The 2015 season began in Melbourne once again where there was no surprise in the race winner. Mercedes had managed to use the winter to stay ahead with Lewis Hamilton taking a commanding victory by pulling away from the start and after the safety car.
For the rookies it was an impressive race with Max Verstappen showing his abitlies despite his in experience on track. Verstappen has continuing to prove himself on track. But in Melbourne he retired. Another rookie Felipe Nasr also impressed with his race craft.
The next stop for the 2015 was the hot and humid Sepang circuit in Malaysia. As ever the rain played it part throughout the weekend starting with qualifying Manor after sitting out Melbourne were well of the pace. But there was no surprised who was fastest it was Lewis Hamilton who took pole.
The race was another surprise when Ferrari managed to outsmart Mercedes on race craft. Vettel managed to hold off Hamilton from the pit stops. Hamilton was in control taking the lead of the race but he was soon once again under pressure from Vettel.
Hamilton was losing grip following the pit stop which meant he was soon under pressure again from the German who got passed him which Hamilton couldn’t respond too. This allowed Vettel to get back in front and take victory in Sepang.
Shanghai has always been a good circuit for Hamilton he has won this race three times but his fourth was defiantly on the cards after he pulled away and left the field behind. Hamilton was contently behind Louts Pastor Maldonado after his stop until the Venezuelan made a mistake with two spins dropping him down the field.
This allowed the Brit to retake the lead where he remained to take victory and the most successful driver in Shanghai.
Last year’s race in Bahrain was a classic a desert dual but would 2015 live up to 2014. Hamilton once again took control of the race to control the race from the start. It was also a good race for Kimi Raikkonen after Rosberg made a mistake allowing the Ferrari through.
Meanwhile it was a difficult race for Red Bull Daniel Ricciardo’s completed the race just before his Renault engine gave up. Renault’s lack of competiveness would spark a row between the team and the engine manufacturer later in the year.
Europe – Fight back part one
When the f1 rolled into Barcelona Rosberg knew if he wanted to be in the fight for the title now was the time for action. Rosberg started strongly during qualifying responding to the pressure put on him from Hamilton by taking pole for the first time in the season.
The strong form continued into the Grand Prix with him being able to hold off Hamilton. The world champion was forced to fight with Vettel who had an upgraded car like Hamilton but the Mercedes had done enough to maintain the gap over Ferrari. This gave Rosberg chance to pull away and take victory.
The next stop was the crown jewel of F1 the streets of Monte Carlo where both Rosberg and Hamilton have won and wanted to again. Hamilton looked to be in control of the race until he was caught out when the virtual safety car was changed to a real safety car after he made a pit stop.
This error gave Rosberg the lead and victory for the third year in a row leaving Hamilton with an apology from the team for the error.
Hoping to Montreal
Montreal has always been a good race for Hamilton he has won half the races he has started in and would he do the same in 2015. He started off well in qualifying by taking pole following him having an off mark FP3. Rosberg once again was second.
As for Vettel it was an off pace day as problems with the hybrid power unit meant he failed to make it out of Q1. From the start of Sundays race Hamilton was in total control controlling the race from the front. But Vettel managed to fight back finishing fifth. The race also marked a change as Williams got there first podium breaking the trend of Mercedes and Ferrari podiums.
However this came after the clash of the Fins after Raikkonen spun giving Valtteri Bottas third place. McLaren’s woes continued with both cars retiring but Alonso saw some humour tweeting “Jenson Button… Is this a bit better..? Well, probably depends upon how you look at it.” With a picture of an upside down time sheet.
Europe – fight back part two
Hamilton was hoping when f1 returned from Montreal he could carry the momentum into the Austrian Grand Prix. He started well by taking pole for the race in a damp session. He also equalled third on all time pole list with Vettel and meant Mercedes had powered every pole over the last year.
The next day it was once again a race between the two Mercedes but Hamilton made a poor start which allowed Rosberg to pull away and take victory. Hamilton tried to fight back. But drama came early on between two of the biggest names in the sport Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso crashed on the opening lap.
The race was then a fight between the Massa and Vettel for third with the Williams holding off the German. Meanwhile, at the front Rosberg still had control to take victory in Austria.
The next race was a race Hamilton was keen to win again with the season rolling into F1’s spiritual home at Silverstone which was also his home race and he was also the defending race winner. He started off well by beating his Mercedes team-mate Rosberg by .1 of a second in qualifying.
Come Sunday there was a shock when the race started after both Williams got the jump on the Mercedes when Hamilton made a mistake on the start. Massa was aided in leading the race by a safety car. Hamilton later used the undercut to get the jump on Felipe Massa.
Hamilton was forced to stop again as the rain moved in he was forced to switch to interns but this didn’t stop him to take victory in Silverstone for the third time.
F1 arrived into Hungary with emotions high days after the death of Jules Bianchi. Bianchi’s injuries from his crash in Suzuka in 2014 were the cause of the Frenchman’s death. Bianchi was seen as a rising star of the sport signed to Ferrari’s young driver program and drivers paid tribute before the race and all carried the #JB17 on their car (his initials and number).
Hamilton once again showed his dominance this season by taking pole from Rosberg by over half a second from Rosberg and Vettel. Ricciardo also put in his best result of the season so far by going third.
Sunday’s race it was chaotic from the point of Mercedes both drivers Hamilton made odd errors for him while his team-mate Rosberg suffered a late puncher dropping him to eighth place. But no problems for Ferrari with them getting another race win from Vettel followed by Daniil Kvyat.
Hungary always gives up a surprise and 2015 was no different as McLaren had their best result of the season so far with Alonso fifth. Verstappen also put in a strong performance finish fourth.
After the race Vettel paid tribute to Jules saying “Merci, Jules. Cette victoire est pour toi.” (Thank you, Jules. This victory is for you). He added in English: “You will always be in our hearts. We know sooner or later you would have been in this team.”
End of European season
Spa one of the most famous circuits on the calendar the circuit is one of the driver’s favourites because the famous circuit is long, twisty and very fast plus the unpredictable weather. It was no surprise that when F1 returned from it summer break that Mercedes once again took pole with Hamilton.
Also Mercedes power was king with the Williams, Lotus and Force India filling the top five grid places.
There was some nervous as the FIA had introduced new start procedure giving more control to the drivers. But this didn’t harm Hamilton who drove to victory after Rosberg was slow away from the grid. All the action was behind Hamilton the first restart was aborted following Sainz losing power on the start.
Vettel had been on course to take third but the German suffer a tyre failure which he blamed on Pirelli. However, the driver had run a very long and over half the race on one set of tyres. But Vettel’s drama allowed Lotus to get a podium following a difficult weekend with bankruptcy and bailiffs threatening to close down the team.
Monza the home of Ferrari and a place where only one result would please the tifosi a Ferrari one two. But the nature of the Autodromo this year would play to the hands of their main championship rivals Mercedes with the fast flowing nature of the circuit.
It was another strong performance from Mercedes who looked to be in-control through qualifying but the prancing horse wasn’t far off with the gap under a second. The teams had both brought upgraded power units for the race but the Germans retained the edge.
The race was once again a story off Mercedes as Hamilton took victory from Ferrari. However the brit was placed under investigation because of reports that he was running outside the minimum permitted pressure. That promoted some to call for the team to be disqualified from the race.
Mercedes had other concerns to as Rosberg retired in the closing stages with an engine failure dropping him out of the points. Hamilton described the weekend as one of the best of his career with him toping all the session from Friday practice, leading the race and setting the fastest lap.
When F1 arrived in the most beautiful back drop for a race under the floodlights in Marina Bay a shock was install for everyone as Vettel took pole ending Mercedes run of poles from 2014. Also, Mercedes were well down with Hamilton only managing fifth fastest. Rosberg couldn’t use the opportunity to beat Hamilton going sixth.
The race was the same story with Vettel taking control of the race from the start pulling away from the start. His team-mate Raikkonen also put in a strong performance getting onto the podium. While despite a turbulent season Ricciardo scored another podium for Red Bull.
Many heads were scratching with Mercedes retirements twice into two races, have they been caught or was it just a blip?
A week later could Suzuka provide the answers to the questions on everyone’s lips after Singapore?
Rosberg took pole in Japan after the qualifying session was cut short by Kvyat crashing in the closing stages. The Russian rolled his Red Bull in the closing stages of Q3 bringing out the red flag. Hamilton qualified second followed in two by two Williams, Ferrari, Williams, and Ferrari.
But come Sunday Hamilton was in control once again after he pulled away from the start. Hamilton appeared to be able to hold off Rosberg thought out the race. Rosbergs main threat was Vettel but he got caught up in traffic allowing Rosberg to retain second.
The main story came after this message from Alonso “It feels like GP2. Embarrassing. Very embarrassing. I’ll do my best.” Followed by later in the race “GP2 engine! GP2 engine! Agggh!” this according to many was an attack caused by frustration with Honda and McLaren lack of competiveness in 2015.
Saturday in Sochi began with a huge crash in third practice for Carlos Sainz who was unable to take part in qualifying. Rosberg was on the mark early in Q3 setting fastest lap from Hamilton with Mercedes power being dominate once again. Hamilton appeared to struggle on the street circuit messing up on his last run forcing him to run wide.
From Hamilton’s point of view everything went his way after he took control of the race from the start. His team-mate Rosberg would need to beat Hamilton in the race but he was forced to retire after throttle problems. Once again the clash of the fins as Bottas hit Raikkonen in the closing stages of the race. This helped Force India claim a podium with Perez meanwhile his team-mate Hulkenberg crashed out in the process collecting Ericcson who also retired and Verstappen in the process who managed to continue.
Grosjean was the next casualty after slamming into the walk shattering the Lotus over the track. Despite concerns over ‘rear wing performance’ Hamilton remained in control of the race to take victory putting him in sight of the title in Austin.
History made in the eye of Patricia
There was concerns going into the United States and Mexican Grand Prix’s about a Hurricane Patricia which caused FP2 to be cancelled and qualifying to be delayed and cut short. The storm hit Mexico causing some damage to the circuit while in Austin most of the circuit was un-driveable.
When Qualifying took place on Sunday the weather was still bad but the rain had stopped for the beginning. Rosberg set the fastest time in Q2 beating Hamilton before the final session was abandoned as the weather deteriorated before the Q3 session. This gave Rosberg pole from Hamilton while Vettel was only fifteenth.
Hamilton and Rosberg were fighting and trading places through-out the race both wanting results to go their way. Vettel also needed a good result making progress through-out climbing trough the field but was under pressure from Verstappen.
Neither Vettel nor Rosberg could stop an emotional Hamilton who drove a champions drive to take victory and the title. His dream of matching hero Ayrton Senna achieved crying on team radio saying “It’s the greatest moment of my life. Thank you guys so much. That was… I’m just so grateful, thank you. To my family, I love you all. Thank you.”
Following a twenty three year break F1 returned to a rebuilt and modernised Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. Hamilton was keen to secure another win and back-to-back British victories in Mexico City. It was a closely fought qualifying session between Hamilton and Rosberg at the front plus the rest of the top ten Hamilton was second and Vettel third.
Rosberg took control of the race from the start but while he led the race throughout he had to change strategy. Vettel on the other hand had a disastrous race starting with contact with Ricciardo spinning and damaging his tyres.
Vettel’s race went from bad to worse after he went noise first into the barriers and into retirement. His team-mate Raikkonen didn’t fair to well either in round two with Bottas who went over the front wheel breaking his suspension sending Raikkonen into retirement.
Bottas recovered to finish third on the podium. While it was a double retirement for Ferrari there first double retirement the 2006 Australian Grand Prix. But the crowds Hero Sergio Perez finished eightieth every time the Mexican went through the stadium on his way to ninth you could hear the roar of the engine being drowned out by the crowd.
But it was Rosberg who took victory.
Brazil is a race which Hamilton has always gunning for and was the only race in his eight year career but would 2015 provide him with a win in Ayrton Senna’s back yard. He said prior to the race weekend it “would be a salute to him and another highlight to add to this amazing year.”
It was once again a closely forgot qualifying session between him and Rosberg with the gap under a second between the two. But both were comfortably ahead of Ferrari and Williams.
Rosberg took total control of the race from the start of the race pulling out the lead over his team-mate Hamilton. Rosberg knew he could secure second in the championship. But Hamilton tried to fight back as the German looked once again to be in control.
Verstappen had once again put in a sunning move against Perez round the outside the outside of the Senna S this once again wowed the paddock with the 18-year old’s ability to make moves where no one else can. But Rosberg control lasted until the end.
After 19 races across five continents Formula One arrived in Abu Dhabi for the season finale a fitting dusk race to close off 2015. Once again it was Rosberg who took pole from Hamilton by under half a second. But this didn’t relay matter as the team already secured first in the constructors and first and second in the drivers.
But Vettel was in for a shock as he failed to make it out of Q1 after everyone else switched to super soft tyres but remained on the soft which meant he couldn’t respond when everyone else switched. While Raikkonen had a good qualifying session going third.
Once again it was a good fight from Hamilton after Rosberg took control from the start of the race. Hamilton tried everything even considered a change of strategy but that didn’t work allowing Rosberg to re-open and extend his gap over Hamilton to take victory.
Raikkonen finished just ahead of Vettel who fought back from starting in bottom five to finish fourth.
So 2015 a tale of Hamilton and the silver arrows managing to hold on and build on 2014. Plus a triple British world champion!