Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 29. toukokuuta 2011

Monaco GP: Beyond all excitement you can possibly imagine...!

Monaco GP 2011 was absolutely beyond all excitement you can possibly imagine...! Sebastian Vettel said recently:" I´m not a god. I´m just a normal person." I agree with the first sentence but definitely not with the second one! I mean Monaco GP was really action-filled and somebody could say it took a bit of luck, too... But Sebastian´s performance was just mesmerising today, him taking his maiden win in Monaco!

Obviously Sebastian had a great start and managed to maintain his lead going to the first corner. Alonso in the 4th place took a perfect start aswell and passed Webber. Vettel´s pace looked very promising until he pitted the first time on lap 16. What happened at the pit stop? It seemed the tyres weren´t ready and it cost Vettel some crucial seconds before he got back to the track. And his team-mate suffered even more dearly at his pit stop! The team principal Horner stated there was some kind of a radio communication problem... Due to this pit stop incident Button managed to take the lead! Though Red Bull wasn´t the only team having problems at the pit stop. At this stage I was almost sure that Vettel had lost his chances to win the race...

The last 20 laps were hair-raisingly thrilling! Vettel had pitted only once, Alonso behind him twice and Button 3 times. It meant that Vettel´s tyres were the oldest and Button instead had the freshest tyres. They were all within a second from each other and every time the drivers came to the DRS zone I could hear my heart pounding... I was sure Alonso was going to try overtake Vettel and I was so afraid that he would crash Vettel´s car and destroy his race! But then there came the collision involving Adrian Sutil, Jaime Alguersuari; Lewis Hamilton and Vitali Petrov causing the red flag when there were only 6 laps to go.

And another injury following Perez´s crash yesterday! Vitali Petrov hit the barrier and couldn´t get out of his car without medical staff´s help. Luckily it´s been reported him getting only an ankle injury but still... These things shouldn´t happen!! But I was also so relieved that the red flag came out because it meant that Vettel was able to get fresh super soft tyres and at that point I was sure that either Alonso or Button couldn´t overtake the reigning world champion on the closing laps!

It took courage from the Red Bull team to make the decision to try the 1 stop strategy. Without the safety car and the red flag the battle for the win between the three rivals would have been absolutely thrilling and the outcome could have been different. But sometimes also a little luck is needed :)

I´m kind of running out of words when writing about Sebastian Vettel and his mesmerising performance... I guess 5 wins in 6 races and the 58-point lead says it all. But Sebastian Vettel being "just a normal person"... I don´t know about his private life but on the track he´s everything but "just a normal person"! His triumph on the track is purely amazing, undescribable really. And the way he´s able to maintain his concentration in difficult situations like the red flag incident yesterday at the qualifying and today after the collision... It´s something extraordinary.

lauantai 28. toukokuuta 2011

Monaco GP / Qualifying: Frightening crash by Sergio Perez!

I guess after what we´ve seen during this season so far everybody expected to see Sebastian Vettel on pole again. And the dominant Red Bull driver didn´t let us down this time, either! After the practices I was convinced that Red Bull wouldn´t have such an advantage at the qualifying because Ferrari, especially Alonso, seemed to be very competitive this weekend... Before the qualifying I would have bet Alonso was going to qualify among the top three! But so was not the case.

There were a couple of pleasant surprises in Q2. I was so happy to see both Perez in his Sauber and Maldonado in his Williams making their way through to Q3 :) Both rookies managed to beat their team-mates! I´ve always considered Kobayashi a hugely talented and promising driver so Perez impressed me greatly by beating his team-mate!

However, as far as Perez is concerned, my joy was very short-term! In Q3 Sergio Perez lost the control of his car at the tunnel exit and crashed into the barrier in high speed! The crash looked very frightening indeed. I sort of got a flashback of Karl Wendlinger crashing at the very same place in 1994... That crash had severe consequences leading to Wendlinger lying in a coma for several weeks. Perez was very fortunate to suffer "only" a concussion after the scary looking accident! Although safety issues have improved a lot since 1994 a crash like this reminds of the fact that at the end of the day Formula 1 racing is still dangerous! Bad things can still happen. I still can´t avoid thinking that maybe Formula 1 races shouldn´t be driven at Monaco. Of course we´re talking about the most legendary grand prix of all times but still... Safety should come first. All the glory will lose its meaning if (or maybe it´s only a matter of time when...) something truly tragic happens. Just my thoughts but Perez´s crash made me forget the glory of Monaco and shifted my attention to serious matters...

Perez´s crash caused red flags to come out when there were only about two and a half minutes left on the clock. Vettel had made his flying lap on the super softs just before the incident. And what a perfect lap it was!! I was also happy to see Button on the 2nd place ahead of Vettel´s team-mate Webber. And Hamilton had no lap time at that point... When the Q3 was restarted the top drivers couldn´t improve their lap times leaving Hamilton 7th on the grid. So Vettel snatched his first ever pole at Monaco! The most perfect place to start the race tomorrow...

sunnuntai 22. toukokuuta 2011

Spanish GP: Ring-ding-ding-ding-a-ling, what a race!

My expectation after yesterday´s qualifying was that the race was going to be a battle between Seb and Mark - and those two only. So I was positively surprised when the red lights went off. First of all, what an amazing start from Fernando Alonso in front of his home crowd!! He made his way to the lead before the first corner! And very soon it turned out that the McLarens wouldn´t give the victory to Sebi easily... Once again Button had a different pit stop strategy compared to other top drivers, him making only 3 pit stops while the others made 4.

Overtaking didn´t seem to be as easy as it was in Turkey two weeks ago. But the race was certainly entertaining, the battle between Alonso and Webber was very enjoyable to watch! Despite the phenomenal start Alonso´s pace sort of faded away during the race and he finally finished in the very familiar 5th place.

Usually you know who is going to be the race winner already several laps before the chequered flag but today it was different. The last 10 laps there was absolutely thrilling and intense battle for the victory between Vettel and Hamilton. What made the battle even more exciting was the fact that once again the young Red Bull driver had some problems with the KERS system in his car. After the race Vettel told that the KERS had been going on and off during the race... My heart was pounding when I sat on the couch and watched the closing laps! I mean Hamilton was so close! I just kept on hoping that due to Hamilton´s more aggressive driving style he would have had less life left in his tyres than Sebi.... I was soooo relieved to see the chequered flag, with more laps to go I would certainly have had a nerval breakdown!!!

So what was obvious, in race pace there isn´t a second splitting the McLarens and the Bulls like we saw in the qualifying yesterday. Hamilton finishing 2nd and his team-mate Button 3rd McLaren managed to get some valuable points in chasing the Bulls. But Sebastian Vettel.... He has won 4 of the 5 races and has a 41-point lead to his closest rival Hamilton in the championship standings! Quite an overwhelming difference you could say! Before going to Monaco in a week there´s only one question to be asked: Can anyone stop Vettel? My answer to that would be: Hopefully not :)

lauantai 21. toukokuuta 2011

Spanish GP / Qualifying: Webber broke Vettel´s pole streak!

I have been on a sick leave for the whole week so knowing that it was going to be a Formula 1 weekend just absolutely made my week! I had an awful stomach flu but I guess there´s no bug that watching thrilling Formula 1 action wouldn´t make go away for good... ;D And knowing the race was going to be at Circuit de Catalynya in Spain made me wait for the weekend with a special feeling because I had been there personally in February following the winter tests... So I knew it´s going to be a different feeling to watch it on TV when I could recognise all the curves and straights on the track. And all those wonderful memories!!

After the three practices there was hardly any doubt which team would conquer the pole! Red Bull seems to have increased their pace even more though McLaren has also brought some updates to their car for this weekend. There was close battle for pole between Vettel and Webber and surprisingly -at least for me- it was Webber who snatched the pole this time and with a clear 2-tenth margin to his team-mate! But to Hamilton in 3rd place the gap was almost a second!

At the press conference Vettel told he had had a KERS problem during Q2 and Q3 so he was unable to use the system in his final run. What made a positive impression on me was that he didn´t want to explain his defeat to Webber by accusing the lack of KERS but just said that his team-mate had done a better job this time. I appreciate the German´s words, it gives an image of fair sportsman spirit :) The team-mates may not be good friends but they respect each other on the track.

As a Finn I was absolutely delighted to see Heikki Kovalainen making his way through to Q2 for the first time this season! Team Lotus has brought some promising upgrades to their car this weekend and Lotus´ pace seems to have improved. No matter that Heidfeld was unable to go out due to the fire he suffered in his car in P3 and no matter both Force Indias did their run on the hard tyre Heikki´s achievement is still impressive. He has beaten his team-mate Trulli in every qualifying this year and he always drives flat out and on the very limit! So P15 is a genuinely impressive achievement. The lack of KERS will make the start a real challenge tomorrow but Heikki has the fighting spirit that it needs to even fight for some points maybe :)

Kimi´s debut in NASCAR very impressive!

May 20 was the day I had been waiting for very eagerly after it had been confirmed earlier that the 2007 F1 world champion Kimi Räikkönen was going to make his NASCAR debut in the Truck Series on that day at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Before watching the race on TV I didn´t know much about NASCAR. I knew that the most races were driven at oval tracks and in the USA the sport is much more popular than Formula 1 but that was about all I knew beforehand. I did have an image of NASCAR being quite boring due to driving at the oval tracks.

Without Kimi Räikkönen making his debut in NASCAR with the Perky Jerky Toyota I probably wouldn´t have bothered to watch any NASCAR race on TV. But watching the race was actually quite an interesting experience! Though Kimi ´s pace in the practices was cautious and he qualified 31st he managed to keep his car on the track (in spite of touching slightly the barrier a few times). The press conference before the race start was absolutely awesome. Kimi was very talkative and answered media´s questions in a good mood. I don´t remember many occasions from his Formula 1 career that he would have talked so much during an interview! The press conference gave me an impression that the multitalented Finnish motorsports star enjoyed the world of NASCAR.

The race was certainly... interesting. I had expected some crashes and yellow flags happening during the race but surely I didn´t expect the safety car on the track 10 times during a single race!! And when somebody hit the wall or there was a collision between some drivers, the safety car stayed out for several laps which took quite some time. And this was something that made the race feel slightly boring. Those incidents causing yellow flags happened so often and -to me- it seemed that just when there was thrilling side by side racing some incident occured and there were yellow flags out again...! No wonder that for Kimi as a rookie it was hard to find the rhythm!

On the other hand all the safety car episodes made sure that there was battle for the victory until the very end when nobody could pull out a gap to his rivals. And the racing looked everything but boring - a lot of overtaking for example. Kimi´s driving made a huge impression on me: he was determined to defend his position, did some overtaking and no mistakes! He managed to avoid collisions aswell thanks to his rapid reactions in some situations.

Starting from 31st place on the grid and making his way to the 15th place is a very impressive achievement indeed! Of course Kimi has a superb car -maybe the best in the Truck Series as we have seen his team-mate Kyle Busch taking four victories out of six this season... But there´s absolutely no doubt of Kimi being a hugely talented and skillful racing driver. And it seems to be the case that whatever Kimi really enjoys doing  also brings success to him sooner or later!

sunnuntai 8. toukokuuta 2011

Turkish GP: Vettel completely untouchable!

There was a lot of very close wheel-to-wheel battle at Istanbul Park today but no real battle for P1 at any stage of the race! The super fast German Red Bull driver was totally out of reach for everybody else already from the start! I´m not sure if the word dominant describes well enough the driving of Sebastian Vettel today... I mean he was totally in the class of his own!

However we saw a thrilling race today. Nico did an excellent job by overtaking Webber at the start but the pace of Mercedes GP just wasn´t good enough so that Nico would have been able to fight for the podium finish... What I found slightly surprising was the pace of the Ferraris or actually meaning Alonso... Alonso´s performance was excellent today! It seemed like Ferrari would have been on another planet today if compared to yesterday´s qualifying... Very impressive driving from Alonso and no mistakes.

Overtaking in Turkey seemed almost too easy due to the DRS! It seemed to be more like a rule than an exception that you could overtake the driver ahead of you when coming to the DRS zone. But in my opinion it made the race very eventful and in addition to that, the circumstances were the same for everybody. The battle between the McLaren team-mates or between Alonso and Webber was extremely intense and fun to watch!

Webber did an outstanding job by confirming the one-two finish for Red Bull by taking the 2nd place! I´m sure Hamilton would have been there to fight for the podium, too without the problems at the pit stop... Strategy issues played a role today aswell. Button pitted only three times while the other top drivers had a four-stop strategy. Red Bull didn´t repeat the mistake they did in China but Vettel also drove to the pits after Alonso had made his fourth stop. Excellent job from the Red Bull team!

Vettel has now extended his lead to 34 points which is undoubtedly impressive indeed. The gap to his contenders seems huge if we think about the previous season when the biggest gap between the leader and the 2nd guy was only 14 points! But like Vettel himself says, there has been only 4 races this far and 15 to go so things can change very rapidly... But for now I want to forget about all the upcoming races and enjoy the momentum =)

lauantai 7. toukokuuta 2011

Turkish GP / Qualifying: 4 poles out of 4 for Vettel!

These three weeks without Formula 1 have felt like eternity! There just seems to be something missing from the weekend if there´s no F1 racing or rallying... And now there´s both of them!

Usually I follow the free practices on TV very closely (if only I´m not working) but yesterday I missed both free practice sessions because I was having a day off with my twin sister and we went shopping, go-karting and enjoying ourselves at a spa... I read the news on Facebook that Vettel had had a crash in FP1 and there was some damage on his car but if only I had actually SEEN the crash on TV, I probably wouldn´t have been able to relax and have fun ;) I mean the crash in the wet conditions looked pretty scary and it could have had much more serious consequences! Vettel could have easily suffered a concussion or even worse!

After seeing the crash today I just kept my fingers crossed for the qualifying. But in Q3 it turned out that I had absolutely no reason to worry about: Vettel took pole by four tenth of a second and he didn´t even have to go out for the second time! What utterly outstanding performance after that horrific crash. Vettel´s self-confidence must be perfect and he must have felt deep down in his heart that he hade done the absolutely perfect lap! That´s simply why I admire the man so so much: at the wheel of his F1 car he´s JUST PERFECT!!! So now it´s 4 poles-in-a-row for unbelievable Sebi... Will he break Mika Häkkinen´s record of 5-poles-in-a-row back in 1999? If I´m asked, I´m convinced that he will!

Rosberg snatching the 3rd place ahead of the McLaren and Ferrari drivers was a positive surprise indeed. It´s good to see that Mercedes GP will finally be able to bounce back! It´s interesting to see if Nico will actually have a chance to challenge the Red Bull drivers at the start. In China Vettel didn´t have a perfect start so Nico might have a chance if the Bulls don´t get the best start... I have to admit though that I expected more of Schumi after the FP3! I thought he would finally be able to make his way to the second row but we still have to wait for that...