Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Silverstone Wing damaged by heavy winds

(Sahara Force India Formula One Team)

The roof of Silverstone’s iconic Wing has been damaged as a result of extremely strong winds, officials at the circuit have confirmed.

Silverstone’s Sporting Director Stuart Pringle confirmed that although the roof looks a bit of a mess at the moment, the structural integrity of the roof remains completely intact and that engineers are already working to repair the roof and this should not affect the planned racing event at the circuit this weekend.

The circuit have also confirmed that the damage will have no impact of the World Endurance Championship season opening race which takes place in Silverstone next month.

Officials have also confirmed that this year’s Formula One British Grand Prix as the repairs will take place over the coming days. 

© Ben Johnston 2015

Hamilton wonders what Alonso was thinking after Vettel's win at the weekend

(McLaren Honda)

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton has admitted that when he sat next to Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the post-race press conference he wondered what Fernando Alonso was thinking following Vettel’s race win.

Vettel joined Ferrari over the winter to partner Kimi Raikkonen with Fernando Alonso joining Jenson Button at McLaren Honda. The new partnership between McLaren and Honda has endured a difficult start however despite their double DNF in Malaysia at the weekend Alonso feels that the team are making progress.

Jenson Button also feels that the team are getting better and was surprised over the radio by the fact that he was catching the Sahara Force India Formula One Team and Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers.

Hamilton told the Guardian newspaper that he was lucky moving from McLaren to Mercedes in 2013 as the Brackley based outfit were in better shape that this season compared to 2012 but with Fernando he said the opposite appears to be true and McLaren are still getting to grips with their new relationship alongside Honda and Ferrari have scored two podium finishes including a victory.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Williams, Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren and Red Bull sign up for Goodwood Festival of Speed

(© Ben Johnston 2014)

Williams Martini Racing, reigning world champions the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team, Scuderia Ferrari, McLaren-Honda and Infiniti Racing have all confirmed that they will attend this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The event which is one of the highlights of the motorsport calendar takes place from June 25 – 28. Last year the Festival of Speed was attended by Mercedes Executive Director (Business) Toto Wolff, Williams test driver Susie Wolff, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton while Kimi Raikkonen made his very first appearance at the Festival and took part in the legendary hill climb.

Among other motorsport personalities to have been confirmed for the Festival is Moto GP legend Valentino Rossi who took at last weekend’s Qatar race.

Last year the event was attended by Indy 500 winner and IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti along with Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jackie Stewart.

Tickets for this year’s Festival of Speed can be purchased by calling 00 44 1 243 755 055.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Maldonado hopeful of scoring points following two DNF's in the opening two Grand Prix of the season

(Lotus F1 Team)

The Lotus F1 Team’s Pastor Maldonado is staying positive and believes that a clean race will lead to a points finish.

The Venezuelan has suffered two retirements in the opening two Grand Prix of the season in Australia and Malaysia at the weekend. The Enstone outfit who made the switch to Mercedes power over the winter had a positive start to the season in Australia when both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado qualified in the top ten for the event.

In the race however, neither Maldonado nor Grosjean finished the race. In Malaysia, Grosjean was unlucky as he just missed out on a points finish as he ended the race in eleventh place.

Maldonado believes however that the E23 Hybrid has a lot of potential and that the team will finish in the top ten when they have a trouble free race.

© Ben Johnston 2015 

Hamilton hoping to finalise new Mercedes deal by the end of this week

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton is expecting to finalise a new contract with the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team by the end of this week.

The new three year deal is according to the BBC worth £20.9 million a year however with victory and championship winning bonuses it could reach £27 million a year. The double world champion is into the final year of his initial three year agreement with the Brackley based outfit.

Hamilton, who is negotiating his own contract for the first time in his Formula One career initially believed that a deal would be concluded prior to the Australian Grand Prix, however following his second place finish at the Malaysian Grand Prix over the weekend Hamilton stated that the deal should be concluded by the end of this week and it is 99.6% in place.

Hamilton’s new contract will reportedly put his salary on a par with McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso and Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Monday, 30 March 2015

Special feature - Incredible turnaround for Scuderia Ferrari

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The last 12 months have been somewhat of a rollercoaster for the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One Team. In April 2014, team principal Stefano Domenicali resigned from the outfit just ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.

The Italian was replaced by CEO of Ferrari North America, Marco Mattiacci who was installed as interim Team Principal. In his first race in charge Fernando Alonso secured a podium finish when the Spaniard finished the race in third place behind the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

The 2014 season also saw the return of Kimi Raikkonen to the team who is their last world champion. The Finn took victory in the championship in his first season with the Maranello based outfit in 2007.

The Finn had an extremely difficult return to the team in 2014 failing to score a podium finish with his best result as fourth place at the Belgian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso on the other hand picked up two podium finishes. The Spaniard was on the podium once again at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Following his retirement from the Italian Grand Prix last September rumours began to circulate the Formula One paddock that Alonso was actively seeking to leave Ferrari with speculation growing that the double world champion did not see eye to eye with Mattiacci. 

Ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix it was confirmed that Sebastian Vettel would be leaving Infiniti Red Bull Racing after winning four world champions with the Milton Keynes based outfit with Christian Horner confirming that the German would be joining Ferrari.

At the end of the season, Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemelo resigned from his position and was replaced by FIAT chairman Sergio Marchionne. One day following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (the final race of the season) Marco Mattiacci was replaced by former Philip Morris Vice President Maurizio Arrivabene.

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Speaking at the launch of the new SF15-T, Kimi Raikkonen said that the car looked nice and that he would wait and see how the car performed on track before commenting on whether or not the new car was an improvement on last season’s chassis.

The SF15-T was the first chassis to be overseen by new technical director James Allison who replaced Pat Fry over the winter having re-joined the Italian team from Lotus at the end of the 2013 season. When the new car hit the track in Jerez for the first time it was extremely quick and over the course of winter testing both Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel traded fastest lap times topping the time sheets at various stages over the three tests.

At the opening race of the 2015 season in Australia two weeks ago, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen qualified in fourth and fifth place respectively and while Raikkonen was forced to retire from the race, on his debut for the Maranello based outfit Sebastian Vettel finished the race on the podium in third place behind race winner Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

In the second race at the weekend in Malaysia, Kimi Raikkonen showed in Free Practice that the new SF15-T is an extremely quick car as he topped the time sheets. In qualifying for the event, Sebastian claimed a front row start alongside reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton while Kimi started the race from eleventh place following a mistake from the team in qualifying.

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

In the race, Vettel made a great start and was immediately challenging Hamilton for the race lead. The German would eventually take advantage of the incredible race pace of the SF1-T and overtake Hamilton on track and went on to win the race by over 8 seconds claiming the team’s first win since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix. Many people believed that the win was a surprise however having seen their pace first hand during testing at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya last month I felt that the team would defiantly win a race this season and that it was a question of when and not if they would win a race in 2015.

I will admit however, I did not expect a Ferrari win so early in the season and neither it would appear did Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene. Kimi Raikkonen described by his new boss as ‘a fabulous driver’ had a fantastic race for the Italian outfit as he recovered from a puncture on the second lap that dropped him to the back of the field to finish the race in fourth place collecting 12 points.

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Scuderia Ferrari find themselves in second place in the Constructors champion on 52 points, just 24 behind current leaders, the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team who are on 76 points.

The team’s great start to the season can be put down to the new structure within the Maranello based outfit and Kimi Raikkonen has said that there is a much better atmosphere in the team and that everyone in the outfit are working together.

Maurizio has told his team to remain realistic about their season and to keep their feet firmly on the ground. ‘Sebastian was just unbelievable, and Kimi was able to put on a fantastic charge from the back’ he said.

The Italian went on to say that the team need to be wary of Mercedes as they are still a ‘formidable contender.’

Kimi Raikkonen was delighted that his team mate took the victory and that it was a great result for the entire team. However the Finn is unsure whether or not the SF15-T will be a race winner at other circuits this season. The Iceman knows that the team have a good package and that they are getting stronger.

The Italian team have made an absolutely incredible forward since this time last season and they are certainly one’s to watch over the course of the season.

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

© Ben Johnston 2015

Merhi delighted with Manor result

Embedded image permalink
(@ManorF1Team via Twitter)

Manor F1 Team driver Roberto Merhi has hailed the incredible effort made by the outfit after he completed his first ever Grand Prix distance.

The former Caterham F1 Team reserve driver finished Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit in 15th place having previously only taken part in one Free Practice session with Caterham last season.

The Spaniard was announced as one of the Manor F1 Team drivers less than a month ago and Sunday’s race was the first time that he had driven the Manor car. He was the only one of Manor’s drivers to compete in the race as Will Stevens failed to start the event due to a fuel pressure problem.

The outfit attended the season opening Australian Grand Prix but were unable to get the cars out on track due to problems firing up the Ferrari power unit.

Merhi stated:

‘I am really proud of us. Coming into the weekend we knew things would not be easy, we had to work very hard and stay focused every step of the way.’

Merhi went on to say that was sorry that his team mate Will Stevens was unable to race but he believes that by completing the Malaysian Grand Prix it is a great starting point for the entire team and that they can build on this progress for the next race in China and beyond.

The team will be hoping to get both Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi on track for the Chinese Grand Prix which takes place in two weeks’ time at the Shanghai International Circuit.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Wolff critical of Ecclestone's 'all-female' Formula One category

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Williams Martini Racing Team test driver Susie Wolff has hit out at the idea of an all-female Formula One series.

Formula One commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone has made the suggestion that Formula One set up an all-female series that could run alongside the sport with races taken place before Grand Prix events.

However Wolff, who has been part of the Williams team since 2012 has said that firstly female drivers including herself have raced with their male counterparts all the way through the junior racing categories and for the same not to be the case in Formula One would not be right. Wolff also believes that the sport would find it difficult to get a full grid of female drivers in place.

Wolff became the first female driver to take part in an official Grand Prix weekend in 22 years last season when she drove for the Williams Martini Racing Team in Free Practice One at the British Grand Prix in Silverstone.

Ecclestone’s idea comes following the news that the Lotus F1 Team have signed Spanish GP3 driver Carmen Jorda as their new development driver. She is expected to take part in a number of Free Practice session’s this season once she has gotten up to speed with the E23 Hybrid. She will spend time in the simulator at the team’s HQ in Enstone and will also travel to Grand Prix events. She was at the Malaysian Grand Prix with the team over the weekend.

Susie drove the Williams FW37 in the opening Barcelona winter test at the Circuit de Catalunya last month and showed great pace. The Scot will also drive the car in a number of Free Practice session’s this season starting with the Spanish Grand Prix in May.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Arrivabene delighted with Raikkonen's comeback drive

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene has hailed Kimi Raikkonen’s performance at the Malaysian Grand Prix over the weekend.

The Finn started the race from 11th place on the grid after getting the timing of his run in Q2 wrong. He suffered a puncture on the second lap of the race and was forced to pit for a new set of tyres which dropped him down to the back of the field.

The Iceman kept his cool and utilised the incredible race pace of the SF15-T and overtook his rivals left right and centre and finished the race in fourth place while team mate Sebastian Vettel took the Italian team’s first victory since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix.

Raikkonen has endured a difficult start to the season but Arrivabene believes that in the Finn and Vettel Ferrari have the best line up on the grid.

Arrivabene described Raikkonen as a fabulous driver following his comeback drive in Malaysia.

© Ben Johnston 2015 

Fernley critical of Manor tactics

(Sahara Force India Formula One Team)

Sahara Force India Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley has criticised the Manor F1 Team for running just one car at the Malaysian Grand Prix at the weekend.

The Banbury based outfit fully intended to run both Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi in yesterday’s Grand Prix however they were unable to run Stevens as they were unable to solve a fuel pressure problem that developed on the car which meant that the Englishman was not able to run in Qualifying on Saturday.

Fernley believed that despite the team travelling to the opening Grand Prix of the season in Australia that they never intended to race. The Sahara Force India Formula One Team blocked Manor’s attempts to run their 2014 car.

The outfit are currently competing with an interim car which is fully compliant with the 2015 FIA regulations. The Force India deputy believes that the FIA and the commercial rights holder will deal with the team accordingly.

Fernley went on to say that he feels that the team need to run both cars in China as he feels that by running just the one car it damages the image of the team.

© Ben Johnston 2015

McLaren encouraged by their improvements despite double DNF

(McLaren Honda)

The McLaren Honda Formula One Team can take some comfort away from the weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix because although neither Jenson Button nor Fernando Alonso finished the race they were able to catch other cars.

Although Alonso retired from the race in the early stages due to an issue with the car, Jenson Button suffered a problem with the turbo but managed to get the car back to the garage. Speaking after the event the 2009 world champion stated:

The start of the race was a bit of a mess for me: I’d had a longer-than-normal pit-stop under the Safety Car, and came out behind Roberto [Mehri], who didn’t close down the gap before the Safety Car came in. At the restart, I then started about four or five seconds behind the pack, had to get past him, then chased down the cars in front – which hurt my tyres.
“But I enjoyed it out there – we’re actually racing people. To be able to see one of the Red Bulls ahead of me – and so far into the race – was obviously a nice surprise. And we were able to mix it with the others a little bit more, too. Fighting in the pack is the most positive thing to take away from this weekend – hopefully, before too long, we can start to pick them off on a race-by-race basis.
“Today has been a useful day; it’s just a pity that both Fernando and I ended up finishing it early.’

Fernando Alonso completed just 21 laps of the Malaysian Grand Prix after retiring from the event with an ERS Cooling issue. The Spaniard set his fastest lap on lap 17 of 1m 48.460s. Speaking following the race the double world champion stated:

This whole weekend has been better than I expected.

“The main positive to take away from today is the fact that we were able to run with other cars – Jenson and I weren’t simply fighting with each other. That was the first step we needed to take, and we’ve taken it already.

“Indeed, our race pace was surprisingly good; I was running with the pack, and I was even able to catch the Red Bulls before the pit-stops. That was a nice surprise.

“We still need a little more time to investigate the exact cause of my retirement. The team came over the radio to tell me to back off a little, to save the car, so I brought it back to the pits.

“For us, these are the sort of reliability problems you’d usually discover in pre-season testing, but, given our lack of running over the winter, unfortunately we’re likely to encounter such issues in the first few races of the year.

“Hopefully, we can take another step forward in China.’

Jenson Button was happy that the team were able to compete with the other cars even commenting on the radio saying that he was surprised that they were competing with their rivals.

McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier was extremely pleased with the progress made by the Woking based outfit over the weekend. Speaking following the race the Frenchman stated:

The fact that neither Fernando nor Jenson finished today’s race is of course disappointing, but they both drove extremely well in arduous, challenging and frustrating conditions.
“Moreover, in line with the MP4-30’s improved qualifying pace of yesterday, its race pace today was also a significant improvement over what it showed in Melbourne two weeks ago.
“Furthermore, the 62 laps driven by Fernando and Jenson this afternoon have garnered us additional invaluable data that will inform the ongoing intense development programme in which we are relentlessly engaged.
“Last but far from least, I want to say ‘merci beaucoup’ to our mechanics, a mettlesome troupe who have been working with indefatigable tenacity, in severe heat and humidity, ever since we arrived in Sepang.’

Honda R&D Senior Managing Officer – Chief Officer of Motorsport Yasuhisa Arai commented by saying:

Fernando was showing some good pace today until we had to pull his car out of the race with an ERS cooling issue. Obviously, that was a big disappointment for us.
“Jenson’s car then encountered a turbo issue, when we were just about to push to maintain his position within a busy, jostling pack.
“Both retirements were a result of the harsh use of the power unit within competitive race conditions, not the result of the high-temperature conditions encountered at this circuit.
“We’ll investigate the issues further and aim to improve things before Shanghai.’

© Ben Johnston 2015

Sunday, 29 March 2015

New three year contract for the Malaysian Grand Prix

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Organisers of the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit have confirmed that they have extended their contract to host the event until the end of the 2018 season.

The race which made its debut on the Formula One calendar in 1999 and today’s race was won by Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. The news of the contract extension was confirmed by the Malaysian prime minister’s office. 

The prime minister's office also confirmed that PETRONAS will remain as title sponsor over the duration of the new contract.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Pirelli Malaysian Grand Prix Race Report

(Pirelli Motorsport Media)

Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel put a two stop strategy to good use to claim his first victory as a driver for Maranello based team while the Italian outfit secured their first win since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix.

Vettel started the race on the White walled Medium compound tyre and switched to a second set of the Medium compound tyre on lap 17. The German made his final stop of the day on lap 37 for a set of the Orange walled Hard compound tyre. Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton used a three stop strategy which helped him to finish the race in second place behind Vettel.

The double world champion started the race from pole position a set of the Medium compound tyre. He made his first stop of the race on lap 4 for a new set of the Hard compound tyre. He stopped again on lap 24 for a new set of the Medium compound tyre before making his final stop on lap 38 for a set of new Hard tyres.

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Nico Rosberg made his first stop on lap 4 of the race for a set of used Medium compound tyres. The German made his second stop on lap 26 for a set of new Hard tyres before making his final stop on lap 41 for a set of new Medium tyres.

Sebastian Vettel, Carlos Sainz and Sergio ‘Checco’ Perez were the only drivers who completed the race using a two stop strategy.

A two stop strategy was the norm for the Malaysian Grand Prix, however the Sauber F1 Team’s Felipe Nasr made 4 stops on lap 2 (New Hard), 20 (New Hard), 30 (New Hard) and 43(Medium New). Speaking following the race, Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery stated:

'I think we did our bit today. We saw a great strategic battle between Ferrari and Mercedes, with two different approaches to the race, which were also influenced by an early safety car period. Despite the highest track temperatures we are likely to see all year, the tyres did not suffer from blistering or graining, enabling a two-stop strategy to be not only possible, but victorious. The different tyre strategies available set up an exciting battle for the race victory and underlined the difference that using the tyres to the best effect can make. Congratulations to Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel for a truly memorable victory.'

© Ben Johnston 2015

Hard work over the winter pays off for Ferrari as Vettel takes victory while the Iceman keeps his cool in the Malaysian heat to finish in fourth place


Scuderia Ferrari scored their first victory since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix in Malaysia on Sunday when four time world champion Sebastian Vettel took his maiden win for the Italian team.

The German started the race from the front row alongside pole sitter Lewis Hamilton and overtook the reigning world champion early on in the race and once the former Red Bull driver got out in front he never looked back taking a commanding victory by 8.569s. As a result, Vettel moves up to second in the championship just three points behind Hamilton.

It was Vettel’s second podium in as many race’s following his third place finish at the season opener in Australia two weeks ago.

Speaking following the race Vettel said:

Grande gara, bella macchina! (A great race and a beautiful car). Sorry for starting to speak in Italian, but today is such a special day for me. I don’t really know what to say, I am speechless. It’s not only one childhood dream that becomes true, it seems to be many dreams together. It was amazing to look down from the podium and see the mechanics, the engineers, the whole team and listen to the German and Italian anthems. The atmosphere in the team has always been great, but it’s just getting better and better. For today, the important thing is for all of us to enjoy this moment together and celebrate. I did not swap teams that much in the past, so winning for a new team is always a relief. Since I joined Ferrari I felt incredibly welcome and together we have worked to improve things. The potential, as I always said, is huge, it’s good to see what a step forward we did over the winter. There were a lot of changes in the background (including one driver…) which never make things easy, but everyone saw the positives of that. It just doesn’t compare to last year, when the car was also good but I couldn’t get on top of it. With Ferrari I had a good feeling right from the start. This is a special day, it has been a while since both I and team won for the last time. I’d like to be in the same position at every race, but we must be realistic, Mercedes were a bit struggling today but they have a great package and our target is to make the gap smaller at every Grand Prix and make sure that we are the team right behind them”.

Kimi Raikkonen in the other Ferrari had a cracking race too. The Finn who started the event from eleventh on the grid. The Finn was tagged from behind by the Sauber F1 Team’s Felipe Nasr which resulted in a puncture meaning the Iceman dropped down to the back of the field.

However, the Iceman kept his cool and carved his way back through the field to finish the race in fourth place recording his first point’s finish of the season. The result moves Raikkonen up to fifth place in the championship. Speaking following the race the Finn said:

We had a pretty poor weekend in terms of things going wrong. I had a good speed but in qualify it didn’t go well and then today, after a poor start where I had too much wheel-spin right off the line, I found myself fighting with all the other drivers and I had a puncture on the rear left tyre while battling Nasr at the last corner, which means I had to go one full lap before coming back to pits with no tyre. At that point my floor had got a little bit damaged, I had to do a full lap with no tyre and then, even if the safety car helped us, I had to start from way back behind. We did our best and the forth position was the maximum we could achieve. The win of Sebastian is a very good thing for him and for the whole team, knowing how difficult the last year has been; it’s a very good job what the team has done. We knew from winter testing that we have a good car, so it did not come as a total surprise, and probably the track with these high temperatures suited us. I don’t know how it will be in other circuits, but the car has been strong so far, not yet as we want but we have a good package, and we are getting stronger”.

Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene was full of praise for the whole outfit saying:

This is no one-man win: it’s a success for the whole team, which has been working impeccably at all levels. Seb was just unbelievable today, and Kimi was able to put on a fantastic charge from the back. The whole team has showed a great deal of discipline, just like a Swiss watch-or should I say, an Italian one! Today, the whole team gave me great emotions and I wish to thank everybody, including the women and men back at the Maranello factory, for putting on an incredible effort over the last months, burning the midnight oil. Now we’ve got to be realistic, keep our feet on the ground and our concentration at a high level, because Mercedes is still a formidable contender. After the race our President Mr. Marchionne congratulated the whole team. He’s really one of us, he likes to stay away from the spotlight but still gives us a powerful contribution. And he’s a real Ferrari fan!

© Ben Johnston 2015

Great inter team battle at Williams that results in a fifth and sixth place finish in Malaysia

(Williams Martini Racing Team)

The Williams Martini Racing Team will leave Malaysia somewhat disappointed after Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa finished the race in 5th and 6th place respectively following a fantastic inter team battle between the pair resulting in Bottas pulling off a brilliant overtaking manoeuvre on Massa to finish the race just ahead of the Brazilian.

It made for a nice change following the race here last season where the pair got involved in a battle of team orders however this year it was great for the fans as there were team orders and the pair were allowed to race each other.

After a promising start during winter testing, the Grove based outfit appear to have fallen behind when it comes to overall race pace as they finished behind both Ferrari’s and both Mercedes cars on Sunday. The team now find themselves in third place in the championship on 30 points, 22 behind Scuderia Ferrari who took victory in Malaysia today with Sebastian Vettel.

Neither Sir Frank nor Claire Williams were at the race this weekend and they may be disappointed that the team were unable to challenge for a podium finish. However Rob Smedley, Williams Martini Racing Team’s Head of Performance Engineering was happy with how the team finished the race. The Englishman stated:

It was a good team performance and we finished with the maximum points on offer considering the pace of the car. It was a tough race in the heat but there are areas of the package that we have to improve. We made a good recovery from a difficult Saturday and it was good to have both cars racing each other, although at one stage they were a bit too close.

A number of Formula One pundits believe that the team are lacking the financial resources to keep up in the development race and that is why they have now fallen behind Ferrari as well as Mercedes however this is unlikely to be the case as it is still extremely early days in this year’s championship. Valtteri Bottas, who was competing in his first race of the season did a fantastic job to finish the race in fifth place when you consider that he is carrying a back injury which forced him out of the season opening Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago.

Speaking about Sunday’s race the Finn said:

It was a nice race in the end. I was always in the wrong place at the start and lost a lot. I made the most of the performance of the car and it was nice to be able to race Felipe at the end. We know we have some work to do, we need to learn from our mistakes and keep progressing. Some upgrades that are due shortly will hopefully be a step in the right direction.

While Bottas was happy with his performance, in contrast Felipe Massa was not so happy with how his day went. Speaking following the race, the Brazilian said:

I don’t think we had a fantastic day today. We had a small problem in the pitstop and as a result it gave Valtteri the chance to catch me, it was good to race wheel to wheel though. We got the best points we could for the team given the where the car is at the moment.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Reality bites for the Sauber F1 Team in Malaysia

(Sauber F1 Team)

The Sauber F1 Team came back to reality at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday following their fantastic start to the season in Melbourne two weeks ago as Marcus Ericsson was forced to retire from the race after getting his C34 stuck in the gravel.

Following his fantastic Formula One race debut in Australia two weeks ago where he finished in fifth place, Felipe Nasr was left frustrated as the Brazilian finished the Malaysian Grand Prix in 12th place just behind the Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean.

As a result of the Malaysian Grand Prix, the Sauber F1 Team have lost ground in the Constructors championship and currently in 4th place on 14 points. Speaking following the race Marcus Ericsson stated:

It is a very frustrating end to a good weekend. I felt comfortable in the car straight away and had a good start during which I could make up one position. Nico (Hülkenberg) must have had a good start as he was ahead of me, but I felt I had more pace than he did. When I tried to pass him down to Turn 1, I went for the move to the outside. I know it is possible to overtake there, but unfortunately I lost the rear, went off and got stuck in the gravel trap. Anyway, we need to take the positives out of this weekend, and I have learned from what happened in the race. In China we will be even stronger.

In Australia two weeks ago Felipe Nasr finished the race in fifth place however in Malaysia on Sunday the Brazilian could only manage to finish in 12th place and speaking following the race he said:

It was overall a difficult weekend for me. I was struggling to find a good set-up for the car. We need to reflect and understand why we didn’t have enough pace. The race itself was not easy, as I had contact early on with Kimi (Räikkönen). I should have avoided this incident, but it can happen sometimes when we are racing. Now we have to look forward to the next race weekend in China.’

The Swiss based outfit remain in fourth place in the champion on 14 points, 16 behind the Williams Martini Racing Team. Speaking following the race Sauber Team Principal Monisha Keltenborn stated:

It’s a shame that today we were not able to score points, because, for sure, the opportunity was there. Unfortunately, both drivers were involved in incidents in the first few laps. For Marcus the race was over, and Felipe’s chances were significantly reduced. But he fought strongly afterwards, although unfortunately he was not rewarded with points. This result is obviously disappointing, but there are also positives we can take from this race weekend. Our package is competitive, which puts us in a position to fight for points. We have to make sure that we grab these chances.

Sauber’s Head of Track Engineering Giampoalo Dall’Ara stated:

On the technical side it was another flawless afternoon without any noteworthy issues, which is the positive we can take out of this race. Unfortunately we had both drivers involved in incidents within a few laps, and our planned strategy was destroyed. So we had to reinvent the race with only one car, because Marcus was out. We switched from three to four stops, which was not planned. Nothing was wrong with that, but after the early incident the race was lost. It’s obviously a big disappointment.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Double podium despite lack of race pace

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team had to settle for a double podium finish at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday after the Brackley based outfit were beaten by Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who took victory by 8.569s.

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton started the race from pole position and made a good getaway off the line however Vettel and Ferrari in race trim were just out of reach for the Silver Arrows on Sunday. Despite finishing the race in second place, Hamilton remains in the lead of the championship leading Vettel by three points.

Speaking following the race, Hamilton stated:

First of all, huge congratulations to Seb and Ferrari. You have to hand it to them – I wasn't expecting them to be as quick as they were today but they had some serious pace and deserved the win. It’s great for the fans to see them up here. It was a tough race out there. I was struggling with the balance today and never really felt comfortable with the car. There was so much understeer that tyre management was really hard. When I went to the option it was much better, so I thought we'd use it again at the end and was surprised we went with the prime. But I made the best I could with it and ultimately I'm sure the team made the call for the right reasons. There was a bit of confusion on the radio at one point where I wasn't quite sure what we were doing on the strategy but I’m not sure if pitting with Seb would have made the difference anyway. They were as fast if not faster than us today and once I had that gap to make up it was just a step too far. I'm now looking forward to the next race and fighting to get back to the front again.

Nico Rosberg went on to finish the race in third place which is where the German started the race from. A clearly disappointing Rosberg stated:

That wasn't a great weekend for me and I cannot be happy with third place. When the Safety Car came out I lost a lot of time in the pits. I expected to have to wait behind Lewis but it was letting some other cars by that cost the places – especially waiting for the Red Bull queue to move, I think it was. So I had to fight through to the top positions which was tough but my race pace was okay, so I can build on that. We have to congratulate Sebastian and Ferrari. They had a great race pace today and it’s very impressive how they improved over the winter. Now this will be a fight against Ferrari I guess – and we want to strike back in Shanghai.

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Executive Director (Business) Toto Wolff felt that the outfit suffered from a lack of race pace and felt that they had made the right call on the strategy side for both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

Speaking following the race, Wolff stated:

Our first feeling today is obviously one of disappointment. We were beaten fair and square by Ferrari and Sebastian, who did a fantastic job, and I’m not sure we could have matched their long run pace at any point. They took a well-deserved win. We saw on Friday that Kimi was really strong in these hot conditions, with the track over 60 degrees, and that was confirmed in the race. Of course, it’s easy to be clever after the race looking at things we could have done better and there are certainly plenty of points that could have been optimised. But we take these decisions together as a team and this is the moment to stay calm, do our analysis and learn what we can improve for next time. It was a complicated race for the team to read – and for the drivers, too, from the cockpit. We had some interesting radio discussions and both guys did a great job to deliver the double podium at the finish. But I think we can also take a step back and look at the sport today. Always it seems that when people are making the most noise about changing the rules, Formula One delivers. It was the case in Bahrain last year and we saw it again today. It wasn’t a perfect day for Mercedes but it was a good one for Formula One.

It was the first time since the Belgian Grand Prix last year that Mercedes failed to take victory and they were as Toto Wolff stated beaten fair and square by Scuderia Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel. Despite not winning the race, the Silver Arrows have extended their lead in the championship to 24 points over Ferrari.

Speaking following the race, Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe stated:

First of all, congratulations to Ferrari and Sebastian on an impressive victory. Coming into the race, there were two main choices to be made: whether to make two or three stops, and whether the Prime or the Option would be the better race tyre. It was clear yesterday that opinion was divided on that question, as we saw the leading teams using different tyre compounds in Q1. We saved new Prime tyres for the race, while others saved new Options. We planned a three-stop strategy favouring the Prime tyre and, although the Safety Car came out early, it was late enough to be used as the first of our three stops. With hindsight, the advantage this gave to Ferrari on their two-stop strategy, and the time we lost in traffic in the first laps after the Safety Car, left us with a gap to Sebastian that proved too much of a challenge for us to recover – especially considering that we did not have an underlying pace advantage to Ferrari, who were very competitive this weekend. Nonetheless, we scored a good haul of points with P2 and P3 and I must also say well done to the team, who performed brilliantly on one of the most difficult weekends for human endurance.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Lotus left frustrated as they just miss out on scoring their first points of 2015 in Malaysia

(Lotus F1 Team)

The Lotus F1 Team endured another difficult race weekend in Malaysia. Following their double retirement from the season opening race in Australia two weeks ago, the Enstone outfit managed to get just one car to finish with Romain Grosjean coming home just outside the points in 11th place as Pastor Maldonado was forced to retire from the race.

The Venezuelan ended his just nine laps from the chequered flag due to an issue with the brakes on his E23 Hybrid.

Romain Grosjean completed the Malaysian Grand Prix using a three stop strategy. The Frenchman began the race on a set of the Pirelli Medium compound tyre before switching to a new set of the Medium compound tyres on lap 15 before switching to another set of the Medium compound tyres on lap 26 before making his final stop on lap 34 for a new set of Hard tyres. Speaking following the race, the Frenchman stated:

Overall we had quite a good race with a strong first lap and some nice overtaking, although I lost a lot of time behind Hulkenberg and then the spin with Perez in such a fast corner. I had some fun overtaking with Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Force India, which was great, and we had a good strategy but we lost too much time to benefit from it. I also had an issue with my drinks bottle which added to the fun. Overall the car behaved well though and we’re not far from the top ten so we’ll work to close the gap for China.

Pastor Maldonado was unfortunate not to finish the Malaysian Grand Prix for the fifth time in five starts in Kuala Lumpur. Up until his retirement from the event, the Venezuelan had pitted three times, once on the opening lap following a puncture where he changed to the Medium compound tyre. He made his second stop on lap 18 for the Hard tyre and then stopped for the final time on lap 33 for a set of the Hard tyres. Speaking following the race Maldonado stated:

The potential is clearly there, especially in the race where the car pace is very competitive and we can score good points. Unfortunately there was an incident on the first lap which lost me a lot of time and compromised the race from then on. Despite dropping to the very back of the field, we switched to a different strategy and we recovered well. Unfortunately, we suffered from a brake issue, which isn’t great but it’s effectively our first race and we need to keep working through issues, ready for the next Grand Prix. As soon as we have a clean race, we will be fighting for good points.

The Enstone outfit’s Deputy Team Principal Frederico Gastaldi commented on the day’s race saying:

Today was about unfulfilled potential. Both Pastor and Romain could have scored strongly but events out of their hands meant they did not. That’s motor racing sometimes and we’re firmly focused on China to open our points account. We’ve shown again that the E23 is a great package and both our drivers are capable of delivering with the very best. Shanghai will present a challenge very different from the one seen here so that’s our next focus.”

Lotus F1 Team Technical Director Nick Chester concluded by saying:

Romain was looking set for a pretty strong result however traffic and being tipped into a spin undid that potential whilst Pastor suffered from a first lap puncture then a problem with the brakes late in the race. It’s a shame as we demonstrated good pace in qualifying and reasonable race pace in clear air in the very high temperatures here today. We’re very eager to get back out on track in Shanghai and we’re learning more about the E23’s potential every time it’s out on track.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Statement from Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Following Sebastian Vettel’s victory for Scuderia Ferrari at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, the first under the new management regime at the Maranello based outfit, new Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne released the following statement on the Ferrari website:

My heartfelt gratitude to Maurizio Arrivabene and the men and women of the Scuderia. What we have seen today is the result of incredibly hard work in the last few months, work that has been carried out in silence and with humility which are the real sign of a great team. Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen for a fantastic race. I am really happy for all the fans who have been waiting so long for a day like this. Forza Ferrari.’

Marchionne became Chairman of the Prancing Horse at the end of last year following the resignation of long term boss Luca Di Montezelemo. The victory for Vettel and fourth place finish for Raikkonen following very tricky conditions in Malaysia in terms of the heat is made all the better because it validates the pace that they showed the new SF15-T had over the course of winter testing.

The Maranello based outfit will be hoping that this result is not just a flash in the pan but judging by their race pace it certainly does not appear that way.

Vettel started the race from the front row and did a fantastic job to catch and overtake Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes. Once the German got out in front he controlled the race. Kimi Raikkonen also did a fantastic job coming from eleventh on the grid and carving his way through the field following his puncture on the opening lap of the race to come home in fourth place.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Renault Sport F1 Malaysian Grand Prix Review

(Renault Sport F1)

Renault Sport F1 had what can be described as a good day at the office at the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit on Sunday.

The French manufacturer saw all four of their cars finish the race in the points. The Scuderia Toro Rosso pair of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz finished the race in 7th and 8th place respectively with their sister team, the senior Infiniti Red Bull Racing outfit having their drivers Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo finishing the race in 9th and 10th place respectively.

The company also made history in Sepang on Sunday as Max Verstappen became the youngest ever Formula One point’s scorer.

Speaking following the race, Renault Sport F1’s Director of Operations Remi Taffin commented by saying:

Four cars in the points after one of the toughest races of the year shows the amount of work that has gone on behind the scenes in the last two weeks. Driveability has been reasonably levelled up, and the drivers could clearly explore the potential of their cars. Absolute performance can be and will be improved while we are some way behind the front of the pack. We clearly have some potential in hand and improving reliability will allow us to get closer in the near future. We’ll work hard with Toro Rosso and Red Bull to make sure we’re maximizing this potential. Finally, congrats to Max for his impressive race and his first points and a special bravo to Sebastian for his victory.

Renault Sport F1’s Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul commented on the days performance by saying:

We said after Melbourne that we needed to react to the problems, but not overreact and we can see that the measures and countermeasures put in place since then have played dividends here. Engine-wise we are much more where we should have been in Australia. Reliability has globally been good – as it should be – and the improvements to driveability have allowed the teams to focus on the set-ups and see where the true performance of the cars is at the moment. Finishing one lap behind the leaders isn’t where we need to be, but now we have very clear targets. Ferrari has done a great job in the last few months, it shows that Mercedes can be caught if all the ingredients are there. We need to focus on our job, play the long game and keep pushing every time we hit the track.

© Ben Johnston 2015

New brake supplier caused problems for Red Bull in Malaysia

Infiniti Red Bull Racing
(Infiniti Red Bull Racing)

Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner believes that the Milton Keynes based outfit’s change in brake supplier over the winter was the cause of their issues in Malaysia today.

Both Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo suffered from overheating brakes which resulted in an awful lot of brake dust coming off both cars. The duo finished in ninth and tenth respectively with Daniil Kvyat leading Ricciardo home.

Horner went on to congratulate race winner and former Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel. 

© Ben Johnston 2015

Vettel secures first win for Ferrari in Sepang on a sensational day for Formula One

(Scuderia Ferrari SpA via Twitter)

Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took his first victory for the Italian team finishing the race just ahead of the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. The victory was Ferrari’s first victory in two years and shows that the team have certainly improved in all areas.

Kimi Raikkonen finished the race in fourth place to secure his first points of the season. The Finn drove an absolutely fantastic race to recovery from a puncture on the opening lap and ended up at the back of the field however he fought his way back through the field and was in a podium place at one point but eventually came home in fourth place.

The Williams Martini Racing’s Team’s Valtteri Bottas finished the race in fifth place following a fantastic overtaking move on team mate Felipe Massa who finished the race in sixth place.

Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen became the youngest ever Formula One point’s scorer as the Dutchman finished the race in seventh place. Carlos Sainz in the sister Toro Rosso did a great job as the Spaniard finished the race in eighth place.

It was a very disappointing race for Infiniti Red Bull Racing as Daniil Kvyat ended up in a spin going into T2 after making contact with the Sahara Force India of Nico Hulkenberg. Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top ten for the Milton Keynes based outfit. Speaking following the race, Kvyat stated:

'We took the maximum out of the situation today. We are lacking some pace and need to catch up, I am confident that the team can do it; it’s a challenge and we have to face it with a strong mind. Fighting for P9 and P10 is not what we want, we struggled today and we need to work out why.'

Daniel Ricciardo was left disappointed with his afternoon and speaking following the race the Australian stated:

'A really frustrating race. I was ready for a fight going into the race and hoping for something special – but it wasn’t to be! I had a bit of contact on the first lap, which hurt us and then we had a few issues throughout the race, which we had to manage. It took a long time to pass cars as we didn’t have the pace and we had some problems with the brakes, which didn’t make our afternoon easy. It was a good job by Seb, a great drive from him.'

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

'A really difficult afternoon. Some contact at the first turn damaged Daniel’s front wing, which seemed to deteriorate through the race. Then after the safety car we started to see brake temperatures climb and needed to nurse the cars quite significantly through the second half of the race. I don’t think the drivers could have done anymore today. There’s plenty to understand following this weekend and plenty to address before China in two weeks. Sebastian drove an incredible race, so congratulations to him and Ferrari. Hopefully we will give them a harder time soon.'

The Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean finished the race in eleventh place and was left disappointed to miss out on a points scoring finish.

The Sauber F1 Team’s Felipe Nasr finished the race in 12th place for the Swiss based outfit.
It was a disappointing race for the Sahara Force India Formula One Team as Sergio ‘Checco’ Perez and Nico Hulkenberg finished the race in 13th and 14th place respectively. Speaking following the race, Sergio 'Checco' Perez commented saying:

'We knew ahead of the race it would be a big fight to get close to the points and it turned out to be just the case. I struggled with degradation in my first stint, on mediums, and that cost me a lot of time after the Safety Car. We had slightly better pace with the hard compound, but in the end it was not enough to get back in contention. The penalty didn't help us either; I felt I had nowhere to go and couldn't avoid contact with Romain. I thought it was a racing incident but it ended up costing us a lot. It's a disappointing result but at least we were able to learn a lot from this race and this will help us going forward.'

Following the race Hulkenberg was handed two penalty points on his Super Licence following the incident with Infiniti Red Bull Racing's Daniil Kvyat. Speaking following the race, Hulkenberg stated:

'It was a tough afternoon and I was always kept very busy with lots going on around me. I was really struggling with the general balance and the car was sliding around, especially as the tyres became older. We chose not to pit during the early safety car, which gave me good track position, but it was not an easy decision. We were trying to make the two-stop strategy work, but it just wasn’t possible with the degradation and so we switched to three stops. Perhaps it would have been better to commit to the three-stop earlier, but I’m not sure it would have changed the result that much. The penalty for the contact with Daniil [Kvyat] also dropped me out of the fight for points. I went a bit wide in turn one and chose to go back on the inside going into turn two. I was quite well alongside him, but he probably didn’t think I would try to come back at him.'

Speaking following the race, Sahara Force India Formula One Team's Robert Fernley stated:

'It was a challenging afternoon for the team, although we were unlucky not to come away with at least a point. Both Checo and Nico gave everything in these conditions and featured in a lot of battles for the majority of the race. We seemed to have the measure of some of the stronger cars, but the penalties effectively cut us out of the fight for the top ten positions. We knew going into the race that we were lacking ultimate pace today and with a fully dry race there was not much that would disrupt the strategy or offer any opportunity to exploit. Now we need to regroup, continue our work back at base and come back stronger in the near future. Everyone is putting in a real effort to get us back where we belong quickly and it will be hugely rewarding when we are once more fighting closer to the front.'

On their return to Formula One, the Manor F1 Team did a fantastic job as Roberto Merhi completed the team’s first race distance of the 2015 Formula One season. It was a great achievement when you consider where the team were just three weeks ago. It was disappointing for Will Stevens however as the Englishman was unable to start the race due to a fuel pressure problem yesterday.

It was a disappointing afternoon for the McLaren Honda Formula One Team because despite an extremely strong performance from the Woking based outfit both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso were forced to retire from the race. Button suffered a power failure while Alonso had a car issue.

The Lotus F1 Team’s Pastor Maldonado was forced to retire from the race.

Following a great start to the season, the Sauber F1 Team’s Marcus Ericsson was forced to retire from the race.

Driver’s championship standings

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team 43 points
2 Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari 40
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team 33
4 Felipe Massa Williams Martini Racing Team 30
5 Kimi Raikkonen Scuderia Ferrari 12
6 Felipe Nasr Sauber F1 Team 10
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams Martini Racing Team 10
8 Daniel Ricciardo Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team 9
9 Nico Hulkenberg Sahara Force India Formula One Team 6
10 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso 6
11 Carlos Sainz Scuderia Toro Rosso 6
12 Marcus Ericsson Sauber F1 Team 4
13 Daniil Kvyat Infiniti Red Bull Racing 2
14 Sergio Perez Sahara Force India Formula One Team 1

Constructor’s championship standings

1 Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team 76 Points
2 Scuderia Ferrari 52
3 Williams Martini Racing Team 30
4 Sauber F1 Team 14
5 Scuderia Toro Rosso 12
6 Infiniti Red Bull Racing 11

7 Sahara Force India Formula One Team 7

© Ben Johnston 2015

Friday, 27 March 2015

Pirelli Friday Malaysian Grand Prix Report

(Pirelli Motorsport Media)

The on track action for Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix got underway at the Sepang circuit on Friday with Pirelli bringing the Medium and Hard compound tyre’s for the second race of the season. The Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton setting the pace.

In the morning session Nico Rosberg set the benchmark time of 1m 40.124s on a set of used Hard tyres. In fact the top three this morning all used the a set of used Hard tyres with Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel ending the session as best of the rest behind Mercedes.

In the afternoon session, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of 1m 39.790s on a brand new set of the Medium compound tyres while Kimi Raikkonen set the second fastest time of 1m 40.163s on a set of used Medium compound tyres. 

Pirelli said that they expect the performance gap between the Medium and Hard compounds to be between 0.9 and 1s. Speaking following today’s action Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery stated:

'If these conditions persist until Sunday, we’ll be racing in what will almost certainly be the hottest conditions that we experience all year, which obviously provide a proper work-out for the tyres. The medium compound is suffering a bit more than the hard tyre here, which is what we expected, with the front-left being the most critical tyre for drivers to watch. Despite that, we’ve got no blistering so far and a gap of 0.9 to 1.0 seconds between the two compounds so far, which should open up a few strategy options. However, the unique weather means that Malaysia is one of the hardest races to predict all year, so there’s plenty more action to come.'

Over the course of Friday’s action 57 sets of the Hard compound tyre were used while just 19 sets of the Medium compound were used. Ironically the highest number of consecutive laps was the same for both the Hard and the Medium tyre at 21 lap’s each.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Manor back in business and thrilled to get on track

(@ManorF1Team via Twitter)

The Manor F1 Team declared themselves thrilled to be back on track as the action got underway on the opening day of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend.

The team who went in administration last year, missing the final three Grand Prix of the season in 2014 were rescued by Stephen Fitzpatrick last month having missed all of the winter testing programme. 

The team made it out to the opening race of the 2015 Formula One season in Australia two weeks ago but were unable to fire up their Ferrari power unit and was forced to miss the event.

The team managed to fire up their cars in the Manor garage on Thursday having resolved the issues that they faced in Australia and on Friday they got both of their cars out on track for both Free Practice sessions with both Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi completing mileage with their interim 2015 car.

Team Principal John Booth stated that he is very satisfied with what the outfit have achieved in recent months.

Booth was delighted with the progress that the team have made since the Australian Grand Prix but knows that the outfit still have an awful lot of work to do. More importantly for the team both Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi were able to complete lap times that were with the 107 percent regulation.

The team have done an incredible job when you consider that they have very little resources at this moment in time after most of their assets were sold off at auction to help clear the debts that the team had going into this year which resulted in them entering administration.

The team were also boosted the prize money that they received following Jules Bianchi’s points finish at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix which meant that the outfit finished in ninth place in the Constructors championship on two points.

© Ben Johnston 2015