Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

maanantai 28. maaliskuuta 2011

Rally de Portugal: Loeb vs. Ogier

Rally de Portugal could have been a totally different race for the Ford drivers without all the technical difficulties that both Hirvonen and Latvala suffered from during the race! It was exciting to see the Fords back on top at the beginning of the rally challenging the Citroens. But since both Ogier and Loeb had a smooth race and they had very convincing pace throughout the special stages, they took an impressive double victory Ogier finishing first and Loeb 2nd. At the end Ogier beat his team-mate with quite a clear margin so the young Frenchman has seriously challenged his compatriot to fight for the world crown!

Result-wise Rally de Portugal was hardly any surprise. What was surprising instead was the way the 7-time world champion Loeb reacted when he lost time on stage nine running in the dust clouds created by Hirvonen´s Ford Fiesta. Loeb was furious and nudged the bumper of Hirvonen´s car and said Hirvonen had destroyed his race due to those 30 seconds that he had lost in the dust cloud! Of course it´s understandable that the French champion got upset because the incident made him over 30 seconds adrift from Latvala who was leading the rally at that point. But Loeb usually being so calm and always acting in such a correct way surprised everybody with this fit of rage!

So is there "a deeper explanation" behind Loeb´s reaction? Though personally I find  it is totally acceptable for the drivers to show their emotions even though they would sometimes act before they think! Emotions is what makes us human, right? Even the 7-time world champion is entitled to get a fit of rage sometimes! At least Loeb turned out to be sportsman enough to apologize to Hirvonen for his childish act. And at the same time the reaction proves that the unvincible champion is still serious about rallying and winning is all he enjoys!

There has been speculation on Loeb being under pressure and experiencing his talented team-mate a serious threat in the championship. The situation is undoubtedly new to Loeb who isn´t used to a team-mate fighting tightly with him. But Loeb feeling more pressure than before? I doubt it. The man has gone through uncounted thrilling rallies and won 7 championships, I would say he is a man who can handle pressure extremely well no matter where it is coming from! I would guess the anger came more from losing the chance to win the rally. Loeb is such a competitive racing driver that he won´t enjoy any other place but the first!

sunnuntai 27. maaliskuuta 2011

Australian GP: Red Bull´s KERS mystery solved

What a season-opener we saw in Australia today! Sebastian Vettel took a sweeping victory from pole position at the wheel of his Kinky Kylie. And what a start the German had while Hamilton suffered from  wheel spin. And what makes Vettel´s start even more surprising and sensational is the fact that after the race RBR´s team principal Christian Horner admitted that both of the RB7s were lacking the KERS system. But especially at the opening laps of the race Vettel´s pace was so convincing making a 3-second gap to Hamilton very soon. Why would Red Bull even need KERS if they´re this fast? For sure the KERS system would have helped Vettel´s team-mate Webber who had a close fight with the Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso during the race. It´s interesting to see whether Red Bull decides to use KERS in Malaysia or not.

Vettel´s performance was outstanding but what happened to Webber? Apparently he was very frustrated after the race and he pulled off the track immediately past the pits after crossing the line. He suffered from the degradation of the tyres more than his team-mate and he didn´t seem to reach the same pace as Vettel did.

On the other hand the McLaren drivers did both well although Button got the unfortunate drive-thru penalty due to the overtaking incident with Massa. Before the race I had expected Ferrari to be the "main rival" for Red Bull but Alonso clearly couldn´t match Red Bull´s pace. The Spaniard  had an exciting fight with Petrov in his Lotus Renault. It kind of reminded me of the Abu Dhabi GP last year when Alonso got stuck behind Petrov and lost his chances to win the world championship... Petrov did a splendid job today by taking his first podium finish!

For the Mercedes GP the weekend was a catastrophy. DNF for both Schumacher and Rosberg, not good at all! It was such a shame especially for Nico who had to retire after engine failure caused by Barrichello crashing to his car trying desperately to overtake the German. A racing driver with that much racing experience isn´t expected to do such a stupid move!

The Mexican rookie Perez made a great impression by finishing 7th in his Sauber! He even beat his team-mate Kobayashi who finished 8th. Sauber has showed they´re capable of challenging the top teams maybe not yet in Malaysia but if they´ll keep working like this we might see some surprises along the way. And what a strategy Perez had, he pitted only once during the race while Webber for instance was on a three-stop strategy!

lauantai 26. maaliskuuta 2011

Australian GP: Qualifying

The Formula 1 season 2011 is finally here! A lot of speculation concerning the pecking order of the teams took place before the first qualifying session of the year. I guess everybody expected Red Bull to be very strong and competitive  but who would have guessed that Vettel would conquer the pole position with such a superior margin to his rivals! I mean 7 tenths to the second-placed Hamilton is a huge gap! And Vettel being 8 tenths of a second faster than his team-mate surprised me. Though Australia hasn´t ever been much of a success to Webber... Although Vettel himself gave very cautious comments on him being significantly faster than his rivals, I have difficulties to find words good enough to describe the performance of the reigning world champion...

On the basis what we saw at the winter tests quite many expected Ferrari to be the strongest team to challenge Red Bull at the beginning of the season. But what happened to Alonso and Massa in the qualifying? In the Q3 Alonso was 1.4 seconds behind Vettel putting him 5th on the grid and Massa qualified 8th while both McLaren drivers Hamilton and Button were in front of the Ferrari duo. Personally I was surprised how quick the McLaren drivers were after such a difficult winter. But this was only the qualifying so we don´t know about the reliability of the new cars yet... Will Ferrari be the most reliable car as the winter tests proved? And how will McLarens perform, will there be some technical failures due to the big changes they made to the car at the last minute before the new season... I can´t wait to see how the race goes!

There were some other surprises aswell. The Japanese Kobayshi has made a positive impression on me from his very first races and he did a great job in the Sauber today qualifying 9th. His team-mate Perez put himself to the 14th place which made him the best rookie in the qualifying so Sauber seems to have improved from last season. And Buemi in Toro Rosso made a nice impression, too by making his way to the Q3!  But there were also not so nice surprises. I had expected much more from Mercedes GP, especially Schumacher who had a lot to prove after the difficult last season... But he didn´t make it to the Q3 while his team-mate Rosberg managed to take the 7th place... And what about Team Lotus? The winter tests gave some hope of improved performance compared to the midfield teams but the qualifying unfortunately crashed all those hopes! Kovalainen qualified 19th: the very familiar place from the previous season. I so much hope that they will be able to solve issues concerning the tyre temperatures so that both Kovalainen and Trulli would have better chances to fight for points!

I guess everybody is wondering how the new Pirelli tyres will perform tomorrow in the race. The drivers seem to be positively surprised after noticing that the degradation level isn´t that high what they had feared after testing. But I´m sure we´re going to see interesting pit stop strategies tomorrow! There´re predictions of at least two pit stops... It´s interesting to see if the driver´s driving style has an effect on the degradation of the tyres... And will there be any dangerous overtaking situations due to the moveable rear wing?And what about the KERS system? Soon after the qualifying it became clear that the Red Bull drivers didn´t use KERS during the qualifying! It just makes me wonder how much quicker Vettel would possibly have been if he had used the KERS system?? It´s almost scary, haha! And now there´s a lot of speculation going on about whether the KERS used in the RB7 differs from the system used in other teams´ cars so that Red Bull would have a "start-only KERS" which would be used only at the starts... I mean Red Bull absolutely can´t afford running their cars totally without the KERS system because that would make their rivals a serious threat to the Red Bulls at the start of the race. But maybe we´ll get an aswer to this question in the near future.

perjantai 18. maaliskuuta 2011

Sebastian Vettel, cool or not?

Yesterday the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat published an article where Ari Koivula, the boss of the Sauber sponsor Mad Croc told that Kimi Räikkönen and the Japanese F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi are cool but the reigning F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel is not. This article sparked so many contradictory thoughts inside my head that I decided to write a blog post on this!

Koivula justified his opinion by saying that dynamic young people don´t have Vettel´s hair style or body language, which (according to him) gives an impression of a "mama´s boy". And in addition to this Vettel lacks some aggressiveness.  Referring to aggressiveness as a charasteristic he mentioned Fernando Alonso being the coolest driver on the grid at the moment. All this talk makes me think... What is it that actually makes somebody cool? My common sense says that aggressiveness for instance isn´t necessarily a good charasteristic or at least it´s a question of how you express it... I agree that in the F1 world you have to have certain amount of aggressiveness on the track, otherwise you just won´t be good enough. But I, personally, find the aggressiveness cool, if the driver shows it by fighting for his position and possible victory in the spirit of fair play. I mean it is possible to drive on the very limit and do your very best respecting  fair play, like the Japanese Kobayashi does! In my opinion Alonso´s aggressiveness on the track has had totally different forms! I don´t find it cool at all to show your middle finger to your rivals or have unsportsmanlike behaviour with your team-mate. There has been a lot of writing recently about Alonso´s years at McLaren and though I don´t have a clue what ACTUALLY happened there in the real life but undoubtedly some suspicious action took place there then... After saying this I (unfortunately) have to admit that Vettel is no angel in terms of fair play though I find his image a lot better as far as the fair play spirit is concerned. But unfortunately everybody can remember what happened in Turkey last year, how the team-mates Vettel and Webber collided with each other and all the childish hand gestures Vettel showed after the crash referring to Webber... But he has learnt from that mistake and at the end of the season we saw a whole new Vettel on the track!

You can have a lot of opinions on people´s dressing style or body language... The beauty is in the eye of the beholder like the old saying goes. But based on this I find it a bit funny that Koivula finds Kimi Räikkönen cool, if his opinion is based on the criteria mentioned before. No offense to Kimi what so ever, personally I find him extremely cool but talking about hair or dressing style I wouldn´t say he differs so much from Vettel for instance! Kimi often wears jeans and a hoody like Vettel does, too... But what makes Kimi look really cool in my eyes is his self-confidence! I mean he REALLY doesn´t care what other people think of him (many people say they don´t care but they still actually do...) which is higly admirable. And the fact that he shows his skills on the F1 track or special stages instead of talking to the media about himself all the time! That´s a quality that makes him stand out of the celebrity crowd very clearly. I find it extremely cool that you know what you think and you are ready to stand behind your words not caring what the others might think or say... Not many can do that!

Back to Alonso then. This is only my opinion but to me Alonso´s behaviour both on the track and outside it seems extremely arrogant (and I don´t seem to be the only one having this opinion...). I find arrogance a negative charasteristic, it´s something that can never make somebody cool -at least not in my eyes! Vettel instead is a complete opposite to that, I would say... Especially at the end of the previous season it caught my attention how relaxed Vettel seemed to be though his chances to win the title didn´t seem too likely. Despite all the pressure he was still joking and laughing in the interviews. Personally I have to say I find Vettel´s sense of humour extremely cool. As a Finn I find it absolutely heart-warming that Vettel has learnt some Finnish and given comments on my native language!

But then there´re things like showing your emotions. Is it cool or not? I´m convinced that one charasteristic that makes Kimi look cool among young people is his "cold" image, he´s being called Iceman and not without a reason! So in terms of Kimi it´s cool that he keeps his thoughts and private life to himself and doesn´t want to share it with his fans or the outside world. But now I come to a very contradictory thought... This doesn´t seem to apply to Vettel on the other hand! I found it extremely and touchingly cool how Vettel burst into tears after hearing on the team radio that he had won the world championship in Abu Dhabi... While Alonso couldn´t admit his defeat but instead of congratulating the winner was showing some rude hand gestures to Petrov who had no obligation to let Alonso pass him during the race! Not cool at all!

So what is the conclusion on this: is the reigning world champion, the 23-year-old "Magician" (the nickname given him by the Finnish F1 commentators due to Vettel´s unbelievable ability to pull out the perfect qualifying lap at the very moment it is needed to conquer the pole) cool or not? Finally, all I can say is that he definitely is cool to me! Nobody is perfect but at the end of the day he represents charasteristics and qualities which I personally value and admire. Sebastian Vettel, for me, You´re as cool as a man can get!!! Keep up Your phenomenal work!

tiistai 15. maaliskuuta 2011

What to expect from the F1 season 2011?

The winter tests are now over and there are only 12 days til the Australian GP. All the teams have more or less test kilometres behind them and everybody has had a chance to try out the new Pirelli tyres and the moveable rear wing... Ferrari has completed the most mileage and the seem to have a very competitive car for the upcoming season. The new RB7 has also done more mileage at the winter tests than ever before and they´ve successful testing sessions behind them. The RB7 seems to be more reliable than its predecessor was. 

Some other teams have also impressed me during the winter tests. Toro Rosso has been noticed by its competitors and they seem to have quite promising pace. I hope we´re going to see the young hugely talented Australian Daniel Ricciardo behind the wheel in some race! I´m convinced the F1 world is going to hear a lot from him sooner or later. I hope he´ll get to drive one of the Toro Rossos during the new season! As a Finn I´m also delighted to notice the improvement taken by Team Lotus. Obviously the team has benefitted a lot from the Red Bull gearbox and the Renault engine! Though both the drivers have suffered from some reliability problems during the tests... I hope all the technical difficulties will be history when the start lights go off for the first time! And I have to admit the fact that Team Lotus is lacking KERS makes me wonder a bit... How are the starts going to work without the KERS system and how will Heikki and Jarno be able to defend their positions in a race without the magic button..? We´ll just have to wait and see...

The new rule changes are definitely a huge question mark especially at the beginning of the new season. The reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel has already compared using the KERS and the new moveable rear wing with using a mobile phone while driving. These new rule changes make Formula One racing even more technical than it was before but will they make the F1 drivers and their personal skills matter less? Will they make F1 more dangerous when the drivers have to control several systems at the same time instead of focusing what is happening on the track? I can´t wait to see!

sunnuntai 6. maaliskuuta 2011

Still 18 days to go...!

Still 18 looong days before the season 2011 finally starts! There´ll be the final testing session held at Barcelona next week. According to the previous tests the Red Bull and the Ferrari would seem to be the most reliable cars but I´m pretty convinced that we haven´t actually seen the true pace of the RB7 yet! And as far as the new Pirelli tyres are concerned, it´ll be very interesting to see how they´ll work at Melbourne and how many pit stops there´ll actually be during the very first race!

Meantime I find it awesome that there´re drivers like the Finnish Heikki Kovalainen who keeps us fans updated to his life both on track and outside it! I mean everybody (including the F1 drivers) is entitled to his/her private life but I feel kind of out of words trying to describe how much I appreciate Heikki because of what he´s doing! An ordinary person like myself doesn´t often have a chance to actually see the F1 cars live (during the past 17 years which I´ve been following the sport, I´ve only witnessed one GP and one testing session!) so it´s absolutely awesome that Heikki keeps updating his fan page on Facebook daily (and often many times a day) sharing a part of his life with his fans. It gives you a glimpse to the F1 world which you can´t get by reading F1 news on the internet or newspapers. So I want to thank Heikki from the bottom of my heart for that! Heikki´s fans are really privileged in this way because you really can´t take this kind of action for granted. Not every driver is willing to do this... Which is of course completely understandable, not everybody enjoys writing for instance. I respect and admire Heikki for many other reasons, too. Not only he´s a hugely talented and skillful Formula 1 driver but in addition to his F1 career he has interests for things outside F1 and he´s the best possible ambassador for Finland you can possibly imagine.

While waiting for the F1 season to begin I´ve been following the Rally Mexico this weekend. Unfortunately I feel there isn´t much to comment really at the moment. This WRC season seems to go on where the previous season ended... I mean it still seems to be Loeb who is beating everybody else! Though his team-mate Ogier seems to be a stronger opponent this year so he might actually challenge the 7-time world champion... The rally is still going on but I´d guess it´s Loeb who´s going to win, I mean if there won´t be any technical issues. Without the 50 seconds´ penalty Loeb would have taken a sweeping victory! But now at the beginning of the new season it still looks like the Citroens are the ones on top and the Fords are trying to challenge them like last year... It would have been so interesting to see how Kimi would have done in Mexico with the new DS3! But that we´ll never know...
Heikki Kovalainen driving at Circuit de Catalunya on February 18th.

keskiviikko 2. maaliskuuta 2011

The magic of F1

I am impatiently waiting for the start of the F1 season 2011. There´re still over 20 days til the very first grand prix of the season... I´m feeling like a child waiting for the Christmas Eve with all the massive excitement. Following F1 has played in some years bigger and some years smaller role in my life but for the past 17 years I´ve been interested in the things happening around the F1 world. Because there´re still quite a while to go before the engines really start I decided to sit down and write down things which, I think, make me go so crazy about Formula One!

During these 17 years I´ve always had one driver at a time, who I´ve been rooting for from the bottom of my heart and in spite of my nationality it hasn´t always been a Finnish one. It´s quite interesting to start thinking, which are actually the causes why you become somebody´s fan... Being somebody´s fan is very essential for me when it comes to F1 racing. And being a fan means supporting the driver no matter how he is doing on the track, I mean through all the ups and downs! However, it doesn´t mean that you automatically accept all the things that your favourite driver does on the track... But making mistakes is what makes us all humans so it means standing by your idol in spite of his undesirable behaviour. The end justifies the means, that I definitely don´t agree with, not even on the Formula 1 track where almost anything is sometimes done in order to win the race... But it isn´t so simple after all! But after all that, what makes the F1 world so unique? How can these super fast cars that drive around the circuit about 50-70 laps a race make an ordinary mother-of -three-sons go crazy? I have to admit that I realized this funny perspective last November when I didn´t sleep for two nights after the certain German driver won the world championship title in the last race of the season...! Childish? Guilty as charged =) I am a person who experiences things with great intensity, no matter what is concerned. For me my family is the priority number one but after that there´s F1... I always look forward to the next race and knowing that the next weekend will be "the Formula 1 weekend" makes it even better. I think everybody needs something to look forward to in their daily lives.