Author Archives: Alex Booth

F1 Blast from the Past: Button Ends Long Wait for First Formula 1 Victory

Background

Round 13 of the 2006 Formula One World Championship was at the Hungaroring, near Budapest. Fernando Alonso continued to lead the driver’s standings coming into the weekend, but a recent drop in form coming off the back of Renault’s mass damper controversy had allowed the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher to close in. Three consecutive victories for the German had allowed him to close to the gap to Alonso to just 11 points.

Alonso and Schumacher’s title battle would define the 2006 season

Following the departure of Juan Pablo Montoya after the United States Grand Prix, another big name had left the sport before Hungary. Jacques Villeneuve was deemed unfit to drive following his crash at the German Grand Prix the previous week and was replaced by Poland’s Robert Kubica. However, the 1997 World Champion parted company with the BMW Sauber team permanently.

Qualifying

The weekend got off to a controversial start when championship leader Alonso felt that Red Bull’s third driver Robert Doornbos had impeded him during Friday’s second practice session. The Spaniard remonstrated furiously with the Dutchman and brake tested him. Alonso was handed a one-second time penalty for each part of qualifying.

To make matters worse, he incurred the same penalty for overtaking under waved yellow flags later in the session.

The only F1 race in Eastern Europe produced plenty of penalties for the top dogs. Image: ppm Hungary

The defending world champion wasn’t the only one in trouble, though. Jenson Button’s Honda engine failed in Saturday morning’s practice session, giving the Englishman a 10-place grid penalty.

However, the other championship contender also found himself in hot water. Kubica followed Alonso around the final corner as both slowed following the red flag, but Schumacher drove round the outside of both of them. Subsequently, the German also gained a two-second penalty for each part of qualifying.

Kimi Raikkonen avoided the controversy to take his second pole position in as many weeks. The Finn was ahead of the two Brazilians of Felipe Massa in the Ferrari and Rubens Barrichello’s Honda. While the penalties imposed resulted in Schumacher starting 11th, Button 14th and Alonso 15th.

Slip and slide at the start

For the first time in its history, the Hungarian Grand Prix started in wet conditions. The 70 laps got underway with Raikkonen holding his lead, but Massa made a poor getaway as Barrichello and the second McLaren of Pedro de la Rosa got ahead.

It was very much sink or swim at the start of the 2006 Hungarian GP. Image: The Checkered Flag

Further back, both Schumacher and Alonso made excellent starts. Schumacher was quickly up to fifth and by the end of the lap had disposed of Giancarlo Fisichella’s Renault for fourth. Alonso had surged through the field and was only two places behind in sixth after dismissing Massa’s Ferrari into the final corner.

Alonso then quickly got past his teammate Fisichella for fifth before hunting down Schumacher. Despite their grid penalties, unbelievably they were dicing for fourth after just a few laps.

READ MORE BLAST FROM THE PAST: SCHUMACHER AND ALONSO DUEL IN THE DESERT

On Lap Four, Alonso boldly passed Schumacher round the outside of Turn Five. Button also got the better of Schumacher on lap seven, the German had started on full wet tyres and as the track was briefly drying, the Ferrari was on the backfoot.

On Lap 17, Giancarlo Fisichella was battling with Schumacher when the German caught a snap of oversteer and tagged the Italian, damaging his front wing. Schumacher sunk to ninth, while Alonso found himself in the lead after both McLaren’s made their first pit-stops.

A race of attrition

The rain began to get heavier and on Lap 18, Fisichella spun off at Turn 8, the damage ended his race. Robert Kubica also spun at Turn Five and would head to the pits for a new nosecone. On Lap 26 the Safety Car was brought out after a terrifying incident which saw Raikkonen launch over the back of the Toro Rosso of Vitantonio Liuzzi.

The Italian had backed off to let the McLaren lap him, but Raikkonen was caught out by the deceleration and couldn’t avoid the Toro Rosso. Alonso used the opportunity to make his first pit-stop and retained his lead from Button and de la Rosa.

The race restarted on Lap 32 and Schumacher’s incident-packed race continued when he collided with David Coulthard’s Red Bull at Turn 2 and spun, but quickly recovered. Button was flying in the Honda as the track was drying out again, setting the fastest lap of the race thus far and closing in on Alonso. Kubica was also recovering well, catching Massa napping and moving into the points.

At the end of Lap 46, Button headed to the pits for his second fuel stop, he was followed soon after by Schumacher. Neither opted to change their tyres. Alonso then made his stop on Lap 51, relinquishing the lead to Button but the Englishman would have to pit again. However, the Renault had a problem exiting the pits, the driveshaft had failed leaving the Spaniard careering into the tyre barrier at Turn 2 and out of the race for the first time in 2006.

READ MORE BLAST FROM THE PAST: SCHUMACHER AND ALONSO DUEL AT IMOLA 2005

Button was then left with a comfortable lead, Schumacher was up to second but his gamble to stay on intermediates didn’t pay off as de la Rosa and Nick Heidfeld, both on dry tyres, began to catch him. With just six laps to go, de la Rosa made a move down the inside going into the chicane, Schumacher straight-lined the chicane and refused to concede the position to the Spaniard.

On the next lap, de la Rosa attempted the manoeuvre again, Schumacher cut the chicane for the second time but the McLaren made it through to second place. One lap later at the same spot, Heidfeld tried the same move, Schumacher refused to yield and there was contact, it was the Ferrari that came off worse with a broken right-front track rod. A frustrating weekend finally came to an end for Schumacher.

At the front, Jenson Button, in his 113th Grand Prix, finally scored his first victory after a brilliant drive from 14th on the grid. Pedro de la Rosa followed him home in second for his first career podium finish, and Nick Heidfeld took BMW Sauber’s first podium finish. There hadn’t been a happier podium for a long time.

Barrichello completed Honda’s day with fourth place ahead of Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher. Robert Kubica finished seventh on his debut but was excluded for an underweight car. Leaving Felipe Massa picking up two points and Michael Schumacher salvaging the final point after been classified two laps down.

It had been a long time coming but Jenson Button had answered his critics and had become a Grand Prix winner in one of the most entertaining races in modern Formula 1 history.

Grid Talk Podcast

If you want more content to preview your Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, the Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast. George Howson hosted Jack Watson, Alex Booth and Phil Mathew in their Hungarian GP Prixview. Both audio and video versions of the show are available below:

F1 Blast from the Past: Mansell bests Piquet in Brilliant British GP Battle

Background

The 1987 Formula 1 season was approaching its half-way point as the championship rolled into Silverstone for the British Grand Prix.

Local hero Nigel Mansell was confident coming into his home Grand Prix, after victories at Brands Hatch in the previous two years. The first half of the season had proven troublesome for the Englishman, but a victory at Paul Ricard had elevated him up to fourth in the World Championship.

Senna led the driver’s championship after Round 6. Image: Pinterest

Brazilian Ayrton Senna still topped the driver’s standings with 27 points, one point ahead of compatriot Nelson Piquet and three ahead of double World Champion Alain Prost.

1987 would mark the first time Silverstone would permanently host the British Grand Prix and the circuit had been slightly modified with a chicane added between Bridge and Woodcote. However, the changes were not met with praise from the drivers, Englishman Martin Brundle in particular labelling the slow corner as “everything Silverstone is not.”

Qualifying

Qualifying unsurprisingly saw the Honda-powered cars lead the way, though the patriotic British crowd would not get the result they wanted. Nelson Piquet secured pole position by just seven hundredths of a second. Mansell’s last-ditch effort to take pole resulted in a spin at the new chicane.

Nelson Piquet claimed pole position in Silverstone. Image: Motor Sport Magazine

Senna was third, over a second shy of pole position, with Prost fourth and the two Benetton-Ford’s of Thierry Boutsen and Teo Fabi completing the top six.

Race day

Race day brought a hot summer’s afternoon for 65 laps of Silverstone. As the lights turned green, it was Alain Prost who made a demon start from the second row to jump into the lead at Copse, but the Honda power of the Williams was quickly able to rectify the situation, as Piquet re-took the lead at Becketts.

Nigel Mansell then demoted Prost to third going into Stowe corner, with Senna fourth, Boutsen fifth and the Ferrari of Michele Alboreto in sixth.

The opening laps saw the two Williams establish their superiority as they screamed away into the distance. A rare mistake for Prost at Copse saw Senna relegate the Frenchman back to fourth. But it wasn’t to last long as Senna began to hold up a train of cars as the Brazilian tried to maintain his tyres, Prost snatched back third position soon after going into Copse corner, redeeming himself for his earlier error.

Senna did his best to keep up with the Williams, but would eventually find himself a lap down. Image: Essaar.

The high-speed nature of Silverstone would lead to unreliability. After just eight laps, Andrea de Cesaris made a dramatic exit in the Brabham when the BMW blew its turbo. Stefan Johansson in the second McLaren wouldn’t last much longer, as the TAG Porsche engine gave up the ghost on Lap 19. Ten laps later, Brabham’s woes continued as Riccardo Patrese retired, again with a blown turbo.

On Lap 35, Nigel Mansell made an unexpected visit to the pits, the general consensus at Williams was that this would be a race without the need for tyre stops, however a balance weight had come off the left front wheel resulting in vibrations.

Mansell’s comeback

The Williams mechanics performed the tyre change in 9.5 seconds and the Englishman re-joined the race, albeit 29 seconds behind teammate Piquet. With a fresh set of tyres Mansell began close on Piquet at a rate of over a second per lap, ignoring his fuel consumption read out in the process.

Mansell was pushing as hard as he could to close the gap. Image: LAT Photographic

Ferrari’s disappointment continued Berger had already retired early on after a skirmish with Derek Warwick’s Arrows and on Lap 52 Michele Alboreto’s race came to an end with suspension problems. Prost lost fourth place one lap later when his engine cried enough.

After repeatedly breaking the lap record and with the help of backmarkers, Mansell to drew ever closer to Piquet and by Lap 62, he was right on the Brazilian’s tail.

On Lap 63 he seized his chance as he moved out of Piquet’s slipstream. He sold his teammate a dummy going down Hangar Straight and Piquet reacted to the move, leaving the inside line exposed and Mansell took the lead in a superb manoeuvre, the 100,000+ British crowd were ecstatic.

Mansell crossed the line to win, the eighth victory of his career. The Williams-Honda blew its engine on the slowing down lap due to the stresses of running on full power for numerous laps and Mansell was engulfed by the spectators invading the circuit.

Joining the Williams pair on the podium was Ayrton Senna, finishing a worrying entire lap down. His teammate Satoru Nakajima scored his best ever result in fourth, completing a Honda top four lockout. Derek Warwick finished fifth on home soil with Teo Fabi in sixth.

It was Nigel Mansell’s third victory in front of a British crowd and undoubtedly one of the finest drives of his career.

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview your British Grand Prix weekend? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their British GP Prixvew. Ruby Price hosted Owain Medford, Louis Edwards and Phil Mathew in the latest podcast. Both audio and video versions are linked below:

F1 Blast From the Past: Scintilating Race Produces Ultra-close Finish

Background

Round 13 of the 16-race 1982 Formula 1 World Championship was at the ultra-fast Osterreichring, the home of the Austrian Grand Prix. These were long before the days of the modern Spielberg circuit, but some sections of this track are comparable to today’s.

We had sadly already seen the last GP performance by the great Didier Pironi after Germany. Image: Motor Sport Magazine

In the driver’s championship, Didier Pironi was top of the standings with 39 points. However, the Ferrari driver wouldn’t compete in Formula 1 again after his horror-crash at the Hockenheimring. That meant that McLaren’s John Watson was in the de facto lead of the championship on 30 points.

Behind Watson, it was very close, with Keke Rosberg on 27 points, Alain Prost on 25 and Niki Lauda on 24.

READ MORE F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST: VILLENEUVE & ARNOUX’S MESMERIC FRANCE SHOWDOWN

Qualifying

The turbocharged Brabham BMWs really showed what they were made of in qualifying, with reigning World Champion Nelson Piquet taking pole position, three tenths of a second clear of team mate Riccardo Patrese.

Piquet claimed Brabham’s only pole of 1982 in Austria

Prost’s Renault was third, over a second shy of Piquet’s time, with Patrick Tambay fourth. The Frenchman being Ferrari’s sole entry after Didier Pironi’s horrifying accident at Hockenheim the previous week.

Race Day

There was drama right from the start of the 53 laps. Andrea de Cesaris in the Alfa Romeo was over-zealous in his getaway and swerved into the side of teammate Bruno Giacomelli, eliminating both of them on the spot. Derek Daly in the Williams was also caught up in the melee, ending the Irishman’s race scarcely before it had begun too.

A few drivers didn’t go any further than the start line in Austria

Piquet led away while Prost had made a good start to move ahead of Patrese. Although, the Italian quickly rectified the situation and re-took Prost for second midway through the opening lap. Patrese then overtook Piquet to move into the lead on Lap 2.

READ MORE F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST: SENNA AND MANSELL COLLIDE AT ESTORIL

Patrick Tambay’s Ferrari suffered a puncture which dropped the sole Ferrari right out of contention as the Frenchman toured back to the pits. This left the two Renault’s of Prost and René Arnoux behind the Brabham’s. The dramatic opening continued when Michele Alboreto spun his Tyrrell into the wall, ending what could have been a promising race for the young Italian.

Brabham make history

The two Brabham’s appeared peerless as they stormed away into the distance. Throughout the latter half of the 1982 season, the team had run the opening stints of the races on half tanks of fuel. With the plan being to make a refuelling stop at half distance. This was at odds with the usual strategy of doing the entire race without a fuel stop.

The unreliability of the BMW engine and some bad luck had prevented the team from achieving their goal thus far. But, in Austria, the plan finally came to fruition as Piquet made the first fuel and tyre stop in modern Formula 1 history, re-joining in fourth place behind Elio de Angelis’ Lotus.

Patrese led the race after Piquet’s stop. Image: Motorsport Images

Riccardo Patrese was on his own at the front and made his stop shortly after Piquet. The Brabham mechanics completed the turnaround in 14 seconds to ensure the Italian re-joined without losing the lead.

But Brabham’s mechanical gremlins were not far away, three laps after his stop, Patrese suffered an engine failure and spun spectacularly onto the grass, coming to rest on the banking. Prost inherited the lead from de Angelis with Piquet third. However, the Brazilian’s pace was dropping, and on Lap 32, he suffered his seventh retirement of the season with an electrical failure.

READ MORE F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST: A LEGEND IS BORN AT ESTORIL ’85

Prost led by over half a minute from de Angelis, while Keke Rosberg in third began to close rapidly on the Lotus after Piquet’s demise. On Lap 49, just four laps shy of the chequered flag, the Renault ground to halt with an injector problem. Prost rued his ninth retirement of the season as he sombrely walked back to the pits, his title chances slipping even further away.

Frantic Final Laps

At the front, de Angelis took the lead with Rosberg behind, both drivers looking for their first Grand Prix victory. The Italian started the final lap over a second ahead of the Finn, but Rosberg was not ready to throw in the towel and clawed the deficit back.

The Italian was having to watch his fuel consumption, allowing Rosberg to close right onto his gearbox as the pair entered the Jochen Rindt Kurve for the final time. Rosberg took the inside line coming out of the corner onto the start finish straight to pull alongside the Lotus but de Angelis just held on by a mere 0.050 seconds. One of the closest finishes in Formula 1 history.

de Angelis celebrates his incredible victory over the line.

Elio de Angelis was ecstatic with his first victory, despite just missing out Rosberg nonetheless boosted his title chances with second place, the Finn was now just six points behind the stricken Didier Pironi the World Championship after moving ahead of John Watson who was suffering a run of poor form.

The Ulsterman had now gone five races without scoring points. Third place was Jacques Laffite in the Ligier, a welcome boost for the Frenchman after a miserable season, while Tambay recovered to fourth. Niki Lauda came home fifth on home soil after a low-key race for McLaren, with the final point been taken by Mauro Baldi in the Arrows.

READ MORE: STYRIAN GRAND PRIX 2020 – RACE REVIEW

The Austrian Grand Prix of 1982 was the great Lotus team’s 73rd victory, but sadly it would prove to be the last for legendary founder Colin Chapman before his untimely death four months later.

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview your Styrian Grand Prix weekend? Never fear, the Grid Talk crew are here with their 2021 Styrian GP preview! George Howson hosted Louis Edwards and Garry Sloan in their latest podcast. Both audio and video versions of the show are available below:

F1 Blast From the Past: Villeneuve & Arnoux’s Mesmeric France Showdown

Background

Formula 1 returned to action after a five-week break for the French Grand Prix at the fast Dijon-Prenois circuit, the eighth round of the 1979 World Championship.

The Swedish Grand Prix was discontinued for 1979 Following the tragic losses of two Swedish drivers; Ronnie Peterson and Gunnar Nilsson in 1978. This is what caused the extended interval between Monaco and Dijon.

1976 Champion James Hunt said goodbye to Formula 1 racing less than three years after winning his title.

During the break, 1976 World Champion James Hunt had announced his retirement from Formula 1. His place at Wolf was taken by future world champion from Finland, Keke Rosberg. At Ligier, Patrick Depailler had broken both legs in a hang-gliding accident and Belgian veteran Jacky Ickx deputised. This was Ickx’s first Grand Prix appearance since the 1978 Swedish GP driving for Enisgn.

Qualifying

Ferrari’s Jody Scheckter led the World Championship with 30 points, six points ahead of Jacques Laffite with Gilles Villeneuve, Carlos Reutemann and Patrick Depailler all tied for third with 20 points. However, it was an all-French affair in qualifying, with the turbocharged Renault’s of Jean-Pierre Jabouille and René Arnoux occupying the front row.

Jabouille claimed his second pole of the season, but could he get his and Renault’s first win?

The Ferrari of Gilles Villeneuve lined up third ahead of the young Brazilian Nelson Piquet in the Brabham. Championship leader Scheckter was fifth, with double World Champion Niki Lauda sixth.

Race Day

Beneath a cloudy sky, 80 laps of Dijon got underway with Gilles Villeneuve making a superb getaway to take the lead into the first corner ahead of Jabouille, Scheckter and Piquet. René Arnoux made a poor start and found himself ninth at the end of the opening lap.

The Canadian began to extend his lead in the early stages, while further back Arnoux was recovering, overtaking Jacques Laffite at the end of lap two and quickly disposing of Alan Jones’ Williams to move into seventh place.

Arnoux had gotten off to a poor start but was quickly making up ground.

By Lap 11, Arnoux was fourth, passing Piquet’s Brabham at the Villeroy corner. Villeneuve continued to lead ahead of Jabouille and teammate Scheckter. Reigning World Champion Mario Andretti’s difficult season got no better when he headed for the pits with brake problems on the new Lotus 80. On Lap 15, Arnoux moved ahead of Scheckter for third place.

Another World Champion enduring a miserable season was Niki Lauda, the Austrian retiring for the seventh time in eight races after 24 laps. At the front, Jean-Pierre Jabouille was closing on race leader Villeneuve as the pair lapped the tail enders. Scheckter’s Ferrari was also coming under pressure from Nelson Piquet. The South African falling behind Piquet and Jones after 40 laps.

Changing of the guard

The battle for the lead was intensifying on Lap 45, with Villeneuve and Jabouille avoiding a wayward Bruno Giacomelli in the Alfa Romeo in the process. Two laps later, Jabouille utilised a tow from Elio de Angelis’ Shadow to take the lead from Villeneuve down the start-finish straight, much to the joy of the French crowd.

Further down the field, the attrition rate was building up, Jacky Ickx’s return to Grand Prix racing had been an unhappy one and he retired with an engine failure. While Nelson Piquet’s impressive run came to a premature and dramatic end after 52 laps with a shunt into the catch fencing, the Brazilian thankfully escaped unhurt.

Piquet’s dramatic shunt brought an end to his race.

Mario Andretti also retired when the problem on the Lotus’ brakes became terminal. Jody Scheckter addressed his lack of pace by making a pit-stop to change his tyres but this cost him a lot of time and he dropped from third to eighth, one lap down on the leaders.

The iconic scrap

In the closing stages, Jabouille had a comfortable lead, but behind him, a battle for second place was brewing as the Renault of Arnoux began to close fast on Gilles Villeneuve. On Lap 78, Arnoux seized his chance and took the inside line at Villeroy, but Villeneuve would not yield and held on round the outside, Arnoux took the position at Sabeliers.

Neither Villeneuve nor Arnoux would give an inch in this titanic scrap

Despite worn tyres, Villeneuve was not about to give up easily and at the start of Lap 79, he dived down the inside at Villeroy with all-four wheels locked and re-took second place. Arnoux closed back up on the Ferrari and lined up another move on Villeneuve as the pair started the final lap.

The Frenchman had the inside line into Villeroy, but Villeneuve continued alongside the Renault on the outside, the pair banged wheels at Sabeliers and Arnoux ran off-track as he moved ahead. Still, Villeneuve would not give way, the pair making contact again before Villeneuve re-claimed second place going into Paraboliuqe.

Almost 15 seconds ahead, Jean-Pierre Jabouille crossed the line to take his first career victory but behind him the battle for second was still not over. Arnoux tried hard to power past Villeneuve and complete a Renault one-two but the Canadian just had enough momentum to hold the Frenchman at bay. Behind them came Alan Jones, Jean-Pierre Jarier’s Tyrrell and Clay Regazzoni in the second Williams completing the top six places.

Jean-Pierre Jabouille cemented his place in the record books by taking the first ever victory for a turbocharged car, two years after making its debut at Silverstone. The first win for Renault was the start of the French manufacturer’s success over the next four decades, which included multiple championships.

However, the 1979 French Grand Prix will forever be remembered for featuring one of the finest examples of Grand Prix racing in the sport’s history, the legendary dice between Gilles Villeneuve and René Arnoux.

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview your French Grand Prix weekend? Never fear! The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their latest podcast. George Howson hosted Owain Medford, Steve Jackson and Tom Downey in their French GP Prixview. Both audio and video versions of the show are linked below:

F1 Blast from the Past: Formula 1 Produces Stunner in Baku

Formula 1 returned to Baku in 2017 for round eight of the World Championship. The street circuit had hosted the European Grand Prix the previous year, but ran under the title of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix for the first time.

The 2016 race was a dull affair which meant that few had high expectations for this round. However, we were treated to one of the best Grand Prix of the 21st century and one that produced some incredible results.

Background

Despite a Mercedes one-two finish in Canada two weeks earlier, Sebastian Vettel continued to lead the World Championship by 12 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton. The Silver Arrows continued their excellent form in qualifying, with Hamilton leading a Mercedes front row lockout ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Vettel was outqualified by his teammate Kimi Raikkonen as the Ferrari’s lined up on the second row. Max Verstappen qualified fifth ahead of the two Force India’s of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon. Lance Stroll managed eighth ahead of his Williams team mate Felipe Massa, while a crash for Daniel Ricciardo saw the Australian line up tenth.

Hamilton flew to another pole position in Baku. Image: Crash

Race day

51 laps of the Baku City Circuit got underway on a beautiful sunny afternoon, Hamilton maintained his lead from the start ahead of Bottas, Raikkonen and Vettel. At the first corner, Daniil Kvyat ran wide in the Toro Rosso, as he re-joined the circuit his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. spun in avoidance, the Spaniard just surviving a tap with the wall.

In Turn 2, Bottas clipped the kerb and collided with compatriot Raikkonen. The right-front tyre of the Mercedes was punctured and Bottas headed to the pits for repairs, falling a lap down on the leaders in the process.

Bottas was seemingly out of contention with a puncture on Lap 1. Image: F1 Fanatic

On Lap 6, Ricciardo made a pit-stop after picking up debris in his brakes, he re-joined in 17th. Kvyat’s day went from bad to worse on Lap 10, as his Toro Rosso came to a halt with an electronic failure. Red Bull’s senior team ran into more trouble when Max Verstappen’s race came to an end after just 12 laps with an oil pressure problem.

The marshals were unable to move Kvyat’s stricken car, so the Safety Car was deployed. Racing briefly resumed on Lap 17, but debris from Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari warranted another Safety Car period.

Contact between the championship contenders

Under the safety car on Lap 19, Vettel ran into the back of Hamilton, damaging his front wing and Hamilton’s diffuser. Vettel believed his rival had brake tested him and proceeded to drive alongside Hamilton and display his anger, in doing so, he made contact with the Mercedes.

Hamilton and Vettel collided under the Safety Car, but would either of them receive punishment?

One lap later, the race restarted with Hamilton leading and Vettel was under pressure from Felipe Massa in the Williams. Further back, the two Force India’s engaged in a fratricidal tussle, Ocon made a move down the inside of Perez but they came to blows on the exit as Ocon squeezed the Mexican into the wall. The Frenchman escaped with a punctured right-rear tyre, while Perez suffered damage to the front left wishbone which would later end his race.

The debris also had consequences for Räikkönen who picked up a puncture, this damaged the floor and rear wing of his Ferrari as he made his way to the pits.

Red Flag

The Safety Car was deployed for a third time and, after Fernando Alonso complained over the radio about the debris on the track, the race was red-flagged so that marshals could clear the track thoroughly. The red flag allowed the teams to work on their damaged cars, Vettel received a new front wing, while Mercedes judged the damage on Hamilton’s diffuser to be minimal.

Raikkonen was able to re-join, albeit a lap down. The Finn comically pleaded with his team over the radio to be handed his gloves and steering wheel abruptly. An oil leak would later end a miserable day for Raikkonen.

Kimi Raikkonen had another one of his classic radio moments in Azerbaijan.

With the track now clear, the race restarted, Hamilton again kept the lead from Vettel, the Williams pair of Massa and Stroll and Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault. Ricciardo made a bold move down the inside of turn one to move ahead of the Renault and both the Williams cars to take third place.

Massa’s race was compromised by suspension damage. He was quickly passed by Hulkenberg on the straight, while Kevin Magnussen in the Haas made a similar move to Ricciardo and overtook them both into the first corner. On Lap 25, a promising run for Hulkenberg came to a premature end as he clipped the apex of turn seven too hard and collided with the wall. A lap later, and Massa was forced to retire as his suspension problem became terminal.

On Lap 29, Hamilton was looking set for victory until his headrest became loose. Two laps later, he was forced by race control to pit for safety reasons. At the same time, Vettel’s earlier Safety Car shenanigans came back to haunt him, as he was given a 10-second stop/go penalty for dangerous driving.

The German came in to serve his penalty on Lap 33, re-joining the track in seventh place just ahead of Hamilton. All this had allowed Valtteri Bottas, who had lost a lap at the start of the race but regained it under the first safety car period, to jump back into contention and after passing Alonso, Magnussen and Ocon, the Finn found himself third.

Frantic Final Laps

At the front of the field, Ricciardo was leading comfortably ahead of Lance Stroll, but the Canadian could not relax as Bottas was closing quickly. Hamilton was running behind Vettel in fifth and tried to get the Mercedes team to instruct Bottas to slow his pace and allow Hamilton to close on Vettel, but this was refused as Bottas continued to pressure Stroll.

As the chequered flag fell, it was Daniel Ricciardo who took his and Red Bull’s first victory of 2017, but behind him, it was not over, as Bottas utilised his DRS to beat Lance Stroll over the line and take second place. The Canadian still had plenty to celebrate, becoming the second-youngest F1 podium finisher in history.

Nobody would’ve predicted this podium before race day.

The only consolation for Vettel was that he managed to outscore Hamilton by two points, rounding off a bad day for the title contenders. Ocon finished sixth ahead of Magnussen and Sainz. Fernando Alonso scored McLaren Honda’s first points of the season in ninth with Pascal Wehrlein scoring another point for Sauber in tenth.

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend? The Grid Talk have you covered with their Azerbaijan Grand Prixview. Ruby Price hosted George Howson, Steve Jackson and Phil Mathew in the latest GT Podcast. Audio and video versions of the show are linked below:

F1 Blast from the Past: Rain and Thirsty Engines cause chaotic end to MONACO GP

After the tragic events at Zolder in Belgium and the death of the great Gilles Villeneuve, the Formula One circus arrived in Monaco for round six of the 1982 World Championship. Monte Carlo’s layout was similar almost 40 years ago to what it is today, but the turbocharged monsters made it a far more challenging beast.

After Belgium, Alain Prost led the championship with 18 points. The Frecnhman was a point ahead of McLaren’s John Watson, who was three ahead of Keke Rosberg.

Qualifying

The turbocharged Renault’s had been the dominant force in qualifying thus far into the season, René Arnoux took the French manufacturers’ fifth pole position in six races. Second fastest was Riccardo Patrese in the Cosworth-powered Brabham ahead of Bruno Giacomelli in the Alfa Romeo.

Rene Arnoux qualified his Renault on pole by over half a second. Image: Reddit

Fourth on the grid was the second Renault of Prost, over a second shy of his team mate. Out of respect for the late Gilles Villeneuve, Ferrari only entered one car for Monaco; Didier Pironi lining up fifth with Keke Rosberg’s Williams completing the top six. Reigning World Champion Nelson Piquet, who was using the BMW turbocharged engine in the Brabham, was languishing down in 13th.

Race day

Arnoux converted pole into the lead as the 76-lap Monaco Grand Prix got underway. Giacomelli passed Patrese for second with Prost, Pironi and Andrea de Cesaris in the Alfa Romeo following suit. Arnoux had quickly pulled out a gap to the rest of the field and team mate Prost was determined not to let him have it all his own way.

By Lap 4, Prost had already disposed of Patrese and then muscled past Giacomelli into Sainte Dévote to take second place. Giacomelli retired moments later with a terminal mechanical problem.

Arnoux looked set for a win in the Principality, but this moment ruined it for him. Image: F1only.fr

It all looked set for a Renault procession, but hopes of a one-two finish were quickly dashed when Arnoux spun out of a comfortable lead at the Swimming Pool complex on Lap 15. This lapse of concentration allowed Prost through into the lead.

Behind Prost were Patrese, Pironi and de Cesaris. Patrese was keeping Prost honest and almost found away past him as they came up to lap backmarkers on Lap 33. Pironi became involved in a tangle with Elio de Angelis’ Lotus, which tore the nose cone of the Ferrari off but the Frenchman motored on.

Rain causes chaos

Prost had begun to ease away from Patrese as the race entered its closing stages, but then a change in the weather came into play. Prost had been looking good for his third victory of the season, but on Lap 74, he threw the race away just two laps from home.

Prost would be the second Renault to spin out of the race. Image: Pinterest

Prost had pushed too hard while negotiating the chicane, lost the car and crashed into the barriers. Patrese was through into the lead but on the next lap, he spun his Brabham on oil dropped from Derek Daly’s Williams into the Lowes hairpin and stalled his car. The Italian bump-started the Brabham on the downhill gradient going into Portier but had lost the lead to Didier Pironi.

As Pironi started the final lap, all did not look well the Ferrari, as the Frenchman appeared to be coasting and letting several cars unlap themselves. Pironi was out of fuel and ground to a halt in the tunnel, his demise should have allowed Andrea de Cesaris to take the lead but unbelievably, the Alfa Romeo was also out of fuel.

Derek Daly was running strongly in the slippery conditions, but the Irishman had collided with the barrier earlier in the race, which not only took the rear wing off his Williams but also allowed the gearbox oil to leak. Before he could start his final lap he too coasted to a standstill.

James Hunt, commentating for BBC Television infamously stated “Well we’ve got this ridiculous situation where we’re all waiting for a winner to come past and we don’t seem to be getting one!”

Amazingly, Patrese found himself in the lead again, and the Italian made it across the line to take the first victory of his career. Patrese was convinced after his spin that he had fallen too far back. The Italian mistaking the-then lapped Daly’s Williams for Keke Rosberg who had in fact retired several laps earlier.

As he angrily drove back to the pits, he was startled to find the Brabham mechanics celebrating. Certainly, May 23, 1982 was one of the most bizarre days in Formula 1 history.

Video Highlights

The F1 YouTube channel uploaded short highlights of the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix last year:

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview your Monaco GP weekend? Never fear, the Grid Talk crew are here and have you covered with their 2021 Monaco Grand Prixview. Ruby Price hosted Phil Mathew, Adam Burns and Mikael Kataja covered all of the main talking about points ahead of Round 5 of the 2021 Formula 1 season. Audio and video versions of the show are linked below:

F1 Blast From the Past: Schumacher Wins First Race for Ferrari in Soaking Spain

Formula 1’s European season continued into Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya, round seven of the 1996 World Championship.

The Williams drivers of Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve had dominated the season so far, winning all but one of the first six races. After a crazy race in Monaco that saw Olivier Panis claim his only F1 win, Hill led Villeneuve by 21 points, with defending world champion Michael Schumacher in third on 16 points.

Qualifying

Hill broke Schumacher’s pole streak in qualifying, setting a time almost half a second faster than his Williams teammate Villeneuve. The Canadian rookie had regained his form after a disappointing weekend in Monaco two weeks previously.

Damon Hill claimed pole for the Spanish GP. Image: Pinterest

Schumacher qualified third ahead of the two Benetton’s of Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger with Eddie Irvine completing an all Williams-Ferrari-Benetton top six. While at the tail of the field, in a repeat of the season opener in Melbourne and at the Nürburgring, both Forti-Ford cars fell afoul of the 107% rule and missed the cut.

READ MORE: F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST: THE SILVER ARROWS DUEL IN THE DESERT

Soaking Spain

Race day saw very un-June like Spanish weather, with torrential rain. 65 laps of the saturated Barcelona circuit started with Villeneuve getting a better start than his teammate and taking an early lead, with Alesi moving up to second. Schumacher lost several places due to a clutch problem.

Villeneuve took the lead at the start of the race. Image: F1.

As the field bunched up behind, there was trouble as David Coulthard’s McLaren collided with Pedro Lamy’s Minardi, eliminating both on the spot. The other Minardi of Giancarlo Fisichella was involved in a separate collision with Ricardo Rosset’s Footwork, the damage ending both their races.

Monaco winner Panis came back down to earth with a bang, as his race was over after just one lap with suspension damage. Villeneuve led from Alesi, Hill, Berger, Irvine and Schumacher. Irvine would not go much further though, as he beached his Ferrari into the wet grass after just two laps.

On Lap 4, it was Hill’s turn to have an off-track excursion at Turn 4, dropping from third to fifth. Worse was to come for the championship leader though, when he spun again on Lap 8, relegating him to 8th place.

The Rainmaster commeth

Michael Schumacher on the other hand was flying in the Ferrari, quickly closing on the battle for the lead between Villeneuve and Alesi. A terrible Grand Prix for Hill came to an end on Lap 11, when he spun coming out of the final corner and hitting the pit-wall.

Schumacher seized his opportunity to move into second place by overtaking Alesi at Turn 5. On Lap 12, the German repeated this manoeuvre on Villeneuve’s Williams to take the lead.

Once Schumacher got the lead, he was never going to let it go. Image: DeviantArt

Schumacher began to create an unassailable lead, setting the fastest lap of the race on Lap 14. On Lap 24, he made his first fuel-stop but re-joined comfortably in first place. Alesi was on a one-stop strategy, which he used to good effect to leap-frog Villeneuve after the Canadian opted for two stops.

Wet weather specialist Rubens Barrichello was driving superbly in the Jordan-Peugeot and was running as high as second position until clutch problems robbed him of a potential podium finish. The attrition rate rose when Berger in the Benetton spun into retirement after 44 laps.

Lap 46 saw Dutchman Jos Verstappen fall victim to the conditions and lose fifth place after pirouetting off the circuit, leaving just six cars on the road.

An astounding drive for Michael Schumacher saw the German score his first win for Ferrari. The Regenmeister was 45 seconds ahead of Jean Alesi by the end of the race. Villeneuve completed the podium, over 48 seconds back and the last man on the lead lap.

Sauber’s Heinz-Harald Frentzen drove sensibly to finish fourth after escaping a huge accident in the morning warm- up. Mika Hakkinen’s McLaren was fifth and Pedro Diniz in the Ligier scored his first World Championship point in sixth.

The race was regarded as one of Michael Schumacher’s greatest ever victories, Sir Stirling Moss described his performance as a “demonstration of brilliance.” His dominant performance also marked the first of 72 victories for the Scuderia.

READ MORE: F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST: SENNA AND MANSELL COLLIDE AT ESTORIL

Video highlights

If you want to see the highlights of this incredible race yourself, the F1 YouTube channel uploaded this video for your entertainment:

Grid Talk Podcast

The Grid Talk crew previewed the 2021 Spanish GP in their latest podcast. George Howson hosted Jack Watson, Louis Edwards, and Coops ran through all of the news ahead of this weekend’s race. Both video and audio versions of the show are linked below:

F1 Blast from the Past: Senna and Mansell Collide at Estoril

Background

Round thirteen of the 1989 Formula One World Championship was held at Portugal’s Estoril circuit. Alain Prost was closing in on a third title, he arrived at Estoril with a 20-point margin over his McLaren-Honda teammate Ayrton Senna in the Driver’s Championship with just four races remaining.

Prost had a commanding lead in the driver’s championship going into Portugal. Image: Pinterest

Senna had suffered another mechanical failure at the previous race in Monza, allowing Prost to win the race. However, the Frenchman’s relationship with the team and in particular McLaren boss, Ron Dennis was at an all-time low after he had infamously dropped his winning trophy to the crowd at the Italian Grand Prix.

Qualifying

Predictably, Senna took his tenth pole position of the season in qualifying, ahead of the competitive looking Ferrari’s of Gerhard Berger and Nigel Mansell. Fourth fastest was a disappointed Prost in the second McLaren.

Ferrari were looking extremely quick at Estoril. Image: Motor Sport Magazine

Pirelli’s qualifying tyres had worked remarkably well throughout the season and Pierluigi Martini utilised them in his Minardi to take fifth on the grid ahead of Riccardo Patrese in the new Williams FW13.

Another Pirelli user, Alex Caffi was seventh in the Dallara ahead of Boutsen in the other Williams. Luis Perez-Sala qualified the second Minardi a career-best ninth. The top ten was completed by Martin Brundle’s Brabham, another Pirelli runner.

Further down the grid, Roberto Moreno qualified his Coloni 15th in what would prove to be the final time the underfunded Italian team made it on to the grid.

Race Day

Race day welcomed a hot and sunny Portuguese afternoon for 71 laps of the Estoril circuit. At the start, it was Gerhard Berger who made the better getaway and took the lead from Senna, with Mansell and Prost following behind as the field negotiated the opening lap without incident.

The field got away without any incidents. Image: Reddit.

Berger proceeded to pull away from the battling Senna and Mansell. After the Englishman finally got past Senna on Lap 8, he began to reel in Berger whose blistering pace at the start had taken its toll on the Ferrari’s tyres. The first retirement of the race came after 11 laps, as the unfortunate Moreno suffered electrical problems in his Coloni.

As the leading Ferrari duo came up to lap the battling backmarkers of Derek Warwick and Stefano Modena, Mansell seized his opportunity and overtook Berger on Lap 23. Senna was still close behind in third, as his teammate Prost was the first of the leading runners to make a pit-stop for fresh tyres.

READ MORE F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST: A LEGEND IS BORN AT ESTORIL ’85

On Lap 35, Berger headed for the pits, handing second place to Senna before the Brazilian made his pit-stop a lap later. The next pit-stop would prove a pivotal part of the race, with leader Mansell coming in too quickly and missing his box. Mansell then engaged reverse gear, despite his mechanics signalling to him to stay put.

This calamitous pit-stop handed the lead to Martini in the Minardi, the first and only time in the little Italian outfit’s history that it would lead a Grand Prix. Berger quickly closed in and retook the lead with Senna following suit.

Closing stages

Mansell had been recovering quickly and closed on Ayrton Senna again, but that pit-stop error came back to haunt him. On Lap 47, he was shown the black flag for illegally reversing in the pit-lane. Mansell claimed he did not see the flag, due to low sun and carried on hounding Senna for second place.

On the next lap, Mansell passed the black flag again and attempted an opportunistic manoeuvre on Senna, the two collided and both drivers were out of the race. The incident put a severe dent in Senna’s chances of retaining his title, as Prost was now up to second place.

Senna and Mansell’s crash was one of the pivotal moments of the 1989 season. Image: F1i

The defending champion stood disconsolately at the side of the track, while a furious Ron Dennis remonstrated with Ferrari team principal Cesare Fiorio in the pits.

Back on the circuit, the drama continued as the reliability fears of the new Williams were realised after 60 laps. Both Patrese and Boutsen retired after their cars suffered problems with overheating. This allowed Stefan Johansson in the unfancied Onyx to move up into third place. The Swede had gone the whole race distance without making a pit-stop and was now reaping the rewards.

READ MORE F1 BLAST FROM THE PAST: WET IMOLA PRODUCES CHAOTIC RESULTS

At the front, Gerhard Berger carried on flawlessly in the Ferrari to take his first victory of the season, a major boost in confidence for the Austrian after a miserable campaign. Prost brought his McLaren home second ahead of the extraordinary Johansson, scoring his first podium finish for over two years.

Alessandro Nannini finished fourth in the Benetton, while Pierluigi Martini rounded off a fine weekend for Minardi with two points for fifth place. The final point was taken by Jonathan Palmer in the Tyrrell.

READ MORE F1: 2021 EMILIA ROMANGNA GP – VERSTAPPEN DOMINATES WET IMOLA RACE

Although Berger had scored a fine victory, it was his Ferrari teammate Mansell who grabbed all the headlines. The Englishman was given a one-race ban for reversing in the pit lane and ignoring the black flag, while the Italian team were fined $50,000.

Mansell protested that he did not see the flag and refuted allegations he ignored it, threatening to retire from the sport altogether. It was little consolation for Senna, though, who now sat 24 points behind Prost with only three races left.

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview your Portuguese GP weekend? The Grid Talk crew have you covered with their preview for this weekend’s race at Portimao. George Howson hosted Tom Horrox, Phil Mathew and Henrico Marks to discuss all of the talking points ahead of Round 3. Audio and video versions of the show are available below:

F1 Blast From the Past: Wet Imola Produces Chaotic Results

The first European race of 1991 took place at the Imola circuit in the Romagna region of Italy. Ayrton Senna led the championship coming into the event, after winning the opening two races of the season in Phoenix and a memorable victory in his hometown of Sao Paulo.

Qualifying

The Brazilian maestro maintained his form in qualifying, taking his sixth consecutive pole position, although it was not without a fight. Ferrari’s Alain Prost set the pulses of the Tifosi racing by setting the fastest time in Friday’s qualifying session.

Senna recorded yet another pole position at the San Marino GP

Riccardo Patrese in the Williams then bettered the Frenchman’s time, only for Senna to pull off his trademark qualifying lap and snatch pole position by a mere eight hundredths of a second. Patrese was not too disgruntled with his second consecutive front row start ahead of Prost, Nigel Mansell and Gerhard Berger.

Rain on Saturday meant that the grid was determined by Friday’s qualifying times.

Race day

On Sunday, the rain returned half an hour before the start of the race. On the formation lap, Alain Prost spun off at Rivazza. The McLaren of Gerhard Berger followed in sympathy, but the Austrian was able to recover, but the unfortunate Prost had stalled his engine and was out of the race before it had even started, much to the dismay of the Italian fans.

At the start of the 61-lap race, it was Riccardo Patrese who made the better get away to leap ahead of Senna’s McLaren, with Stefano Modena’s Tyrrell moving up from sixth to third. Mansell had been slow off the line due to a gearbox glitch and at the end of Lap 1, he was hit from behind by Martin Brundle’s Brabham and the furious Englishman retired for the third time in as many races.

Patrese led one of his home races off the line from Senna

On Lap 2, three-time World Champion Nelson Piquet was the next casualty when he slid off the circuit at Tosa. One lap later, Jean Alesi, in the sole remaining Ferrari, made an optimistic move on Modena, and just like Piquet found the gravel trap at the Tosa hairpin. Both Ferrari’s were out after just three laps.

With the rain having stopped, Senna began to close in on Patrese. On lap nine the Italian began to slow coming through the Variente Bassa and Senna took the lead while the Williams headed for the pits with a misfiring Renault engine. The team sent him back out but after 18 laps Patrese stopped for good with a terminal engine problem.

READ MORE CLASSIC F1: BLAST FROM THE PAST – SCHUMACHER AND ALONSO DUEL AT IMOLA 2005

After the first round of tyre stops to change to slicks, Senna led a McLaren-Honda 1-2 with Berger in second. The Austrian was running at strong pace, but problems with traffic halted his progress in catching his teammate. The Tyrrell-Honda’s of Stefano Modena and Satoru Nakajima were running third and fourth only for both cars to succumb to transmission failure.

Ivan Capelli in the Leyton House had been running a strong fourth until he spun into retirement after 24 laps. For the new Jordan team, a possible debut points finish was lost when Andrea de Cesaris retired on Lap 38, another gearbox-related retirement. Behind the McLaren’s was Roberto Moreno’s Benetton, but after 52 laps the Brazilian’s gearbox gave up the ghost and allowed the Dallara of JJ Lehto up into third.

READ MORE CLASSIC F1: BLAST FROM THE PAST – THE SILVER ARROWS DUEL IN THE DESERT

Up at the front, Senna reeled off a dominant performance to take his third victory in a row ahead of his teammate Berger who set the fastest lap of the race. The ecstatic JJ Lehto scored his and Dallara’s best ever result with third while the Minardi Ferrari of Pierluigi Martini finished a great fourth.

It was heartbreak for the small Modena Lamborghini team when Belgian Eric van de Poele lost fifth place within sight of the chequered flag. His demise allowed the young Finn Mika Hakkinen to take his maiden points finish ahead of his Lotus teammate Julian Bailey.

Senna had asserted his authority with typical dominance in difficult conditions, despite his early reservations about the Honda V12 engine, the Brazilian had enjoyed a perfect start to 1991.

A McLaren 1-2 asserted their dominance in the constructor’s championship. This was also the only F1 podium for Lehto.

Grid Talk Podcast

If you want to learn more about the brilliant 1991 Formula 1 season, the Grid Talk crew have you covered! George Howson hosted Alex Booth, Henrico Marks and Owain Medford to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Ayrton Senna’s final championship:

F1 Blast from the Past: The Silver Arrows Duel in the Desert

In the run up to the the 2021 Formula 1 season-opener in Bahrain, we bring you a classic race report from the Sakhir International Circuit. Last season, we reviewed the 2006 Bahrain GP and this year, we bring you the incredible 2014 Bahrain GP!

Background

The third round of the 2014 Formula 1 season was in Bahrain, the first Grand Prix to take place at the venue at night and under floodlights. The sport’s new hybrid era had seen Mercedes produce a dominant car, with one win a piece for Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the opening rounds in Australia and Malaysia.

This was the first ever F1 night race outside of Singapore

In qualifying, it was Rosberg who got the upper hand, taking pole position ahead of Hamilton. Daniel Ricciardo continued the incredible start to his Red Bull senior team career by qualifying third, although he would be sent back ten places for his unsafe pit release in Malaysia.

This meant that Valtteri Bottas started in third in his Williams with Sergio Perez alongside the Finn on the front row. Ferrari were having a torrid time, as their then-President Luca di Montezemolo lamented what he called “Formula Boredom” and that the drivers had to “trundle around like taxi drivers”.

di Montezemolo couldn’t have been more wrong, as we were treated to one of the best races in the modern era!

The Race

At the start of the of the 57 lap race it was Hamilton who made the better getaway from P2 and led into the first corner. Bottas in the Mercedes-powered Williams made a poor start and lost positions to both his teammate Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez’s Force India.

Hamilton took the lead off the line, which set us up for a brilliant scrap

Rosberg made his intentions for a scrap with his teammate known by challenging for the lead into Turn 4, but Hamilton defended the lead by pushing the German wide. Further down the field, Pastor Maldonado in the Lotus collided with Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso. The Frenchman would be forced to retire later in the race due to the damage.

As the race progressed, the two Mercedes pulled away from the rest of the field. On Lap 18, Rosberg utilised his DRS down the pit-straight and dived down the inside of Hamilton into Turn 1, but the German out-braked himself and ran wide, allowing Hamilton to take back the lead.

READ MORE BLASTS FROM THE PAST: RED BULLS LOCK HORNS IN TURKEY 2010

On the following lap, Rosberg tried the same manoeuvre, and this time he was able to make the move stick. However, Hamilton quickly fought back and took the outside line going into Turn 4, switching to the inside on the exit.

The Englishman gained great traction out of the corner and regained the lead going into the complex of Turns 5 and 6. There was a three-car battle for third between Massa and the two Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Hulkenberg tried to get past Massa into Turn 4 on Lap 26, but lost momentum allowing Perez to claim fourth place. Two laps later, the Mexican then overtook Massa for third.

The turning point

On Lap 41, Pastor Maldonado re-joined the circuit after a pit stop and collided with Esteban Gutiérrez in the Sauber going into the first corner. Gutiérrez rolled over twice in before landing upright on the track. The debris from the collision meant the safety car was deployed, while the Mexican was taken to hospital for an examination.

Maldonado and Gutierrez’s crash turned the race on its head. Image: Eurosport

Maldonado was given a ten-second penalty and a five-place grid penalty for the next race in China. Hamilton had pulled out a 10 second lead on Rosberg, but the Safety Car gave the German another chance to fight for the victory. Racing resumed with 10 laps to go and Rosberg immediately set about overtaking Hamilton. Hamilton defended again, just as he had done on lap one holding off his team mate and maintaining his lead.

It was not just the Mercedes that were engaging in inter-team squabbling, as Ricciardo passed his teammate Sebastian Vettel for fifth on Lap 50. On Lap 52, Rosberg again tried to pass Hamilton into Turn 1, but Hamilton anticipated the move and cut back to the inside as Rosberg ran wide. The German would try again the following lap, but Hamilton would not give way.

READ MORE BLAST FROM THE PAST: SCHUMACHER AND ALONSO DUEL AT IMOLA 2005

Hamilton held off Rosberg’s assault and took his second consecutive victory with his team mate finishing just one second behind. Third place was the elated Sergio Perez, taking his first podium in 29 races and a major boost after a difficult 2013 season with McLaren.

Daniel Ricciardo narrowly missed out on a podium finish in fourth, with Hulkenberg and Vettel fifth and sixth. The two Williams came home seventh and eighth ahead of the two Ferrari’s of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen. The monumental battle between the two Mercedes drivers set the tone for the Hamilton-Rosberg rivalry which would dominate Formula 1 over the next three seasons.

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content to preview the Bahrain Grand Prix? George Howson hosted panelists Louis Edwards, Sam Thatcher and Jack Watson in the Grid Talk Bahrain GP Preview. Full audio and video versions of the show are available below:

Video Highlights

If you prefer to watch your highlights, the F1 YouTube channel handily uploaded the race highlights last season:

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