Formula 1 McLaren Mercedes-Benz Red Bull Racing

Nico Rosberg wins 2014 Australian GP

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG

As I write this belated race report take your mind back to a time where all fuel flow monitors were created equal…

Nico Rosberg cruised to a dominant victory in Melbourne to start what could be a dominant year for the Mercedes AMG team. And yet the headline story is the second place finish by Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo who became the first local to stand on the podium in his home race.

Also deserving of huge plaudits is Kevin Magnussen who earned his spot on the podium with a flaweless debut in his Mercedes-powered McLaren.

Jenson Button had to be content with fourth place and watching his junior teammate steal the limelight. You sense after the season Button and McLaren endured in 2013 both will be over the moon with these results.

Fernando Alonso went quietly about his business and finished fifth. On current form it will be a surprise to see Ferrari win a race in 2014, yet they will be there or thereabouts. They came close in 2009 of course, but can they again build a car commensurate with Alonso’s undoubted talent and guile?

On any other day Valtteri Bottas would be attracting plenty of attention. The young Finn, in only his second season, drove like a man possessed to grab sixth place. His inexperience was on show when he clipped the wall and broke a wheel—and luckily nothing else—but he was able to recover from that, and a five place grid penalty for a pre-race gearbox change, to earn himself some very handy championship points. Without his error he would have found himself fighting for position with two world champions. Not bad after starting from P15.

Elsewhere Daniil Kvyat was another debutant to do well, crossing the line in tenth place for Toro Rosso. He was unable to upset his teammate, though, and Jean-Eric Vergne finished one place ahead in a pleasing result for the junior Red Bull outift. Renault will also be pleased to see three of its cars in the top 10, given four failed to finish (three due to mechanical issues).

Kamui Kobayashi’s return to F1 with Caterham lasted one corner and he took the Williams of Felipe Massa into the gravel with him.

After the race the crowd went wild for Dan Ricciardo as he accepted his trophy for second place. It was a great moment for F1 and motorsport in Australia.

And now is the moment we have to remind you all that Ricciardo’s podium moment in the setting sun was taken away from him by the FIA late in the night after declaring his car had “exceeded consistently the maximum fuel flow of 100kg/h”.

Our Daniel was disqualified and all other drivers move up one position. Ricciardo and Red Bull have no world championship points.

Red Bull have said they will appeal the FIA’s decision and were it not for the fact that the FIA spoke to Red Bull during the race to warn them that Daniel’s car was in breach of the regulations and to fix the problem we might think they were half a chance to have Daniel’s P2 reinstated.

Red Bull will claim they were just doing what they needed to do to remain competetive in spite of (what they will say is) a dodgy fuel flow monitor and that they didn’t actually break any rules.

We don’t expect there will be any joy for Daniel and his team.

If nothing else we do know that the RB10 can go the full race distance and, more tellingly perhaps, that Daniel has the pace to mix it with the best, including the four-time world champ on the other side of the garage.

That gives us hope that someone may be able to challenge Mercedes at some stage during 2014.

Caterham Ferrari Formula 1 Lotus McLaren Mercedes-Benz Red Bull Racing Toro Rosso

Quick reference guide to the 2014 F1 season

We’re just a couple of sleeps away from the start to the most unpredictable Formula 1 season in recent memory. Is anyone else excited?!

Judging by pre-season testing form we’ll be lucky if half of the 22 cars entered in Melbourne finish the race. Remember, too, there’s just five complete power units available per driver all year, so we suspect reliability will have a big say in the outcome of both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships.

After the break you’ll find a full calendar with start Australian Eastern start times, a list of all the drivers and their new permanent numbers along with links to all of the new cars for 2104.

Right now it looks like the Mercedes power unit is the weapon of choice, with Renault proving the least reliable. Let’s see what happens between now and 23 November when double points are up for grabs at the final race in Abu Dhabi.

For easy reference be sure to save this link:

Caterham F1 in pictures Ferrari Lotus McLaren Mercedes-Benz Red Bull Racing Toro Rosso

F1 winter testing: Bahrain I in pictures

The design of the latest crop of Formula 1 cars, in response to new aero and crash regulations, has certainly encouraged plenty of discussion. The twin-tusk nose of the Lotus E22 (above) is certainly one of the most bizarre design solutions in the history of the sport.

Once the racing starts the novelty gawking at these god awful designs should ease and we can focus on what we love most, and that’s racing. In the meantime we bring you a gallery of 66 images from the recent pre-season test in Bahrain, six photos each of all 11 cars, that show you the class of 2014 in their best and worst angles.

A small pat on the back, too, goes to Eric Gandelin, the man responsible for the Sauber C33. We think that’s the best looking car of 2014. Although, a nod of appreciation also goes to the Williams FW36.

Those responsible for the horrors of the Caterham CT05 and Force India VJM07 should hang their heads in shame. As for the rest, a good hard look at themselves wouldn’t hurt!

Formula 1

Who is to blame for ugly F1 cars?

2014 Caterham CT05

Aside from the reliability concerns facing teams this year, especially those with Renault power, the big story from Formula 1 pre-season has been the ugliness of the cars. While the variety of designs is welcome, the results are, in the main, just terrible to look at.

The teams say it’s a result of the regulations, which has made us think a few times why on earth would the FIA sign-off on regs that result in such comedy? Either they have no foresight, or the current crop of designers is way too pragmatic, putting performance ahead of aesthetics and the sport in general.

In an article for Autosport+ (subscription required) Peter Stevens, designer of the McLaren F1 and Jaguar XJR-15, shares his thoughts on the matter.

Stevens starts by pointing his finger at the FIA, stating: “well-paid rule-makers seem to have been unable to foresee the consequences of their mandates“.

Yet, it’s the engineers from the teams who have been dealt the most savage criticism. In the past, Stevens explains, an F1 car was drawn on paper and then a trained pattern maker was engaged to transform the drawing into three-dimensional form. There was, of course, a skill in that process which required the maker to interpret and understand body surfacing.

Now that most everything design-related in F1 these days is handled by engineers and CAD systems Stevens sees the weak point, in what he describes as: “the work of under-trained or insensitive engineers”.

More blunty he concludes: “We are expected to endure 2014 shapes defined by an engineering CAD programme with limited surface development capabilities in the hands of pure rationalists. This is simply not good enough.”

Hear, hear.

[Source: Autosport+ (subscription)]

Formula 1 McLaren

F1 winter testing: Bahrain I day 2

Kevin Magnussen, McLaren MP4-29

Pre-season testing lap times aren’t always a reliable guide as to who is fast, yet McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen can do no more than his best and overnight in Bahrain his best (1:34.910) was 1.5 seconds better than anyone else.

“The team is doing a great job to help me,” Magnussen said afterwards. “They’re giving me really good guidance and making me feel confident.

“There’s a lot of discussion about lap times, and it feels good to get some good times recorded, but winter testing is just that—testing. It isn’t about times.”

The young Dane only managed 46 laps in the MP4-29, the third fewest of the 11 drivers who took to the track. Second fastest was Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg (1:36.445) with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso (1:36.516) close behind.

The fourth quickest time was posted by Nico Rosberg (1:36.965). Despite racking up a healthy total of 85 laps the Mercedes W05 stopped twice on the Sakhir circuit with technical glitches and necessitated red flags. Valtteri Bottas (1:37.328) was the busiest man of the day with 116 laps under his belt in the Williams.

Kamui Kobayashi (1:39.855) was sixth fastest and enjoyed a good day in the Caterham. Also able to be positive, for the first time this pre-season, was Sebastian Vettel (1:40.340) who won’t care that he only went seventh quickest on the day and will be happy to have managed 59 laps. In the five previous days of winter testing Red Bull had only managed a cumulative total of 35 laps.

Daniel Ricciardo will be at the wheel of the RB10 for the next two days in Bahrain and the team is cautiously optimistic it can continue to without further issues.

Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso also had a good day with Jean-Eric Vergne (1:40.609) completing 58 laps. Esteban Gutierrez (1:40.717) was ninth quickest in the Ferrari-powered Sauber.

Bringing up the rear were Romain Grosjean (1:41.670) in the Lotus and Marussia’s Max Chilton (1:42.511) who could only manage 18 and 17 laps respectively.

Focus is beginning to move from the woes of reigning world champion constructor Red Bull and onto Lotus. Speaking after testing Trackside Operations Director, Alan Permane, didn’t shy away from his team’s issues.

“Obviously we fell way short of what we want to achieve here which is a strong tally of laps at a representative pace,” he said. “The car itself has looked solid at the pace we’ve run so far, but you only learn so much from lapping at our current level.”

Formula 1 McLaren

McLaren MP4-29 infographic

2014 McLaren MP4-29

McLaren Racing has been kind enough to share with the world an infographic which takes us through some of the key changes for the 2014 F1 season and, of course, its MP4-29 racecar.

Check it out after the break.

Formula 1 McLaren

F1 winter testing: Jerez day 3

Kevin Magnussen, McLaren MP4-29

Kevin Magnussen made the most of his first official day on track as a McLaren driver by topping the lap charts in Jerez overnight. His time of 1:23.276 was almost half a second faster than next best, Felipe Massa with Williams (1:23.700).

Magnussen’s efforts were made more impressive by the fact he only ran in the afternoon session, as the morning was handed over to Jenson Button. Combined, the McLaren drivers covered a total of 92 laps; 30 more than any other team.

The 21-year-old Dane admitted to having butterflies before taking to the track but understands it’s too early to get carried away with McLaren’s early season pace.

“Happily, everything worked as it should, and the car felt good,” Magnussen said. “I’m pretty pleased with our reliability—to have done as many laps as I did in just half a day was pretty positive.

“I’m not taking too much from the fact that I set the fastest time—I was pushing, but it wasn’t a balls-to-the-wall lap. We wanted to get good data and learn about the car, so I think everyone is pushing out there.”

Red Bull would love to be in McLaren’s shoes right now and after three days of testing the four-time constructors’ champions are yet to record a flying lap time. Daniel Ricciardo’s first day at the wheel of the RB10 lasted just three installation laps before the team shut up shop in the morning session.

“We worked hard yesterday to make the changes it was felt were necessary to overcome the problems we identified and we were hopeful of a more successful day today,” said Race Engineering Co-ordinator Andy Damerum. “Unfortunately, the measures we took only partially solved the issue and, as with yesterday, it’s more sensible to stop and dig deeper into finding a solution. It’s obviously not where we want to be and naturally the whole team is frustrated by these issues.

“This is where the whole team pulls together and I’m sure we will get these problems fixed.”

Lewis Hamilton (1:23.952) ensured Mercedes was well represented and he joined Jenson Button (1:25.030) to see the four fastest times of the day were set by Mercedes-powered cars.

Ferrari slotted in with the fifth best time after Fernando Alonso (1:25.495) racked up 58 laps in his first day driving the F14 T. Nico Hulkenberg (1:26.096) put in a more modest 17 laps in his Force India debut.

Jean-Eric Vergne (1:29.915) saved some face for Renault by locking away 30 laps in the Toro Rosso STR9. However, he was the only Renault-powered driver to record any flying laps on the day. Adrian Sutil (1:30.161) registered the slowest time of the day in the Sauber C33 after 30 laps at the wheel.

Robert Frijns (Caterham) and Max Chilton (Marussia) did not record any times, logging 10 and five installation laps respectively.

Caterham Ferrari Formula 1 McLaren Mercedes-Benz Red Bull Racing Toro Rosso

F1 winter testing: Jerez days 1 and 2

Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel

After two days of winter testing in Jerez what have we learned about the Formula 1 class of 2014, specifically these horrid looking new cars? Well, not a lot to be honest.

On day 1 most teams struggled and only 93 laps were completed by the teams in attendance, and none at all by McLaren. Kimi Raikkonen (1:27.104) was fastest in his return for Ferrari and ran the most number laps on the day at just 31. Lewis Hamilton (1:27.820) sent his Mercedes towards the top of the lap charts in his 18 laps before sending it into the wall after a front wing failure.

“We had a lot of new things to learn today,” Raikkonen said afterwards. “Even if we would have liked to do more laps, I think that for a first day it was alright. Towards the end, when the track was damp, we chose not to take any risks. Now we have a lot of work ahead of us, but all in all, we are pleased with our first day.”

After the leading two drivers times spread out with not much insight to be gained, other than there’s a lot of work to do. Sebastian Vettel and Marcus Ericsson, for example, only ran installation laps and didn’t set any times at all.

Things have become a little clearer on day 2, with all Renault powered teams experiencing problems while Ferrari and Mercedes powered cars gained an early advantage. Overnight rain saw Pirelli bring forward their designated wet weather session and trucks were sent out to ensure the track had sufficient water for testing purposes.

Jenson Button and McLaren had a good day, registering the fastest time in the morning’s wet session and also in the afternoon (1:24.165) when the track was dry.

The 2009 world champion spoke enthusiastically about the MP4-29 afterwards, too. “Of course, it’s still early days, and there’s a lot of work ahead of us,” Button said. “We need to work on both braking and traction; but that excites me, because there’s a lot of potential to adjust those parameters.

“The new braking system is very complicated, and getting it right will be tough. But these are all things we can work on: there’s nothing about the car that unsettles me, and there’s plenty of scope to explore the set-up. It will just take time.”

Kimi Raikkonen (1:24.812) was on the pace again during his 47 laps, cutting more than 2 seconds from his day 1 best. Valtteri Bottas (1:25.344) has had limited running during his two days, just 12 laps in all, but he has been third quickest on both days.

While only fourth fastest on day 2, Nico Rosberg (1:25.588) and Mercedes were happy with their lot. Rosberg racked up an impressive 97 laps, 44 more than his nearest rival, including some beneficial long runs.

“Every lap is important to get used to the new systems and it helped a lot that I have worked on this already in the simulator,” explained Rosberg. “We don’t know yet where we are compared to the other teams, but we can be quite happy after the first two days of testing here in Spain. Now I look forward to getting back in the car on Friday.”

Meanwhile the Renault powered cars managed just 19 laps between them (11 for Caterham, 8 for Red Bull and 0 for Toro Rosso). On day 1 only 19 laps were registered for the Renault runners as well (15 for Toro Rosso, 3 for Red Bull, 1 for Caterham), which will be cause for early concern.

Lotus isn’t an attendance at all for the Jerez test, choosing to wait until testing moves to Bahrain. Marussia is hoping to run its car tonight.

Photos and lap times are available after the break.

UPDATE: Pics from day 2 have now been added below.

Formula 1 McLaren

2014 McLaren MP4-29 revealed

2014 McLaren MP4-29

Damn, that nose on the MP4-29 pretty ugly. Let’s hope that’s the worst of what we see in the coming weeks.

A full suite of press material, videos, photos and PDFs showcasing the MP4-29 can be found after the break. But what’s just as interesting in the McLaren material is what is not said.

Firstly, there is not one single mention or explanation of that horrendous nose in any of the official guff below. It’s too late McLaren we have noticed it and it is fugly.

Secondly, the name Martin Whitmarsh is not present at all, which means we can surmise Big Ron has wasted no time and sent Whitmarsh packing and signed off on his P45.

This ties in perfectly with today’s big F1 news that Eric Boullier has resigned from Lotus with immediate effect. It’s expected Boullier will replace Whitmarsh as McLaren’s Team Principal; not Ross Brawn, or Sam Michael as one fanciful rumour suggested this morning.

While there’s no official announcement on Boullier’s arrival just yet, McLaren has confirmed it has signed key staff from the likes of Red Bull and Lotus, including Ciaron Pilbeam formerly race engineer to Mark Webber.

Also, last year we were informed Vodafone would be ending its long-term relationship with McLaren and that the Woking-based team would announce its new title sponsor in December 2013. It stood to reason that a team such as McLaren would already have a new deal in place and it would just be a matter of time before we found out who it would be.

Then we were told the sponsorship announcement would be put off to coincide with the launch of the MP4-29 to maximise the exposure for said new sponsor. That made perfect sense, too. But last week the word from McLaren was there would be no title sponsor announcement in the short-term future but they’ve still got heaps of cash anyway so no need to panic.

And yet, with all of these dramatic changes taking place at McLaren you get the sense that panic stations are indeed the order of the day. No wonder Ron Dennis is back in the building.