Rosberg rules in Britain as Vettel’s luck runs out

19 Comments

Nico Rosberg has won today’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone after a tenuous race that saw a series of large tire failures, forcing drivers to be extra careful if they were to keep it on track.

Mercedes have struggled with their tire wear so far this season and pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton suffered a puncture when leading in the early stages of the race. Despite inheriting the lead, Sebastian Vettel’s luck also ran out as he suffered a loss of drive with just eleven laps remaining, allowing Rosberg to lead home a charging Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso.

Off the line, Hamilton held his position well to lead through the opening complex from Sebastian Vettel as their teammates, Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber, both failed to manage a clean getaway. Webber’s cause was not aided by a side-swipe from Romain Grosjean, which left the Red Bull with front-wing damage and a battle to recover down in 15th place. Felipe Massa made a superb start from 11th to sit 5th behind Adrian Sutil, but his teammate, Fernando Alonso, failed to make his traditional good start and lost out to Jenson Button.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Just as Lewis Hamilton began to create a gap at the front, his hopes of winning the British Grand Prix for a second time soon burst after a tire failure on the left-rear of his Mercedes caused him to drop down the order, with a similar failure on Felipe Massa’s car occurring just minutes later. This signalled to the rest of the field that it was time to pit as Vettel maintained his lead thanks to a slick stop. Jean-Eric Vergne was the leading driver not to have stopped, but he quickly paid the price as he too suffered a puncture, leaving debris on the entry to Stowe and bringing out the safety car. Webber was informed that Vettel had cuts in his rear tires, whilst Rosberg was told to avoid overheating his tires and running over the kerbs for want of preventing a similar failure to that of his teammate.

Once the clean-up had been completed, the safety car came back in and the racing resumed with Vettel leading the cars across the line. Webber’s fightback continued at the expense of Sergio Perez as his teammate was told to manage the gap to Rosberg, focusing on a progressive increase rather than an instantaneous one. Felipe Massa began to pick off the backmarkers, moving up to P13 come the second round of stops. Raikkonen was the first to pit, and he was quickly followed by Fernando Alonso and teammate Romain Grosjean. Hamilton worked his way back up into the points, tussling with compatriot Paul di Resta for 7th as Nico Rosberg began to close the gap to Vettel at the front. Raikkonen managed to leapfrog Alonso during the stops, with Webber also passing the Ferrari. Vettel and Rosberg both pitted and maintained their positions due to the huge gap that had been created, but Adrian Sutil fell from 3rd after staying out too long on his tires.

Lewis Hamilton may not have envisaged fighting for P11 after starting from pole, but both he and Paul di Resta showed great racecraft during their fight over the position which eventually went to Hamilton under DRS. The Briton then worked his way into the points by passing Romain Grosjean, following the example set by Jenson Button just one lap earlier. Just as Vettel appeared to have the race win secured, drama struck. His Red Bull lost drive and grinded to a halt on the pit straight, putting him out of the race and handing the lead to Rosberg, with the safety car being deployed to recover the stricken RB9. The front runners all decided to pit for fresh tires except for Kimi Raikkonen, who questioned the decision. This left Rosberg out in front having stopped, but Webber and Alonso both had to pass cars that had not stopped if they were to reach the podium.

On the restart, Rosberg began to pull away from Raikkonen as Alonso hounded the McLaren drivers for P6 and P7, eventually passing Button into Copse. Perez soon followed after his MP4-28 slowed into the pits, releasing Alonso into 6th ahead of Hamilton. The former McLaren teammates forced their way past Daniel Ricciardo, leaving Sutil as the next driver on their hit list. Webber and Raikkonen went wheel-to-wheel, with the Red Bull driver eventually making it through as Alonso took Sutil through the final complex of corners before catching Kimi Raikkonen after the Lotus driver lost out to Mark Webber. Fresh tires had clearly done the trick for the front runners, with Rosberg and Webber trading fastest lap times. Hamilton continued to follow Alonso’s example, disposing of Kimi Raikkonen down the Hangar Straight as Webber closed on Rosberg. However, it was not enough as the German driver kept it on track to win the third grand prix of his career.

IMSA: Sebring Day 2 of two-day test notebook

Photo courtesy of IMSA
Leave a comment

Testing across several IMSA sanctioned series continued at Sebring International Raceway on Tuesday as preparations continue for next month’s events during the weekend of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.

Below are highlights from Day 2 of testing around the 3.74-mile road course.

Eurosport Racing Continues Work with Mazda Prototype Challenge Chassis

Teams in the Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda championship completed their second day of testing on Tuesday. Among them, Eurosport Racing continued their work with the only Mazda Prototype Challenge (MPC) entries in the field, in the hands of drivers Dr. Tim George (in the No. 24 entry) and Jon Brownson (in the No. 34).

“Right now, I’m driving by myself so we’re trying to make the car comfortable enough to last an hour and 45 minutes with just me in the car,” George said of their preparation efforts. “We’re trying to set up the car where it’s quick, yet it and can last, both the car and for me to make sure we don’t tire out, get fatigued and make mistakes.”

The 1 hour 45 minute window that George referenced represents the race times for the 2018 season, up considerably from last year’s sprint format that featured a pair of 45-minute races across a race weekend.

Though that change represents a drastic shift in driving philosophy, it is one that George welcomes.

“The new rules for the endurance races are great, I enjoy it a lot,” said George. “It gives you a chance to think through things differently with strategy. It also gives you a chance if you blow it…in a sprint race if you make a mistake you don’t get a chance to come back.”

Florida Drivers in Continental Tire Challenge Eager for Hometown Race at Sebring

A strong contingent of drivers from Florida are represented in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, and next month’s 12 Hours of Sebring weekend will see them compete on home soil.

“I grew up in Tallahassee and I live in Orlando now, so Sebring has been my home track since day one,” said Paul Holton, driver of the No. 76 Compass Racing McLaren GT4, which finished 14th at the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. “I’ve spent a lot of time down here and really enjoy the place. It’s a nice, quaint little town not far from Orlando so it’s a quick, easy drive down for me.”

Fellow Floridian Ramin Abdolvahabi, a native of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and driver of the No. 09 Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage, revealed that, even though Sebring is only two hours from his hometown, this week’s test was his first time at the track in two years.

“I haven’t been here for two years, so coming back is like coming home,” he said. “It’s a fantastic track and it’s one of the iconic tracks in the world so being at Sebring – a small town, my hometown, welcoming – it’s fantastic. I went on the track a couple of times yesterday and it’s just like wearing an old shoe, it just fits and it’s fantastic. Hopefully, the race will go well and the weather will hold, so anyone who’s out there, come and see us!”

Frank Raso Trades in Airplanes for Porsches at Sebring

Several IMSA drivers boast “day jobs” outside of their racing gigs. Among them, Frank Raso’s work falls outside of ordinary jobs like doctor or lawyer. Rather, Raso flies airplanes for a living.

“I’m an airline pilot for a major airline,” said Raso, who tested the No. 10 Topp Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car at Sebring. “I’ve been flying for almost 30 years, and it’s allowed me, with all my time off and things like that to do this and fall back into racing again. I messed with it a little bit when I was younger, but it was, of course, expensive, so I got away from it for a while. I decided I wanted to get back into it in kind of my last couple of years before I get too old.”

Raso explained that the skills he practices while flying planes are more than transferable to his driving duties in a Porsche GT3 Cup car.

“Flying an airliner or flying any airplane, we have checklists, but everything is kind of done in order. It’s almost in a robot fashion type of a thing where you do this, you do this, you do this and you have to make sure you hit all your marks and fly the airplane with precision.

“So, when you get in these Cup cars, with no anti-lock brakes, no traction control, and no driver assist items, you have to make sure you hit your marks, when you’re accelerating, when you’re turning in. You have to be alert. It keeps your wits about you. The car can step out at any time. They’re a very difficult car to drive, but they’re a lot of fun.”
The 54-year-old Raso posted a best finish of fourth, on four separate occasions, in a part-time schedule during the 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season as a competitor in the Gold Cup class.
Newcomers Get Taste of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge
A number of new drivers got to sample Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge cars during the two days of testing at Sebring. Among them was amateur racer Scott Welham, who got his first taste of professional racing during the two-day outing at Sebring.
And he had a strong support system backing him up in the Kelly-Moss Road and Race team, the defending Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge champions with driver Jake Eidson.
“Here, you’ve got somebody that actually does coaching, data acquisition, track management – these are all separate people – plant manager, owner, a car-setup guy, you’ve got someone that bills you – which isn’t always a good thing, but you know, you just have that huge, huge support group that enables you to focus on driving,” Welham said of the team’s influence on his development over the two days.
IMSA’s next visit to Sebring will be for the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring on March 17.