Interview: Ricardo Rodriguez – From a childhood passion to a profession

09/08/2019
by Laura Sexton

We speak to Spanish artist Ricardo Rodriguez about how his love for F1 began and how he turned his passion into a career.

Ricardo Rodriguez is a Spanish artist whose love for F1 grew when he was a young child; he later turned that love into an art career, creating exquisite portraits of some of F1’s greatest stars.

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.

“You have to keep working and keep talking to people too as that is how opportunities arise; like the opportunity to feature my work on Memento Exclusives, for example.”

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.

Teams that boast the most in Hungary

29/07/2019
by Laura Sexton

In the wake of a thrilling German race, we prepare for the next - the Hungarian Grand Prix - taking 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.

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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.

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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.

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Greatest home wins at the German Grand Prix

22/07/2019
by Laura Sexton

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.

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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.

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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®.

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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.

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Nico Rosberg: The road to becoming an F1 World Champion

17/07/2019
by Laura Sexton

Leading up to the FORMULA 1 MERCEDES-BENZ GROSSER PREIS VON DEUTSCHLAND 2019, we look back over the career of German-Finnish World Champion Nico Rosberg. 

From the beginning racing karts, to his rise to becoming an F1 World Champion, Nico Rosberg’s motorsport career has been an intriguing journey to say the least.

Following a legacy

Nico Rosberg began his F1 career in 2006 at Williams F1 Team, following in the footsteps of his World Champion father Keke Rosberg, who claimed the prestigious title back in 1982 with the team.

Growing up with a champion father, Nico of course had plenty to live up to and by the young age of six, knew he wanted to become a race car driver. Of course, having a father in the sport had its benefits especially with making the right connections. However, Nico's obvious talent and competitive driving skills enabled him to reach the top of each race category he drove in.

Despite being very academic and being offered a place to study aeronautical engineering at Imperial College London, in which he turned down, his thirst to drive was where his heart was. After reportedly scoring the highest marks in Williams F1 Team's engineering aptitude test, the young racer was signed to race with the team in the 2006 season.

Nico stayed with the British team for four seasons. In his debut season, Nico finished 17th in the Driver Standings, his best finish was a seventh place in his first ever F1 race in Bahrain, as well as in Europe. In 2007, he finished in ninth place in the standings - his best finish was a fourth place in Brazil. In 2008 he claimed a second place in Singapore and was 13th overall in the standings. In his final season with the team he finished seventh with high point scoring races throughout the season.

After a few years with the team, Rosberg made the bold move to Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport in 2010, where he would remain until 2016.

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The making of an F1 Champion

The move saw him teamed up with seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher, after the driver re-joined the sport following initial retirement in 2006. Rosberg's inaugural season with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport saw him out-qualify Schumacher at most races. 

His season had its ups and downs, however, including a third place in Malaysia, China and Britain, meanwhile losing a wheel during the Japanese Grand Prix and a collision with Mark Webber in Korea. He completed 16 of the 19 races held that season, bringing home points at most. He finished seventh in the Driver Standings in 2010, collecting an impressive 142 points for the team – the beginning of a strong relationship and career with the Silver Arrows team. 

In 2011 he finished in seventh place; in 2012 he came in ninth; and in 2013 he finished in sixth in the Driver Standings.

It was the 2014 season however when Nico started to see real results with the car. With Lewis Hamilton joining him in the team that year - a driver he was close with during his karting years - and new developments made to the car, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport revealed to the world how speedy they were.

However, 2014 was not Nico’s year, and neither was 2015, with the driver being beaten to the title by his teammate in both years and having to settle for second place.

During which, their relationship became extremely competitive, each trying to beat the other meanwhile attempting to still score 1-2 finishes for the team.

And this was not always possible and their sheer determination unfortunately on more than one occasion resulted in the pair colliding, much to the dismay of the team.

Nevertheless, 2016 was Nico’s year. In a tight season battling it out at every race and the result still unknown going into the final event, it was indeed Nico who claimed the supreme World Champion title, finishing with five points more than his British comrade.

Nico Rosberg became Formula 1® World Champion with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, and only a few days after winning, announced his retirement from the sport, wanting to spend more time with his family. Having finally won the title, his goal ever since being a boy, Nico had achieved what he set out to do.

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Looking back: Celebrating the best of the British Grand Prix

08/07/2019
by Laura Sexton
With the FORMULA 1 ROLEX BRITISH GRAND PRIX 2019 the next event on the calendar, we look back at five of the best wins we’ve seen at Silverstone in recent years.
 
To celebrate the Silverstone weekend ahead, we’ve recalled a selection of races from recent years, from a flawless drive, to a home win in the rain, to strategic victories. 
 
1. Hamilton wins his first home Grand Prix
 
 
After failing to claim points in the previous two races of the 2008 season, the pressure was on as Lewis Hamilton approached the Silverstone event. The rainy weekend lead to conditions that some could cope with better than others. Heikki Kovalainen claimed pole position on the Saturday with Hamilton only able to manage fourth on the grid in his McLaren.
 
Nevertheless, Hamilton had a great start and lunged himself into second, and it wasn’t long until he overtook his teammate Kovalainen to take the lead. Despite a few minor incidents in which the Brit went wide or locked up due to the poor driving conditions, it was an ace drive from the young racer. 
 
Early on Kimi Räikkönen had appeared to be a potential threat, especially after Heikki Kovalainen spun and fell behind the Finn. Closing the gap behind Hamilton for a while, Räikkönen's tyres were no match for his, as he was left on the intermediate tyres and Hamilton was given as fresh set. Dropping away, it wasn't long before Hamilton gained a lead of more than 20 seconds over Heidfeld and Kovalainen, as Räikkönen eventually dropped back to fourth. After another stop, Räikkönen was down to 11th. 
 
Despite chaos taking place around him, Lewis remained calm throughout the race and managed to take to the chequered flag more than a minute ahead of BMW's Nick Heidfeld. Lewis Hamilton went on to win the Driver’s Championship in 2008 driving for McLaren.
 
 
2. Rosberg wins after several cars lose their tyres
 
 
The 2013 British Grand Prix was dramatic to say the least, featuring two safety cars, tyre failures on six different cars and the leader Sebastian Vettel retiring with a gearbox failure.
 
It was Lewis Hamilton who started from pole position, claiming the grid place on the Saturday after putting in a 1:29.607 lap ahead of his teammate Nico Rosberg. It was a Mercedes-AMG Petronas front row lock-out. Behind started Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in the Red Bull cars.
 
Vettel managed to overtake Rosberg off the line and took second position into the first corner, meanwhile Hamilton lead the way. Despite putting in some great first laps, pulling away from Vettel's Red Bull, on the eighth lap his rear tire disintegrated, leaving him limping back to the pits which left him to fight from the back of the field. Two laps later, Felipe Massa in the Ferrari encountered the same problem and then on lap 15 Jean-Eric Verge suffered it too. After this, a safety car was deployed.
 
When the race resumed on lap 22, Vettel started to extend his lead over Rosberg, with Hamilton, Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso wasting no time in trying to make their way up the field. However, in yet another twist, all was over for Vettel on lap 42, as he pulled his car up on the track with engine problems, sending another safety car out.
 
That meant that Rosberg lead from lap 45 when the safety car went in. Elsewhere drivers advanced, whilst others such as Sergio Perez, had to retire – again due to tyre issues. In the end it was Nico Rosberg who took to the chequered flag first; behind him, Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso.
 
It was Rosberg’s second win of the season, in which he ended up finishing sixth overall.
 
 
3. Strategy and skills win Räikkönen the victory
 
 
The 2007 British Grand Prix was an exciting one which involved overtakes, strategic pitstops and real skill. Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren had claimed pole position on the Saturday; however, it was the Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönen which took home the win in a duel between himself and Fernando Alonso in the McLaren.
 
When the five red lights went out, Hamilton struggled to hold onto his lead, with Räikkönen having a strong start, already putting the Brit under pressure. Fernando Alonso started on the second row by himself as Felipe Massa was forced to start from the pits after an issue on the grid. Massa did well to fight his way up the field throughout the race, but eyes were on the leaders - of which there were three potentials.
 
By lap 13, Lewis' lead was diminishing and Räikkönen was only three tenths of a second behind him. All the while defending his position, he knew that it would all come down to the pit stops. Hamilton was first in, pitting two laps before the Finnish driver. Unfortunately for Hamilton, he lost time during his stop which only added to the Ferrari's time and chances. 
 
Despite a good strategy meaning Räikkönen came out ahead of Hamilton, Ferrari knew they needed to keep alert for the other McLaren driver Fernando Alonso too.
 
Recognising the threat, Ferrari gave Kimi a larger fuel load and second set of softer tyres. Alonso jumped into the lead after the pitstops, but Ferrari were playing the long game, knowing that Kimi’s tyres would last longer.
 
When Alonso took his second pitstop, Räikkönen was able to retake the lead and put in some striking laps to peel away from Alonso, and by the time he took his second stop he had a big enough lead to still come out in ahead. 
 
Kimi Räikkönen took the win, with Alonso finishing second and Lewis Hamilton third, in front of his home crowd. Räikkönen won the Driver’s Championship in 2007, by only 1 point, ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
 
 
4. Vettel wins after first lap controversy
 
 
With Lewis Hamilton starting from pole position, British fans thought they were set to see the Brit claim his sixth win and fifth consecutive win at Silverstone in 2018.
 
However, after being put under pressure off the line, Hamilton hadn't even finished his first lap before things started to go wrong. First of all, wheel spin meant that his teammate Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel were both able to pass him. Following that he was hit by the Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönen who tried to go up the inside at Village and locked up, clipping the right rear of Hamilton. 
 
Elsewhere there were a number of drivers who also had bad races, including: Brendon Hartley for Toro Rosso who had suspension failure; Marcus Ericsson for Sauber who crashed at Copse; Romain Grosjean for Haas who crashed into Carlos Sainz Jr for Renault; Max Verstappen for Red Bull who had gearbox issues; and Charles
Leclerc for Sauber who has problems with his rear wheel.
 
Despite the first lap incident, Hamilton’s hungry drive to get back up the field kept the fans going, in what was an incredible comeback drive, finishing eventually in second place. 
 
Vettel had a good race from start to finish, only losing the lead after pitting during the safety car. However, he soon took the position back from Valtteri Bottas through the inside at Brooklands, after a few attempts. 
 
Sebastian Vettel increased his Championship lead over Hamilton by eight points after the British Grand Prix, however, went on to finish second in the Driver’s Championship in 2018.
 
 
5. Alonso breezes to the chequered flag
 
 
Back in 2006, we saw what could be considered as one of Alonso's smoothest races, driving for Renault F1 Team. Taking his fifth win in eight races, Alonso was already setting himself up for a successful year. Despite not being as action packed as many fans would have hoped for, it was extremely dominant where Alonso was concerned. 
 
After holding off the attacking McLaren of Kimi Räikkönen following an early safety car, caused by a collision between Scott Speed and Ralf Schumacher, the Spaniard glided to victory in a league of his own. 
 
This left Kimi Räikkönen duelling with Michael Schumacher for second place. Despite defending the place after the first stop, Räikkönen was unable to maintain it after the second pit stops, with the German driver taking the second place on the podium.
 
Alonso won by almost 14 seconds in his Renault and later went on to win the Driver’s Championship in 2006 collecting 134 points in total across the season, with the British Grand Prix remembered as one of his best drives.
 

Looking back: the past three Austrian Grand Prix races

26/06/2019
by Laura Sexton

Ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, we recall the circuit’s past three races which have seen three different winners, each race with its own drama.

With the FORMULA 1 MYWORLD GROSSER PREIS VON ÖSTERREICH 2019 coming up, we look back at a few of the previous races the Austrian Red Bull Ring circuit (previously known as Österreichring) has seen, from a home win to a team battle.

Max Verstappen wins team’s home race

The 2018 Austrian Grand Prix had its highs and lows. Red Bull won their first home Grand Prix with Max Verstappen, meanwhile Mercedes suffered two DNFs with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas both having to retire their cars. Hamilton's lead in the championship which he had recovered during the previous race, was lost once more. 

Verstappen was deserving of the win, showing great pace and managing his tyres well throughout, proving a strong contender to the Silver Arrows. However, he was not leading the race the entire way; it was Valtteri Bottas who earnt pole position on the Saturday. Unfortunately for the Finn his car suffered a hydraulics problem and he had to stop the car. But the misfortune didn’t stop there for Mercedes. 

Problems for Hamilton arose when his team decided not to bring him into the pits during the virtual safety car (brought out when Bottas retired). Their opponents of Ferrari and Red Bull took advantage of this and brought their drivers in, meanwhile Lewis stayed out. He therefore had to pit under normal racing conditions and ended up losing track position, coming out fourth. At this point Verstappen was in the lead, followed by Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Räikkönen. Pushing extremely hard to try and fight back, Hamilton wore his tyres down too much and had to stop again, but it wasn’t long before his car came to an abrupt halt on lap 63.

Verstappen and Red Bull won a brilliant race, using a great strategy and revealing strong pace and stamina, however the disappointment for Mercedes took the limelight, with Lewis finishing the weekend behind his rival Sebastian Vettel in the championship standings.

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Bottas claims his second F1 career win

For Valtteri Bottas the 2017 race was a weekend to remember as he took home his second career win ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo. Hamilton had received a five-place grid penalty ahead of the race meaning he started from eight place after qualifying 3rd.

After claiming pole position on the Saturday, Bottas had put himself into a great position ahead of the race. Bottas jumped off the start line well and managed to dominate the race from the front. Despite this it was queried by fellow drivers that Bottas had jumped the start, however after being investigated, it was deemed as nothing more than just a brilliant start. It was important that Bottas take the lead at the beginning, as it was believed that if Vettel had managed to get ahead, he would have been hard to beat due to his tyre choices for the race.

With it being a one-stop race, Vettel swapped his tyres to the super-softs, meaning he was quickly able to close down the gap between himself and Bottas, and was right on his tail in the final laps, as both had to get past slower traffic. Bottas' tyres also had blisters forming on the rears, making his drive even more difficult, in addition to the threat from behind.

And only a few seconds behind the pair, was Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo who was being chased down by Hamilton in the other Mercedes. Nevertheless, the four finished in those positions, with Bottas managing to hold of the approachign Ferrari, and claiming his second ever career win.

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Lewis wins thrilling team battle

Despite claiming pole position ahead of the 2016 race and starting off well, Hamilton lost his lead to his teammate Nico Rosberg after the German driver was able to undercut him during a pitstop. Nevertheless, Rosberg was not too far out of reach, never more than two seconds ahead of Hamilton. Not only did Rosberg have Hamilton hard on his heels but he was also experiencing a problem - brake failure. 

Despite this, he managed to keep the gap between the two relatively stable, but Hamilton was in a better position with fresher tyres, and determination in his eyes. But the real drama was yet to come. As Hamilton drew closer, he knew he wanted to overtake his teammate. Hamilton tried to go around the outside of Rosberg, who then squeezed the Brit and braked very late. Hamilton ended up going wide and making contact with Rosberg who damaged his front wing and lost his place to his teammate. 

Hamilton re-joined the track unharmed and headed for the chequered flag. Rosberg meanwhile lost out to other drivers - Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. After the race, Rosberg was handed a ten second penalty for causing the collision. Unfortunately for the team, the manoeuvre cost them a 1-2 finish and lost them points.

Nevertheless, Hamilton was triumphant, fighting his way to the top and adding more points to his championship lead.

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Interview: Joseph Kraham – Creating F1 art brick by brick

26/06/2019
by Laura Sexton
Memento Exclusives chats with LEGO artist Joseph Kraham about his art inspiration and his recent F1 projects, which include pieces commissioned by Memento Exclusives.
 
 
Joseph Kraham is an American engineer-turned-artist who found his big break after creating a portrait out of LEGO depicting Red Bull F1 driver, Max Verstappen. We chat to him to find out how it all began and why Memento Exclusives customers should keep an eye out for his future F1 projects. Find Joseph's artwork on our store.
 
In the beginning…there was LEGO
 
“It’s a rather sad story actually,” Joseph tells us when asked about how his business, One Brick At A Time began.
 
“Several years ago, I bought my wife a Great Dane, who we loved and took with us when we travelled and moved around to Australia. Unfortunately, and quite suddenly, the dog passed away at only 5 years old. It was horrible. My wife and I were heartbroken, it was like our first child. 
 
“So, as a memento for my wife, I thought I’d try building something for her and thought of trying it with LEGO. I created a portrait of her kissing our dog – it was one of her favourite pictures. It had such a positive reaction that things just escalated from there. 
 
Of all the different materials that could be used, we ask him, why LEGO? Joseph tells us that as an engineer, he has always loved LEGO.
 
“I thought to myself ‘well how hard can it be to create art out of it?’ Turns out… it’s really hard!
 
“In the beginning I only used regular LEGO pieces but there are only about 20-25 different colours which made it hard to create my portraits. So, I thought I would start painting each LEGO piece individually – people thought I was crazy for this idea. It took me about a year to figure out the best way to do it and have the LEGO logo still visible and use the best method. The painting actually takes longer than anything else I have to do for the artwork!”
 
LEGO inspired by Formula 1®
 
We are excited to share Kraham’s art on Memento Exclusives and are thrilled to hear that it was in fact his first F1 piece, a portrait of Red Bull driver Max Verstappen made from LEGO, that changed things for him.
 
“I’ve been creating LEGO art for about four years now but what’s really interesting is that my Max Verstappen piece was the one that, without knowing it, changed my hobby to a profession. I had no idea at the time that this would be the case.
 
“I made it back in 2017 when I worked with ExxonMobil and we were told we’d meet Max and Daniel Ricciardo and could bring something to get signed. So, I made the art piece and it stole the show. When Max saw it, he was excited – I think he wanted to keep it! 
 
“I remember feeling bad though because Daniel Ricciardo came up to me and asked where his piece was. I didn’t realise the art would be so popular!”
 
So surely, you’ll have to make Ricciardo a piece now, we ask. “Eventually I will yes! I want to make more and he’s on my list.”
 
 
To create Formula 1® inspired art, we expect Joseph to be the biggest F1 fan but are surprised to hear that his love for the sport came afterwards.
 
“I like F1 now, since meeting Max and getting him to sign my work – he was really supportive. Before that I had never watched F1, I had seen the art as just a fun task at the time. But now I watch the races a lot.
 
“I really like the duo at Mercedes right now, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. It’s amazing how they continue to win. But I like Max too because he’s fun to watch.”
 
The creative process behind it all
 
Besides the wonderful art that we see, we delve in to find out more about Joseph’s creative process.
 
“One piece averages between 200 and 300 hours of work. I design them in Microsoft Excel to see if it’s even possible to create. I can spend 20 hours just designing and up to 100 hours painting the pieces. The Verstappen piece I would consider a slightly smaller piece, but it still took a lot of hard work.
 
“I actually work with hundreds of concept ideas and the hard part is figuring out what to focus on. When I created the Max piece it gave me great indication of what people would like. I spend hours trialling and planning my art.”
 
With the art taking up so much time, we’re impressed to discover that Joseph still works as a consulting engineer when he’s not spending time in his art studio. 
 
“The main thing for me is seeing the look on someone’s face, knowing that somebody is willing to spend hundreds of hours creating something like that. There’s a lot of appreciation.”
 
So, what’s next for the artist? 
 
Joseph says he makes between six and ten artworks a year, his last being the Sebastian Vettel portrait which will soon be available on the Memento Exclusives store.
 
“Hopefully I can get him to sign it one day!
 
“Currently I am working on a Lewis Hamilton one; I’m about 75% done now so I just need to keep going.”
 
In other words, watch this space.
 

Looking back: The 2018 French Grand Prix

18/06/2019
by Laura Sexton

With the FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE 2019 taking place this weekend, we look back at last year’s race at Circuit Paul Ricard to see what we can expect from the approaching event.

France has held Grand Prix races since 1906, taking place across several different circuits. In 2018 the race returned to the calendar for the first time since 2008 at Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet, which is where we head to this weekend.

Last year we saw Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport driver Lewis Hamilton take the win. In anticipation, we look back at the Brit’s win and the drama that took place at the 2018 French Grand Prix.

Off to a flying start

Throwing it back to last year’s French Grand Prix, it was Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who headed into the weekend leading the Championship, even if only by one point. Having won the previous race in Canada, and two other races in Australia and Bahrain, the German had shown consistent strength against his opponent Lewis Hamilton in the Silver Arrow, who had taken two victories himself.

Nevertheless, the Brit showed great pace throughout the weekend, topping the practice tables on both Friday and Saturday, revealing what was to come. On the Saturday afternoon, Hamilton took pole position, claiming the fastest time in all three sessions. Next to him on the grid was his teammate Valtteri Bottas in a Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport front row lock-out. Behind them was Sebastian Vettel for Ferrari and Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.

With the start of the race proving crucial in the battle for first place at any race, Hamilton shot off the line smoothly and precisely and executed his move well to secure and defend his lead.

Others did not have such great starts.

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First lap mayhem

Heading around the first corner, Vettel fancied his chance of second and pulled a bold move on car number 77 - Bottas. Unfortunately for the German this backfired, with the two colliding. This sent the him to the back of the grid, and the Finnish driver limping behind too. 

It wasn’t long before the FIA started investigating the incident. After some deliberation the driver was deemed the one at fault and was handed a five-second penalty for causing a collision. The aftermath of the collision between Vettel and Bottas resulted in a broken front wing for the Ferrari and a puncture for the Mercedes. Both headed to the pits following the incident, putting them further down the field.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly and Force India (now Racing Point) driver Esteban Ocon collided too, bringing out a safety car on the first lap. The safety car was out for five-laps but once it went in Hamilton leapt back into action and sprinted for the horizon.

After getting his front wing repaired, Vettel also tapped the McLaren of Fernando Alonso at turn three at the re-start which sent the McLaren into a spin, as Vettel attempted to make his way back up the field. By lap 10 the German was already up to 11th which turned into eighth by lap 15. By lap 20 he was already back into fifth place and re-joining the front runner pack.

Despite this, he still had to serve his penalty, which was taken during a scheduled pitstop. With the team pulling this off well, Vettel was able to re-join the track without losing his fifth position.

Unfortunately for Bottas, the damage gained from the early collision was enough to ruin his chances of what could have been a podium position. The Finn finished in seventh place behind the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, and of course behind the man who sent him to the back of the grid in the first place.

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A smooth win

Lewis Hamilton lead from start to finish, bar one lap taken for his pitstop. It was a weekend when the sun seemed to shine upon the British driver as he whizzed past, each lap more impressive than the last.

He took the win seven seconds clear of the next car; joining him on the podium was Max Verstappen in the Red Bull and Kimi Räikkönen in the other Ferrari. He moved 14 points ahead of his rival Sebastian Vettel that day, a win that would prove key as he went on to win more races and eventually claim the 2018 Driver’s World Championship. 

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What can we expect from the 2019 race?

Mercedes have dominated the points table for the first seven races of the season. Ferrari seemed to find their pace in Canada however and claimed their first pole position of the season with Sebastian Vettel. Despite leading the entire race, however, the German was handed a five-second time penalty which meant the win went to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes who crossed the line second. 

Given that the British driver has had such a good start to the season and ruled supreme at the Circuit Paul Ricard last season, we can predict that the two Silver Arrows will once again be strong here. However, Ferrari can’t be ruled out. In Canada the Ferraris were extremely quick, and the incident of losing the win can surely only leave them feeling hungrier for victory.

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Interview: Joel Clark – Turning vinyl into artistic masterpieces

12/06/2019
by Laura Sexton

Memento Exclusives chats with artist Joel Clark about his love for motorsport and creating what he sees as a gap in the art world.

Joel Clark is an English artist who creates motorsport inspired artworks, from posters and prints to sculptures, all made from hand-cut vinyl. Memento Exclusives commisioned two pieces for Clark to work on; to create two Renault art pieces, one looking back and one looking at the present day.

Rather than using a pencil or a paint brush, Joel hand-cuts each part of the picture he is trying to create out of vinyl, using a scalpel as his key crafting tool. Joel's art combined with Memento Exclusives' reimagined Formula Car Parts are some what of a match made in heaven.

We delve in to discover what inspires him to create such art.

How it all started

“It all began back in late 2013,” Joel first explains to us. 

“I’d already worked on a few motorsport-based oil paintings in the past, but in 2013 I had this lightbulb moment and thought I’d try creating iconic racing car artworks made out of vinyl, because vinyl is used for car liveries.

“It was a real full circle moment for me - it was like going back to the first job I had, working at Silverstone for a few months after finishing school. So, I put together a few pieces of work and did a local show and got a lot of press coverage. That made me realise I should be going for it!”

Having been drawing cars ever since he could pick up a pencil, we ask Joel just how special it was to work within Silverstone when he was first starting out.

“After I finished school, a sign company based at Silverstone circuit took me on, and it was here I learnt how to hand-cut vinyl, creating hundreds of sponsors logos for local racing teams.

“For me, Silverstone was like my second home, having grown up nearby. So, the job was like a marriage of two ultimate passions – motorsport and design. After a short while, however, I left to go to art college where I studied for six years before entering the world of advertising.” 

But little did he know at the time, that this first job would end up fuelling fantastic creations later in life…

Using vinyl to create art

Now, Joel hand cuts pieces of vinyl to create magnificent pieces of art which capture everyone’s attention. But with so many different forms of art and material, we dig a little deeper to find out why vinyl was the perfect choice for him.

“When I was working in advertising, I benefitted from seeing lots of amazing artworks, but I never once thought, having seen what was out there, that I had anything different to offer. I’d always dabbled in vinyl, but it was only a few years back that I realised it was a great choice – it’s a niche medium. It’s a massive gap in the art world. Plus, vinyl has the same finish as the cars I was depicting.

“Matching the look and feel of the real thing, my works took on a surreal level! And once I applied it to the very first car part I worked on, it really struck home, I thought ‘my god, this looks mad’! A real car door stood in the garden, but with my work on it, it really tricked the eye and made it look like a cartoon door.”

Joel works on a variety of styles of vinyl work too, from posters and prints, to sculptures and car parts, creating ‘pop art’ style pieces that really catch your eye.

“I often affiliate myself with Pop Art because of coming from a graphic design background and then art directing throughout advertising; I was already used to big and bold criteria that caught the eye.

“Vinyl artwork demands this too because you are using block colours, so it’s sort of like a contemporary version of Pop Art to many people. It also allows me to branch out and create pieces from the back of a phone case to the side of a car, to architectural stuff and figurative works.”

The inspiration behind the creative

Besides taking on different styles of art, Joel focuses on a multitude of scenes, imagery and designs, and we quiz him as to where he gets his inspiration from.

“For me, each project is different, as is the approach and the subject. Of course, I try to bring in aspects of things I love, but often I might create a simple concept from something I’ve spotted, as long as it’s workable. But at the end of the day, it’s how I make a living, so I have to think about what is popular in the sport industry too.”

Out of all the works Joel has created, we want to know which piece he has enjoyed creating the most and as an artist what the most rewarding part of his career is.

“I think the Porsche 917 Slice I did was pretty mad! It’s the closest I’ve got to decorating an entire car which ultimately is my goal. The Trans Am Bonnet is another favourite because of the sheer scale of it and the work that went in was just immense. 

“This is why my job is so enjoyable because at the end of the day the amount of satisfaction you get out of having completed something like this is huge and I can’t think of another job where you get this kind of soul food.”

A love like no other

Working in Silverstone and having such a love for the sport, Joel says that he has been able to attend a fair few Formula 1® races. 

“My first Grand Prix was in 1985 but I’d been going to Silverstone before that with my dad to vintage car race meets. You’d see pre and post war events and so I learnt a great deal of my motorsport history from there. Then I went to a few Grand Prixs in the 1990s, which in my opinion was one of the best eras of the sport.

 

“I also used to live in Melbourne and went to the Australian Grand Prix; I used to ride my bike to work along the track in fact.

“The biggest thing I’m doing this year (2019) is coming to Paddock Club at Silverstone with Memento Exclusives – I’m ridiculously excited. It’ll be my first Grand Prix in a few years, and I can’t wait to be back in that world. A feeling comes over me and I just adore being there. And for me, this year will be by far the most exciting.”

And finally, we want to know which driver the talented artist will be supporting.

“I used to be an Alonso fan before he retired. These days I like Sebastian Vettel, he’s very likeable and sound, so I’ll be cheering for him.”

Discover Joel Clark’s latest art on the Memento Exclusives store.

Three thrilling and unpredictable Canadian Grand Prix wins

04/06/2019
by Laura Sexton

It’s race week: the FORMULA 1 PIRELLI GRAND PRIX DU CANADA 2019 is coming up and so we look at some of the best races and wins the Montreal circuit has seen in recent years.

The track, named Circuit Gilles Villeneuve after the Canadian driver who sadly lost his life to the sport in Belgium back in 1982, is a favourite track of many drivers and fans alike.

Canada joined the F1 Calendar back in 1967 following six non-championship years of racing. When it started out, the race alternated between two tracks, Mosport Park in Ontario and Mont-Tremblant in Quebec. However, after the lack of entrants finishing races between 1968 and 1970, the circuit was deemed too dangerous. It then found its new home in Montreal in 1978, the circuit we know and love today.

And since then, there have been some epic wins at the circuit, particularly in the 21st century; some of which many might argue are among F1’s finest.  

Jenson wins a record-breaking race

For many, and certainly when looking at more recent years, the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix stands out as being one of the most thrilling and unpredictable races ever. And for a race that broke records for being the longest recorded, at 4 hours and 4 minutes, it was far from a slow-paced afternoon.

The rain-stricken event is remembered as one of Jenson Button’s finest drives - winning from last place in his McLaren and overcoming an abundance of challenges. The first of which saw the start begin under a safety car due to the wet conditions, with Button originating from seventh on the grid. However, on lap nine he collided with his own teammate, Lewis Hamilton, squeezing him into the wall and creating a wave of flying debris. This of course meant that Button had to pit, and another safety car inevitably came out. 

Button then received a penalty for speeding behind the safety car which put him down into 15th place. Although he managed to make up places, this was short-lived as torrential rain brought out yet another safety car before the race was red flagged on lap 25 of 70. This stoppage lasted for two hours, before it started up yet again behind a safety car for another nine laps. 

Only three laps after the safety car retreated, however, another was brought out as Button and Alonso collided with each other on lap 37. This put Button into a firm last place by lap 40 but despite this, good tyre choices meant he was able to fight his way back up the field. By lap 65 out of 70, the Brit was up to second place after getting past Red Bull's Mark Webber and Mercedes' Michael Schumacher.

Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, who was leading the race in his Red Bull, was next on Button's list. Just when fans thought it couldn't get any crazier, the German surrendered to the pressure and slipped up, allowing Button to get past him on the final lap and take home a heroic win, defying the odds against him.

See the Jenson Button collection here

Hamilton unveils his talent

The 2007 Canadian Grand Prix may not go down in history in the same way as the 2011 race, however it is remarkable for its own reasons. It was this race which kick started the beginning of Lewis Hamilton’s success in F1.
It was his inaugural season in Formula 1® and was only the sixth race of his career, but that did not stop him from showing the world his abilities.

Driving for McLaren, the young Brit had out qualified his teammate and rival, Fernando Alonso who was currently leading the championship, to take his first pole position. However, off the line Alonso and Nick Heidfeld had a much better start, and although Hamilton was able to cover Heidfeld, his teammate flew past and into the lead.

The race itself was chaotic, with four safety cars in total sent out throughout the duration. The worse incident was that of BMW-Sauber diver Robert Kubica who crashed his car at the hairpin and was extremely lucky to walk away unharmed. By the end of the race only 12 drivers made it to the chequered flag.

Despite Alonso's lead, however, the Spaniard went in too deep at one of the corners and drove across the grass before re-entering the track in third, behind Hamilton and Heidfeld. Meanwhile, by lap 16 Hamilton was already over 11 seconds ahead of the rest of the pack. Other events in the race saw Adrian Sutil end up in the barrier of turn four, stop/go penalties for Alonso and Rosberg, a failed pitstop for Anthony Davidson, and a retirement for David Coulthard. 

In a race which saw so many potentials for failure, Hamilton kept his cool and managed to avoid the drama, showing off his incredible composure and excellent driving abilities.

See the Lewis Hamilton Collection here

Ricciardo takes his first victory

In 2014, a year in which Mercedes were beginning to show what we’d later discover to be a long run of success and domination, we saw another great race in Montreal.

With the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg locking out the front row at the start of Sunday with the German on pole, the team was looking unbeatable, having won all the races of the season so far. At the start there was a battle between the two of them for the lead, in which Hamilton recovered from being squeezed onto the grass. 

However, in a twist of events, both Mercedes cars radioed their team with a similar problem – a loss a power – halfway through the race. Unfortunately for the race leader, Hamilton, the problem was not going to get better and he had to retire the car after developing a rear-brake failure too.

Rosberg, on the other hand, stayed out but was put under pressure by the cars behind. With only three laps to go, Ricciardo managed to find a way past Sergio Perez in the Force India who had degrading tyres, before hurtling closer to Rosberg.

However, the Australian driver pulled a fantastic move on the German driver on the final chicane. Meanwhile a last-minute battle between Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez ended in a nasty crash which saw both drivers seek medical attendance – luckily both were relatively unharmed. 

Ricciardo's determination won him the race and despite Mercedes suffering issues, he highlighted his endurance and strength in the sport. 

See the Daniel Ricciardo Collection here

And we had to mention…

In 1991 Nigel Mansell was set for the win, but after celebrating a lap too early, his car ran out of fuel and Nelson Piquet passed him to win the race – his final career win.

In 1995 Jean Alesi won the Canadian Grand Prix on his birthday, his first and only F1 win after starting from fifth on the grid. Driving behind Schumacher for most of the race, a well-timed pitstop allowed him to slide into the lead.

In 2008, only one year after his horrific crash at the circuit, Robert Kubica won the race after Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen collided in the pitlane.

In 2001, Both Schumacher brothers, Michael and Ralf battled it out for the win and in the end, it was Ralf who took the victory in a first ever 1-2 brother finish.