Grosjean: Hamilton ‘completely ruined’ Silverstone Q3 lap


Romain Grosjean has ended 10th in qualifying for the 2017 British Grand Prix, but the Haas F1 Team driver was livid it wasn’t higher after alleging he was significantly blocked by Lewis Hamilton on his first flying lap in Q3.

Grosjean told NBCSN’s Will Buxton he could have been at least one spot higher, possibly more, but lost several tenths in the final corner right before the start/finish line. His second run he said was better, but unable to leapfrog as high as he would have liked.

Hamilton is under investigation by the stewards, with any potential penalty due to ruin Hamilton’s 67th career pole and fifth at Silverstone, courtesy of a storming 1:26.600 lap of the circuit.

“The first run in Q3, but I got completely blocked by Hamilton, and lost a good three tenths,” Grosjean told NBCSN.

“I got to Turn 3 on my second run then had a massive lock. We had much more performance than what we’re showing.

“I’m very unhappy with the first attempt being completely ruined in the last corner. I had the big snap on the second run.

“We’re doing a good job, trying to fight the Force India. Great to be in Q3, but there was so much more.”

Grosjean said he would have been “at least one position” further up, and said “I would have got (Stoffel) Vandoorne at least.” The Belgian first year driver for McLaren made his first Q3 appearance in ninth.

Grosjean will use Carbon Industrie brakes for the race for the first time on Sunday, but at a track where braking performance isn’t as important as at others, there’s more excitement about the race prospects.

“I think we use the brakes, maybe three out of 19 corners!” Grosjean laughed. “From Turn 7 to 13 is just flat out! It’s so much fun. There’s been some emotional moments sometimes. I’m feeling it.”

Teammate Kevin Magnussen got knocked out in Q1 for the fourth time this year, ending 17th before grid penalties get applied. The Dane was unhappy with single-lap pace but estimates Haas has a better race package in store for Sunday.

“We’re not as strong as we expected. We need to look at why,” he told NBCSN. “Our race pace looked much better. Qualifying over one lap is not very competitive this weekend.”

The race airs from 7:30 a.m. ET on CNBC on Sunday.

F1 Preview: 2018 Australian Grand Prix

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Save for two occasions, in 2006, and 2010, the Australian Grand Prix has served as the season-opening event for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 1996, and this weekend’s event will be the 21st time that the city of Melbourne has kicked off the Formula 1 campaign.

The 2018 season is the fifth one of the current hybrid power unit era, the second season of the current aero regulations, and the second under Liberty Media’s guidance.

Last year saw titans Mercedes AMG Petronas and Scuderia Ferrari duel for supremacy for most of the season before Mercedes distanced Ferrari late in the season to take the constructor’s title and the driver’s title, with Lewis Hamilton, who is now tied with Sebastian Vettel on four world championships apiece.

Four drivers on the grid have Formula 1 world championships to their name: Hamilton, Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, and Fernando Alonso. Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley also has a world championship to his name as a two-time titlist in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

So, what can viewers expect from the 2018 curtain-raiser in Australia? A handful of things to watch are below?

2018 Australian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Does Anyone Have Anything for Mercedes?

Only on one day during pre-season testing did a Mercedes driver lead the way – Lewis Hamilton was fastest on the final day of Week 1 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

However, all indications were that was by design, with the team focusing the majority of the second week, if not the entire second week, on long runs with their W09 EQ Power+ chassis.

Such a decision is an ominous one, in that it indicates the team is very comfortable with the amount of speed in the car and did not see a need, or desire, to show their hand during testing.

With that in mind, the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas may yet again have the best and fastest cars, and the team looks poised to potentially make it five constructor’s and driver’s championships in a row.

Ferrari and Red Bull Look to End Mercedes Reign

The biggest threats to Mercedes are undoubtedly Ferrari and Red Bull, the only other teams to win in 2017.

And both teams displayed a lot of pace during testing, particularly in the “one-lap speed” category. Ricciardo set a lap record around the Catalunya circuit during the second week, only for Vettel to supplant that mark later in the week. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen led the way during the final day of testing.

It is unknown how that pace will translate over the course of a race distance. Mercedes appeared to have an edge on both Ferrari and Red Bull over long runs and race simulations, but there is also a theory that neither Ferrari nor Red Bull had their true long-run form on display.

Still, if a team is going to knock off Mercedes, it will likely be either Ferrari or Red Bull.

McLaren on the Rebound?

Put simply, the previous three seasons for McLaren F1 Team were a bit of a disaster. Their partnership with Honda yielded point totals of 27 (2015), 76 (2016), and 30 (2017) in a three-year venture that was defined by poor reliability and underwhelming power.

The relationship hit a boiling point last year and both entities parted ways ahead of the 2018 season, with McLaren signing a new power unit deal with Renault.

Testing went better than in previous years, though the team continued to battle reliability problems. However, all issues appeared to be minor, needling issues rather than more significant, foundational problems, as the other Renault teams (Red Bull and Renault Sport F1 Team) had solid runs with few reliability issues.

The car does appear to have speed in it, so if the reliability problems are behind them, McLaren could be in for a rebound season.

Stuck in the Midfield Again

Formula 1’s battle amongst the midfield is set to be as fierce as ever as a host of a several teams have a chance at being “best of the rest.”

Sahara Force India has been the frontrunner from the the midfield teams each of the last two years, finishing fourth in the constructor’s title in both 2016 and 2017, though if the steady conflict between drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez continues through 2018, it could hamper their efforts significantly.

Renault Sport F1 Team and Haas F1 Team look to improve on their 2017 form, while Toro Rosso is in a new partnership with Honda power units…and has experienced a surprisingly smooth pre-season as Honda’s 2018 platform looks significantly better, with the team enjoying a solid run of testing with few, if any, reliability problems.

Williams Martini Racing and Alfa Romeo Sauber appear to be at the back of the pack entering the season, but both could battle for points finishes if those ahead of them falter.