Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 17. syyskuuta 2017

Singapore GP: A heart-stopping start ruined Ferrari´s race!

What a race the Singapore GP turned out! And not in a positive way! Not at all! I have absolutely no words for my emotions right now!

It started to rain about half an hour before the start. The sky was covered with black clouds and there were flashes of lightning. The top three teams all opted for the green-marked intermediate tyres, whereas Renault and Force India for example opted for the full-wet Pirellis. I knew the start was going to be extremely crucial and exciting.

My heart almost stopped beating, when the lights went out! Sebastian only took an average start, opposite to his closest rivals Verstappen and Kimi. Kimi took a magnificent start, the best of the top three. Sebastian knew Max was going to challenge him into Turn 1, and the German naturally decided to defend his position. But defending his line, Sebastian moved significantly to the left, which lead into contact between the top three. In spite of the contact Sebastian drove into Turn 1 in the lead, but due to the contact Kimi lost control of his SF70-H and ended up crashing into Verstappen and taking them both out of the race! Sebastian had significant damage in his car as well, as the cooler of his SF70-H had seriously damaged. In Turn 3, due to the damage, Sebastian lost control of his car and hit the wall. There was an absurd moment, when Sebastian was driving on reverse, trying to continue his race. But his race was inevitably over. This was the first time ever in Ferrari´s history, that both cars were out of the race due to a first-lap incident! I was absolutely shocked. I couldn´t believe, what had just happened. I was convinced I was having a nightmare! In a heartbeat all my three favourites were out of the race. And Hamilton had been given the greatest gift of all -the lead in the race!

Safety car was deployed due to the collision. Red Bull´s Ricciardo was second in the race and Renault´s Hulkenberg was third. Perez in his pink Force India was fourth and Bottas in his Mercedes was fifth. Who would have predicted that to happen, especially Hulkenberg in P3? On lap 5 the safety car came in, and the race was back on. The rain had stopped, but there was still spray coming from the cars, which made the visibility poor. The full-wets turned out to be the right tyre choice at the re-start, and Bottas lost his fifth position to Renault´s Palmer, who was driving an excellent race.

The second safety car episode took place on lap 11. Toro Rosso´s Kvyat lost control of his car in the slippery conditions and ended up in the barriers, nose first. As safety car came out, Ricciardo pitted for a fresh set of intermediate tyres. The Australian re-joined the track in P3, so he lost one position only. Both Force India and Renault reacted to Ricciardo´s pit stop, and Perez, Ocon, Hulkenberg and Palmer were all called in to the pits. A switch to the intermediate Pirellis was made for all of them. Both Hamilton and Bottas stayed out, and due to the rivals´ pit stops the Finn had already made it up to P3.

The second re-start took place on lap 15. Hamilton held on to his lead, with Ricciardo second and Bottas third. Haas´ Magnussen was the first driver to pit for slicks on lap 25. Four laps later Ricciardo and Bottas also pitted for the dry tyres; Ricciardo opted for the red-marked super soft tyres, whereas Bottas switched to the ultra soft compound. Race leader Hamilton pitted a lap later for a fresh set of ultra soft Pirellis, similar to his teammate.

By the halfway point of the race Hamilton had been able to build a 10-second gap to Ricciardo, and Bottas was already 16 seconds down on the Australian. But there was one more safety car episode to come! Sauber´s Ericsson crashed into the barrier on lap 38, and his car stopped dangerously on the track. So safety car was deployed for the third time! Meanwhile, Renault´s Hulkenberg, who had been driving a superb race in P4, was hit with an engine issue, which dropped the unlucky German down to P10. When there were 11 minutes left in the clock (all 61 laps couldn´t be completed), Hulkenberg had to retire. The German now has the questionable honour to hold the record of most GP starts without a podium, which is now 129 races.

Hamilton drove to the chequered flag as the race winner. Ricciardo finished second and Bottas third. Sainz scored his personal best by finishing fourth for Toro Rosso. Perez took fifth for the pink Force India, and Renault´s Palmer was impressive sixth. This result was a total knockout for Ferrari, which lost this round by 0-40 to Mercedes. Sebastian´s catastrophic first-lap collision lead into Hamilton´s 28-point lead in the drivers´ championship standings! Which feels so bitter. This could be a turning point in terms of Sebastian´s fight for the fifth championship... Not to mention Ferrari´s fight for the constructors´ championship. The Red Team is already 102 points down on Mercedes in the constructors´ standings!

Social media is now full of opinions, accusations and judgement on who was at fault in the first-lap collision. 90 per cent of people seem to think it was Sebastian´s fault. And it hurts so much to read all those comments! But nevertheless, I can´t help but to agree. He was entitled to defend his position -but not by any means necessary! His unpredicted move to the left caused the collision between the top three. So in that way I agree with Verstappen, who said that it wasn´t a racing incident. The collision would have been avoidable! I feel out of words, I am so disappointed! I can´t anything but hope, that this collision won´t cost Sebastian the world championship this year. If it does... I think I will cry my eyes out!

However, in spite of today´s disappointment, there are six more rounds to go. And I believe in Sebastian with all my heart. I know he has the potential to convert a setback like this into success. Malaysia will be the next chance to chase the much-needed victory! And victories or no victories, I will always support Sebastian!

lauantai 16. syyskuuta 2017

Singapore GP / Qualifying: Magical Sebastian snatched pole!

The magical lights of Marina Bay Street Circuit surprise me every time, although this is already the tenth GP weekend in the metropolis of Singapore. The artificial lights bring out the glamour of Formula 1 cars, and I have to say Singapore is definitely the most fairy tale-like venue on the calendar.

Q1 got underway in the darkening night of Singapore. The Ferraris of Kimi and Sebastian rushed out on the purple-marked ultra soft Pirellis. Kimi´s pace seemed competitive right away, and the Iceman was six tenths faster than his teammate on the first attempt. The pecking order seemed quite evenly matched in the first session. Red Bull´s performance turned out very impressive, and for a moment the Red Bull duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen were topping the timesheets. However, Hamilton showed initially, that he couldn´t be written off from the fight for the fastest lap time, as the Briton jumped second, splitting the Red Bulls. The walls were near at the Marina Bay Circuit, and there was no room for mistakes. Williams´ Massa ended up hitting the wall at Turn 21, which caused the Brazilian a puncture. There was oil at Turn 20 due to the Porsche Cup race earlier on in the afternoon, which made the conditions extra slippery and challenging. The Red Bull duo had no need a second run, as they were topping the timesheets. Alonso in his McLaren made a second attempt at the very end of the first session -jumping 3rd! Sainz made it as high as 4th and Alonso´s teammate Vandoorne fifth -both setting their fastest lap times at the very end of the session. Kimi was 11th and teammate Sebastian 12th, as they made no second runs. These standings were quite modest in terms of Ferrari´s true pace. Once again familiar names were knocked out of the second session: Haas´ Magnussen, Williams duo of Massa and Stroll and Sauber teammates Wehrlein and Ericsson.

As the light turned green, all top drivers went out on the ultra soft tyres. Red Bull continued their top performance, as Verstappen went fastest on his first run. Sebastian was only 15 hundredths of a second down on the flying Dutchman. Ricciardo was third and Kimi fourth, so the battle for pole seemed to be down to these two teams. As track conditions kept improving throughout the second session, everyone opted for a second run at the end of the session. Kimi set a stunning lap time on his last run, jumping second. However, Red Bull took the upper hand on the red team again. Verstappen topped the timesheets, with his teammate Ricciardo second. There were only 53 thousandths of a second separating the Red Bull aces. Kimi was third and Sebastian fourth; Kimi edging his teammate by just four thousandths of a second! Mercedes was clearly struggling with their pace, as expected. Hamilton was unable to make it higher than fifth. In addition to the three top teams, both McLarens, Renault´s Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso´s Sainz managed to make it among the top ten.

But when the decisive Q3 got underway, Sebastian´s SF70-H came alive! It was magic right from the start. Sebastian took provisional pole, edging Red Bull´s Verstappen by 0.145s. Once again Ricciardo was third and Kimi fourth. The Mercedes teammates Hamilton and Bottas were inevitably out of the shootout for pole. Bottas was massive 1.1s down on Sebastian! Mercedes seemed utterly lost under the shining lights of Singapore. Kimi was setting a superb lap time on his second run -until he slightly touched the wall in the final sector, which destroyed the Iceman´s hopes of improving his lap time. Neither Verstappen nor Ricciardo was able to improve his lap time on his last flyer. That wasn´t the case for Sebastian, who was absolutely flying on his last run! Even though it meant a small kiss to the wall on the closing stages... Super Sebastian stormed on pole, the German Ferrari ace being three tenths faster than Verstappen! Ricciardo qualified third, which was an excellent result for Red Bull. Due to his mistake, Kimi had to settle for P4. Hamilton was left in P5, six tenths down on pole-setter Sebastian. Teammate Bottas had even more serious issues with his pace, as the Finn was already massive 1.3s down on Sebastian. Hulkenberg, Alonso, Vandoorne and Sainz completed the top ten.

There seems to be something magical about the combination of Sebastian and the Marina Bay Street Circuit. This 49th career pole was already the fourth pole in Singapore for Sebastian! Tomorrow is all about maximising the race result for Ferrari. Singapore is expected to be the most difficult circuit of the calendar for Mercedes, so Sebastian and Kimi need to use this advantage. I have to say I´m a bit nervous about the start, as Verstappen will be the driver to start alongside Sebastian on the front row... Max is known to be passionate about getting past his rivals right away, so there might be an extra risk at the start. If Sebastian manages to keep his lead at the start, he´ll win the race! And I definitely want to see my hero on the top step of the podium in the magical Singapore GP! It would be a dream come true to see a 1-2 for Ferrari!

sunnuntai 3. syyskuuta 2017

Italian GP: Ferrari was toothless against Mercedes´ "insane" pace!

After yesterday´s pouring rain the conditions were dry and sunny, when the race day came. All drivers opted for the red-marked super soft compound, except the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo, Renault´s Palmer and McLaren´s Alonso. They started the race on the yellow-marked soft Pirellis. Nine drivers altogether had been handed different grid penalties, so I wasn´t entirely aware of every driver´s grid slot. After all the penalties Verstappen started from P13 and Ricciardo from P16.

Against all odds, both Stroll in his Williams and Ocon in his pink Force India got an impressive start. Stroll was even challenging pole-setter Hamilton for the lead, but the Briton cut right ahead of the Canadian, which forced Stroll to lift his foot off throttle. Ocon immediately saw his chance and moved past Stroll, taking P2. Behind the top three there was an intense and wheel-banging battle between the Finns. First Kimi made a move on his compatriot Bottas, jumping 4th. Only a moment later Bottas snatched his position back from Kimi. The Finns´ rear tyres touched, but the fight was fair.

Verstappen had taken a stunning start from P13, and the flying Dutchman had gained 5 positions right away, making his way up to P8. Max was hungry to pass Massa, but the Brazilian had no intension to let the Dutchman through. Massa left no room for Max, which led into contact between the two. Max suffered a front-right puncture and got damage to his front wing. So Max´s luck definitely hasn´t turned around! Luckily he managed to limp into the pits, but an extra pit stop with a front wing change cost the Red Bull ace a lot of valuable time, making him drop to the back of the pack.

The Silver Arrows were absolutely flying around the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Hamilton was pulling a gap to the others right from the very start. Bottas was flying as well; in no time the Finn had made his way past both Stroll and Ocon, jumping already second in the race. Kimi was complaining on the team radio of problems with the rear of his SF70-H. Sebastian made an easy-looking overtaking move on his teammate and moved fifth. Sebastian was driving with passion on the home turf of his team. The German attacked both Stroll and Ocon -jumping third in the race. However, it soon became obvious, that Sebastian had no chance to match the lap times of the Silver Arrows. At this point Sebastian was already 8 seconds down on Bottas.

Kimi, who was continually struggling with the rear of his car, was the first top driver to pit on lap 16. He re-joined the track on the soft compound in P11. Williams´ Stroll pitted a couple of laps later, for a similar tyre choice. Kimi benefitted from the undercut, as Stroll re-joined the track behind the Iceman. After the pit stop Kimi´s pace seemed more convincing, and the Iceman made an overtaking move on Ocon, making his way to P6. Sebastian, Hamilton and Bottas pitted on the sequential laps -all for a fresh set of soft tyres. Red Bull´s Ricciardo was the last top driver to pit, as the Australian had started the race on the more durable soft compound. Ricciardo re-joined the track behind Kimi in P5, but there were only 2.5 seconds separating these two. Ricciardo´s pace on the fresh super soft Pirellis was crushing and he attacked Kimi almost immediately. Kimi tried to defend his position, but there was nothing the Iceman could do. Ricciardo moved fourth and started to chase down Sebastian, who was 11 seconds ahead.

Mercedes´ dominance in Monza was absolutely dumbfounding. Hamilton had a 3.5-second gap to his teammate Bottas, but Sebastian was already massive 28 seconds down on Bottas! It was absolutely frightening, how superior the Silver Arrows were today! Ricciardo smelled Sebastian´s blood but ran out of laps to get within DRS distance from his ex teammate. Hamilton took his 59th career victory, and Valtteri made it a dominant 1-2 for Mercedes. Sebastian crossed the finish line in P3 -crushing 36 seconds behind race winner Hamilton! Nevertheless, it was very emotional to see Sebastian on the podium in front of the passionate tifosi. Ricciardo finished fourth, Kimi fifth, Ocon sixth, Stroll seventh, Massa eighth, Perez ninth, Verstappen being the last points scorer today.

Hamilton´s victory meant, that the Briton snatched the lead from Sebastian in the drivers´ championship standings for the first time this season. I definitely hope, that Singapore suits Ferrari in practice as well as it does on paper, because Sebastian really needs a victory to fight for the championship! In terms of the constructors´ standings, Ferrari is definitely the underdog, as they are already 62 points down on the title rivals Mercedes. But I count on Ferrari bouncing back both in Singapore and Malaysia, which should both suit Ferrari extremely well. Sebastian seemed very confident in the post-race interview in terms of Ferrari´s performance in the remaining races. I hope he knows something that I yet don´t! But I have to say I have a good hunch in terms of the last third of the season!

lauantai 2. syyskuuta 2017

Italian GP / Qualifying: Ferrari lost pace in a rain-disrupted qualifying!

It was raining heavily, when Q1 got underway. Everyone went out on the blue-marked full-wet tyres. Conditions were extremely challenging, but Hamilton went fastest right away. However, the rain worsened and Haas´s Grosjean aquaplaned off on the main straight, bringing out the red flags just four minutes in. After that the session was delayed by 15 minutes for massive eight times! This meant a 2,5-hour delay altogether! Due to the pouring rain the track conditions were much too slippery and dangerous for the F1 cars, even on the full-wets. Luckily many drivers used their sense of humour to cope with the frustrating break; the Red Bull drivers Verstappen and Ricciardo acted as a cameraman, and Williams´ Massa played football with his son and his team on the pit lane. When the break was finally over, everyone headed out on the full-wets. The track conditions kept improving all the time. The Mercedes duo set the pace, Hamilton having the upper hand on his teammate. Sebastian was the first driver to switch to the green-marked intermediate tyres, with five minutes remaining of the first session. Everyone else followed the German and pitted for the intermediate Pirellis. In terms of the pit stops, Kimi had a scary moment during his pit stop. He was released unsafely, and the Iceman was just barely able to avoid hitting Force India´s Perez, who was coming into the pits! Luckily Kimi had a lightning-fast reaction and avoided contact with the pink car. In addition to this, Kimi´s front-left brake was on fire! I was utterly surprised, that it seemed to have no effect on the Iceman´s performance, but Kimi had it easy to make his way to Q2. Bottas set the pace at the end of the first segment, with his teammate second and Sebastian third. Surprisingly Williams´ Stroll was fifth fastest, right ahead of Kimi! That was an impressive result from the Canadian rookie. In addition to Grosjean, who had crashed out at the beginning of Q1, out of Q2 were his teammate Magnussen, Renault´s Palmer and the Sauber duo of Ericsson and Wehrlein.

In Q2 the conditions remained unchanged. Both Ferrari and Mercedes sent their drivers out on the intermediate tyres, whereas the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo opted for the full-wet Pirellis. Sebastian and Kimi used only one set of tyres during the second session, whereas the Mercedes drivers pitted for a fresh set of intermediates at the end of Q2. Once again Hamilton and Bottas were  the fastest men on track, but there was a massive 7-tenth gap separating the teammates in favour of the Briton. Red Bull clearly had strong performance in the wet conditions, and Verstappen went third fastest. Once again Stroll caught my eye, as the Canadian was fifth fastest also in Q2. It seemed, that Ferrari was the team suffering the most due to the wet conditions. McLaren´s Vandoorne made it among the top ten, whereas teammate Alonso was knocked out of the decisive last session. Although it made no difference for Alonso, who had been handed a 35-place grid penalty for multiple power unit element changes! Q2 was interesting in terms of the Force India teammates. Ocon made it through to Q3, being 10th fastest. Teammate Perez was only two thousandths of a second slower than Ocon, being the first faller in Q2!

Right before Q3 got underway, the heavy rain began again. In spite of the pouring rain, Mercedes sent their drivers out on the intermediate tyres, which was Sebastian´s choice as well. All others headed out on the full-wets, which turned out to be the right tyre choice. Hamilton, Bottas and Sebastian all pitted for a fresh set of full-wet Pirellis, losing valuable time. The conditions were extremely slippery, and the visibility was terribly poor. Red Bull´s pace seemed fantastic, and at the beginning of Q3 Ricciardo was topping the timesheets, with Hamilton second and teammate Verstappen third. I was absolutely amazed at Ferrari´s lack of performance! It seemed, that both Sebastian and Kimi were struggling a lot on the wet track. On the other hand, Hamilton´s performance was amazing; the Briton made it on pole by 1,1 seconds! Verstappen qualified second and teammate Ricciardo completed the perfect result for Red Bull by qualifying third. Nevertheless, both of them have been handed grid penalties for multiple power unit element changes -25 grid slots for Ricciardo and 15 grid slots for Verstappen! This means, that Williams´ Stroll, who qualified fourth, will start the race alongside Hamilton on the front row! Another positive surprise was Force India´s Ocon, who made it as high as P5 (converting into P3 on the grid tomorrow)! Bottas didn´t manage to get the maximum out of his Silver Arrow, and the Finn was left in P6. Kimi managed to out-qualify Sebastian this time, the Ferrari teammates ending up in P7 and P8. The gap between the title contenders Hamilton and Sebastian was massive 2,5 seconds! That´s quite shocking indeed! Suddenly Ferrari lost their performance, after the rain had intensified again in Q3. I really don´t  know, what happened to the red cars in the pouring rain!

Hamilton has now more poles than any man in history -69- after topping the rain-disrupted qualifying in Monza. The weather prediction says, that it should be a dry race. I definitely hope so, as the wet conditions don´t obviously suit the SF70-H at all. Due to the Red Bull drivers´ penalties, Kimi will start from P5 and Sebastian from P6. Luckily the Monza circuit offers many chances for overtaking, so both Kimi and Sebastian have a good chance to make it on the podium. It´s interesting to see, how Stroll (who is the youngest-ever front-row starter) and Ocon will handle the pressure at the start. I wouldn´t be surprised to see some contact on the opening lap... But especially as it is Ferrari´s home race, I hope to see both red-suited Ferrari aces on the podium! Forza Ferrari!

sunnuntai 27. elokuuta 2017

Belgian GP: Flawless Hamilton took 58th career victory!

It was cloudy but dry, when the lights went out at Spa Francorchamps. In terms of the top three teams, there was no drama at the start. Hamilton held on to his lead, with Sebastian right at his tail. Bottas was third and Kimi fourth, followed by the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo. Sebastian was determined to challenge the British Mercedes pilot on the Kemmel straight, but there was no opportunity to make a move. Further down the pack there were sparks flying between the Force India teammates. They ended up hitting each other on the opening lap, but luckily there was no damage to either one of the pink cars. On lap 2 McLaren´s Alonso had made it P7 already, but due to the lack of the straight line speed, the Spaniard quickly started to lose positions.

Lap 8 was a disappointing turning point in terms of Max Verstappen´s race. Once again the flying Dutchman was hit with a technical failure, and his car came to a sudden halt on the finish straight! It must have been a devastating moment for Max, who was driving in front of his home crowd with high hopes. This was already the 6th DNF for the unlucky Dutchman! I felt absolutely gutted for him.

Hamilton started the pit stop roulette in terms of the top drivers on lap 12. He opted for a fresh set of yellow-marked soft tyres -aiming to go till the end. He re-joined the track in P4. A lap later Kimi in P3 was taken into investigation by the stewards for failing to slow down under the yellow flags, when Verstappen´s car stopped on the track. Similar to his teammate, Bottas pitted for a fresh set of soft tyres. Against all odds, Sebastian wasn´t able to pull a gap to Hamilton, in spite of running the ultrasoft tyres. When Sebastian pitted on lap 14 -also for soft Pirellis- he had no chance to re-join the track ahead of Hamilton. Kimi pitted for a similar tyre choice to his teammate´s. The Iceman re-joined the track in P4.

But then it came -the 10-second stop-and-go penalty for Kimi for not slowing down under the yellow flags on lap 8! This was a very unpleasant turn in terms of the Finn´s race. The Iceman had no choice but to come in and serve his penalty. This dropped the Iceman down to P7. However, Kimi was determined to make his way up. He made a clean overtaking move on Force India´s Ocon and after that there was Renault´s Hulkenberg in the Finn´s radar. The German was five seconds ahead of Kimi, but Kimi began his chase.

By lap 25 Kimi had closed the gap to Hulkenberg. He made his move on the Kemmel straight and moved ahead of Hulkenberg. Kimi was now fifth in the race. However, P4 seemed to be out of the Iceman´s reach, as Ricciardo was already 28 seconds ahead of the Finn, and there were only 16 laps to go.

Then something unexpected happened. Once again there were sparks flying from the pink cars! Coming to the legendary Eau Rouge, Ocon had made it alongside teammate Perez, but Perez left absolutely no room for his teammate. Ocon´s front wing hit Perez´s rear-right tyre, causing a front wing failure to Ocon and puncture for Perez. The situation looked quite dangerous, as they were driving 300 km/h! Due to the collision there was a lot of debris on the track, and safety car was deployed. Both pinks made it into the pits, and they were able to continue the race. Kimi, too pitted for a fresh set of ultrasoft tyres. Other top drivers pitted for fresh tyres a well. Sebastian and Ricciardo opted for the ultrasoft Pirellis, whereas the Mercedes teammates opted for a fresh set of soft tyres.

The re-start on lap 34 was a catastrophic moment for Bottas, who was driving in P3. Ricciardo took an aggressive re-start and made it past the Finn on the Kemmel straight. Kimi saw his chance at the same time, and the Iceman, too made a move on his countryman! Bottas ended up going wide and in a very short moment the Mercedes ace had dropped from P3 down to P5.

The final 10 laps were extremely exciting, as Sebastian was just barely out of  DRS distance from Hamilton. Sebastian put all the pressure he could on Hamilton and waited for his chance to make an overtaking move. The battle for victory was down to these two, as Ricciardo and Kimi turned out unable to match their rivals´ pace. I could almost feel Sebastian´s determination, but getting within DRS distance was very difficult. Hamilton drove a flawless race, claiming his 58th victory. Sebastian fought like a lion, but he had to settle for P2 today. Ricciardo completed the podium. Kimi finished fourth, followed by his compatriot Bottas. Kimi drove a strong race; I can´t help thinking about the 10-second stop-and-go penalty. Without the penalty the Iceman would have been on the podium!

By winning the Belgian GP, Hamilton decreased Sebastian´s lead in the championship standings to seven points only. The battle for the championship is definitely getting heated! In terms of the constructors´ championship, Mercedes now has a 44-point lead in the standings, which is a bit worrying. Luckily round 13 is just round the corner, which is next weekend already! I love these back-to-back races! Formula 1 is definitely the spice of my life!

lauantai 26. elokuuta 2017

Belgian GP / Qualifying: Hamilton made it 68th career pole, equalling Schumacher´s all-time record!

I was absolutely delighted, that the long and torturing 4-week summer break was finally over, and F1 was back this weekend! What made the Belgian GP weekend even more perfect, was this week´s news regarding Ferrari´s line-up for the 2018 season. Kimi´s contract for next year was confirmed already on Tuesday, and Sebastian´s three-year extension on his contract was the breaking news today. It´s difficult to describe, how over the moon I am, knowing that my two heroes -the ultimate dream team- will race for the red team next year as well!

At the beginning of Q1 both Mercedes and Ferrari sent their drivers out on the red-marked super soft tyres, whereas everyone else opted for the purple-marked ultrasoft Pirellis. As Kimi immediately suffered serious vibrations on his Ferrari, teammate Sebastian set the initial pace. The top three teams -Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull- sat out the second runs. In spite of the tyre choice, Hamilton topped the timesheets in the first session, with Sebastian second. Verstappen got closest to them, but had to run ultrasoft tyres to do it. Eye-catchingly, Palmer in his Renault was 8th fastest in the first session. Out of Q2 were both Williams drivers, both Sauber drivers and Toro Rosso´s Kvyat.

Unfortunately Kimi´s vibration issues continued in Q2. Kimi had been absolutely flying both in the first and the third free practice sessions, but now the Iceman seemed to struggle with his car. In spite of the problems Kimi was second fastest after the first runs, while once again Hamilton was topping the timesheets. Both Silver Arrows came out at the end of the session, although there would have been no need to do so. Hamilton set a staggering lap time, and teammate Bottas was already three tenths down on the Briton. Ferrari and Red Bull sat out the second runs. Kimi was the third fastest but was already seven tenths down on the pace-setter Hamilton. Red Bull´s Verstappen split the red cars. Both Haas drivers, both McLarens and Toro Rosso´s Sainz were knocked out of the final session. The luckless home hero Vandoorne will start at the back of the grid, after getting a 65-place grid penalty after a new gearbox and multiple power unit element changes. On the other hand, the black-and-yellow-liveried Renault seemed to have taken a step forward in terms of performance. Both Renault drivers made it through to Q3, Palmer being 7th and Hulkenberg 9th in Q2.

However, Palmer´s wretched luck returned the moment Q3 got underway, when his gearbox expired on his out lap and his Renault came to a halt. Hamilton took provisional pole by 0.36s to the Ferrari ace Kimi. Mercedes teammate Bottas split the red cars, as the Finn was third and Sebastian fourth. However, Hamilton turned out untouchable in the shootout for pole. The Briton improved his lap time by three tenths! Teammate Bottas was unable to match his teammate´s pace, and the Finn was already half-a-second off Hamilton. Sebastian´s second attempt was awesome, and the German made it 2nd after lapping two tenths slower than the pole-setter Hamilton. Unfortunately Kimi made a costy mistake on his second attempt, and the Iceman had to settle for P4. After showing such brilliant pace in the free practices, P4 must have been a bitter disappointment for the Iceman. Verstappen and Ricciardo both improved on their second runs but stayed where they were -5th and 6th. Hulkenberg qualified 7th for Renault, followed by the Force India duo of Perez and Ocon. The unlucky Palmer, who had suffered from a gearbox failure, rounded out the top ten.

Not only Hamilton set the new outright lap record for the Spa Francorchamps, but the Briton also equalled the all-time pole-position record of the legendary Michael Schumacher. That is an impressive achievement indeed. However, Sebastian´s long-run pace has made an impression on the title rivals Mercedes. Weather at Spa is highly unpredictable, so conditions may change quickly and vary a lot. Pole position doesn´t play such a major role at Spa, if compared to Hungary for example, so Sebastian has every opportunity to make it on the top step of the podium tomorrow. In the post-qualifying interview Kimi seemed very displeased with himself after making the mistake on his final flying lap, so I´m sure he´ll fight like a lion in tomorrow´s race. I´m hoping all the very best for both red-suited drivers! Forza Ferrari!

Meeting Kimi Räikkönen in Helsinki!


Laura Karhu on the left, me in the middle and Heli Vepsäläinen on the right. We all share passion for Formula 1.
In Helsinki city center there was a copy of this year´s Ferrari -made of ice! It had taken two
weeks and four men to make the SF70-H of ice. The icy masterpiece was designed by Kimmo
Frost. At the awesome event I met Laura Karhu and Heli Vepsäläinen -both Ferrari fans, whom
I hadn´t met live before. We knew each other from the social media, as we all had been tweeting
about Formula 1 and posted Formula 1 related comments and pictures on Instagram. It´s absolutely
fantastic to get to know new friends, who share the passion for Formula 1! Being friends with
someone isn´t about age or where you live, it´s about sharing the same interest and sharing a
common topic. We were there in front of the Santander stage waiting for Kimi for two hours
before the interview took place. So we had plenty of time to discuss Formula 1 and Kimi´s
red-hot renewed contract with Ferrari! All in all we had a wonderful afternoon in Helsinki!

The Finnish F1 reporter Mervi Kallio was the host of the event arranged by Santander, which is one of the biggest sponsors of Ferrari. Kimi´s wife Minttu and his son Robin were also present. Mervi had a little chat with the charming "Iceboy", who is now 2 years old.  

Kimi seemed very relaxed. Robin wanted to join his father on the stage, when Mervi Kallio interviewed the Iceman. However, Robin got shy, when Mervi asked him a question. Kimi made everyone laugh by saying, that in terms of talking, Robin reminded his father a lot ;) The ice-Ferrari had been covered before Kimi got on the stage and it was revealed by the designer Kimmo Frost.    

It was such a memorable experience to see Kimi live. He is such an inspiration for me! I admire him for many reasons. Not only he is an exceptional and highly talented racing driver but also a person, who dares to stand out of the crowd. He doesn´t try to please anybody by pretending to be something that he is not. I respect his determination to stay out of the social media. I admire Kimi´s ability not to care, what other people think of him. I wish I was able to do the same!                                                 

Kimi drove this Ferrari, when he came to the event.

I had met the F1 reporter Mervi Kallio first time in Sotshi at the end of April. Mervi seems a very warm-hearted person, who loves what she does. Sometimes I wish I had a job like her! Travelling around the world along with the F1 circus, getting the chance to interview all the drivers and writing about the intense world of Formula 1 sounds like a dream come true. It was very nice to meet her again in Helsinki!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
After the event I went to a cafe with my new friend Heli. In addition to a coffee and a snack we had glasses of sparkling wine to celebrate Kimi´s newly-confirmed one-year contract with Ferrari!

Heli has been to over 20 F1 races and she will travel to the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP in November.