This week, the racing was all about Max Verstappen taking home his first win - but he only gets a small mention on Christine's Rankings after posting a couple of videos on Dutch and English to say thank you. Elsewhere, Kimi Räikkönen gets his first points on the board this year after participating in a Finnish initiative to buy karts so that kids can have a go for free and see if they get a taste for this racing lack.
It was a series of unpredictable events that saw Verstappen take his debut victory in his first race for Red Bull in Spain. On the first lap, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg took each other out of the race to end Mercedes’ run of victories. Polesitter Hamilton had lost the lead in the first corner but Rosberg closed the gap when his teammate tried to pass, ending with them both in the gravel.
The sun shone beautifully over the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya today, and 66 laps of racing where completed by almost all of the F1 drivers. A significant first lap incident took out a couple, and some engine issues hampered others, but all the attention turned to the strategy of those in front. Who was on the right tyre at the right time, and who could make their rubber last to the end?
There were several surprises in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix, starting with the fact that Felipe Massa dropped out in Q1, aborting his second flying lap and settling for 19th on the grid. Q2 was slightly more predictable.
Free Practice 1 in Spain was led by Sebastian Vettel, with Kimi Räikkönen close behind him. Mercedes were a little slower but were concentrating on a harder compound of tyre and completing more laps than everyone else.
The FIA announced earlier in the year that they would be tightening up on the sporting regulations that state drivers should not discard their visor tear off strips either out on track or in the pit lane. However, the ruling was pushed back to come into force at the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend, and has now been delayed for another fortnight.
The F1 season heads back to Europe this weekend, with the Spanish Grand Prix next on the lengthy 2016 calendar. Teams and drivers know Barcelona intimately due to the vast amount of testing mileage completed there, but that doesn't mean the weekend is a foregone conclusion. Well, it probably does in terms of Mercedes, but what happens behind them is anyone's guess.
With the F1 world still digesting the machinations at Red Bull, drivers have busied themselves with all manner of extra-curicular activities this week. There's some driving skills on display that require intense concentration, supreme bravery in some very cold water, and benevolence on show by encouraging a team fun run for charity.
After the shock announcement by Red Bull that they were switching two drivers between the main team and sister team Toro Rosso, the practicalities are beginning to become apparent. One of the main issues is that both Daniil Kvyat and Max Verstappen will have to use each other’s tyre selections in Spain as the decisions were made such a long time ago.
Renault have been saving up their engine upgrade tokens in the hopes of giving their cars a mid-season boost. Now they’ve revealed they will be giving Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen new power units ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix – a notoriously hard race on engines – with the units set to be first run in the two-day Barcelona test after Spain.
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From Russia with love, Red Bull, oil prices, CFD and more
Red Bull are dominating the news at the moment. If it wasn't their trial run of the canopy in Russia, it was their drivers causing chaos in Russia, or it was their post-race reaction of swapping one perfectly capable driver for another. I've searched the web for some interesting articles and have come up with some that cover all those topics, but let's start with something else first.
Daniil Kvyat may have thought the sanction for his double Vettel crash on the first lap of the Russian Grand Prix was a ten second stop/go penalty, but the Red Bull driver is facing an even harsher sentence. The team have confirmed they are swapping Kvyat for Max Verstappen, promoting the young Dutch driver up from Toro Rosso and effectively demoting Kvyat to the B team.
This week, the McLaren boys finally got themselves some points on the board in Russia - and in Christine's Rankings, they've also both made great strides. That single video of them mostly just laughing has hoisted them up the rankings table but still no one can beat Daniel Ricciardo. Other points this week go to Nico Rosberg for trying his hand at a certain type of surfing, and for beating the boss at table tennis.
Nico Rosberg secured an easy victory in Russia, winning from pole position as teammate Lewis Hamilton had it all to do from tenth. Early chaos allowed Lewis to move up the field, and he fought his way back to second place but late stage water leak issues stopped him challenging his teammate for the win. Kimi Räikkönen ended up third for the final podium position.
An afternoon of racing in Russia has been completed, culminating in a somewhat predictable podium, four drivers retiring from the race, one safety car, one engine issue, and just 26 pit stops throughout the 53 laps. After first lap chaos brought out the virtual and then the actual safety car, the bunched up field spread out once again to limit the number of battles occurring on track.
For the second race in a row, qualifying did not go defending champion Lewis Hamilton’s way. The Brit made his way into Q3 but couldn’t participate due to the same engine problem that caught him out in China. That left Nico Rosberg untroubled in his quest for pole position, the German finishing ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari. Vettel’s five place grid drop, however, means that it will be Valtteri Bottas, who completed an impressive lap for Williams, who lines up on the front row of the grid tomorrow.
Sebastian Vettel has had a difficult start to his Russian race weekend, enduring a curtailed practice session after his Ferrari stopped out on track, and now picking up a five place grid penalty before qualifying has even begun. Ferrari decided to change the gearbox on Vettel’s car after finding damage that is reportedly left over from the German’s first lap collision with his teammate in China.
After Formula One bosses tried and failed to come to an agreement about engines, the F1 Commission finally got the teams to come together and submit a proposal for 2017’s power unit regulations. The WMSC have ratified the proposed changes, with the FIA saying: “The global agreement on power units covers four key areas relating to the cost and supply price, obligation to supply, performance convergence and the sound of the power units.”
Nico Rosberg was the fastest driver in first practice for the Russian Grand Prix, as he and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton duked it out for the top spot in those initial ninety minutes. Vettel and Räikkönen were close behind with Felipe Massa fourth fastest, despite having a short session due to a clutch problem.
Daniel Ricciardo debuted the cockpit protection design from Red Bull during the first practice session in Russia, completing just one installation lap to give the canopy its first run. Red Bull’s design is simply like a windscreen and as you might imagine, the visibility was relatively good.