Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 25. helmikuuta 2012

Barcelona test days: no idea of the pecking order yet!

The pre-season test session number two has now been completed and the teams have a lot of mileage under their belt. Or most teams... Some have less than the others. And most shockingly Lotus had to pull out of the Barcelona test already after the opening day due to a severe chassis issue with their car! That was a huge disappointment for me, too because I had been very much looking forward to seeing Kimi at the wheel of the Lotus again after such a successful test session at Jerez. Losing three full test days is a major setback for the team but luckily it seems at the moment that Lotus will be given an extra day of testing next week due to their loss of three full days. I was kind of amazed that the other teams (even Ferrari) agreed to give Lotus the extra day. Fair play doesn´t always apply to Formula 1 but I find that this was absolutely the right decision to be made! Like the Team Principal Whitmarsh from McLaren said, some day they could well be in a same kind of a situation!

On my previous blog post I wrote that it was early days to say anything certain about the performance of the cars. Well, I certainly still agree with that statement! Teams have different programmes that they run at the tests and seeing Williams or Sauber on the top of the time sheets can´t possibly give the right impression of the pecking order... Some teams (like Williams and Sauber) have tried qualifying runs with low fuel and soft tyres and other teams (like Caterham) have had too many problems so they´ve worked on race pace and the long runs. Almost all teams have had technical issues on the way, even the reigning world champion Red Bull. In terms of reliability I´d say the McLaren has given the best first impression. Hopefully there will be less teething problems next week when the third and last pre-season test session takes place at Circuit de Catalunya! And we´ll see how serious Lotus´problem with the chassis of their car really is.. What we know so far it´s definitely not any teething problem, it could possibly even lead to Lotus having only one completely functioning car at Melbourne when the season opens! (Hopefully not...)

The common opinion among Formula 1 experts seems to be that Red Bull and McLaren are going to be strong. Ferrari has still a lot of home work to do and it seems to be kind of a question mark. Mercedes launched their new car at Barcelona and both Nico and Schumi have been very pleased with it. Caterham has been the biggest disappointment at least for me. They hoped to be in the midfield this year but at least at this point it doesn´t seem too realistic to assume that :( However, I have to praise Heikki´s working moral because despite all the problems and setbacks that the team has gone through during these two testing sessions he always remains very positive and is able to look at the bright sides no matter how small they might seem. No wonder Heikki was rated among the 10 best F1 drivers after last season. I just hope the team proves to be worth Heikki´s skills this year!

maanantai 13. helmikuuta 2012

Finally the off-season is over!

Finally finally finally the off-season is over and the start of the season 2012 approaches slowly but certainly! There´s no more certain sign of the spring than getting the Formula 1 season underway...! The teams have completed the very first testing session at Jerez last week and almost every team has launched their new challenger for the upcoming season.

What caught my eye (and I guess everybody else´s eye as well...) were the looks of the new cars. Ferrari was among the first teams to unveil their brand new F2012. To be honest I have to say it looks pretty ugly. At first sight the nose of the car looked absolutely hidious! But then the other cars were unveiled, too and all of them have same kind of a stepped nose except the McLaren...I guess we all get used to those noses which seem so odd-looking at first sight. The stepped nose is there due to the new safety regulations but teams have used different designs for the nose. The nose of the new Ferrari looks to me as it "has been made out of Lego blocks" so it may take a while before my eyes adapt to it ;) In my opinion Lotus has the best looking nose design as it looks more elegant than the others. It may well be that at the end of the season it will be the McLaren which looks odd because it doesn´t have the stepped nose! Will they still remain their position among the top teams, we´ll see about that later...

As a passionate Vettel fan I have to admit that the brand new RB8 isn´t too beautiful either. The RB8 has a weird hole on the nose where the step is... There has already been a lot of speculation about the meaning of the hole. I saw a hilarious caricature on Facebook: a picture of the new RB8 with the hole on the nose and a mailman delivering a letter with a message saying that "letterboxes aren´t allowed to race"! But I guess we´ll find out about the meaning of the mysterious hole when the season goes further... Or not. But it definitely has to have a deeper meaning than cooling of the driver! But at this point I always try to remind myself of the fact that Formula 1 racing isn´t about the looks but the SPEED!! It doesn´t matter how ugly the car looks if it is extremely fast and competitive!

The first test days at Jerez were absolutely thrilling. So exciting to see the new cars on the track for the very first time! And it was Kimi Räikkönen back in action! I had high hopes for Kimi and the new E20 but I have to say that Kimi impressed me totally with his performance! The E20 looks very strong after the first tests as it was Kimi who topped the times right away on Monday and his team-mate Grosjean doing the same on Thursday. Of course it´s still a long way to Melbourne but the first impression is promising indeed. It looks as if Kimi hasn´t been away from F1 at all... The speed is definitely there!

Of course it´s early days to say anything certain about the performance of the cars. There are two more testing sessions to be run before the season-opener. But many experts say that it´s Lotus and Red Bull which look most convincing after the first session. Though Red Bull faced some reliability issues and for sure they didn´t show their full potential yet. However, I predict that the season 2012 will be much tighter than the previous one... It´ll be extremely hard for Vettel to make it a hat-trick but I´m sure we´re going to see outstanding performance and driving from this guy again! Ferrari seems to be in trouble but there´s still time to make things right... And we still haven´t seen the new car from Mercedes GP because they drove the first tests with the last year´s car.