Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 21. huhtikuuta 2013

Bahrain GP: Identical podium as last year!

This has been an acceptional GP weekend for me as I didn´t have a chance to write a blog post on yesterday´s qualifying session. Yesterday I went to a spa here in Finland to take part in an event with lots of different water activities. I went to an aquazumba class and I also attended a hydroboxing class which was very tough but a lot of fun! After the hydroboxing class I drove to my parents´  house to watch the qualifying. I missed Q1 but saw the rest of the action! After the quali I drove back to the spa and enjoyed the warm pools and cool Strawberry Dream -named drinks with my sister and we stayed the night at the hotel.

I got back home before the race started! Nico Rosberg was the surprising pole-sitter and Sebastian in his Red Bull completed the front row. The second row consisted of the Ferrari duo Alonso and Massa. The Force India drivers started from the third row so they had had an excellent qualifying result. Against all odds Kimi´s qualifying hadn´t turned out to be a success and the Iceman was left in P9 but started from P8 due to Hamilton´s penalty (gear-box change).

When the lights went out Rosberg took a very aggressive start and kept his lead. Alonso managed to get past Vettel in turn 1 but soon after that Sebastian took his position back from the Ferrari driver. Sebastian was right behind Rosberg trying to find an opprtunity to overtake the German. On lap 3 the Red Bull ace was able to make his move when DRS was enabled. Right after that the Bahrain GP turned out to be Sebastian´s race completely!

Technical problems hit Alonso right when the race had started. Alonso had an issue with his DRS as the rear wing was stuck open and the Spaniard had to pit on lap 8 so that the rear wing was shutted manually. He had to return to the pits only a lap later when the rear wing opened again so that meant Alonso lost his chances to fight for the victory! As Alonso was out of the victory hunt I knew there was no one to challenge Sebastian under the desert sun!

The Bahrain GP didn´t lack entertaining battle for positions. Sebastian in the lead was out of his rivals´ reach but battle for other positions was extremely thrilling. Around the half point of the race the McLaren duo had an intense wheel-to-wheel battle against each other when fighting for the 5th place. Perez made aggressive manoeuvres trying to overtake his team-mate Button and there were even some pieces going off from the Mexican´s front wing but luckily there was no serious damage done. Only a moment later their wheels touched when Perez squeezed in side by side with his team-mate... But Button fought back and the Briton kept his young team-mate behind him. That´s what I call racing!

Once again the race was about strategy. Sebastian´s race pace was so absolutely dominant that the German won the race with his 3-stop strategy. Kimi on the other hand was able to look after his tyres as well as expected and the Iceman took astonishing second place with his two-stop strategy! Absolutely phenomenal work considering that the Finn started to the race from P8! Kimi´s team-mate Grosjean (starting from P11) was finally able to pull out a successful race and in spite of making three pit stops he was able to make it on the podium! So it was an identical podium as last year at Sakhir! It was an absolutely heart-warming moment to see the two of my heroes on the podium joking and smiling :) Di Resta in his Force India (with a two-stop strategy as well) almost made it on the podium as the Briton finished the race in P4. A podium place was within his grasp but Grosjean with a fresh set of option tyres was significantly faster on the closing laps and Di Resta had no chance to defend his position. Hamilton finished 5th and Perez 6th. Webber drove to the chequered flag in P7 after losing two positions on the closing laps. Alonso made it in P8 after a difficult race. Rosberg´s race was a total catastrophy. He lost positions one by one and finally finished the race in highly disappointing 9th place!

sunnuntai 14. huhtikuuta 2013

Chinese GP: Alonso claimed victory in an eventful race!

The start was crucial as always. Hamilton on pole got a perfect start whilst Kimi beside him had a poor one. Both Ferrari drivers Alonso and Massa got past the Iceman so losing two positions at the very start meant Kimi was about to face a very tough race. Webber at the wheel of his RB9 started to the race from the pits as the team had changed the gear box and some other components to his car.

The first crash happened on lap 6 when Sauber´s Gutierrez hit Sutil´s Force India. Gutierrez´s race was over and also Sutil had to retire due to the massive rear wing damage. This crash also lead to consequences: Gutierrez has been handed a 5-place grid penalty for causing the collision.

The top drivers who started the race on the soft tyres had a very short first stint, only 7-8 laps. Other collisions were about to follow. On lap 15 Webber collided to Vergne´s Toro Rosso when trying to overtake the Frenchman. Webber assumed Vergne to give room for him but he didn´t so they crashed and both drivers broke their front wings. The stewards held Webber responsible for the collision and the Australian will face a 3-place grid penalty at Bahrain next week. I agree with the stewards. You can´t assume your rivals to give you a position for free! Not even if the other driver drives for the "sister team". An experienced driver like Webber should know better! So the penalty is fully deserved. Webber´s GP weekend has been a total disaster. After pitting to get a new front wing the Australian had to retire only a few laps later when his right rear tyre got loose.

On lap 16 Kimi was battling with McLaren´s Sergio Perez. I was about to have a heart attack when Kimi tried to get past Perez but ended up hitting Perez´s rear! Kimi got a clear front wing damage but luckily the damage wasn´t fatal and the Iceman was able to maintain good pace. Kimi´s revenge was sweet: after shouting on the team radio what the h*ll Perez was doing he managed to overtake the Mexican soon after the incident! The collision was investigated by the stewards but it lead to no further action. But there´s no doubt that the damage had some kind of an effect on Kimi´s E21. Just wondering how fast the Finn would have been without the crash...

With 16 laps to go Alonso was leading the race having made 3 pit stops. Vettel with only 2 pit stops was almost 20 seconds behind the Spaniard. Kimi in his Lotus was 3rd but Hamilton in his Mercedes was just a second off the Finn. The closing laps were thrilling: would Hamilton be able to overtake Kimi? I was keeping my fingers crossed down to my elboes that Kimi would be able to block all overtaking moves... But there was another threat coming from behind! Vettel at the wheel of his RB9 had a different strategy from his rivals. The German had started the race on the prime tyres and he made his 3rd and last pit stop only 5 laps before the chequered flag. With a set of fresh option tyres he was frighteningly fast! After the pit stop Vettel was over 10 seconds behind Hamilton but in no time he could "smell Hamilton´s blood" and he was right behind the Briton! Had there been one more lap to go, Vettel would possibly have gone past Hamilton! Only 2 tenths of a second separated the duo at the chequered flag!

lauantai 13. huhtikuuta 2013

Chinese GP / Qualifying: Hamilton and Räikkönen conquered the front row!

The conditions at the Shanghai International Circuit were perfect today. Dry track and hot weather: +28 degrees Celsius and no sign of rain! In spite of the perfect conditions all the teams stayed in their garages waiting very long before going out because once again it was all about saving tyres! Q1 held a nasty surprise as the Finnish Williams driver Valtteri Bottas was knocked out already in the first session! He made only one flying lap which wasn´t clean and the Finn qualified 17th. It was a huge disappointment as his Venezuelan team-mate Maldonado managed to grab P13 in Q1. Sauber´s Gutierrez didn´t make his way through to Q2, either.

Other surprises followed when Q2 got underway. Something unbelievable happened to the Australian Red Bull driver after his first attempt: he run out of gas and he had to leave his RB9 on the grass! Webber´s qualifying was over and he was in P14. How can things like this happen in a top team like Red Bull? This incident certainly won´t help decreasing people´s talks about all kinds of "conspiracy theories" going on at Red Bull. But if I´m asked I would say that the huge fuss around the team order incident at Malaysia most certainly has affected the team in some way. The relationship between the drivers clearly isn´t working and when there´s a lot of negativity in the air people are also more vulnerable to make mistakes... There might be some further punishments for Webber if there isn´t enough fuel in Webber´s car for a fuel sample... As if P14 wasn´t punishment hard enough for the mistake made by the team! The most positive surprise in Q2 was the fact that Toro Rosso´s Ricciardo made it in top ten being 9th fastest! Very impressive work from the young Australian :)

Q3 was interesting indeed as we saw different tactics from different teams. The final session was all about waiting for "the right moment" to go out. Vettel in his RB9 was the only driver to go out at the beginning of the final session. He was on the soft tyres but aborted his flying lap and came in. When there were about 3 minutes left in the clock everyone except Hulkenberg in his Sauber headed out. Tyre-wise this was very interesting: Vettel and Button had the hard tyres on whilst all the others were on softs! Hamilton was the fastest man today and grabbed his very first pole for Mercedes. There seems to be something magical about Shanghai and Mercedes as this was Mercedes´s second consecutive pole under the Chinese sun! The Iceman was utterly on fire today and Kimi made it on the front row! Absolutely breath-taking performance from the Finn who got the maximum out of his E21 today. Alonso in his Ferrari was 3rd and Nico in Mercedes completed the second row followed by Massa 5th and Grosjean 6th. Ricciardo will start from the impressive P7 tomorrow. Button and Vettel on the prime tyres didn´t set a time in the final session (Seb went wide in his last attempt) so it´ll be P8 and P9 for them.