So Valtteri, that’s Pole Position – Q3 Results in Baku

So Valtteri, that’s Pole Position – Q3 Results in Baku

“So Valtteri, that’s pole position” said Bottas’s race engineer..

Max sat out a final run for whatever reason.  Crofty must have mentioned no issues queuing up with only 9 cars for the final run…there were only 8 cars.  It didn’t seem like Lewis was able to get his tires just right, which seemed unusual and another Mercedes domination and front row lockout.

oh, and let’s not forget Sebastian checking out Valtteri’s car, during the post qualifying interviews, like a prowling creeper…

Two questions remain in my mind: 1 – would Leclerc have taken pole had he not crashed? and 2 – why isn’t Vettel faster?

When the Long Game Goes wrong – Q2 Results Baku

When the Long Game Goes wrong – Q2 Results Baku

Ferrari came out as the only team on Mediums in Q2 trying to play the long game…or were they getting greedy that their car had so much more power than everyone else??  Yeah, it’s Ferrari so probably the latter.  Every other team was on softs.  Leclerc pushed a bit too hard and hit the same spot as Kubica in Q1.  “Hi, I’ so stupid” he said over the radio.  Charles is so hard on himself.  I love that he takes ownership of everything he does, but sometimes, shit happens.  I know he’ll move past this and still do well in the race tomorrow.


Just remember, “drive as close to the walls as you can without touching them”

Pierre lays down a flier – Baku Q1

Pierre lays down a flier – Baku Q1

Once again Hulkenberg is out of Q1.  He began his session by locking up at turn 3, but then again so did the five-time Champ, Lewis.  At least he’s in good company.  Would Vettel have finished higher in Q1 had his lap not been compromised??  Probably not in my opinion.  Ricciardo locks up big time and barely misses the wall at turn 15, and no surprise here Stroll hit the wall at turn 2.  Gasly, who is starting from pit lane tomorrow for a somewhat ridiculous rule (but rules are rules and everyone has to abide by them), laid down a blistering lap to top the young Charles Leclerc.  As those two are good friends off track, I’m sure Leclerc won’t mind, even if Pierre did have a tow…The session ended with Kubica in the Williams barely, barely pipping the inside wall at turn 8, breaking his suspension, and slamming his car into the wall, red flagging the session.

Through two…

Through two…

The Season so far…


Bottas – 44:  2019 WDC leader after 2 races. Superb start from P2 at the Aussie GP gave Bottas the lead, and he never looked back to take the win. Crucially defying team orders, he went for the fastest lap at the end of the race and got it, giving him the extra point which has given him the lead in the championship going into China. When Mercedes went to Bahrain, it appeared that their advantage from Australia had disappeared and was going to be damage control for the weekend against Ferrari. After a chaotic first lap battling the young Leclerc and his 5-time world champion teammate, Bottas dropped off the podium to P4. But with Ferrari’s bad luck, he was able to snatch the last spot of the podium at the end of the race by passing the stricken Ferrari of Leclerc claiming an important 18 points.


Hamilton – 43: After finishing 2nd to his teammate in Australia due to some conservative strategy from the Mercedes pit wall, he caught yet another break to take the top step of the podium in Bahrain for his 1st win of the season. A win mostly gifted by Ferrari’s power unit issues with Leclerc and, yet, another mistake by the 4-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel. A second place finish and a win proves another strong start by Lewis going into China.  The Mercs will have their work cut out for them to combat Ferrari’s pace in China though.


Verstappen – 27:  What must be a great start to the RB/Honda championship campaign, Max finds himself in 3rd place of the WDC after 2 races. At the Australian Grand Prix, Max grabbed the last spot on the podium to provide Honda’s 1st podium since the BAR days by passing a struggling Vettel, on lap 30 of the race, who ultimately finished over 30 seconds behind Max. In the night of the Bahrain GP, Max brought home another 12 points by finishing in P4 and what could have been another podium spot if there would have been another racing lap after the safety cars were deployed for the French cars of Hulkenberg and Ricciardo. But, Red Bull wasn’t in contention for the win all weekend and like Mercedes, they have work to do this weekend in China if they want to stay in touch with the leaders.


Leclerc – 26: The young rookie with Ferrari is currently in 4th ahead of his four time world champion teammate in the driver’s standing. So far in 2019, it is another case of Ferrari’s classic ‘Could have, should have, would have’. A lackluster Australian GP finish of 5th where the testing pace of the Ferrari magically disappeared and was ultimately told to stay behind Vettel has got to be a reality check for the rookie. Then a gut punch in Bahrain where a sure win was taken away by Ferrari reliability issues dropped him down to 3rd in the closing laps of the race. Charles will be looking for revenge in China, and he more than deserves it. Let’s hope the bad luck from Kimi’s old car has been used up in the first 2 races and Charles can re-start his 2019 campaign before it’s too late. The silver lining at Bahrain was picking 1 extra point for fastest lap. This may end up being useful later in the year.


Vettel – 22: Mediocre start of the season at best for the German. A 4th and a 5th place in the first two races leaves a lot of head starching in the German camp. The only positives thus far are some decent qualifying runs on Saturdays. Vettel needs to start making moves this weekend or risk team orders favoring his young teammate.  Do not rule this scenario out!


Raikkonen – 10:  A strong return to Sauber/Alfa Romeo for Kimi as he is enjoying a great start to the season. Kimi finished solid in the points for both races thus far with an 8th and 7th place. This nets the Iceman a total of 10 points and lands him 5th in the drivers standing. He is also making his team mate look bad as the other side of the garage has yet to score a point. Kimi looks to be relaxed and having some great fights in the midfield. He should be confident going into the next race where he last won in 2007 (his championship year).


Norris – 8:  Lando’s year is getting off to a good start. The rookie made it into Q3 for the Australian GP qualifying starting P8.  He wasn’t able to to convert it into points though. He bounced back in Bahrain finishing P6 (best of the rest) netting him 8 valuable points. And remains the only points scored by a Mclaren driver this year. The midfield battle is going to be tight this year. He needs to keep scoring points and ensure Mclaren stays on the pointy end of the grid.


Magnussen – 8:  Kmag again pulling the weight for Haas, while his teammate struggles on track. Kevin took the best of the rest honor in Australia in P6 with 8 points. In Bahrain, they couldn’t convert their strong Friday/Saturday pace into a points finish. It was a tough night for Kevin in the desert as he drifted out of the top 10 and finishing a lap down in P13.


Hulkenberg – 6: The Hulk has been driving great this year. A strong start down under with a P7 finish, he continued his form in Bahrain through Friday practice. A poor qualifying ended with him not making it out of Q1. Not to worry, as soon as the lights went out, the German was storming up the field and got up to the top 10. He was poised for a great points finish, beating his new teammate 2 races in a row when the French car shut down on him. A double DNF for the Renault team sure put a smile on Christian Horner’s face. Hey Cyril, you guys better lock it up for China.


Gasly – 4: Oh Pierre, P11 in Australia and a lowly P8 in Bahrain is not a good start at all at the Senior Red Bull team. Sure, there might be set up issues or the car is geared more towards Max’s liking, but these results are not going to be tolerated by Marko for long. If this slump continues, the Torpedo might be getting his seat back.


Stroll – 2: The billion dollar kid is currently 11th in the drivers standings with 2 points. More importantly, he has 1 more point than his teammate. That’s about it…pretty boring season from Racing Point this year. Next…


Albon – 2: Another rookie with points already in the bag. Albon finished out of the points in Australia but came back strong in Bahrain to finish P9 with 2 points. Note he was only 4 secs back from the newly promoted Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly.


Kvyat – 1: Torpedo snatched the last point in Australia but had a disappointed race in Bahrain. Starting 15th on the grid, Daniil made HUGE gains (note sarcarm) to finish a dismal 1 lap down in P12. Is Max the only one drinking Red Bulls in this team??


Perez – 1: Checo was able to finish P10 beating his teammate at the last race to score 1 point thus far this year. Racing Point has got work to do. Is Papa Stroll’s money injection going to turn into performance ever??


Giovinazzi – 0: Tough situation to be in for Gio. Zero points so far and Kimi is making this kid look bad. Both races Gio has been out qualified by the 2007 champ and both races he has finished outside of the points. He might want to consider asking his teammate if he can tag along on Kimi’s party nights to get some mojo…


Russell – 0: The F2 champion’s F1 career start with the Williams has been…well it started. Zero points to show (like we were expecting any) in the slowest car on the grid has got to be disappointing to George who ended his last championship in F2 with on a high with a feature win and the championship. But hey, at least he has finished both races (more than Grosjean can say) and also finished higher than his teammate. This is going to be a long long season for George.  Hopefully he gets his shot with a real team soon.


Kubica – 0:  Not much to say here. Robert’s best laps this year has come from his cycling laps around the grand prix circuits. Was taking this Williams race seat was the best idea for him?


Ricciardo – 0: Did Danny Ric bring all his bad luck from Red Bull to Renault? This guy can’t catch a break!! I hope his Renault company car is a bit more reliable than his Red Bull was towards the end of last year. Look for Daniel to rebound in China. He still needs to get used to the 2019 Renault and get his late breaking mojo back. Also his experienced German teammate is no slouch. It will be long road for Danny in 2019.  Believe me though, he will be back before long!


Sainz – 0: Poor Carlos, two races, two DNFs. He must have gotten Fernado’s car from last year. Carlos must score some points in China to keep Mclaren in contention this year.


Grosjean – 0: Does this guy even exist? Checking the official website drivers standing, he is not even listed. Guess when you DNF both races and wasn’t even classified for Bahrain’s finishing order, you don’t deserve to be on the board, or maybe even a race seat….


Also, if you haven’t checked out the Bahrain GP Podcast, be sure to do so…

Sebastian Vettel: Pressure mounting on error-prone Ferrari driver – Jolyon Palmer

Sebastian Vettel: Pressure mounting on error-prone Ferrari driver – Jolyon Palmer

Former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer, who left Renault during the 2017 season, is part of the BBC team and offers insight and analysis from the point of view of the competitors Sebastian Vettel’s performance at the Bahrain Grand Prix has raised serious questions – about his series of unforced errors, about his status within Ferrari and about his claim to be a potential world champion this year. A spin while battling with Lewis Hamilton and a weekend on which he was out-paced by his new team-mate were exactly what Vettel did not need just two races into the new season. The German came into 2019 needing to bury memories of 2018, when Ferrari had the fastest car for much of the season. Vettel had it within his hands to win a fifth world title, but a series of errors cost him that chance. A crash out of the lead in Germany, and spins in Italy, Japan and the United States all left a lot of doubts. As such, Vettel would have welcomed the winter break by the time Abu Dhabi came around last November. The off-season is the perfect time to get away from Formula 1 and the mental anguish it can sometimes bring. The season is unrelenting – 21 races across five continents over nine months. Every day the drivers are at the track they are answering questions from the media, and that can be particularly tough when you are on a bad run, as Vettel was in 2018. But just two races into 2019 and the very same questions will be asked once more, and this time they will be asked louder.

An ‘amateur’ error from a four-time champion

Vettel damaged his left rear tyre and front wing when he spun on lap 38 in Bahrain Vettel’s spin in the race in Bahrain was amateur. Defending from Hamilton on the run up to Turn Four, Vettel did the right thing to cover the inside. But then Hamilton swept around him with a brilliant move, throwing caution to the wind by going so late on the brakes and attacking the corner with so much speed. The move was done. Vettel then lit up the rear tyres, too heavy on the throttle on the exit and simply spun the car. He was clearly flustered by the Mercedes coming through and panicked. The spin was different to his three at the back end of last year because this one was on the exit of the corner, rather than on the entry or at the apex with a car squeezing him from the outside. But the reason for it seems to be the same – panic in the heat of battle. Conditions were tough. High winds play havoc with the balance of an F1 car. They make them so difficult and unpredictable to drive because the cars rely on having the perfect airflow to make the downforce work. On top of that, in Bahrain the desert wind can blow sand onto the track. So not only is fluctuating downforce an issue but the track grip can reduce as well. But this is a weak excuse for a spin of that simplicity. If a backmarker rookie had spun in the manner Vettel did, they would have been a laughing stock after the race. For a four-time world champion to do so should be unthinkable. Mistakes happen, but this is now four spins in Vettel’s past 10 races going back to Monza last year. That’s clearly an unacceptable trend for a championship challenger.

Leclerc ‘much better than a wingman’

Media playback is not supported on this device ‘Leclerc has to be a title contender’ After a lacklustre opening weekend in Melbourne, Ferrari found their feet in Bahrain and had pace on the field all weekend long. But Vettel has another headache – his team-mate, Charles Leclerc. Leclerc has stepped up to replace Kimi Raikkonen, who Vettel comfortably had the measure of during their four years together as Ferrari team-mates. The feeling at Ferrari was that the 21-year-old from Monaco would probably still play second fiddle this year to Vettel, their lead driver and championship challenger for the past couple of years. That was emphasised with team orders to keep Leclerc behind Vettel in the closing stages of the Australian Grand Prix. But in Bahrain Leclerc showed he is much better than a wingman driver. Pole position on Saturday by 0.3secs over his team-mate, and two laps that would have taken pole as well, show this was no flash in the pan. Interestingly, Ferrari still tried to impose team orders in the race, once Vettel had passed Leclerc at the start. But Leclerc’s pace was so much better he simply defied them. He caught his team-mate, passed him and pulled out a healthy advantage. If Vettel was feeling some heat after qualifying, with Leclerc taking Ferrari’s first pole of the year, he must have been feeling pretty awful after his team-mate breezed past around the outside of Turn One early in the race, despite Vettel’s best attempts to keep him behind. Leclerc then held Vettel off with ease as they got to Turn Four and disappeared up the road.

Can Vettel handle the pressure?

Max Verstappen is five points ahead of Vettel in the 2019 drivers’ championship All of these factors add pressure on Vettel. Inside the car it can be lonely during a race. You are left alone with your thoughts for an hour and a half, in the pursuit of perfection, corner after corner, lap after lap. I’m sure Vettel was feeling immensely frustrated by the time he was fighting off Hamilton for second place. One thing Vettel has not been able to do well since his Red Bull days is handle the pressure. This is a key flaw at the moment and one that played a big part in his failure to win a title in either 2017 and particularly 2018. His new, fast team-mate and his Bahrain spin only amplify the pressures. So where does he go from here? He simply must get his head down and deliver consistently and not spin again for a very long time – all season, basically, if he wants to be champion by the final race in Abu Dhabi on 1 December. That’s easier said than done, because next time Vettel heads into wheel-to-wheel combat, with a car on his outside, he is sure to be wary of his mistakes. But if he’s too cautious as a result he will be dead meat in the competitive front order. As soon as you are seen as a soft touch, people will be even more elbows out, lunge at you from further back and get even more aggressive with you, taking risks they perhaps wouldn’t otherwise. Max Verstappen is an example for Vettel to follow. After six races last year, the Red Bull driver had had incidents in every single one, and the criticism and pressure were mounting, particularly after then team-mate Daniel Ricciardo’s win in Monaco, while Verstappen had to start from the back after a crash in practice. Verstappen has responded perfectly. He’s so much more polished as a driver since then. He silenced the critics with his performances. He is still undeniably aggressive, as shown once more in Bahrain, but an element of control has entered his driving and he no longer faces the monotonous weekly scrutiny of the media.

Where do Ferrari go from here?

Ferrari have confirmed Leclerc will use the same engine in China as the one that cost him victory in Bahrain As a team, Ferrari face an extremely interesting situation. The star driver has been outperformed by the young hot shoe, but let’s not forget this is just one race. Having said that, for Leclerc to look so good so early on is particularly impressive, even more so given how other drivers – such as Pierre Gasly at Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo at Renault – have struggled to adapt to changing teams over the winter. Leclerc, by contrast, has taken it in his stride. Ferrari don’t need to do anything right now, but clearly it would be foolish to impose any more team orders while it is unclear who the stronger driver will be over the course of the season. Crucially, the pace of the car was good in Bahrain, where they were a few tenths of a second ahead of Mercedes. So the main priority will be clawing back the points they have already lost to their German counterparts. But they have to make the most of their pace advantage now. Leclerc should have won the race comfortably in Bahrain. Aside from a poor start, he drove the absolute perfect race. And being slow off the line allowed him to display his overtaking skills as well, as he scythed past Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Vettel with ease. His engine letting him down in the closing stages will have hurt a lot, and you could hear the anguish over the team radio at the time. He should have had a first F1 win. But after the race he was very accepting of it. Leclerc had had a number of laps to accept his fate, so the failure wasn’t as raw as if it had been on the last lap. And yes, the double Renault retirement and subsequent safety car saved his maiden podium, making him “lucky in an unlucky situation”, as he put it. But this was a man who was justifiably happy with his weekend’s work. He knew he had upset the apple cart in Bahrain. Even with an engine problem, he beat his team-mate with ease. The world was talking about him, Vettel was crumbling, and with Ferrari’s pace advantage that first win will surely be around the corner. Source
Lewis nearly Torpedoed

Lewis nearly Torpedoed

Lewis Hamilton gives F1 and Coffee our first endorsement, sort of.  Ok, not at all, but it almost seems planned…So Congrats and thank you to Lewis for making F1C Select!  Congratulations Lewis!!

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