2018 German GP – Preview

After a brilliant, and somewhat chaotic British Grand Prix at Silverstone blighted by a number of incidents, where Sebastian Vettel claimed just his second victory at the British Grand Prix, the first for Ferrari at Silverstone since 2011, and his fourth of the season despite a exceptional comeback drive from Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton to finish in a sensational second after being tagged by Vettel’s teammate Kimi Räikkönen on the opening lap, forcing him to last place, Round 11 of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship takes place at the Hockenheimring in Hockenheim in Germany with the championship well and truly poised.

Vettel (171 points) leads the world championship by eight points over Hamilton (163 points), with Räikkönen (116 points) third in the standings after finishing third at the British Grand Prix despite receiving a 10-second time penalty for turning around Hamilton on the opening lap. Räikkönen leads a four-way battle for third in the championship separated by 23 points with Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer driver Daniel Ricciardo (106 points), who finished fifth at Silverstone, Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas (104 points), who finished fourth, and Ricciardo’s teammate Max Verstappen (93 points), who unfortunately had to retire (classified in 15th) from the British Grand Prix due to brake issues after completing 46 of 52 laps after being in third position for much of the race.

Behind them is a tight battle for seventh in the world championship separated by just three points between Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg (42 points), who finished an impressive sixth at Silverstone, McLaren-Renault’s Fernando Alonso (40 points), who finished eighth, and Haas-Ferrari driver Kevin Magnussen (39 points), who was ninth at the British Grand Prix, while Hülkenberg’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. (28 points) is 10th in the championship despite crashing out following a collision with Magnussen’s teammate Romain Grosjean at Copse after 37 laps in what was deemed a racing incident.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari (287 points) have extended their lead over Mercedes (267 points) to 20 points, while Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (199 points) sit in an ever-comfortable third. Behind them, Renault (70 points) have consolidated fourth-place in the championship, while a titanic battle is forming for fifth in the championship between Haas-Ferrari (51 points), Force India-Mercedes (49 points), and McLaren-Renault (48 points), with only three points separating the three teams.

Then it is Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (19 points), Sauber-Ferrari (16 points), and Williams-Mercedes (four points) completing the standings.

So, who will win the German Grand Prix?

It is a hard one to pick given that the characteristics of both the Ferrari and the Mercedes should suit the Hockenheimring, as should Red Bull’s car, but if I was going to tip someone to win, it would either be Sebastian Vettel or Lewis Hamilton.

2018 British GP – Preview

After a strange, but interesting race at the Red Bull Ring where Max Verstappen won the Austria Grand Prix, Red Bull’s first win at their home race, the two Ferrari’s finished on the podium with Kimi Räikkönen ahead of Sebastian Vettel, and three key retirements in Valtteri Bottas (Hydraulics on Lap 13), Daniel Ricciardo (Exhaust on Lap 53), and Lewis Hamilton (Fuel pressure on Lap 62), with Hamilton retiring for the first time since the 2016 Malaysia Grand Prix, the race that proved decisive in handing Nico Rosberg, Hamilton’s teammate at the time, his first and only world championship, ending a consecutive points-scoring streak of 33 races, an Formula One record, the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship heads to Silverstone to one of the jewels in the crown, the British Grand Prix.

Vettel (146 points) has re-taken the lead of the world championship by a single point ahead of Mercedes driver Hamilton (145 points), with Vettel’s teammate Räikkönen (101 points) jumping up to third after his second-place finish in Austria, but is in close battle for third in the championship ahead of Ricciardo (96 points), Verstappen (93 points), and Hamilton’s teammate Bottas (92 points), with only nine points separating Räikkönen in third and Bottas in sixth in the championship.

Behind them in the championship, Kevin Magnussen (37 points) jumps up from 10th to seventh in the championship after finishing a brilliant fifth for Haas-Ferrari, and is ahead of Fernando Alonso (36 points) who finished eighth after another tough weekend for McLaren-Renault, with the two Renault’s in Nico Hülkenberg (34 points), and Carlos Sainz Jr. (28 points) completing the top 10 in the championship after retiring, and finishing 12th respectively at the Red Bull Ring, not scoring any points.

In terms of the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari (247 points) have taken over the lead from Mercedes (237 points) by 10 points, with Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (189 points) comfortably in third. Renault (62 points) are still in fourth after their double retirement, but a group of teams are starting to come after them, most notably Haas-Ferrari (49 points), McLaren-Renault (44 points), and Force India-Mercedes (42 points), while Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (19 points), Sauber-Ferrari (16 points), and Williams-Mercedes (four points) look out of the battle for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship.

So, who will win the British Grand Prix?

On paper, and quite clearly on paper, the Mercedes looks like the car to beat, and Lewis Hamilton is the man to beat, looking to become not only the first man to win the British Grand Prix six times, surpassing the records of Jim Clark and Alain Prost, but Hamilton is also looking to become the first man to win the British Grand Prix five years in a row, surpassing Clark’s record.

Ferrari, and Red Bull should be strong too, but the Mercedes will have too much for them, and barring reliability or mistakes, Hamilton will win the British Grand Prix in 2018, ahead of his teammate Valtteri Bottas, with Kimi Räikkönen in third.

2018 French GP – Preview

After a dominant victory for Sebastian Vettel in Montreal, achieving his 50th win in Formula One career in the process, becoming just the fourth driver in Formula One history after Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, and Alain Prost to achieve this feat, and a disappointing fifth-place finish for Hamilton at the Canadian Grand Prix, Round Eight of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship takes place at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet in France for the first French Grand Prix since 2008, but the first one at the Circuit Paul Ricard since 1990, with only a point separating the two main championship contenders.

Vettel (121 points) leads the world championship for Ferrari by a single point over Hamilton (120 points) heading into the French Grand Prix. Vettel has been good without being dominant in 2018 with his victory in Canada being his third of the season (the most of any driver), but his first since the second race of the season in Bahrain, while Hamilton has been trying to find consistent form for Mercedes with perhaps his two best performances of the season so far being in Australia, where a win was taken away from him due to the circumstances of the virtual safety car back in the opening race of the season, and in Spain, where he won by a dominant 20.593 seconds over his teammate Valtteri Bottas to claim his second victory of the season in a Mercedes one-two in backing up the surprising victory he had in Azerbaijan.

However, beyond Vettel and Hamilton, the battle in the championship is starting to heat up beautifully for third in championship between Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Räikkönen, and perhaps Max Verstappen.

Bottas (86 points) has regained third in the championship after an impressive second-place finish in Montreal, making it four-straight podiums for the Finnish driver in Canada, while Ricciardo (84 points) slips to fourth for Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer after finishing fourth.

He is ahead of Vettel’s teammate Räikkönen (68 points) in the championship after finishing a disappointing sixth, but is still ahead of Ricciardo’s teammate Verstappen (50 points) in the standing, despite the Dutch driver having his cleanest, and best weekend of the season so far, finishing third from third on the grid after topping all of the practice sessions.

In terms of the battle towards the back-end of the top 10 in the championship, Fernando Alonso and Nico Hülkenberg are both locked on 32 points in seventh and eighth in the championship for McLaren-Renault, and Renault respectively, with Alonso ahead of Hülkenberg in the championship due to a fifth-place finish in Australia, compared to two sixth-place finishes for Hülkenberg.

Alonso will be coming into the French Grand Prix on a high after winning the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans for Toyota Gazoo Racing alongside Sébastien Buemi (Scuderia Toro Rosso driver 2009-2011), and Kazuki Nakajima (Williams driver 2007-2009), completing the second leg of the Triple Crown (Monaco Grand Prix, 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Indianapolis 500) he is attempting to achieve after winning the Monaco Grand Prix twice (2006 and 2007), which has been a huge subject in regards to his future in Formula One, as well as the competitiveness of his McLaren.

Only time will tell in terms of what he does next.

Completing the top 10 in the championship is Hülkenberg’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. (24 points), and Haas-Ferrari driver Kevin Magnussen (19 points).

As far as the Constructors’ Championship is concerned, Mercedes (206 points), with a new power-unit coming in time for this weekend, leads by 17 points over Ferrari (189 points), with Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer (134 points) in a comfortable third in the championship. Behind them, Renault (56 points) have pulled away from McLaren-Renault (40 points) in the battle for fourth after a double-points finish for the French constructor in Canada, with Force India-Mercedes (28 points) sitting in sixth position ahead of a battle for seventh in the championship between Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (19 points) and Haas-Ferrari (19 points), while Sauber-Ferrari (12 points), and the hapless Williams-Mercedes (four points) complete the standings.

So, who will win the first French Grand Prix since 2008?

Looking at the Circuit Paul Ricard, the layout of the circuit suits Mercedes and Ferrari a little better on paper compared to Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer, but I am not willing to pick a definitive winner given how tight this season has been, but I think it will either be Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, or Kimi Räikkönen lifting the winner’s trophy come Sunday.

 

 

2018 Canadian GP – Preview

After one of the all-time great performances in Formula One history by Daniel Ricciardo to win the Monaco Grand Prix, winning after his MGU-K failed after just 18 laps, managing to keep the opposition, including Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, behind him for the remaining 60 laps of the race to take a famous victory, the seventh of his career, and the first from pole position, the 2018 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship heads to Montreal and to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton (110 points) still leads the world championship for Mercedes after finishing third in Monaco, and leads by 14 points over Vettel (96 points), who finished second behind Ricciardo in the principality for Ferrari.

Talking about Ricciardo (72 points), he has moved up to third in the world championship for Red Bull-TAG Heuer after his second victory of the season, although 38 points behind, but appears likely to have his ambitions of a victory in Canada, the scene of his first victory in Formula One, dented with Red Bull-TAG Heuer likely to elected to use a third MGU-K for the season, exceeding the limit of two, which will mean a 10-place grid penalty.

In a summary of the 2018 Sporting Regulations on the official Formula One website in regards to the power unit and ERS,

“Each driver is permitted to use only three ICE, MGU-H and TC, and only two ES, CE and MGU-K during a championship season and any combination of them may be fitted to a car at any one time. Should a driver use more than that during the course of a season, a grid penalty will be imposed.

“The first time a driver uses an additional element over and above the prescribed limits, a ten-place grid penalty will be given. If he then uses other additional elements a five-place penalty (or penalties) is imposed. Use yet a further example of any given element and another ten-place penalty is received – and so on.

“During any single event, if a driver introduces more than one of a power unit element that is subject to a grid penalty, only the last element fitted may be used at subsequent events without further penalty.”

So, it appears that Ricciardo will have to start near or at the back of the grid, which should make for a very interesting race come Sunday (Monday morning Australian time)!

Valtteri Bottas (68 points) slips back to fourth in the championship for Mercedes after finishing fifth in Monaco, eight points ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen (60 points), who finished a place ahead of Bottas in the streets of the principality, while Ricciardo’s teammate Max Verstappen (35 points) is 25 points behind Räikkönen in sixth position after coming back to finish ninth in Monaco, paying for his shaky and erratic form at the start of the season, being involved in incidents or making mistakes in each of the first six races.

I know he is young, but Verstappen has got to learn that he cannot continue making the sorts of mistakes that he is making because it has, and it will continue to cost him dearly. Big mistakes have arguably cost him the Chinese Grand Prix, and the Monaco Grand Prix, as well as the chance to be in the world championship.

He may be young, but Red Bull have a long and proud history of showing no leniency to anyone performing below expectations, no matter how old, young, or experienced they are, and at the moment, you sense things are happening way too soon for Verstappen.

Behind Verstappen in the championship is Fernando Alonso (32 points) for McLaren-Renault, who is just three points behind Verstappen in seventh despite his first retirement of the season (gearbox) in a race where McLaren-Renault would have expected to have garnered a big points haul.

Nico Hülkenberg (26 points) is eighth in the championship for Renault after finishing eighth in Monaco, ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. (20 points), who completed a double-points finish for Renault in 10th, while Kevin Magnussen (19 points) hangs onto his spot inside the top 10 for Haas-Ferrari despite finishing 13th on what was a difficult weekend on the streets of the principality.

Looking at the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (178 points) have a 22 point lead over Ferrari (156 points) with Red Bull-TAG Heuer (107 points) comfortably in third. Behind them, there is a great battle for fourth between Renault (46 points) and McLaren-Renault (40 points) with only six points separating them, while a huge fight is developing for sixth in the championship between Force India-Mercedes (26 points), Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda (19 points), Haas-Ferrari (19 points), and Sauber-Ferrari (11 points), while Williams-Mercedes (four points) will be hoping Canada is a better reflection of what their car is capable of.

So, who will win in Canada?

Looking at the form book of not only the drivers, but also the teams, you can’t go past Lewis Hamilton equalling Michael Schumacher’s record of seven wins in Montreal, and on Saturday equalling Schumacher’s record of 10 front row starts at one circuit, but you can also see Sebastian Vettel being a close rival in Canada, along with Valtteri Bottas, and Kimi Räikkönen, with Red Bull-TAG Heuer being a little bit behind on this power-dependent circuit.

 

 

 

2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Preview

The 20th and final round of the 2017 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship takes place this weekend from the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, and while the battle for both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship has been decided, there is still plenty to play for many drivers and teams on the grid.

Lewis Hamilton (345 points) for Mercedes leads the drivers’ championship by an unassailable 43 points over Sebastian Vettel (302 points) for Ferrari. Hamilton had an unusual weekend in Brazil, being strong in practice before losing control of his car on the first flying lap in qualifying, going straight into the wall, forcing him to a pit-lane start after his team decided to change and add new components to his car. Then he stormed from the back of the field to the front, leading the race for 13 laps, starting on Lap 30, before finishing in fourth, 5.468 seconds behind race winner Vettel.

Vettel, after his win in Brazil, is on track to claim second spot in the championship ahead of Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas (280 points). This will only change if Bottas wins in Abu Dhabi, and Vettel finishes ninth or lower.

The battle for fourth in the championship is interesting between Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo (200 points), and Vettel’s teammate Kimi Räikkönen (193 points), who are only separated by seven points in the championship. They are followed in the championship by Ricciardo’s teammate Max Verstappen (158 points), who cannot catch fifth-place Räikkönen in the championship standings.

Also important to note is that it will be the final race in the Formula One career of Felipe Massa, currently 10th in the championship on 42 points. From 268 starts, Massa has won 11 races, claimed 41 podiums, 16 pole positions, and 15 fastest laps in a career spanning from 2002 to 2017, driving for Sauber, Ferrari, and Williams. We wish him all the very best for his future endeavours!

Looking at the constructors’ championship, Mercedes (625 points), Ferrari (495 points), Red Bull (358 points), and Force India (177 points) have secured the top four spots respectively, while Williams (82 points), Toro Rosso (53 points), who are starting their last race with a Renault engine, Renault (49 points), and Haas (47 points) are all in mathematical contention for fifth spot, while McLaren (28 points), who are starting their last race with a Honda engine, are in mathematical contention for sixth spot in the constructors’ championship, and are ahead of Sauber (five points), who are in mathematical contention for eighth in the championship.

As for who is going to win the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, this circuit on paper suits the Ferrari, and should really ought to end the season on a high, for Vettel to secure second spot in championship, but I think Lewis Hamilton is going to bounce back after a couple of difficult races to claim his 10th victory of the season to set a marker for the 2018 season.

 

The first two practice sessions (90 minutes each) are on Friday at 1pm and 5pm local time (Friday 8pm and Saturday 12am AEDT).

The final practice session (60 minutes) and qualifying is on Saturday at 2pm and 5pm local time (Saturday 9pm and Sunday 12am AEDT).

The 55 lap race is on Sunday from 5pm local time (Monday 12am AEDT).

2017 Brazilian Grand Prix – Preview

The 19th round of the 2017 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship takes place this weekend from the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in São Paulo in Brazil, and after the Mexican Grand Prix, the championship battle has been decided.

Lewis Hamilton has claimed his fourth world championship after finishing ninth in Mexico after the front wing of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari made contact with the right-rear tyre of Hamilton’s Mercedes, and while Vettel managed to recover to fourth-place after being forced to pit for a new front wing, it was no where near enough to keep his championship hopes, and deny Hamilton, at least for now, his fourth world championship.

In finishing ninth, Hamilton was also lapped, marking the first time that he has been lapped since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, which was his first season with the Mercedes team, but it didn’t matter as he joined Michael Schumacher (7), Juan Manuel Fangio (5), Alain Prost (4), and Sebastian Vettel (4) as having won four world championships or more.

In addition to this, by finishing ninth, Hamilton has kept his streak of 23-consecutive points-scoring races going, which is the equal-third best streak in Formula One history, and thus keeps alive the possibility of finishing every race of the season inside the points for the first time in his Formula One career.

As far as the championship standings are concerned, Hamilton (333 points) leads by an unassailable 56 points over Vettel (277 points), with a battle looming for second in the championship between the German, and Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas (262 points), with both drivers guaranteed of finishing inside the top three in the 2017 championship after Daniel Ricciardo’s second retirement in as many races.

Ricciardo (192 points) is fourth in the championship, ahead of Vettel’s teammate Kimi Räikkönen (178 points), and Ricciardo’s Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen (148 points), who claimed his second victory of the season in Mexico, and has finished three of the last four races on the podium after getting decent run of reliability during the last four races.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes (595 points), Ferrari (455 points), Red Bull (340 points), and Force India (175 points) have secured first, second, third, and fourth in the championship respectively, with fifth through to 10th still yet to be decided.

So, who is going to win the Brazilian Grand Prix?

The Mercedes on paper should be the car most suited to this circuit, but both Ferrari, and in recent times, Red Bull, have shown that they can match it with Mercedes at most circuits. However, if Hamilton qualifies at the front, if not on pole position, you just can’t see anyone stopping him claiming his 10th race victory in 2017.

 

The first two practice sessions (90 minutes each) are on Friday at 10am and 2pm local time (Friday 11pm and Saturday 3am AEDT).

The final practice session (60 minutes) and qualifying is on Saturday at 11am and 2pm local time (Sunday 12am and 3am AEDT).

The 71 lap race is on Sunday from 2pm local time (Monday 3am AEDT).

 

2017 Japanese Grand Prix – Preview

This weekend, the 16th round of the 2017 Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship takes place from the Suzuka International Racing Course, also known as the Suzuka Circuit, in Japan, which is about 70 kilometres south-west of the Japanese city of Nagoya.

And with Lewis Hamilton taking some more points off Sebastian Vettel, this world championship battle is set to heat up at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Hamilton (281 points) leads the world drivers’ championship for Mercedes by 34 points over Vettel (247 points) after finishing second behind Red Bull driver Max Verstappen last weekend at the Malaysia Grand Prix in what was considered to be a disappointing result for Mercedes after struggling to find their normal pace during practice, and while Hamilton did secure his 70th pole position in his Formula One career, he did not have the speed to hold of Verstappen in the race.

However, he did gain six more points over Vettel in the championship after his Ferrari had major technical issues on Saturday relating to the power-unit in his car, meaning that he couldn’t set a time in qualifying, which meant he started from last on the grid, although the major benefit from that disappointment was that he was able to take on extra power-unit components without effectively serving a penalty.

However, despite a storming drive in his Ferrari from 20th on the grid to finish fourth, more pain was to follow for Vettel on the cool-down lap, colliding with Williams driver Lance Stroll, damaging his Ferrari significantly, meaning that he might have to take a grid penalty for a gearbox change should his team find damage to his gearbox, which could mean further pain in his quest to win a fifth world championship.

Third in the championship is Valtteri Bottas (222 points), 59 points behind teammate Hamilton in the standings after finishing a disappointing fifth in Malaysia, and has really been out of sorts since the summer break, generally struggling for speed in comparison to his teammate, and not producing the performances that he expects from himself. Bottas will need to lift his performances in support of Hamilton if he wants Hamilton to win his fourth world championship.

Daniel Ricciardo (177 points) is fourth in the world championship, 104 points behind Hamilton, and the last driver (other than Hamilton, Vettel, and Bottas) in mathematical contention for the drivers’ championship, although Ricciardo has accepted for sometime that he wasn’t going to have the machinery to contend for the championship, after finishing third in Malaysia.

Kimi Räikkönen (138 points) is fifth in the championship for Ferrari after power-unit/battery issues caused him to be wheeled from the grid, and he was unable to start in the Malaysia Grand Prix, which was a huge shame considering that he was starting from the front row of the grid, and certainly he had the pace to win in his Ferrari. Räikkönen could have also helped his teammate remain closer to Hamilton in the championship if he was able to participate, and finish ahead of Hamilton (either first or second), which would have meant Hamilton would have only gained five points over Vettel instead of the six points that he did gain over Vettel.

Sixth in the championship is Verstappen (93 points), who finally had some luck go his way, winning the Malaysia Grand Prix after overtaking Hamilton on Lap Four at Turn One, and then leading 51 of the remaining 53 laps to take a comfortable 12.770 second victory over Hamilton, which was only the second race win of Verstappen’s young career, which happened the day after his 20th Birthday!

In terms of the Constructors’ World Championship, Mercedes (503 points) lead by 118 points over Ferrari (385 points) in the two-way battle for the constructors’ championship with Red Bull (270 points) in third, followed by Force India (133 points) in fourth, then Williams (65 points) in fifth, who have broken away slightly from Toro Rosso (52 points) in the battle for fifth in the championship, followed by Renault (42 points), Haas (37 points), and then McLaren (23 points), and Sauber (five points), who seem destined to finish 10th in the constructors’ championship.

Looking at trying to predict a result for the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix, I think that although it has been a couple of difficult weekends for Mercedes in terms of their speed, I would expect them to be back on top form at Suzuka, and although I think Ferrari and Red Bull will still be good in Japan, I believe Lewis Hamilton on a circuit tailor-made for him and his Mercedes, due to the long, fast corners, and the premium placed on having a strong power-unit, will dominate all of his rivals to claim victory ahead of a five-way battle for second and third between Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen, Daniel Ricciardo, and Max Verstappen.

 

The first two practice sessions (90 minutes each) are on Friday at 10am and 2pm local time (12pm and 4pm AEDT).

The final practice session (60 minutes) and qualifying is on Saturday at 12pm and 3pm local time (2pm and 5pm AEDT).

The 53 lap race is on Sunday from 2pm local time (4pm AEDT).