Captivating season for Mercedes AMG Petronas
The 2015 F1 season has been another ground-breaking one for Mercedes AMG Petronas, where they have cemented their place as the pinnacle manufacturer on the Formula One grid. After the huge success of the 2014 season; Mercedes finishing the season with numerous new F1 records, including most wins in a season and most one-two finishes. Mercedes have continued to dominate the F1 circuit with the introduction of an evolutionary new car, the F1 W06 Hybrid. It’s the team’s inspired start to the 2015 season, winning six out of the first seven races and Lewis Hamilton triumphing on four occasions and Nico Rosberg winning in Barcelona and Monaco that leaves everyone to believe they will go on to win the title once more. The fast-paced start matches the 2014 campaign and has seen Lewis top the drivers’ standings with Nico a close second, only 17 points behind. The Mercedes team have built a healthy 105 point lead in the constructors’ championship as they look to emulate the fantastic success of last year. We take a further look into the ground breaking success, workmanship, team spirit and the return of the silver arrows here with this round up of the 2015 season so far.
Evolution… the F1 W06 Hybrid
After months of extensive work throughout the winter, Mercedes AMG Petronas unveiled their new car for the 2015 season, the F1 W06 Hybrid, on 1 February 2015 at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain along with the other F1 teams. the car has been described as evolutionary rather than revolutionary, with Mercedes choosing to make smaller tweaks and improvements rather than making wholesale changes to the car, as well as making the necessary changes to meet the regulations for the 2015 season. Mercedes’ partnership with Petronas has been pivotal to the team’s success, especially with changes to the allowance of power units per driver lowered from five to four. Petronas have developed a new fuel for this year which increases engine protection, provides better combustion and increases driveability. There has also been minor changes to the nose, making it lower and tapered to meet regulations, changes to the engine has seen an increase of about 50hp. All could be seen as incremental enhancements, yet collectively bettering the already paramount performance of the existing setup.
Testing in Jerez and Barcelona
After the anticipation and unveiling of the new car, the Mercedes AMG Petronas team had a mixed start to testing in Jerez compared to their exploits from the previous season. Over the four days from February 1-4, the W06 completed more laps than any other car, an indicator that this car could be more reliable than last season and be able to do a lot of mileage without any major problems, this part of testing was very promising for the Mercedes team. However, over the four days that the teams were in Jerez, Ferrari outclassed the Mercedes in terms of speed, taking the fastest lap on three of the four days. This was also seen in the fastest laps over the whole of testing with Kimi Raikkonen taking the fastest lap of the weekend with a 1:20.841, he was closely followed by Sebastien Vettel in second and Felipe Nasr of Sauber in third, with times of 1:20.984 and 1:21.545 respectively. Nico Rosberg could only manage a 1:21.982 in fourth and Lewis Hamilton finished sixth with a fastest lap of 1:22.172. Going by this evidence, it could prove that Ferrari would be a much bigger threat for the year ahead. Some critics viewed from this original testing that Mercedes may have been too complacent in the changes they made to the car, sacrificing the frightening speed they had over their competitors in the previous season.
In Barcelona, however, any preconceptions we may have had over the speed of the W06 seemed to be abolished after the eight days of between February 19-22 and February 26-1 March. The Mercedes team had incredibly quick lap times over the course of the two separate tests, whilst still being able to keep the reliability of the car. This was seen as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton had the two quickest lap times over the course of the two tests at the Circuit de Catalunya, with times of 1:22.792 and 1:23.022 respectively. Comparing this to the two Ferraris of Raikkonnen and Vettel, who had fastest times of 1:23.276 and 1:23.469, Mercedes may have gained a vitally important advantage over Ferrari as they went into the first race of the F1 season starting Friday 13 march in Melbourne. There didn’t seem to be any qualms over the reliability of the W06 Hybrid as Rosberg racked up 759 laps over the course of the winter, more than any other driver in the field.
Season begins: Australian Grand Prix
The Mercedes team picked up where they left off at the start of the previous Formula One season with a fantastic performance in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix. Friday was Nico Rosberg’s day as he finished ahead of Lewis in P1 and P2 to take first place. However, the tables turned for the rest of the weekend as Hamilton dominated the circuit to finish first in P3 ahead of Sebastian Vettel and then qualified first with a time of 1:26.327 ahead of teammate Rosberg who came in with 1:26.921. Mercedes’ brilliance in qualifying was shown as their nearest rival, Felipe Massa, could only muster a 1:27.718. For Mercedes, the race went as smoothly as the rest of the weekend with no questions on the reliability of the car as they came in with a one-two, Hamilton finishing 1.360s ahead of Nico to win the first race of the season and give Mercedes a maximum 43 points from the opening weekend.
Mercedes beaten to Malaysia win
The next race in Malaysia was far from the same story. Despite Nico Rosberg having the quickest time in P1, Lewis Hamilton managed just four laps in the first practice before his car came to a stop at turn 9 and wasn’t able to enter a time because of apparent engine trouble. Mercedes improved with Hamilton fastest in P2 and then the two fastest times in P3 to build confidence going into qualifying. Ferrari, however, proved their strength as Sebastian Vettel prevented a front row lockout for Mercedes by coming in second behind Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton finished with a 1:49.834 just ahead of Vettel’s 1:49.908 and Nico’s 1:50.299. Ferrari improved further in the race as a tactical performance from Vettel, using a two-stop strategy, gave them the victory in Sepang ahead of Lewis and Nico, with Lewis finishing 8.569s behind.
Dominance in Shanghai
Mercedes bounced back in fine fashion during the Chinese Grand Prix, dominating for much of the weekend and claiming a second one-two of the season in just three races. Everything went swimmingly prior to the race with Lewis Hamilton posting the fastest times in all three practices and the only real blip of the weekend was Nico Rosberg’s sixth place finish in P2. Qualifying further showed Mercedes’ domination on the track as Lewis and Nico finished first and second respectively with times of 1:35.782 and 1:35.824. The race proved to be a controlled performance from Hamilton as he lead from the off, beating Rosberg by 0.714s to give the silver arrows their second one-two of the season just three races in.
Tough win in Bahrain
A weekend of mixed fortunes followed on from Shanghai for Mercedes in Bahrain as Hamilton went on to win his third race of the season. Surprisingly, Nico and Lewis could only finish 15th and 16th in P1 as they failed to match the pace of both Ferraris. They improved for the rest of practice with Nico posting fastest in P2 and Hamilton a close second. P3 saw Lewis post the fastest time with a 1:32.571 closely followed by Vettel’s 1:32.982 in second with Rosberg third. Qualifying followed a similar storyline to Malaysia as Hamilton finished on pole with a time of 1:32.571 ahead of Vettel’s 1:32.982, with Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen coming third and fourth with times of 1:33.129 and 1:33.227. However, Vettel wouldn’t go on to win this time and after an error on lap 35, where he damaged his front wing, he could only finish in fifth place. This lead Hamilton to finish the race in first with Raikonnen in second 3.380s behind after an enduring fight with Rosberg for second place. The win for Hamilton put him on 93 points for the season, 27 points ahead of Rosberg on 66 with Vettel third in the drivers’ standings on 65 points.
First victory for Nico
Next up came the Spanish Grand prix in Barcelona and after a formidable performance all weekend, Nico Rosberg comfortably claimed his first win of 2015. P1 saw Mercedes post the fastest times with Rosberg coming in with a 1:26.828 just 0.070s faster than his teammate. P2 saw Vettel split the Mercedes with Hamilton posting a fastest time of 1:26.852 and in P3, Hamilton and Rosberg swapped positions, Rosberg’s 1:26.021 setting the pace. Mercedes continued their fine start to the 2015 season, by securing a front row lockout for the third time this season. Rosberg claimed pole with a time of 1:24.681, Lewis came second with 1:24.948 as Vettel secured third place clocking in with a time of 1:25.458. Rosberg’s unbelievable weekend performance carried on into the race as he led from start to finish over the rest of the chasing pack, firmly stating his claim as a challenger for the world championship by cutting Hamilton’s lead to 20 points.
Lewis signs new contract
On 20 May 2015, Mercedes AMG Petronas announced that Lewis Hamilton had signed a new three year contract until 2018. Lewis has had huge success at Mercedes winning 16 of his 37 grand prix victories and making 45 of his 155 starts on the Formila One grid with Mercedes AMG Petronas.
On signing his new contract, Hamilton stated: “Mercedes is my home and I couldn’t be happier to be staying here for another three years. This is a company filled with really passionate racers, from the board room to the factory floor, and an incredible hunger to win. Even after the success of last year, that hunger is greater than ever – and it’s the same for me, too. The Mercedes car I am driving right now is the best I have ever had in my career; it’s just so much fun to be out there every weekend, on the limit and fighting to win at every track. Mercedes-Benz began supporting me in 1998 so I am very proud that this contract means I will mark 20 years with Mercedes in 2018.”
Problems in Monaco
Despite a second race win of the season for Nico Rosberg, the Monaco Grand prix will be a weekend that the Mercedes team will quickly want to forget. Mercedes had made a strong start to the notorious Monaco Grand prix with Hamilton setting the fastest time in P1 with a time of 1:18.750, although Rosberg did finish a disappointing ninth place. A big improvement in P2 saw Mercedes the quickest, Hamilton finishing ahead of his teammate with a 1:17.192. A good performance from Sebastien Vettel in P3 saw him pip both Mercedes to the fastest time of 1:16.143 with Rosberg 0.218s behind. However, a flawless performance from Lewis saw him set an incredible time of 1:15.098 to sit on a pole, this was followed by Rosberg to complete a lockout of the front row with a time of 1:15.440 and Vettel qualifying third coming in with 1:15.849. The race started brilliantly for Mercedes with Hamilton dominating to build a 25s lead around the tricky Monaco circuit by lap 64. However, the safety car was brought out following Max Verstappen’s crash and Mercedes chose to pit the world champion. The decision proved disastrous to Hamilton’s chances of winning the race as he came out of the pits behind Nico and Sebastien Vettel. When the safety car was removed Rosberg went onto win the race and Hamilton was unable to overtake the Ferrari of Vettel. After the race, both Mercedes and Hamilton took the responsibility for the mistake with Hamilton saying: “Yeah, it was not the easiest of races, the team has done amazing all year long and we win and lose together.” The win for Nico further cut the gap between him and Hamilton to 10 points.
Hamilton bounces back in Montreal
Lewis Hamilton showed his credentials as world champion as he bounced back from the disappointment in Monaco to secure the Canadian Grand Prix and another strong performance for Mercedes. Hamilton started the weekend brilliantly setting the fastest time in P1 with 1:16.212, Nico Rosberg just 0.415s behind him in second. More success followed with another fastest time in P2 of 1:15.988 and Rosberg coming in fourth with 1:16.440. Nico produced a great drive to get the fastest lap in difficult conditions as two red flags came out in the hour. This prevented Hamilton from producing a clear lap and the Englishman disappointedly time in last 5.832s behind his teammate. However, the rest of the weekend belonged to Hamilton as he qualified on pole with a time of 1:14.393. Rosberg followed in with a time of 1:14.702 to complete the front row lockout with Kimi Raikkonen starting third after his 1:15.014. Hamilton provided a controlled performance to win his 37th career victory and increase his lead in the drivers’ standings to 17 points in a race that is infamously difficult on fuel consumption. Rosberg pushed Lewis all the way, eventually finishing a close 2.285s behind. The Mercedes’ outstanding performance in the race showed through the huge lead that they built up over the rest of the field, with their nearest competitor Valterri Bottas finishing 40.666s behind Hamilton in third place.
An exciting season for Mercedes AMG Petronas
Mercedes AMG Petronas have firmly established themselves as the frontrunners in the 2015 F1 season. Having dominated the circuit with 4 one-two finishes in the first 7 races and an incredible 6 wins, the team looks set to eclipse the record breaking achievements of last season. In the constructors’ championship the team have 285 points, a 27 point increase at the same stage last season. Mercedes’ brilliant start to the 2015 season must be put down to the incredible reliability of the W06 Hybrid this season. Neither driver has retired from a race this year compared to the same stage last season where Hamilton had already retired in Australia and Canada. Lewis has also finished in the top three in every race this season, further implementing that the W06 is a heavily improved car on last year without making any major changes from the W05. With the supremacy they have shown this season over their rivals, the Mercedes AMG Petronas team look set to become one of the most successful Formula one teams of all time, breaking countless records on their way to the top.
Stay tuned for more Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One news as the season develops.
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