Max Chilton

2014 Monaco Grand Prix

While the rivalry at Mercedes is hardly the Senna-Prost sequel the media keep alluding to, things definitely got awkward following yesterday’s Monaco Grand Prix.

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Over the past couple of months Lewis Hamilton hasn’t passed on an opportunity to take jabs at his Mercedes teammate. Whether it be commentary on Rosberg’s lavish upbringing or claims that their friendship is far more distant than it seems, Hamilton has made it abundantly clear that he’s vying for top driver’s honors within the team. Watching the teammates’ body language following the last few races has become a favorite past time of the F1 media and while things have grown progressively more awkward, it all came to a head in Monaco.

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Saturday’s qualifying saw both Silver Arrows comfortably ahead of the pack and it really was a question of which Mercedes driver would take pole. Rosberg looked more comfortable on track all weekend but a mistake at the end of Q3 cost the remainder of the grid their flying laps, including a very unhappy Hamilton who would start from P2.

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In the press conference that followed, a downtrodden Hamilton sat alongside an exuberant Rosberg and attempted to downplay the incident.

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While the glitz and glamor have always made the Monaco Grand Prix the hottest ticket on the F1 calendar, the racing has been less than spectacular in recent years. Yesterday’s running was no exception with plenty of safety car laps and very little passing on track.

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Ferrari entered the weekend with realistic aspirations and appeared to be slightly more competitive up front. Kimi Raikkonen got off to an excellent start but ultimately fell back in the field after getting hit by Marussia’s Max Chilton and suffering a puncture.

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Things fared better for Fernando Alonso who finished a respectable 4th, while struggling to keep up with the much quicker Silver Arrows and the RB10 of Daniel Ricciardo.

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The situation between Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull continued to fracture. After starting from P4, Vettel experienced turbo issues which cut his race short after 5 laps. Somewhere on a yacht in the Monaco harbor, Mark Webber was celebrating. The 4 times World Champion has gotten little support from Red Bull’s top brass all season long.

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It really does appear that Vettel is out on an island by himself at this point. Perhaps a Ferrari contract is in his back pocket and the team knows it? His teammate Daniel Ricciardo isn’t helping Vettel’s case.

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After a solid qualifying which Ricciardo discribed as “disappointing”, he was able to close the gap with Hamilton in the final laps of the race. Had there been a few more laps, it may have been Ricciardo finishing 2nd instead of 3rd.

Jenson Button on track.

Retirements were abundant throughout the grid, as they tend to be in Monaco. Both Williams and McLaren had mediocre weekends. Valtteri Bottas failed to finish while his teammate Felipe Massa came 7th behind the McLaren of Jenson Button. Signs of age appear to be showing for both veterans who are being out-performed by their much younger teammates.

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It will be interesting to see how much longer McLaren are willing to hold on to Button and Williams to Massa.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Monaco Grand Prix - Saturday - Monte Carlo, Monaco

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Despite safety cars and the supposed debris in Hamilton’s eye, the real story of the weekend didn’t happen out on track, but directly following the race in pit lane. After Rosberg accepted his 2nd of back-to-back Monaco wins, all eyes were on the Mercedes teammates and how they would receive one another. A sour grapes Hamilton avoided making eye contact and quickly left the scene after answering a few questions from Benedict Cumberbatch. No handshakes and certainly no congratulations where given. The UK tabloids will be especially busy in the lead up to Montreal.

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F1 Grand Prix of Monaco

Speculations aside, I love a good rivalry. This social movement that demands we should all be PC and great friends with one another just doesn’t work in sports – it doesn’t work in real life either. Watching 2 NBA teams hug it out at the end of a hard fought Playoffs battle, dilutes everything fans just witnessed. Seeing athletes at the top of them game is seeing individuals completely focused on one thing – winning. I don’t blame either of the Mercedes drivers for their respective moods over the outcome of yesterday’s Monaco Grand Prix. In fact, I’d like to see more of it between all the drivers. Rivalries are good for business. They keep people engaged, they keep the media talking, they put eyeballs on the TV come race day. We complain when F1 is a procession and nothing happens on track. Now we’re on the cusp of a truly great interteam rivalry. Maybe it won’t be Senna-Prost II, but it will keep things interesting for Formula 1 and interesting is good for business.

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Montreal is in 2 weeks.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

2014 Marussia MR03

The final car reveal of 2014 hit the tarmac at Jerez today, Marussia’s MR03.

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Not the best looking contender, but certainly not the worst.

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Teammates Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi will drive the MR03 for the 2014 season.

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Marussia have been mostly noncompetitive, back markers since their formation in 2012. A lack of funding has kept the team largely out of the running and it’s yet another sign that Formula 1 needs to lay out a spending cap for all teams. Imagine what the sport would be like if Red Bull and Marussia had the exact same budgets for their cars? That could be a pretty interesting shakeup for the sport.

The idea of customer cars has been tossed around quite a bit in recent years. In the case of Marussia, it would give the team an opportunity to buy a proven chassis and avoid many of the more expensive RND costs that can eat away at team’s budget. Many are on the fence about customer cars in Formula 1, but if it improved the racing and made things more competitive across the field, I doubt those against it would be for long.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

The 2013 Caterham CT03 & Marussia MR02

Rounding out the grid for 2013 will be Caterham and Marussia who both debuted their cars earlier today at Jerez.

Caterham have chosen to focus their efforts on the bigger changes to hit the sport in 2014, so they’ve opted to run an upgraded version of last year’s CT01 in 2013.

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The CT03 features an updated livery and changes to the side pods and rear end. It’s expected to remain in the same trim, come race day in Melbourne.

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Teammates Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde will compete in the car this coming season.

Marussia will be competing in the MR02 this season.

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Like the rest of the teams, the MR02 is an “evolution”, expanding upon last year’s car. One big change for 2013 is that the MR02 will have KERS.

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With Timo Glock off the team in 2013, rookie Max Chilton is currently their only driver.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the back marker teams. Even the phrase back marker sounds awful. I suppose that’s the nature of racing and someone has to finish last. Something many of us forget is while teams like Caterham and Marussia may not be top competitors in the World of Formula 1, in the racing World as a whole they still occupy the upper echelon. For that reason alone you have to give credit where it is due.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.