Lewis Hamilton has said that he is “overwhelmed” to have secured his fourth pole position of the 2014 season during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix today.
The Mercedes driver edged out teammate Nico Rosberg by one-tenth of a second at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and secured his fourth pole position in five races, as well as his first at the circuit.
“I’m overwhelmed to get pole position because I’ve had a pretty tough day in the car, particularly after yesterday went so well,” Hamilton explained. “I was really happy on Friday and we changed a couple of small things overnight, just the tiniest of tweaks, but it was a real handful today because track conditions had changed.
“On that final run, I really had to eke out everything and more from the car and myself to get pole and I’m so happy that I managed it.”
Having won the last three races, the momentum in Formula 1 certainly lies with Hamilton, but he was quick to heap praise upon the team. The W05 Hybrid car has been totally dominant in the sport so far this season, scoring three one-twos and four wins so far.
The introduction of upgrades for other teams at this race did threaten Mercedes’ advantage, but the team has instead extended its lead over the rest of the field.
“The hard work from the team and the development step we have made this weekend are totally inspiring for me,” Hamilton said. “I haven’t experienced this level of performance before.”
From pole position, Hamilton will unquestionably be the favorite to win a fourth race in a row tomorrow, but with his teammate snapping at his heels in second place, we are likely to see another great intra-team battle at Mercedes tomorrow.
Sauber has confirmed that Adderly Fong will take part in next week’s Pirelli tire test following the conclusion of the 2015 Formula 1 season in Abu Dhabi.
Fong, 25, first tested for the team in October 2014 before taking part in practice for last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Fong has since been racing in the GP3 Series and in the GT Asia series while also working with Lotus F1 Team as part of its development programme.
On Friday, Sauber announced that Fong would be returning to one of its cars for next week’s tire test in Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit.
“I am very pleased and thankful to have another opportunity to drive for the Sauber F1 Team,” Fong said. “I will do my best to give valuable feedback. I am looking forward to it, as well as the aim of extending my superlicence after completing 300 kilometers.
“Last year it was great to have the chance to drive the Sauber C33-Ferrari during FP1 here at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Now I am curious about testing the current car.”
Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn added: “We are pleased to have Adderly in the car again and to give him the opportunity to drive a current Formula One car.
“He immediately put in a solid performance in his last opportunities for us. We are confident Adderly will again put in every effort in this tire test.”
Nico Rosberg responded to the early pace shown by Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi by edging out the Briton for P1 in second practice on Friday evening.
Hamilton beat Rosberg by less than two-tenths of a second to finish at the top of the timesheets in the opening practice session at Yas Marina, but the German bounced back in FP2 to finish 0.138 seconds clear of his teammate.
Starting at dusk and finishing under floodlights, second practice offered the drivers far more representative conditions of what to expect on Saturday and Sunday than FP1 had, prompting the teams to complete a usual practice programme featuring qualifying simulations and heavy fuel race runs.
Once again, it was Mercedes who set the pace as Rosberg posted the fastest lap of 1:41.983, heading up a one-two finish for the German marque.
Sergio Perez produced a fine lap to finish less than half a second off Hamilton in third place for Force India, narrowly beating Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Sebastian Vettel showed few signs of a possible challenge to Mercedes from Ferrari in Abu Dhabi as he finished three-quarters of a second behind Rosberg, ending FP2 in fifth place. Daniil Kvyat and Kimi Raikkonen followed in sixth and seventh place respectively.
Nico Hulkenberg finished eighth in the second Force India, while Fernando Alonso enjoyed an improved, trouble-free session to end the day ninth for McLaren, giving the team hope of points at the end of a tough season.
Pastor Maldonado finished tenth for Lotus ahead of the Williams pair of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, who in turn were followed by Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. Sainz’s session came to an early end after a technical issue on his car forced him to park up at the side of the track with 30 minutes to go.
Romain Grosjean and Jenson Button finished 15th and 16th respectively, leading home Sauber drivers Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson. Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi propped up the order for Manor in P19 and P20.
Red Bull Racing’s engine saga appears to have finally come to an end after team principal Christian Horner confirmed that an agreement had been struck with a supplier for the 2016 Formula 1 season.
Red Bull’s participation in next year’s championship had been uncertain after the team expressed a desire to cut ties with existing supplier Renault over frustrations with the performance of its power unit.
However, the team failed to strike a deal with Mercedes and turned down Ferrari’s offer of a 2015-spec power unit for the new season. Talks were also held with Honda, but this deal was vetoed by McLaren CEO Ron Dennis, forcing Horner to rekindle negotiations with Renault.
A deal appears to have finally been struck that ensures Red Bull will still be racing in 2016, with an announcement due in the near future.
“We have an agreement with an engine for next year which hopefully will be confirmed in the coming days,” Horner is quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
Red Bull is thought to have agreed an amendment to its deal with Renault that will allow the team to race with unbadged or rebranded engines in 2016 while the French manufacturer focuses on the impending takeover of Lotus and the revival of its works team.
B-team Toro Rosso is poised to take on 2015-spec Ferrari engines for the new season, ending its relationship with Renault after just two seasons.
Three-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton kicked off the final race weekend of the 2015 season in impressive fashion by setting the pace first practice in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
With the weekend’s key sessions taking place far later in the day and therefore in different conditions, first practice offered the drivers little in the way of meaningful running ahead of the race.
However, what it did provide was a chance to evaluate some early updates ahead of the 2016 season, acting as a glorified test session that allowed the drivers to head out and get in some laps before turning their focus to race setup in FP2 later today.
Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg led the way once again, with the Briton coming out on top thanks to a lap of 1:43.754 to give him P1 by just over one-tenth of a second.
Hamilton’s session was not without its issues as he narrowly avoided spinning twice before telling the team “my car doesn’t feel good” with a few minutes remaining.
Nevertheless, it was still a strong start from Hamilton as he looks to end Rosberg’s recent resurgence and pick up a first victory since the United States Grand Prix last month.
Ferrari posed the most stringent challenge to the Mercedes drivers once again as Kimi Raikkonen finished six-tenths of a second back in P3. Teammate Sebastian Vettel finished fifth as Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat split the Ferrari drivers.
Daniel Ricciardo underpinned Kvyat’s pace in the sister Red Bull by ending FP1 in seventh place, slotting in between Force India teammates Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Pastor Maldonado and Felipe Massa rounded out the top ten in P9 and P10 respectively.
FP2 will offer the drivers more representative conditions, given that it will start at dusk just as qualifying and the race will, meaning that we are likely to be offered more of an indication of the pecking order.
You can watch second practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET on Friday.