Tag Archive | Lewis Hamilton

Bahrain: Hulkenburg leads Day 1

Nico Hulkenburg has finished the first day of the 4 day Bahrain test on top of the time sheets at the Sakhir circuit. His time of 1m36.880 was quicker than the fastest lap time at the Bahrain race last year, where teams had softer Pirelli tyres and larger 2.4 V8 engines. Fernando Alonso finished second, the Spaniard put his best time on the board later in the afternoon. He set a time of 1m37.879, just under a second slower than the Force India. Lewis Hamilton completed his day early and set a time of 1m.37.908 to finish third, the Brit had been fastest for most of the morning in the Mercedes. Next was Kevin Magnussen in the McLaren setting a time of 1m38.295. Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull finally managed some running and set a 1m40.224 to go fifth fastest before the German’s running was cut short mid afternoon, with what seems to be an overheating issue. Adrian Sutil’s Sauber finished in sixth with a time of 1m40.443. Next up was Robin Frijns in the Caterham with a time of 1m42.534. Daniil Kvyat followed up in his Toro Rosso with a time of 1m44.346 and the last person to set a laptime was Romain Grosjean in the new Lotus, with a time of 1m44.832, some 7.9 seconds off pacesetter Hulkenburg. Jules Bianchi’s Marussia and Felipe Massa’s Williams did not set a laptime.

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Jerez: Day 4 Analysis

Red Bull Racing are in trouble. Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo managed just four more laps than he did yesterday. The Australian completed 7 laps in the morning and brought Red Bull’s total laps for the week to 21, a desperately poor number – and one that will justify Lotus’ absence at Jerez. By lunchtime the team confirmed once again that the car would not run, and they would instead pack up early to return back to Milton Keynes. The factory will have to work hard over the next couple of weeks to rectify the RB10’s overheating and cooling issues. It will require a redesign of the whole rear end ‘coke-bottle’ area of the car and Adrian Newey is already back at base re-drawing and re-designing.

“It’s been a very difficult test,” said Team Principal Christian Horner. “We have had numerous Renault issues as well as chassis-cooling issues, which have affected our progress.”

Red Bull's cooling solution

Red Bull’s cooling solution

Horner also confirmed that the problems they have can be fixed before the next test in Bahrain in the middle of February, “Despite the lack of mileage, what we have managed to learn shows that the problems should be solvable for the next test in Bahrain. Part of the purpose of this early test was to learn about any issues ahead of the start of the season and there will now be a lot of focus on the dyno over the next few weeks.”

Felipe Massa went quickest of the day on the damp Jerez circuit. The Brazilian was only in his second day of running for the team and he managed to set a benchmark time of 1m28.229, which was almost a second faster than nearest competitor and former team mate Fernando Alonso. The Williams managed to complete 86 laps in the process. Massa said: “I’m pleased with what I have seen in the team this week. For sure it is important to be competitive.”

The Ferrari of Fernando Alonso rounded the track the most times out of anyone with 115 laps without failure. The Spaniard finished the session in second place and the Ferrari is now capable of running seemingly without reliability issues and Alonso was able to conduct longer runs whilst practicing pit stops and launches from the end of the pitlane. The Italian team will be wanting to maintain this performance for the warmer Bahrain test.

Force India’s test driver Daniel Juncadella finished the day in third place after a fault-free day. The Silverstone-based team were hoping to gain more mileage after suffering problems with the car on all three of the previous days running and Juncadella racked up 81 laps setting a time of 1m29.457.

Daniel Juncadella impressed in the Force India

Daniel Juncadella impressed in the Force India

Day 3 pacesetter Kevin Magnussen completed the day in fourth place with a time of 1m30.806. The Dane managed to complete the most laps McLaren have had all test, with 110. Magnussen had a bad end to the day however. With less than an hour of the session remaining he spun the MP4-29 at the Ayrton Senna chicane and stalled the car, bringing out the red flags. Because of the lack of damage to the car, he was able to get out again before the end of the session, but crashed his McLaren into the barriers on the exit of turn 10. The test has proven to be a success for McLaren, who missed day one after failing to set up their car in time. They have the added bonus of a rear wishbone appendage that a lot of teams up and down the paddock will be trying hard to replicate over the next few weeks before the two tests in Bahrain.

Mercedes changed their testing plan in the morning and decided to split driving duties at the lunchtime break in order to allow Lewis Hamilton some more time in the car. Nico Rosberg started off in the morning and completed a massive 91 laps of the Jerez circuit in a little under 3 hours of running. The Mercedes looked extremely drive-able, even in the wet conditions. Rosberg was able to complete something akin to a race stint, he was able to roll around over 40 laps entering the pits three times for scheduled pitstops before leaving and continuing his race stint. Given that the track temperature barely made it into double figures all morning, it will not be representative of any real running as the cars and tyres will not experience these conditions again throughout the rest of the season. But Mercedes will be impressed by its mileage without reliability issues, a major plus before going to Bahrain.

Lewis Hamilton took over in the afternoon and completed 41 laps and set a laptime of 1m30.822. The Mercedes ran without fault all day and managed to complete the most mileage out of all the teams, with a combined total of 132 laps for the day.

Jules Bianchi surprised in his new Marussia. It was the first time the Frenchman had tried the new car and despite only completing 25 laps for the day, he ended up less than four seconds off Massa’s pace with a time of 1m32.222. Marussia had only managed to get their car up and running on Thursday after being unable to piece their car together back at the factory. The team are using Ferrari engines this year, and that could have a say in how well they perform when the season gets underway. The Ferrari and the Mercedes already appear to have the upper hand on the Renault engines.

Adrian Sutil was once again back in the Sauber. The German driver ended up in the barrier on Thursday and with just an hour and a half left of today’s session he spun his Sauber into the gravel just before the last hairpin. The Sauber did manage to get back out again for some more laps before the end of the day. Sutil managed to set a laptime of 1m39.941 and he completed 69 laps. Sauber have confirmed that they are struggling with braking issues this week, attributable to the new brake-by-wire system the teams are using. It explains why the Sauber car has been unable to set representative lap times all week. The Swiss team will hope to resolve their issues to get some proper running underway in Bahrain in February.

Kobayashi in the Caterham

Kobayashi in the Caterham

Caterham had to call their test to an end with a couple of hours remaining when they discovered a power unit component issue, which is another Renault problem. Kamui Kobayashi was running in the car for Friday and managed 54 laps. The Caterham team have had their issues this week but have come away from Jerez completing 74 laps, 34 more than Red Bull managed across all four days. Not as high as the team would have hoped, but given the Renault issues up and down the pitlane this week, they have made the best out of the bad situation, a point confirmed by Kobayashi, “My first day in the car may have ended earlier than we’d planned after another problem with the Renault engine, but, from where we’ve been earlier this week, it’s very good to have completed 54 laps.”

Daniil Kvyat has had a terrible week. He was unable to get any running in on Wednesday as the car never left the garage for reliability reasons and today the Russian only managed 9 laps setting a time of 1m44.016. Kvyat ended the day bringing out the red flags after stopping out on the track with Kevin Magnussen. It is very probable that Toro Rosso are having the same issues this week as the Red Bull team, on account for their similar chassis and engine partner.

What we have learnt?

  • Mercedes have the edge. Their power units have completed a combined 875 laps in four days at the Jerez test. Ferrari power units have managed 444 laps and Renault just 151. All the teams have completed a total of 1470 laps over the four days.
  • Mercedes have had great reliability for the laps they have done, they have completed six times the amount of laps the Renault has achieved. The Ferrari too had managed good reliability but did have to stop a few times on circuit with small problems. The Renault powered teams have had a torrid time. Completing 151 laps is not what they would expect and they will need to go away and fix the problems they have had in Jerez in time for Bahrain.
  • Red Bull are in trouble. Just 21 laps for the week is not what the champions were hoping for. Cooling problems with their Renault Energy Recovery Systems will require a chassis redesign.
  • Formula One got quieter. The new 1.6 V6 turbos still generate an impressive sound, but the noise is nowhere near to that of the V8 or V10 era.
  • Pirelli may well have sorted their problems. Despite the cars not running at full pace and track temperatures being so long, the Pirelli’s held up and have not had any issues or complaints from any drivers. The hotter climate of Bahrain will prove to be a larger test for the tyre company though.
  • McLaren have a trick up their sleeve. The team didn’t run on Tuesday so we never got a glimpse of the rear suspension fairing they are running in order to generate more downforce. Teams up and down the paddock will now look to copy the idea.
  • Mercedes have a good base on which to build their car. Good high and low speed cornering and a solid engine is a great first step.
  • Lotus haven’t missed a thing. With Renault suffering so many problems and plenty of their rivals not getting much mileage in, the Enstone based team have not really missed too much. They will have to hope for a quick car straight out the garage in Bahrain though to ensure they don’t lose out too much to their competitors.
  • And of course, it all means nothing. We can’t read anything into the times, we don’t know who is running what program, with what fuel or how hard they are pushing on the track. Maybe we will begin a glimpse of the real pace in Bahrain on the 19th of February…

Hamilton’s musical debut

Lewis Hamilton has released his first song called ‘Say Goodbye’ on the website SoundCloud. The song has accompanying vocals from US signer Ana Lou, however the song has since been taken down from the website.

Hamilton has long talked of his love and passion for music and started writing and recording songs a couple of years ago. Last year R&B singer Angel confirmed that he was working with Lewis producing music.

Hamilton’s seemingly heavily auto-tuned vocals can be heard on the track for two versus and a chorus.

It is not known whether Lewis is trying to ply into this particular trade professionally, despite previously saying music producing was just a hobby of his and music writing and producing was just for fun.

The British world champion is currently spending his winter preparing for the 2014 season in the mountains of Colorado, USA.

 

Hamilton’s adverse 2013

2013 was woeful for Lewis Hamilton. The 28-year-old only had five podium appearances during 2013, a feat matched by the beleaguered 2009 season in the McLaren MP4-24. In fact it was the first time in his career that he failed to score more than one victory in a season (he managed two in ’09). Here, we aim to establish issues the world champion suffered with over the course of the 2013 F1 season.

PASTURES NEW

In January Hamilton arrived at his new base in Brackley. It is a new and wholly different environment to the one he had long become accustomed to at Woking. A factory less eminent to that of McLaren’s metallic, clean mega structure set upon a pristine, gleaming lake. New surroundings, faces and names to memorise. The only man Lewis truly knew was his team mate Nico Rosberg. Throughout their youth the two traveled and raced against each other in several junior series’. They grew up with each other. Hamilton now lives just a stones-throw away from the German after he bought an apartment last year in Monaco.

lewis_2470943b

Its not just communicating with new faces, its adapting to a completely different F1 car. No one car is the same. Lewis would have had to get used to all the different buttons on the steering wheels, the different maps the car runs, the different terminology and codes that team engineers use.

BRAKES

Mercedes used a ‘FRIC’ (Front and Rear Interconnection) suspension this year, a system which helps stabalise the cars pitch under braking and roll through corners. By the time the F1 circus headed to Europe, it was the much talked about must-have device. And whilst this helped Lewis gain lap time over his rivals, it wasn’t long before Mercedes’ rivals caught up and other problems developed.

In June, Lewis conceded that he was struggling with the brakes, in comparison to Rosberg. At McLaren, Lewis had always used Carbone Industrie. A brake material he could always rely on to give him the power to stop as late as possible in the braking zones. Late-braking was Lewis’ forte. It had a different feel to the Brembo brakes he now uses on his Mercedes car. The Brembo is more adept to braking and turning at the same time, its a driving brake.

Back in Montreal, Hamilton told the press that he wants to evolve for the long term rather than look for the short term solution: “I can change them if I want or I can just get used to them, and I prefer to grab a hold of it, get used to them and do a good job.”

He had tried going back to the factory over the summer to alter his driving style, by braking in a different manner and allowing the car to slide into a corner and progressing on the throttle: “I’ve been working in the simulator, using different techniques. There are a lot you can use: for example, lift and coast in a race situation, so instead of braking at 100m, you lift at 120m and brake at 80m; or later downshifts.”

The Brembo’s are not Lewis’ friend and it shows on track. So often this season, Lewis has been unable to attack into a braking zone, or more worryingly, he has been unable to defend himself from an overtake. He has looked far out of his comfort zone. On more than one occasion this year the Brit has been overtaken around the outside, something he had proudly boasted about never happening to him. Braking has been the biggest thorn in Lewis’ side all year long. It is yet to be seen whether Mercedes will cave into placing his much favoured Carbone Industrie brakes on his 2014 machinery.

TYRES

Tyres were the biggest talking point for the first part of the season. Many teams and drivers couldn’t make them work .Mercedes problem was the tyre not lasting long enough to do a sensible stint in the race. It was not uncommon to see a silver Mercedes on Pole for Sundays race.

The chassis was very good at generating tyre temperature straight out of the pits, so the tyres always had good heat for the first qualifying runs. However, it was tyre degradation and heat management that was the issue. There were more than a few times when we heard the team over the radio telling drivers to preserve rear wear rates or that the rears were heating up too much. Lewis’ problem was actually trying to generate temperature from the brakes, which almost ‘osmosises’ through the rims and into tyre itself.  During qualifying Hamilton could take half a lap to generate enough tyre temperature to have confidence in the car, by then he would have already lost a significant amount of time.

130206hamiltonip_3

Then there was the British Grand Prix. A race which Hamilton was leading comfortably until the tyre cried no more and exploded. The fault was with the kevlar belt in the rim. Hamilton wasn’t the only one to suffer that race.

Towards the second half of 2013, Pirelli brought along last years compounds for the remaining races. The Mercedes cars did not suffer with massive degradation anymore, but they did not have the raw pace of the Red Bull, which was allowed to scamper away into the distance. Fortunately Pirelli look like they will be bringing a stronger, slightly more durable compound for the 2014 season, which means cars with higher downforce will be rewarded as drivers should be able to push to the absolute maximum.

PERSONAL

Hamilton is a lot ‘stockier’ today to that of the young boy who walked into the sport back in 2007. Back then he weighed a slight 66kgs. He is clearly more muscular in the upper body and arms, and whilst this may look athletic, it comes at a massive cost. Additional weight is a Formula One designers nightmare. An extra 5kg generally will cost around two tenths of a second per lap, a huge amount in Formula One terms. Lewis now weighs 71kgs, thats 5kg more than he did seven years ago. But it is a far cry off the 58kg that four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel weighs.

Lewis’ love life never seems to be out of the tabloids. It’s no secret it has affected him in the past, his emotionless celebration of Pole Position in Korea 2011 was due to his split with pop singer Nicole Scherzinger. Since then the relationship had been on and off. Lewis is an emotional driver, we hear it over the radio at races. He just needs to focus and channel his energy onto the race track.

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He has allowed personal issues to affect his racing before when he decided he no longer wanted his dad as a manager. Since then he has long craved for the family feel in his garage. Last year at McLaren he admitted that he was envious of Jenson Button’s entourage of family, friends and management. He may well require that to help him feel more relieved at the back of the silver garage.

Lewis attended a lot less sponsorship and partner events during 2013. This year was the first year where Lewis felt that the shackles were released. He was no longer required to be demure. Mercedes had no intention of holding him back or slowing him down. Less frequent sponsorship events were a driving factor in his transfer to the Silver Arrows. He had long become bored of having so many days of the year dedicated to sponsor events at McLaren.

Lewis will try and develop his driving style for next year, all the drivers will, the new engines will require it. He will have time to compare the data for braking styles between him and Rosberg over the course of 2013. He will have to go away and get leaner if he is to fight at the front. He will hope that this year is just a blip, after all  he could have had a nightmare year similar to that of former team mate Jenson Button.

Friday Analysis: Shanghai

The talk of the paddock after Fridays two practice sessions were no longer about the Red Bull driver fall out – but instead the high degradation of the tyres brought to Shanghai.Each tyre in the Pirelli range have all been made a step softer for 2013 and have brought higher wear rates and higher degradation at all of the Grands Prix so far, much to the chagrin of most drivers and teams. In China the teams are experiencing massive front left graining, all due to the Shanghai International Circuits long right handers, including Turns 1, 2, 8 and 13. These turns are putting a huge strain on the Pirelli soft compound tyre more so than the medium tyre.

Perez crashed into the barrier at the pit lane entry

Perez crashed into the barrier at the pit lane entry

The softer tyre is also significantly quicker over one lap; early predictions suggest it could be as much as 1-1.5 seconds per lap, meaning it will be the ideal Qualifying tyre for Saturday’s Q3 session. Jenson Button actually went so far to proclaim the soft tyre was the “perfect tyre over one lap, it’s more like a Qualifying tyre.” The tyre did pose a problem for Jenson though when at the end of a 13 lap stint on a relatively high fuel load, he locked under braking for the Turn 14 hairpin and the tyre tread dissolved on the track surface, leaving Button to crawl back to the pits with a slowly delaminating tyre. Despite the softer tyres ability to deliver one quick lap, the pace fades away very quickly. A closer look of a 9 lap soft tyre stint during Free Practice 2 looked like this:

Lap 1: 1m 48.5

Lap 2: 1m 43.9

Lap 3: 1m43.4

Lap 4: 1m 44.1

Lap 5: 1m 44.3

Lap 6: 1m 46.2

Lap 7: 1m 46.8

Lap 8: 1m 48.3

Lap 9: 1m 49.5

These times are suggesting that the tyres are very quick straight out of the box. Managing the tyres first lap pace ensures that the stronger lap times have lasted for longer, for example by taking a slower lap 1 pace, the driver has managed to get his fastest lap on lap three of the run. But once the meat on the tyre has been used for one or two quick runs, it enters a realm of no return. The tyre drops off very quickly, and although manageable at first, towards the end of the stint (just lap 8) the tyre will be useless and in need of changing given its lack of pace. The simulations all suggest that after a 3 lap run on the softer tyre in Quali 3 on Saturday, the tyre may only be serviceable up to lap 7, anything after will result in huge loss of grip and subsequently, time.

Vettel was unhappy with the lack of pace to the frontrunners

Vettel was unhappy with the lack of pace to the frontrunners

The issue of safety could now be where the teams voice their concern to Pirelli. Several teams like Red Bull in Malaysia have already said the tyres are impeding the cars overall speed, as the drivers are having to drive slower to preserve the rubber. Free Practice 2 in China saw Jenson Buttons tyre delaminate and Lewis Hamilton hitting out by saying, “The life of the tyre, it’s the worst I’ve ever experienced with bits flying off all over the place…It doesn’t feel like the right tyre for this circuit. I did a couple of laps and the tyres just disintegrated.” Other drivers too have voiced their concerns and rued the rubber brought to Shanghai. However Pirelli boss Paul Hembrey hit back by saying the softer tyre was doing as it is intended, “If the medium did the same then I’d be concerned, but it doesn’t,” he said. “It’s a qualifying tyre. It’ll be a bit like Melbourne I guess where the top teams are going to be forced to qualify on the softer tyre because it’s such a performance advantage and within the first 10 laps they are going to have to pit.”

The medium compound tyre has a more structured wear rate and will be the ideal tyre to last around 15-20 laps during the race. This will be the tyre the drivers will want to be on for most of the race, despite its lack of grip compared to the softer tyre it can still offer a lot of durability. Enough to stretch to a risky two stop strategy.

The soft compound drop-off is very large and will have a significant impact on the race come Sunday. All of the top 10 qualifiers will all be on the yellow marked softer compound, because of the significant advantage it will yield in Q3, they will require that tyres grip to hoist them up the grid. Those starting from 11th backwards, will almost all certainly start on the white marked medium compound and try as hard as possible to eke out towards a two stop strategy, they will also be hoping to pick off a few of the front running cars whilst they are getting serviced in the pit lane.

Felipe Massa was fastest in FP2

Felipe Massa was fastest in FP2

We could end up seeing a scenario come race day where the weakest tyre wins. What that means is, whoever has to pit first may well come out on top over the long run, despite having the disadvantage of pitting so early. This is due to the overlap that they benefit from when receiving new rubber. Say a driver, in this instance Nico Rosberg was running third just 3 seconds behind the theoretical race leader Felipe Massa. Nico could pit on lap 7, a seemingly early and stupid lap to pit, but only for him to benefit from fresh medium tyres, which could run quicker than Massa’s Ferrari. After just 1 lap Nico would take the lead of the race, the degradation of the softer tyre really can be as much as 3 seconds a lap, if you stay out and get it wrong.

All the talk of extreme tyre graining, wear and degradation could all be elementary of course. We have seen in the past extreme tyre conditions on Friday for the scenario to change completely for the rest of the weekend. Given that the track conditions should remain largely the same as we are not expecting any rain over the course of the weekend and there are no significant support races to upset the chemistry of the track surface, there may well be a track evolution which could favour both compounds of the Italian manufacturer’s tyre. This would leave all previous criticisms unfounded and a fairly undramatic and straightforward race…but then nothing is straightforward in Formula One.

Hamilton calls off negotiations

Lewis Hamilton has asked his management, XIX Entertainment, to call off contract negotiations with the Mclaren team for the time being.

It was another disappointing race weekend for the Brit in Monaco. A poor start and pitstop saw him drop from third on the grid to finish 5th, behind his main championship rivals. After the race Lewis was left reeling, complaining about his team, he said: “The team have definitely got some work to do because we are falling behind race by race. The others are picking up some serious pace. If we’re not lucky then it will fall away from us.”

Lewis struggling in Monte Carlo

Hamilton is unhappy with errors out of his control, which have led him to lose a firm grip on the championship. It is possible that the Englishman will now ask his management to look around for other suitors like Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari.

It comes after the media reported that Mclaren had laid down an offer on the table for Lewis before the Monaco GP, worth around £95 million for 5 years. It has been a year since he was seen holding talks with Christian Horner in the paddock at the Canadian Grand Prix in 2011.

Lewis currently sits 4th in the Drivers’ Championship, 13 points behind leader Fernando Alonso and is the only one of the front runners yet to win a race this 2012 season.

Right Race, Right Place

Formula One completed a race in Bahrain yesterday, after coming under international condemnation.

Since the Arab Spring in February last year, Bahrain has had to overcome mass protests from the Shia minority. The race, which had to pulled from the calendar in 2011, came under scrutiny from human rights campaigners.

Before this weekend’s proceedings Formula One was criticised for holding such an event, given as so many people have been injured and killed by the ruling regime in the country. On Saturday a protestor was killed after filming a protest.

Ed Miliband made a statement on Friday night saying that the race should not go ahead.

“Given the violence we have seen in Bahrain, given the human rights abuses, I don’t believe the Grand Prix should go ahead and I hope that the government will make its view clear and say the same.”

The Labour leaders calls were met with anger from the F1 paddock, as they believed the calls were too late. “Politicians in the UK were saying we should withdraw once we’d got here,” Mercedes GP Team Principal Ross Brawn said. “Why didn’t they say something beforehand?”

The McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh added: “I don’t think it’s helpful to wake up and hear we shouldn’t be here when we’re already here.”

Some have argued that the race was used by the Bahrain government as a propaganda tool to show the country in a good light around the world, as it aims to create a positive image of the country. This is further backed up by the country endorsing the F1 brand in the race slogan, ‘UniF1ed’.

Smoke outside the track during the race

The race did however go off without a hitch.

Pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel went on to win the race after overcoming a challenge for victory with Kimi Raikkonen, fellow Lotus driver Romain Grosjean rounded off the podium with 3rd place. Scottish driver Paul Di Resta had an impressive race to finish in 6th. It was a poor race from the Mclaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Hamilton had several poor pit stops and finished the race in a lowly 8th place, whilst Button was forced to retire from the race two laps before the end with a differential failure.

After the race it was announced that a number of Channel 4 journalists are to be deported on Monday after being arrested for entering and working in Bahrain on just a tourist visa.