Archive | August 2013

Rumors mount amidst sleepy Win

Daniel+Ricciardo+F1+Jerez+Previews+B3KJrkXulxwlLocking another win away this season, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel strengthens his points lead on second place man Fernando Alonso, albeit amongst telltale “boos” signaling that nobody wants a fourth Vettel championship this year. Vettel cements his second Belgian Grand Prix win, as well as the notion that the German national anthem will end about three different times before it actually does. To round off the podium is Mercedes‘ pole sitter Lewis Hamilton.

All teams kept an eye to the sky on Sunday with dark clouds circling a remarkably dry track at Spa-Francorchamps. From start to finish we saw a remarkably unexciting display of dominance from the Red Bull of Vettel. Following turn two Vettel made his only move of the race by passing Hamilton, walking to an easy win over the next 43 laps. The comparisons to Michael Schumacher’s decade of dominance should be ever present in 2013, as the 2014 rule change seems to be the only thing that will bring racing back to… uhh… racing?

Nico Rosberg returned to pace at fourth position, following his poor result in Hungary last month. Mark Webber finished his last Formula One outing at Spa with fifth. Impressively, McLaren returns to the points with a surprising sixth position from Jenson Button. It seems the summer break has indeed brought some development to the weak performance of this historic team. Button started the race on a daring one stop strategy, pitting on lap 17 and attempting to run the last half on the hard compound. Rather oddly, McLaren reneged their strategy in favor of a two stop on the option tire.

Felipe Massa fell well behind his Ferrari teammate in seventh position with another vanilla performance for the Scuderia. Allegedly with only one race left to display his talents, the Ferrari veteran inches closer and closer to the door. Filling out the top ten is recently new parent Romain Grosjean for Lotus in eighth, the solitary Force India of Adrian Sutil in ninth, and a grinning Daniel Ricciardo for Toro Rosso.

Two big name retirements came Sunday, with brake failure for Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen and another stroke of bad luck for Paul di Resta. Coming into view of the pit lane, Williams‘ Pastor Maldonado made a foolish dash to the pit, turning right into the side of the Force India, leaving di Resta once again in poor standing after an electric qualifying the day prior.

Off the track, speculation and badmouthing are starting to mount regarding the possibility of a large driver shuffle between teams. Rumors point to young Daniel Ricciardo as the replacement for Mark Webber at season’s end. No official press release has been issued, but Ricciardo seemed a little too happy at day’s end for his tenth position finish. Button threw his name into the fray, mentioning that he may not finish his Formula One career at McLaren amid a tumultuous season.

So what to expect for Monza in two weeks? Ferrari should be very quick following great improvement by Alonso. Mercedes remains right in the thick of things with Hamilton and Rosberg, but realistically it will take a miracle for any driver to steal this championship away from Sebastian Vettel, who now holds his biggest points lead – ever. 2014 can’t come soon enough. See you in two weeks.

Hamilton tops Qualifying in Spa

450893-lewis-hamiltonA month’s time has passed since our Sunday mornings have held such excitement. The mandatory Formula One summer break has finally ended and we couldn’t be more excited to see what the second half of 2013 holds. If you’re just joining us, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel has walked out to an early mid-season points lead, but don’t give up hope on a new world champion just yet. Yesterday’s free practice and today’s qualifying show a new trend.

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton make good on summer promises with pole position Saturday, with a stunning show in Q3. With only seconds left on an already soaking Spa Circuit, Hamilton edges out pole from Vettel, pushing Mark Webber to third position and Nico Rosberg to fourth. Performance was stunning due to the conditions, but more remarkable was the tenacity of Force India’s Paul di Resta. Qualifying has been downright poor for di Resta this season, but after nudging his way into Q3, di Resta made the boldly started on the Intermediate compound – among a field buttoned up in dry tires. The tactic worked, cementing pole position for most of the Q3 duration, to be slid back to fifth as the clock ran out, tying di Resta’s best starting position.

Stroke of good luck or real progress in Woking? You decide. Jenson Button put his McLaren in sixth position following some good and bad practices this weekend. Perhaps McLaren has improved the car, but we suspect it’s just Button working at the limit. Remember, he won this race last year.

Rounding out the top ten are the Lotuses of Grosjean and Raikkonen, followed by the Ferraris of Alonso and Massa. Massa allegedly has been given his two-race ultimatum – perform or close the door on Ferrari. Stay tuned for a recap of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix at historic Spa Francorchamps.