Grand Prix coverage
Sir, I just want to comment on your current GP coverage. I had the occasion…
First team entry 1954. Races entered 168. Wins 76. FLs 56. Poles 88. Driver titles 6. Position last year 1st
A bit like Manchester City on wheels, but more consistent. There have been 79 GPs since F1 entered its hybrid era – and Merc has won 63 (last season was its weakest, with ‘only’ 12 from 20). Liberated from the destabilising consequences of former team-mate Nico Rosberg’s mind games, Lewis Hamilton was arguably at his most fluent in 2017. And he was already fairly handy…
LEWIS HAMILTON: First GP Australia 2007. Races entered 208. Titles 4. Wins 62. FLs 38. Poles 72. Position last year 1st
VALTTERI BOTTAS: First GP Australia 2013. Races entered 97. Titles 0. Wins 3. FLs 3. Poles 4. Position last year 3rd
First team entry 1950. Races entered 949. Wins 229. FLs 244. Poles 213. Driver titles 15. Position last year 2nd
Kimi Räikkönen was part of the last Ferrari team to win a world title (constructors, 2008), but wasn’t always a great deal of help – and is arguably even less so now… Sebastian Vettel’s attributes are a given, but the Scuderia might fare better if it employed two current top-liners and spent more time focusing on racing than threatening to withdraw from F1 if it doesn’t get its own way.
SEBASTIAN VETTEL: First GP USA 2007. Races entered 198. Titles 4. Wins 47. FLs 33. Poles 50. Position last year 2nd
KIMI RAIKKONEN: First GP Australia 2001. Races entered 270. Titles 1. Wins 20. FLs 45. Poles 17. Position last year 4th
First team entry 2005. Races entered 244. Wins 55. FLs 54. Poles 58. Driver titles 4. Position last year 3rd
A team with Aston Martin backing, Renault engines – and a direct line to Honda’s performance progress via sibling Toro Rosso. Its relationship with Renault has stabilised, following marriage guidance counsel in 2015, but the possibilities are intriguing. Blessed with the best of all driver line-ups – and Vertappen is contracted until the end of 2020. The future is, indeed, orange.
DANIEL RICCIARDO: First GP Great Britain 2011. Races entered 129. Titles 0. Wins 5. FLs 9. Poles 1. Position last year 5th
MAX VERSTAPPEN: First GP Australia 2015. Races entered 60. Titles 0. Wins 3. FLs 2. Poles 0. Position last year 6th
First team entry 2008. Races entered 191. Wins 0. FLs 5. Poles 1. Driver titles 0. Position last year 4th
Despite background uncertainty over the state of owner Vijay Mallya’s business empire, the team has remained a paragon of stability – for several seasons the best in the paddock, if measured on the basis of points scored per pound spent. Sergio Pérez has a masters degree in slaying giants; Esteban Ocon is a Mercedes junior who seems destined for promotion sooner rather than later.
SERGIO PEREZ: First GP Australia 2011. Races entered 134. Titles 0. Wins 0. FLs 4. Poles 0. Position last year 7th
ESTEBAN OCON: First GP Belgium 2016. Races entered 29. Titles 0. Wins 0. FLs 0. Poles 0. Position last year 8th
First team entry 1977. Races entered 690. Wins 114. FLs 133. Poles 128. Driver titles 7. Position last year 5th
Jones/Reutemann. Piquet/Mansell. Add to that Prost, Senna, a couple of Rosbergs, Hill, Montoya, Webber and a Villeneuve. A Sirotkin/Stroll cocktail doesn’t quite match the team’s proud heritage. Stroll looked good at times in 2017, but inconsistently so; Sirotkin showed promise in GP2, but wasn’t quite a match for Felipe Massa during testing last autumn. A tough year beckons.
SERGEY SIROTKIN: First GP n/a. Races entered 0. Titles 0. Wins 0. FLs 0. Poles 0. Position last year n/a
LANCE STROLL: First GP Australia 2017. Races entered 20. Titles 0. Wins 0. FLs 0. Poles 0. Position last year 12th
First team entry 1977. Races entered 341. Wins 35. FLs 31. Poles 51. Driver titles 2. Position last year 6th
In F1 terms, few manufacturers match Renault for boldness of spirit – given its track record with pioneering turbos and standard-setting V10s, not to mention a string of titles with Red Bull – but it dithered about returning to the front line in 2016 and progress since has been fairly sedate. Last year it reached the level of a half-decent Clio, but it hurriedly needs to unlock its inner 8 Gordini.
NICO HULKENBERG: First GP Bahrain 2010. Races entered 135. Titles 0. Wins 0. FLs 2. Poles 1. Position last year 10th
CARLOS SAINZ: First GP Australia 2015. Races entered 60. Titles 0. Wins 0. FLs 0. Poles 0. Position last year 9th
First team entry 2006. Races entered 226. Wins 1. FLs 1. Poles 1. Driver titles 0. Position last year 7th
Effectively a guinea pig, in that it surrendered a supply of Renault engines to keep McLaren happy and received a crate of hitherto unloved Honda V6s in exchange. So this season is likely to be either a total disaster, because the things will persist in breaking, or else Honda will turn back into Honda and Gasly and Hartley – each a genuine talent – will be fighting in the top six. Possibly…
PIERRE GASLY: First GP Malaysia 2017. Races entered 5. Titles 0. Wins 0. FLs 0. Poles 0. Position last year 21st
BRENDON HARTLEY: First GP United States 2017. Races entered 4. Titles 0. Wins 0. FLs 0. Poles 0. Position last year 23rd
First team entry 2016. Races entered 41. Wins 0. FLs 0. Poles 0. Driver titles 0. Position last year 8th
An object lesson in how to enter F1 at reduced (though still prohibitively expensive) cost, but also illustrative of the limitations those terms of engagement impose. Grosjean has long been saddled with cars some way south of his own potential; the frustration sometimes shows. Magnussen made a stellar F1 race debut (Australia 2014), but –
oddly – has rarely looked that good since.
ROMAIN GROSJEAN: First GP Europe 2009. Races entered 122. Titles 0. Wins 0. FLs 1. Poles 0. Position last year 13th
KEVIN MAGNUSSEN: First GP Australia 2014. Races entered 60. Titles 0. Wins 0. FLs 0. Poles 0. Position last year 14th
First team entry 1966. Races entered 821. Wins 182. FLs 154. Poles 155. Driver titles 12. Position last year 9th
Has dispensed with Honda (builder of the fourth best engine on the grid) to tap into a supply from Renault (the third). Irrespective of performance gains, the switch was worthwhile as a catalyst in persuading prize asset Alonso to stay. Sophomore Vandoorne has a fine pedigree, so last season underlined just how potent a force Alonso (approaching his 17th year as an F1 racer) remains.
FERNANDO ALONSO: First GP Australia 2003. Races entered 290. Titles 2. Wins 32. FLs 23. Poles 22. Position last year 15th
STOFFEL VANDOORNE: First GP Bahrain 2016. Races entered 20. Titles 0. Wins 0. FLs 0. Poles 0. Position last year 16th
First team entry 1993. Races entered 352. Wins 1. FLs 5. Poles 1. Driver titles 0. Position last year 10th
New technical associate Alfa Romeo has an illustrious competition history, but hasn’t won a Grand Prix since Spain 1951 as a constructor, or Italy 1978 as an engine supplier. For now the name is little more than a large motif on the engine cover, but it symbolises increased technical collaboration with Ferrari – and heralds the arrival in F1 of the highly capable Charles Leclerc.
MARCUS ERICSSON: First GP Australia 2014. Races entered 76. Titles 0. Wins 0. FLs 0. Poles 0. Position last year 20th
CHALES LECLERC: First GP n/a. Races entered 0. Titles 0. Wins 0. FLs 0. Poles 0. Position last year n/a
Sir, I just want to comment on your current GP coverage. I had the occasion…
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