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SKY F1 will show all activities and more of every race weekend in 2019. Channel 4 will show highlights only of the qualifying and races, but will show full live coverage of the British GP.

All remains static at Mercedes; Lec replaces Räi at Ferrari; Red Bull will run Honda power units next year with Ver & Gas as their drivers; Ric is to partner Hül at Renault; Sai will drive for McLaren, replacing Alo, and be partnered by rookie Lando Norris. Van so far is without a seat (no surprise there!); Antonio Giovinazzi will race alongside Räi in the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 team next year. Eri has been given a third driver position with the team. Haas will retain their driver line-up of Gro & Mag for 2019 and Daniil Kvyat will return to Toro Rosso.

Formula 1 report Nº 15

2018 Formula 1 Singapore Airline Singapore GP Marina Bay

61 laps @ 5.065km/3.152ml 308.965km/191.987ml.

Lap record 1m 45.008s held by L Hamilton Mercedes (2017).

This is the second of the 5 anti-clockwise circuits of the season and the longest (time wise) of the season. This is a very tough circuit for the drivers with a bumpy surface, 23 turns and short straights, but they still reach a top speed of 311km/h (193mph), plus of course being situated just 88 miles north of the equator the heat & high humidity can be a strain.

This will be only the 11th GP to be held at this circuit, the first in 2008, the scene of the ‘Crash gate affair’ which was won in controversial circumstances by Alo in a Renault. Also in 2008, Massa started from pole in a Ferrari, but due to a pit error leaving with the fuel hose still attached to his car, he ended the race in 19th place. Seven of the ten races have been won from pole position. Ham posted the fastest lap and new lap record last year of 1m 45.008s on lap 56.

The weekend started with FP1 in full daylight in weather as usual, hot and humid. Ham got his 4th pole position at this circuit and Ver, Vet, Bot & Räi made up the top five.

The race started under floodlights at 8.10pm local time. Ham got away well, but Vet & Ver had a battle during the early laps. Per ran into Oco with an over aggressive passing manoeuvre sending his team mate into the wall. The safety car was deployed for 3 laps. Sir had to pit as he had some debris wedged in his front wing and Per crashed into Sir and was handed a drive-through penalty for causing a collision. Sir was given a five second time penalty for forcing Gro off the circuit. Gro was then handed a post-race five second time penalty for ignoring the blue flags during the aforementioned battle. It was a great race with a lot of action and some brave overtaking manoeuvres on a course very difficult for overtaking. Ham won the race in 1h 51m 11.611s and Ver & Vet joined him on the podium. The fastest lap was posted by Mag in the Haas with 1m 41.905s on lap 51 (another new lap record; 3.103s faster than last year).

Formula 1 report Nº 16

2018 Formula 1 VTB Russian GP Sochi Autodrom round 16.

53 laps @ 5.848km/3.634ml = 309.944km/192.596ml.

Lap record 1m 36.844s Kimi Räikkönen (2017).

Sochi is situated on the banks of the Black Sea in Krasnodar Krai, South 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 it was the host city for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and now Formula 1 for the 5th time. 1.7kms of the circuit are public roads with a very long straight to start and is made up of 12 right hand and 6 left hand corners.

Last year’s race was won by Bot (his first F1 win) with Vet & Räi joining on the podium. Räi posted the fastest lap of 1m 36.844s on lap 50 which was then a new lap record.

The first session started at local time of 11am with a clear blue sky and 23ºC. There were a lot of spins & off-circuit excursions, but no major dramas. Bot got his first pole position at this circuit, with Ham, Vet, Räi, & Mag the top five drivers. Alo, Ric, Ver, Gas & Har all had penalties for having a new parts fitted.

Bot held onto the lead with Ham & Vet having a little battle behind him with Ham forcing Vet wide, as well as a few more scraps and wheel-banging further down the field. Ver had what could be the best drive of his career, getting up into 5th place by lap 6, then the pit stops came into play and the lead was changing every lap. Ver, having not stopped, was by then (lap 20) leading the race. Bot slowed and moved over to allow Ham through; an unnecessary team order in my opinion as Ham was ahead of Vet and set to gain 3 points.  Team orders also came into play at Force India when Oco was told to move over for Per, but unlike Mercedes, Per was told to hand the position back to Oco as the Mexican had not made any gains on the drivers ahead.  After the flurry of pit stops, Vet came out ahead of Ham. Bot did his ‘Wingman’ bit, slowing down to back Vet up to Ham. It was a great race with some very good overtaking manoeuvres. Ham reached the chequered flag first, but it was not a win – it was a gift from Toto (Wolff) & Bot who did unhappily join him on the podium along with Vet. Bot posted the fasted lap and another new lap record with a 1m 35.861s on lap 50.

Formula 1 report Nº 17

Japanese GP Suzuka round 17. Suzuka International Racing Course.

53 laps @ 5.807km/3.608ml = 307.573km/191.126ml.

Lap record 1m 31.540s held by K. Räikkönen McLaren (2005).

This circuit was designed by John Hugenholtz and opened in 1962 as a test track for Honda road cars and motorcycles; one of a few circuits in the world and the only one on the F1 calendar with a ‘figure of eight’ layout. It has had multiple modifications over the years, mainly to improve safety, but still keeping the famous sections such as the ‘S’ Curves, Degner Curve, Spoon Curve & the 130r. The first F1 race was held here in 1987 and has been held every year except 2007 & ’08 when it went to the Toyota-owned Fuji Speedway, with which it was meant to have been alternating, but the track pulled out due to financial difficulties. This will be the 30th race to have been held here with 15 of the 29 having been won from pole position.

It was 4 years ago when Jules Bianchi had his horrific accident, sustaining fatal injuries and ultimately passing away the following year.  It was the darkest day in F1 in two decades.

After overnight rain it was overcast with the temperature at 26°C at 10am local time for qualifying. A fast and furious 12 minute top ten shootout saw Ferrari get it wrong again, sending the two drivers out on inters with both having to waste valuable time coming back to change tyres. Oco was handed a 3 place penalty for failing to slow sufficiently under the red flag during FP3, dropping him down to 11th place. Ham was in pole at the end of practice.

Race day was brighter and 28˚C. All got away well. Ham moved across to cover Bot. Vet had a good start getting past the 2 Toro Rosso cars. Ver locked up and ran wide and collided with Räi when returning to the track, forcing the Finn off. Mag & Lec had a coming together causing the Haas driver to crawl back to the pits with a flat tyre, bringing the safety car out for 5 laps to clear the debris. Vet made a move on Ver and clashed, sending the Ferrari driver into a spin and down to the back of the pack with damage to the side pod. Ver was given a 5 second time penalty for an unsafe return to the track, Str a 5 second penalty for causing an accident & Alo had a 5 second penalty for leaving the circuit and gaining an advantage. Hül had a technical problem and had to retire and Lec pulled off the circuit with a mechanical problem causing a very short VSC period.  It was a very good exciting race with plenty of action and overtaking which took 1h 27m 17.062s. Ham got his 4th win at this circuit, increasing his championship lead over Vet to 67 points. Bot & Ver joined in on the podium celebrations. Vet recorded the fastest lap of the race clocking 1m 32.318s on lap 53.

Mercedes are now 78 points ahead of Ferrari in the Constructors’ battle and have one hand on the trophy. Red Bull are a further 141 points adrift.