GP of Hungary

Ricciardo emerges from chaos

Daniel Ricciardo won his second victory in Formula 1, the second in this 2014 season for the Red Bull driver who, after Canada, emerged from the tangle in Hungary to take the chequered flag, following a three-way battle, ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

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The facts

The start was on wet track and the race really took off very quickly with Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), who started on pole, holding on to his advantage until the first appearance of the Safety Car, on the seventh lap, at a moment when the German wasn’t in a position to dive into the stands, and lost the race lead a few seconds later.

Meanwhile, his team mate, Lewis Hamilton, was embarked upon an unbelievable comeback through the traffic – a feat that has become something of a habit for the British driver over the last few races. At the end of the day, The Englishman finished third, and profited from that to pocket three little points on his main rival in the Drivers’ Championship.

Fernando Alonso, on an offbeat strategy, wasn’t far from victory, but could do nothing when, three laps from the flag, the Australian from RBR caught up and overtook him to secure his second victory this season. A few instants earlier, Ricciardo had zipped past Hamilton to enthusiastic applause from the Red Bull garage.

The figure

9 – Nine. Like the number of races without scoring a single point in 2014 for Romain Grosjean. The Lotus driver was once again forced to withdraw this Sunday afternoon in Hungary. The Frenchman has not finished in the top ten since Monaco.

The quote

“He who risks nothing, gains nothing, but having to retire from behind the Safety Car, that hurts…” Romain Grosjean, who skidded off while trying to heat up his tyres behind the Safety Car.

The anecdote

Sebastian Vettel (7th), who went into a spin when he skidded on the verge in the main straight, had an acrobatic escape, the right flank of his RB10 scraping the wall for a few centimetres.

Next up

Belgium (22-24 August)

GP of Germany

Rosberg, King of Germany

Nico Rosberg won his national Grand Prix, in Germany, having started from pole position. The recently married leader of the Drivers’ Championship finished ahead of Valteri Bottas and of his team mate Lewis Hamilton, who achieved a remarkable comeback. For Red Bull and Lotus, the mid-season waypoint was rounded somewhat discreetly.

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The facts

The tone of the race was set right from the first turn when Williams driver Felipe Massa suffered a rolling crash upon being harpooned by Kevin Magnusson (McLaren). The Brazilian was more shaken than injured, but continues to be dogged by misfortune in this 2014 season.

Hamilton, who started twentieth following an accident during qualification on Saturday and a gearbox change during the night, wowed spectators with overtaking manoeuvres that were as magnificent as they were daring. The British driver “salvaged the situation” at the finish, but ceded ten points to his main rival.

The fight for the runners-up positions was hard fought. Sebastian Vettel, at the wheel of the Red Bull, took both Ferraris at one swipe in the hairpin, to finish fourth ahead of Fernando Alonso. Daniel Ricciardo, his team mate, crossed the line in sixth position, after a fine tussle with the Spaniard’s F14 T.

The figure

10 – Ten. Like the number of races without scoring a single point in 2014 for Pastor Maldonado. The Lotus driver ended up stranded in twelfth position this Sunday afternoon in Germany. Nevertheless, his contract was extended into 2015 this weekend.

The quote

“We have taken steps to ensure the lessons of 2014 are well learnt, and to allow us to return to the desired level in 2015, i.e. fighting for podium places. Watch out for us in 2015 and beyond!” declared Gérard Lopez, boss and co-owner of Lotus, who believes the team will return to the front rank next season.

The anecdote

Vettel, who was on the top step of the podium last year in Germany, has yet to win a race in 2014. The quadruple World Champion, who has triumphed in 38 races in 5 seasons with Red Bull, is having to learn patience.

Next up

Hungary (25th-27th July)

Results Superbike Laguna Seca

Sykes Sprints to Success

Third in the first American race, in the second Tom Sykes scored his eighth win of the season after a seven-lap sprint that will leave its mark in many a memory.

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The Races

Starting in the lead of the first race, Tom Sykes unfortunately made a small mistake at the entry to the Corkscrew, an error immediately used to their advantage by Melandri and Guintoli who slipped past him. By the time he regained his senses and caught up with the two Aprilia riders again, he was still six seconds behind them, and the championship leader could only make sure he made it to the third step of the podium. The second race, run on only seven laps, allowed the Kawasaki rider to show the full range of his skills once again. Melandri having abandoned, Sykes quickly took the lead to clinch his eighth win of the season. “It was a very good result because we had a lot of problems on this circuit last season,” said the Brit. “It was important for me to take two podiums before the summer break.” Loris Baz had a harder time on the track at Laguna Seca. Ninth in the first race, he did a little better in the second, finishing sixth. “I can’t be satisfied with these results,” explained the French rider in the evening after the Californian event. “We had settings problems all weekend that we never managed to solve. I had trouble getting the bike to turn, and on this kind of technical track with lots of changes in terrain, you can’t get away with it. I’m really disappointed with my weekend.” In the Evo category, David Salom won twice. Finishing in tenth place three seconds behind Baz in the first round, the Spaniard finished eighth in the second race ahead of Andreozzi and Camier. As every year, no event in the Supersport World Championship was held in California. Kenan Sofuoglu will be back in the competition in early September in Jerez.

The Championship

With his two podiums in America, Tom Sykes has slightly increased his lead again in the overall standings. The Kawasaki rider now leads the overall standings with a forty-four point lead over Sylvain Guintoli. Loris Baz, on the other hand, has slipped back to fourth place. The French rider is still only four small points behind Jonathan Rea. Twelfth with eighty-eight points on his counter, Salom has consolidated his position as the leading Evo rider.

The Background

The tribute is that of Sylvain Guintoli, second in the Superbike World Championship and Tom Sykes’ main rival in the title race: “Nobody can beat Tom on this kind of seven-lap sprint. It’s really great the way he’s in action right from the first bend. Unlike most of his opponents, he can be one hundred percent right from the start. And once he’s off, it’s hard to catch up with him.” The words are those of the Kawasaki rider’s heir on the evening of the race at Laguna Seca after Sykes had won a second round reduced to seven laps. A sprint due to two red-flag interruptions to the race, the first caused by the fall of Alex Lowes, the second by that of Sylvain Barrier. “Maybe that’s also why I’m so good in Superpole sessions,” suggested the world champion title holder and championship leader. “I manage to get into action very quickly. And on this kind of highly technical track, making the difference right from the start is a huge advantage.” A quality that the English rider also owes in part to his experience in BSB, the British Superbike Championship, in which the majority of the events are held on small circuits that most of all require explosiveness.

Results MotoGP Germany

Marc VDS Team on track for title

By finishing second and fourth in the Moto2 German Grand Prix, Kallio and Rabat have consolidated their positions in the overall standings. Now separated by only nineteen points the two riders of the Marc VDS team are on track to the world title.

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The Races

Leader for twenty-six of the twenty-nine laps of the German Grand Prix, Mika Kallio should have scored his third win of the season at Sachsenring – but Dominique Aegerter of Switzerland stopped that by overtaking him in the penultimate bend. “He came out of bend 11 really well and there was nothing I could do to prevent him from overtaking me at the bottom,” said Kallio. “I tried my luck in the last bend, but there was nothing I could do.” In a fight to the finish with Simone Corsi, Tito Rabat lost the podium in the last lap. “I thought I could overtake him again in the last bend, but I made a mistake in entering it too fast and leaving it too wide,” regretted the Spaniard. In the MotoGP category, Stefan Bradl finished without scoring any points after starting with the wrong settings. Finally in Moto3, Miguel Oliveira crashed while Arthur Sissis managed to cross the finish line in thirteenth position. Livio Loi withdrew because of a mechanical problem after leaving the track early in the race to avoid a competitor who had fallen in front of him.

The Championship

Now separated by only nineteen points, Tito Rabat and Mika Kallio are approaching the summer break in the first two places of the Moto2 championship with a comfortable lead over their opponents. Third overall, Viñales is fifty points behind the Spanish leader. In the MotoGP category, Stefan Bradl has lost one place and slid back to ninth position at mid-season. There’s no change in the Moto3 category, since Miguel Oliveira has kept his eighth place. Livo Loi is now in eighteenth position.

The Background

You win some, you lose some. But not much. When the MotoGP riders lined up on the starting grid of the German Grand Prix, a shower had just soaked the Sachsenring circuit. Everyone had rain tires. But the German track dries quickly. Stefan Bradl and his team decided to change the wheels to start on slicks. But they also needed to change the suspension settings. And that’s where things got complicated. “We had a small problem with the rear shock absorber,” said Christophe Bourguignon, technical director of the LCR team. “The mechanic who was working on the fork had to lend a hand to the one who was working on the rear wheel, and we didn’t have time to change the fork springs. So Stefan had to start with settings that were unsuitable for the situation.” But Lucio Cecchinello’s team had made the right choice, since after the warm-up lap all the riders who had rain tires went into the pits to change bikes. Setting off with a head lead, Bradl was unable to reap the benefits of his intuition. After leading for five laps in front of his public, the German rider had to satisfy himself by crossing the finish line in sixth position.

Results Superbike Portugal

Brains beat brawn

Although rain decided to disrupt the eighth round of the World Superbike Championship, Tom Sykes showed brains as well as brawn on the Portimao circuit. Thanks to a win and an eighth place, the titleholder has strengthened his lead in the overall standings.

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The Races

Having winning his twenty-second Superpole on Saturday afternoon, Tom Sykes was merciless in the first race of the Portuguese weekend. Quickly taking the lead, he rode through the brief shower which played with the nerves of the other riders to score his seventh win of the season, the twenty-first of his career in Superbike. In so doing, the Kawasaki rider has joined Max Biaggi in the list of record-holders for the discipline. Held on a wet track, race two was more difficult for the world championship title-holder. Lacking grip, he satisfied himself with an eighth place, after avoiding the pitfalls into which many of his opponents unfortunately fell. Third in race one three seconds behind his teammate, Loris Baz finished ahead of him in the second round by crossing the finish line in sixth position. In the Supersport category, after the race was shortened by six laps because of the rain, Kenan Sofuoglu made it to his third podium of the season by finishing behind Michael van der Mark and Jack Kennedy.

The Championship

In perfect control despite extremely tricky conditions, Tom Sykes strengthened his leading position in Portimao. As the championship moves into the second half of the season, the title-holder now has a forty-three point lead over Sylvain Guintoli. Loris Baz, third overall, is now only five points behind his competitor compatriot. In the Supersport category, Kenan Sofuoglu used the sixteen points scored in Portimao to move back to fourth place in the championship.

The Background

To win a world championship title, sometimes it’s best to play it safe and score the points that will count at the end of the season. Tom Sykes confirmed in Portugal that he’s the fastest rider on the track, but he also showed he can handle things when the situation requires. An easy winner in race one, the Kawasaki rider didn’t take any risks during the second, disrupted by rain. Letting his direct rivals make the mistakes, he intelligently set his sights on scoring the eight precious points he needed and avoided doing much more. “The weather had decided to play with our nerves,” said the Brit. “We started on a dry track for race one, and I quickly took the lead. Then it started to rain. It made things more difficult because I was in the lead and had nobody in front of me to act as a guide. But the team gave me clear signs and I managed to keep the lead over the laps until the rain cleared. I then increased the pace again to win the race. By the time the second race started, the track was drenched. I never feel really comfortable on a wet track, so I didn’t try any tricks. The grip was tricky, making Guintoli and Melandri collide behind me. Sylvain was able to get back on his bike and he even eventually overtook me, but I only lost one point. In the end, I further increased my overall lead.”

GP of Great Britain

Ricciardo third at Silverstone

Lewis Hamilton triumphed for the second time in his career at Siverstone, ahead of Valteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo. He is back within four points of Nico Rosberg in the Championship.

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The facts

The race began in turmoil with Kimi Raikkönen’s very violent accident during the first lap. The Ferrari driver smashed his single seater to pieces, on his own, crashing into the safety barriers, the necessary repairs interrupting the race for an hour. When the race got back under weigh, Lewis Hamilton was fourth behind Nico Rosberg and the two McLarens driven by Jenson Button and Kevin Magnusson. He rapidly caught up with his team mate, who was forced to retire later with a gearbox problem.

The sectators’ darling then found himself ideally positioned to win, six years to the day after his first victory at Silverstone. He didn’t let the opportunity slip away, dominating the race to finish with an enormous lead (thirty seconds) over Bottas and Ricciardo, who finished third, thanks to an offbeat one-stop strategy. At the flag, the Australian held onto his third place with eight-tenths of a second in hand over Jenson Button. The other Red Bull driver, Sebastian Vettel, finished fifth, in spite of a poorly controlled start (dropping from 2nd to 5th place in the first lap).

His duel with Fernando Alonso late in the race was splendid, muscular, and borderline compliant; the German finally came off better. No Lotus finished in the points in Great Britain, Romain Grosjean having to make do with twelfth place. Pastor Maldonado was even further downfield when his engine gave up the ghost three laps before the line.

The figure

8 – Daniel Ricciardo was suffering at the end of the race with worn tyres, Jenson Button catching him a second per lap. The Australian held on to his third place by the skin of his teeth (a mere eight-tenths) to claim his fourth podium place this season.

The quote

“He (Fernando Alonso) is not leaving me enough room,” complained Vettel, frequently, over his radio while he battled it out with the Spaniard, before squeezing past.

The anecdote

The British actor, Jude Law, was invited by the Lotus team to Silverstone, and spent a highly enjoyable time with the drivers, notably Romain Grosjean, in his words “a real gentleman”.

Next up

German Grand Prix (18-20 July)