Maranello, 23 August – After a one month break from racing, Formula 1 is back in action with the Belgian Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, which is so popular with drivers and race fans alike. Spa has undergone numerous changes from the 14 kilometre track used for the first race back in 1924, to the current 7.004 km, which has resulted in a reduction in the top speeds seen on some sections in the past. However, it still has a special attraction and, as well as being the longest circuit on the calendar, it is still today’s most technical track. Part of this is down to the uncertain nature of the weather, which can even change from one section of track to another. Therefore, the Belgian round is major test bench for cars and drivers, as Formula 1 rounds the mid-point marker and tackles this the thirteenth round of the season.
“It’s an old, traditional circuit, with up and down hills.” – says Kimi on the subject of the Belgian track. “ That’s what is different, more than other circuits, even just the place itself in the middle of nowhere. They changed lightly the last chicane in the past years, but I enjoy it. Conditions can be tricky sometimes, but it’s usually good for overtaking and that’s nice for drivers and spectators. On TV it’s hard to say, but when you’re there you can see it’s quite steep.”
German Grand Prix – “I believe in the team”
Kimi stays positive “but we must add downforce”
Kimi Raikkonen: “It was a very quiet and boring race, nothing much happened. At the start I had some wheelspin and lost one position on Sebastian. With new tires the car felt pretty ok but then I was starting having understeer and oversteer, as basically we lacked grip. In the last stint we had to do fuel saving so there was not much to do. Obviously we have to improve the car in all areas, if we add downforce it will definitively help us. We all want to do better and it’s painful to see that we are not where we want to be, but I believe in the team. We need some time and hard work and we’ll get there. It’s important for us to find improvements and work as a group.”
Kimi Raikkonen: Ferrari’s current Formula 1 form is painful
Kimi Raikkonen says Ferrari’s current Formula 1 form is "painful" for the whole team after another disappointing performance in the German Grand Prix.
His team-mate Sebastian Vettel finished 32 seconds adrift of winner Lewis Hamilton in fifth and 15s behind fourth-placed Nico Rosberg. Raikkonen was five seconds off Vettel in sixth.
With Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen scoring Red Bull’s first double podium since last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix, the team moved ahead of Ferrari into second in the constructors’ championship.
In the last three grands prix, Ferrari has failed to score a single podium and taken just 50 points to Red Bull’s 80, having been a contender for a race win in the season-opening race in Australia.
"Everybody can see where we finished and it’s obviously a bit painful for all of us," said Raikkonen.
"But this is how it is right now and we just have to work hard and improve.
"Obviously we want to win and beat everybody, that’s always the aim in racing.
"We were ahead of Red Bull, now Red Bull has got ahead of us.
"Hopefully we can challenge both of them [Red Bull and Mercedes] later on but it’s not going to be easy."
There is now a four-week gap between grands prix, with Belgium hosting the next race on August 28.
Raikkonen said Ferrari would have to work hard before then to find some answers if it wants to fight at the front.
"Hopefully we find some tools to make our car quicker," he said.
"Obviously, Spa is a completely different layout to here so it might be different.
"But we have work to be done to get where we want to be. We need to improve."
Raikkonen, who is fourth in the drivers’ standings, admitted Ferrari’s race pace was not quite what it was expecting come Sunday.
"That was what we were hoping [to have good race pace], but it didn’t happen and we just weren’t fast enough so it’s as simple as that unfortunately," he said.
"It wasn’t too bad when we had fresh tyres, but they seemed to drop off quite quickly."
Lewis Hamilton stretches Formula 1 lead with German Grand Prix win
Lewis Hamilton extended his championship lead before Formula 1’s summer break with a commanding victory in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.
The reigning world champion benefited from polesitter and Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg’s poor start to take the lead into Turn 1 and controlled the race from there.
It was Hamilton’s sixth win in seven races, putting him 19 points clear of Rosberg with nine grands prix remaining.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo clinched second, 6.9 seconds behind, with team-mate Max Verstappen completing the podium in third.
Rosberg bogged down at the start, dropping to fourth as Verstappen went round the outside of Ricciardo through Turn 1 to take second behind clear leader Hamilton.
At the first round of stops, Mercedes and Red Bull split strategies, with Rosberg and Verstappen taking the super-softs and Hamilton and Ricciardo the softs – though all the leaders ultimately ended up on three-stop plans.
Verstappen struggled with that rubber, allowing Rosberg to close the gap and then pit early to try the undercut.
Red Bull responded by bringing the Dutchman in early too and he rejoined ahead but Rosberg got in the slipstream on the run down to the hairpin.
Rosberg dived down the inside, with Verstappen moving in the braking zone before then giving him some room.
Rosberg ran deep into the corner, pushing Verstappen wide and then off track. Following an investigation, the Mercedes driver was handed a five-second time penalty to take at his final pitstop.
Hamilton and Ricciardo ran longer before their second stops, and went to super-softs whereas Verstappen and Rosberg had gone for softs.
That helped Ricciardo to close on and pass Verstappen, and when he took more super-softs at the last stops while Hamilton reverted to softs he mounted a charge towards the lead.
Hamilton had enough in hand, though, raising his pace when required to stay clear of Ricciardo and win again.
Rosberg appeared to be held for longer than five seconds for his penalty at his final stop and rejoined fourth, losing all hope of rescuing a podium.
Ferrari was largely anonymous with Sebastian Vettel fifth, 32.5s adrift at the chequered flag and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen 4.4s further back after they swapped positions at the start.
It meant Ferrari dropped behind Red Bull, which scored its first double podium since Hungary 2015, to third in the constructors’ championship, 14 points adrift.
Nico Hulkenberg was seventh ahead of Jenson Button with Valtteri Bottas ending up ninth after a falling behind both during a long final stint on the soft tyre.
Sergio Perez snatched 10th from Fernando Alonso with three laps to go, and got within 1.5s of Bottas at the flag.
Felipe Massa and Felipe Nasr were the only two retirements, with the Williams driver struggling after being hit by Jolyon Palmer at Turn 6 on the first lap, then pulling into the garage mid-race.
RESULTS – 67 LAPS:
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||6.996s|
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||13.413s|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m10.049s|
|8||Jenson Button||McLaren/Honda||1 Lap|
|9||Valtteri Bottas||Williams/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|11||Esteban Gutierrez||Haas/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|12||Fernando Alonso||McLaren/Honda||1 Lap|
|13||Romain Grosjean||Haas/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|14||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|15||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|16||Kevin Magnussen||Renault||1 Lap|
|17||Pascal Wehrlein||Manor/Mercedes||2 Laps|
|18||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||2 Laps|
|19||Jolyon Palmer||Renault||2 Laps|
|20||Rio Haryanto||Manor/Mercedes||2 Laps|
|–||Felipe Nasr||Sauber/Ferrari||Power Unit|
German GP: Nico Rosberg beats Lewis Hamilton to earn home F1 pole
Nico Rosberg claimed his fifth pole position of the 2016 Formula 1 season at the German Grand Prix.
Having been outpaced by Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the first two segments of qualifying, Rosberg was on the back foot after the first runs in Q3 having had to abort his lap because of an "electronic issue".
Hamilton meanwhile went quickest by six tenths of a second among those who completed an early run.
Rosberg headed out early for his second run on super-softs, presumably to give him the option of a second lap if required, and took top spot by just over a tenth of a second.
Hamilton then set off for his final run, but after being just over a tenth of a second faster than Rosberg in the first sector, locked up at the Turn 6 hairpin and fell short.
Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo beat team-mate Max Verstappen to fourth, 0.363s off Rosberg’s pace.
Ferrari locked out the third row, with Kimi Raikkonen outpacing Sebastian Vettel by almost two tenths to win the intra-team battle.
Force India and Williams had a very close battle for the final four places in the top 10, with the four cars covered by just 0.105s.
Nico Hulkenberg won the battle ahead of Valtteri Bottas, with Sergio Perez ninth ahead of Felipe Massa.
Esteban Gutierrez was the fastest driver in Q2 to be eliminated, ending up 11th on the grid, after briefly breaking into the top 10 with his final run before being eliminated by Massa’s late improvement.
McLaren driver Jenson Button was 12th ahead of Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr, who is under investigation for impeding Massa at Turn 2.
Fernando Alonso was 14th after running wide over a kerb and shedding some small parts of his front wing in the stadium section – although he also complained about being held up by Vettel’s slow Ferrari.
Romain Grosjean, who lost most of Saturday morning practice to a gearbox problem that will lead to a five-place penalty, was 15th ahead of Renault driver Jolyon Palmer, the Briton making his first Q2 appearance since the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in March.
Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat was the surprise driver to be eliminated in Q1 thanks to late improvements from the Renault drivers and Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein.
Palmer’s final lap put him into Q2, with Kevin Magnussen taking 17th place with a lap less than a tenth slower than his team-mate.
Despite not believing he could have gone any quicker after his second run, Wehrlein used a third set of super-softs to take 18th with what he described as a "great" lap ahead of the baffled Kvyat.
Sauber pairing Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson locked out the back row, with the former just over a tenth faster than his team-mate.
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m14.726s||0.363s|
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m14.834s||0.471s|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m15.510s||1.147s|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m15.537s||1.174s|
|13||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m15.989s||–|
|18||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m16.876s||–|
F1 German GP: Mercedes’ Rosberg stays on top in FP3, rivals closer
Nico Rosberg maintained his Formula 1 free practice supremacy ahead of the German Grand Prix by setting the pace on Saturday morning.
But the Mercedes driver’s advantage over team-mate Lewis Hamilton was vastly reduced, with the gap between the pair just 0.057 seconds, setting the stage for a close battle in qualifying.
Both Mercedes drivers set their best times relatively early in the session on their first set of super-soft Pirellis, with first Rosberg going fastest on a 1m16.134s.
Hamilton then posted a 1m16.015s followed by a lap of 1m15.795s only for Rosberg to bang in the fastest lap of the session – a 1m15.738s.
That decided the top two, with neither attempting further quick runs later in the session and focusing on other preparation work.
The only problematic moment for Mercedes was when an investigation was triggered into Hamilton being released into the path of Haas driver Romain Grosjean in the pits.
Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest after not running on the super-softs until late in the session.
He lapped just 99 thousandths slower than Rosberg, setting the fastest time of all in the long middle sector, to secure the position of best of the rest.
The two Ferrari drivers, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, ended up fourth and fifth ahead of Max Verstappen.
At the end of the session, Vettel returned to the pits complaining of possible floor damage most likely as a result of hitting a kerb badly, with the right side of his front wing flapping.
Williams duo Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa held first and second 15 minutes into the session, but were inevitably shuffled down to seventh and eighth by the end.
This was a big step forward from Friday’s single-lap pace relative to the opposition, although the car had looked good on race pace.
Fernando Alonso was another driver who did not run on the super-softs until the final 10 minutes, posting the ninth fastest time.
At the same time, Nico Hulkenberg also had his first super-soft run to secure 10th place ahead of Carlos Sainz and Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez.
Grosjean had a troubled session, completing only four laps after suffering a gearbox problem moments after spinning onto the grass coming through Turn 3.
Following warnings about track limits being exceeded at Turn 1, only five drivers were noted to have strayed beyond what was allowed – Raikkonen, Verstappen, Vettel, Hamilton and Sergio Perez, with all but Verstappen deemed to have gained no advantage.
Perez did, though, damage the front of his Force India, requiring repairs before he jumped up from 19th to 12th in the closing stages.
THIRD PRACTICE TIMES:
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m15.837s||0.099s||13|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m16.182s||0.444s||23|
|10||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m16.972s||1.234s||16|
|11||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m17.028s||1.290s||20|
|12||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m17.066s||1.328s||10|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m17.227s||1.489s||19|
“We’re more or less there”
Kimi confident with further overnight improvement
Kimi Raikkonen: “On Friday it’s always difficult to have a clear idea of where you are, from tomorrow we’ll understand more, but the session today was not too bad. For sure there’s some work to be done to improve, but more or less we are about there. Obviously we want to be in the front, so this evening we are going to focus on fixing some things and improve in certain areas, then I’m sure we’ll be ok.”
F1 German GP: Rosberg leads Mercedes team-mate Hamilton in FP2
Nico Rosberg set the pace in second free practice for the German Grand Prix, outpacing Mercedes Formula 1 team-mate Lewis Hamilton by four-tenths of a second.
The home hero had topped the morning session, but initially lagged behind Hamilton on the first runs using the soft Pirelli rubber by four-tenths.
But when the duo then bolted on the super-soft Pirellis, reckoned to be around 1.2 seconds faster than the softs, Rosberg took the upper hand.
First Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg and then Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen hit the top after doing their first super-soft laps, before the two Mercedes drivers.
But Rosberg had his first flier just after the 30-minute mark, setting a time of 1m15.614s to take top spot.
Hamilton then completed his lap, but was slower in all three sectors and ended up 0.394s slower after a slightly ragged effort.
Initially, Red Bull pairing Max Verstappen and Daniel Riccairdo were best of the rest after relegating Raikkonen.
But then Sebastian Vettel, who had a longer break between his runs, finally set his super-soft time just before the 45-minute mark to take second place, six-tenths off Rosberg.
Verstappen and Ricciardo ended up fifth and sixth, with the latter earning criticism from Hamilton late in the session for jinking into the pit exit while passing a slow Manor.
That led to Hamilton moving to the left and complaining over the radio.
Hulkenberg was eventually shuffled down to seventh ahead of Jenson Button, who only completed 16 laps and missed the second half of the session.
Both Button and McLaren-Honda team-mate Fernando Alonso looked to have the potential to go quicker, but ended up slotting into eighth and 10th, sandwiching Force India driver Sergio Perez.
The two Toro Rosso drivers, Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat, were separated by just 25 thousandths of a second in 11th and 12th, ahead of Williams driver Valtteri Bottas.
Romain Grosjean, who appeared to be battling the same problems under braking as he was in the morning session and had both an off and a spin at the Turn 6 hairpin, was 14th fastest, just ahead of Felipe Massa’s Williams.
But the Franco-Swiss driver only completed 13 laps during the session, spending much of it in the pits presumably chasing the cause of the vibration under braking he complained about over the radio.
During 90 minutes, multiple drivers, including Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso and Perez, were reported for running wide beyond track limits at Turn 1 – early in the session, race control issued a message to teams that this situation was being carefully monitored.
This led to drivers being regularly warned by their teams, albeit with regular infringements continuing, particularly for Perez.
PRACTICE TWO RESULTS:
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m16.456s||0.842s||40|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m16.490s||0.876s||38|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m16.781s||1.167s||43|
|9||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m17.148s||1.534s||44|
|11||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m17.342s||1.728s||32|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m17.367s||1.753s||38|
F1 German GP: Mercedes’ Rosberg fastest in FP1 on home soil
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg set the pace in first practice for his home Formula 1 grand prix in Germany.
Rosberg’s time of 1m15.517s spearheaded an unsurprisingly dominant one-two for the Silver Arrows, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton 0.326 seconds adrift.
Its nearest challenger in Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was just over a second back in third.
F1 showed just how far it has come since its last visit to Hockenheim in 2014, with 20 of the 22 drivers quicker than Rosberg’s best FP1 time that year.
Rosberg himself was more than three-and—a-half seconds faster than his 1:19.131s lap in that session, when the current turbo hybrid era was only just six months old.
After losing the championship lead he had held all season last weekend in Hungary, Rosberg was quickly on the pace, leading the way early with a 1m17.030s.
With the super-soft tyres then strapped on for the second half of the session, Rosberg was able to improve by almost two seconds, and was never headed.
Reigning champion Hamilton – on a run of five wins from the last six grands prix to take the points lead from Rosberg – was not as smooth as his team-mate throughout a lap, resulting in the three-tenths deficit.
Both drivers were among the many who went off track at Turn 1, which proved particularly problematic to get right as the limits were explored.
Behind the Mercedes duo, Vettel emerged the best of the rest, just over two tenths of a second ahead of Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were fifth and sixth quickest, separated by 0.162s.
On his 35th birthday, Fernando Alonso emerged seventh fastest in his McLaren, 1.666s down on Rosberg.
Alonso was followed by team-mate Jenson Button, seemingly underlining McLaren’s recently-declared belief it is now the fourth quickest team in F1 behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
With the timesheets following a team-by-team order, Toro Rosso pair Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr rounded out the top 10, with both around 2.5s down.
Further down the field there were practice outings for Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc with Haas and Renault reserve Esteban Ocon.
Leclerc, standing in Esteban Gutierrez, was 17th, just three places and three tenths of a second behind Romain Grosjean.
Ocon, meanwhile, was 19th and only 0.048s behind Kevin Magnussen, with Jolyon Palmer having made way.
PRACTICE ONE RESULTS:
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m16.927s||1.410s||29|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m17.089s||1.572s||30|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m18.008s||2.491s||25|
|10||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1m18.044s||2.527s||22|
|15||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m18.591s||3.074s||35|
|16||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m18.628s||3.111s||29|
Raikkonen: "Ho molto rispetto per Allison, non commento la sua uscita"
Raikkonen non vuole entrare nelle questioni della squadra, ma pigia il piede sull’acceleratore sulla questione legata alle regole: "C’è troppa disparità di giudizio: non si può centrare la pole nel giro in cui si è rallentato per le bandiere gialle"
Kimi Raikkonen quando vuole sa dribblare le domande quasi meglio dei cordoli. “Iceman”, è bene chiarirlo, è solo apparentemente distaccato. Questione di atteggiamento, carattere, personalità. Ma sul pezzo, lui, c’è sempre. E non cade mai nei tranelli di qualche domanda più delicata o aggressiva del solito.
Oggi si è arrivati a Hockenheim sull’onda dell’annuncio della Ferrari che ha ufficializzato la separazione consensuale con l’ex direttore tecnico James Allison. L’onda lunga di questa decisione è ancora di estrema attualità nel paddock, ma chi ha provato ad avere un’opinione in merito da Raikkonen, è rimasto deluso.
Come commenti la fine della collaborazione con James Allison?
“Premetto che non sta a me, che sono un pilota, prendere decisioni che riguardano la struttura del team. Non voglio essere coinvolto in questioni che non sono di mia competenza. Ho molto rispetto per James, ed anche per questo motivo non commenterò nulla su quanto accaduto”.
Che voto dai al team e a te stesso sul lavoro fatto prima della pausa estiva?
“Non voglio dare voti. Non siamo dove vogliamo essere, sia come team che per me stesso. Sappiamo dove dobbiamo migliorare, e sappiamo anche che non è così semplice. Ma daremo tutto per riprovarci, ci vorrà un po’ di pazienza, ma lavoreremo sodo per recuperare”.
Continua ad esserci un divario tra la performance della Ferrari in qualifica e in gara. Come lo spieghi?
“La monoposto non era male in Ungheria, ma almeno per quanto mi riguarda, sappiamo cosa non ha funzionato in qualifica, e non ha nulla a che vedere con la performance della monoposto, ma con le condizioni trovate in pista. In gara abbiamo dimostrato che eravamo competitivi, avrebbe potuto essere una gara molto diversa per noi. Dipende molto dalla pista. Sul giro veloce siamo dietro le Mercedes, ma questo non significa che possiamo migliorare, ed è quello che stiamo provando a fare”.
In merito al tuo duello con Verstappen a Budapest, hai intenzione di sollevare qualche protesta nel briefing pre-gara che terrete qui a Hockenheim?
“Quello che è successo non si può cambiare. Il problema è che in ogni gara abbiamo commissari differenti, ed è umano avere un’opinione differente su certi episodi che vanno analizzati. Ci vorrebbe una visione più uniforme, un metro di giudizio stabile in tutte le gare. Quello che dico non è certo legato ad avere una posizione in più sulla griglia, ma ci vuole una visione più chiara nel rispetto delle regole, perché è difficile accettare che si possa aver rallentato in regime di doppia bandiera gialla ed aver ottenuto in quel giro la pole position. La regola è chiara: in quelle condizioni un pilota deve essere pronto a fermarsi. Quello che è successo non si cambia, ma in ottica futura abbiamo bisogno di maggiore chiarezza in merito”.
Alcuni piloti hanno preannunciato un briefing acceso in cui parlerete della questione legata alla doppia bandiera gialla di Rosberg….
“C’è sempre un gran parlare in Formula 1, ma la metà del tempo sono rumors. Non c’è niente di sbagliato nel parlare ma serve uno scopo, un obiettivo reale per migliorare le cose. Se voi foste presenti ai nostri incontri vedreste che negli ultimi dieci anni si è parlato sempre delle stesse cose. La maggior parte delle volte l’argomento sono le bandiere blu e i track-limit della pista, roba del genere. Ovviamente ora ci sarà un altro argomento in più. A volte emergono discussioni utili, ma vediamo cosa succede”.
Hai parlato con Verstappen o con Charlie Whiting su quanto accaduto in Ungheria?
“No, non ho avuto alcun colloquio. Il problema è che è difficile sapere cosa accadrà la prossima volta in una situazione simile perché magari chi giudicherà guarderà le cose in modo differente”.