistent drivers on the grid,” team principal and managing director Vijay Mallya added. “Alongside Esteban, retaining Sergio gives us stability going into next season and one of the most exciting driver pairings in F1.”

Perez celebrated the news by placing fifth at the Singapore Grand Prix, moving level with sixth-place Max Verstappen in the drivers’ championship.


FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @PatersonCameron

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Formula One Open Wheel

Hamilton Wins Dramatic Wet-Dry Grand Prix in Singapore

It was action from the off in Sunday evening’s Singapore Grand Prix – the first night race in F1 history to be run in wet conditions. With both Ferraris and a Red Bull eliminated in a coming-together at the start, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton stormed to his 60th F1 victory, extending his championship lead over Sebastian Vettel from three to 28 points with just six races to go.

In a race that ran to the full two-hour limit thanks to three safety-car periods, Daniel Ricciardo made the Marina Bay podium for the fourth year in a row, as he took second place for Red Bull ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.

Carlos Sainz scored his best-ever result with fourth for Toro Rosso; Jolyon Palmer did the same as he finished sixth for Renault; and likewise Stoffel Vandoorne with seventh place for McLaren. The remaining points places went to Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon in fifth and tenth respectively, Williams’ Lance Stroll in eighth and Haas’s Romain Grosjean in ninth.

The race, as it happened

With the forecast rain having started to fall just prior to the start, Vettel led off the line from his hard-won pole position, but as Max Verstappen lagged alongside him, Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen came creeping down the inside of the Red Bull heading to Turn 1. That was where the Dutchman found himself getting pinched in a Scuderia sandwich, and the three collided.

Verstappen and Raikkonen were done for the night, sliding off on the outside of the corner and collecting an innocent Fernando Alonso, who had rocketed his McLaren off the line in typical fashion to briefly nose as high as third.

Vettel clung to the lead as Hamilton jumped to second place round the outside, but then the German’s car damaged spun in a straight line, ripping off its nose and prompting his retirement.

Hamilton thus led Ricciardo as the debris was cleared under the first of the three safety-car deployments.

When the race resumed on the fifth lap, Hamilton began opening a gap to Ricciardo that was wiped out in the 11th lap when Daniil Kvyat crashed his Toro Rosso into the Turn 7 wall.

Once again Hamilton rebuilt his advantage with another series of fastest laps, and by the 24th lap conditions were dry enough for slick tyres.

Ricciardo took ultrasofts on the 28th lap, Hamilton a lap later, and yet again the Mercedes pilot opened up a lead, only to see it eradicated once more when Marcus Ericsson crashed his Sauber on the 37th lap after spinning on the Anderson Bridge.

By then Ricciardo had been trading fastest lap with Hamilton, but when the track went green for the last time the Englishman was still able to draw away as he wished and eventually won by 4.5s.

It was a great evening for Mercedes, with Valtteri Bottas bringing his car home third, albeit a long way behind the Red Bull.

Carlos Sainz drove an excellent race for Toro Rosso and resisted race-long pressure from Force India’s Sergio Perez to take fourth place, 14s behind Bottas.

And it was a good day at last for Jolyon Palmer who, after Renault team mate Nico Hulkenberg had fallen back from an excellent fourth place with mechanical problems, resisted attacks from Stoffel Vandoorne’s McLaren to finish sixth.

Vandoorne was comfortably ahead of Lance Stroll’s Williams which benefited when the team split their early strategy and put him on intermediate tyres and kept Felipe Massa on full wets. The Canadian was chased home by Romain Grosjean’s Haas, as Esteban Ocon took the final point for Force India. Massa, in 11th, and Pascal Wehrlein in 12th, were the final finishers.

Besides Verstappen, Raikkonen, Vettel, Kvyat, Ericsson and Hulkenberg, Alonso recovered from his first corner delay but retired his damaged McLaren with mechanical problems which led to loss of power, while Kevin Magnussen, whose Haas had a problem with its MGU-K, was the final DNF.

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Vettel Spoils Red Bull Party With Singapore Pole

For a while in Singapore on Saturday evening it looked as though Max Verstappen was set to become F1’s youngest ever pole sitter. That was until the man who holds that record – Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel – stormed to his fourth P1 qualifying at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, beating the Dutchman by a clear three-tenths of a second.

It was a lap that left even Vettel breathless with disbelief that finally settled the situation in his favour as he fights to retrieve his previous championship advantage from points leader Lewis Hamilton, who finished fifth on the grid for Mercedes.

Daniel Ricciardo was third with a time almost identical to his Red Bull team mate’s, with Kimi Raikkonen taking fourth in the second Ferrari. Then came the silver cars of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz completing the top ten.

Prior to the start of Q1, teams were warned that there was some oil on the entry to Turn 20, a residue from the Porsche race that followed FP3. The big problem was hitting walls, which Williams’ Felipe Massa, Haas’s Romain Grosjean and Force India’s Esteban Ocon all did, the first of that trio losing time and chances by puncturing his right rear tyre.

But the big excitement was Red Bull’s pace as Verstappen narrowly headed Ricciardo, 1m 42.010s to 1m 42.063s, with Hamilton third on 1m 42.455s and the Ferraris nearly a second down on Hamilton in fifth and sixth places.

That got even worse for the Scuderia, though, as they were in the pits having changes made for Q2 there was a rash of further improvements. Alonso jumped to third ahead of Sainz and Vandoorne, leaving Hamilton sixth ahead of Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and Hulkenberg, thus dropping Bottas, Raikkonen and Vettel to 10th, 11th and 12th.

A late improvement from Grosjean also bumped team mate Kevin Magnussen’s 1m 43.756s to 16th and thus the first of the Q1 fallers, followed by Massa, who got going again to lap in 1m 44.014s, Williams team mate Lance Stroll on 1m 44.728s, and the Saubers of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson on 1m 45.059s and 1m 45.570s respectively.

Ferrari came out fighting in Q2, as Vettel on 1m 40.329s headed Raikkonen on 1m 40.999s, Hamilton on 1m 41.075s and Bottas on 1m 41.409s. But then Verstappen went quickest with 1m 40.379s and Ricciardo moved in behind Vettel with 1m 40.776s. This was more like it.

Grosjean went off again, this time in Turn 1, then Vandoorne jumped to sixth on 1m 41.227s.

In the end it was Verstappen on 1m 40.332s as a strong lap for Raikkonen ended in the final sector with 1m 40.525s. That was then beaten by Ricciardo with 1m 40.385s as Red Bull went 1-2, while Vettel and Hamilton were inseparable on 1m 40.529s and 1m 40.577s.

The outstanding Vandoorne was sixth from Hulkenberg, Bottas, Alonso and Sainz, which meant that Palmer was the first to miss out with 1m 42.017s. The Force Indias were, unusually, nowhere, with Perez on 1m 42.246s and Ocon 1m 42.760s in 12th and 14th, separated by Kvyat on 1m 42.338s. Grosjean brought up the rear with 1m 43.883s.

Could Verstappen hold on to become the world’s first teenaged F1 polesitter, or would Mercedes and Ferrari be able to wind up their engines sufficiently to overcome the Red Bull duo?

Q3 saw the times really tumble. This time it was Vettel on provisional pole after the first runs with 1m 39.669s, snatching the honours from Verstappen, who had lapped in 1m 39.814s. Ricciardo was also super-quick with 1m 39.862s, jumping him to third ahead of Raikkonen on 1m 40.069s and Hamilton on 1m 40.192s. The track seemed to be getting better every lap.

Further back, Bottas was sixth from Alonso, Vandoorne, Hulkenberg and Sainz.

Could Verstappen get the initiative back from Vettel? Would Ricciardo intervene?

Vettel pushed harder than ever and clipped his time to 1m 39.491s, and to that Verstappen had no reply as his 1m 39.993s lap failed to match his previous effort. Ricciardo improved fractionally, to stay third with 1m 39.840s, while Raikkonen was likewise unable to go quicker and stayed fourth ahead of Hamilton, who improved slightly to 1m 40.126s for fifth.

“I don’t know where I found the time,” Vettel admitted. “We struggled yesterday and also this morning. I’m still full of adrenaline so maybe what I saw makes no sense, but I love this track. The car was tricky but was getting better and better. I scraped the wall with my left rear, and I think I need to calm down, but I’m very, very happy. It’s amazing, on this track, and when you can feel the car coming alive you can do what you want.”

Ericsson has a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change following his FP3 crash, but given he qualified last, the provisional grid currently reads exactly as per qualifying order.

Formula One Open Wheel

F1 Silly Season: Sainz to Renault, and More

The Formula 1 silly season volcano erupted into life ahead of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix as drivers, teams, and engine manufacturers announced their plans for 2018 and beyond.

Realistically, September is the latest anyone could have left their decisions with plans underway for new chassis’ and the next campaign starting in six months’ time.

Sainz Goes to Renault

Carlos Sainz Jr. has been loaned to Renault for 2018 to partner Nico Hulkenberg.

He continues to be associated with Red Bull but will get an experience of how a manufacturer works for the first time. Sainz has only driven for Toro Rosso to date, claiming a career-best sixth four times.

“This choice is well-aligned with our mid-term strategic plans,” managing director Cyril Abiteboul said. “We feel that Nico and Carlos will complement each other on and off track and the combination should help us push forwards on the grid.”

The signing leaves Jolyon Palmer on the sidelines for now after over 35 events with the team. Rumors have also consistently linked Sainz with taking over Palmer’s seat for the next contest in Malaysia.

Palmer denied this in the press conference before the start of the weekend, saying, “I have a contract. I’ve got seven more races this year. There have been suggestions for the past 35 races that I might not be at the next one, or in the next few, so this is nothing new for me, it’s water off a duck’s back now. It’s the same, I think at probably most races this year it’s been the case and nothing has changed.”

McLaren Joins Up With Renault

Renault will power McLaren for the first time in its history in the next three seasons as the former constructors’ champions split with Honda.

It ends its time with the brand after three years. If the MCL32 does not claim a podium by the end of 2017, it will be the first time that McLaren has not finished in the top-three through a period with an engine manufacturer since the M7D Alfa Romeo-powered car in 1970.

The switch could also change the situation around Fernando Alonso’s future. The Renault engine has won in June with Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull, and Alonso has previously said that he wants to be back on the top step. The manufacturer was also the team that Alonso won a title for in 2005 and 2006.

There’s also discussion surrounding his options now being limited, despite previously being linked to a possible  Verizon IndyCar Series ride. However, the seat he was likely to have taken was filled at Andretti Autosport by Zach Veach. As a result, he could be back in F1 with just a possible one-off ride for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500.

Alonso gave an update in Thursday’s press briefing, adding, “There are options everywhere. And they are all very good. You just need to be patient and wait a couple of weeks. The Indy 500 is together with Monaco, as we know, there is another one still to complete, so the triple crown is still ongoing at the maximum speed. I agree with the same thing [McLaren executive director] Zak [Brown] said: if I remain in F1 it’s because I believe I can win next year. So, that will ease the decision a lot because I will be in Monaco because I don’t want to lose any points. The plan is ongoing and very good news is coming.”

Toro Rosso Moves to Honda Power

As a result of McLaren’s switch, Honda is staying in F1 in the back of the Toro Rosso chassis as it moves away from Renault. It has a multi-year agreement to run the Japanese power units.

“It will be a question of adaption of our plans rather than a wholesale change and we are in the process of re-planning our design and production activities in conjunction with Honda to ensure that we both hit all our important deadlines,” technical director James Key said. “We will be working hard not to only re-design the power unit installation but also ensure that this has minimal or no effect on the ongoing development work for 2018.”

Sainz’s vacant seat could allow Toro Rosso to debut a new racer, with several options available. Red Bull reserve Pierre Gasly is winning in the Super Formula championship with a Honda-powered car, Sean Gelael took part in his first practice session for them in Singapore, and F2 and GP3 competitors Nobuharu Matsushita and Nirei Fukuzumi are both Honda-supported and working their way through the ladder system.

Kubica, Rosberg Start Working Together

Retired 2016 champion Nico Rosberg is continuing to be involved in motorsports as he tweeted that he is helping Robert Kubica with his future.

Kubica was one of the names in the frame for Sainz’s Renault seat after having three test sessions with them but is still waiting for an opportunity for a potential comeback.

The two of them may work perfectly as both have been in similar places before in their careers. The duo both burst onto the scene in 2006 and finished close in seventh and eighth in the drivers’ championship in the last season the Pole competed in in 2010. Kubica was then in the same bracket as Rosberg as someone who could do great things later before his rallying accident affected that.


FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @PatersonCameron

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Formula One Open Wheel

Bottas Signs Extension with Mercedes

Ahead of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, it was announced on Wednesday that Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas, has signed a contract extension retaining the Finnish driver through the 2018 season. Bottas was originally inked just before the opening race of 2017 to replace the reigning world driving champion Nico Rosberg who quite unexpectedly retired after his victory.

The timing of this extension along with the original contract offered by Mercedes strongly suggest that the team attempted to engage the services of other competitors before settling on Bottas. However, the decision has proven to be an excellent one, with the new Mercedes driver racking up two race victories in Russia and Austria, nine podiums and two poles. He has also built a solid relationship with his teammate, multiple world champion Lewis Hamilton.

“We gave Valtteri a big challenge this year: joining the team at the eleventh hour, stepping up to the forefront of F1 and pairing with the sport’s best driver as his team mate. With that in mind, his results have been probably even more impressive,” said Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. “There have been ups and downs – more ups, fewer downs – and some great highlights like his two race wins in Russian and Austria. Overall, the balance of his performances and his upward trajectory made it a no-brainer for us to continue with him into 2018. For our team, the bonus factors are the respect and sportsmanship that have grown between our two drivers. The chemistry and dynamic between Valtteri and Lewis work and are what we need to take the fight to our competitors.”

It is imagined that Hamilton will be pleased with the signing, as he is known not to get along well other potential teammates that the Silver Arrows considered, such as Fernando Alonzo. The two drivers have blended seamlessly, and that must make team management must easier.

According to Valtteri Bottas, “When the team hired me for the 2017 season, they took a leap of faith by putting their trust in my skills. This new contract for 2018 shows that I’ve earned that trust. I’m happy to have celebrated my first race wins in a Silver Arrow. However, there’s always room for improvement and I still have not shown my full potential. I will continue to work hard on and off the track, to further improve my driving, get even better results and show that putting their trust in me was the right decision.

“As a driver, I’ve been able to learn and grow massively, and we have already enjoyed some really good moments this season that I will never forget. I’ve been very impressed by the mentality, commitment and the team spirit this team holds. Partnering Lewis has also been really good, and I’m enjoying the respect we have and the will to push this team forward together. I want to thank all the board members, the people at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth as well as the race team and all the fans for their support and trust. It means a lot to me.”

Competition in the Formula One Series resumes on Friday with First Practice for the Singapore Grand Prix.

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management, or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement

Formula One Open Wheel

Singapore Grand Prix 2017 Preview

Momentum? That’s a tough one. Sebastian Vettel has four wins at Marina Bay, but three of them were when he was with Red Bull. And arguably, no one has more “big mo” than Lewis Hamilton with his six victories in 2017. We’re calling it even Steven.

Needs A Good Run? Among drivers, that’s pretty much anyone without a contract for 2018. So cross Ferrari off that list. Maybe.

Sentimental Favorite?  Singapore Airlines is the sponsor, so continuing the race will depend on economics, not sentiment. They’re the first street race and the inaugural night competition in Asia, but if there is an extension beyond the current year, we haven’t heard of it.

Challenges? It’s incredibly hot there, even in September at night, and cockpit temperatures can reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit.  So, everyone needs to be in top condition to avoid extreme dehydration. And, it’s under the lights. Each year the race has been run, there has been at least one safety car.


“I’d say Singapore is probably the toughest race on the calendar, not only because of the demands of the circuit itself, but also because of the physical stresses regarding the driver. The physical stress of driving at more than 50 or 60 degrees inside the cockpit due to the heat and humidity is enormous. The air doesn’t flow, as the city skyscrapers don’t allow it and you really feel the hot air inside the car! The track itself is really long, very tight and extremely demanding. There’s no time to rest during the lap and you have to be 100% focussed at all times, as the walls are all very close. We stay on European time while in Singapore, which can sometimes be a bit weird: We wake up at around 2pm every day and leave the track at 3am, which is strange but also makes it more special. As we come from Europe I don’t usually struggle with this unusual timetable. I sometimes find it more difficult to adapt to the Malaysian or Japanese time zones for example. Last year I performed one of my best qualifying sessions of the season, something which is very important to do in Singapore as it’s difficult to overtake during the race. Unfortunately, the good qualifying didn’t count for much in the end, as I had a frustrating start when I got hit as the lights went out… It was a very tough moment, as I was expecting to fight for points. We probably lost a chance of scoring a strong result! Let’s see if we can do it this year…” Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso driver

“We knew the double-header of Spa and Monza would be difficult for us, but three DNFs out of four was still really disappointing. Still, we showed better pace than we anticipated, even though we could convert that into points. We’ve now put the European season behind us and we turn our attention to the fly-aways which signal the final chapter of the season. Singapore is a great place to start, as it’s one of the circuits on the calendar that suits our package better than others, and gives us a real chance for a more positive result. Singapore is a bit like the Monaco of the East. It’s a glamorous street circuit right in the centre of the city and the atmosphere is incredible. It’s tough – hot and humid, and hard on the cars and drivers. It’s really fun though: bumpy, tight and challenging, but exhilarating when you get it right. You need a car with good traction on the slower corners and a high downforce set-up, so we definitely have a better chance there – we just need to make sure we also have the reliability.” Fernando Alonzo, McLaren driver

“I believe Singapore won’t be our only chance but is one of our best chances of a win in the second half of the season. You have to build up speed a little slower in the practice sessions on a street circuit like Singapore. At some point you have to start taking risks but to do that straight away doesn’t make sense. I always prepare for the race with some acclimatization training. You feel the heat when you’re in the car, but when you stop after the race and the adrenaline decreases you feel it even more. After the race I will easily sink five litres of water to rehydrate before I go to bed. I’ve started second and finished second at this track in the last two years, with fastest lap both times, so my aim this year is definitely to start on pole and try to go one better in the race.” Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull driver

“As a track, it’s really tough and physically demanding – arguably one of the hardest of the season. The lap is long with lots of corners and some tight and sharp bits. The high temperature and humidity, combined with the fact that it’s a street circuit, makes it quite hard. It’s important to be in top physical shape due to the harsh requirements. Safety cars usually come out which makes strategy hard to call. [Racing under lights] takes a little getting used to, but it’s not so bad. It’s been on the calendar so long that it feels like a normal race. It’s a very special Grand Prix and the only real night race we have. We don’t really see the day there! We sleep until lunchtime, and then it’s off to work, so there isn’t much of a social life for us drivers. The venue is amazing, how they’ve built it all is fantastic, especially as it’s right in the middle of the city.” Nico Hulkenberg, Renault driver

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management, or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Formula One Open Wheel

What We Learned Italian Grand Prix 2017  

THE BIG PICTURE:  The Italian Grand Prix was one of the 1950 group of original events and is still one of four actively run; they are Monaco, British, Belgian and the Italian. While the venue could change, it has not to date, with Monza Park, also known as Autodromo Nazionale Monza, hosting each time except for 1980. This one is a keeper.

EVENT:  In its current configuration, Monza runs about 3.5 miles around the lush European forested Villa Royale, once an estate of the Imperial Hapsburgs. It features fast corners and long straights, which makes for an exciting race. This is especially remarkable considering that Monza was just the third purpose built race track constructed in the world. The track is often called “The Cathedral of Speed,” And lest anyone feel this is too dignified for car racing, we need to remind you this is also home to the Tifosi.

 IN OUR LAST EPISODE: Lewis Hamilton powered to his fifth win of the year at Spa-Francorchamps, ahead of second place Sebastian Vettel by less than three seconds.

 QUALIFYING:   This was almost as interesting as the race. For starters, the time what was supposed to be qualifying was red flagged due to rain. So, the famous track at Monza was a soupy mess when the multi-million-dollar cars finally hit the grid to determine who was fastest. Immediately, Hamilton showed us that once again, he was the quickest of all, for the record 69th time. And he remained so. There is little point in reviewing the other positions as they got jumbled up due to half the field sporting grid penalties. Stupid.

 START:  The start was nearly as stupid. Lance Stroll and Esteban Ocon are competent mid pack drivers and normally not a hazard to anyone. But, with their current equipment, they had no business starting second and third.  It was only through the skills of their fellow drivers that there was no tragic accident. And so it was all the way down the grid. More thought should be given to the millions of race fans who pay hard earned money to see these events throughout the world. Instead, under the current system thought is given to the potentates who control the sport. Boo.

 RACE:  There was little to no suspense in this race. Lewis Hamilton led from the start and only went out of the lead to pit and retook it to win his sixth contest of the season. It was also the first back-to-back victory this year. The action at Monza all happened behind the leader. Ferrari was, unfortunately, celebrating their 70th anniversary, but it was not a particularly successful for them, with a weak finish by Vettel in third, a full 36 seconds behind the leader. Daniel Ricciardo, on the other hand, was gridded back in the 16th spot and charged to the front, finishing a well-deserved fourth. Max Verstappen, who has been sharing the role of DNF King this year with Fernando Alonzo, managed to place tenth and earn a single championship point. And of course, both McLarens DNFed, likely so that they could make car repairs for Singapore instead of incurring those annoying grid penalties.

BEST TEAM:  Once again, it was Mercedes, with their cars finishing one – two.

WHAT WE WILL REMEMBER: Most memorable will be that 45% of the field had grid penalties mostly due to equipment changes. While the intention of the grid penalties was to be punitive, the reality is this many makes the event downright dangerous, not to mention, stupid. The purpose of qualifying, after all, is to keep faster cars in the front. With slower cars gridded as far up as second, the start was unusually ridiculous, even for Formula 1.

QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND:  “This is obviously an incredibly exciting season; the last two races have been really strong for us as a team. The way things have come together in the second half of the season is exceptional. Today, the car felt fantastic, particularly on that first stint. As we had a bit of breathing room behind us, it was easier for us to extend the life of the tyres. Valtteri did a fantastic job to get through and get this one-two. It is amazing to have the first back-to-back wins in a long, long time and claim the lead in the championship. But the fight will continue, the Ferraris have been really quick this season, especially on the high-downforce tracks. It will continue to be really close between us, so it will be ‘ beast mode’ all the way to the last chequered flag.” Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes driver and race victor

 QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: “I’m very, very happy about the result and loved it out there today. It was good fun. Two of my favourite races this year have been starting from the back. Silverstone and this one. Some good overtakes in the race kept me excited and I had some real pace in the end. I could see Seb and the thought of a podium was tempting me, so I was obviously trying to catch him right up to the end. The boys did the quickest pit stop and I also got the fastest lap so that’s very cool. You can almost call it a perfect day. We couldn’t have done much more from where we started. Of course I wanted to be up there on the podium as it looked unreal, but I believe it will come next year. Today has been a really good boost for everyone and we’re looking ahead to Singapore.” Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull driver and fourth place finisher

 SCHEDULE:  In two weeks, the fly-away races begin with the Grand Prix of Singapore, at night on a street circuit on September 17th.

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management, or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Formula One Open Wheel

Pirelli Releases Tire Selections for Singapore

Formula One and Pirelli have released the tire choices made by teams for the Airlines Singapore Grand Prix on September 17.

This year marks the second straight season that Pirelli has offered three compounds for each event. As the same with 2016, teams are required to use two of the three compounds during the event, with a total allotment of 13 sets over the weekend.

The choices must be submitted 14 weeks in advance for long-haul events, and eight weeks in advance of European races. The deadline for decisions was implemented to reduce transport costs. If a team does not give their choices to the FIA before the deadline, the FIA will choose which tires the team can use.

Unlike last weekend in Italy, the same philosophy was not used this time around with strategies varying across the board.

The majority of the field will have just one set of the hardest compound available – with only Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and Pascal Wehrlein electing for two sets.

When it comes to the softest compound, the strategy is split with 13 of 20 teams choosing 10 sets, including driver’s championship runner-up Vettel. Points leader Hamilton is among the five drivers going with nine sets.

A complete breakdown of the choices can be viewed below.


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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Formula One Open Wheel Power Rankings


f1 rankings logo

Throughout the season, POPULAR SPEED will rank the top-10 drivers in Formula 1 following each event. Feel free to comment on the story at the POPULAR SPEED Facebook page.

Team Rankings

2017 Constructor’s Championship After Italy

  1. Mercedes (NC)
  2. Ferrari (NC)
  3. Red Bull (NC)
  4. Force India (NC)
  5. Williams (NC)
  6. Toro Rosso (NC)
  7. Haas (NC)
  8. Renault (NC)
  9. McLaren (NC)
  10. Sauber (NC)

The Rankings reflect no movement in following the last race at Spa.

Driver Rankings After Italy

  1. Lewis Hamilton takes the number one spot in the Driver’s Championship for the first time in 2017 thanks to his sixth win of the season at Monza.
  2. Sebastian Vettel appears in second place for the first time this year, but he’s only three points out to Hamilton, for now.
  3. Valtteri Bottas remains third, looking less like a title contender and more like Best Supporting Driver. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
  4. Daniel Ricciardo still fourth but is only six points over fifthplace Kimi Raikkonen.
  5. Kimi Raikkonen stays in fifthplace, again.
  6. Max Verstappen – very popular for a sixth-place driver with the fewest laps run.
  7. Sergio Perez leads his teammate Ocon by only three points.
  8. Esteban Ocon looks poised to step up to seventh. Woo hoo!
  9. Carlos Sainz, still ninth, but may be tenth if Hulkenberg keeps finishing so well.
  10. Nico Hulkenberg holds onto tenth only two points from Sainz.

Our rankings resume in two weeks, after Singapore.

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management, or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.