Mercedes Shine Some Light on Rosberg’s Technical DNF in Singapore

The Mercedes F1 team have disclosed more information about the mechanical issue that forced Nico Rosberg to retire from the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday.

The team revealed on Twitter that “Forensic analysis has revealed that the steering column electronic circuits were contaminated with a foreign substance.”

“The contamination was not visible and did not manifest itself until Sunday as Nico went to the grid,” the team added.

Pagenaud Signs on to Team Penske for 2015 Season

Simon Pagenaud will drive the #22 Penske car in 2015, Roger Penske announced Monday afternoon.

He will join the team alongside 2014 champion Will Power, as well as drivers Juan Pablo-Montoya and Helio Castroneves.

Pagenaud finished fifth in the points in the 2014 season, just 21 points behind his (now) teammate Juan Pablo-Montoya.  

All three of team Penske’s cars finished in the top five of the points last year, and they’ll be looking to have a repeat of that in 2015.  

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Romain Grosjean Will Be Looking For a Repeat of 2013 at Suzuka

Lotus driver Romain Grosjean

In the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix, Lotus driver Romain Grosjean finished on the podium in third position.  This result was tied for his highest finish last year, and he’ll be looking to do it again come next Sunday.

Grosjean currently sits in 14th place in the championship standings, just 11 points behind Toto Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne.  A good result in Japan this weekend could see him inch even closer to the top ten with just five races left on the 2014 calendar.  If there was a good track for Grosjean to take a jump in the standings, it’s Suzuka.  

“Suzuka is probably my favorite track in the world and for many, many reasons.  But mainly I love it so much because the track is a massive challenge and also the spectators are so passionate about F1. There is not a single corner on the track that is not a big challenge.”

Qualifying has also been a point of success for the 28 year old Swiss driver, with 4th place starts the last two years.  

“It is the kind of track that you find time and improvements, however small, all of the time. It is a very special race track in this respect.”

Suzuka is one of the toughest tracks on the calendar in Formula 1, with it’s 18 turns and little run-off area, there is no room for driver error during the race.  

There is no margin for error with very little run-off area and the track is quite narrow, especially at the top of the hill. I love it. Every meter of the Suzuka track is special and every meter a challenge.”

Grosjean also commented on just how hard is is to overtake at Suzuka, saying “There are a few good areas [for overtaking] like the first corner, but only if you get a good exit from the last chicane.

“But probably the best one is in to the chicane itself, after the long back straight and 130R. If you get a tow here you can get inside under braking.”

“There is also a small chance at the hairpin and maybe in to Spoon Curve too, but you have to be brave and usually rely on the guy in front to co-operate.”

Grosjean also added, “Suzuka is quite a narrow track so it is not that easy to overtake, but it is a great challenge and very satisfying when you manage to execute one.”

Do you think Romain Grosjean will be able to bust into the top ten again this year at Suzuka?  Let us know your race predictions and result below.  

All quotes were from Romain Grosjean, and obtained from

Mercedes Need to Straighten Out Their Reliability Concerns, and Fast

Nico Rosberg was forced to retire during the Singapore Grand Prix.

Nico Rosberg only managed to complete 14 laps of the Singapore Grand Prix before he was forced to retire for the second time this season.  Lewis Hamilton had to retire in three races of his own this year, at Melbourne, Montreal, and Spa.  

Reliability has been a big concern for teams this year, only Force India has managed not to have a technical failure on the car this season. Lotus leads the board with 10 reliability caused DNF’s this year in the 14 races that have been run.  After that, we have Toro Rosso and Caterham both on the list with nine, but that is expected.  Neither of these teams are considered “front-runners” to win races this year.  Mercedes on the other hand is, and although the team has won all but three races this year, they too are having a large number of technical failures that just shouldn’t be happening to a team of their caliber.  

At the Singapore Grand Prix last weekend, Nico Rosberg had to start from pit-lane after electrical failures on the car plagued him from starting on the formation lap.  And things went from bad to worse after that with Rosberg running less then a quarter of the race before he was forced to retire.  With the 21st place finish, Rosberg’s championship point total remained stagnant at 238 while his teammate Lewis Hamilton won the race and with that, surpassed him for first place in the championship with just three points between them. Rosberg told of the car troubles in a press conference after the race:

“The problems with my steering wheel began in the garage even before the race and it was a difficult moment when I couldn’t pull away from the grid – the car didn’t get out of neutral. When I left the pit-lane, I was only able to change gear – there was no radio, no DRS and reduced Hybrid power.” You can read the full statement here or watch it below: 

After the race, Toto Wolff, head of Motorsport at Mercedes, commented on the situation, “It would not be satisfying at all to have the championship decided because one car let the driver down.  We need to refocus, get our heads down and keep concentrating on preventing these reliability problems reoccurring.”  

Clearly the team wouldn’t want the championship to be decided this way, but if they want to act on their statement they need to start now. So far this year Mercedes has had five technical failures: one electrical, one gearbox, one engine, one brakes failure, and one handling problem.  Three of the five happened to Lewis Hamilton, who wasn’t very relived when he heard that his teammate had retired on Sunday because of a reliability issue.  After the race he stated, “For me, it’s happened quite a bit, so it’s definitely a worry… Conscious thing you’re thinking about when driving, trying to look after the car, saying ‘come on baby, let’s make it to the end’”.

The championship looks as if it will be decided between the two Mercedes drivers come time for Abu Dhabi; only six drivers are mathematically eligible for the championship now with only 150 points left for the taking.  The Mercedes team will be pouring over data this week to figure out what went wrong with Nico Rosberg’s car in Singapore, fighting to prevent a future breakdown with so few races left.

Nico Rosberg gets serviced in the pits before he is forced to retire from the Singapore Grand Prix.

If all in the reliability department goes well, Nico Rosberg has the (slight) historical upper hand.  In 2013, in the last five races of the season, he had an average finish of 5.4 compared to Hamilton’s 9.6.  But there’s a catch, Lewis Hamilton had a DNF in Japan last year with a puncture that sent him out of the race after seven laps.  Reliability issue?  Maybe not, but Hamilton (and Mercedes) hasn’t had luck on his side in the final races of any recent F1 season.  In 2012, Rosberg retired from three of the last six races of the season with crashes.  

Whatever the end of the season brings for the silver arrows, be it reliability issues or crashes, it’ll sure be an interesting end to a season dominated by Mercedes AMG Petronas.   

“These things take time to get a grip on – but we will not stop until we stop suffering these DNF’s. If we could do anything more to prevent further retirements we would be doing it – I would break my arm again to make it happen!” – Toto Wolff

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