Wednesday, 27 May 2015

On the move

As of today Paddock Eye can now be found at

© Ben Johnston 2015

No need to change the rules, teams just need to catch up

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

FIA president Jean Todt has stated that changing the Formula One regulations is not necessary to encourage greater competition in the sport.

Formula One events around the world have seen a drop off in spectator attendance in recent seasons however the television audience figures particularly in the United Kingdom have increased dramatically recently.

Speaking to Canal+ Todt compared Formula One to the Tennis championship at Roland Garros where in the last nine of ten years the same person has won the title and that has no sparked changes in Tennis so just because one team is dominating Formula One at the moment the Frenchman sees no reason for change.

Following four years of Infiniti Red Bull Racing dominating the sport, Formula One switched from 2.4 litre V8 engines to 1.6 litre V6 turbo charged more fuel efficient power units from last year which saw a shift in dominance.

The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team took victory in both the Drivers and Constructors championship in 2014 with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg securing all but three victories.
Todt has stated that it is just a case of the other teams working harder to try and do a better job than Mercedes.

So this season, Mercedes have taken all but one victory as Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix. So far this season we have also seen Mercedes and Ferrari take the top three spots on the podium.

If Formula One persists in changing the rules every few years it runs the risk of alienating fans. The main reason for the drop off in Grand Prix attendance is down to the fact that ticket prices are so high and this is something that needs to be addressed as soon as possible and the sport should be focusing on how to make it more affordable for fans and not how to improve the show.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Updates on the way for McLaren Honda

(McLaren Honda)

The McLaren Honda Formula One team are set to embark on an ambitious development programme with the MP4-30 as they look to build on their first point’s finish of the season.

The Monaco Grand Prix saw Jenson Button secure an eighth place finish for the Woking based outfit which was fantastic result for the outfit who have had an extremely tough start to their new relationship with Honda which begin this season.

McLaren have now revealed that they will introduce an upgrade package for the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring next month. The team also plan to introduce a further upgrade package for the Hungarian Grand Prix which is the final race before the mid-season summer break. McLaren head to the Canadian Grand Prix next week in Montreal which has similar characteristics to the last race in Monaco in that it is described as a mix of a permanent and temporary race track.

Montreal has been a happy hunting ground for the McLaren Honda racing team and they will be hoping that they can be competitive next weekend although they are lacking in the power unit department which could prove to be problematic for the team on the long straights in Montreal due to their lack of horse power.

The team will be hoping to use their result in Monaco last time out at as platform to build on in the next few Grand Prix.

© Ben Johnston 2015 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Hinchcliffe leaves hospital

(Steve Swope for Team Penske)

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe has been released from the  IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis following his accident at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week.

The Canadian was left with pelvic and other injuries and as a result will miss at least this weekend's duel in Detroit double header.

Schmidt Peterson announced shortly before the Mayor of HinchTown's release that Conor Daly will drive the No.5 entry this weekend.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Verstappen handed five place grid penalty for Canada following Grosjean crash

(Jean Michel Le Meur/DPPI for Renault Sport F1)

Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen has been handed a five place grid penalty and two penalty points on his Super licence after it was found the Dutch teenager had caused the Turn 1 accident with the Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean.

Verstappen’s car ended up buried in the TechPro barrier and it took the marshals a while to get the car out of the barrier. The accident brought out the safety car which ended resulted in the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team pitting Lewis Hamilton and in doing so handed victory to Nico Rosberg.

Verstappen will start the Canadian Grand Prix five places back from where he qualifies following the accident but the teenager is aiming to bounce back from the difficult race in Monaco having seen his team mate Carlos Sainz come from a pit-lane start to finish in the points in 10th place which is an incredible achievement anywhere but particularly around the unforgiving street circuit of Monte Carlo.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Daly replaces injured Hinchcliffe for the Duel In Detroit

Conor Daly - website

Conor Daly will replace the injured James Hinchcliffe at this weekend’s Verizon IndyCar Series double header in Belle Isle for the Detroit Grand Prix.

Daly will drive the No.5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry on May 30/31. The Indiana native drove in the Indianapolis 500 for SPM No.43 but retired from the race following mechanical issues. Daly stated that he is honoured to be filling in for the Mayor of Hinch Town.

Daly went on to say that he hopes to do the best job he can in keeping the No.5 seat warm for Hinchcliffe. Speaking about the announcement Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team owner Sam Schmidt stated that he is pleased to give a young American rising star the opportunity to race in the Verizon IndyCar Series. 

© Ben Johnston 2015

Something needs to be done to avoid a repeat of the accidents that we have seen at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this month

(Steve Swope for Team Penske)

The Indianapolis 500 is over for another year and ahead next year’s 100th edition of the most historic race in motorsport the organisers of the event and the Indy Racing League need to come together to find a solution to the issues that the sport had over the course of the month of May.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway have confirmed that renovation work will be done at the venue ahead of the 2016 event.

During the build up to this year’s event there were a number of horrendous accidents on the famous Brickyard. Penske Racing Team’s Helio Castroneves was involved in a huge accident which saw his No.3 Penske Racing machine flip upside down and land right side up. The Brazilian walked away from the accident unhurt but it was an extremely frightening accident.

In practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway prior to the race last week, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports James Hinchcliffe had a horrendous accident and suffered massive blood loss after a suspension element pierced the cockpit of his car.

The Canadian underwent surgery at the IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. The following day Josef Newgarden flipped his car in another horrifying accident while CFH Racing co-owner Ed Carpenter was also involved in a big crash when his car also flipped prior to the Indianapolis 500. He managed to the race but retired on lap 112 of the race following contact.

Chip Ganassi Racing Team’s Sebastian Saavedra ended up with a dislocated foot following a three car collision on lap 175 of the 200 lap event. As a result, the Colombian will miss this weekend’s double header at Belle Isle, Detroit.

The Indianapolis 500 also saw Dale Coyne Racing Team crew member Daniel Jang injured following pit road accident involving Dale Coyne Racing’s James Davison, Tristan Vautier and Pippa Mann. Jang underwent surgery at the IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis on foot injuries he suffered during the accident.

© Ben Johnston 2015

HSE release findings of Maria De Villota accident and find the parties involved have no case to answer

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The Health and Safety Executive in the UK have concluded their investigation into Maria De Villota’s accident at Duxford Aerodrome in 2012 and have found that none of the parties involved have any case to answer.

The Spaniard who was a test driver for the Marussia F1 Team at the time was testing for the outfit when she crashed into a support team truck.

De Villota lost her right in the accident however she had a full recovery from the other injuries she suffered in the accident. At the time the than Marussia F1 Team ruled out any fault with the car as the cause of the accident.

The Manor Marussia F1 Team have refused to commented on the findings of the of HSE investigation.

Sadly Maria De Villota died in October 2013 at the age of 33. The Marussia F1 Team entered administration last year but were purchased earlier this year by Northern Irish businessman Stephen Fitzpatrick and entered the 2015 Formula One season as the Manor Marussia F1 Team with drivers Will Stevens and Robeto Merhi.

© Ben Johnston 2015

We will discover where the gremlin was

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s post Monaco Grand Prix debrief will take place behind closed doors at the reigning world champions Brackley HQ on Tuesday morning where Mercedes Executive Director Toto Wolff has confirmed that the Silver Arrows will determine where the gremlin in their data systems came from.

Speaking following the race, Toto Wolff stated that today the team both won and lost the Monaco Grand Prix.

He went on to say that he rates Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s chief strategist James Vowles extremely highly and that he like the rest of the team were fooled by the false data that they were receiving as a result of technical gremlins.

The team will now discuss in depth what happened on Sunday so that the situation does not arise again.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Saavedra super lucky following Indianapolis 500 crash

(@SebastianSaavedra via Twitter)

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Sebastian Saavedra has dislocated his foot following his crash at the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

The Colombian was stuck in his Chip Ganassi Racing No.8 car after crashing at Turn 4 of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday. Speaking to the Indianapolis start following his accident, Saavedra who had to have racing boot cut off in order for the safety team to free him from the car.

The Delphi safety crew worked feverishly to free Saavedra from the car and he was carried to a nearby recovery vehicle and transferred to the infield medical centre before being transferred to a nearby hospital for further treatment. 

When asked by the Indianapolis Star if he would be racing in Belle Isle this weekend Saavedra replied

‘I think that’s out of the equation’.

The Colombian confirmed that he is ‘super lucky’ not to have come away from the Indianapolis 500 with more serious injuries following the accident.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Monday, 25 May 2015

Second Indianapolis 500 victory tougher than the first for Montoya

(Steve Swope for Team Penske)

Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya was absolutely over the moon after securing his first Indianapolis 500 victory since the year 2000.

Montoya in only his second season back in the Verizon IndyCar Series came through the field from 30th place to lead home a Team Penske 1-2 finish with defending Series champion Will Power ending the race in second place with Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball finishing the race in third place.

Montoya returned to IndyCar following a spell in Formula One with Williams and McLaren before returning to America to team up once again with Chip Ganassi who he won his first Indianapolis 500 race with in the year 2000 except this time he was racing for Ganassi’s NASCAR team from 2007 after leaving the McLaren Formula One team in 2006 where he drove alongside current Scuderia Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen.

Speaking following his Indianapolis 500 victory, Montoya stated that he felt that this year’s win was tougher than his victory here in the year 2000. The Colombian won the 2000 event which was his debut Indianapolis 500 with Chip Ganassi Racing.

When discussing his victory on Sunday he said that it was ‘exciting’. Montoya heads to Verizon IndyCar double header at Belle Isle this weekend having attended his lead in the championship to 25 points over Penske team mate Will Power.

© Ben Johnston 2015 

Raikkonen has work to do

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Scuderia Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen endured an extremely tough Monaco Grand Prix weekend. The Iceman qualified for the jewel in the Formula One crown in 6th place and had a tough start to the event.

Raikkonen was than clipped by Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo which ‘wasn’t very nice’. The Finn had been on target to finish the race in fourth place but sadly it wasn’t to be.

Raikkonen admitted after the race that he needs to work on his performances in qualifying which has been his Achilles hill so far this season. 

Scuderia Ferrari have had a fantastic start to the 2015 Formula One season scoring six podium finishes in the opening six Grand Prix of the season including a victory for Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel finished on the podium yet again in Monaco as he ended the race in second place just behind fellow German, Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Nico Rosberg who took his third consecutive Monaco Grand Prix victory.

Raikkonen on the other hand retired from the opening race of the season in Melbourne Australia, however since then he has had extremely strong results. 

He has scored two fourth place finishes, a second place at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Fifth place in Spain and sixth place in Monaco. Following his result last weekend the Iceman remains in 4th place in the championship on 60 points, 38 behind team mate Sebastian Vettel and 18 ahead of fellow Finn and Williams Martini Racing Team driver Valtteri Bottas.

Raikkonen will be hoping for an improved qualifying performance next time out at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Jang undergoes surgery following pit road accident

Embedded image permalink
(@DaleCoyneRacing via Twitter)

Dale Coyne Racing Team crew member Daniel Yang underwent surgery on his right ankle on Sunday evening following the pit road accident during the Indianapolis 500 involving the Dale Coyne Racing cars.

Yang, who was one of two crew members to be injured also had surgery on his left foot. The No.18 wheel man is likely to remain in the IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis until Wednesday at the earliest. 

In a statement on their website Dale Coyne Racing confirmed that they would remain at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday to regroup before travelling to Belle Isle in Detroit Michigan for the double header Verizon IndyCar Series race.

The accident at the Indianapolis 500 saw James Davison and Tristan Vautier retire from the race while Pippa Mann went on to finish the event in 22nd place.

© Ben Johnston 2015

We are not thinking of leaving

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner has confirmed that the Milton Keynes based outfit has no intention of leaving Formula One saying over the Monaco Grand Prix weekend that team win together and lose together.

The four time world champions have struggled in the early stages of the 2015 Formula One season compared to rivals Mercedes and Ferrari which led to some people suggesting that Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz was considering selling the team and walking away from Formula One. There have been persistent rumours that Audi were going to buy into the team.

In the build up to last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix Audi confirmed that they have absolutely no intention to enter into Formula One.

The German manufacturer are already heavily involved in the World Endurance Championship and the German Touring Car Championship and this is one of the reasons why the company have decided not to pursue a Formula One project.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing have a contract in place with Renault until the end of next season and they also have a long term agreement with luxury car brand Infiniti.

The team are working extremely hard with Renault and this is beginning to bear fruit as Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo finished the Monaco Grand Prix in fourth and fifth place respectively. Red Bull are currently in fourth place in the Constructors championship on 52 points.  

© Ben Johnston 2015

Sunday, 24 May 2015

No.18 crew member undergoes x-rays following Indy pit road accident

The Dale Coyne Racing Team have confirmed that Daniel, one of the crew members from Carlos Huertas No.18 Verizon IndyCar machine has been treated in the IU Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for an ankle injury following an accident in pit road involving three of the Dale Coyne drivers.

The mechanic in question was treated at the medical centre at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before being transferred for X-Rays on his ankle.

The other mechanic involved in the accident was released from the medical centre following precautionary check by IMS medical staff.

© Ben Johnston 2015

First points of the season for McLaren Honda

(McLaren Honda)

McLaren Honda had a breakthrough race in Monaco today as Jenson Button not only started the race in the top ten but the 2009 world champion went on to score the Woking based outfit’s first points of the season but not only that the first points of their new partnership with Honda.
Button came home in eighth place earning the team four points. Although one side of the garage were happy on Fernando Alonso’s side of the garage there was disappointment as the Spaniard retired from the race following a gearbox failure.
Prior to the race Fernando Alonso stated that he hoped that the team would score points in Monte Carlo however for the Spaniard it wasn’t to be. Alonso was also left wondering why he was given a five second time penalty during his first stop following a first lap incident with Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s Nico Hulkenberg. Speaking following the race the double world champion stated:
At the start, I don't think I deserved the penalty [for the incident with Hulkenberg]. At that particular moment, I don't know what else I could have done.
“Most significantly, it’s a pity we couldn’t finish the race today. The car started to upshift in a really strange way on the lap before I stopped; then, on the first corner, I had no braking. The car stayed in neutral and I couldn’t put it in gear.
“That’s frustrating because we could have had both cars in the point for the first time this season. We need to keep improving the car to ensure these sorts of things don’t happen again. Still, having these problems this year is good, because it means we won’t repeat them next year.”ve
Fernando Alonso may have left Monaco disappointed in contrast his team mate Jenson Button was delighted with his performance saying that the MP4-30 had great race pace. The Woking based outfit’s performance this weekend just shows how hard they have worked with Honda in recent months and weeks and they will be hoping to use their result in Monaco as a foundation to build on for more points finishes over the course of the season starting next time out in Canada.
Speaking following the race Jenson Button stated:
It’s been a positive day for us. We were hoping to score a point today, and we scored four. I certainly didn’t expect to finish eighth.
“At the start I lost a position to Nico [Hulkenberg], but got it back by going around the outside of him at Turn Three on the first lap, which was good fun. Once I got past Pastor [Maldonado], my race was basically about turning quali lap after quali lap: it was flat-out.
“That was tough – in fact it was pretty physical out there – but I really enjoyed it.
“I’m really happy for the team – we’ve worked hard to get into this position, and they deserve this. We have work to do, but this is a hugely positive step for us.’
McLaren Honda’s result today means that only the Manor Marussia F1 Team are yet to score points this season. Speaking after seeing his team score points for the first time this season, McLaren Honda Racing Director Eric Boullier commented saying:
Since the beginning of the season we’ve been consistent in our messaging: we’re all working extremely hard, and the result of that arduous toil is steady improvement.
“Today, thanks to Jenson’s eighth place, our renewed McLaren-Honda partnership was rewarded with its first world championship points – a result that underlines that steady improvement.
“Okay, we’ve now squirrelled away four world championship points, but, although Jenson drove very well, we won’t waste time celebrating that milestone. Yes, it’s encouraging, but our ambitions run to far greater heights than eighth places. And we’ll achieve them, believe me.
“For Fernando, finally, this afternoon was another frustrating one, and we’re still investigating the cause of his retirement. He, too, drove very well, and, had his car proved reliable, would also have scored world championship points.’
Honda R&D senior managing officer of motorsport Yasuhisa Arai commented by saying:
Thanks to Jenson's steady run, and the team's effort to improve the power unit’s driveability for Monaco, we earned our first points of the season today. It feels like we’ve now finally arrived at the start-line of the race calendar.
“As for Fernando, he left the garage feeling confident that he could finish in the points. He was running well in the race – and I also felt confident that we could see both cars in the top 10 for the first time this season – but, unfortunately, a drive-fail warning popped up and ended his race prematurely.;As always, McLaren-Honda will keep pushing as a team and work towards better results at the next race.’
© Ben Johnston 2015

Pirelli Monaco Grand Prix Race Report

(Pirelli Motorsport Media)

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Nico Rosberg took a surprise victory in today’s Monaco Grand Prix using a one stop strategy. The German started the race on a used set of Super Soft tyres and switched a new set of Yellow Soft tyres on lap 37 of the race.

Rosberg started the race from second place on the grid alongside team mate Lewis Hamilton and went on to secure his third consecutive Monaco Grand Prix victory having taken the win in 2013, 2014 and of course this season.

Rosberg took the lead following a strategy error from the Mercedes pit-wall saw the Hamilton make a second pit-stop on lap 65 of the 78 lap race for a set of the Super Soft tyres.

While the majority of the field opted for either a one or two stop strategy, the Sauber F1 Team’s Marcus Ericsson and Williams Martini Racing Team’s Felipe Massa made three stops. Speaking following the race, Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery commented saying:

I was as surprised as everyone else to see the final pit stop that decided the outcome of the race. But that shouldn’t take anything away from the great job that Lewis Hamilton did throughout the entire weekend. It just goes to show that it’s never over until the chequered flag falls in Formula One: a fact that Nico Rosberg clearly appreciated today! The long safety car period at the end of the race obviously made maintaining tyre temperatures important at the re-start. In the end, we saw a spectacular finish, with the one-stop strategy that we predicted for the race used by the vast majority of competitors.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Strong race for Renault power in Monaco

(Renault Sport F1)

Renault Sport F1 had an extremely strong Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday after Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo finished the race in fourth and fifth place respectively. It was Kvyat’s best result to date in Formula One after overtaking his team mate following a planned swap after Ricciardo was unable to catch Hamilton to challenge for a podium finish.

Scuderia Toro Rosso had a mixed day as Max Verstappen who looked as if he was on course for a strong points scoring finish retired from the race with less than 15 laps to go following a massive crash as he attempted to overtake the Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean going into Turn 1.

Carlos Sainz did a fantastic job in the second Scuderia Toro Rosso as the Spaniard, who started the race from the pit-lane came home in 10th place. Speaking following the race, Renault Sport F1’s Director of Operations Remi Taffin commented by saying:

We arrived in Monaco focused on one thing; delivering consistent and reliable performance. We leave knowing we achieved this aim. It’s a step forward and follows our expected development curve. With another box ticked, we need to keep to this plan in the coming races. We know it will be hard, there’s no doubt about it, but this result confirms we are on track and going in the right direction. We will not give up until we are back to where we need to be.

Renault Sport’s Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul commented by saying:

The result today – fourth and fifth, very close to the podium – demonstrates the resilience of everyone at Viry. We started the season on the back foot and it has been an enormous task to keep motivated under fire. Every person has contributed to regaining our reliability, and performance is getting better each race. Now we need to keep fighting, and looking forward. We know we can do this, so we will keep our heads down and chipping away until we are where we want.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Pirelli Infograph from Monaco

(Pirelli Motorsport Media)

(Pirelli Motorsport Media)

© Ben Johnston 2015

What a crazy day as Rosberg takes a hollow victory as the team make a strategic error with Hamilton

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team had a bitter sweet end to the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday because although Nico Rosberg claimed his third straight Monaco Grand Prix victory it was under a massive cloud.

Lewis Hamilton who started the race from pole position dominated the race from the start and looked set for certain victory but with just over ten laps to go the team called the double world champion into the pits under the safety car which dropped him down to third place promoting team mate Nico Rosberg to win while Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel picked up his fifth podium of the season.
Speaking following the race Nico Rosberg stated:

That was my luckiest experience in racing so far. What a crazy race. I was surprised when I saw no one else behind the safety car than me. I didnt know what was happening in that moment. But I concentrated on getting temperature into the tyres as they felt like ice. Until the safety car Lewis has done a perfect job, he was better than me over the weekend, so he definitely deserved the win. I know how horrible he must feel now. This weekend was a warning for me that I have to work even harder for the next race in Montreal. For sure I also feel happy to win again here in Monaco. It's always so special, and one part of me will celebrate that victory today. A win is a win.

The race result means that Nico Rosberg has now closed the gap in the championship to ten points behind Hamilton as the teams head to Canada in two weeks. Speaking after the race an extremely disappointed Lewis Hamilton commented stating:

I can’t express the way I feel at the moment. I saw the team out in the pit-lane on one of the screens and thought Nico was pitting. I came in with full confidence that the others had done the same. This is a race that’s been close to my heart for years and it’s special to me, so I really wanted to win. The team have been brilliant all year, so I don’t blame them. We’ll analyse and work out what went wrong, but we’ll do that collectively and try to improve for the future. I always say to my team and my fans, we win and we lose together. You live to fight another day. 

Following the race, and extremely angry Mercedes Executive Director (Business) Toto Wolff and senior team management were seen in heated discussion in the office suit above the Mercedes garages. Speaking following the race and the meeting Wolff commented saying:

What a crazy day. I don’t think there has ever been a more bittersweet feeling than this one. We have won the Monaco Grand Prix and we have lost the Monaco Grand Prix all at the same time. First of all, we must apologise to Lewis. We win and we lose together and what I am proud of in this team is that we take collective responsibility. But this is a day when we simply have to say sorry to our driver, because our mistake cost him the victory here. What happened? In simple terms, we got our numbers wrong. We thought we had the gap for Lewis to take fresh tyres and come back out in the lead behind the Safety Car, ahead of Nico and covering off any risk of another competitor taking fresh tyres. But the calculation was incorrect and he came out in third place. It was our decision to call him in and our mistake, pure and simple; in these situations, a driver trusts his team. Lewis had driven flawlessly until then and really delivered a perfect weekend, with a stunning pole lap and a masterful race. There’s nothing more to say other than to highlight the grace with which he handled the situation; he was a leader and a true sportsman this afternoon. As for Nico, he didn’t put a foot wrong all day, and it would be wrong if we didn’t take the time to recognise his achievement: a third consecutive win in Monaco is something only three other drivers in history have achieved before. It is a very special moment indeed and one for him to savour. He didn’t have the pace of Lewis today but, in this sport, you take the victories any way they come. This, too, is motor racing. We now need to stay calm and analyse how we made the mistake this afternoon. We will be harshly self-critical behind closed doors and this experience will make us a better and a stronger team in the races ahead. There is still a very long way to go in this championship and today showed that we have the performance in our car to do the job this year.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Sensational drive by Montoya as he claims the Indianapolis 500 victory from 30th to victory lane

(Steve Swope for Team Penske)

Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya drove an absolutely incredible race on Sunday to take his second Indianapolis 500 victory coming from the back of the field in 30th place to lead home Penske team mate and defending series champion Will Power with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball coming home in third place.

Pole sitter Scott Dixon in the No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Team entry ended the race in fourth place with Graham Rahal giving David Letterman something to smile about after retiring from the Late Show on Friday as the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team driver finished in fifth place. Speaking after the race Rahal said he was happy for his team and feels good and is proud of his team.

Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti finished the race in 6th place with Juan Pablo Montoya’s Penske team mate Helio Castroneves came home in seventh place just ahead of JR Hildebrand in the Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing No. 6 machine.

It was a disappointing race for Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan who was taking part in his 300th Verizon IndyCar Series start as the Brazilian who had been battling his team mate Scott Dixon for the lead crashed heavily following a pit-stop after losing the rear of his No.10 car after making a small front wing adjustment to his car.

The race was also marred by a horrifying accident in the pit lane involving three Dale Coyne Racing Team drivers with a number of the team’s pit crew being injured two of which required medical treatment. While one was later released from the infield medical facility the other was transferred to the IU Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for further checks.

Ganassi Racing’s Sebastian Saavedra crashed heavily coming down the straight and it took the safety teams a while to get him out of the car as his foot was stuck. The safety crew had to cut the drivers boot off to get him out of the car.

For Juan Pablo however it was the perfect end to an incredible day. Following stints in Formula One and NASCAR, last season the Colombian returned to the Verizon IndyCar Series and finished last year’s Indianapolis 500 in fifth place.

Montoya made history today for the longest period between Indianapolis 500 victories, his first came with Chip Ganassi back in the year 2000.

The Verizon IndvCar Series moves on to Detroit’s Belle Isle for a double header next time out. Montoya’s victory at Indianapolis today means he extends his lead in the champion.

We don't point fingers

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Mercedes Executive Director (Business) Toto Wolff is refusing to point fingers in light of the team error that cost Lewis Hamilton victory in today’s Monaco Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton started the race from pole position and was on course for victory when he was called into the pits during the safety car period just before the end of today’s 78 lap race.

Wolff went on to say that the team has been built in such a way because they stick together and don’t point fingers.

The Silver Arrows are now firmly in charge at the top of the championship standing’s 84 points ahead of Scuderia Ferrari as the F1 circus heads to the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in three weeks time.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Rosberg takes three Monaco wins in a row as Mercedes mess up Hamilton in wrong strategy call

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Nico Rosberg took a surprise victory at this afternoon’s Monaco Grand Prix after the Brackley based outfit made a grievous strategy call with Lewis Hamilton who was called into the pit-lane under the safety car after Max Verstappen made massive contact with Romain Grosjean just before the end of the race as the pair went into Turn 1.

Hamilton finished the race in third place as a result of the strategy error as Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished the race in second place. The result means that Rosberg has now closed the gap in the champion to Hamilton.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat claimed his best ever Formula One result as the Russian finished the race in fourth place just ahead of his team mate Daniel Ricciardo. Speaking following the race Kvyat commented by saying:

'I am happy with today’s race, it was my best finish in Formula One and it was a great result for the team to finish fourth and fifth. I had a good start and was able to control my race from then on. We took a gamble with strategy allowing Daniel past after the last safety car to try and fight for a podium position, as he was on the faster Supersoft  tyres. But as he was unable to pass anyone, as agreed, he gave the place back on the last lap. We hope we can carry this momentum onto the next races.'

Daniel Ricciardo commented saying:

'It was a good race today and a good result for the team. I had some fun in the last few laps trying to get close to Hamilton and Vettel to fight for a podium position. I knew we were in a position to attack in the end which made it exciting I think. The team worked well, Dany let me past to have a crack at the podium and I gave back the place on the last lap when I couldn’t get past Hamilton. I had a little incident with Kimi and it’s hard to get a clean move without a little contact in Monaco, I appreciate the stewards not taking any further action and I think the crowd and the fans enjoyed it. We’ll try and keep up the pace in the next few races to hopefully stay in the top five.'

Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner stated:

'It was a great result for the team today and we maximised every opportunity that came our way in the race. It was all fairly static until the last safety car, which gave us the opportunity to have a free stop with Daniel and put a set of Supersofts on the car. He was able to get past Kimi on what was a great move to grab fifth. As Daniel was on the faster tyre, we switched the cars to see if he could have a go at the two guys fighting ahead, on the understanding that if he didn’t make the place he would give it back to Dany on the last lap. Dany drove a very strong race, his best race so far this season and best ever result in F1. It was a great team performance and I think that was the best result we could have hoped for today.'

Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who started the race in sixth place was right when he said it would be a tough race as the Finn ended the race in sixth place despite the fact that he was involved in an incident with Daniel Ricciardo towards the end of the race as the pair clashed. Ricciardo was investigated for the incident but it was put down as a racing incident.

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s Sergio ‘Checco’ Perez did a great job as the Mexican finished the race in seventh place. Speaking following the race the Mexican stated:

“I’m very happy right now. As a team we’ve done a fantastic job all weekend and seventh place is the result of all this hard work. For me it was a normal race – very straightforward and quiet, which is strange for Monaco. I was racing on my own for most of the race because the cars ahead were able to pull a gap on me and I had space to the cars behind. It was difficult to keep concentration for 78 laps, but after the safety car I was on fresh supersoft tyres and it was really good fun. I was able to attack Kimi [Raikkonen], but there wasn’t an opportunity to get the position. It’s a very important result for the whole team and gives us six points for the championship. It means I’ve scored points in half the races this season, which shows we’ve done a good job of maximising our opportunities.'

It was an absolutely fantastic race for the McLaren-Honda Formula One Team as Jenson Button picked up the Woking based outfit’s first points of the season with Jenson Button finishing the race in eighth place.

The Sauber F1 Team’s Felipe Nasr finished the race in the points for the Swiss outfit as he ended the race in 9th place just ahead of Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz. Speaking following the race the Brazilian stated:

'It was a great race, and I am happy to have scored points again. It is an amazing feeling being rewarded after such a difficult weekend. It was an exhausting race, as I did my best to extract the most out of the car. The team did a very good job by choosing the correct strategy and calling me in for the pit stops at the right times. The points are for everyone in the team.'

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s Nico Hulkenberg finished the race just outside the points in eleventh place. The Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean finished the race in 12th place.

Speaking following the race, Nico Hulkenberg commented saying:

'My race was obviously very difficult right from the start: Fernando [Alonso] more or less pushed me into the wall on the first lap and from that moment I basically had to play catch up. I knew he was there so I left him a bit more space and turned in later, but he must have locked up as he crashed into me and sent me straight into the wall. The only damage was to the front wing, but getting back to the pits and changing the wing cost me a lot of time. My race was already compromised then - it is not easy to race from so far back because you have to let the leaders through and you're on the back foot the whole time. In terms of pace I was doing quite well, especially when in clean air, but obviously getting lapped costs you a lot of time. It is a shame as I feel that without the incident I would have been well into the points today. I still take encouragement from our pace and hopefully we can maximise the next weekend in Canada and get some more points.'

Sahara Force India Formula One Team Principal and Managing Director Dr Vijay Mallya commented saying:

'Monaco always gives us an opportunity to shine and seventh place for Sergio is a fantastic result for the team. We did most of the hard work yesterday in qualifying and Sergio delivered a faultless performance this afternoon. He should be very proud of scoring his first points in Monaco. I feel very disappointed for Nico who was unlucky to be hit by Fernando. He had similar pace to Sergio and would surely have scored good points as well. With six points we have moved up to sixth in the championship. The team is doing a tremendous job and the result today helps keep the pressure on the teams around us.'

Following the race the Lotus F1 Team's Romain Grosjean commented saying:

“I didn’t see much of the accident with Verstappen, just his car flying past me in the air! Overtaking in Monaco is difficult and I think he gained that bit of experience today. It’s good to know he’s okay, as it was a bit dangerous for both of us, and it cost us what would have been a hard-earned point. Until then my race had been going pretty well when you consider where we started. The car felt good and the strategy was working well. After the accident, I turned around which established all four wheels were there, then looked in the mirrors to see if the rear wing was still there too, then got on with my race.”

Lotus F1'a Deputy Team Principal Frederico Gastaldi commented saying:

'What a frustrating day for both our drivers. Pastor was in a great position to score well but a technical issue meant he had to retire. Romain was also looking like getting a point after his penalty-place start but was robbed of that by an incident. The positives are that both drivers remain optimistic and full of praise for the car. Monaco is always a unique event and for us we started something special with our new relationship with Pharrell Williams. We’re looking forward to Canada for many reasons.'

The Sauber F1 Team’s Marcus Ericsson finished the race in 13th place just ahead of the Williams Martini Racing Team’s Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa. Speaking following the race Ericsson stated:

Finishing 13th is disappointing, but starting from 17th we knew that it was going to be a difficult race. We need to analyse the data to get a better understanding. Then we can learn from it and do better next time. In general the balance of the car felt good, and I think at some points during the race the pace was quite strong.'

Sauber F1 Team Principal Monisha Keltenborn commented saying

'An encouraging result, especially when you take into account how the weekend had gone up to the race. Felipe drove a good race. In Monaco you need to drive intelligently and be patient while waiting for chances. This is what he has done. Marcus did the same, unfortunately was not rewarded with points, but he also put in a solid performance. The whole team did a very good job – here at the track and also at the factory in Hinwil.'

Sauber's Trackside Engineering Director Giampaolo Dall'Ara commented saying

'Earning two points here in Monaco is undoubtedly a good achievement, especially when considering our practice results. Felipe achieved the best out of his 14th starting position, which was also thanks to a few retirements. He was able to keep up well from the start on, so we adapted our strategy to our direct competitors. During the safety car period we called him in for his second pit stop, because we expected not to loose a position. Marcus was stuck in traffic more, so we went for a different strategy with his first pit stop planned early in the race. Felipe and Marcus both did a good job. Driving a troublefree race on this street circuit over 78 laps is not at all easy.'

The Manor Marussia F1 Team’s duo of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi finished the race in 16th and 17th place while the Lotus F1 Team’s Pastor Maldonado, McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso and Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen were the only drivers who retired from the race. Speaking following the event Maldonado commented saying:

'I had a problem with the brakes and I could feel the pedal pressure wasn’t right from very early on and that compromised our race from the off. It got worse and worse so we had to retire the car. It’s a shame for the team, we had a good car here, very good pace for the race and I think a strong strategy. There’s potential in the car, we just need to carry on, work hard, and look forward in the championship.'

Drivers’ Championship

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team 126 Points
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team 116
3 Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari 98
4 Kimi Raikkonen Scuderia Ferrari 60
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams Martini Racing Team 42
6 Felipe Massa Williams Martini Racing Team 39
7 Daniel Ricciardo Infiniti Red Bull Racing 35
8 Daniil Kvyat Infiniti Red Bull Racing 17
9 Felipe Nast Sauber F1 Team 16
10 Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 Team 16
11 Sergio Perez Sahara Force India Formula One Team 11
12 Carlos Sainz Scuderia Toro Rosso 9
13 Nico Hulkenberg Sahara Force India Formula One Team 6
14 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso 6
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber F1 Team 5
16 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 4

Constructors Championship

1 Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team 242 Points
2 Scuderia Ferrari 158
3 Williams Martini Racing Team 81
4 Infiniti Red Bull Racing 52
5 Sauber F1 Team 21
6 Sahara Force India Formula One Team 17
7 Lotus F1 Team 16
8 Scuderia Toro Rosso 15
9 McLaren Honda 4

© Ben Johnston 2015

Lotus F1 Team confirm global marketing partnership with Pharrell Williams

(Lotus F1 Team)

The Lotus F1 Team have confirmed ahead of today’s Monaco Grand Prix that they have signed a global marketing partnership with Pharrell Williams.

The new agreement will see the Lotus F1 Team and Pharrell Williams come together for an integrated marketing strategy across a number of media platforms. Speaking about the new agreement Lotus F1 Team Chairman and Team Principal Gerard Lopez commented by saying:

Pharrell Williams is an international icon who shares much of the Lotus F1 Team’s philosophy and outlook. It is tremendously exciting for Lotus F1 Team to be working with Pharrell on a number of initiatives which will come into the public domain in the fullness of time. We are looking forward to welcoming Pharrell to Monaco to meet the team for the spectacle of the Monaco Grand Prix and we know that this is the start of something special.
Pharrell Williams commented on the new agreement saying:

I’m happy to be in partnership with Lotus F1 Team and Formula 1 and I’m looking forward to a fruitful relationship.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Rosberg and Vettel bad for business

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Formula One Supremo Bernie Ecclestone has criticised both Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Nico Rosberg and Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel saying that they are bad for business.

Ecclestone also commented on Sebastian Vettel saying that the four time world champion is not doing much for F1 and that on the street he is not recognised. Ecclestone went on to say that he feels that Lewis Hamilton is one of the best champions that Formula One has had in a long time.

Ecclestone believes that Hamilton wants to be famous and this is something he feels that Nico Rosberg does not want and wants to stay out of the limelight. Ecclestone was also critical of team principal’s saying that they need to be more prominent. 

He was particularly unnecessarily critical of Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene saying that the Italian is a character just for himself and not for Formula One. 

© Ben Johnston 2015

Three teams interested in becoming Mercedes customer cars

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff has confirmed that three teams have approached him looking to open dialogue about supplying them with customer cars.

Formula One Supremo Bernie Ecclestone has suggested the possibility of teams being allowed to sell customer cars to their rivals as a way of reducing costs of running teams in Formula One. Many of the teams have objected to the idea of losing their status as Constructors as they would instead be customers.

Wolff stated that he if they are able to provide their cars to existing teams than this is something that his team will seriously look at it.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Kimi very disappointed

Embedded image permalink
(Scuderia Ferrari via Twitter)

Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen expects an extremely tough Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday after the Finn struggled in qualifying.

While his team mate Sebastian Vettel will start the race from third place behind the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, the Iceman finds himself starting the race from 6th place on the grid behind the Infiniti Red Bull Racing duo on Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat.

Raikkonen struggled with traffic on his final run but felt that the car was performing well however he crashed this morning, despite this the Finn felt that this had not no impact on his qualifying result.

He said that it won’t be easy on Sunday but that they will try their best to get a result but that he is not expecting to come away from the race with a strong result and said that he has paid a big price. Raikkonen goes into Sunday’s race in fourth place in the championship just ten points ahead of fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas in Williams.

Raikkonen will be looking for a solid result that will enable him to close the gap to his team mate in the championship.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Pirelli Monaco GP Qualifying report Monaco

(Pirelli Motorsport Media)

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton will start the Monaco Grand Prix from pole position having claimed top spot on the iconic circuit. The double world champion set the pace with a time of 1m 15.098s suing a brand new set of the new Pirelli P-Zero Red walled Super Soft tyre.

The entire top ten will start the race on the Super Soft tyre. The Super Soft tyre is 1 second faster than the Yellow walled Soft compound tyre.

The Italian manufacturer is suggesting a one stop strategy is the best option when starting the race on the Super Soft tyre and making the stop on lap 27 of the 78 lap race finishing the event on the Yellow walled Soft compound tyre.

Speaking following the session Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery commented saying:

Qualifying in Monaco is probably the most important session of the year, and we were pleased with the way that our new supersoft tyre performed during the tight battle for supremacy. We would expect a one-stop strategy for most competitors tomorrow, unless something unusual happens with the weather – which we saw a hint of today.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Q&A with the Lotus F1 Team's Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane

(Lotus F1 Team)
How was qualifying for the team?

We’re reasonably happy, although we always want a bit more and it would have been good to be ahead of both of the Toro Rossos and Force Indias for the race tomorrow. Pastor did a great job to get into the top ten whilst Romain will have a tough race through qualifying in eleventh position then getting a gearbox penalty which drops him five places.
What are the considerations for tomorrow’s race?

Ensuring clean laps, avoiding any contact with the barriers and other cars is particularly relevant here. With Pastor, it’s a case of trying to make positions whenever possible against similarly paced cars. Romain on the other hand will be around much slower cars at the start so we will look at what we can do strategically to assist him to move forwards as soon as possible.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Disappointing qualifying for the Sauber F1 Team in Monaco

(Sauber F1 Team)

The Sauber F1 Team endured an extremely difficult qualifying session for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix as Felipe Nasr will start the race in 14th place while Marcus Ericsson will start the race from 17th place.

Speaking following the session Marcus Ericsson commented by saying:

It was a diffucult qualifying for us. Since the first practice session we have been struggling to get the tyres to work in these cooler track temperatures. I was a bit unlucky with some traffic, so I lost a bit of time in the last sector. But this can happen on the narrow streets in Monaco. We will do our best in tomorrow’s race.

Felipe Nasr commented on his session stating:

We are obviously disappointed about being near the back of the starting grid. Looking back to the free practice sessions, we all knew it would be difficult for us. At the moment we have to make the best of our current package. Tomorrow we need some luck, but we are in Monte Carlo, and we know from previous races that anything can happen here.

The Swiss based outfit head into the Monaco Grand Prix in 5th place in the championship on 19 points so it will be tough for them to score points in the race but in Monaco absolutely anything can and usually does happen. Speaking following the session, Sauber F1 Team Principal Monisha Keltenborn commented by saying:

A disappointing result in qualifying. After the free practice sessions it was clear it would be difficult. However, we had been hoping for more. But on the street track in Monaco everything is possible. It will be crucial to have a trouble free race.

The Hinwil based outfit’s Head of Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara commented by saying:

We cannot be satisfied with this result. The time gap per lap to our direct competitors in front of us was reduced from FP3 to qualifying, but it was not enough for Q2. We all know overtaking is almost impossible here, but the race is long and the Monaco Grand Prix can be unpredictable.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Seventh and eleventh for the Sahara Force India Formula One Team in Monaco

(Sahara Force India Formula One Team)

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team had a very strong performance in qualifying for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, round 6 of the 2015 Formula One world championship as Sergio ‘Checco’ Perez will start the race from 7th place while his team mate Nico Hulkenberg who qualified in 11th place is expected to start the event from eleventh place due to a five place grid penalty for Romain Grosjean in the Lotus.

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team have endured a difficult start to their 2015 campaign and are currently in 8th place on eleven points. Speaking following the day’s action Sergio ‘Checco’ Perez commented by saying:

I’m really happy and excited with seventh place today. I always say qualifying in Monaco counts for 90% of your final result, so it was important to be strong. To be quick here you need confidence in the car and in yourself, and I had both today. To make it through to Q3 was already a great effort by the team, but to be starting P7 means we have already done a lot of the hard work for the race. We went out early in Q3 because we thought the rain was coming and I had a mega lap. I was worried some of the others might improve their times, especially with the track evolution, but fortunately it was not the case. Tomorrow we have a good opportunity to score some important points. We know that anything can happen on a Sunday in Monaco, but I’m focussed on getting a clean start and a good first lap.

The Mexican set a fastest time of 1m 16.808s. Nico Hulkenberg will start the race from eleventh place on the grid with a time of 1m 17.193s. Speaking following the session the German stated:

My final lap was a very good one and I believe I could have been firmly in the top ten, but unfortunately I made a small mistake in the final corner, which cost me enough time to miss out on Q3. Obviously it is disappointing, especially knowing how important your starting position is here. I am likely to be 11th on the grid, which means we will need to choose the right strategy to try and make up some positions. If we make the right calls tomorrow, we should be able to get some points. The brush with the wall in Q1 didn't do any damage but it cost a lot in terms of rhythm: you spend a long time trying to get the right confidence around Monaco and an incident like this sets you back a little. Qualifying in Monaco is always a challenge, but one I really enjoyed. The car feels much better than it did in Barcelona and we seem to have more performance in our hands which is encouraging. Nevertheless, I expect a tough race where good tyre management will be especially important.’

Sahara Force India Formula One Team Principal and Managing Director, Dr Vijay Mallya commented saying:

Today's strong performance in qualifying is an important boost for the team. Sergio’s laps were competitive right from the off and he had the confidence to extract every fraction of a second from the car. It’s an important result because track position is essential around here. Nico also looked on course for a top ten qualifying position, but fell just short of the mark: it is proof of how competitive the midfield is at the moment that one small mistake can cost so many positions on the grid. Nonetheless, both drivers seemed happy with the car and this gives us confidence for tomorrow. Overtaking is hard on this track, but as this team has shown in previous years it can be done. With an aggressive strategy we should be able to target points for both cars.

© Ben Johnston 2015

McLaren-Honda break into the top ten in Monaco for the first time this season

(McLaren Honda)

McLaren Honda’s incredibly hard work in recent weeks and months appears to paying off as Jenson Button will for the first time this season start a race from the top ten.

The 2009 world champion had originally qualified in 12th place for the Monaco Grand Prix which in itself was a massive improvement in performance for the Woking based outfit however he will now start the race from 10th place after the Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean received a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

It has also been confirmed in the last hour or so that Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz will start the race from the pit-lane as punishment for missing the FIA weighbridge at the end of Q1 promoting Button into the top ten.

© Ben Johnston 2015

BREAKING - Pit-lane start for Sainz

(Florent Gooden DPPI for Renault Sport F1)

Scuderia Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz will start Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix from the pit-lane after failing to stop at the FIA weigh bridge at the end of Q1.

As a result of the penalty, Max Verstappen, Pastor Maldonado and Jenson Button will start from eighth, ninth and tenth respectively.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Business as usual as Hamilton takes pole leading a Mercedes front row lock out

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix from pole position after setting a fastest time of 1m 15.098s and will begin the race just ahead of Nico Rosberg who is hoping to secure his third consecutive victory around the streets on Monaco. The German who locked up going into T1 was 0.342s behind Hamilton. Speaking following the session, Lewis Hamilton commented by saying:

'My first Monaco pole position; it's felt a long time coming! Today, bringing the tyres in was tricky. We had to do an out-lap, warm up lap then fast lap. We had to do that for both tyres. It's an important day for me, looking back through every year at Monaco generally it's been quite poor. Sometimes I've had the car, sometimes I haven't. I've lived here for the last few years so it makes this pole position even more special. There's still a long way to go, it's only half the job. It's going to be mentally and physically challenging tomorrow but I'm looking forward to it. A big thank you to the team; the performance we have in the car is outstanding and they've been working very hard. I think the last pole position for me here was in GP2 in 2006 so I hope I can take advantage of it tomorrow in the race. 

Nico Rosberg commented by saying:

'I found a good way into qualifying today, had a good Q2, but then I lost the good rhythm at the end, which is a shame. I had to push a lot so I went a bit over the limit. Lewis did a good job today, unfortunately now it's getting really difficult to win this race. But I will dream tonight of my Barcelona start and hope to have another one tomorrow.'

Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff commented by saying:

'Congratulations to both drivers because we have done the first half of the job now, with our cars on the front row in Monaco. It looked like Nico had the edge during Q1 and Q2, then Lewis found another gear in Q3 and nailed the lap when it mattered. To set a lap of 1:15.0 around this circuit is pretty incredible, especially when you consider that this is just 1.5 seconds away from the all-time best here in Monaco. With Nico, he locked up into Turn 1 on his final lap, which meant he couldn’t improve his time – but it was still good enough for the front row. Obviously, from pole position and the front row we can control the race if we make strong starts. But we will need to be on our toes and to extract everything from the car tomorrow, because our rivals are close – and will be pushing us hard tomorrow.'

Mercedes Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe commented by saying:

A front row at Monaco is never easy and this is always the most tense qualifying session of the year because so many things can go wrong. Coming out of third practice this morning, Sebastian looked very quick and we were expecting a very close contest between our drivers and him in qualifying. As it happened, perhaps because of the cooler conditions, we found we had a good margin of performance over Ferrari but it was, of course, very close between Nico and Lewis. They were separated by just over 0.1s on their first run in Q3, then Nico locked up into the first corner on his second lap, leaving Lewis with a safe pole. Nevertheless, we let him complete the lap and he improved with a stunning time of 1:15.0 to claim his first pole position in Monaco. Well done to the drivers for getting this far with the cars intact and to the team for a fantastic job so far this weekend and a great car.'

Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will start the race from third place, ending the session 0.751s behind Hamilton. The German will be hoping that he can challenge the Mercedes duo for the race win on Sunday.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing had a great session as Daniel Ricciardo will start the race from fourth place on the grid while his team mate Daniil Kvyat will start the race from fifth place showing the Milton Keynes based outfit have made a step forward. Speaking following the session Daniel Ricciardo commented saying:

'I’m a bit frustrated because I think we should be P3. There was a miscommunication from the pit wall starting the last lap and it’s a missed opportunity for us. At Monaco, every grid position counts, but we’re in a good place to attack and we’ll go all out to try for a podium finish in tomorrow’s race. I always enjoy this track and having to fight the car over the kerbs; I’ll try to have a bit of fun tomorrow.'

Daniil Kvyat commented by saying:

'It’s a positive qualifying result for the team. But we’re not where we want to be, although we’re making progress and heading in the right direction; we’re in a good position for tomorrow’s race. The rain didn’t affect us too much during quali but we’ll have to wait and see if it’s a factor tomorrow.'

Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner commented by saying:

'It was a great performance by both our drivers to finish fourth and fifth, despite Daniel dropping a couple of tenths due to a miscommunication. I think they got everything out of the cars today and it puts us in a strong position for tomorrow’s race, and hopefully we can make some progress from there.'

It was a disappointing end to the day for Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari as following his accident in practice this morning the Finn could only manage to qualify for the race in sixth place.
The Sahara Force India of Sergio ‘Checco’ Perez did a great job for the team as it was his best qualifying result of the season so far as the Mexican will start the race in seventh place after being unable to complete a second lap in Q3 as he had no new tyres.

Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz continued to impress as the Spaniard will start the race from eighth place ending the session 1.883s behind Hamilton.

The Lotus F1 Team’s Pastor Maldonado had a great session as the Venezuelan will start the race from ninth place on the grid just ahead of Max Verstappen in the second Toro Rosso.
Romain Grosjean will start the race from eleventh place and was unfortunate to miss out on a place in the top ten shootout. Speaking following the session, Maldonado commented by saying:

'That was not too bad. The car felt better from this morning as we made some beneficial changes. I think we could have done better, but we had to hold the car a while to get some track space for the final lap and that meant that everything cooled a little. P8 is a strong position to start from and I have a feeling that tomorrow will be a good race for us.'

McLaren Honda’s Jenson Button was extremely impressive in practice this morning ending up in in P8 however in qualifying he was unlucky not to make it into Q3. The 2009 world champion had to back off on his final run after Nico Rosberg locked up going into T1. Button will start the race in 11th place following Romain Grosjean's five place grid penalty. Speaking following the session the Frenchman commented stated:

'I made a mistake on what should have been my fastest lap in Q2 and I was aiming for a much better lap time which would have put me in the top ten. Basically I locked a wheel heading into turn fifteen and went straight-on which lost me about four tenths. The car is looking good for the race, even if I have it all to do with my penalty meaning I start from P15 on the grid.'

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s Nico Hulkenberg will start the race from 12th place.
It was an extremely disappointing session for the Williams Martini Racing Team as Felipe Massa will start the race from 13th place on the grid just ahead of McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso as the Spaniard stopped out on track as the power unit cut out.

The Sauber F1 Team’s Felipe Nasr will start the race from 15th place on the grid just ahead of the Lotus F1 Team's Romain Grosjean who will start the race from 16th place.

Williams Martini Racing Team's Valtteri Bottas will start the race from 17th place following an extremely tough day for the Finn.

Marcus Ericsson will start the race from 18th place in the second Sauber C34 while the Manor Marussia duo of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi rounded out the grid line up.

© Ben Johnston 2015