F1 pit stop – the future looks orange!

We’re nine rounds into the F1 season 2021 and it’s time to check the temperature and see where things stand before we move into the mid-season with the British GP in two weeks, the Hungarian at the end of the month and then the Belgian at the end of August. I dare say that even those who find F1 predictable and boring have something to cheer about this year, because so far, predictable is certainly something this season is not. Before moving into the action, let me just note that at the start of the season I wrote that if we were lucky, we may see spectatcors return to some of the races this year. Gladly that is now the case, and it’s great to see!

The Dutch fans didn’t miss Max’s win in Austria!

Going back to where we left off, in my last update I put up the question whether Max (Verstappen, Red Bull) was going to catch up with Lewis (Hamilton, Mercedes) and I believe we have the answer. Not only has he caught up with Lewis but he has in fact clearly passed him, just as Red Bull has passed Mercedes to become the team to beat in the line-up. The most recent five races have all been won by Red Bull with Max winning four and Sergio (Perez) one. But it gets even worse from Mercedes’s perspective, since Lewis has only been on two podiums in those same five races, clinching second place in France and in the first of two Austrian GP’s. Perez has meanwhile also found his footing and is ahead of Bottas, so currently there is little doubt that Red Bull and Max are favourites for this year’s constructor and driver’s title. The die-hard Mercedes optimists will note that Silverstone in two weeks is a typical Mercedes track and they’re right about that, making it a pretty decisive one: if Red Bull beats Mercedes in Silverstone, that’s probably it. If they don’t, my bet is that that’s it anyway.

Lewis is only ahead of Max outside of the track these days

Behind the two top teams, McLaren and Lando Norris’s progress is no less suprising. Lando drives like there’s no tomorrow and he does so in a fast car that is now very close to the two top teams. Daniel (Ricciardo) was apparently right in his call to join McLaren rather than stay at Renault, but he needs to up his game considerably to keep up with Lando who’s clearly emerging as the team’s first driver. He’s finished P3 three times this year and it’s probably only a question of time before he wins his first race. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are doing what they can in their Ferraris which are faster than last year but still inferior not only to Red Bull and Mercedes, but currently also to McLaren. With only two points between them, the two Ferraristi are no doubt the most balanced driver pair on the grid!

The mid-field sees roughly the same teams as earlier, except for McLaren. Aston Martin where Seb Vettel has found his footing which is very nice to see, but the car, although improving, isn’t really there yet. AlphaTauri, where Pierre Gasly continues to deliver strongly but Yuki Tsunoda, although having the speed, seems to have great difficulty in avoiding crossing white lines and getting penalties. Alpine is there as well with notably Fernando Alonso showing his routine, but the car is less performing than last year. Pretty much the same in other words but with Gasly’s continued strong performance and Seb finding the speed again standing out as positives.

In reality, Lando’s car is mostly far ahead of Ricciardo’s

Finally there’s not much to report on from the back of the field. Kimi (Räikkönen) and Antonio (Giovinazzi) can hope to take a point here and there in their Alfa Romeos if some of the top cars have problems, and George Russell will certainly do so in the coming races as it’s truly amazing how he manages to get every last hp out of the Williams car. By the way, speculation as to whether he will replace Bottas at Mercedes before the end of the season doesn’t go away. Finally, whilst Haas remain very much last in the line-up, at least Mazepin seems to have found some stability and stopped endangering other drivers in every race. Mick Schumacher beats him in most races, but he can’t work wonders either in a car that is nowhere close to where it was a couple of years ago.

If you’re thinking that Mercedes will never let Red Bull win the title this season without a fight, that would certainly be true in a normal year, but in view of the very big changes that will hit the F1 circus next season and that we’ll come back to in a separate post in the coming months, Mercedes as well as other teams have officially stated that they will not develop their 2021 cars any further. It’s therefore difficult to imagine that something could happen that fundamentally changes the outcome this year, and that would mean that we’ll see a new world champion, one who for the first time ever is from the Netherlands and whose name is Max Verstappen!

Nico Rosberg takes his second straight win in Monaco

Nico Rosberg on Sunday celebrated a double in Monaco, winning the race just like last year having lead from the first of the 78 laps. Lewis Hamilton finished second just before Damien Ricciardo, and had this been any other circuit than Monaco, the ”second” Red Bull would probably have finished second, being massively quicker on the last laps. As for the other Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel had to retire early in the race being stuck in first gear around most of the circuit, something that actually produced an interesting engine sound in this otherwise quite muted season.

As usually Monaco didn’t disappoint and was together with Bahrain this year’s most exciting race so far. Whoever said you can’t overtake in Monaco didn’t know Adrian Sutil on Sauber, who managed to find quite new places to pass on but finally passed himself after half the race and had to retire. Ricciardo as mentioned did a brilliant race to finished third, but lots of credit also go to Rosberg, who under massive pressure from Lewis Hamilton managed to keep his cool during the 78 laps and reclaim the lead in the drivers’ championship.

Image                                                    Due to the extremely efficient work of the track marshalls in Monaco, Bernd Mayländer only had to take the wheel once in the safety car.

Mercedes have now not only won every race this season but actually been in the lead for each of the laps so far this season. The dominance does not seem to be close to being broken, although Red Bull are getting closer but still struggles with reliability, as was illustrated by Vettel’s car. 

Yesterday’s race was also historic in that for the first time, Marussia through Bianchi finished ninth and thus managed to score its first world championship points ever, something that will perhaps help the team to survive financially until next season. Caterham also had a good day with Marcus Ericsson finishing just outside the points in 11th place. Exactly 40 years ago, legendary Swede Ronnie Peterson won in Monaco and for the occasion Ericsson wore a helmet in Ronnie’s legendary blue-and-yellow design. Whether that did the trick remains to be confirmed if Marcus keeps that helmet over the coming races, the next being in Montreal in two weeks!

Ferrari quickest on first day of F1 testing in Jerez

Räikkönen in the Ferrari F14-T was quickest on the first day of pre-season testing on tuesday.

Ferrari F14-T

Only eight cars set times in a session where some teams didn’t run at all and other teams had serious reliability problems. Lewis Hamilton crashed due to a front wing failure.

Unofficial Tuesday test times from Jerez:
1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1m 27.104s, 31 laps
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes , 1m 27.820s, 18 laps
3. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1m 30.082s, 7 laps
4. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1m 33.161s, 11 laps
5. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1m 36.530s, 15 laps
6. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, 1m 42.257s, 7 laps
7. Sebastian Vettel , Red Bull, No time, 3 laps
8. Marcus Ericsson, Caterham, No time, 1 lap

Big financial problems at Swiss Formula 1 team Sauber

The Swiss-based Formula 1-team Sauber is, like most non-factory teams, in quite acute financial trouble. This summer Sauber announced it had secured financing through a Russian investor as part of a deal to hire the Russian driver Sergei Sirotkin for the 2014 season. A few months on Sauber is still waiting for the money, and the number of unpaid bills keep increasing. The company currently has 57 creditors that have started legal enforcement procedures for a total amount of around 500.000 CHF, including the Zurich electricity power company, that Sauber ows around 50.000 CHF. It could therefore be that the lights literally go out soon at Sauber’s HQ in Hinwil outside of Zurich, and one can’t help wondering how a F1 team can possibly survive another season if it can’t pay its running costs? If the Russian money does not come soon, the odds are that there will be at least one team less in the 2014 F1 line-up!


Sauber F1 team – soon without engine and wheels?


F1: Hamilton till Mercedes och Perez till McLaren!

F1-cirkusen när den är som bäst: Lewis Hamilton ersätter Michael Schumacher i Mercedes-teamet. Sergio Perez tar i sin tur över Hamiltons plats hos McLaren. Det ser ut som att Schumacher drar sig tillbaka.

Nu när Sergio Perez, som är medlem i Ferrari Driver Academy och därmed tippad att ersätta Massa hos Ferrari,  hamnar hos McLaren så verkar det än mer sannolikt att Vettel ersätter Massa hos Ferrari. Hoppas jag har rätt…

Hulkenberg i Force India snabbast dag 2 i Barcelona

Andra testdagen har nu gått av stapeln i Barcelona. Allra snabbast var Nico Hulkenberg i sin Force India, följd av Sergio Perez i en Sauber. Vettel och Alonso knep tredje och fjärde platsen.

Så här blev tiderna:
1. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:22.608, 112 varv
2. Sergio Perez, Sauber, 1:22.648, 85 varv
3. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:22.891, 104 varv
4. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:23.180, 87 varv
5. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:23.639, 50 varv
6. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:23.806, 120 varv
7. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:24.555, 82 varv
8. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:25.738, 117 varv
9. Vitaly Petrov, Caterham, 1:26.605, 69 varv
10. Charles Pic, Marussia*, 1:27.343, 108 varv
* 2011-års bil

Vettel snabbast dag 1 i Barcelona

Sebastian Vettel i Red Bull Racing var snabbast första testdagen i Barcelona. Tre dagars tester återstår.

Så här blev tiderna:
1. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:23.265, 79 varv
2. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:23.440, 97 varv
3. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:23.590, 114 varv
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:23.618, 76 varv
5. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:24.100, 75 varv
6. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, 1:24.150, 51 varv
7. Sergio Perez, Sauber, 1:24.219, 66 varv
8. Bruno Senna, Williams, 1:25.711, 97 varv
9. Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, 1:26.035, 31 varv
10. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1: 26.809s, 7 varv
11. Charles Pic, Marussia*, 1:28.026, 121 varv
* 2011-års bil

Alonso snabbast sista dagen i Jerez

Igår fredag var sista dagen för F1-stallens tester i Jerez. Alonso var snabbast i sin Ferrari. Det var också den näst snabbast tiden (efter Lotus!) under hela testveckan.

Så här blev resultaten i fredags:
1. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:18.877, 39 varv
2. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:19.597, 80 varv
3. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:19.606, 50 varv
4. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:19.640, 86 varv
5. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:19.729, 95 varv
6. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:19.834, 76 varv
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:19.977, 90 varv
8. Bruno Senna, Williams, 1:20.132, 125 varv
9. Jarno Trulli, Caterham, 1:22.198, 117 varv

Och så här blev det för alla fyra testdagar:
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes*, 1:17.613, 174 varv
2. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:18.419, 212 varv
3. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes*, 1:18.561, 173 varv
4. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:18.877, 106 varv
5. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:19.184, 150 varv
6. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:19.297, 146 varv
7. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:19.464, 166 varv
8. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:19.587, 157 varv
9. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:19.597, 159 varv
10. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 1:19.670, 190 varv
11. Sergio Perez, Sauber, 1:19.770, 154 varv
12. Paul di Resta, Force India, 1:19.772, 170 varv
13. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:19.834, 182 varv
14. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:19.977, 90 varv
15. Bruno Senna, Williams, 1:20.132, 250 varv
16. Jules Bianchi, Force India, 1:20.221, 48 varv
17. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:20.454, 164 varv
18. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:20.688, 135 varv
19. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:21.197, 122 varv
20. Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, 1:21.518, 157 varv
21. Pedro de la Rosa, HRT*, 1:22.128, 108 varv
22. Jarno Trulli, Caterham, 1:22.198, 117 varv
23. Giedo van der Garde, Caterham, 1:23.324, 74 varv
* 2011-års bil