A look over the United States Grand Prix’s history and why Lewis Hamilton excels at the Circuit of the Americas.
Lewis Hamilton is set to win his sixth World Driver’s Championship in Austin this weekend, providing all goes to plan in the race.
The British driver could have claimed the title last week in Mexico, however the odds were against him, with him having to outscore his teammate Valtteri Bottas by 14 points – a task that, considering both drivers’ dominance throughout the season, seemed less than likely.
With Lewis winning the Mexican Grand Prix and Bottas finishing third, the title fight, which is now only between the two of them, is being taken to Austin for the United States Grand Prix.
Having closed the gap even more, all Lewis needs to do this weekend is finish in eighth or higher to win the Championship, regardless of where his teammate finishes.
Lewis Hamilton – a winner in America
Hamilton stands a good chance of succeeding in Austin; having lifted the first-place trophy at the circuit five times already, in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, he is somewhat of an expert (he also won the US Grand Prix when it was held in Indianapolis in 2007).
In 2017, the US Grand Prix was held prior to the Mexican Grand Prix, meaning it was a crucial race in the build up to Lewis winning his 4th World Title. With his biggest competitor that season, Sebastian Vettel, 66 points behind, the title at that point was within touching distance. Despite Vettel overtaking Lewis on the first lap, the Brit was able to take the position back without too much challenge from his opponent. He then went on to lead a masterful race and put himself in pole position for the title.
The 2018 race win went to Ferrari and Kimi Räikkönen (his first win in five years), with Lewis still stepping onto the podium but this time in third place. Once again, the race was held before Mexico, highlighting itself as an all-important race for the soon to be five-time World Champion. It was Hamilton who qualified in pole position, however the Finnish competitor was able to take the lead at the start and maintain his upper hand. Frustratingly for Hamilton, if he'd have managed to finish one place higher, in second, he would have clinched the World Title that day. However due to Max Verstappen taking that podium place, Hamilton's battle was once again taken to the next round.
Now, in 2019 we see the same scenario, with the two races swapped around.
History of the circuit
The Circuit of the Americas was constructed back in 2011 and is one of the newest circuits on the F1 calendar. The first F1 race held there was shortly after in 2012 - the first US Grand Prix held since 2007, where it was previously held in Indianapolis. In fact, the United States Grand Prix has had a lot of different homes before finding its current.
Only three drivers have won the United States Grand Prix since it being held in Austin, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel.
In previous years, the US Grand Prix has supported the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the largest Breast Cancer organisation in the United States, with many of the teams and drivers wearing special pink race wears to raise awareness for the charity. A charity auction, including an array of these products, is being held over on F1 Authentics (Memento Exclusives’ sister site) in support of the organisation. Visit F1 Authentics here.
This week F1 is heading to Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix, so we’re looking back at two current F1 drivers who have lifted the coveted trophy.
Michael Schumacher may hold the record for the most wins in Suzuka, having won six times in 1995, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004, but two current drivers are quickly catching up. In fact, if Lewis Hamilton takes the win this weekend, he will equal Schumacher's record. The other driver in question, Sebastian Vettel, could equal Hamilton's number of five, should he win.
These two racing rivals, who off the circuit appear to hold a great deal of respect for the other’s achievements in the sport, will both be heading into the race weekend with their eyes on the prize. And with Ferrari revealing their pace in the past few races, not to mention the threat from Red Bull remaining, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport who currently lead the championship, will have to pull out all the stops.
Lewis Hamilton - 2007, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018
Lewis Hamilton has won the Japanese Grand Prix five times so far in his career, picking up his first back in 2007 driving for McLaren. This win took place in Fuji, two years before the race moved back to Suzuka where it has been based ever since.
His drive that day was particularly notable; as a rookie F1 driver Hamilton pulled out moves likened to a far more experienced driver, and successfully raced through the soaking wet, a safety car start, and a collision with Robert Kubica, to put himself on the top step of the podium.
Since then Hamilton has taken four victories with his current team Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport. The 2014 race was won by the British driver under difficult circumstances following the tragic incident involving Jules Bianchi, who crashed his car at the circuit and was rushed to hospital. Bianchi passed away as a result of the injuries caused by this incident in July 2015.
In 2015, Hamilton overtook his teammate on the first lap to take home his eighth win of the season and in 2017 he edged ever closer to winning the Drivers title as his rival Vettel suffered an early retirement from the race.
Last year's race saw Hamilton claim his fourth back-to-back win of the season and put him 67 points clear of his closest rival, Sebastian Vettel. After Vettel crashed, leaving him to trail behind in sixth, Lewis was free to dominate and took home the win with ease. This meant that he only needed eight more points in order to claim his fifth World title, an achievement he would go on to do at the next race in Mexico.
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Sebastian Vettel - 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013
Vettel won his first Japanese Grand Prix in 2009 driving for Red Bull Racing. He would then make it back-to-back wins in 2010 where the top five drivers finished where they started, despite pitstops shaking things up throughout.
The 2012 race was approached with the excitement that the title fight was a three-way battle between Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Vettel's performance at Suzuka was dominant however and the fact Alonso's chances were blown after a crash on the first corner, and Hamilton was left in a battle of his own, certainly aided Vettel’s win.
His final win to date came in 2013 meaning the German driver won the race four times in five seasons. During the start of this race a touch between Hamilton and Vettel left Hamilton, who started third and had what he described afterwards as one of his best starts all year, limping back to the pits. After the damage to his floor was too bad to continue, losing seconds per lap, the team chose to retire the Brit.
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We already know that it’ll be a double Championship once again for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, but both drivers are still in the running for the crown.
Lewis Hamilton could take his sixth World Championship in Mexico this coming weekend, however in order to do so he would have to receive at least 14 more points than his teammate Valtteri Bottas. Given how dominant that team has been all season and the likelihood of the Finnish driver finishing in the top ten, if not top five (if not top 3!) Lewis will have a challenge on his hands.
Here’s a look at how Lewis’ season was looking in 2018 at this point in comparison.
2018 – Lewis crowned Champion in Mexico
Last year Hamilton rewrote the history books as he equalled Juan Manuel Fangio in terms of Championships, with five now to his name. An achievement only three drivers have ever experienced, Michael Schumacher (who of course currently holds the record of seven Championships), Fangio, and now Hamilton himself.
Despite taking the title in Mexico, the race itself wasn’t as care-free as the Brit would have liked. Despite finishing on the podium at 17 out of the 21 races held that year, Mexico was one of four he didn’t. The Brit only managed fourth when it came to the Mexican GP due to issues with his tyres. It was the young Dutchman of Max Verstappen driving for Red Bull who ended up taking to the chequered flag first.
Nevertheless, the job was done as fourth place gave Lewis enough points to mean that no competitor (in this season his main competition was Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel) would be able to beat him.
In fact, Hamilton had built up such a strong lead of 70 points over Vettel by the time it came to Mexico, that the Mercedes-AMG ace only needed to finish in seventh place - even if Vettel had finished first, the position would have be enough to see him crowned five-time World Champion. In the end Vettel finished second, behind Verstappen. This wrapped up the Championship with two races left (which evidently Hamilton went on to win too).
What does Lewis need to do to win the title in Mexico this year?
Having won nine races so far in the 2019 season, Lewis leads the way from his teammate who this year has been his biggest competition in the points race, even if not competitively.
In order for Lewis to be crowned at the weekend, he would need to win the race, as well as get the fastest lap point and see that his teammate does not finish in the top three.
If Bottas does not finish anywhere in the top ten, all Lewis will need to achieve is a spot on the podium, in any position.
Nevertheless Valtteri Bottas has made it clear that he is still very much in the fight and will still be chasing the title at the next few races.
We focus on one team’s domination in Russia and look ahead to what we can expect to see this weekend.
The Russian Grand Prix held in Sochi is rather novel when compared to the rest of the circuits on the F1 calendar, having *first been held in 2014 for the FIA Formula One World Championship™.
Nevertheless, the racetrack has already made its mark, with one team proving their dominance – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport. Over the past five years that the race has been held, the team have not only stepped onto the podium every time but have stepped onto the top spot every time.
The 2014 event was the first time we saw the Sochi circuit on the calendar. Mercedes pulled out all the stops during qualifying, claiming a 1-2 with Lewis Hamilton starting on pole position, followed by his teammate Nico Rosberg. The second row was made up of Valtteri Bottas for Williams and Jenson Button for McLaren.
In fact, the top four positions remained the same when it came to the chequered flag. Lewis won the race, and the Mercedes 1-2 meant that the team picked up their first Constructor’s Championship that day – a race and a year that would go down in the team’s history books.
The 2015 race saw a familiar line up on the grid, with Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg this time claiming pole position, alongside Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas starting in third, with Sebastian Vettel this time making up the second row. Despite his speed during qualifying however, the race was another question and was not short of incidents.
The German Mercedes driver unfortunately ran into car troubles, with an issue with his throttle and had to retire from the race. From there it was an easy win for Lewis Hamilton, who was close to achieving his third World Driver Championship title. Vettel finished second which meant he passed Rosberg in the Championship standings.
In 2016, the Russian Grand Prix was held earlier in the season and was the fourth fixture on the calendar. Nico Rosberg claimed a back-to-back pole position in Russia with his teammate Lewis Hamilton only starting from tenth place after an engine failure during the Qualifying session the day before.
Nevertheless, the British driver was able to claw his way back up the field to finish a noble second place behind his teammate who took his first win in Russia and fourth win in a row of the 2016 season. The third podium position was taken by Kimi Räikkönen and Ferrari. The second Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, however, did not finish the race after being caught in a collision with Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat, twice.
The 2017 race looked like it was Ferrari's to win, after Sebastian Vettel put his car on pole with his teammate Kimi Räikkönen nicely placed next to him on the grid. The two Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas made up the second row. But as the lights went out, Valtteri Bottas made an excellent move and jumped both Ferrari drivers and held his position for the remainder of the race.
Despite a late threat from Sebastian Vettel, the Finnish driver was able to bring the car home in first place, for a fourth consecutive win for Mercedes in Russia. Lewis Hamilton on the other hand suffered a difficult weekend and was unable to make up any places, finishing in fourth, the same place in which he began.
Last year's race saw Valtteri Bottas claim pole position with Hamilton a close second on the starting grid. The two Ferrari's of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen qualified in third and fourth, respectively. However, the race win went to Lewis Hamilton. Despite starting from second place, due to his position in the Championship, a race win was to be hugely beneficial for his fight for his fifth title.
Therefore, despite racing behind his teammate, Mercedes made the strategic decision to swap the drivers around and allowed Hamilton to pass his teammate in an easy manoeuvre. It was a strong victory for Mercedes and another 1-2, but a controlled win for the Championship leader who admitted the win did not bring him the usual satisfaction.
What can we expect in 2019?
As we approach the 2019 Russian Grand Prix Mercedes look even closer to winning their fifth Constructor's title, with Lewis Hamilton on his way towards his 6th Driver title as he leads with 296 points. Currently his teammate Valtteri Bottas sits comfortably in second with 231 points.
However due to Ferrari winning the past three races, and Max Verstappen for Red Bull claiming two wins previously in the season, we can certainly expect to more challenges for the victory.
The Sochi circuit is without a doubt one that suits the Mercedes cars and drivers, with no other team having won there. Nevertheless, this Mercedes dominance will only increase the hunger of the other teams, and so the 53-lap race is not one to be missed.
*Two Grand Prix races were previously held in Russia with the first being held back in 1913, however this was before the FIA Formula One World Championship series was established. These two races were held in Saint Petersburg.
The Singapore Grand Prix is the next fixture on the calendar and so we look back at the past 11 years of racing.
In 2008 racing returned to Singapore for the first time since 1973. In the past eleven years of Grand Prixs, we’ve only seen four different winners, so we look back over them as we approach the circuit's 12th year.
Lewis Hamilton - 2009, 2014, 2017, 2018
Lewis Hamilton, alongside Vettel, has achieved the most success at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, with four F1 wins to his name there. His first win came in 2009 driving for McLaren; it was a dominant victory and his second of the 2009 season. His next win came in 2014 in which he gained pole position besides his teammate Nico Rosberg. Luckily for Hamilton and unluckily for the team, Rosberg had issues and had to start from the pitlane, meaning Lewis had a clear run at the first corner.
In 2017, Lewis only managed to qualify in fifth place, starting on the third row. However, things were about to look up for the Brit when on the opening lap, pole sitter and rival Sebastian Vettel collided with his own teammate Kimi Räikkönen, knocking them both out of the race before it had even really begun. Not only this but it also ruined Red Bull driver Max Verstappen's chances, as he got caught up in the collision and had to retire. From here Lewis was able to make up the places, keep his cool and take home his third win at the track; a win which put him further into the lead of the Championship.
Most recently, Lewis won the race in 2018, the last time we visited the track. Claiming pole position the day before ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, Lewis was in great form to take home the win in Singapore. The win put him 40 points into the lead after his championship rival Vettel was only able to manage third place due to a miscalculated strategy from Ferrari.
Sebastian Vettel - 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015
Despite losing out to wins in recent years, Vettel himself has taken to the chequered flag in Singapore first on four occasions.
For Vettel his first win came in 2011 and it was an important one. Having won his first Championship title the year before, Vettel was heading the right way for his second title. And after winning the Singapore Grand Prix, was only two points away from claiming it. Behind him finished Jenson Button and his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber.
The 2012 race marked his second consecutive win at the circuit however it was actually McLaren's Lewis Hamilton who had been leading the race to begin with. Starting from third on the grid, Vettel was able to make up a place right from the start as he got passed Pastor Maldonado in the Williams. Despite Hamilton looking set for the win, he suffered a gearbox issue and half-way through the race had to retire his car. This meant that the win was Vettel’s to take, and despite a safety car resulting in the race only lasting 59 laps instead of 61, the German glided to victory ahead of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.
Chasing his fourth world title in 2013, Vettel yet again dominated the Singapore Grand Prix which put him 60 points clear of his closest rival, Fernando Alonso. Considered to be in a race of his own, Vettel stormed to victory after increasing his lead lap by lap.
The 2015 race was the fourth and final (to date) win at Marina Bay for Vettel. After the Championship leader Lewis Hamilton suffered a retirement, Vettel was able to take his third win of the season, carefully dominating and controlling the race from beginning to end - despite exciting, yet, hectic, action taking place behind which resulted in two safety cars being sent out. The second safety vehicle was brought out after a spectator was caught wandering along the track, making it unsafe to continue racing.
Fernando Alonso - 2008, 2010
It was the first Singapore Grand Prix since its return to the calendar in 2008, and for Fernando Alonso it meant scoring his first win in over a year and Renault’s first win in over two. Starting from 15th after a car failure during Qualifying, pole position went to Felipe Massa. Despite the race being shrouded with controversy, Alonso managed to get the job done, passing the his Championship rivals, in order to take the lead of the race.
His second win came in 2010 driving for Ferrari. Starting the race from pole position ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, the Spanish driver lead from lights out until the chequered flag. With the Championship title in site, Alonso held off a late charge from Vettel who was behind, catching, the entire race. In the end he only won the race by 0.293 seconds but it put him well and truly in the title fight.
Nico Rosberg – 2016
In what was his first and only Championship winning year, Nico Rosberg took victory in Singapore in 2016. Claiming pole position the day before, Rosberg has his sights on the win in order to put him back ahead of his teammate. The title fight had been close all season, and the win at Marina Bay Street Circuit meant that Nico placed himself back in the lead by 8 points.
Despite being challenged by Daniel Ricciardo, Rosberg managed to maintain his lead during the race, and with a good strategy from his team, took the all-important win.
With the FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO HEINEKEN D’ITALIA 2019 up ahead, we pick out some of our favourite race wins over the years.
Never a dull moment, the Italian Grand Prix held in Monza is one of the most popular circuits for fans to visit, in particular Ferrari fans. But whether you’re a Ferrari fan or not, the race itself never disappoints when it comes to thrills.
As the oldest circuit on the current racing calendar, dating back to 1921, Monza has seen its share of action over the years. Here are some of our top wins in Italy.
Lewis claims victory from Räikkönen in 2018
The 2018 Italian Grand Prix was an eventful one to say the least. With the local fans expecting to see Ferrari lifting the first-place trophy after a front row lock out in qualifying, what then happened as the race unfolded proved otherwise.
Despite starting in second position, Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel’s hopes of cutting away at Lewis Hamilton's championship lead were abolished within moments after the five red lights went out on race day.
As both Ferraris and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport car of Lewis Hamilton went through the Curva Grande, Vettel was in his teammate's slipstream. However, Hamilton was also close and in what was eventually deemed as a racing incident, Vettel and Hamilton came together, leaving Vettel spinning. Hamilton on the other hand managed to continue in his hunt for the other Ferrari.
Nevertheless, there was still hope for Ferrari fans, with Kimi Räikkönen remaining in the lead. Whilst battles took place further down the field, Hamilton was careful to not make similar mistakes to his competitors, and despite his blatant speed, Räikkönen was able to maintain his lead for some time. Meanwhile, further back Vettel was clawing his way back up the field as best as he could.
Although Mercedes’ attempt at the overcut did not pay off, by lap 45 Hamilton was right behind Räikkönen and despite the Finn's best efforts, with his tyres rapidly wearing down, Hamilton was able to pass him cleanly and smoothly. Räikkönen was unable to retaliate and challenge him for the position back.
Lewis Hamilton took the win in Italy, his fifth win in Monza and his second consecutive win at the circuit.
Alonso wins for Ferrari in 2010
The 2010 Italian Grand Prix was a momentous one for Ferrari and Italian fans with Fernando Alonso seated in the Prancing Horse; it was the last victory Ferrari have taken in Italy since.
The starting grid ahead of the race saw Fernando Alonso starting from pole, with McLaren's Jenson Button alongside him on the front row. Behind sat the other Ferrari of Felipe Massa with the Red Bull of Mark Webber next to him. On the third row sat the two other championship contenders of Lewis Hamilton for McLaren and Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull Racing.
The race, however, was another matter and with Lewis Hamilton crashing out on the first lap, the challenge was certainly on for the remaining contenders. Despite beating Button to pole, Alonso's job was not yet over, and in fact Button lead half of the race with Alonso left to trying to answer to his speed.
Nevertheless, a super quick pitstop for Alonso, after Button had pitted earlier, meant that he was able to drive out of the pits just ahead of the McLaren, and once he'd gained the position, he was able to pull away on his fresher tyres. By the time the chequered flag was waved, Alonso was three seconds clear of Button who fought hard to try and challenge throughout the remainder of the race.
When all was said and done, with Alonso claiming the win, ahead of Button, Massa, Vettel, Rosberg and Webber, a mere 24 points separated the top five drivers in the Driver Standings after the Italian Grand Prix.
Vettel's surprise win for Toro Rosso in 2008
The 2008 Italian Grand Prix was the start of something great for the young Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Vettel who managed to claim a surprise pole position the day before during Qualifying. He then followed this up with what was his first ever F1 win – making him the youngest (at the time) F1 driver to win a race.
The race began behind a safety car as the heavy rainfall meant there was a lot of water on the track making visibility poor. As the race got underway, drivers struggled to adjust to the conditions. However, as the water gradually began to dry up, the race came alive. Having started further back on the grid, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Räikkönen got stuck behind David Coulthard and Giancarlo Fisichella in a four-car battle for 11th place.
With the challenges taking place further down, it allowed Vettel to pull further ahead and by this point was 30 seconds ahead of them. Nevertheless, the threat wasn't non-existent. Once Hamilton found his speed, he began to make his way through the pack, eventually passing Coulthard, Fisichella, Räikkönen, and others further up ahead. After a series of pitstops it left Sebastian defending the lead whilst Hamilton began to cut away at his lap times.
Despite this, the second round of pitstops meant that Lewis got caught behind others and failed to make up the places again. In the end it was Kovalainen who finished second ahead of Robert Kubica. But the hero of the day was Vettel, who drove a sophisticated race, likened to that of a more experienced driver.
Michael Schumacher takes first Italian win with Ferrari
In 1996 Michael Schumacher won his first Italian Grand Prix, driving for Ferrari, his second consecutive win after claiming victory in Belgian two weeks prior. The win was the first of five Schuamcher would go on to win, including 1998, 2000, 2003, and 2006. However, it was actually the Williams cars of Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve that locked out the front row during qualifying, with Schumacher starting from third place.
The race was eventful after the FIA set new tyre stacks at the apexes of some of the chicanes in order to stop drivers cutting corners, but it resulted in numerous incidents during the race.
Although only starting from sixth, Jean Alesi managed to take the lead from Hill, however shortly after taking it, he hit the tyre barrier and gave the place back to Hill. Alesi's car was not damaged however the tyres he hit into ricocheted off and broke Hakkinen's front wing. Next Villeneuve hit the barriers, and then David Coulthard retired with a broke suspension.
Despite holding the lead, Hill then hit the tyre barriers on lap six and he too retired, before Irvine suffered a similar issue. All in all, a total of eight drivers hit into the new barriers. Schumacher, however, was not one of those drivers, and managed to take the lead from Alesi after pitting. Schumacher crossed the line in first place, a whole 18 seconds ahead of Jean Alesi, with Mika Hakkinen finishing in third for McLaren.
F1 is back and this week as we build up to the Belgian Grand Prix, we focus on four drivers from the current grid who have lifted the coveted trophy.
One of the best-loved circuits on the calendar, Spa-Francorchamps is to host the next round of F1 for the FORMULA 1 JOHNNIE WALKER BELGIAN GRAND PRIX 2019 this weekend, the first race after the summer break.
A track which has seen many drivers and champions taste victory, we look back at some of the wins we’ve seen in recent years.
Sebastian Vettel - 2018, 2013, 2011
The 2018 grid saw Lewis Hamilton starting from pole, after a rainy qualifying session allowed him to put his Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport car on the front row. However, with weather conditions seemingly opposite to the day before, the pole position advantage was soon to disappear. With Sebastian Vettel starting from second, he was able to make the jump on Hamilton along the Kemmel Straight, getting past him and moving up into the lead at the start.
With Hamilton having won the previous two races and leading the championship, Spa was a crucial race for Vettel if he wanted to remain in the title fight. The dry track proved to benefit Ferrari more than it did Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, and the German driver gained an 11 second advantage as he swept across the finish line and the chequered flag was waved.
The 2013 race marked another win for Vettel, who then was driving for Red Bull Racing, and marked his fifth win of the season moving him 46 points clear of Fernando Alonso his closest championship rival. Vettel went on to win his fourth World Championship that year.
And in 2011, Vettel won his first Belgian Grand Prix for Red Bull Racing in a one-two finish for the team, with Mark Webber finishing second.
Lewis Hamilton - 2017, 2015, 2010
The five-time World Champion has stepped onto the top spot of the podium in Belgium on three occasions, in 2017 and 2015 for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport and in 2010 for McLaren. With three wins under his belt, the Brit will be aiming for his fourth win as we approach the 2019 race.
The 2017 race was special for two reasons for Lewis. Not only did he win the race, but it marked his 200th race in F1. Storming away, Hamilton fought off the threat of Sebastian Vettel, his closest rival in the championship, to take his fifth win of the season. The day before was also special for Lewis, as his pole position meant he had equalled Michael Schumacher's record of 68 poles in his F1 career.
It was by no means an easy win for Hamilton and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport. In a race where they were expected to dominate, Vettel and Ferrari time-managed in order to push Hamilton all the way. Despite this, Hamilton proved why he is such a highly regarded driver, showing his driving skill and managing to keep the charging Ferrari at bay right until the end.
The 2010 race was an exciting one too, with many incidents in which Hamilton managed to avoid, in order to crowned the victor and retake the lead of the championship. By lap 15 Lewis had already picked up an 11 second lead. Meanwhile as the rain started to come down, drivers from all ends of the grid struggled for grip and made costly mistakes. On lap 39 a safety car was sent out, but nevertheless Hamilton was able to maintain his lead and take home the win.
Kimi Räikkönen - 2009, 2007, 2005, 2004
Finnish driver and one-time World Champion Kimi Räikkönen is another current F1 driver to have tasted victory in Belgium, and the only one to have won four times. Despite have four wins to his name, the last time he lifted the first-place trophy was back in 2009, when driving for Ferrari.
Räikkönen started from sixth on the grid, making his win was even more impressive. The win marked Räikkönen's first win since the Spanish Grand Prix the season before and as it turned out, Ferrari's only win of the 2009 season. It was Giancarlo Fisichella who started from pole position having claimed Force India F1 Team's first pole position. The race was incident packed with British drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson button crashing out early resulting in a safety car which Kimi utilised to take the lead. Fisichella however remained vigilant, putting Räikkönen under pressure all the way, but despite being quicker, was unable to get back passed Kimi for the remainder of the race.
Kimi’s first Belgian win came in 2004 when he was driving for McLaren and marked the teams only win that season as he moved his car from tenth on the starting grid to first. The Finn won the race the following year too, after starting from second place for McLaren. And in 2007 he clinched first place too, having claimed pole position during qualifying.
Daniel Ricciardo - 2014
Daniel Ricciardo currently drives for Renault F1 Team, but during his time with his previous team Red Bull Racing, he too became a winner in Belgium.
The 2014 Belgian Grand Prix saw Daniel starting from fifth place on the grid ahead of the race, with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton locking out the front row, followed by Ricciardo's teammate Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
The win for the Australian driver marked his third win of the season. Daniel took the lead after the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport drivers collided on lap two resulting in the pair having to fight their way backup. Rosberg ended up finishing in second place however Hamilton was unable to complete the race. Despite this inheritance of a lead, Ricciardo's obvious racing skills meant he was able to keep competitors at bay and drove a smooth and sophisticated race from the start, right up to the chequered flag being waved.
We speak to Spanish artist Ricardo Rodriguez about how his love for F1 began and how he turned his passion into a career.
How it all started
Getting to where he is today, we ask Ricardo about himself and delve in to how it all began.
“I’m a 27-year-old Spanish artist who was born in Valencia. I studied Conservation & Restoration of Cultural Heritage at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) and studied my final course at Accademia di Belle Arti in Naples.
“Ever since I was young, I was sure that I wanted to dedicate myself to something art or design related in the future. I grew up watching my grandmother and my father painting hyperrealism paintings which was a real inspiration. My other grandmother is a fashion designer meanwhile one of my uncles is a conceptualist artist – so I come from a wide background of artists and designers! I think it was meant to be.
“However, I never dreamed I would become an artist professionally – it all began as just a hobby.”
Inspiration behind the profession
Many artists are inspired by something or someone, so we find out what Ricardo’s biggest inspiration has been growing up and where his passion for F1 comes from.
“Well I would say that until Fernando Alonso’s boom in F1, not many people in Spain followed the sport. But I actually spent my childhood watching F1 because of my father.
“He has been passionate about cars his entire life, and not just F1. In fact, my first memories are of Jávea, where we would spend the summers. I remember my father searching the television for channels which may show the racing, because in Spain they didn’t even relay the races at that point!”
When did you realise you wanted to produce F1 art, we ask Ricardo.
“Well, I started painting portraits and then I moved to work on helmets – but mostly ‘Café Racer’-style helmets after going to a motorbike event with my brother; and then things just went from there.
Creating works of art
We delve in to find out more about Ricardo’s creative process, from his original concept ideas through to his final pieces.
“I think the hardest part is choosing the perfect picture to paint. I save a lot of images to my computer and usually I just have a moment where I see one and I know it’s the one.
“But my final product has to be a combination of three things: a good quality image, good framing and most importantly, it has to provoke a feeling of strength.
“I like to be aggressive with the brush stroke, so that the final finish gives you a powerful feeling. I think creating art in black and white also helps you achieves that feeling.
“My creative process is always the same. First of all, I draw the basic lines in pencil so that I get the proportions right from the beginning. Then I start from the darkest parts of the picture and work my way to the lighter ones. I never do sketches beforehand, so the final piece is always the original piece.
“All my artworks are created using pencil work, oil and acrylics presented on canvases.”
Being a fan of the sport, we want to know whether Ricardo has a favourite driver to paint and a favourite piece.
“I grew up supporting Ferrari and Michael Schumacher. But in terms of who I like to base my art on, I have to say I usually prefer the classic drivers because of the style of the pictures and the helmets.
“I think I’m getting better with each new piece I make, so I would say my favourite F1 piece at the moment is the latest one I’ve done which is of Daniel Ricciardo.”
And finally, we want to know what artwork Ricardo is working on for the future.
“I’m usually working on more than one painting at a time and I have just started an Alain Prost piece as well as a Niki Lauda and Max Verstappen one.”
You can find a selection of Ricardo Rodriguez’s artwork here.
As we prepare for the next race, the Hungarian Grand Prix, we take a look at the three most successful constructors at the circuit.
The Hungaroring circuit in Hungary has been held every year since 1986 and is among a handful of circuits which have remained consistent on the calendar since then. The circuit is renowned for its tight corners and fast bends and proves a difficult track for overtaking, resulting in thrilling watching for the crowds, which flock to the circuit by the thousands.
McLaren take the top step
Despite experiencing some difficult years more recently, McLaren remains one of the most successful teams in Formula 1®, and Hungary is no exception. The team is the most successful at the Hungaroring, having won the race 11 times. This includes the first in 1988, right through to 2012.
Of these eleven wins, eight of them are shared between three drivers, including Brazilian legend Ayrton Senna who won three times (1988, 1991, 1992), The Flying Finn Mika Häkkinen twice (1999, 2000) and Lewis Hamilton a further three times (2007, 2009, 2012). In fact, Lewis Hamilton is currently the most successful driver in Hungary with six wins to his name. Other McLaren winners have included Kimi Räikkönen, Heikki Kovalainen and Jenson Button who have each won once.
In eleven wins, McLaren have seen their fair share of glory as well as drama and in 2007, controversy.
It was a race which could have belonged to either one of the McLaren drivers. During qualifying the team decided to stack both cars, pitting them one after another so that both would be able to return to the track and complete another flying lap. With Alonso first in, Hamilton lined up behind him. However, a prolonged stop for Alonso meant that Hamilton’s pit had to wait. Alonso was released and was sent out to the track and set the fastest lap, putting himself on pole.
Unfortunately for Hamilton it was too late, and he was left with not enough time to compete with his teammate’s time. Nevertheless, in another twist Alonso was then handed a grid penalty for the controversial stop, meaning Hamilton was promoted and eventually brought home to win for the team, with Alonso still managing a strong fourth.
Williams make it seven wins
For Williams it’s been a long time since they tasted victory in Hungary, nevertheless with seven wins, they are tied with Ferrari having the second most. In fact, Williams were the first team to win at the circuit when it joined the F1 calendar in 1986. Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet picked up two back to back wins in 1986 and 1987. Their next win came in 1990 with Belgian driver Thierry Boutsen, before Damon Hill won in 1983 and 1995, followed by back to back wins for Jacques Villeneuve in 1996 and 1997.
Despite difficulty in F1 today, Williams, owned by Sir Frank Williams, remains one of the most popular British teams and comes with a background of 50 years of devoted support.
The 1996 Hungarian Grand Prix saw Ferrari's Michael Schumacher take pole, however on the day that really mattered, it seemed his pace was no match for the speed of the Williams cars. Having dominated the season so far, the team claimed their fifth 1-2 of the season at the Hungaroring that weekend.
The 1997 race had been one of joy for Williams, yet heartbreak for the Arrows team. Damon Hill driving for Arrows had led the race, dominating and cruising for the final 20 laps. However, a hydraulic issue meant that his 30 second advantage was destroyed with only 1 and a half laps to go. Jacques Villeneuve got past him and crossed the chequered flag first, taking Williams’ last win (currently) at the circuit.
Ferrari join the top three
Ferrari – the prancing horses – have always been a popular team as well as a successful one, with 16 constructors and 15 driver championships. They also happen to be joint second in terms of wins in Hungary – with seven.
The first Hungarian Grand Prix Ferrari won was claimed by Nigel Mansell in 1989. It wasn’t until nine years later that their second win came, from Michael Schumacher in 1998. Schumacher won again in 2001, followed by Rubens Barrichello in 2002, and Schumacher again in 2004. It was then 11 years until the team picked up another victory, with Sebastian Vettel stepping onto the top spot of the podium in both 2015 and 2017.
The 2015 race was a memorable one for many reasons. It was the first race following the tragic death of F1 driver Jules Bianchi, meaning emotions were extremely high not just for the drivers and teams but for every single spectator both present and watching at home that weekend.
It was a race which was expected to be in the hands of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, with Lewis Hamilton claiming pole position ahead of the race and Nico Rosberg joining him on the front row.
However, Ferrari’s Vettel managed to get ahead of both Mercedes at the start with an impressive lunge, with his teammate Kimi Räikkönen also getting past Rosberg. Meanwhile Hamilton dropped back to fourth. Drama continued, however, when Hamilton made a mistake and ran wide, dropping even further down the pecking order. With the Mercedes unable to match the pace of the Ferraris, it was Red Bull's job to keep them on their toes.
In the end it was Vettel, followed by the two Red Bulls of Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo who stepped onto the podium after a dramatised race which included many mistakes, car failures and punctures. Vettel dedicated the win to Bianchi, a young talent who many believed would step into a Ferrari F1 car someday.
Leading up to the next race on the calendar, the German Grand Prix, we look back at four German drivers who have won at their home race.
The German F1 race alternates between two circuits, Nürburgring in Rhineland-Palatinate and Hockenheimring in Baden-Württemberg; the FORMULA 1 MERCEDES-BENZ GROSSER PREIS VON DEUTSCHLAND 2019 will be held at the Hockenheimring. A number of drivers have won the race more than once, including Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso, among others.
Winning a home race is one of the most sought-after achievements in the sport, so we look at four German drivers who have won on home turf.
Nico Rosberg’s smooth victory
Having taken pole position on the Saturday in 2014, and with his teammate Lewis Hamilton taking a grid place penalty which saw him sent to the back of the grid, the win seemed increasingly more possible for the German-Finnish Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport driver.
The race, in which Rosberg cruised from lights out right to the chequered flag, put him 14 points into the lead of the championship, with his teammate finishing 3rd.
Despite winning his home race, the attention was somewhat left on his teammate Lewis Hamilton. After starting from 20th on the grid, having a minor collision with McLaren driver Jenson Button, and having to fight his way up the field, he still managed to step onto the podium, coming home in third place. Despite losing out to all important championship points, it was a great result for the team to have both cars on the podium.
Sebastian Vettel takes the lead
It may be some races since Sebastian Vettel has won, but how can his home win in 2013 driving for Red Bull Racing be forgotten?
Vettel managed to control the race for the most part of it, after overtaking McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton off the start line, however a safety car brought out half way through the race meant that the field was bunched up, leaving Vettel under pressure from the Lotus cars of both Romain Grosjean and Kimi Räikkönen, as well as Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso.
After a variety of pitstops, the order stood with Vettel, Grosjean and Räikkönen. However, as Räikkönen crept closer, team orders were given for Grosjean to let him pass. Räikkönen was then able to decrease the gap to Vettel to under a second making for an exciting and teeth-gritting final lap, however without being in DRS range, he was unable to make the move on the Red Bull driver.
Michael Schumacher pleases home crowds
Unlike the former winners mentioned, Schumacher is among the drivers who have won the race more than once – in fact he has won four times in 1995, 2002, 2004 and 2006.
Despite having raced at both circuits, Schumacher's wins have all taken place at Hockenheimring. In 1995, Michael Schumacher became the first German to claim the victory at his home race.
Driving for Benetton then, he started in second place behind Damon Hill. When Hill skidded into the gravel trap, Schumacher was able to effectively take the lead and race into the distance, building a large lead from the rest of the pack. His lead became so large that he was able to make another pitstop and still come out in the lead. In the race, only nine cars finished, with Benetton the only team who managed to have both cars finish.
In 2006, it was Kimi Räikkönen who had secured pole position ahead of the two Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa. However, after his car was filled with an insufficient amount of fuel, the McLaren inevitably had to pit earlier than he would have liked. The pitstop, which was slower than normal, meant that the Finnish driver came back out in eighth place and was unable to fight for the win. This meant that the win was all to play for, for the Ferrari drivers. Despite several attempts to overtake,
Massa had to settle for second place behind Schumacher who finished less than a second ahead than his Brazilian teammate. It was the German driver’s final home win and his third last win in Formula 1®.
Ralf Schumacher’s steady win
The 2001 German Grand Prix saw Ralf Schumacher take the win, in a persistent and well controlled race. However, he did not start the race in the lead. At the beginning it was thought that Juan Pablo Montoya would easily take the win, having been the faster car and starting from pole.
Ralf's car had been proving no match for Montoya's ahead, and by lap 22 Montoya's lead was up to ten seconds. However, his pitstop didn't go according to plan, with his car being filled with a bigger fuel load than was required.
This long pitstop meant that Ralf was able to get ahead, meaning the win was looking more likely for the German driver. However, things only got worse for Montoya and it wasn't long before his engine failed him, meaning not only did he not win but he did not finish the race.
Despite home favourite Michael Schumacher also failing to finish, the home crowd had a surprise win with Ralf Schumacher, who despite not having the fastest car, drove a clean race, much to the delight of the fans.