Formula 1 Race Report No 3 – 2017
Thirty years ago round 3 of the 1987 Championship was the Belgian GP at the Spa – Francorchamps circuit. It was a 43 lap race around the 6.940km (4.312ml) circuit which took 1h 27m 03.217s by the winner A Prost from 6th on the grid driving a McLaren – TAG Porsche V6t.

f1 Bahrain flagLap record 1m 30.252s held by M Schumacher – Ferrari (2004).

The inaugural race here was in 2004 making this the 13th GP at the Sakhir circuit as there was not a race in 2011 due to the civil unrest in the country. It switched to being a twilight race in 2014. The circuit boasts a 1.1km long start finish straight making it good for overtaking into turn 1.

With FP1 starting at 14:00 local time it was 36ºC and as usual a lot of sand covered the circuit. Wehrlein was in the Sauber replacing his stand in Giovinazzi. Yellow flags came out when Kimi pulled off the track with a smoking Ferrari due to an overheated turbo. Van also pulled off the track as his Honda MGU-H gave up. Seb, Ricci, Max, Checo & Massa were the top five drivers with Mercedes way down in 10th & 14th places & Kimi last after his turbo problem.

FP2 at 18:00 local time and 33ºC as the sun was setting and the floodlights came on. The entire crew in the Ferrari garage worked together to get Kimi’s car ready for the second session. McLaren mechanics worked frantically on Van’s car. Jnr pulled off the circuit with smoke pouring from his STR 12 at turn 11 causing a yellow flag for a couple of minutes. Val lost his “T” wing again as he did in China. Seb lost power, but managed to cruise back to the pits. Van eventually got back out with a new power unit fitted. Seb was again on top with Val, Ricci, Kimi & Ham the top five.

The final 1 hour of practice on Saturday started at 15:00. Gro crashed at turn 4 bringing out a red flag for 5 minutes. Max was on top of the timesheet with Ham, Seb, Val & Kimi the top five.

Qualifying at 18:00 and out went Mag, Eric, Checo, Van & Jnr. Ham, Max, Kimi, Seb & Val made the top five.
Q2 was soon over. Alo did not run and out went Oco, Weh, Lan & Dani. Ham, Val, Seb, Kimi & Hülk were the top five. The top ten shoot-out was as usual a fast and furious 12 minutes. Val got his first-ever pole position. Ham, Seb, Ricci & Kimi completed the top five.

Joly made it into Q3 for the first time and Renault’s first double Q3.

At 18:00 under floodlights – what a spectacular sight! Van did not start, but Val got away well and kept his lead. Seb passed Ham and Max got past Kimi & Ricci. Massa took Hülk & Kimi and Dani went off and dropped to the back of the pack. Mag was the first to drop out on lap 9 with an electrical problem. Max had a brake failure and crashed into the barrier on lap 12 and on the next lap Jnr ran into the side of Lan; both cars out and the safety car deployed for 3 laps. Ham went into the pit lane very slowly holding up Ricci for which the Briton was handed a 5 second time penalty. Joly & Dani had a coming together leaving debris on the circuit at turn 1 – yellow flags for a while. The second round of pit stops allowed Ham to get ahead of Val. Eri was the next casualty on lap 50 with gearbox gremlins, then with only 2 laps remaining, Alo had to pit with another PU problem.

Seb, Ham & Val were on the podium with Kimi & Ricci making up the top five. Massa was in sixth place with the final point’s scorers Checo, Gro, Hülk & Oco.

Mercedes are not leading the constructor’s battle, but are only with 3 points behind Ferrari.

Seb has a 7 point lead over Ham in the driver’s championship with Val a further 23 points adrift and 4 ahead of Kimi who is 9 points ahead of 5th placed Max.

Formula 1 report Nº 4 – 2017
2017 Formula 1 VTB Russian GP Sochi Autodrom round 4.
53 laps @ 5.848km/3.634ml = 309.944km/192.596ml.

f1 Russian FlagLap record 1m 39.094s Nico Rosberg (2016)

Sochi is situated on the banks of the black sea in Krasnodar Krai, Russia and is commonly known as the “Russian Riviera”. It is Russia’s largest and most popular resort and has now emerged as one of the country’s top sporting venues after hosting the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in 2014, the 11th Winter Paralympic Games and now Formula 1. It will also be the host city for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It is the fourth longest circuit after Spa, Baku & Silverstone with 1.7kms of the circuit being public roads with a very long straight to start and made up of 12 right hand corners and 6 left hand. The city has a permanent population of over 340,000 and is surrounded by beautiful scenery including the warm azure water of the black sea and the high Caucasus Mountains.

Fluorescent orange 50mm speed bumps have been placed on the exit of turn 2 to stop drivers cutting the corner and gaining an advantage. Tweaks have also made to the Tec Pro barriers at turns 2, 3 & 13.

FP1 started at the local time of 11:00 with a clear blue sky and a temperature of 19C. Sergery Sirotkin the 21 year old Russian-born racer and recently appointed Renault reserve driver had his first FP1 outing since Brazil last year although he did have a full day in the R.S.17 at the Bahrain test, replacing Hülk for this session. The practice session ended with Kimi on top with Val, Ham, Max & Seb, the top five.

FP2 saw Hülk back in his R.S.17. McLaren managed to get Van out after changing the power unit. Gro still had brake problems and Max stopped on track with a loss of power cutting his session short. Seb, Kimi, Val, Ham & Max were the top five runners.

The final 1 hour of practice saw Joly lose power and Seb, Kimi, Val, Ham & Max the top five.

Q1 at 15:00 was a trouble free 18 minute session except for a couple of minor offs and Joly & Weh crashed into the barriers at the end of the session. Val, Ham, Seb, Kimi & Max were the top five,

Q2 was also a good clear session with Val on top again. Kimi, Ham, Seb & Fil made up the top five.

After the 12 minute shoot-out Seb got his first pole position since Singapore 2015 and Kimi gave Ferrari their first front row lock-out since the French GP in 2008. Val, Ham & Ricci made up the top five. It was the first time that a Mercedes had not been on the front row since Singapore 2015 & the first time this season for Force India to have both cars in the top ten. Van got a 15 place penalty for having a new MGU-H & Turbo. Jnr dropped 3 places for causing an accident at the previous round.

Alo stopped at the pit lane entry on the formation lap with ERS software failure requiring a second formation lap. The race started well and Val stormed into the lead. Gro & Joly had a coming together putting both cars into the barrier and the safety car was deployed. Mag & Van were both handed 5 second penalties for exceeding track limits and gaining an advantage. Fil had a slow puncture causing the Brazilian to make an unscheduled pit stop and lose 3 places. Val got his maiden F1 victory. Seb & Kimi joined him on the podium. Kimi posted the fasted lap and another new lap record with a 1m 36.844s on lap 50.

Seb has increased his lead over Ham to 13 points with Val now up to third place 10 points further adrift with Kimi & Max battling for fourth place. Ricci & Checo are on equal points (22).

Mercedes now have a very small lead of 1 point over Ferrari with Red Bull 78 points further down in third place. The midfield battle appears to be between Williams & Toro Rosso separated by only five points.

Dave Bass