December 2, 2017
November 27, 2017
Credit: Sauber F1 Team
The 2017 season has barely been over a week and Sauber are already motoring ahead with their plans for next year, hosting a livery launch in Milan that announced their driver lineup for 2018 as well as showed off a significantly revised colour scheme.
The car is predominantly white with red accents, and large Alfa Romeo logos after the Swiss team confirmed a deal with the manufacturer. The title sponsorship deal means the team will be called Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 and the multi-year partnership comes with technical and commercial benefits. The most important of these upgrades Sauber from running a Ferrari engine that is a year old to a current power unit instead.
Meanwhile, in terms of drivers, the Swiss team are retaining the services of Marcus Ericsson, but are replacing Pascal Wehrlein with the services of Charles Leclerc. Antonio Giovinazzi is the reserve driver.
November 27, 2017
Credit: Daimler AG
Valtteri Bottas converted his pole position into a race victory relatively comfortably, in a final race of the season that was resoundedly disliked as being dull by almost everyone. Lewis Hamilton, who finished second so obviously has some grounds for dissatisfaction, said of Yas Marina: “It’s a great, great track but unfortunately it doesn’t suit the cars very well.”
There was disappointment for Red Bull, as Daniel Ricciardo failed to see the chequered flag, retiring from fourth place with a hydraulic issue. Toro Rosso were also left dejected after losing sixth place in the championship to Renault at the final hurdle – Carlos Sainz retired from the race, but Nico Hülkenberg did just enough in sixth place to help his team beat their rivals.
Felipe Massa finished tenth, picking up a final point on his final race, and he celebrated the result by completing so many donuts on the track that the car disappeared. In the end, though, it was Bottas, Hamilton and Vettel that took to the podium to spray the final champagne of the season.
November 23, 2017
Credit: Daimler AG
Valtteri Bottas was the fastest driver in Q3 on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, with the Finnish driver securing pole position for the final race of the season. Lewis Hamilton was just a tenth of a second behind him, leaving the Red Bull and Ferrari drivers to split the second and third row of the grids between them.
Nico Hülkenberg, both Force India drivers and Felipe Massa rounded out the top ten. Fernando Alonso just missed the cut for the top ten shoot-out and had to settle for 11th place. Further back, both the Toro Rosso drivers struggled for pace and dropped out in Q1, with Brendon Hartley the slowest driver in the field. He had an engine penalty lined up anyway, though.
The poor qualifying result puts the pressure on Toro Rosso, however, in one of the only championship battles left – unless they get a good result in the race, they’ll drop behind Renault and lose their sixth place in the standings.
Credit: Pirelli S.p.A.
Ahead of the final race of 2017 in Abu Dhabi, Pirelli launched their lineup of tyres for the 2018 season, including two new compounds and extending the range from five to seven levels of hard and softness. The tyres are all one step softer than what we’ve seen this year, but there’s a new superhard tyre that is orange. The hard tyre turns blue, or ice blue, as they call it.
Then come four compounds that we are very familiar with: white mediums, yellow softs, red supersofts and purple ultrasofts. Finally, there’s a new pink compound called hypersoft – which was chosen by fans polled by the Italian manufacturer.
Pirelli boss Mario Isola says: “We realised that, under the unique circumstances of this year, some of our 2017 compounds were perhaps conservative: the tyres we have created for 2018 address this, in line with the objective of having around two pit stops at most races.”
Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty
After testing out a rotating selection of drivers for the past few race weekends, Toro Rosso have hit upon a pairing they like – the current form of Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly. The duo have been signed for 2018, with both set for their first full season in the sport.
Team principal Franz Tost said: “During this last part of the year they’ve shown that they’re ready for Formula 1, getting to grips with the car quickly, showing good performances and always demonstrating to be prepared for the challenge. We have been truly impressed by both their steep learning curves.”
Gasly added thanks to his friends, family and supporters and said: “I’m really excited and super motivated to give it my all in Abu Dhabi and the whole of next year! I just can’t wait!” And Hartley was still processing the information: “It’s amazing. It’s very satisfying to have converted an opportunity that came as a surprise into a 2018 F1 drive, I couldn’t be happier!”
Credit: Ferrari Media
Valtteri Bottas’ pole position lasted only moments as Sebastian Vettel swept past the Mercedes to take the lead into the first corner. There was chaos in the opening laps, as Romain Grosjean picked up a puncture and punted himself and Ocon off track. Daniel Ricciardo spun, dropping him down the field, after he’d made a good start trying to recover from a low grid position.
After an early safety car period to sort through the mess, Hamilton was calmly making his way through the field, providing much of the entertainment. He eventually wound up fourth at the chequered flag after starting last on the grid. Vettel won the race, with Bottas behind and Kimi Räikkönen rounding out the podium.
The Red Bull pair were down on pace, Verstappen very vocal throughout about his inability to keep up and overtake. Ricciardo recovered to sixth, with Massa taking an emotional seventh on his final home race in F1.
Credit: Daimler AG
Lewis Hamilton’s qualifying session came to an abrupt and early end when he crashed heavily into the tyre barriers just four minutes into Q1. The red flags came out whilst the car and the driver were recovered – he was fine – and then the action continued. The two Saubers, Stroll and Gasly were out in that first session. Brendon Hartley got his Toro Rosso through to Q2 but didn’t participate in that session.
Esteban Ocon just missed out on the top ten, finishing 11th whilst Force India teammate Pérez got through to Q3 and finished in sixth place. The two Haas drivers and Stoffel Vandoorne dropped out in Q2.
Out front, it was a battle between Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas for pole position, and although Vettel held provisional pole for much of Q3, Bottas snatched P1 right at the very last moment. Behind them, Fernando Alonso did a great job to finish seventh, which will be sixth when Daniel Ricciardo has his engine penalties applied. The two Renaults tucked up behind Alonso, whilst Massa rounded out the top ten in front of his home crowd.
Credit: Daimler AG
Felipe Massa has talked of his disappointment and sadness that his home country has failed to deliver a safe environment for the F1 paddock to race in, after several high profile incidents for teams leaving the circuit. Lewis Hamilton revealed that part of the Mercedes crew were held up at gunpoint, with shots fired, in an armed robbery, with Williams and FIA officials also in the convoy of cars.
Organisers of the Brazilian Grand Prix made efforts to increase security, but Sauber’s Ruth Buscombe shared news of another incident, saying: “Be careful leaving the circuit even with added security. Just got hit by one car trying to make us stop with another ahead.”
Massa said: “It is a great sadness, not only for people who came and were there, but also for those who hear this and are Brazilian. In the future, we can change this.” Criminal activity has been a problem at the event for many years, with Jenson Button most famously escaping unharmed from an armed attack in 2010. Hamilton said he hoped things would improve because “it’s an awesome place.”
Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Toro Rosso have really been struggling over the last few races, suffering power unit problems that have cost them running time and more importantly race finishes. Both drivers are due to have grid penalties again this weekend, and it has sparked a war of words between Toro Rosso and their engine provider Renault.
Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul told the media he was concerned about the set up of the engine within the Toro Rosso car, claiming there are “no coincidences in this sport.” Incensed, Toro Rosso released a full page statement saying: “The last race in Mexico saw only two cars out of six finish the race, highlighting the poor reliability. We mustn’t forget they are fighting with Toro Rosso for a better position in the Constructors’ championship.”
It was no surprise, therefore, to see Abiteboul having an intense discussion with Red Bull chief Helmut Marko in the Brazil paddock, and it seems both teams are looking closely at their contracts for the final two races of the season.
Credit: Daimler AG
Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were in a class of their own during Friday practice in Brazil, battling each other for the top spot and leaving the rest of the field in their wake. Hamilton dominated both sessions in the end, but they finished the day just four hundredths of a second apart.
Toro Rosso endured a difficult day, particularly in first practice. Pierre Gasly completed five laps, whilst Brendon Hartley couldn’t set a lap time due to an engine issue and only did two installation laps before returning to the garage. In the afternoon, the team got more laps under their belt but knew they’d be taking engine related penalties for qualifying tomorrow.
Meanwhile, GP3 champion George Russell made his F1 debut with Force India in the morning session, and did a respectable job, finishing 12th. Giovinazzi was in the Haas but not until the afternoon, replacing Kevin Magnussen for FP2 and finishing the session last overall.