Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 24. kesäkuuta 2012

European GP: Alonso became the first double winner this season!

According to the public opinion we were supposed to see a dull race with only a very few overtaking moves. Against all odds we got to see a whole different race with epic on-track action! Intense wheel-to-wheel battle was seen throughout the race and there were some dramatic turns as well...!

Sebastian on pole had the most perfect start and kept his lead. Hamilton followed right after him. Kimi in his Lotus took an impressive start as well but he was blocked by Maldonado at the first right-hander so he lost a position to Kobayashi. Who said overtaking is almost impossible at Valencia? Kimi showed us some excellent overtaking on the opening laps by passing Maldonado in his Williams for example. Kimi´s first pit stop was good but not perfect. The Iceman managed to get past Kobayashi in the pits but he lost a position to Alonso. Sebastian´s pace seemed to be in a league of his own! He managed to pull an enormous gap to his rivals and the flying German rejoined the track in the lead after his first pit stop. Everything looked soooo good, I was confident that this was going to be a sweeping victory for Seb under the Spanish sun...

But if something looks too good to be true, it usually is... Lap 28 was a crucial turning point in the race. Toro Rosso´s Vergne tried to overtake Kovalainen in his Caterham but somehow ended up crashing to the Finn´s car which lead to both drivers getting a puncture and Vergne had to retire the race. At that stage Vettel had increased his lead up to over 30 seconds but due to the crash debris on the track the stewards decided to take the safety car on the track! Right after the restart on lap 35 Vettel faced a fatal car failure and had to retire the race! What a horrific turn in the race! What looked like to be a sweeping victory for the Red Bull driver was converted into a bittersweet DNF and a massive loss of points! Why does Vettel always lose his lead in such a dramatic way? I mean this isn´t certainly the first time when something like this happens! I was sooo gutted, things were not supposed to go this way, not at all!!

Sebastian, however, wasn´t the only unlucky driver today. After the second pit stops Alonso was leading the race and Grosjean in his Lotus was right behind him. Grosjean shared the same fate as Vettel some laps later as he faced a similar kind of car failure on lap 41! After Grosjean´s retirement Hamilton was second and Kimi third. On the closing laps it was Hamilton whose tyres were in the worst shape so on the third last lap Kimi managed to overtake Hamilton! Kimi´s driving was phenomenal, it brought me some comfort after Vettel´s dramatic retirement...

Maldonado was right on tail of Hamilton who was struggling massively with his tyres. The Venezuelan tried aggressively to overtake the Briton and they crashed. In my opinion it was Hamilton at fault because he didn´t leave enough room for Maldonado so the Williams driver couldn´t have avoided crashing to Hamilton... Due to the collision Hamilton was out of the race and Maldonado lost his front wing but managed to finish the race 10th. So very unexpectedly Schumacher managed to make his way on the podium today! Alonso clinched his second win of the season in front of his home crowd. The Spaniard is now leading the championship with 111 points.  It was heart-warming to see Kimi on the podium again, a fantastic drive from him today :) It was very touching to see Schumacher at the post-race press conference so carried away with his unexpected success that he started speaking English when he was supposed to give comments in German...

lauantai 23. kesäkuuta 2012

European GP / Qualifying: Sebastian pulled out a magical lap!

It´s midsummer in Finland which means time of midnight sun. Before the qualifying I was sure there was some "midsummer magic" floating in the air also around the harbour-based Valencia street circuit.... And I happened to be quite right this time!

Already Q1 was surprising indeed. Who would have predicted that Red Bull´s Mark Webber couldn´t make it to the Q2? That was the case unfortunately. Webber missed almost the entire free practice 3 in the morning due to some brake problems in his car. In the qualifying his DRS didn´t work so it was simply impossible for the Australian to pull out a lap time decent enough to get through to Q2. This means he´ll face an extremely difficult race tomorrow as the circuit isn´t really known of good overtaking possibilities!

Heikki Kovalainen was responsible of a heart-warming surprise in Q1. He managed to make his way through to the Q2 and not only because of Webber´s misfortune. The flying angry bird managed to leave Toro Rosso´s Vergne behind him by driving! No wonder there´ve been rumours about Heikki getting a seat from Sauber or Ferrari next season...! No matter how slow the Caterham car is the Finn is unbelievably skilled in terms of driving! Well done Heikki :)

Q2 was at least as surprising as Q1. It was the tightest ever Q2 which we have seen in the time of the current qualifying regulations! The difference between the 1st and the 7th driver was only 81 thousandths of a second! I mean that´s unrealistically tight, much less than a blink of an eye! Alonso in his Ferrari pulled out a lap time 0,004 seconds too slow and was knocked out from Q3! Alonso wasn´t the only big-name driver to be out of the final section. Schumacher qualified 12th and Alonso´s team-mate Massa was 13th.

I was expecting a super intense battle for pole as the Q2 was so tight. The Q3, however, turned out to be a completely different story. The majority of the drivers made only one attempt. Sebastian Vettel´s flying lap was just perfect! He conquered the pole by 3,5 tenths! There was definitely some midsummer magic in his lap! Utterly amazing job after such a tight Q2! Hamilton completed the first row. Maldonado was able to snatch P3 which was a superb effort from the Williams driver. It seems Williams´s success is all about Maldonado´s achievements. Senna doesn´t seem to have the same performance or speed. The Brazilian was knocked out from Q3 and qualified 14th. If Senna´s lousy performances continue, I hope Williams will give Valtteri Bottas a race seat...

Maybe it was partly due to the hot conditions but both Lotus´s seemed to fly today! Grosjean qualified 4th followed by his team-mate Kimi in P5. Even more heat is predicted for tomorrow´s race and we already saw what happened in Bahrain where it was extremely hot, too... Kimi will start on the clean side of the track so I´m convinced that the Iceman will be able to overtake his French team-mate right at the start! The race pace of both Red Bull and McLaren is relatively good but how about tyre degradation? The previous races have been almost impossible to predict and so seems to be the case this time as well. There might be some dramatic moments in tomorrow´s race when the performance of the tyres will drop dramatically and there will be "off the cliff" situations. I just keep my fingers crossed that this won´t happen either to Sebastian or Kimi!! So it´s going to be all about the tyres tomorrow! Force India is a major question mark as well. Both Di Resta and Hulkenberg made it to the top ten but I don´t believe their race pace will be very convincing... Maldonado and Grosjean are drivers who could easily end up to a wall or a collision with somebody but on the other hand there´s a huge potential in those drivers, too...And will the Ferrari drivers especially Alonso be able to do something magical from the midfield tomorrow? The race pace is definitely there...

tiistai 12. kesäkuuta 2012

Canadian GP: 7 winners in 7 grands prix!

I´m writing my thoughts on the Canadian GP not until now because it was late Sunday evening in Finland when the race was over. Yesterday my twin sister came to visit me and we attended a zumba class together and went to sauna to relax after that so now I finally have the time to sit down and write down a few thoughts - unfortunately not as positive ones as I had hoped them to be after the race!

Everyone in the front got excellent starts so there was nobody standing out from the crowd really. The start was also cleaner than I had expected: no collisions at the first corners! So it was Seb leading, Hamilton second and Alonso third. The order got mixed up after the first pit stops. Seb pitted first and due to that call he lost positions to both Hamilton and Alonso. Hamilton had once again a little delay at his pit stop which cost him the lead so Alonso took the lead in his Ferrari.

I expected Button to have a strong race because he was the only guy in top ten to start the race with the harder compound of the Pirelli tyres. Against all odds Button didn´t manage to make the tyres last so he was in trouble right from the beginning of the race. Finally he finished the race 16th which can be considered a massive disappointment. What is more worrying is that the poor Briton himself doesn´t seem to understand the reasons for his problems.

Both Alonso and Vettel were supposed to run the race with a one-stop strategy. Both Lotus drivers, Kimi and Grosjean and Perez at the wheel of Sauber had similar strategies as well. After Hamilton had pitted the second time it became obvious that both Alonso and Vettel were in serious trouble with their dying tyres. Their lap times were about 4 seconds slower than Hamilton´s on the fresh set of tyres so I knew overtaking would be inevitable... Hamilton passed Vettel for P2 and only a couple of laps later the Briton grabbed the lead from Alonso who had no chance to defend his position.

Six laps before the finish Red Bull made the call to take Seb in for the second pit stop. Also Grosjean and Perez had managed to pass Alonso. Seb also managed to close the gap to the Spaniard very quickly and overtook him easily. Alonso stayed out so the victory slipped through his fingers position by position. Hamilton became the 7th different winner this season! Thanks to this superb victory Hamilton is now leading the championship by 2 points (with Alonso 2nd and Vettel 3rd). Grosjean and Perez topped up podium. Both of them did an impressive job! Seb finished 4th ahead of Alonso. Rosberg drove to the chequered flag in P6 followed by Seb´s team-mate Webber. In spite of the one-stop strategy the Iceman was left in P8.

I have to admit the result wasn´t what I had been hoping for! I had high hopes because Seb was starting on pole so missing a podium finish feels a big disappointment :( But of course a hatful of points is much better than no points at all. So I definitely think that Red Bull´s decision of the second pit stop was the right call. Who knows how many positions Seb would have lost if he had stayed out like Alonso did...

sunnuntai 10. kesäkuuta 2012

Canadian GP / Qualifying: The back-to-back world champion back on pole!

On my previous blog post I mentioned there was talk about the legality of the Red Bull´s 2012 car. The holes in the floor of the chassis were declared illegal shortly after the Monaco GP. In spite of that Webber got to keep his victory because none of the teams made a protest after the race. So the performance of the Red Bull cars was a bit of a question mark, whether the new regulation would have an effect on the speed of the RB8´s... After seeing the FP3 and Vettel topping the time sheets I felt confident, however. I knew Red Bull was going to be on top at the qualifying!

Q1 was business as usual. If you want to look for the worst performance in Q1 it must be Vergne in Toro Rosso. He missed the FP3 due to a mistake of his own and in the qualifying he wasn´t able to match up to the performance of his team-mate but was out of Q2.

Q2 was a thrilling battle because only 10 drivers could make it to the final section of the qualifying. Both Red Bulls and Ferraris made it easily to the top ten (yes, even Massa made it easily this time!). With the new exhaust upgrade Ferrari has taken a significant step forward in terms of speed! Hamilton at the wheel of McLaren had been very fast throughout the whole weekend but his team-mate Button doesn´t seem to get rid of the problems concerning the car. He could barely make it to the Q3 by being 10th. Lotus as well still didn´t have a problem-free weekend! Grosjean could reach the top ten but Kimi had a hydraulics problem in his car and qualified 12th which was a disappointment both for him and for me, too! Both Saubers were also knocked out of Q3. Maldonado in his Williams was improving his lap time significantly at his very last attempt but he lost the control of the car at the last turn and spun! What a costly mistake from the Venezuelan again!

In Q3 there was no ambiguity of who was the fastest man on the track! I was so happy that at Montreal the teams didn´t need to save tyres for the race (many teams may try a one stop strategy) so we saw a real battle for pole! Vettel´s first run was brilliant and he held the provisional pole. Hamilton and Alonso didn´t seem to be able to match up to the speed of the German! At his final attempt Vettel was able to improve his lap time so finally there were 3 tenths of a second separating Vettel and his closest rival Hamilton. The gap was certainly bigger than I would have expected! At least the back-to-back world champion showed the whole wide world that Red Bull doesn´t need the holes in the floor! ;) Webber was previously also angered by media representatives implying that the Australian had won the Monaco GP with an illegal car. P4 for Webber spoke for itself! Alonso will start in P3 alongside Webber. Button was the only driver using the yellow marked soft compound of Pirelli tyres whilst everyone else was on super softs.

I hope Lotus will be able to solve the hydraulics issue in Kimi´s car by the start of the race! Kimi may try to drive the race with a one stop strategy so I´m confident that he´ll hopefully score a lot of points today! Grosjean starting in P7 could have a strong race as well if only the Frenchman doesn´t end up crashing to somebody... The performance of the Mercedes team is kind of a question mark for me. They do have an impressive straight line speed but I´m just wondering if they´ll suffer from tyre degradation more than their rivals...