2017 Brazil Grand Prix Blog

Starting with a sombre issue, but one that needs to be addressed, and that is security surrounding the 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix. On Friday the Mercedes F1 Team Bus was held up at gunpoint leaving Autódromo José Carlos Pace. Organisers promised a heightened police presence over the weekend but despite this on Sunday evening criminals attempted to stop a car driven by Pirelli tyre fitters. Luckily they managed to escape. There have also been reports that Williams & Sauber were targeted during the weekend. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE! Interlagos is a fantastic circuit but F1 can’t condone a race which puts people’s safety at risk.

Onto the Grand Prix itself and Qualifying started in dramatic fashion as Lewis Hamilton crashed out on his first flying lap. An uncharacteristic error from the Brit at turn 6 ended in the barriers. Valtteri Bottas was the man to take advantage and he started on pole ahead of the two Ferrari’s. It’s fair to say that Mercedes like Interlagos. Between them, Hamilton and Bottas set the two fastest times in all three Practice Sessions. One can’t help but feel it would have been a front row lock out had Lewis completed Qualifying.

So, if Mercedes were so quick, then how did Ferrari come to win the race? Sebastian Vettel got the drop on Valtteri Bottas and snuck ahead at the first corner. And that’s how it stayed with Vettel leading and Bottas in hot pursuit but never able to repass the German.

What happened to Red Bull? Prior to the race many had tipped Max Verstappen to follow up on his Mexico Grand Prix victory, but RBR looked off the pace this weekend and were never able to threaten the leaders. This allowed Kimi Raikkonen a place on the podium for his third consecutive Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton meanwhile had a much better Sunday and worked his way from 17th on the grid to finish in fourth place.

There was a case of déjà vu as Felipe Massa waved goodbye to the crowd, 12 months on from his first Formula 1 retirement. Nobody would begrudge him this though and Massa drove a superb race to bring his Williams home in seventh place, much to the delight of his home fans.

With just one race remaining there are still battles to be settled, most notably between Toro Rosso, Renault and Haas who have 53, 49 and 47 points respectively in the Constructors Table. There’s millions of dollars at stake for the team who can finish highest. Expect these guys to throw everything at the race in Abu Dhabi.

If you would like to join us at the F1 Season Finale in Abu Dhabi, please call us on +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email us at f1@edgeglobalevents.com

2017 Mexico Grand Prix Blog

Well it wasn’t the race he wanted but Lewis Hamilton has done it. The Mexico Grand Prix saw him crowned 2017 Drivers’ Champion and in doing so become the first Brit to ever win four World Titles. Many congratulations, Lewis joins an elite list of just five drivers to ever have achieved this feat.

Onto the Grand Prix itself and whilst it could not be described as a ‘classic’, the tension at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez on Sunday was palpable. A messy start, at the expense of both title contenders, did little to help matters.

Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel lightly touched at Turn 2, but in the process Vettel’s front wing was damaged. Advantage Hamilton, until a split second later when the Mercedes driver went for a gap at Turn 3 and his right rear tyre was clipped by Vettel and punctured. “Did he hit me deliberately?” asked Hamilton. We don’t think so but make up your own mind on that one.

So, both Vettel and Hamilton went back into the pits at the end of lap 1 and re-joined in last and second last place. Not really what anyone wanted to see but you could almost hear the groans from Maranello. Ferrari knew only too well that a second-place finish from Vettel was the minimum that was required.

One driver not inconvenienced was Max Verstappen, who found himself now leading the race unchallenged. His radio message “Simply, simply lovely” summed up the situation pretty well. And so it turned out as he dominated the race from that moment on to record his third Grand Prix victory.

The biggest worry for Red Bull Racing yesterday afternoon was not the challenge from other drivers but their own engine’s reliability. One thing we learnt is that the Renault power unit does not like racing at altitude. A total of four Renault powered cars: Ricciardo; Hulkenberg; Hartley; Sainz; retired during the race due to engine failures. Despite Verstappen’s victory, these are worrying times at Viry-Châtillon.

Reliability must be their key priority for next season but if Renault can get it right, that will bring Red Bull Racing, McLaren and Renault themselves right into play. The chassis on all three is good and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be mixing it up with Ferrari & Mercedes next season.

If you would like to join us at the F1 Season Finale, please call us on +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email us at f1@edgeglobalevents.com

2017 United States Grand Prix Blog

The first thing to mention is what a fantastic city Austin is. If you haven’t been, then you should, especially if you’re into music. The party atmosphere on 6th Street is unlike anything you will find on the rest of the F1 calendar. The Texan’s pride themselves on their food & hospitality and you will get a fantastic reception wherever you go.

Onto the Grand Prix itself and COTA served up another treat. On paper the results may look predictable – Alonso retired, Ferrari not quite quick enough for Mercedes etc… The reality was very different and we were treated to a race that provided excitement, lots of overtaking and wheel to wheel racing throughout.

Sebastian Vettel got off to a flying start, taking the lead from Lewis Hamilton at Turn 1, however, the Mercedes man quickly reeled in his prey regaining the lead on lap 4. It was then business as usual for Hamilton who went on to record his 5th victory in 6 years of racing at Circuit of the Americas. He now has both hands firmly on the Drivers’ Trophy.

From current champions, onto future ones and we would be remiss not to mention Max Verstappen. The Dutch driver took a 15-place grid penalty and started down in 16th but quickly sliced his way through the field up into 6th. The top cars were understandably more difficult to pass, but pass some of them he did and by the end of the race Verstappen found himself in 4th place and hot on the heels of Kimi Raikkonen, before overtaking the Finn on the final lap.

A brilliant podium, or so everyone thought, but in the drivers’ waiting room Verstappen was handed a five-second time penalty for leaving the track during his move on Raikkonen. This was the correct decision if we apply the letter of the law but extremely unpopular with Red Bull Racing & the Verstappen camp. More importantly, it has also been heavily criticised by neutral F1 fans the world over. People want to see competitive racing with the type of grandstand finishes that Verstappen delivered on Sunday. The onus is now on the FIA to make sure this can happen in future races.

If you would like to join us at the F1 Season Finale, please call us on +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email us at f1@edgeglobalevents.com

2017 Japanese Grand Prix Blog

It’s that time of year when Formula 1 races come thick and fast. A week after we said goodbye to Malaysia, we moved on to the Land of the Rising Sun for the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix. Suzuka is a favourite for fans and drivers alike. The first sector and ‘S’ bends are arguably the most exciting in Formula 1 and it’s fair to say we were rubbing our hands at the thought of the cars taking to this superb track.

One car stood out this weekend, and that was the Mercedes AMG F1 W08 EQ Power+ of Lewis Hamilton. The Brit took pole on Saturday and in the process shattered the track record, setting a 1:27.319. He also controlled the Grand Prix on Sunday, leading from start to finish. The Red Bull of Max Verstappen was gaining during the final laps but there was an air of inevitability that Hamilton was always going to win this race.

Why was it so easy? Well the main reason is that having started in 2nd spot the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel quickly dropped through the field before retiring on lap 4, a spark plug failure enough to end his race. Ferrari will understandably be downbeat. A statement from the team today read:

‘Kimi’s performance proved that the team and the car are capable of getting the job done and until the maths says it’s over, we will keep trying.’

The problem is, sooner rather than later, it may well be mathematically impossible. With 100 points left available, Lewis has a 59-point lead. This is good for British Sport and the thousands of Hamilton fans out there, but if you’re a neutral a DNF for Hamilton would be excellent news for the Championship.

And this is not an impossibility when you look at the remaining races. In 2015 Austin was hit by monsoon like conditions causing eight retirements during the race. Whilst last year appallingly wet conditions at Interlagos resulted in 5 safety cars, two stoppages, 5 retirements and a DNS.

Red Bull are also enjoying somewhat of a resurgence with two double podium finishes in seven days. From Hamilton’s point of view there is surely nobody he would like less than Max Verstappen to be racing against him in the final four races. Mercedes need to remain 100% focussed to get their man over the line.

If you would like to join us at the F1 Season Finale, please call us on +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email us at f1@edgeglobalevents.com