Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 23. helmikuuta 2013

Season 2013 preview, part 2

I´ve had my winter holiday this week. The perfect week to have a holiday because I´ve been able to follow the second pre-season test session held in Barcelona very closely. More perfect this would have been only if I had had the chance to travel to Barcelona and watch the tests live! Which I unfortunately couldn´t do. Tuesday and Wednesday would have been such perfect days with both Sebastian and Kimi testing their cars under the Spanish sun! Luckily there´re pages like Autosport live commentary which you can follow and get an idea what´s happening on the track. Though one of my friends kept wondering how on earth I could stare at the commentary page for the whole day with no live pictures... Well, as far as Formula 1 is concerned it wasn´t even difficult, haha!

So which teams will be the ones to fight for the championship this year? I don´t think we can draw any definitive conclusions after this second test session, either but there´re things that caught my eye. First of all: in spite of the major amount of technical issues Lotus seem to have a very fast and competitive car! Although Kimi had the fewest laps on Tuesday the pace was definitely there as the Iceman was 2nd on the standings after the first test day. There was a data issue that restricted Kimi´s testing and he could only run short stints. On Wednesday the team had to change Kimi´s gearbox and Kimi was able to run only 4 laps in the morning session. But as soon as the E21 was back in shape Kimi drove staggering lap times immediately. So in spite of the teething problem Lotus will be strong this year. This is my hunch.

Red Bull had very strong two first days when Sebastian was testing the RB9. Their pace seems convincing once again and the RB9 has proved to be reliable as well. It was no surprise that Sebastian was topping the timesheets in the morning of the day two. In addition to Red Bull we´ve also seen Rosberg in Mercedes, Perez in McLaren and Alonso in Ferrari topping the timesheets. Personally I´ve been surprised by Mercedes´s performance. Although Hamilton has played down all expectations that the team would be there to challenge the top teams for the championship this year. But let´s put it this way: I would be more surprised if Hamilton didn´t win a race during the upcoming season! McLaren is kind of a question mark for me. They are quick for sure but Button has stated that the team don´t understand their car perfectly yet. At times it feels good, at others it doesn´t. So McLaren seems to be struggling with their car at the moment. And there´s also been talk about the tyre degradation which has been quite hard in the cold weather of Barcelona. But at least the new Pirelli tyres are easier to get into the right temperature so the teams seem to be pretty satisfied with the new compounds.

When thrilling Formula action is on there always seems to be a fuss about something. At Barcelona it was caused by the exhaust layouts of both Williams and Caterham teams! The brand new FW35 was revealed on Tuesday at Barcelona just before the first test day got underway. I don´t have too much understanding for the technical details and as far as this "exhaust-gate" is concerned I don´t even know if the layout really is illegal or not. But the experts have said that if Williams´s exhaust layout will be declared illegal by the FIA it won´t be a catastrophy for them in terms of performance. And we don´t even know yet what Williams´s final version of the FW35 will look when heading to Melbourne. There´s still one test session to go and a lot of new parts to be tested so the cars will change quite a lot from what they are now. But as Formula 1 is all about technical innovations there always seems to be a fuss about something!

Another continuous topic in Formula 1 seems to be the Finnish Lotus ace Kimi Räikkönen. As the Iceman was unable to run his car on Wednesday morning due to the gearbox change the Finn decided to have a sleep while his car was being repaired. And instantly it was number one news that Kimi had a sleep during a test day! Just wondering what the headlines might have been if the Iceman had had an ice-cream while the team was fixing his car (just referring to a certain Malaysian grand prix back in 2009...) ;) So there always seems to be some kind of a "Kimi-gate" as well :D I love Kimi as he stands out of the crowd for who he is. Not because what he says but because what he does. He is completely honest and doesn´t try to pretend to be something that he´s not. There´s something similar to that in the German Red Bull ace as well. In a recent interview Sebastian commented his thoughts on social media. He said that he sees absolutely no point in sharing every minute with the world. I respect that attitude a lot. In spite of the fact that as a huge fan of his I would absolutely love to read his tweets or Facebook updates. But I love this charasteristic in both Kimi and Sebastian that they feel no need to show off or be in the limelight when off track!

perjantai 8. helmikuuta 2013

Season 2013 preview, part 1

It was two and a half months ago when I wrote my previous blog post! Sebastian Vettel had just won his third consecutive world title and the season 2012 was over. Now we are slowly but surely moving towards the F1 season 2013 which I´m really impatiently looking forward to!

The very first winter testing session in Jerez is about to be completed at the moment. It´s absolutely too early days to say anything certain about the performance of the cars. This year different teams have different looks in their car in terms of the nose. Lotus was the very first team to unveil their brand new challenger and the E21 was introduced with the step on the nose. The technical director James Allison said that they might use a vanity panel to cover the step if they find a solution which would improve the performance of the car. I like this attitude. Formula 1 is about  performance of the car, not about the looks of it! Red Bull instead revealed their RB9 with a modesty panel that covers the "letterbox" on the nose but the panel doesn´t cover up the step on the nose due to extra weight. The new McLaren looks very similar to last year´s car. I find the new Sauber most innovative-looking with the different sidepods. Williams is the only team which hasn´t launched their new car yet but they will bring it to Barcelona for the second testing session later this month.

Different teams have run different programmes on the first test days. You can´t say anything about the fuel loads that the teams have run on. Some teams have collected data on both soft and hard Pirelli tyres and the others have used only the hards. Many teams have had technical failures during the first testing days. Mercedes for example had frustrating two days due to different kinds of technical issues like a rear brake failure which caused Hamilton to crash into the barrier. Ferrari also had an engine failure today. Red Bull have avoided technical failures so far and the new RB9 with the lovely purple colour on the sidepods has proved to be reliable. But the development of the new cars has only just begun so these teething problems are perfectly normal and no conclusions can be made at this stage.

Although the pecking order of the new cars is still a total mystery there are a couple of things that can be said out loud. First of all, the new F138 seems to be much more competitive than the F2012 was at this time of last year. Lotus also seems to be in a better position now than they were at the beginning of last year. They missed three full test days due to a severe chassis issue last year. According to both Kimi and his team-mate Grosjean the E21 feels very promising.

 I´m absolutely delighted that Valtteri Bottas got the race seat at Williams for the upcoming season! He definitely deserves the seat and I´m sure the Finn will seriously challenge his Venezuelan team-mate Maldonado! Another Finn Heikki Kovalainen was not so lucky. He lost his seat at Caterham to Giedo Van Der Garde who brought a great deal of money to the team. This is such a shame as Heikki is considered extremely skillful and talented driver by many team principals and other drivers. Due to economical issues Formula 1 needs pay drivers but on the other hand the race seat should be deserved due to the driving skills instead of money loads! However, pay drivers seem to be there to stay. It´s not that they would be BAD drivers but due to them there´re MORE competent drivers who get knocked out of the sport...

Kimi Räikkönen has been number one news both here in Finland and in Germany this week but not because of the first testing session but instead of splitting up with his wife Jenni. The couple has moved to different addresses which has been huge news. Actually I don´t understand the huge fuss about this because unfortunately it´s no news today that people split up and marriages end. And especially when we´re talking about celebrities. It seems to be more like a rule than an exception that the celebrities´ marriages don´t tend to last. And I can´t see why people would love to identify themselves with sad stories like this. I mean I personally would love media to tell a story of a couple who have had difficulties and setbacks but still fought and made their marriage to work! Where are those stories? You can´t find them in the media. But one thing that I´m absolutely sure about is that Kimi won´t let his private life issues have an effect on his performance on the track! What happened to Hamilton, won´t happen to Kimi. No matter what the Iceman went through in his private life I´m sure he will be ace behind the wheel of the E21!