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Italian GP qualifying on hold after heavy rain, Grosjean crash


Formula 1 qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix has been put on hold after heavy rain hit Monza in the lead-up to the start of the session, resulting in a crash for Haas driver Romain Grosjean.

In the area’s first rainfall since July, rain through the night and in the lead-up to the first practice session of the day saw running in FP3 be cut to just 16 minutes, with only seven drivers completing a lap.

The rain resulted in the cancellation of GP3 qualifying and a delay for the Porsche Supercup session, but officials deemed the track fine for F1 qualifying to begin at 2pm local time as planned.

A number of drivers reported low visibility heading out on-track, with Grosjean complaining that he could not see where he was going.

Moments after crossing the line, Grosjean lost control of his Haas VF-17 while applying the throttle on the main straight, spinning into the wall.

The shunt forced officials to throw a red flag, before confirming that the session would remain on hold, with the next update due at 2:30pm local time (8:30am ET).

Grosjean was left fuming after the shunt, but was able to get out of his Haas car unharmed.


14:30 – Qualifying will not restart until 14:45 at the earliest.

14:45 – Further information to be issued by race control at 15:00. The rain does appear to have stopped, but track conditions still not good enough yet.

14:50 – Race director Charlie Whiting has offered an update on conditions.

“It’s raining, but it’s easing off a little bit, but the weather seems to be swirling around quite a lot and we can’t get a very clear picture of what might happen,” he said.

“We’re just waiting for the water to drain off the track a little bit more because our safety car driver still feels the car is aquaplaning on the straights and we don’t want that of course.

“And then we’ll have to try and do the best we can to read the radar images to see if this is going to clear up or not. It’s very tricky at the moment because the weather is very unpredictable.”

15:00 – Another update, and another delay. More information at 15:15.

15:15 – Aaaaand the same again: more information in another 15 minutes. Race Control also confirms there will be 10 minutes warning before any restart.

15:30 – More information at 15:45. Rain growing heavier.

15:45 – More information at 16:00…

16:00 – More information at 16:15. It’s not looking hopeful.

16:15 – Another 15 minutes. Race Control is reportedly looking at making a decision either way soon about qualifying today or not soon.

16:30 – Great news! Qualifying will resume at 16:40 local time.

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.