Thursday, 30 April 2015

Hamilton's current dominance tough for Rosberg

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Mercedes Non-Executive Chairman Niki Lauda believes that the dominance of reigning Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton is making life tough for the double world champion’s team mate Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton has won three of the opening four Grand Prix of the season and has been on the pole position for all of the races so far in 2015. Hamilton heads to next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, the opening round of the European leg of the season, 27 points ahead of Rosberg who is currently in second place in the standings.

Lauda believes that Rosberg has to put Hamilton under pressure in the next few Grand Prix. In China Rosberg accused Lewis Hamilton of deliberating slowing his pace to back the German into four time world champion Sebastian Vettel and thinking of his own interests and not those of the entire Brackley based outfit.

The Silver Arrows head to the Spanish Grand Prix where last season they collected a 1-2 finish with Hamilton taking victory and Rosberg in second place. The German will be hoping that he will be the one who takes the win next weekend.

© Ben Johnston 2015

2016 F1 calendar leaked

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Formula One Management, the commercial rights holder of the Pinnacle of Motorsport have confirmed that a draft version of the 2016 Formula One calendar has been leaked.

It emerged in the early hours of Wednesday morning that the 2016 Formula One season won’t start until Sunday 3rd April at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, the Australian Grand Prix. Azerbaijan is set to make its Formula One debut with a street circuit with reports suggesting that the race will take place in July.

The report also suggested that the German Grand Prix will make a return after losing its place on the calendar for this season.

FOM have been quick to confirm that the ‘leak’ was a provisional draft and that ‘it has not yet been approved. The calendar featured 21 races with the season spanning from April to November. It also featured seven back to back Grand Prix events over the course of the season.

It has yet to be announced when the full calendar will be finalised and released.

© Ben Johnston 2015

No long term problems following 2009 accident

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Williams Martini Racing Team’s Felipe Massa believes that he has proven his doubters wrong. The Brazilian has confirmed that he has suffered no long term affects following his horrendous crash at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix when he was hit in the head by bring that had come from Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn GP car.

The Brazilian made a remarkable recovery following life threatening injuries and was back racing for Ferrari in 2010.

At the end of the 2013 Formula One season, Massa was replaced at Ferrari by former team mate Kimi Raikkonen and as a result he joined the Williams Martini Racing Team. He was joined at the Grove based outfit by his former Ferrari race engineer Rob Smedley.

Smedley joined Williams Martini Racing as Head of Performance Engineering overseeing all the engineering operations at the Grove based outfit.

In 2014, Massa was comprehensively beaten by team mate Valtteri Bottas however at the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring Massa scored a pole position leading a Williams Martini Racing Team front row lock out.

Felipe Massa finished the 2014 season in seventh place in the championship on 134 points while Valtteri Bottas finished the season in fourth place in the championship on 186 points. Bottas missed the opening race of the season in Australia through injury and as a result Felipe Massa has scored more points than the Finn.

Massa is currently in 5th place in the championship on 31 points, just one point ahead of Valtteri Bottas. When it comes to his time at Ferrari, Massa stated that is the past and he is now focused on now and the future with the Williams Martini Racing Team.

His move to Williams would certainly appear to have been the right call as the Grove based outfit beat Ferrari in the Constructors championship last season and are currently fighting the Prancing Horse this season.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Driver line-up has made a big difference at McLaren

(McLaren Honda)

McLaren Honda Racing Director Eric Boullier has stated that the team’s race winning credentials will help the outfit to move up the grid.

The Woking based outfit moved from Mercedes power to Honda over the winter and since the start of the season the team have struggled however in Bahrain last time out, Fernando Alonso finished the race just outside the points in eleventh place.

Despite the improvement on one side of the garage, Jenson Button could only manage to complete 17 laps over the entire race weekend.

The outfit will have an upgrade package for the MP4-30 for next weekend’s European season opener, the Spanish Grand Prix at the Barcelona Circuit Du Catalunya which includes a power unit upgrade from Honda.

Boullier who joined the McLaren team as Racing Director in 2014 believes that the culture within the team has changed and this has mainly been down to the drivers they have with former world champion’s Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso at the outfit. 

The Frenchman has also stated the culture and philosophy within the entire organisation has changed with the arrival of Honda.

The team have gone from telling employees what needs to be done to asking people and sharing ideas. Boullier also confirmed that the team have invested heavily within their manufacturing process at the factory.

The team have also confirmed that they will continue to bring upgrades to the MP4-30 until the final race of the season.

© Ben Johnston 2015



Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Porsche deal will have no impact on Hulkenberg's F1 career

(Sahara Force India Formula One Team)

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s Nico Hulkenberg has stated that he does not feel that his World Endurance Championship programme with Porsche will have no impact on his Formula One season with the Silverstone based outfit.

The German will make his debut for Porsche at the Six Hours Of Spa this weekend and will than travel to Barcelona for the opening race of the European leg of the Formula One season at the Circuit Du Catalunya.

Hulkenberg will also take part in the legendary LeMans 24 Hours race later this summer. Sahara Force India have endured a tough start to the 2015 season and currently in eighth place in the championship on eleven points ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix which takes place next weekend.

Hulkenberg stated that he would not have agreed the deal with Porsche if he felt that it would compromise his Formula One career. 

© Ben Johnston 2015

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

2016 season set to start on April 3 in Australia

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

The 2016 Formula One season is set to be the sport’s latest start date in 28 years as it has been confirmed that the first race of the year, the Australian Grand Prix will take place on Sunday 3rd April.

No reason has been given for the later start however it has been speculated that by having a later start date, Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Management Company are looking to pack more Grand Prix into a condensed calendar.

Azerbaijan is set to make its debut on the Formula One calendar next season with a circuit in Baku. It is also believed that by condensing the calendar it is a way of the sport’s governing body, the FIA to try and reduce costs in Formula One.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Audi have no plans to enter Formula One following the resignation of Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Audi ‘definitely has no intention to enter Formula One’ following the resignation of Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech, a company spokesman has confirmed to the BBC.

Piech had opposed the notion of the company entering the sport with a rumours floating around the motor industry that Audi had made an offer of £500 million to buy the four time world championship winning Infiniti Red Bull Racing team from Dietrich Mateschitz. Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has stated that reports suggesting such a move were wide of the mark.

The Audi spokesman confirmed that the company’s facility is already tied up with a World Endurance Championship entry along with an entry in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) and there is no room for Formula One.

The fact that Audi will not enter Formula One has not ruled out Volkswagen’s other brand’s Bentley, Porsche, Lamborghini, SEAT or Skoda entering the sport.

It is unlikely however that Porsche will enter Formula One as they are into their second season in the World Endurance Championship.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Silverstone MD wants a Grand Prix circuit association

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Managing Director of the Silverstone circuit Patrick Allen believes that the Formula One race promoters should come together to form an Grand Prix Circuit Association as way for them to help each other.

The German Grand Prix has been taken off the calendar for this season and the Italian Grand Prix at the Monza circuit which has year left on its current contract is under serious threat according to Formula One commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone. The French Grand Prix was also dropped from the Formula One calendar in 2008.

One of the main problems is the fact that a number of the Grand Prix are government run and this is not the case with the British Grand Prix in Silverstone. Allen feel that the organisers should come together as it would give a better stand point to negotiate their Grand Prix contracts from with the commercial rights holder.

If the race organisers came together and were able to negotiate the price of hosting Grand Prix down they would then be able to reduce the price of tickets for fans which would increase the foot-fall through the turnstiles which in turn would increase the revenue at each circuit.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Hamilton joins Moss in Monza

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton joined Formula One legend Stirling Moss in Monza on Monday.

The pair sampled classic Mercedes machinery on the legendary Monza banking. Lewis Hamilton will now head to Barcelona for the opening round of the European leg of the Formula One season at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix which takes place next weekend.

 
(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

© Ben Johnston 2015

Europe remains at the heart of Formula One

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Formula One needs to look at changing the start times of Grand Prix in the future according to Williams Martini Racing’s Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams.

The sport has seen a sharp decline in television audiences across Europe in the last few years however when it comes to viewership in the United Kingdom it has increased over the years with both the BBC and Sky Sports F1 HD covering Formula One.

Speaking on last week’s #AskCrofty F1 show special on Sky Sports F1 HD Williams said that one possibility that could be looked at is that race start times are brought back to 4PM (UK time) as way of increasing the popularity of the sport due to the fact that with the current start times Formula One takes up most of a Sunday afternoon which means that fans don’t get to do much on a Sunday afternoon and as a result they don’t watch the sport.

However Williams says that if the sport has later start times fans can go out for the day and then come home and watch a Grand Prix event and she believes that this will increase the popularity of the sport.

Williams said that she found it surprising and disappointing that the German Grand Prix has been taken off the calendar for the 2015 season.

Formula One used to be primarily based in Europe with Grand Prix in France, two in Italy, two in Germany, Spain, the UK, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Belgium and of course Monaco. Today there are just seven European rounds on the Formula One calendar.

Spain
Monaco
Austria
Britain
Hungary
Belgium
Italy

The Italian Grand Prix could also follow the German Grand Prix off the calendar according to the Formula One Supremo Bernie Ecclestone as the contract for the event is up for renewal at the end of next season.

Formula One now has more fly-away Grand Prix on the calendar which is a huge expense for teams as they continue to look for ways to reduce the cost of operating in Formula One. Lotus, Red Bull Racing, reigning world champions Mercedes AMG PETRONAS, Williams Martini Racing, the Sahara Force India Formula One Team, the Manor Marussia F1 Team and the Haas F1 Team all have bases in the United Kingdom.

Scuderia Ferrari and Scuderia Toro Rosso are both based in Italy. Formula One tyre supplier Pirelli are also based in Italy. Engine manufacturer’s Mercedes and Honda are also based in the United Kingdom with Mercedes based in Brixworth while Honda are based in Milton Keynes along with their main HQ in Japan.

Renault Sport F1 are also based in Europe in France. 

© Ben Johnston 2015



Sutil working with Sauber 'to solve the problem'

(Sauber F1 Team)

Adrian Sutil’s manager has confirmed that he is working with the Sauber F1 Team to find a way ‘to solve the problem’. Sutil and former team mate Esteban Gutierrez were replaced at the Hinwil based outfit by Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr.

Esteban Gutierrez was signed by Scuderia Ferrari as their official test and reserve driver. Sutil and Gutierrez weren’t the only drivers at odds with the Sauber F1 Team as Giedo Van Der Garde laid claim to one of the seats saying that he had an agreement in place with the team to race for them in 2015.

Despite winning a case in an Australian court, Van Der Garde gave up all legal right to the seat ‘for the good of the team.’

Although Van Der Garde has now given up on driving in Formula One, Adrian Sutil has not and was signed by Williams Martini Racing last month as their official reserve driver ironically taking the role vacated by Felipe Nasr who has joined the Sauber F1 Team.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Frank is there 24/7 and is team principal and always will be

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Sir Frank Williams has no intention to retire from his role as Team Principal at Williams Martini Racing in the next few seasons, according to his daughter and Deputy Team Principal Claire.

Williams has been involved in Formula One since he founded the team with Patrick Head in 1977. Speaking to the Reuters news agency, Claire Williams said that Frank is 24/7 and that he is in the office after everyone else in the company has gone home.

Sir Frank is the longest surviving quadriplegic following a car accident in 1986. The Englishman has overseen 9 Constructors championship victories including back to back wins in (1980-81), (1992-93) and (1996 – 1997). The team have also won seven Drivers championships including double’s in (1992-93) and (1996 – 1997).

Claire stated that the team would not be the same without Frank and that is not going to change anytime soon.

The team finished the 2014 Formula One season in third place in the Constructors championship and they are currently in third place on 61 points. 

© Ben Johnston 2015

Vettel delighted with the atmosphere at Ferrari

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Four time world champion Sebastian Vettel has stated that he is delighted with the ambition and the atmosphere within Scuderia Ferrari and how the team aim to beat Mercedes in 2015.

The German joined the Maranello based outfit ahead of the 2015 season after suffering an extremely difficult 2013 with Infiniti Red Bull Racing. In his first race for Ferrari, Vettel finished in third place while at the Malaysian Grand Prix he started the race from the front row and took victory giving the Prancing Horse their first victory since 2013.

He has finished on the podium in three of the opening four Grand Prix and has singled out new Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene and technical director James Allison for turning the team around.

Scuderia Ferrari have a new power unit and upgrade package for the Spanish Grand Prix next weekend coming to the SF15-T and Vettel is hopeful that the team will be able to catch and overtake Mercedes gradually over the course of the season.

Ferrari go into the Spanish Grand Prix in second place in championship, 52 points behind the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Perez says he could win in the right car

(Sahara Force India Formula One Team)

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s Sergio ‘Checco’ Perez has stated that if he was in the right car that he would be fighting for race wins and championship titles.

Perez made his Formula One debut in 2011 with the Sauber F1 Team and earned three podium finishes with the Swiss based outfit. The Mexican spent two years with the Hinwil based outfit and was later signed to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes however his time at the Woking based outfit was short lived and he was replaced by McLaren Young Driver Kevin Magnussen who was in turn replaced by Fernando Alonso ahead of the 2015 season.

Following his departure from McLaren, Perez looked at other options outside of Formula One including switching to the American IndyCar Series. However at the end of 2013 he was signed by the Sahara Force India Formula One Team and in only his third race for the team Checco finished in third place, giving the Silverstone based outfit their first podium finish since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix.

That was the Mexican’s best result with the team to date and he has now stated that he is frustrated by the fact that throughout his career to date he has not had a car capable of challenging for race wins and championships.

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team suffered a delay with their 2015 car which meant that Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez had limited running prior to the start of the new season however the team will introduce a B spec chassis for the Austrian Grand Prix which the Silverstone based outfit hope will get them back up to speed and to compete for points on a regular basis.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Monday, 27 April 2015

McLaren duo aiming to be competitive by Monaco

(McLaren Honda)

McLaren Honda drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button believe that the Woking based outfits best opportunity to be competitive in the next couple of Grand Prix will come in next month’s Monaco Grand Prix.

The team endured a mixed Grand Prix last time out at the Bahrain Night race as although Fernando Alonso finished the race in eleventh place, Jenson Button failed to start the Grand Prix due to various mechanical issues with the MP4-30 which meant that the 2009 world champion could only complete 17 laps of the Sakhir circuit over the course of the weekend.

Honda will introduce a new power unit upgrade for the Spanish Grand Prix next time out and McLaren believe that the upgrade will help the team at the following race in Monaco as that circuit needs less power due to the fact that it is a street circuit.

Alonso believes that the low power circuits such as Monaco will help the team to be more competitive but that right now the team just need to take it step by step and see what happens next time out in Spain. 

© Ben Johnston 2015

Massive loses announced at Williams despite strong 2014

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The Williams Martini Racing Team have announced losses of £42.5 million last year. The Grove based outfit ended the 2014 Formula One season in third place in Constructors championship and saw the arrival of major commercial partners in Marti, Rexona and Hackett to name but a few.

Despite their losses the company is in a great place for this season due to increased revenues from sponsorship and the money that they will receive from Formula One commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone for finishing the season in third place.

The company expected to make a loss as they increased their investment in Formula One to enable them to be more competitive in 2014.

The Grove based outfit’s other businesses such as Williams Advanced Engineering which was set up in 2013 and they also have a new Hybrid business. The team improved their position in 2014 moving up the Constructors championship order from ninth place in 2013 to third place in 2014. The team also have a new power unit supplier in Mercedes who joined the team last year.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Tough start to season for Rosberg compared to Hamilton but the German is not looking at the standings

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team driver Nico Rosberg has confirmed that he is not focussing on the Drivers’ standings despite being 27 points behind team mate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

Rosberg has failed to win a Grand Prix this season with Hamilton having taken three Grand Prix victories from the opening four races of the season. Rosberg has been on the podium in three Grand Prix so far this season and at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai accused team mate Lewis Hamilton of backing him into Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and just thinking of himself and not the team.

Rosberg heads to the Spanish Grand Prix in two weeks having finished the Bahrain Grand Prix in third place behind Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. 

However the German has now stated he lost time during his second pit-stop due to the fact that his chief mechanic flew home early and the German stated that he was unable to absorb that sort of lose during the race.

In Australia, Rosberg started the race on the front row alongside team mate and pole sitter Lewis Hamilton. In Malaysia the German started the race in third place just behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. In China, Rosberg was back on the front row alongside Hamilton while last time out in Bahrain he started the race from third place just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari.

Despite difficult start to his season compared to his team mate, Rosberg is second in the championship and there is no doubt that the Mercedes driver will bounce back and be extremely competitive and will continue to challenge for race wins as the European season gets underway.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Special feature - Four podiums in four Grand Prix for Ferrari fighting back following a tough 2014

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Scuderia Ferrari went into the 2015 Formula One season off the back of an extremely tough 2014 campaign which saw the Maranello based outfit fail to win a Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso secured just two podium finishes, a third place in China and second place in Hungary.

Ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix last season, than Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali was replaced by Ferrari North America boss Marco Mattiacci. 

The Italian was in charge of the team up until the end of the season. Following the final race of the season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, 

Mattiacci was replaced by former Philip Morris Vice President Maurizio Arrivabene.
Ferrari Chairman Luca Di Montezemelo also left his role with the Italian company and was replaced by FIAT Chairman Sergio Marchionne.

Following a tough season in 2014, Fernando Alonso returned to McLaren as they embarked on a new power unit partnership with Honda. The Spaniard was replaced at Ferrari by Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s four time world champion Sebastian Vettel.

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

On his debut for the Italian team Vettel finished the Australian Grand Prix in third place behind the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. In only his second race for the Prancing Horse Sebastian Vettel secured victory ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. In China, Vettel finished the race in third place.

The new SF15-T really suits both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen and Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene confirmed earlier this week that he met with the design team last December asking them to design a car that would suit the Finn’s driving style.

The Iceman retired from the first race of the season after the team made a mistake during his second pit-stop after a tyre came loose on his car.

In Malaysia, the Finn ended the race in fourth place and followed this up with another fourth place finish in China. Last time out in Bahrain, Raikkonen finished the race on the podium in second place behind race winner Lewis Hamilton claiming his first podium finish in over a year and his first podium for Ferrari since the 2009 Italian Grand Prix.

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Scuderia Ferrari are currently in second place in the Constructors championship on 107 points, 52 behind current leaders Mercedes.

In the Driver’s championship, Sebastian Vettel is currently in third place in the standings on 65 points while Kimi Raikkonen is currently in fourth place on 42 points. Scuderia Ferrari will a massive upgrade package for the next race, the Spanish Grand Prix at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya which will include a new power unit which have increased output of up to 40 horse power.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Sunday Special Feature - The Sauber F1 Team show they can succeed following a challenging 2014 season

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The Sauber F1 Team have made a fantastic start to the 2015 Formula One season when you consider where the Swiss based outfit were last season.

In 2014, the Hinwil based outfit suffered their worst season since they entered the sport in 1993. The outfit failed to secure a single point and suffered mechanical problems with the new for 2014 brake by wire system.

As a result of their tough season the team finished the 2014 campaign in 10th place in the championship with Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil driving for the team. In 2015, the outfit have two new drivers with Felipe Nasr joining the outfit making his Formula One race debut having joined the team from Williams.

Marcus Ericsson joined the team from the Caterham F1 Team. Over the winter Formula One lost the Caterham team despite the best efforts of Smith and Williamson’s Finbarr O’Connell to save the team. The Marussia F1 Team failed to complete the season however they have returned to the Formula One grid in 2015 with the help of Northern Ireland’s Stephen Fitzpatrick. 


(© Ben Johnston 2015)

There were rumours over the winter that the Sauber F1 Team would also end up being forced out of Formula One due to the spiralling costs in Formula One.

The team came back during winter testing showing that the new C34 chassis was extremely quick due to the well packaged car and the new Ferrari power unit. Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson were also extremely impressive in the opening race of the season.

In Australia, Felipe Nasr finished the race in fifth place while Marcus Ericsson finished the race in eighth place.

In China the pair finished the race in 8th and 10th place respectively. The Sauber F1 Team are currently in fifth place in the Constructors champion on 19 points as the Formula One circus heads to Spain for the opening race of the European leg of the season at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya in two weeks.


(Sauber F1 Team)

The team are just four points behind former world champions Infiniti Red Bull Racing who are in fourth place on 23 points.

Having seen the Sauber F1 Team in action during winter testing in Barcelona it was clear to me that they had produced a decent car for this season. It will be great to see how the Swiss based outfit get on at the Spanish Grand Prix.

One thing is certain the team have shown so far this season that small outfits such as the Sauber F1 Team can succeed in Formula One.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Piech departure clears the way for Volkswagen Formula One project

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Volkswagen could enter Formula One in the near future after their Chairman Dr Ferdinand K Piech, the man opposed to the company entering F1 has resigned with immediate effect following a power struggle with his CEO, opening the door for the company to potentially launch a bid to race in Formula One.

The German car giant who own brands such as Porsche, Lamborghini and Audi are already involved in Formula One as they sponsor Scuderia Toro Rosso however whenever the idea of entering Formula One as a manufacturer or power unit supplier under the Audi, Porsche or Lamborghini banner came up it was rejected by Piech.

Piech who is not a fan of Formula One Supremo Bernie Ecclestone had stated that as long as Mr Ecclestone is involved with the sport than the VW Group would not be. However now that Dr Piech has resigned and been replaced temporarily by Deputy Chairman Berthold Huber.

The news means that Formula One could potentially see VW enter Formula One with the Audi brand as the company already have two of their main brands Audi and Porsche in the World Endurance Championship and it is unlikely that Porsche would move from WEC to F1 as they have only just entered the championship, Audi on the other hand have been extremely successful in the Endurance Championship with Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen.

It may decide to set up a team in Formula One in the near future as the sport has now moved to the smaller 1.6 litre V6 turbo charged power units. Audi could potentially buy an existing team or indeed become a power unit supplier.

It will certainly be interesting to see what happens but it would be great if we saw another car manufacturer in Formula One and particularly VW as they have seen their main rivals Mercedes achieve so much success in the sport in recent years. 

© Ben Johnston 2015

Villeneuve critical of the Manor Marussia F1 Team

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Former Formula One driver Jacques Villeneuve has criticised the Manor Marussia F1 Team saying that the outfit would be better off in the GP2 championship of the Renault 3.5 Series as they are not competitive in the sport.

Villeneuve, who won the world championship with Williams in 1997 also criticised Fernando Alonso’s decision to return to the McLaren team with Honda saying that he feels that the Spaniard will never win a race again in Formula One. 

However in relation to the Manor Marussia F1 Team, their Sporting Director Graeme Lowdon stated in Bahrain that the team would not be in Formula One without the massive support they continue to receive from fans following criticism from Formula One Supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

Villeneuve has always been out spoken on issues in Formula One. The Canadian stated that the Pinnacle of motorsport is expensive and that they shouldn’t be there is they can’t be competitive.

However the new owner of the team Stephen Fitzpatrick would not have invested in the outfit if he felt that the project was not worth it.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Szafnauer calls on Pirelli to allow teams to choose their own tyre compounds for each race

(Pirelli Motorsport Media)

Sahara Force India Formula One Team Chief Operating Officer Otmar Szafnauer has called on Pirelli to allow teams to pick their own compound tyres before each Grand Prix event.

Szafnauer’s request comes after Pirelli announced their compound selection for the next four Formula One races in Spain, Monaco, Canada and Austria. He believes that by allowing teams to choose their own compounds ahead of each race it would open up Grand Prix in that there would be a huge variation in pit-stop strategies over the course of a Grand Prix distance.

Szafnauer went to say that if teams were to give Pirelli a four week window of notice regarding the tyre compounds they wanted for a race it would Pirelli to manufacturer each tyre.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Gastaldi told Maldonado to 'be fair' but in F1 money talks

(Lotus F1 Team)

Lotus F1 Deputy Team Principal Frederico Gastaldi reportedly told his driver Pastor Maldonado to ‘be fair’ and hand over his car to the team’s test driver Jolyon Palmer, however when asked to do so the Venezuelan reportedly said no that he would not according to Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat.

Maldonado joined the Lotus F1 Team from the Williams F1 Team in 2014 replacing Kimi Raikkonen who had moved back to Ferrari. When the Venezuelan moved he brought his sponsor PDVSA with him.

PDVSA spend £40 million for Maldonado’s race seat at the Lotus F1 Team and this would appear to give him the upper hand when it comes to his contract.

Palmer has already driven for the Lotus F1 Team in two free practice session’s this season with the reigning GP2 champion having driven in place of Romain Grosjean on both occasions. Despite this however it is Grosjean who has scored points for the Mercedes powered outfit so far this season with Maldonado yet to get a point on the board.

Palmer is due to drive the E23 Hybrid again in two weeks at the Spanish Grand Prix so it will be interesting to see if this time he drives Maldonado’s car.

All three Lotus F1 Team drivers will be action at Brands Hatch on Monday as for an open filming day at the circuit where fans have been invited to come to and watch the days running.

© Ben Johnston 2015



Friday, 24 April 2015

Hamilton tops UK Times Sports rich list with a fortune of £88 million

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Reigning Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has topped the Sunday Times Richest Sportsman list in the UK for 2015 with a fortunate of £88 million.

The Mercedes driver topped the list with Manchester United Football player Wayne Rooney overtaking Hamilton’s former McLaren team mate Jenson Button to take second place. Rooney’s worth is estimated at £72 million.

Hamilton’s fortunate has increased by £20 million by virtue of the fact that he become Formula One world champion.

Jenson Button has dropped to third place in the list taking up the final spot on the podium despite an increase in his year on year earnings from £63 million to £71 million. Hamilton and Button are the only two Formula One drivers in the top ten with the rest of the list made up of personalities from the world of Tennis, Golf and Football.

British Tennis number one, Andy Murray is in fourth place having earned £48 million in 2015. Making his way onto the list for the first time is Arsenal Football club manager Arsene Wenger who has earned £38 million. 

The Frenchman is in 10th place with equal earnings to Manchester United assistant manager Ryan Giggs, world number one golfer Rory Mcllroy and golfer Sir Nick Faldo who is a new entrant onto the list.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Special Feature - Pit-stop's getting faster but safety remains the priority

(DHL via youtube.com)

Formula One is the Pinnacle of motorsport with technology at its core. One thing that has been consistent for many years in the sport is pit-stops. Teams up and down the pit-lane have seen their Grand Prix results decided.

In 2010 due to safety concerns refuelling during pit stops was banned in Formula One and as a result of this we saw pit-stop times reduced. 

At last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari set the fastest pit-stop of the weekend with a 2.32s. Last year I asked former Williams Team manager Dickie Stanford how many practice pit-stops they carry out over the course of a race weekend to which he replied 60.

Over the last few years pit-stop time have been dramatically reduced. Last weekend saw an extremely quick stop by Ferrari which helped Kimi Raikkonen to finish the race in second place just behind race winner Lewis Hamilton. This was a dramatic improvement for the Italian team as in the opening Grand Prix of the season in Australia the Iceman was forced to retire from the race after a wheel nut was not secured correctly.

In the opening four Grand Prix of the season Ferrari have recorded three of the fastest pit-stop times while the Sahara Force India Formula One Team have one.

During the 1980’s Formula One pit-stops were extremely dangerous as pit-crews went into the pit-lane with no safety gear at all, no helmet’s and no fire proof overalls. In 2008, Ferrari introduced a traffic lights system replacing the lollipop man.

Formula One is not like IndyCar. In the American single-seat category each car has their own pit box, so if a team like Andretti Autosport are running four cars they have four crews working on their cars however in Formula One each team just have the one pit crew to service both cars.

Formula One teams have managed to get stops down to 2.32s stops and with that sort time it is inevitable that mistakes will be made no matter what crews do in terms of their preparation for stops. It had been suggested that teams would have to work to a target pit stop time however that has not been introduced and it is likely not to be introduced.

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

© Ben Johnston 2015



Button DID NOT storm out

(McLaren Honda)

McLaren Honda have categorically denied reports that Jenson Button ‘stormed out of the circuit’ following the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Daily Mirror in the UK claimed that the 2009 world champion and his wife Jessica left the circuit without conducting his post-race media interviews. Button failed to start the Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend and completed just 17 laps over the course of the event due to numerous technical issues with the MP4-30.

Despite not competing in the race, Button LIVE Tweeted the race from the McLaren garage with his tips for the race.

McLaren released a statement on the issue saying that Jenson Button and his wife Jessica had left the circuit following the Grand Prix with the consent and full knowledge of the team. The statement went on to say that Button gave the team a polite goodbye.

The team concluded by saying that the media reports were ‘utter nonsense’

© Ben Johnston 2015

Newey still actively involved with Infiniti Red Bull Racing...for now

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner has confirmed that former Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey continues to play an influential role in the development of this year’s RB11.

Speaking to the official Formula One website Horner stated that although he was in Bahrain Newey has indeed taken a step back from the day to day involvement with the team but he is still guiding the development of the RB11 but from a distance and that the real change will come from the RB12 next season.

Horner also revealed that back at the Malaysian Grand Prix the teams agreed to increase the power unit allocation from four to five units from 2015 onwards and this is of great importance to his outfit particularly as Daniel Ricciardo is onto his fourth power unit of the season already for the next race in Spain.

However Horner admitted that the regulation change would not be helpful to his outfit as they will receive a power unit penalty which will result in a 10 place grid drop at some stage in the coming Grand Prix. 

The team principal stated that Red Bull will need up to nine power units to make it through the 2015 season.

© Ben Johnston 2015

No F1 return for Van Der Garde

(Sauber F1 Team)

Former Caterham and Sauber F1 Team driver Giedo Van Der Garde will not be making a return to Formula One despite an approach from the Manor Marussia F1 Team according to his manager.

The Dutch driver was due to race for the Sauber F1 Team this season but the Swiss based outfit signed Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr to race for them instead and although he won a legal challenge forcing Sauber to allow him to race, Van Der Garde gave up his right to race for the team.

The Dutchman's manager has now confirmed that Van Der Garde is focussed on 2016 and getting a drive in the DTM as well as a drive in the LMP1 Class at the LeMans 24 Hours race.

The Manor Marussia F1 Team who have Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi driving for them and they are according to Van Der Garde’s manager looking for an experienced driver as Merhi has been described as contracted for a short term period such as the opening Grand Prix of the season and it is believed that Van Der Garde was approached to race for Manor Marussia from the Monaco Grand Prix onwards.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Thursday, 23 April 2015

What are you doing on Monday?

(Lotus F1 Team)

Are you a massive fan of the Lotus F1 Team? Well if you are than they are offering you a fantastic opportunity. On Monday 27th April the Enstone outfit will be conducting a filming day with their two race drivers Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado and test driver Jolyon Palmer at the Brands Hatch circuit and you could be there.

The team have announced that the filming day will be open to the public. The test day will take place from 9AM – 5PM. For further details visit - 

http://news.brandshatch.co.uk/modern-formula-one-machinery-returns-to-brands-hatch-this-monday-with-lotus-f1-team-filming-day.aspx

© Ben Johnston 2015

McLaren aim to be fully competitive by the end of next year

(McLaren Honda)

The McLaren Honda Formula One Team have stated that they believe it will be the end of next season before they are back to full strength according to Racing Director Eric Boullier.

Speaking to the New York Times Boullier said he believes that his team who renewed their partnership with Honda ahead of this season will be competitive towards the end of this year but the Frenchman also revealed that the team are of course a year and a half behind their rivals as Honda elected to return to Formula One a year after the new regulations came into the sport.

Boullier confirmed that the Woking based outfit and Honda’s project is extremely ambitious but they that this will take time to materialise as the McLaren F1 Team is just one part of the wider McLaren Technology Group with also comprises of McLaren Applied Technologies and McLaren Automotive which is where they transfer their Formula One technology to road car production and other projects.

The team have a major upgrade package coming for the next race, the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, the opening race of the European leg of the Formula One season which includes an upgraded power unit from Honda.

The team will be hoping that these new developments will help to move them up the order after struggling in the opening races of the season.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Sauber F1 Team extend Inter partnership

(Sauber F1 Team)

The Sauber F1 Team have renewed their partnership with Mexican insurance broker Inter. As part of the sponsorship agreement the Inter logos will remain on the Sauber F1 Team’s C34 chassis.

The Mexican company are a market leader in the insurance industry and new deal will the company enter into their fourth consecutive year with the Hinwil based Formula One Team. Sauber are currently in fifth place in the championship following a successful start to their 2015 season. 

Speaking about the new partnership team principal Monisha Keltenborn stated:

We are delighted to be able to continue our successful partnership with Inter. In 2015 we go into the fourth year of our cooperation. It is exciting to see the Mexican Grand Prix returning to the Formula One calendar this year. We will do the utmost to present Inter with a platform that provides it with a high visibility, not only in Mexico, but also worldwide.

Chief Executive Officer of Inter, Juan Ignacio Casanueve stated:

Inter is committed to the highest standards with both our clients and our partners - a philosophy that is reflected by the approach of the Sauber F1 Team. It’s exciting to continue our partnership with this great team in the year that Formula One returns to Mexico City after a 23-year absence. The association with the Sauber F1 Team demonstrates Inter’s desire to continue building its international business base by capitalising on the unique global reach of Formula One. We are excited to be part of the Sauber F1 Team’s journey and we are looking forward to sharing in the team’s success in the coming 
seasons.

© Ben Johnston 2015


Arrivabene spoke to the Ferrari design office to make sure the SF15-T suited Raikkonen

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene has revealed that in December he sat down with the design department at the Maranello based outfit to ensure that the new SF15-T chassis would suit Kimi Raikkonen’s driving style.

The Finn who returned to Ferrari in 2014 endured his worst season in Formula One failing to secure a podium finish and was beaten comprehensively by team mate Fernando Alonso.

The Spaniard left the team at the end of last season to re-join McLaren who have a new partnership with Honda. Raikkonen showed as soon as the new car hit the track during winter testing that it suited his driving style far more compared to last season’s chassis. This is not the only thing that has helped the Iceman however as he has a new English engineer with Dave Greenwood joining the team from Marussia.

While the Finn retired from the first race of the season due to wheel nut that was not correctly fastened during a pit-stop he followed this up with two fourth place finishes in Malaysia and China. Last time out in Bahrain the Finn secured his first podium in over a year as he came home in second place behind race winner Lewis Hamilton beating new team mate Sebastian Vettel for the first time this season.

Kimi Raikkonen has praised the work by the Ferrari team over the winter particularly in the power unit department. The Finn went on to say that the main thing from last season is that the team have improved everyone.

(© Ben Johnston)

© Ben Johnston 2015


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Williams still confident they can catch and compete with Ferrari

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Williams Martini Racing Team’s Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley has confirmed that the Grove based outfit are still targeting his old outfit Ferrari in the race for second place in the championship.

In 2014, Williams finished in third place in the championship ahead of Scuderia Ferrari however so far in 2015 the team have struggled to challenge the Italian team with Felipe Massa stating recently that the Grove based outfit’s financial situation is restricting their development rate which has allowed the Maranello based outfit to overhaul them in the championship.

Ferrari started the season off with one podium as a Sebastian Vettel finished the race in third place. Valtteri Bottas failed to start the opening race of the season in Australia as he was unable to part in the race as he had an injured back.

Smedley revealed that the team have upgrades coming for the Spanish Grand Prix next time out but he feels that it will be a big challenge to catch Ferrari as the Italian team have a big upgrade of their own for the SF15-T for the opening race of the European leg of the season. Smedley is hopeful that the team will be able to catch Ferrari during the season but he admitted that the team must also keep a close eye on Infiniti Red Bull Racing as the Milton Keynes based outfit who are behind them in the championship will inevitably catch them with the resources that they have at their disposal.

Williams head to the Spanish Grand Prix in third place in the championship on 61 points, 38 ahead of Infiniti Red Bull Racing and 46 points behind Ferrari.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Special feature - 100 Grand Prix for Mercedes and counting for Rosberg

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Nico Rosberg celebrated his 100th Grand Prix for the reigning world champions at the Bahrain Grand Prix last time out.

The German has been with the Silver Arrows since day one when Mercedes bought the Brawn GP ahead of the 2010 season. Rosberg joined the team alongside seven time world champion Michael Schumacher.

In 2012, Rosberg took not only his maiden Formula One pole position but also his first Grand Prix victory both of which came at the Chinese Grand Prix. The following season saw Schumacher retire from Formula One for the final time with Lewis Hamilton moving to the Brackley based outfit from McLaren.

At the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix (classed as his home race, having been brought up in Monte Carlo) Rosberg took pole position and went on to win the race. The German went on to take victory at the British Grand Prix in Silverstone.

The 2014 season proved to be a breakthrough year for Nico as he kicked off the season in style taking victory in the season opener at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. He followed this up with a second place finish just behind Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton resulting in the Silver Arrows first 1-2 finish since 1955.
Rosberg went on to dominate the season with team mate Lewis Hamilton with the pair claiming all put three Grand Prix victories. The German finished the season runner up to Hamilton in the championship following a disappointing season finale in Abu Dhabi.

The 2015 season started with a second place finish in Australia behind Lewis Hamilton. In Malaysia the German finished the race in third place while in China he finished the race runner up to Hamilton once again. Rosberg celebrated his 100th Grand Prix in Bahrain with a third place finish and heads to the to the European leg of the season in Barcelona in two weeks in second place, 33 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Pirelli announce compound nominations for the next four Grand Prix

Pirelli Motorsport have announced their compound choices for the Spanish, Monaco, Canada and Austrian Grand Prix.


Next time out for the Spanish Grand Prix Pirelli have gone for the P-Zero White and the Orange walled Medium and Hard Compound tyre.


In Monaco, Canada and Austria the company will make the Red walled Super Soft and yellow walled Soft compound tyres.


© Ben Johnston 2015

Ferrari have not approached Hamilton

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Scuderia Ferrari have not approached reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton about driving for the Italian team alongside Sebastian Vettel next season amid reports in Bahrain last weekend that the double world champion is set to replace Kimi Raikkonen.

Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene has confirmed that the Maranello based outfit want to retain the Iceman but that they are not yet ready to offer him a new deal.

Raikkonen is currently into the second year of a two year agreement with the Ferrari while the team have an option to extend his contract into next season. Following an extremely difficult season in 2014, Raikkonen has had a resurgence in his performances, the Iceman scored his first podium for Ferrari since the 2009 Italian Grand Prix when he Merc last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix in second place behind Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team Executive Director (Business) Toto Wolff is adamant that it is crucial that his outfit extend his contract.

Hamilton confirmed a number of weeks ago that a deal is nearly ready and that was 99.6% complete but that it was now going between the lawyers.

Meanwhile Formula One Supremo Bernie Ecclestone told Sky Sports F1 at the Bahrain Grand Prix that he believes Hamilton who has made a dream start to his title defence by taking three wins from the opening four Grand Prix will remain at Mercedes next season.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Boullier believes McLaren are making progress and have solved major teething problems

(McLaren Honda)

McLaren Honda Racing Director Eric Boullier believes that the Woking based outfit are over the worst of their teething problems following an extremely difficult start to their renewed partnership with Honda.

The team have retained Jenson Button this season who is partnered by former Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso. McLaren had an extremely tough time over the course of winter testing as a result of installation and other issues surrounding the new Honda power unit. 

In the opening race of the season Jenson Button finished the Australian Grand Prix in eleventh place albeit 2 laps down on race winner Lewis Hamilton.

Kevin Magnussen replaced the injured Fernando Alonso and failed to finish the race. At the Malaysian Grand Prix neither Jenson nor Fernando finished the race due to a mechanical issue with the MP4-30. Both drivers are happy with the chassis but want the team to work on the reliability of the power unit with Honda.

In China two weeks ago both Button and Alonso finished the race completing the team’s first race finish of the season. Button and Alonso qualified for the race in 17th and 18th place respectively while in race the pair finished the race in 12th (Alonso) and 14th (Button) both finishing the race one lap down.

Last time out at the Bahrain night race at the Sakhir International Circuit Button failed to qualify for the race and was unable to start the race due to a mechanical issue with the car. Fernando Alonso on the other hand, started the race from 14th place on the grid and went on to finish the race just outside the points in eleventh place.

Speaking following the race the Spaniard stated that it would be the last time that the team would finish outside the points.

Boullier has revealed that in Bahrain obviously one car had a number of problems while the other ran relatively problem free and the Frenchman has been encouraged by the progress that the Woking based outfit have made. The team will have an upgraded power unit from Honda for the next race, the Spanish Grand Prix, the opening race of the European leg of the 2015 season.

Boullier wants the reliability of car to be worked on and he believes that this will be sorted out in time as the partnership is still young and is in the process of maturing.

© Ben Johnston 2015

20 - 30 horsepower upgrade coming to the Ferrari power unit in Canada

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team are set to receive an even greater challenge from rivals Scuderia Ferrari from the Canadian Grand Prix onwards as the Italian team are set for development push on the power unit side.

It is estimated that the increase in performance will be between 20 and 30 horsepower which will be of great benefit to the team for the Canadian Grand Prix as although the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is essentially a street circuit it is an extremely fast circuit. Ferrari start the European leg of the Formula One season in second place behind the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team in the championship.

However the team will use their development tokens to allow them to carry out development work on the power train.

Ferrari have more tokens in bank than Mercedes and this should help to beat the Silver Arrows more often later this season. 

Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene has revealed that the outfit will have an upgrade package for the next race, the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit De Catalunya which takes place in just under three weeks. The team have further developments in the pipeline for later on in the season.

© Ben Johnston 2015

Special feature - Rising like a phoenix following a positive return for the Manor Marussia F1 Team

Embedded image permalink
(@ManorF1Team via Twitter)

The Manor Marussia F1 Team who returned to the sport this season after entering administration towards the end of last season, this led to the possibility of the team having to close to its doors however Northern Irish businessman Stephen Fitzpatrick and former Sainsbury’s boss Justin King.

The management structure within the team remains the same with John Booth as Team Principal and Graeme Lowdon continuing as Sporting Director. The outfit saw many of their staff leave for other teams over the winter as the situation at the time was unclear as to whether or not the outfit would survive.

The team have two new drivers with Britain’s Will Stevens and Spain’s Roberto Merhi joining the team. The outfit worked against the clock to get ready for the start of the 2015 season getting everything together in record time and making it out to the first race in Australia last month. Last time out at the Bahrain Grand Prix the outfit completed their second full race distance with both drivers.

This was a fantastic achievement for the outfit who are currently operating out of their GP2 HQ after the F1 base in Banbury was sold at auction to the Haas F1 Team who enter the sport next season.
Team Principal John Booth said following the Bahrain Grand Prix that the outfit can be proud of a ‘smooth weekend’ which he said is exactly how the team wanted to end the first four fly away Grand Prix of the season.

Speaking to BBC F1’s Eddie Jordan in Bahrain over the weekend Graeme Lowdon said that the fans want the Manor Marussia F1 Team on the grid and that is the main after Formula One Supremo Bernie Ecclestone told Sky Sports F1 HD commentator Martin Brundle that he doesn’t want the Manor Marussia F1 Team on the Formula One grid but the support shown for the team would show otherwise that fans are delighted to see the team back on the grid.

© Ben Johnston 2015


Ferrari turnaround down to Arrivabene leadership

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Former Formula One driver turned BBC F1 commentator David Coulthard believes that Scuderia Ferrari’s turn around this can be put down to the leader of new Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene.

Arrivabene replaced interim Team Principal Marco Mattiacci on November 24 2014 and immediately begin making changes with the Maranello based outfit. In the first four flyaway Grand Prix of the season the team have scored four podium finishes including a win for Sebastian Vettel at the Malaysia Grand Prix last month.

Coulthard believes that Ferrari’s renewed success is not necessarily just as a result of Fernando Alonso leaving and Sebastian Vettel joining the team. The Scot was very critical of Marco Mattiacci as the he feels the Italian didn’t get anything right from the moment he arrived at the team. The Italian joined the Scuderia from Ferrari North America where he was Chief Executive of the Italian marques most successful region.

This did not mean however that he would be to transfer this success to the Formula One operation and sure enough this is something that he was unable to do.

Scuderia Ferrari are currently in second place in the championship on 107 points, 52 behind leaders the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team and Coulthard believes that because of this Arrivabene is getting it right.  

© Ben Johnston 2015       


Monday, 20 April 2015

McLaren hoping to score points in Spain following mixed weekend in Bahrain

(McLaren Honda)

McLaren Honda are aiming to score their first points of the 2015 season next time at the Spanish Grand Prix which takes place at the Circuit De Catalunya in three weeks. 

The Woking based outfit had a difficult race in Bahrain last weekend where Jenson Button could only complete 17 laps and was unable to start the race which was his 100th start for the team. The 2009 world champion’s 100th Grand Prix start for McLaren will now come in Spain. 

Speaking following the race Button stated:

Obviously, that was a disappointing day to end a disappointing weekend.
“However, although I was unable to get the running I required, and was also unable to make the start of today’s race at all, it’s clear that our car is improving, and that’s good news for all of us.
“That’s a result of a lot of hard work. In particular, I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to the boys in the garage, who worked unbelievably hard all weekend for so little reward. Their commitment and team spirit are massively impressive, and I know we’ll get the rewards they deserve in the end.”
Fernando Alonso had a better race for the Woking based outfit. The Spaniard started the race from 14th place on the grid and went on to finish the race in 11th just outside the points. The double world champion said after the race that it would be the last time that the outfit will finish a race outside the points.

Following the Grand Prix Alonso stated:

“We weren’t quite fast enough to get into the top 10, but we finished the race and got a bit more valuable experience with the car, which had been our main objective.
“Everything worked fine on my side of the garage, but unfortunately Jenson couldn’t start the race. We need to look at many things before the Spanish Grand Prix, and we have three weeks in which to increase our performance and improve our reliability. There’s a lot of work ahead, but we’re optimistic.
“It’s clear that we’re all committed to this project and to doing all we can to bring about our eventual comeback. The whole team is united and everyone is hugely motivated by the challenge ahead. Hopefully, we can build on what we’ve achieved so far, and see further improvements over the next few races.”
The McLaren Honda team have yet to score points this season and the outfit go into the next race, the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in three weeks with a power unit upgrade from Honda while the MP4-30 will also feature a number of upgrades to the chassis. Speaking following Sunday’s race McLaren Honda Racing Director Eric Boullier commented:

“Fernando drove hard and well all afternoon, in difficult and frustrating circumstances, and almost scored our first world championship point of the season.
“In the end he finished 11th. Although that isn’t an achievement that’s likely to tempt us to start popping champagne corks, nonetheless, following our first appearance of the year in Q2 yesterday, it clearly demonstrates that things are going in the right developmental direction.
“Having said that, we’d love to have been able to put on a better show for our Bahraini colleagues and friends, whose Grand Prix has been as resounding a success as ever.
“As for Jenson, his wretched luck continued today. The team had worked prodigiously hard to try to ready his car for the race after his technical issues yesterday, but, sadly, during the fire-up we noticed data that indicated an unresolved issue originating from the electrical glitches that had struck during the practice sessions yesterday and the day before.
“We believed that there was a significant likelihood that the issue would recur in running, and would indeed eventually scupper Jenson’s race. We tried our best to fix it but, sadly, we weren’t able to find a remedy in time for the start.
“That’s disappointing for all of us, and particularly for Jenson, but that’s racing; these things happen, and we’ll live to fight another day.
“As we enter the European season, it seems a good time to take stock of our state of play generally. During the first four fly-away races of the year – Australia, Malaysia, China and Bahrain – we’ve steadily improved our car via a series of developments, the result of which has been a palpable and linear upward trend in performance. The next race, the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, is three weeks hence, which affords us time sufficient in which to prepare further upgrades. We’ll make no predictions as to where they’ll place us, pace-wise, relative to our chief current competitors, but we expect that upward trend in performance to remain linear and palpable.
“Clearly, we aren’t satisfied with our level of competitiveness – our team exists to win – but we’ve made gargantuan strides since the Australian Grand Prix and that’s been a result of a tremendous effort by a large number of people, all of whose passion and commitment I hereby take the opportunity to salute.
“I believe the way we’ve approached the task in hand has been characterised by honesty, humility and hard graft, and that’s how we’ll continue to approach it.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we still have a mountain to climb, but climb it we will; of that you may be 100 per cent certain.”
Honda R&D Senior Managing Officer – Chief Officer Of Motorsport Yasuhisa Arai commented on the Bahrain Grand Prix by saying:

Today, Fernando was so close to finishing in a points-paying position, which is another positive step forward for us.
“Day by day, I can truly see the progress being made, and I’m confident in the continuing work we’re doing. Of course, it was extremely unfortunate that Jenson’s car had electrical issues this weekend and he was unable to race, but we’re confident we can resolve them.“Now that the first four races of the season are complete, we have a short break to further improve. We’ll be preparing fiercely for the first European race, in Spain. And in particular we’ll be concentrating on competitiveness and reliability.”
© Ben Johnston 2015