2016 F1 Teams’ Review of the Season: 1-10

  1. Mercedes (1st, 765 points- Nico Rosberg (1st, 385pts)/Lewis Hamilton (2nd, 380pts)) 10.0

A third consecutive season of processional dominance for the boys from Brackley. Out of 59 Grands Prix since the start of 2014, they have won 51 races, 56 poles and 34 fastest laps.  Out of an accumulated total of 3,551 laps, they have led 2,969 of them- a whopping 83.6%. They have consistently maintained a qualifying lap average of 0.7 seconds over their rivals, so there have a few conspiracy theorists, who have suggested that the Mercedes hierarchy secretly harboured to see a Nico Rosberg WDC victory to prove their accomplishments stemmed from the engineering solely. No team has sustained such dominance within such a time frame- not even Ferrari succeeded in doing this between 1999-01 and 2002-04, when they won an unprecedented six consecutive constructors’ world championships.

From 1999-2001, Ferrari won 25 races, 24 poles & 14 fastest laps out of 50 Grands Prix. Out of 3,139 laps, the Scuderia led 1,531 of them (48.8%). From 2002-2004, Ferrari won 38 races, 30 poles & 34 fastest laps (66.6%) (this is the only statistic higher than Mercedes’) out of 51 Grands Prix. Out of 3,230 laps, the Maranello boys led 2,033 of them (62.9%). During these years, F2002 & F2004 were their two most prominent cars, which were praised for their excellent mechanical grip, neutral handling and near bullet-proof reliability- F2002 recording just one mechanical failure, whilst F2004 clocked up none.

Red Bull, from 2011-13, won 32 races, 37 poles & 29 fastest laps out of 58 Grands Prix. Out of 3,456 laps, they led 1,985 of those laps (57.4%). During these years, RB11 & RB13 were their two most prominent cars, which were estimated by aerodynamicists as producing the most amount of downforce seen in any F1 cars before or since.

Williams, from 1992-1994, won 27 races, 36 poles & 29 fastest laps out of 48 Grands Prix. Out of 3,127 laps, they led 1,829 of them (58.5%). During these cars, FW14B & FW15C were their two most prominent cars, acknowledged by experts to be the most technologically complex machinery- active suspension, ABS brakes, traction control plus numerous other gizmos, leading Alain Prost to describe FW15c as a “mini Airbus”.

McLaren, from 1988-1990, won 31 races, 42 poles & 23 fastest laps out of 48 Grands Prix. Out of 3,122 laps, they led 2,376 of them (76.1%). In qualifying, their two prominent cars MP4-4 & MP4-5 blew their rivals away, capable of defeating the fastest non-McLaren car by up to three seconds in the hands of one-lap master Ayrton Senna. If the relationship between Prost and Senna hadn’t been so acrimonious and reliability wasn’t such a prevalent issue, it is possible the statistics in this period would match or even beat what Mercedes have achieved.

In terms of what Mercedes have achieved compared to rival teams in the modern era, it is similar to the astounding dominance achieved by individual drivers such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel. It is unlikely we’ll ever see such supremacy from a team on such a totalitarian scale, so that should be a welcome sigh of relief for fans.

Of course, the 10.0 mark was not only awarded for their car’s third consecutive year of crushing superiority, but also the team’s management. Despite controversy in Spain, Canada & Austria, relations remained stable between their star drivers, allowing them to seal the WCC at Suzuka with four races to spare.

2. Red Bull-TAG Heuer (2nd, 468 points- Daniel Ricciardo (3rd, 256 pts)/Max Verstappen (5th, 204 pts)/Daniil Kvyat (14th, 25 pts)) 9.0

After last year’s debacle, which led to Red Bull badging their Renault engines after their new sponsor, 2016 showed a huge leap forward. 2017 should present a permissible opportunity to return to the front, with Ricciardo and Verstappen hogging the headlines. It is expected star designer Adrian Newey will pen a chassis to exploit the aggressively increased downforce and tyres regulations to the absolute maximum, whilst Renault provide a power unit with ample grunt.

3. Force India-Mercedes (4th, 173 points- Sergio Perez (7th, 101 points)/Nico Hulkenberg (9th, 72 points)) 8.5

The Silverstone-based team’s gradual ascent through F1’s hierarchy was richly rewarded with their best-ever WCC finish of 4th. It is unlikely such a result will be achieved in 2017, but credit where credit is due. The designers exploited the current regulations’ need for drag reduction and straight-line speed, which permitted the chassis to lap quickly thanks to the invaluablely-endowed Mercedes power unit. It is debatable that in the hands of the best drivers (i.e. Alonso, Hamilton & Verstappen), the VJM09 could have pushed Ferrari for 3rd in the WCC. Loyal stalwart Hulkenberg will leave for Renault, so for 2017, promising talent Esteban Ocon takes his place.

4. Toro Rosso-Ferrari (7th, 63 points- Carlos Sainz (12th, 46 pts)/Daniil Kvyat (14th, 25 pts)/Max Verstappen (5th, 204 pts)) 8.0

A second consecutive season of progress for Faenza boys was rewarded with another 7th in the WCC. If Verstappen had remained at the team for the entirety of the season, they might have caught McLaren for 6th, but their 2015-spec Ferrari power unit proved their Achilles’ Heel. It is expected for Toro Rosso to move up in 2017, with the excellent Carlos Sainz spearheading their challenge.

5. McLaren-Honda (6th, 76 points- Fernando Alonso (10th, 54 pts)/Jenson Button (15th, 21 pts)/Stoffel Vandoorne (20th, 1 pt)) 7.5

A steady, if unspectacular, second season of the reunited fabled McLaren-Honda partnership. The car still suffered from a fair degree of understeer and the Honda power unit underwhelming in its overall output, but reliability was a welcome boost. Alonso did his usual miracle job, whilst Button floundered, scoring just five more points than last year. In his place for 2017 will be Vandoorne, who lit the paddock with illuminating reviews with his dazzling performance at his sole outing at Bahrain, whilst deputising for Alonso. The Spaniard will be not be feeling too comfortable, though, as memories of a particular rookie tearing his reputation to shreds will see its tenth anniversary.

6. Haas-Ferrari (8th, 29 points- Romain Grosjean (13th, 29 pts)/Esteban Gutierrez (21st, o pts)) 7.0

In their first two races, America’s newest team became the first team since Toyota in their debut consecutive Grands Prix to score points. What’s more, Grosjean finished P6 in Melbourne, then P5 in Bahrain thanks to excellent pit calls. As the season progressed, though, Haas ran through the typical stumbling blocks every new team encounters in their early hurdles of the unforgiving environment of F1. Lack of experience of set-ups and the narrow operating windows of the Pirellis, as well as dubious feedback from their drivers exacerbated their acute struggles at certain races, with Mexico being their nadir with P19 & P20. Gutierrez finished P11 five times and did well to beat his French team-mate during mid-season, but he never appeared to have the spark to produce a vital points finish. In his place for 2017 will be Kevin Magnussen, who will be hoping to improve upon his lacklustre 2016.

7. Williams-Mercedes (5th, 138 points- Valtteri Bottas (8th, 85 pts)/Felipe Massa (11th, 53 pts)) 6.5

After two years of enjoying the fruits of a remarkable revival with two consecutive 3rds in the WCC, my prediction of a third consecutive P3 was pathetically wrong. Strategic errors remained prevalent, which were exacerbated further by lack of development and critics slamming their low-drag, low-downforce design philosophy as one-dimensional. Lance Stroll will be a welcome addition with exorbitant funding by his billionaire tycoon father, but with Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement, the second seat is a major conundrum. Will Bottas go to Mercedes? And if he does, will Felipe Massa postpone his retirement for one more season?

8. Renault (9th, 8 points- Kevin Magnussen (16th, 7 pts)/Jolyon Palmer (18th, 1 pt)) 5.5

Were they racing in 2016? It was a poor return to F1 for the double WCC-winning French marque, who insisted upon using a revised 2015 Lotus chassis as their challenger this season. It is understandable that due to cash flow issues Lotus suffered, as well as time constraints linked with their late buyout, that the car was hurried, but development did not produce desired improvements. Cyril Abitedoul stated an intent to sign a “charismatic” lead driver, so it remains to be seen if Nico Hulkenberg can live up to such a lofty position.

9. Manor-Mercedes (11th, 1 point (Pascal Wehrlein (19th, 1 pt)/Esteban Ocon (23rd, 0 pts)/Rio Haryanto (24th, 0 pts) 5.0

A decent season for the Banbury-based squad. In spite of a car that lacked downforce, it topped top speed sheets regularly thanks to drawing inspiration from technical partners Williams, who sourced out their suspension and transmission. Wehrlein impressed in parts, whilst Pertamina-backed Haryanto lost his drive when the dollars dried up, as his race performances were inadequately under par. Ocon took his place, producing a great drive in Brazil before he spun. The point he lost for P10 proved academic as Sauber’s Felipe Nasr scored two vital points in P9, thrusting the Hinwil squad into 10th in the WCC. So that left Manor languishing in 11th for a second consecutive year. As ever with the backmarkers, their driver line-up will announced at the last minute before next year’s much anticipated tests.

10. Sauber-Ferrari (10th, 2 points- Felipe Nasr (17th, 2 pts)/Marcus Ericsson (22nd, o pts)) 4.0

In a season of mounting financial pressures, further burdened by two mediocre pay drivers and a bland corporate image, it was a miracle Sauber escaped the wooden spoon in the WCC and on this list. To be frankly honest, Monisha Kaltenborn clearly has a lucky charm somewhere. The car was rehash of last year’s decent contender, so it was inevitably predictable how poor this season was going to be.  All year, the Hinwil team appeared destined to see a 11th finish to darken their worries over the long-term existence of Sauber, but the heavens opened in Interlagos and the rest is history. Marcus Ericsson is confirmed in one of their seats for 2017, but it remains to seen whether Nasr has the funding to continue.

The next article will focus on this year’s Reject Team of the Year. Don’t miss it!

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2016 F1 Driver Review of the Season: 3 & 4: The Champion & the Tyro

3. Nico Rosberg (1st, 385 points- Mercedes) 8.0

“Is he a deserving champion?” asked many Lewis Hamilton and non-LH44 fans alike when the 31 year old German crossed behind his triple world champion team-mate when the chequered flag waved at the conclusion of this season at Abu Dhabi. In short, yes he is a deserving champion. Not one of the sport’s greats in the vein of Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher or even contemporary Kimi Raikkonen, but he accomplished his life ambition. Many Hamilton fans must ask themselves this question: if Nico Rosberg truly was a poor driver, then surely it must reflect Lewis’ past two championships in a miserly fashion. The truth is that Rosberg was an above-average midfielder in his Williams, who only scaled the heights intermittently with his drives at Melbourne and Singapore in 2008, then gradually raised his game and confidence through beating Schumacher and consequently escalated the intensity of his aggression and commitment to defeat Hamilton. Nico definitely fails to fit the purists’ ideal fit of a venerated hardened racer; often articulating over fine details that would evoke an ordinary man with tedium, but his meticulous planning of his approach towards race paid dividends.

Undoubtedly, he was a beneficiary of impregnable reliability, but it must be remembered how Rosberg suffered a gearbox and an electrical failure respectively at Britain and Singapore during pivotal moments back in 2014, as well as his concoction of mechanical issues during the infamous double-points finale at Abu Dhabi. His luck was equally as bad in 2015, where he suffered the ignominy of being tagged by Daniel Ricciardo at Hungary, where an almost certain P2 became P8 due to the resulting puncture. Finishing behind an erratic Hamilton did his morale no good and this was followed by untimely engine and throttle breakages at Monza and Sochi, forcing an early surrender of his 2015 challenge. For Hamilton, he suffered engine and brake failures during the races at Melbourne and Montreal, as well as brake failure and a fire during qualifying at Hockenheim then Hungaroring respectively during 2014.

2015 saw just one mechanical failure with his power unit malfunctioning at that year’s peculiar Singapore Grand Prix. In the realms of 2016, other than his flabbergasting engine disintegration, his gearbox change during qualifying at Shanghai was his only mechanically-issue which impeded him in the hunt for the WDC. The wheel-to-wheel collisions of the two Mercedes drivers cannot be ignored; tensions initially arose at Bahrain 2014, when a thrilling fight emerged when the safety car withdrew, as both pushed the boundaries of legality within track limits. Monaco saw Nico’s infamous swerve to the left at Mirabeau after his pole lap, forcing the mandatory yellow flags to annul a final attempt for Hamilton to clinch pole. Hungary was marred by Lewis’ staunch refusal to give way to Rosberg, with some believing his selfishness lost a potential victory for Mercedes and his German team-mate.

Many therefore saw Rosberg’s slice at Hamilton’s rear left tyre as revenge at the consequent Belgian race; however, others claimed team orders at Monza had forced Rosberg to drive wide at Variante del Rettifilo to permit victory for Hamilton. Hamilton then pulled off magnificent overtaking manoeuvres at Suzuka and Austin, dismantling Rosberg’s pride and took a merited 2nd WDC. The following season saw less confrontation on the track, but more bitter verbal recriminations between the pair. Nico aimed accusations of egotism after China, slamming Lewis for “driving too slowly,” but it wasn’t until Suzuka when Rosberg would take another swipe at Hamilton’s antics. The Briton cunningly hugged the inside at the first corner, then gradually moved to the outside whilst manoeuvring his car through the optimum racing line. Likewise a stubborn Rosberg refused to give way, but ran wide of the rumble strips at the exit, consequently dropping to P4. Acrimony re-emerged when Hamilton clinched his 3rd WDC at Austin, as the race start saw Lewis blatantly understeering into turn 1 so that Rosberg would be forced onto the run-off to avoid a costly collision. The post-race pre-podium dressing room saw Hamilton throw a cap to Rosberg, only for the German to petulantly chuck it back into the re-crowned champion’s direction.

This season saw the two arch-rivals finally crash each other out of a race at Barcelona, although there was no clear intention from either to destroy each other’s Grand Prix in an unsporting manner. Austria saw arguably the last true confrontation before this season’s finale at Abu Dhabi, where Rosberg clearly attempted to block Hamilton from overtaking at the hairpin by taking the widest line possible. If there is any argument of bad luck that can be made in favour of Rosberg, his impaired brakes forced him to finish a lowly P7 at Monaco, whilst Hamilton’s understeering manoeuvre at Turn 1 at Montreal forced Rosberg off the road, where his Mercedes F1 W07’s inability to drive well in heavy traffic became prevalent and his spin whilst defending P4 from Max Verstappen left critics in hysterics. Silverstone witnessed late-race gear issues for Rosberg, who required urgent assistance via team radio to fend off a rampant Max Verstappen, but the dubious regulations of radio messaging reared its ugly head, leaving Rosberg penalised by time penalty which saw him cede P2 to the Dutchman.

The German’s poor start followed by another arbitrary penalty for desperately running Max Verstappen off the hairpin at Hockenheim exacerbated his woeful month of July, where Hamilton became the first driver to win four races in a calendar month. His stirring performances from Belgium to Japan saw him win four races to regain the WDC lead, whilst Malaysia saw a champion’s fightback, where after being punted at Turn 1 by a foolish Sebastian Vettel, his fierce and ruthless overtaking of mid-pack cars followed by his audacious manoeuvre on Raikkonen was punished by another arbitrary penalty, albeit rendered academic when Nico succeeded to pull a 13-second gap over the Finn at the chequered flag. Some were left underwhelmed by the German’s four consecutive P2 finishes in the last four races of his career, but by this crucial stage it would have been foolhardy and naive to push further than required.

Nico Rosberg will not be remembered as a gung-ho, guns blazing, crowd-pleasing, Roy of the Rovers type of champion. He will be remembered for his cultured persona, subtlety and due diligence in difficult circumstances to maximise his equipment and application of his driving aptitude to achieve his objective and retire from F1 as a fulfilled man. He will not be remembered for his passion, as his countless long faces and lethargic performances during his vapid seasons have displayed his need for perfection, which maybe demanded a level of attainment beyond reasonable expectations. Apart from memorable incidents, he breached the unwritten rules of being a ballsy, old school racer with innumerable radio requests such as asking details of Hamilton’s driving lines during a wet Q3 at Malaysia in 2015 or when he selected medium compounds during the Hungarian race that same year, feeling best to cut into Hamilton’s WDC lead rather than pursue Sebastian Vettel for a vital race victory. 2016 witnessed a more single-minded Rosberg, but he did profit from a noticeable descent in commitment from the other side of the garage, whose mindset has been patently divided by non-F1 excursions.

It is palpable to see that he retired when he realised he no longer stomached an appetite for another fight; the prospect of a hard-charging novices such as Verstappen and Stoffel Vandoorne sniping at his heels, and facing questions from a merciless media over and his worthiness of his champion status haunted his conscience. It may sound like a cliché, but he was simply too humble and nice to cement his reputation as a domineering, unrelenting, winner-takes-all racer in the vein of many contemporaries. Ultimately, the fatigue of possessing the indelible objective of defeating an all-time great team-mate, friend and enemy who had won every battle until now, was a beckoning to call upon a ceasefire.

4. Carlos Sainz (12th, 46 points- Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 8.0

On the subject of drivers being viewed as a replacement for F1’s departing new WDC, this young Spaniard’s name has been framed. His debut season in 2015 displayed flashes of speed, but not the same level of virtuosity of a certain highly-esteemed Dutch prodigy. Thankfully, the agony of being Verstappen’s team-mate ended early this season, when Daniil Kvyat was demoted to the junior team after his embarrassing double collision with Vettel at Sochi. From thereafter, Sainz has flourished with flying colours with numerous scintillating drives. A smattering of P6s at Spain, America and Brazil have underlined his reputation, whilst dominating a deject Kvyat, who either lost motivation or is a genuine inferior talent to Sainz. The Spaniard broke in Q3 nine times in a chronically underpowered STR11 chassis, which relied upon a 2015-spec Ferrari power unit, succeeding to qualify a career-best P6 twice at Silverstone and Marina Bay. He outscored Kyvat 42-4 in points and outqualified 11-6, which represents a real headache for the willowy Russian during the winter break, who has this year’s GP2 champion Pierre Gasly snapping at his heels as reserve.

He may not command the overnight sensation status that his illustrious ex-team mate has attained, but he is preparing himself well to be the Dutchman’s future championship contender. With the likes of Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll & Stoffel Vandoorne, as well as Lando Norris, Charles LeClerc and Mick Schumacher to emerge eventually, F1 has a bright future ahead of itself. Let’s hope Liberty Media capitalise upon this.

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Review: NICO ROSBERG WORLD CHAMPION

DRIVER OF THE DAY

Sebastian Vettel (P3, Ferrari)

He hasn’t had the finest season in his career, but after a tricky start to the race, the quadruple world champion underlined his status with sterling overtakes on Raikkonen & Verstappen.

WINNERS

Nico Rosberg (P2, Mercedes)

World champion. ‘Nuff said.

Max Verstappen (P4, Red Bull)

Dumb move on Hulkenberg at the start, but recovered brilliantly after making his used supersofts last 21 laps, despite the damage sustained from spinning after contact with the Force India driver.

REJECT OF THE DAY

Jolyon Palmer (P17, Renault)

The final ROFD goes to Jolyon again. Hotheaded collision with Sainz resulted in a 10 second race time penalty and retirement for his Spanish rival. How Palmer has a contract with Renault for 2017 is comparable to one of the world’s great wonders.

LOSER

Lewis Hamilton (P1, Mercedes)

Never has a race winner succeeded in being placed in the losers section of any race review, but congratulations blessed one, you’ve made it. Yes, I understand Lewis played within the rules by holding Rosberg up, but the symbols of desperation were deeply etched on the Briton’s face within his helmet. Hahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahaha.

2016 Brazilian Grand Prix Review: Amazing Max

DRIVER OF THE DAY 

Max Verstappen (P3, Red Bull)

On a day of superlative drives from so many drivers in adverse conditions, Verstappen shone above the rest yet again. I’ll personally admit to being biased against the young Dutchman, but his save on the start-finish straight and quickfire overtakes will stick in the memories of those who witnessed them.

WINNERS

Nico Rosberg (P2, Mercedes)

Despite being obliterated by his illustrious triple world champion team-mate Lewis Hamilton, Rosberg’s championship lead was only cut to twelve points. Some may see the 31-year-old German as a mediocre world champion, but his consistency and persistence has paid dividends. If Rosberg becomes world champion, he will be thoroughly deserving of it.

Sergio Perez (P4, Force India)

Mexico’s brightest hope toppled his outgoing Force India team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, as the Silverstone-based team further consolidated their P4 status in the constructors’ standings.

Carlos Sainz (P6, Toro Rosso)

Another outstanding performance from Spain’s next superstar.

Felipe Nasr (P9, Sauber)

Finally! After a disastrous season with lack of finances and development, Nasr produced a coruscating race as the heavens opened. With numerous retirements and spins from his rivals, the Brazilian was elevated to an inconceivable P6 in the latter stages. Inevitably, Sainz and Hulkenberg overtook him, but those valuable prize money dollars will alleviate Sauber’s ailing fiscal woes.

Fernando Alonso (P10, McLaren)

Not the greatest performance of his career, yet the manner in which he opened a 37 second lap between himself and team-mate Jenson Button in the last 20 laps was spellbinding.

Esteban Ocon (P12, MRT)

Despite throwing away P10, which would have not costed Manor P10 in the constructors’ standings, the 20 year old Frenchman wowed onlookers and destroyed equally highly-touted team-mate Pascal Wehrlein, who struggled in the torrential conditions. His early transition in F1 has proven tricky, but he proving his backers right.

REJECT OF THE DAY

Romain Grosjean (DNS, Haas)

Crashed out whilst driving to the starting grid. Leadership material he is not.

SPECIAL MENTION

Felipe Massa (RET, Williams)

He may have ended his race in disappointing circumstances, but his guard of honour proves how special and unique he is.

Post-Japanese GP review & news: Perez, Sainz & Vandoorne to Ferrari for 2018?

DRIVER OF THE DAY

Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari, P5)

Another race, another lost cause. It may seem bizarre Kimi bothers with F1 anymore, but his majestic overtakes reminded everyone of his passion and resolve. The Finn proved he has unfinished business and his double overtake on Sergio Perez and Jolyon Palmer is proof that the fire continues to flicker in the Iceman’s belly.

Winners

Nico Rosberg (Mercedes, P1)

33 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the driver’s world championship.

Max Verstappen (Red Bull, P2)

Underlined his credentials of a future F1 legend once again. A peerless drive was illuminated by his feisty defence in the closing laps, where his block move against Lewis Hamilton out of 130R into the Casino Triangle chicane raised eyebrows again from critics. However, his perfect exploitation of the regulations showed: the Dutchman used the racing line to go wide on the exit of 130R, but swerved left to position himself onto the orthodox line for the run to Casino. The rules state a driver is allowed one move on the straight leading to a corner; therefore Max cunningly utilised the regulations to his advantage by promptly interpreting his exit line out of 130R as entirely separate from his defensive manoeuvre on the run-up to Casino. Hamilton took the inside line, but FIA regulations deemed Verstappen eligible to chop him off and cover the inside line. The most splendid aspect of Max’s move was how subtle and graceful it was: unlike his hasty, abrasive defensive manoeuvres on Raikkonen on the run-up to Les Combes in Spa, the Dutchman has adapted his defence technique in a very short space of time.

Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari, P4)

Ignoring his foul-mouthed performance on his radio, the 29 year-old German drove as well as could. The decision to gamble on softs in the final stint was, however, yet another example of Ferrari’s never-ending incompetence regarding pit strategy. Relationship breakdowns rumours are escalating and opinions within the Italian media of Vettel are rapidly deteriorating.

Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull, P6)

Not one of his finest races, but his outside chances of winning this year’s drivers’ championship have extinguished. The Australian struggled with car balance and tyre degradation in a race where his team-mate illuminated the headlines again.

Sergio Perez & Nico Hulkenberg (Force India, P7 & P8)

The Mexican continued his domination over his highly-touted German team-mate with another narrow finish in front of him, as Force India collected ten points to extend their advantage over Williams in their quest for P4 the constructors’ standings with just four races remaining. Hulkenberg confirmed his move to Renault this Friday, whilst Perez continues at Silverstone-based squad for 2017. Some feel Perez is occupying his seat for one more year in the hopes of a seat at Ferrari for 2018, as the contracts of Raikkonen and Vettel end next season. Other believe he has an eye on a seat at McLaren, but his relationship with the Woking-based squad was tarnished by his poor 2013 season with them.

Felipe Massa & Valtteri Bottas (Williams, P9 & P10)

An average season continues for this Banbury-squad, as retiring veteran Massa finally got one over his fledgling tam-mate Bottas. The Finn is rumoured to be lined up for the second seat at Renault, who are looking to revamp their team after a dismal 2016. Rumours of Lance Stroll & Felipe Nasr continue unabated, but outsiders such as Daniil Kvyat, Romain Grosjean & Pascal Wehrlein remain in the frame for seats at Williams.

REJECT OF THE DAY

Esteban Gutierrez (Haas, P20)

The 25 year-old Mexican’s hopes of a seat for 2017 continue to plummet by each passing race. Despite vowing to end his hoodoo of continually finishing P11, Gutierrez succeeded to outsmart himself and limp home in P20, a staggering ten places lower than where he started. The Haas car may be difficult to drive in race conditions, but he surely isn’t going to attract any suitors after this farcical performance.

Losers

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes, P3)

The Englishman went into Japan ill-affording more points conceded to his arch-nemesis Rosberg, but once again Hamilton was completely trumped. There may be 100 points still available, but Rosberg can now finish P2 in the remaining four Grands Prix and win his first drivers’ championship, so Hamilton is in dire need of divine intervention. Speculation over what caused his poor starts left conspiracy theorists raging again, ranging from the damp surface on his particular gird slot of P2, where FIA had explicitly banned any drying of the start-finish straight 30 minutes before the race’s start, to his clutch slipping again. There was consternation over Verstappen’s defensive manoeuvre on the penultimate lap, however in hindsight, Hamilton could have chosen the outside line to avoid such a hoodwink. This will prove academic if Rosberg wins just one more race and seal this year’s title emphatically.

McLaren Honda (P-Nowhere)

In the space of just one Grand Prix weekend, McLaren swing from a double-points finish at Sepang to a horror return to the atrocious displays of their annus horribilis of 2015. Somehow, they failed to find a suitable set-up for Suzuka and this time they could not blame Honda; their chassis never achieved an optimum level of grip and handling required for the elevation changes in the fast corners, leaving Alonso and Button to perform even more abjectly in front of the “home” crowd than they did last year.

Blue Flags

On the tight, twisty confines of Suzuka, traffic was always going to be a major gremlin for front-runners, but the non-existent attrition rate of this year’s display left the big boys fuming in disgust. Depending on your criteria, this year’s Japanese Grand Prix is only the fifth in F1 history (and second race this season after Chinese Grand Prix) to have all starters finish past the chequered flag and classified, whereas if you include last year’s race (where Felipe Nasr’s Sauber was classified despite retiring two laps shy of the full distance) and the dubious 2005 US Grand Prix (where only six cars started and finished after the Michelin-shod cars withdrew before the start), this is the seventh race in F1 history to have all starters classified.

Pascal Wehrlein (Manor, P22)

The German joins Hans Hermann, Narain Karthikeyan and Jolyon Palmer on the ignoble list of drivers who finished last in races where starters finished. Of course, Patrick Friesacher and Felipe Nasr join the list if you include the classification of the actual starters and retired cars classified having completed at least 90% of the race distance.

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix Review: Up In Smoke

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DRIVER OF THE DAY

Nico Rosberg (P3)

A superb comeback after having been tapped around at Turn 1 on the first lap by Sebastian Vettel, thus being dropped to 21st. He may have been lucky in regards to Lewis Hamilton’s engine failure, which extended his championship lead to 23 points, but his tenacious overtakes were a sight to behold. His final pass of the race on Kimi Raikkonen was awe-inspiring in its execution, which was greeted by tumultuous approval from spectators. The stewards strangely decided to punished him with ten seconds added to his race time, but this was rendered academic by the German’s finishing margin of 13 seconds over the Finn. It was a performance of an increasingly probable world champion.

REJECT OF THE DAY

Lewis Hamilton (Ret, Engine)

Someone doesn’t want me to win this year but I won’t give up.

We have so many engines, but mine are the only ones failing. Someone needs to give me some answers.

A plethora of conspiracy theorists returned when the Briton appeared to insinuate accusations of sabotage within his Mercedes team. Hamilton is once again playing the victim card in the vein of his idol Ayrton Senna, leaving neutrals perturbed. The race result leaves the Briton requiring him to win all five remaining Grands Prix in order to win the WDC as a minimum requirement, barring any misfortunes for his embittered team-mate.

THE REST OF THE FIELD

Red Bull secured their first 1-2 since 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, with a thrilling tussle through turns 5-8 on lap 39, but the Virtual Safety Car summoned on lap 41 due to Hamilton’s engine denotation saw team orders enforce a processional finish. Daniel Ricciardo took a well-deserved first victory since 2014, whilst Max Verstappen was content with a strong display. Kimi Raikkonen had an average race with P4, whilst Valtteri Bottas brought cheer to his beleaguered Williams team, finishing P5 after starting P11. Sergio Perez again toppled team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, as the Force India achieved P6 and P8, which consolidated P4 in the constructors’ standings and stretched their lead over Williams by three points. McLaren highlighted their immerse progress once again, with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button securing P7 and P9. Button’s qualifying lap of 1:34.518 was a staggering seven seconds faster than his 2015 qualifying lap at Sepang of 1:41.636. Alonso started P22 thanks to an egregious 45-place grid penalty, but pounced at the chaos at turn 1 in order to elevate himself to P12 when the Virtual Safety Car was enforced on lap 1. Jolyon Palmer finally scored his first ever point in F1, which atoned for his lamentable spin in Hungary where he had been running P10 likewise. The lack of horsepower of 2015-spec Ferrari engines proved a major nuisance for Toro Rosso, whose drivers Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat coasted home in P11 and P14. Marcus Ericsson drove a composed race to P12 for Sauber, but Felipe Massa suffered a hellish race, where his car’s throttle failed temporarily on the parade laps and his race was littered by tyre punctures and various maladies, finishing P13. The Manors of Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon had a feisty dice throughout the race, finishing P15 and P16, last of the classified finishers. Haas had a calamitous day, with Romain Grosjean’s brakes failing on lap 8 whilst running P10 and Esteban Gutierrez forced to park up after his insufficiently secured wheel came loose on lap 40. Sebastian Vettel was eliminated with his overzealous lunge on Verstappen at turn 1, where contact with Rosberg wedged his front-left wheel askewed. The stewards punished the 29 year old German with a three grid penalty retrospectively for the next weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix. Kevin Magnussen and Felipe Nasr were the two other retirees, with power loss and brake failures respectively.

DOFD

Grosjean (2) Rosberg (3) Magnussen (1) Verstappen (3) Ricciardo (2) Bottas (1) Perez (1) Raikkonen (1) Alonso (1) Vettel (1)

ROFD

F1 Authorities X2 Williams X1 Vettel X1 Kvyat X1  Rosberg X2 Hamilton X3 Hulkenberg X1 Gutierrez X1 Palmer X1 Verstappen X2 Nasr X2 Ericsson X1

2016 Singapore Grand Prix: Max Mania Continues

DRIVER OF THE DAY

Sebastian Vettel (P5, Ferrari)

In a trouble-filled weekend with pace and reliability issues, the German’s drive from P22 to a solid P5 is testament to his combativeness. It would be easy for the four time champ to lose his marbles at the Scuderia’s state of affairs, but Vettel continues to preach belief and positively in his media statements.

WINNERS

Nico Rosberg (P1, Mercedes)

A very worthy candidate of Driver of the Day himself. This weekend, Rosberg decimated teammate Lewis Hamilton in a manner rarely seen throughout their partnership of the past four years. In the closing stages, Rosberg may have slipped up at the sight of a rampant Daniel Ricciardo looming in his mirrors in previous seasons, but the German held firm. Once seen as a certain nearly-man of F1, Rosberg has transformed his critics’ opinions and maybe 2016 could finally be his crowning glory.

Daniel Ricciardo (P2, Red Bull)

The Honey Badger continues his upturn in form since mid-July, this time comprehensively defeating tyro teammate Max Verstappen emphatically. His economic usage of supersofts underline his ascendancy, consolidating his credentials for a potential championship challenge in 2017. In the closing laps, Ricciardo sliced the deficit to Rosberg rapidly, but arguably if the race had lasted a lap longer, the Australian could have been toasting his first victory of the season with a “shoey”. Ricciardo was also awarded the fastest lap of the race, his third of the season.

Lewis Hamilton (P3, Mercedes)

The Briton had a strange weekend. Completely overshadowed by Rosberg amidst rumours of sabotage on social media, Hamilton’s race worsened when Kimi Raikkonen pounced and overtook adroitly on lap 32 to leave red faces within the Mercedes garage. Ferrari’s perplexing decision to switch Kimi’s softs to used ultrasofts ultimately saved Hamilton’s bacon, but momentum has now swung firmly in Rosberg’s favour.

Kimi Raikkonen (P4, Ferrari)

Another case of what if. The Iceman has a patience of gold, as surely an average driver would lost his frustration at the Maranello squad’s mounting foibles. A superb drive that deserved so much more, especially when considering how Kimi outpaced Vettel in all three practice sessions.

Fernando Alonso (P7, McLaren-Honda)

The polarising Spaniard continues his 2016 revival, as Alonso thoroughly exploited the precise characteristics of his McLaren chassis to another solid points haul, making his soft compounds in his final stint last 27 laps. Why Ferrari didn’t follow this tactical decision with Raikkonen is an utter mystery.

Sergio Perez (P8, Force India)

After his petulant display in Saturday’s qualifying, where he repeatedly blocked cars and failed to slow for yellow flags, Perez exploited the first lap safety car to switch to softs, making his second set of softs on his final stint last a mammoth 42 laps. The Mexican’s market value is booming again.

Daniil Kvyat (P9, Toro Rosso)

In a difficult 2016, where the Russian’s motivation has come under question, this was the feisty performance he desperately needed to prove his doubters wrong. His overtake and subsequent defending against his swap partner Max Verstappen had the hallmarks of an intense rivalry, but also defiance from Kvyat against his finicky employers. If Dany is to remain in F1 for 2017, it is almost certain to be with a non-Red Bull affiliated outfit, so it was vital for the Russian to sell himself with an exhilarating display.

Kevin Magnussen (P10, Renault)

2016 has been a continuous series of underwhelming results from the Enstone-based squad, so it was vital Magnussen picked up the team’s first points since Russia. A scintillating start followed by his consistent stints on supersofts is a welcome change in the Dane’s undistinguished recent performances.

REJECT OF THE DAY

Max Verstappen (P6, Red Bull)

The Dutchman sited clutch issues as the source of his pathetic start, but it was inexcusable how he blocked off Carlos Sainz, causing a fast approaching Nico Hulkenberg to smash into the Spaniard’s Toro Rosso and end the German’s race. The remainder of Verstappen’s Grand Prix saw him humiliated in a fascinating tussle with Kvyat, whose staunch defence served a taste of the bratty youngster’s own medicine. Finishing the race 70 seconds behind surging teammate Ricciardo and struggling heavily with tyre degradation, Max’s late charge did little to disguise his poor day.

2016 Italian Grand Prix Review

Driver of the Day

Nico Rosberg

Controlled a processional race from start to finish. Trails Lewis Hamilton by only two points in the world championship.

Reject of the Day

Felipe Nasr

Stupid move on Jolyon Palmer, which ended the Sauber driver’s race and the resultant damage to the Renault eventually forced the Briton to quit. You plonker.

2016 Belgian Grand Prix Review: The Dawn of a New Villian

After a months’ break, I actually lost interest in F1 completely. Therefore, I only realised there was a race proceeding at 1355BST today! By this time, I was perplexed to see Raikkonen, Vettel & Verstappen significantly beneath their grid positions within the race order. I was shocked further to see only sixteen laps having completed. The horrific colossal crash of Kevin Magnussen was cataclysmic and replay videos on social media stupefied numerous users, as shards of carbon fibre disintegrated and exposed the survival cell of his Renault.

However, replays of what happened on the first lap angered me so much, I proceed to retweet posts attacking an overconfident and severely conceited driver. Of course, I will give my view of the collision within my notorious Reject of the Day section, where I will provide justified condemnation of the culprit (clue: it’s not a Ferrari driver).

Nico Rosberg drove a composed race to lead from lights to flag, cutting Lewis Hamilton’s points lead to nine. The Briton himself drove eloquently, however, his progress had been assisted by the multitude of collisions within the mid-pack and Mercedes’ astute pit wall vaulted his car through the order with adroit pit stop timing. Daniel Ricciardo continued his renaissance, firmly reestablishing his status as team leader at Red Bull. The Honey Badger remains the closer challenger to Merc drivers within the WDC, as he sits 81 points behind Rosberg with 8 races and a maximum of 200 points remaining. It would take a brave soul to bet in favour of a Daniel Ricciardo world championship, which would be almost certainly be the greatest upset in F1 history. The Australian has still yet to win a race this season, coming closest in Monaco, where his calamitous pit stop debacle costed him victory as Red Bull’s engineers infamously forgot to instruct the mechanics to bring out the nominated tyre compounds, due to a poorly-timed impromptu call by the team to tell Ricciardo to enter the pits so soon. Keke Rosberg won his first and only race of his 1982 World Championship victory at round 14, the so-called “Swiss Grand Prix” held in Dijon, France. It is up for contention amongst historians, if Ricciardo won his first victory of 2016 at Singapore Grand Prix (Round 15) or even later, if that particular race victory would be considered as “first victory of a world championship victory won at the latest stage of the season” as 1982 only had sixteen races (so therefore Keke won his first race with only two races (12.5%) remaining), whilst 2016 has 21 scheduled races.

Force India had a marvellous race, as 4th and 5th clocked up 22 points, vaulting them above Williams into 4th place in the Constructors’ standings, an all-time high for the SIlverstone-based squad. It is a historic achievement and an emotional fillip for its owner Vijay Mallya, who has had a tumultuous year, having been deported to his home country of India to face charges of money laudering. The result further consolidates the reputation of Nico Hulkenberg, still a podium virgin despite being so highly regarded, whilst Sergio Perez ponders a move to his team’s aforementioned rivals or Renault. Williams, however, will be mildly satisfied with 8th and 10th for Bottas and Massa, having reversed a steady decline into the midfield pack during previous races, but attention will turn to 2017 so a fightback for 4th will be mostly half-hearted.

Driver of the Day 

Fernando Alonso (6th, McLaren-Honda)

The wizened Spaniard proved himself again to be arguably F1’s most complete driver, expertly slicing his way into points-paying positions, having starting last due to power unit component changes. One might suggest that Ron Dennis and his cronies would be wise to extend Alonso’s contract into 2018, as any major improvements next season would spur their star driver to stick out for a potential third and final WDC to crown a glittering career.

REJECT (Cunt) of the Day

Max Verstappen (11th, Red Bull and somehow not disqualified)

*Deep breath*

Let’s look at the photographic evidence of the Lap 1 incident at La Source.

It’s been made very clear by the FIA that breaching track limits will see offending drivers punished accordingly. Some defendants may argue that as Max’s front left tyre was on the outside of the white line and had marginal contact will the grey asphalt, he was entitled to use almost the whole kerb to overtake Raikkonen on the inside. Others would argue a more experienced driver would brake earlier and wait to attempt a manoeurve on the run up to Les Combes, an argument I firmly agree with. The main proponent of the defendant’s argument were that Vettel had squeezed Raikkonen back onto the inside too much, but his mirrors clearly could not show him Verstappen approaching and taking an almost illegal tight inside line at La Source.

Was Max Verstappen at fault for Lap 1 La Source collision? GUILTY

This photo displays Max Verstappen’s full view of where both Ferrari were positioned on the entry to La Source. A fully responsible, mature driver would eschew such a heedless attempt to regain position after such a poor start from the front row.

The aftermath of the incident shows the right sided tyres of Verstappen’s car were positioned outside of the yellow and green rumble strips of the kerb he was using. This surely is a blatant breach of FIA’s track limit regulations and arises suspicions of prospective favourism towards their fledgling poster boy.

Max Verstappen’s worst crimes, however, were committed on Laps 12 and 13 in the run up to Les Combes. On both laps, he jinked to the right frantically when he saw Raikkonen approaching the inside line and the gif of his block on Lap 13 illustrates clearly how the Dutchboy has no regard for his competitors’ livelihood.

Astonishingly, Max wasn’t finished with Raikkonen. He proceeded to clearly push the Finn off onto the run-off area at Les Combes, even driving his own four tyres off-track to block his rival off! How Kimi restrained himself from badgering Max with vitriol post-race, I’ll never know, but it proves the extreme moral control he has is something I admire passionately.

We mustn’t forget Verstappen doing exactly the same stunt on Sergio Perez later in the race…

…. seriously Charlie Whiting, Jean Todt and any other FIA delegates, you have a clear agenda to promote this starlet as F1’s future by indulging his whims!

Let’s hope I’m in a substantially improved mood by the conclusion of next week’s Italian Grand Prix.

2016 Hungarian & German Grands Prix Review

Hungarian Grand Prix

Driver of the Day (Kimi Raikkonen- 6th, Ferrari)

After yet another strategic blunder by the Ferrari pit wall in qualifying (*sigh*), the Iceman took matters into his own hands, dragging his recalcitrant SF16-H from a lowly 14th to a respectable 6th. If it wasn’t for Max Verstappen’s dubious defensive moves, an extra two points for fifth would have been emphatically justified for Kimi, who has recently signed a contract extension for 2017.

Reject of the Day (Jolyon Palmer- 12th, Renault)

Oh Jolyon. Just when the Briton finally appeared to be turning around a stinker of a debut season, Palmer inexplicably spun on the exit of Turn 4. A valuable point for 10th evaporated within a blink of an eye and perhaps his chances of a 2017 seat.

German Grand Prix

Driver of the Day (Daniel Ricciardo- 2nd, Red Bull)

After a few humbling performances by his tyro team-mate Verstappen, in which many believed the tide to be turning away from the Honey Badger, Ricciardo silenced his doubters with an exquisite run to 2nd. The Australian was able to translate his raw qualifying pace into genuine race pace and impressed many with his ability to latch onto the slides invoked by his supersoft Pirelli tyres as his stints wore on. Max, contrarily, had an average race by his standards but his stock still remains astronomically exorbitant.

Reject of the Day (Esteban Gutierrez- 11th, Haas)

It may appear contradictory to nominate a driver who has shown an upturn in form and is beating his highly-regard team-mate Romain Grosjean on all-round speed, but the Mexican’s inability to obey blue flags is almost bordering upon parody. How Gutierrez has escaped the sanctioning of penalty points upon his superlicence is something that is beyond common sense.

OTHER SPECIAL MENTIONS

List of FIA proposed rules that were swiftly scrapped this season

New Elimination Qualifying- SCRAPPED AFTER BAHRAIN

New Radio Rules- REVERTED TO OLD RADIO RULES PRE-2014

New Stricter Track Limits- REVERSED

WHAT ARE FUCKING JEAN TODT & CO DOING?!!!!

Oh and please show some consistency in your application of your penalties for contentious track limit incidents, such as how you’ve punished Rosberg twice for Austria and Germany, but refused to punish Hamilton for Lap 1 incident at Canada when he pushed the aforementioned driver off the track and ruined his race there and then.

Actually, we all know the word “consistency” doesn’t exist in your dinosaur age dictionary.

Ferrari

So a team that is desperately in need of developing creativity and innovation in its chassis design parted ways with James Allison. After losing the incredibly ingenious Aldo Costa to Mercedes in 2011, it appears the halycon Schumacher era remains a forgotten age that will not return for the immediate future. Absolutely pathetic, and don’t get me started on the incident where Vettel felt best to ignore team orders during the race at Hockenheim.