Weekend Review

Race Recap: Vintage Vettel crushes the field in Singapore

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The Singapore Grand Prix rarely fails to entertain, and yesterday’s race proved to be no exception. Sebastian Vettel rolled back the clock and delivered a crushing victory reminiscent of his Red Bull heyday back in 2013, marking his third with Ferrari.

After producing a near-perfect pole lap on Saturday, Vettel controlled the race from the front, managing his tires as two safety car periods threatened to bring the likes of Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg into contention for the win.

Ultimately though, none of them could get the measure on Vettel, who crossed the line after two hours of racing to celebrate a well-earned victory that keeps his faint title hopes alive.

Check out the video above for complete analysis of the Singapore Grand Prix from Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett in our Race Recap.

McLaren, Lotus leave Italy empty handed after tough race at Monza

© AP

Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix proved to be a race to forget for both Lotus and McLaren as they left Monza with little to show for their efforts.

Coming off the back of Romain Grosjean’s breakthrough podium finish at Spa two weeks ago, Lotus arrived in Italy hoping to cause another upset and increase its advantage over Force India in the race for P5 in the constructors’ championship.

With both Grosjean and teammate Pastor Maldonado starting inside the top ten, the British team appeared to be on the cusp of another good haul of points.

However, its race lasted barely a lap as both drivers got caught up in incidents at the first corner. Maldonado was forced to pull into the garage and retired at the end of lap one after clashing with Nico Hulkenberg at turn one.

“I had contact in turn one where the Force India came into the side of me and took out my front-right suspension and that was the end of my race,” Maldonado explained. “We were looking for a strong finish and we had potential for that. Everyone knows that turn one at Monza can be tough and that’s what we saw today.”

Grosjean pulled his car to the side of the track and retired on lap two due to damage caused by Sauber’s Felipe Nasr off the line.

“We had the potential of a good race ahead of us,” the Frenchman explained. “I made a strong start but got hit by a car from behind in turn one which broke my rear suspension so that was it for us. It was a too optimistic move from Nasr who hit me which meant my race was over.”

McLaren managed to make it past the first lap, but was left to fight well outside the top ten for much of the race. Fernando Alonso retired with a few laps to go, whilst Jenson Button finished 14th as the last classified car bar the Manors.

“We always knew that Monza and Spa-Francorchamps would be among the least well-suited circuits for our car, and so it proved at both venues,” racing director Eric Boullier said.

“Here in Italy, we’ve come away with nothing to show for our efforts, and obviously that’s hard to take for all concerned. It’s been a stressful few days for us – that’s probably been as obvious from the outside as it’s been painful on the inside – but we’ll now return to Woking and Sakura and continue the hard work in an effort to claw our way back to the front.

“We aren’t predicting great things for the next race, Singapore, but we’re hoping that that street circuit’s characteristics will be slightly kinder to our car than Spa-Francorchamps and Monza have been.”

Booth proud of Manor for honoring Bianchi in Hungary

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Manor Marussia team principal John Booth expressed his pride and emotion following the Hungarian Grand Prix as the Formula 1 paddock came together to pay tribute to Jules Bianchi.

Bianchi died at the age of 25 ten days ago after a nine month fight against head injuries sustained in an accident at the Japanese Grand Prix in October last year.

Last weekend’s race in Hungary was one full of emotion as the F1 paddock came together for the first time since Bianchi’s death.

It was a particularly emotional race for Manor, which was the team Bianchi spent his entire F1 career with and saved with his ninth place finish at last year’s Monaco Grand Prix.

Speaking after the race in which Manor drivers Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens finished 15th and 16th respectively, Booth expressed his pride in the team for showing courage and strength over the weekend.

“A very difficult day, at the end of a very difficult week, for our team and the entire F1 community,” Booth said. “The build-up to this weekend has been incredibly emotional, but we had one job to do today to honour Jules, and that was to achieve the best possible placings.

“That’s exactly what we did, and I am so proud of the whole team for their tremendous courage and fortitude.”

Bianchi’s family was present at the Hungaroring for the race on Sunday after Bernie Ecclestone laid on a private jet for them to attend, and Booth said that this was a source of comfort for Manor.

“It has been both difficult and comforting for them to see Jules’ family here at the track today,” Booth said.

“Difficult, because they too are a part of this team and we have shared so many happy occasions together. And comforting, because if they could find the strength to contend with the incredible outpouring of love and affection for Jules today, then we certainly could.

“It was not easy for any of the drivers, but well done to Roberto and Will for their focus and composure.”

Raikkonen drops to P8 in British GP after strategy error

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Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene refused to be too harsh on Kimi Raikkonen after a strategy error caused the Finn to drop down to eighth place in the closing stages of the British Grand Prix on Sunday.

Raikkonen had been running in fifth place before a late rain shower hit Silverstone, prompting a number of drivers to pit for intermediate tires.

The Finn was among the first to make the switch, only for conditions to remain dry enough for slicks for a few more laps.

This caused Raikkonen to destroy his tires, forcing him into making a third pit stop late on that left him in eighth position at the end of the race.

“When it started raining heavily, the track became very slippery, especially in turns seven and eight,” Raikkonen said after the race.

“So I took the decision to come in the pits for intermediate [tires], but then the rain stopped.

“Probably I made the call three or four laps too early. But in general, this kind of track is not ideal for us, and this is something we have to work on.”

His teammate, Sebastian Vettel, finished the race in third place to end Ferrari’s podium drought, but Arrivabene believes that Raikkonen could perhaps have even won the race had the rain grown in intensity earlier on.

“The strategy guys do a wonderful job, but when it rains, it’s the driver who has the final call to the pits,” Arrivabene said.

“In the case of Kimi, whose strategy was identical to Seb’s, he thought it better to come in. If it had rained harder, maybe he could have won the race.

“But we must be honest and acknowledge that Williams was stronger than us today.”

With pressure mounting on Raikkonen as Ferrari contemplates its driver line-up for the 2016 season, missing out on a possible podium finish is unlikely to have done the Finn too many favors.

Maldonado doubles up on sevenths, and scores for second straight GP


Seventh place for Pastor Maldonado in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix might not sound like much, until you realize the rarity of what he did in the scope of his entire Formula 1 career.

The Venezuelan, now 30 and into his fifth season in the sport, scored his second straight seventh place after also coming seventh in Montreal two weeks ago.

This marks the second straight race Maldonado has scored points, which is only the second time he has ever recorded back-to-back scores in his 85-race, 84-start Grand Prix career.

The only other time Maldonado pulled it off was in 2012, then driving for Williams, when he finished fifth at Abu Dhabi and ninth in Austin. This marks the first time Maldonado has done it in his Lotus career.

He only scored points once in the 2011, 2013 and 2014 seasons, so this already means Maldonado is well ahead of where he was in each of those seasons.

This result was clearly earned, after Maldonado made two dynamic saves during the race.

One came out of Turn 1, when Maldonado lost the car on exit but saved it to the inside of the track. A later one came when battling Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen for position, and Maldonado wiggled but somehow managed to save the car after nearly careening out of control on the front straight.

After the team’s double score in Montreal, Maldonado was only to happy to keep the results run going in Spielberg.

“It was a good battle with Verstappen despite losing some grip and downforce,” Maldonado said in the team’s post-race release. “I saw some areas where he wasn’t as quick as me and I got the chance to overtake. It was close at times but we both had respect and we had a clean, good battle.”

Maldonado now has a chance, at Silverstone, to achieve something he never has in his career: three scores in a row.