Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 29. heinäkuuta 2012

Hungarian GP: Kimi was so close but Hamilton was untouchable today!

The Hungarian GP ended already a few hours ago but the first thing to do after the race was to go swimming with my sons! The weather here in Finland has been quite similar to that in Hungary this weekend: last night there was a thunder storm here and today there has been +28 degrees Celsius :) Finally we´ve had some proper summer days here in Finland :) So today there has been hot weather and naturally some hot emotions in terms of Formula 1!

The start didn´t go to the plan -at least not to the one that I had planned for the race! Both my favourites lost a position at the start: Sebastian lost a place to Button and Kimi lost a position to Alonso! Hamilton maintained his lead and Grosjean followed right behind him. The first stint of the race looked a bit boring: no overtaking which was kind of expected at the Hungaroring. Sebastian was right on Button´s tail but no hope of making a pass on him! Until the first pit stops...

Button was among the first top drivers to pit and Sebastian managed to get past the Briton when he pitted a few laps later. There´s been a lot of talk about Lotus´s lousy pit stop strategy but today everything was perfect! No mistakes either in the pits or on the track! After the first pit stop Kimi rejoined the track ahead of Alonso so the Iceman managed to take his position back. Kimi really seemed to be in fire today: he was stunningly fast and was able to set phenomenal lap times when they mattered! Kimi made his second pit stop some laps later than his rivals and Lotus´s strategy couldn´t have been any more perfect: Kimi rejoined the track just in front of his team-mate Grosjean and Vettel! Actually Kimi had an intense wheel-to-wheel battle with his team-mate but the Frenchman just couldn´t prevent the flying Iceman from overtaking him! Kimi was flying in spite of the issues with his KERS which didn´t work properly on the opening laps.

In the last stint Kimi was catching up Hamilton second by second and tenth by tenth... There were over 10 laps to go when Kimi was right on the Briton´s tail! But no chance of overtaking as the McLaren driver didn´t make any mistakes. So Hamilton took a well-deserved victory today and the two Lotus drivers completed the podium: Kimi 2nd and Grosjean 3rd. Vettel finished 4th in spite of the third pit stop at the end of the race. The team decided to put a fresh set of option tyres on to give Vettel better chances to catch Grosjean. The German did catch him at the end but there was no chance to get past. Alonso finished in P5 and Button in P6 today. I had been kind of hoping that Sebastian would have finished on the top and Alonso much further away... The Spaniard still has a huge lead in the championship standings!

In addition to the battle for victory there was also another topic today: Pastor Maldonado in his Williams! Once again he managed to get himself a drive through penalty for a clash with Paul Di Resta. How many lessons will this Venezuelan need to learn how to drive in the spirit of fair play and good sportsmanship? Just wondering...

lauantai 28. heinäkuuta 2012

Hungarian GP / Qualifying: Still no pole for the Iceman!

I had huge hopes for Kimi this afternoon! Lotus´s pace seemed almost magical in all free practice sessions. The circumstances at Hungaroring couldn´t have suited Lotus any better: dry track and heat of +30 degrees Celsius... But still no pole for the Iceman today!

Q1 was business as usual. The only slight surprise can be considered the fact that it was Ricciardo who was out of Q2 whilst his Toro Rosso team-mate Vergne was able to make it to the Q2. I still remember the huge fuss about Ricciardo at the end of last season when he attended the test for young drivers at Abu Dhabi. How he was considered extraordinary and how he was able to set better lap times than Vettel at the wheel of the Red Bull... Today his performance didn´t seem magical at all and he couldn´t even match his team-mate´s speed!

Although it was a dry qualifying, there certainly were a few surprises in Q2! The biggest of them was the fact that Webber didn´t make it to the Q3! Throughout the qualifying both Red Bull drivers seemed to struggle with their pace. Just wondering what the story behind the engine mapping episode really is... The team has naturally assured that changing the engine mapping hasn´t influenced their performance but to be honest, I don´t believe it´s the truth though. Even Vettel nearly got out of Q2 by being 17th in the standings...! Red Bull wasn´t the only team who was struggling. Mercedes had the worst qualifying for two years! Rosberg qualified 13th and Schumi 17th.

Hamilton´s driving was phenomenal today. He did a magical lap already in Q2 and at that point I was almost certain that the Briton was going to take pole! And he did it by four tenths of a second! Kimi had flashed a glimpse of his true speed but when it really mattered he failed to score... His team-mate Grosjean instead managed to clinch a front row starting position for tomorrow! Vettel qualified 3rd, Button 4th and Kimi 5th. I was afraid there was going to be another penalty for Vettel because at the end of the qualifying it was still uncertain if Vettel had crossed the white line with all four wheels of his RB8 in his flying lap... Thank God there was no penalties this time!

What really matters is that Vettel will start ahead of Alonso tomorrow! Alonso will start in P6 so the most important thing for Vettel tomorrow is to score more points than Alonso... Sebastian needs to decrease the gap between him and Alonso from 44 points to as low as possible! Though I´m afraid that Ferrari´s race pace will be dangerously good tomorrow.

sunnuntai 22. heinäkuuta 2012

German GP: What a dramatic race day!

What an utterly dramatic race day it was today! The very first shock after waking up and turning my computer on was to see the news about the engine maps of the RB8 being declared illegal. So the first concern naturally was if there was going to be a penalty given for Red Bull... I have to admit that I actually didn´t even have a clue what this engine mapping discussion was all about! But I do recall there were some talks about this topic already last season... But what I understood was that there actually was some kind of a loophole in the regulations so no penalties for Red Bull -in this case at least! So I could take a deep breathe and focus on the race -without knowing that this wasn´t the only case today that would make my heart jump into my throat!

Alonso on pole had a perfect start and stayed in the lead. Vettel followed him closely. Kimi in P10 had a dream start as well and he was able to pass Hamilton although he lost the position back to the Briton a moment later. Hamilton suffered a puncture on lap 3 and was forced to pit. Grosjean, Massa and Senna lost their front wings in a collision on the opening lap and had to pit, too. On lap 5 Kimi made a stunning pass on Di Resta in his Force India! After a few corners of wheel-to-wheel driving the Iceman managed to overtake the Briton in an impressive way!

Button in his McLaren had superb race pace and it seemed that the battle for victory was going to be within three drivers: Alonso, Vettel and Button. Kimi had jumped up to 4th but podium seemed to be out of the Finn´s reach.  During the second pit stops Button managed to get past Vettel! The gaps between these three were minimal so I knew anything could happen... Button locked his front right tyre at a breaking so I hoped the flat spot in his tyre would give Vettel a chance to try and overtake the Briton... And Vettel did overtake Button on the second last lap! But what an overtaking move it was... Vettel went off track when he passed Button and it soon became clear that the stewards were investigating Vettel´s pass on Button... At that moment I knew Vettel´s second place was jeopardised!

Alonso claimed victory today although Ferrari wasn´t even the fastest car on the track. I´m not a fan of Alonso but I have to admit that Alonso was definitely out of his rivals´ reach today and the Spaniard totally deserved to win. Vettel and Button joined the Ferrari driver on the podium. Kimi drove an excellent race by finishing 4th. Sauber had an impressive race as well as Kobayashi finished 5th and his team-mate Perez 6th. No points for Hamilton who retired the race at the end. This meant that Kimi jumped up to 4th in the championship standings!

I didn´t want to start writing this blog post until I had heard about the possible penalty given to Vettel. And when I came home from a walk I heard it... A 20-second time penalty given to Vettel for his illegal pass on Button which dropped the German Red Bull driver from 2nd to 5th (making Kimi 3rd and Kobayashi 4th in the race results)! Even the 2nd place felt like a setback because at the same time Alonso claimed already his third win of the season and was increasing his lead in the championship quite significantly... But the 5th place means even huger difference in points! At first Vettel´s pass seemed absolutely worth the risk but thinking about it afterwards he shouldn´t have tried it in the first place. I know, very easy for me to say now but there´s no room for "what ifs" in Formula One. Hopefully Vettel will arrive in Hungary next week and have a fresh start... But he can´t afford letting Alonso out of his reach!

Vettel´s pass on Button can surely be seen from various angles but the stewards´ decision must be respected. This wasn´t the only thing to invite reflexion in this race. Another story was Hamilton being a lap down making a pass on Vettel who was fighting for victory with Alonso! Surely it´s not directly forbidden in the regulations but whether it´s good sportsmanship or not... At least Vettel was quite emotional about the incident after the race because certainly Hamilton was intervening in the battle for victory although he was far back in P18 or something! But this is motorsports and all the contradictory situations make it even more interesting!

German GP / Qualifying: Alonso on pole again in mixed conditions!

I was supposed to be at a friend´s wedding today. I was kind of worried how I would behave if I was sitting at the church and following nervously the qualifying results on my cell phone... I knew there would be a slight chance of me shouting out loud if certain Sebastian Vettel made it on pole...! However, a sudden change of plans came up unfortunately due to a personal issue so no worries of me embarrassing myself publicly!

Dark clouds loomed just outside the Hockenheim circuit when Q1 got started. The most staggering detail in Q1 was definitely the fact that Kimi Räikkönen in his Lotus was the fastest man on track! The Iceman showed that in the dry he was the man everyone should be afraid of! But unfortunately the track didn´t stay dry very long...

The heavens opened right when the light turned green and Q2 got underway. There are always surprises in mixed conditions and today´s qualifying was no exception. Schumacher at the wheel of Mercedes  was among the fastest drivers on track in front of his home crowd despite the fact that he was very close to be knocked out of Q2 and made it there just by 55 thousandths of a second! Grosjean in his Lotus as well as Massa in his Ferrari were among the unlucky ones who didn´t make it in to the final section. Rosberg was also very much in trouble on the slippery track and qualified 17th today!

There were different kind of opinions about whether the conditions were driveable or not when Q3 got underway. Alonso for example told on the team radio that he considered the conditions too dangerous. Nevertheless, the conditions were same for everybody. Even driving on the full wets couldn´t help the drivers aquaplaning... I have to admit that I hugely admire all the drivers for their courage and skills to drive in such conditions! When it´s raining heavily I´m absolutely terrified to drive even 80 km/h but these guys go as fast as 290 km/h... Wow, that´s absolutely not something that everyone can do!

Alonso managed to do a clean lap and conquered pole today. He pitted at the end of Q3 and made his last run on the fresh set of tyres which turned out to be the right call today. Vettel put up a good fight but he ended up second as his last attempt wasn´t clean. His team-mate Webber qualified 3rd today but he will be dropped in P8 due to a gear-box change. The Australian isn´t the only driver to suffer from a five-place grid penalty as also Rosberg and Grosjean have got similar penalties. Also Perez in P12 got a 5-place grid penalty due to blocking both Kimi and Alonso during Q2.

The McLarens seemed to lose performance in wet conditions. Button qualified in P6 followed by his team-mate Hamilton in P7. Lotus´s performance in Q3 was also a huge disappointment as Kimi qualified in P10 being 5 seconds slower than Alonso! Can´t help wondering what happened after the outstanding Q1! Just hoping it´s going to be a dry race tomorrow so that we´ll all see what the Iceman is really capable of...! I´m sure Kimi will show us some brilliant overtaking :)

sunnuntai 8. heinäkuuta 2012

British GP: Webber claimed his second win of the season!

After two days of pouring rain who would have thought that we were going to see a dry race, I mean a race without one single drop coming down from the sky?? But as the British GP was about to get underway, the sun came out and it actually looked like a typical Finnish summer day at Silverstone :)

The tyre choices for the race were interesting. Alonso on pole and Hamilton in P8 had opted to start to the race with hard tyres on whilst all the other drivers in top 10 had decided to put the soft tyres on. No surprises at the start: both Alonso and Webber were able to keep their positions. Massa starting from P5 managed to gain a position on Vettel jumping to 4th. Vettel had breathtaking wheel-to-wheel battle with Kimi on the opening lap and the flying Finn was almost able to overtake the German Red Bull driver but ended up losing a position to Maldonado. Kimi, however, snatched the position back from the Venezuelan only a moment later. Kimi´s driving was utterly a pleasure to watch! The Iceman made a stunning overtaking move on Schumacher as well some laps later...

During the first pit stops Vettel managed to get past Massa. On lap 12 we saw a not so surprising collision between Maldonado and Perez who are both known of their hot-blooded temper. Perez was trying to overtake Maldonado but the Venezuelan ended up crashing to Perez´ Sauber. So the Mexican was out of the race and Maldonado´s race was practically spoiled though he managed to continue the race after the pit stop (he had a puncture due to the crash). Perez has already described Maldonado as "a stupid driver" who doesn´t respect other drivers. Last year it was Hamilton in the lime-light of these conversations and this year it seems to be Maldonado!

The performance of both McLaren drivers was absolutely miserable today. At the beginning of the race Hamilton managed to take the lead for a moment as he had started the race with the hard tyres and had a longer first stint but after his first pit stop he dropped far back in the standings! The McLaren drivers finished the race 8th (Hamilton) and 10th (Button) which must have been a huge disappointment to the home crowd.

On the closing laps it was Alonso who was still in the lead. But the Spaniard had soft tyres on in his final stint whilst Webber following him had the hard tyres on. Webber was catching Alonso metre by metre and second by second and managed to overtake the Ferrari driver just 5 laps before the chequered flag! I was very happy to see Webber winning, I wouldn´t have wanted to see Alonso take his 3rd win of the season! Vettel in P3 managed to decrease the gap to Alonso on the final laps but he didn´t get close enough to be able to try any overtaking move on Alonso. Massa was finally able to put up a strong race and finished 4th right ahead of Kimi in his E20. Kimi´s team-mate Grosjean was 6th so very good points for the Lotus drivers today! The Iceman also claimed the fastest lap of the race today.

lauantai 7. heinäkuuta 2012

British GP / Qualifying: Surprises in a rain-hit chaotic qualifying!

The weather forecast for the British GP weekend was simple: rain, rain, rain... more or less! We saw heavy rain yesterday both during the FP1 and FP2. This morning the track was DRY when the last free practice took place but when it was time for qualifying there was more rain pouring from the sky!

The biggest surprise in Q1 was Jenson Button´s performance. He was very much in trouble on the damp circuit, according to his own words he just couldn´t get his tyres warmed up so the unfortunate Briton was out of Q2! Otherwise the Q1 was kind of "the same old story". It was a bit depressing to see that in spite of some significant upgrades Caterham hadn´t managed to improve their performance compared to the midfield teams...

The conditions got worse and worse when Q2 got underway. The rain got heavier and heavier and when there were 8 minutes to go the conditions were considered undriveable and the session was suspended. Before that Mercedes´s Schumacher had run wide a couple of times and Alonso in his Ferrari drove off the track as well but luckily all the drivers managed to keep their cars in one piece! The session was suspended for one and a half hours until the heavy shower was over. Full wets was the right tyre call when the session was re-started. More surprises in Q2: Rosberg in his Mercedes didn´t make his way in to Q3! Perez had topped the standings before the suspension but in the end both Saubers were knocked out of Q3. Grosjean managed to set 5th fastest lap time but he lost the control of his E20 and he got stuck on the gravel so the qualifying was over for him!

The conditions improved lap by lap. Some drivers went out with intermediate tyres, the others had full wets on. The track, however, was drying up surprisingly fast and the intermediates turned out to be the right choice. In mixed conditions Ferrari seems to be extremely strong. So was the case again this time, Alonso conquered the pole first time this season! Red Bull´s Mark Webber completed the first row. Schumi seems to have been able to maintain the momentum from Valencia and in spite of running wide a few times he was able to snatch P3 today! I guess there´s a reason why the 43-year-old German is called a "rain master"... ;) Vettel was 4th, Massa 5th (that´s a surprise indeed!) and Kimi 6th. Kimi had a KERS problem in his car right from the beginning of the qualifying so P6 is a very decent achievement. I just hope the guys manage to fix it for tomorrow´s race!

So the biggest question right now is: will it be a totally rain-hit race tomorrow? Will there be showers in mixed conditions? Light rain, heavy rain or all kinds of rain? All in all the British GP seems to be extremely difficult to predict. Alonso starting on pole will undoubtedly have the best visibility in the race but in mixed conditions the pole doesn´t mean much. You have to make the right tyre choice at the right time... And you have to be able to keep your car in one piece! Which I´m sure not everybody will be able to do...! I would be surprised if there was no safety car tomorrow at some stage! So a lot of variables which are crucial in terms of the outcome of the race... Hamilton qualified 8th today and was disappointed to see he was 2 seconds slower than Alonso. But he´ll have a whole new chance in the race!

Once in my life I have witnessed the British GP live at Silverstone. That happened a looong time ago, back in 1995 when there was neither Kimi nor Sebastian racing there. This time I´ll be watching the race on my home coach but I feel I´ll be there in a figurative sense... as a picture on both RB8s! I took part in the "faces for charity" campaign so I´ll be racing with Sebastian and Mark along with 25 000 other people :) How cool is that! Once again I hope all the very best for both Sebastian and the Iceman! Sebastian can´t afford having another DNF...