Staying ahead of the competition- Lewis and Nico’s Off Track Rivalry

It’s been one of the biggest stories surrounding Formula 1 this season, and it doesn’t seem to show any signs of letting up; the rivalry between Mercedes team mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg is shaping up to be the inter-team battle which will define the outcome of many a Grand Prix for a long while yet.

One of the most interesting dynamics in this hugely competitive title race between the two drivers is that they have been friends since childhood and are still neighbours in Monaco today, a fact which really shines through when they are seen together off track. This latest video from Allianz, official sponsors of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 team, shows the two engaging in some slightly less high speed, adrenaline filled competition. Who knew Lewis could juggle?!

It’s obvious to any F1 fan that comments made during the heat of a race or in the disappointing aftermath of a missed podium or pole position are likely to present a dimmer, more negative view of the situation than the driver really feels, and I think this has certainly been the case with the feelings expressed by both Mercedes drivers after losing a win or important position to one another so far this season. The bitterness of this rivalry has undoubtably been exaggerated by the media, but it is still clear that these are two drivers hungry for that World Championship title; the question is, who will stay on top of the competition?

Subscribe to Allianz on YouTube to watch more videos like this, or to keep up with the latest F1 content.


Stefano Domenicali ‘resigns’ from struggling Ferrari

Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali announced today that he has resigned from the Italian team with immediate effect. Domenicali, who has been at Ferrari for 23 years in various roles and been team principal since 2008, said earlier today:

“There are particular moments in all of our professional lives where you need the courage to take difficult and very painful decisions,”

“It’s time to make an important change. As boss, I take the responsibility – as I always have – for the situation we are going through.Source- BBC


The ‘situation’ Domenicali is referring to is the last few years which have been barren of F1 success for Ferrari, with only a few outstanding drives from Alonso coming close to breaking the recent dominance of far younger and less esteemed teams such as Red Bull and Mercedes.

Ferrari have not had the best start to the 2014 season either, with Alonso voicing concerns over the pace of the car after a poor race in Bahrain last weekend, which only yielded 9th and 10th place finishes for the team. It was at this race that Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo left the track in frustration before the chequered flag was waved, a clear sign that there have been tensions between the key decision-makers at Ferrari and their separate-yet-joined F1 outfit.


Whilst Domenicali claims to be ‘resigning’ from Ferrari, I think it’s clear that there has been a lot of pressure placed on him to step down after a lack of standout results in the last few seasons. I’m sure Stefano would blame a greater focus on the development of the 2013 and 2013 cars to try and challenge for a title which was within Alonso’s grasp for their poor start to this season, but either way this will be a blow to the team which will affect them heavily for the rest of 2014 and beyond.

Marco Mattiacci, the current president of Ferrari North America, will take over as Team Principal for the next F1 race, but it is unclear yet as to how long he will hold this position. Watch this space…

Mercedes strong form confirmed after 1-2 finish in Malaysia

They’ve got the engine, aero package, and, most importantly, they have the drivers, but it was today that Mercedes really showed that they are a team capable of challenging for a world championship. In an almost Vettel-esque style, Lewis Hamilton controlled today’s race at the Sepang Grand Prix Circuit in Malaysia from the lights going out to chequered flag to finish ahead of his team mate Nico Rosberg, giving Mercedes their long awaited 1-2 finish. It was very appropriate that Mercedes, who have poured millions into their Formula 1 programme with the backing of native Malaysian oil firm Petronas, could put on such a dominant display at the home Grand Prix of their biggest sponsors.


Reliability and fuel management were not a concern for either Mercedes throughout the race, which bodes well for the rest of the season. Their closest competition currently looks to be coming from Red Bull, who whilst aren’t showing anything like the dominance they enjoyed in 2013, are still a force to be reckoned with. A spate of unlucky incidents and subsequent penalties for Daniel Ricciardo saw him retire late into the race, after a great drive saw him challenging Vettel for position several times, but neither Red Bull could challenge for the lead; however, Ferrari seem to be stuck at the top of the midfield for now, and with Mclaren form fluctuating, the early season seems an ideal time for Mercedes and Red Bull to pull out a lead which could later prove crucial, double points or not.


However, these are still very early days for F1 2014. Teams will be bringing big updates to the start of the European season in a few races time, so whilst the teams who have grasped the key to the new formula early on in the pre season build up hold the advantage now, expect that gap to close up quickly.


Interestingly, it seems to be the young talent which is really shining through in the new cars. New Torro Rosso driver Daniil Kyvat has scored points in both races so far, and Mclaren’s latest recruit Kevin Magnussen has proved he can mix it with the very best drivers on the grid. Valtterri Bottas, whilst not a rookie, also drove a great race today, and his level of confidence was made clear when he openly declared he was quicker than Massa and should be let through. Interesting stuff.

thepitstopblog’s Pre-Season Review 2014

Today was the final day of pre season testing before the 2014 F1 season kicks off properly in just twelve days time, and whilst it’s often very correctly said that testing times are a poor indicator of true competitiveness, I think the recent testing sessions in Bahrain have given us several clues to what we can expect from the start of the season.


Firstly, there’s a few front running teams which we can pick out based on several factors. Top of my list is Mercedes; whilst neither Hamilton or Rosberg has set the fastest time over all the testing sessions, they’ve completed the most mileage and have been putting in consistently quick times whilst proving their 2014 car to be very reliable. I think they’ll be the ones to watch in Melbourne, but the team I’m most looking forward to watching is Williams. After a terrible 2013 season, the Oxford based team has shown great form over the winter tests with star signing Felipe Massa putting in the fastest time overall. Very impressive stuff.

The lack of running for both Red Bull drivers this winter has generated a lot of speculation over their form ahead of the 2014 season, and rightly so. It’s not ideal for a team who have dominated the sport for the last 4 years to be suffering from technical difficulties (Vettel span earlier today due to a brake problem, and many of Red Bull’s runs have been cut short by faults with the car), a lack of pace and troubles with both their new engine and energy recovery systems, but I for one certainly wouldn’t underestimate them. The Red Bull engineering team is one of best on the grid, and whilst I’m not yet convinced Ricciardo will be able to fully deliver this year, they have a very strong driver in the form of Sebastian Vettel. The F1 world’s eyes will be firmly fixed on the fate of both Red Bull cars come Melbourne next week.


Another question which many hoped would be answered over the past few weeks is whether we’ll be seeing Mclaren back at the front of the grid this year. I’ve been very impressed with new driver Kevin Magnussen’s form over the winter, and I think he’ll be more than capable of scoring good points for the team who struggled so much in 2013. It’s too early to accurately tell how quick they are relative to the other teams, but I’m pretty sure they’ll be playing catch up to Mercedes for much of the year.


There’s no doubt we’ll be seeing plenty of retirements in the first race as cars struggle to keep cool under the heat of the Australian sun, but with very few teams successfully completing full race simulations on track this winter, race strategies should be interesting to watch. It’s too hard to call the winner so I’m not going to risk it, but my tip would be one of the Mercedes or a well driven Ferrari; Massa is the danger man in his Williams too, so it should be good!

Renault power proving to be unreliable

It’s been a tough few days for teams running a Renault engine this season, with cars powered by the French-built V6’s only completing 82 laps over the three days of testing we’ve seen so far. To put that figure into perspective, Mercedes engines (which currently seem to be very strong in terms of both speed and reliability) have powered cars to around 400 laps so far; after Renault-engined cars have won both the constructors and drivers championships for 4 years running, this is a real blow to both Renault and the 4 teams using their engines this season.


According to Renault head of trackside operations, Remi Taffin, the problem lies in the battery energy stores of the power unit. “The fact is that obviously we are facing problems,” Taffin said. “There are many problems we can see when we have got new cars and also on our side new power units, so that can be different from one team to another.

“But for sure we know on our side that we had one problem that we clearly identified. We wanted to fix it; we could not fix it for this morning so we decided to do as much as we could on our side to make sure that for tomorrow – especially for Red Bull and Toro Rosso – we are sure that we can take the track at 9 o’clock. We are confident that tomorrow morning we will have all three cars on track.” Source-


A lack of running means a lack of data for the engineers both at Renault and the teams using Renault power in 2014. This data is vital for analysing and improving the performance of the engines, and as there is clearly a lot to do to bring them back into line with the current front runners Mercedes and Mclaren, Renault will be lamenting the absence of Lotus from this test; one less team testing the Renault engine means another set of data less. The impact of this will be felt by both Red Bull teams, as well as Caterham.

What exactly can we learn about F1 2014 from today’s testing?

Very infrequently did the whine of a turbocharged V6 shatter the silence around rural southern Spain today, as teams struggled to get their 2014 cars ready for the track. It was a very limited day of testing, with fewer than 100 laps completed in total by all teams; the lone incident which has been grabbing headlines was Hamilton’s crash into the tyre wall at Turn 1 following a front wing failure. With only 6 drivers putting a time on the board at the end of the session, it would be easy to declare today barren of any interest to the fans, but is that really the case? Here’s the low-down on what we have learnt from day one of winter testing.


The 2014 cars are no beauties

We’d already seen photos of several team’s cars for the upcoming season, but today was the first chance to really get a good look at what the outcome of the new technical regulations has been on the look of the cars. It wasn’t pretty. Red Bull pulled the covers off their RB10 early this morning to a storm of media activity, and whilst the new car is, in my opinion, one of the better looking cars which will be gracing the grid next season, it’s still not exactly beautiful. The prize for the worst looking car goes to Caterham, with this ghastly creation you can see below; Torro Rosso’s car isn’t much better, and neither is Force India’s. Mercedes, on the other hand, have managed to create a nose which looks really rather nice. It’s just a shame it won’t stay on, a fact which Hamilton will no doubt be very concerned about after his crashed into the tyres after just 18 laps due to the front nose collapsing at speed. Scary stuff…


The 2014 cars are not reliable

The new Ferrari is also no looker, but it turns out it’s not very reliable either, with Maranello’s latest creation shuddering to a halt after just half a lap with Raikkonen at the wheel. The news from the Italian team was that the car was stopped as a “precautionary measure”; in other words, it broke. Many teams failed to even get their car out on track, Mclaren amongst them, with Red Bull only managing to give Sebastian Vettel a chance to try out his latest ride just 15 minutes before the end of the session. This is something which I believe we will be seeing a lot of in 2014, as teams struggle to get to grips with the huge amount of new technology on the cars.


The V6 Engines don’t sound too bad

It was one of the biggest pre-season talking points, but after a few YouTube videos of the new V6 engines running on dyno’s caused a storm of debate over what the soundtrack to what the 2014 F1 season would be, we finally got a chance to hear the new turbocharged powerplants out on track. The whine of the turbo can clearly be heard as the car whirs around track under hybrid power, and whilst it’s certainly a change from the V8 howl we’ve become used to in previous years, the V6’s don’t sound too bad. If anyone’s lucky enough to visit a Grand Prix this year, I’d love to hear your opinion from the trackside, but through speakers they just sound different, as opposed to the speculated audible travesty they were built up to be.


Here are the times from today’s running, but it is worth noting that they essentially mean nothing. Every driver has said that their only focus today was to get used to the car, rather than extract the very best from it, and so these shouldn’t be taken very seriously.

Jerez test, Day One timesheet:
1. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:27.104, 31 laps.
2. Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:27.820, 18 laps.
3. Bottas, Williams, 1:30.082, 7 laps.
4. Perez, Force India, 1.33:161, 11 laps.
5. Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:36.530, 15 laps.
6. Gutierrez, Sauber, 1:42.257, 7 laps.
7. Vettel, Red Bull, No time, 3 laps.
8. Ericsson, Caterham, No time, 1 lap.
9. Button, McLaren, No time, 0 laps.

Kobayashi returns to complete the 2014 F1 Grid

Apologies for the lack of posts on recently- blame mock GCSEs and a busy schedule. However, Caterham did enough to bring me back out from blogging hibernation with the announcement that Kamui Kobayashi will be making his return to Formula 1 with them, alongside Swedish F1 rookie Marcus Ericsson to spearhead their 2014 campaign. Kobayashi’s on-the-limit style of driving (epitomised by some beautiful drifts in front of his home crowd at Suzuka in recent years) has won him many fans in the F1 world, so his return to the sport has generated lots of interest after a relatively quiet period of news from the F1 paddock.


Kobayashi’s new team mate Ericsson is very inexperienced in F1 by anyone’s standards, let alone compared to the Japanese driver’s 60 Grand Prix starts and podium finish for Sauber, but with his solitary test in an F1 car for Brawn GP back in 2009 being backed up by 4 seasons in GP2, Ericsson is in a good place to be competitive amongst the other rookie drivers in 2014. I am pleased that a driver who has raced for several seasons in F1’s feeder series has landed a drive, as opposed to a pay driver who has bought his way to the front of the queue. It is also interesting that Kobayashi will be racing for no salary in 2014, after turning down a multi-year contract racing sportscars with Ferrari. He strikes me as a driver who races for a love of the sport, not the money.

Here’s the rest of the 2014 grid:

Infiniti Red Bull Racing

1. Sebastian Vettel
3. Daniel Ricciardo


6. Nico Rosberg
44. Lewis Hamilton


7. Kimi Raikkonen
14. Fernando Alonso


8. Romain Grosjean
13. Pastor Maldonado


20. Kevin Magnussen
22. Jenson Button

Force India

11. Sergio Perez
27. Nico Hulkenberg


21. Esteban Gutierrez
99. Adrian Sutil

Toro Rosso

25. Jean-Eric Vergne
26. Daniil Kvyat


19. Felipe Massa
77. Valtteri Bottas


17. Jules Bianchi
TBA. Max Chilton


TBA. Kamui Kobayashi
TBA. Marcus Ericsson