Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 22. huhtikuuta 2012

Bahrain GP: The most perfect race!

Usually I sit comfortably on my home coach and drink coffee when watching a Formula 1 race. This GP Sunday, however, was different, a truly unique one. I drove my three sons to their grandparents´ house and I took a train to Pasila (which is in Helsinki) where the MTV3 studios are situated. I had my stomach full of butterflies when I sat on the train but I was sure I would have  an awesome day ahead of me... And I didn´t have to face any disappointments!

There were about 50 other Formula 1 fans at the studio. Also there was an authentic Formula 1 car: the Jaguar driven by Mark Webber during the season 2004! I have to admit I felt a bit embarrassed when the Finnish F1 commentator Oskari Saari recognised who I was... ;) But it was awesome to witness a live broadcast and ask a few questions from the very skilled Finnish F1 team! Among some other people they wanted to interview me as well and I have to say I felt soooo awkward sitting on the Jaguar and I couldn´t think up anything decent to say... So now I can definitely identify with Kimi who doesn´t like interviews, hahaha! ;)

After the live broadcasts the audience was allowed to watch the race at the studio. And what a race it was!! Everything looked perfect right from the start: Vettel stayed in the lead and Kimi was able to snatch 4 positions in the start and his pace looked excellent indeed! The Iceman didn´t even need DRS to overtake Massa. Kimi seemed unstoppable, he managed to overtake Button in his McLaren and Red Bull´s Webber and moving past his team-mate Grosjean looked sooo easy! So in no time Kimi was right behind Vettel and the gap between them was constantly decreasing... On lap 36 Kimi made a move and tried to get past Vettel but according to Kimi´s own words he was in the wrong side on the breaking and Vettel was able to maintain his lead. The last stint was a bit stronger for Vettel and he won the race with only a few seconds´ margin on Kimi! When Vettel crossed the finish line I felt I would have wanted to shout out loud but I was too ashamed to do so ;) Perfect isn´t a word strong enough to describe the race today. A magnificent victory for Sebastian, the very first of the 2012!

Kimi´s team-mate Grosjean made a huge impression on me today by bringing his E20 to the chequered flag in P3 so both Lotus drivers made it to the podium at Sakhir! The performance of the McLarens was kind of a disappointment. They seemed to struggle with their tyres and in addition to that Hamilton had two of his pit stops delayed due to a problem with his left rear tyre... Webber had a very decent race and the Australian finished 4th ahead of Rosberg who finished 5th. Though there might be a penalty coming for Nico as he made some aggressive and questionable moves when trying to prevent both Alonso and Hamilton from getting past him!

So four races and four different winners this far! What an intense battle for the championship is going on! Vettel tops the drivers´ standings and Red Bull is leading the constructors´ championship. Kimi´s 2nd place and Grosjean´s 3rd place made Lotus jump into 3rd place in the constructors´standings! Wow, we can only keep guessing what might happen in the next race...!

Me and the Finnish F1 commentator Oskari Saari showing some "Vettel fingers" after the race!
After the race it was time to have a quick word with the Finnish F1 team members and have some photos taken... I want to thank MTV3 from the bottom of my heart for this unique and exceptional experience! I had absolutely the time of my life!

lauantai 21. huhtikuuta 2012

Bahrain GP / Qualifying: Kimi´s 11th place not a tactical mistake but a conscious choice!

So Bahrain GP will take place after all the ambiguities and despite the restless and violent situation in the country. Politics aside, let´s talk about Formula 1 racing! In the burning heat of Bahrain we saw a surprising qualifying session!

Even Q1 was kind of unusual. Who would have predicted that Heikki Kovalainen with his astonishing Angry Birds helmet would have made his way into Q2? And the Finn did it by driving, not due to some bizarre weather conditions or something like that! And even better, it was Michael Schumacher who was knocked out of Q2 thanks to Heikki´s brilliant performance! Not bad, not bad at all! :D Okay, Schumi was reported to have had some technical issues with his removeable rear wing but anyway, well done for Heikki today! Another thing that caught my eye in Q1 was the massive difference between the performance of the Toro Rosso drivers. Ricciardo was able to set the second fastest time in Q1 whereas his French team-mate Vergne qualified 19th and was out of Q2. So far I haven´t read about Vergne having any techincal issues but something must have happened, technical issues or mistakes by the man himself.

Q2 was... surprising as well! In terms of all three practice sessions Lotus´s pace seemed promising and strong but against all odds Kimi didin´t make his way through to the final segment of the qualifying! :( I was soooo disappointed for Kimi! He made only one run at the beginning of the Q2 but didn´t come out again at the end when the track was constantly improving. To me it seemed that the curse of P11 (which haunted Vettel in China a week before) was this time handed to Kimi at Bahrain! But this turned out to be a false conclusion after all as Lotus confirmed that Kimi consciously opted to do only one run to save fresh tyres for tomorrow´s race! It´s true that fresh tyres and the lack of them will play a significant role in the race tomorrow but....

I can´t help thinking about the role of the qualifying nowadays. I mean qualifying used to be about finding out who´s the fastest driver on the track! After the qualifying you used to know which was the fastest car and the fastest driver. That doesn´t seem to be the case anymore! Tactics has started to play a bigger and bigger role in the qualifying. It isn´t about finding out the true speed of the cars but about saving tyres for the race... I find it kind of frustrating! So in a way qualifying has lost its original meaning and I find it sad in a way.

In spite of the growing role of the tactical issues I truly want to believe Sebastian Vettel was the fastest man on the track today! An absolutely stunning, brilliant, amazing but kind of unexpected pole for the German Red Bull ace today!! Hamilton completed the front row and there´re Webber and Button in the second row. Surprisingly Rosberg in his Mercedes qualified 5th, Ricciardo 6th (!!) and Grosjean 7th. Another question in my mind is, if the tyre degradation issues suffered by the Mercedes team have truly been solved or if the superb outcome in China was only due to the cooler weather conditions...? But finally Red Bull´s pace looks what it should be and I can´t wait for tomorrow´s race! I was absolutely delighted to see "the finger" back! :D

sunnuntai 15. huhtikuuta 2012

Chinese GP: Nico finally took his maiden win!

I had my stomach full of butterflies when the lights went out and the race was on! Nico on pole got a dream start and was able to maintain his lead and was followed by his team-mate Schumacher. McLaren´s Button benefitted the most at the start and was able to go from P5 to third. Kimi in his Lotus was able to overtake Kobayashi but was overtaken by Button so he was able to keep P4. Luckily there were no collisions in the first turns but Vettel being far back in P14 made me really nervous...

I was actually pretty surprised by Mercedes´s race pace! I had expected them to suffer from tyre degradation like in two previous races but that wasn´t the case this time! Nico was able to pull a clear gap to his rivals. Schumi was driving a very strong race as well until the first pit stop cost him dearly. He had a problem with his front right tyre not being properly attached and he had to retire the race soon after leaving the pits. Such a shame, Schumi would probably have brought some valuable points for Mercedes today!

Yesterday I wrote that I hoped to see an entertaining race. Entertaining it indeed was! :) Lots of close and intense wheel-to-wheel battle. Fair play and no rude manoeuvres or any hand gestures! I would say that we saw a whole new Hamilton on the track today! He enjoyed some good battles as well. I must say I felt kind of worried to see him challenging Massa after all those las year´s collisions but I was positively surprised to see a clean overtake by Lewis! And overtaking is something that Hamilton seems to be really good at!

After the first pit stops it seemed that Button in his McLaren had a good chance to challenge Nico for victory. But Button´s hope for victory vanished into thin air in his third pit stop. The Briton lost some 9-10 seconds in the pits due to a problem with the rear of his car. However, Button finished the race second followed by his team-mate Hamilton, who was able to get past Vettel at the end of the race.

In spite of Kimi´s decent start to the race his day was full of setbacks. Kimi´s race pace was convincing but strategy-wise it was far from a perfect race! Kimi lost positions in his both pit stops so his only chance for a points finish was to try to finish the race without pitting the third time. And everything looked sooooo good when there were only 10 laps to go. Nico was leading the race on some 20 seconds´ margin but Kimi was 2nd! Vettel was right behind him, so were the McLaren drivers... I kept my fingers crossed down to my elboes that Kimi´s tyres would last the closing laps... But they didn´t! With 8 more laps to go Vettel was able to overtake Kimi which lead to Kimi losing 10 positions in just two laps! What a catastophic outcome for Kimi! :( Finally he finished the race 14th not scoring any points... I can only imagine how Kimi must feel at the moment. I mean the Iceman wasn´t satisfied with his 4th place at the qualifying yesterday and I´m sure he had high hopes for the race... But this is motor racing, bitter disappointments are unfortunately part of it sometimes :(

Right after this I knew Vettel would soon be in trouble, too! And in no time both Button and Hamilton managed to get past the struggling German... Even Vettel´s team-mate Webber managed to overtake him on the very final lap! I´m sure Webber enjoyed every second of his move after being humiliated so thoroughly by Vettel during last season! Grosjean made Lotus´s day by finishing 6th and scoring valuable points for the team.

lauantai 14. huhtikuuta 2012

Chinese GP / Qualifying: What a shocking Q2!

I have come down with a flu and a terribly sore throat so the thought of the upcoming GP weekend made me cheer up a little. So if I write something goofy it´s because I don´t feel very well at the moment ;) I had high hopes that all the kung fu training had given Sebastian Vettel whole new wings for the qualifying today... And that a front row grid slot for Seb today would make my flu disappear! ;) The reality turned out to be different from my fantasies!

Q1 was very predictable so no surprises in the first session. Vettel kept me in suspense though because he didn´t go out at the end of the session any more and he really wasn´t so far away from the knock-out zone... Luckily his time was fast enough to make it to the Q2!

But the Q2 then... It was full of surprises! The first of them was that the battle to get to the top 10 was extremely tight! All the drivers in top ten were within 2 tenths of a second! Both of the Mercedes drivers as well as both McLaren drivers were among the ten fastest. Sergio Perez in his Sauber has clearly been able to maintain his momentum after Malaysia and he was able to make his way into the Q3 as well as his Japanese team-mate Kobayashi. Sauber seems to have become a serious threat to the other top teams! But what made the Q2 shocking like I wrote on the headline of this text was the fact that Sebastian Vettel didn´t manage to set a lap time fast enough to make his way through to the Q3!! And what made it even more contradictory was the fact that his team-mate Webber topped the timesheets in Q2! Vettel being knocked out of the Q3 is something that hasn´t happened for a while, not since the Brazilian GP in 2009! I was stunned, upset, totally appalled by this! And this didn´t certainly make my flu go away, just the opposite, haha! ;)

If the Q2 was tight you can´t say the same about the Q3! Already at the beginning of the final session Rosberg in his Mercedes was able to set a time of 1.35.1 which was totally in the class of its own and his rivals had no chance to get even close that lap time! Hamilton qualified 2nd half a second slower than Rosberg but he has been penalized for a gearbox change and he´ll start the race from P7. Rosberg´s team-mate Schumacher was third fastest today but due to Hamilton´s penalty there´ll be an all-Mercedes front row tomorrow, which can be considered quite a surprise though there has been a lot of fuss about the innovative F-duct system used by Mercedes team... At a circuit like Shanghai the system clearly is a huge benefit for the team as it makes the car extremely fast on the long straights. Just wondering which team will be able to copy the system first...

Sauber´s Kobayashi was responsible for another surprise in Q3 by snatching P4 today! Kimi in his Lotus was fifth fastest although Lotus had to resort to the old parts instead of the new ones. So due to Hamilton´s penalty Kimi starts from P4 tomorrow. And anything can happen as Mercedes´s race pace hasn´t been that excellent this season... Webber in P6, Button in P7, Perez in P8, Alonso in P9 and Kimi´s team-mate Grosjean complete the top ten.