RussianGP(Nico Rosberg locks up going into turn 2 on the very first lap of the Russian Grand Prix)

So, a week on from the difficult Japanese Grand Prix, Formula 1 descends upon Russia, for the first ever F1 race. Thoughts were firmly on Jules Bianchi, who remains critically ill in hospital in Japan, and out of respect for him, Marussia raced only one car. The drivers and the rest of the paddock assembled before the race in another mark of respect, and we all wish him well.

The race itself might have been a milestone (the first championship race in Russia), but aside from some early excitement, it wasn’t especially memorable. Rosberg managed to slip past Lewis Hamilton at the first true corner of the track, only to lock up his tyres and slide off the track, not only being forced to give the place back to Hamilton but also being forced to pit, as he had caused serious harm to his tyres.

Pitting on lap two meant Rosberg ended up last but one (Williams’ Massa also pitted on lap two), and thus he had to work hard to get back into a decent points-scoring position. He also had to make his new tyres last for 52 laps, no easy feat in modern formula 1!

Hamilton himself had little to do except keep his concentration up and make sure he didn’t do anything stupid. He could afford to cruise in the latter stages of the race, and thus did exactly that as he took his ninth win of the season (and equaled Nigel Mansell’s British record of 31 wins in the process). Rosberg raced well to get himself back into second, minimising the loss of points to Hamilton and showing good tyre management to make sure he didn’t suffer late on. Not a classic race, but it means Hamilton is now 17 points clear (his biggest lead so far in the championship) with three races to go.

As anyone following this blog has become aware, I tend to offer up my thoughts about a grand prix at its conclusion. I only saw part of Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix (for reasons that will become clear in subsequent posts), but I did see Hamilton’s bold move on Rosberg into the first corner to claim the lead – and I saw the race get red-flagged in the wake of Jules Bianchi’s serious accident.

His going off the track was not in itself the problem – it was unfortunate co-incidence that he crashed off where Sutil had crashed a lap earlier – and there was a crane there, trying to remove Sutil’s car. Bianchi hit the crane, and in the process, sustained a serious head injury.

He has had surgery and is currently in intensive care, and all we can do is keep our fingers crossed, pray, and send him all our best wishes – which I am sure everyone will do.

In a horrible twist, Bianchi’s accident was not the only bit of bad news to befall Formula 1 yesterday. Former driver Andrea De Cesaris, whose career spanned 14 years from 1980 to 1994, was killed yesterday in a motorbike accident in Rome.

Sunday has been a day that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons in F1 circles, and I wish Bianchi a speedy recovery, and De Cesaris to rest peacefully.

huh

A blog post that cuts across two subjects… first of all, a look back to my frankly strange dream last night.

My dream last night started out with me being driven around the Monaco F1 circuit by Martin Brundle. I was asking him questions about the sport and I vividly recall asking him a question about Nigel Mansell that, for whatever reason, he declined to entertain. We also took advantage of driving past the shops to stop and window shop – as you do.

He struck me as being very eloquent (which to be honest, is how Brundle comes across when presenting F1), and knowledgeable about the sport. It was a good dream.

A bit weird, but entertaining. After that, it got very weird.

Back in August I had a phone call to tell me that a very nice man I knew via work had passed away. I’ve been meaning to phone his wife and check on her (and today I did indeed call her), and I think this must have been playing upon my mind. I dreamed that I went round to see her and make sure she was alright. Whilst there, we performed some sort of ritual and her husband’s spirit took over my body – but only for a short time.

During this ‘experience’, we listened to some music and danced, and we both got very emotional – in floods of tears. As his spirit left me, his wife was asking me if I knew why ’52’ was important. I couldn’t answer, and felt very upset. In the dream, I felt really upset, virtually in tears, and this was enough to actually wake me up. I haven’t been jolted awake by a dream for a long time, so this was very unusual.

I’m still not really sure what to make of this dream.

 

So, over the past couple of days I’ve been writing some additional material for my Formula 1 page – namely a series of pages about some of the sports most iconic figures and teams. However, looking back on what I’ve written so far, I’ve come to the conclusion that these pages are just re-writes of material already found on Wikipedia. What I want these pages to be is more personal. They should be about my memories, not a dry rehash of stuff already written.

With that in mind, this means my new F1 pages will be delayed a little bit whilst I go back and change them.

So, another race done and dusted. The heat and humidity of Singapore overcome for another year. After a dramatic qualifying session yesterday that saw Lewis Hamilton snatch pole by just 0.007 seconds, the chances were good that the battle would be a tight one between himself and title rival (and Mercedes teammate) Nico Rosberg.

The race produced late drama but not because of anything Rosberg did. His race was effectively over before it even began, an electrical problem with his steering wheel extending to problems with gear control and telemetry that saw him forced to start from the pit lane. His pace was off and an attempt to ‘reboot’ the car in the pits failed, leaving him unable to continue after just 14 laps.

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(Hamilton leads into the first few turns as Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso runs wide – picture via The Sunday Telegraph)

Hamilton’s win was not easy though. Whilst he peeled away from the pack quite easily at the start, and looked to be comfortably in control after the first round of pit stops, a safety car period (an ideal time for fresh tyres and with a mandatory pit stop still to come) was not exploited, and Lewis, although on the softer, faster tyre, needed to build up a lead of at least 27 seconds to be sure of getting into the pits and out again ahead of Vettel. In the end, with a handful of laps to go, Hamilton made his stop, and came out right behind the German.

On fresher tyres and in a better car, Hamilton swiftly got past Vettel’s Red Bull, and went on to win.

That win now sees Hamilton take a three-point lead in the title race, and leads for the first time since May. There is still some way to go, but Lewis has seven wins to Rosberg’s four, has won the last two, and looks to be getting some momentum. Will he be able to maintain it, or will Rosberg respond?

ItalianGP(Picture courtesy of the BBC)

So, two weeks after the hijinks of Belgium, Formula 1 has returned to our screens! This time, for once, Lewis Hamilton managed to have a good race (apart from a poor start), and it was Rosberg who made mistakes under pressure, twice running off the track at the first turn after getting his braking wrong.

Hamilton drove well, kept up the pace and, after clearing the Mclaren of Magnussen and the Williams of Massa, quickly bore down upon Rosberg. On a track that demands speed, Hamilton had it, outpacing Rosberg quite nicely. In the end, it was a deserved win – though the distance between the pair on points is still quite big.

Hamilton needs to win every race if Rosberg is second in every race – a tall order, especially given his mechanical luck this year – so realistically, he needs Rosberg to suffer a mechanical failure or two of his own, if he is to close the gap.

Daniel Riccardo once again displayed the traits of a future world champion, including (but not limited to) a bold overtaking move on his four-time world champion team mate Vettel, to claim fifth place. Massa took third (his first podium since Spain last year), and showed the progress of Williams. His team mate Bottas was also full of overtaking moves, prepared to be brave when it mattered.

Ferrari’s home grand prix wasn’t a memorable one for them. Alonso retired due to mechanical problems and Raikkonen could only manage tenth place – disappointing for them, and they will want to improve when F1 next gets together.

Can Lewis maintain his form? How will Rosberg respond? What sparks will fly next time out? I cannot wait!

So the 2014 Belgium Grand Prix has just finished, Daniel Riccardo of Red Bull has his third win of the year (and second in a row), Nico Rosberg has claimed second place, and Bottas has taken third. Poor old Lewis Hamilton, needing a good result today to boost his title chances, had his race ruined on the 2nd lap, but none other than… Nico Rosberg, his Mercedes teammate.

Rosberg made a clumsy move to overtake Hamilton on lap 2 as they reached the second sector of the lap, and the end result was a punctured tyre, damaged floorboard, and a ruined race for Lewis. Though Rosberg lost part of his front-wing, his race wasn’t compromised enough to cost him serious points.

I can only hope that Hamilton’s luck turns soon. He’s had two mechanical failures leading to retirements (compared to one retirement for Rosberg), two mechanical issues in qualifying (to Rosberg’s none), and now, once again through no fault of his own, a race that’s been ruined. The points lost through no fault of his own are far greater now than the points lost by Nico, and it’s going to be these incidents and failures, rather than actual racing, that end up deciding the title if this trend continues.

Credit to Daniel Riccardo and Red Bull – in qualifying the Mercedes were far faster than everyone, but Danny and RBR took advantage of circumstances in the race to maximise their chases and the end result was another solid drive by Riccardo and another good win. If the Mercs keep taking points off each other, he could yet sneak up on them.

He’s also outperforming his more experienced, four-time world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel. Much has been made in the Formula 1 community of Vettel’s apparent reliance on a good car to win titles, and a lot of people have been waiting for him to prove himself outside of his comfort zone. So far this year, he has not looked able to do that, and he has clearly not adapted as well to the new regulations and car designs as well as Riccardo.

So, seven races remain. Mclaren got both cars into the points, Kimi Raikkonen actually managed to squeeze his Ferrari into fourth (his best finish of the year and he beat teammate Fernando Alonso in the process) and some good wheel-to-wheel racing. Spa always produces and this year has been no difference. Roll on Italy and Monza next time!