Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 27. lokakuuta 2013

Indian GP: The race of overwhelming emotions!

I was sitting in my sister´s car heading home from the spa hotel when the lights went out at the Buddh International Circuit. I was feeling sooo restless. I knew Sebastian was out there driving and I had absolutely no idea of the things happening on the track as I wasn´t there to watch the race live on TV. A lot of things were going through my mind... A thought of Sebastian clinching his fourth world championship without seeing it happening felt really uncomfortable to me. And then... When I jumped in my own car and started heading home, the pilot lamp warning of an engine issue suddenly lit and I had to park my car on a bus stop by the road! Luckily my husband came to "rescue" me and I got home in time to see the replay of the race...!

Well, what can I say about today´s race? Actually I have only a fuzzy vision of the race in my mind. I don´t really remember what happened at the start, who was on which strategy and who raced who... The overwhelming wave of emotions is the strongest aspect in my mind right now. And that´s because Sebastian Vettel won the Indian Grand Prix for the third time in a row and he did that in style! And what makes the emotions even stronger is the fact that Sebastian secured his 4th consecutive world championship in India today!

But let´s go back to the details of the race. Now I´m concentrating really hard not to let the emotions disturb my focus on the things that happened on the track today. Sebastian kept his lead at the start. Massa got a superb start and jumped second. Webber drove over the kerb and slightly lost the control of his car which caused him hitting first Kimi´s Lotus and then Alonso´s Ferrari. Luckily Kimi got away unharmed but Alonso´s front wing got damaged and the Spaniard dropped down to P10 and had to pit for a new front wing.

Sebastian pitted already on the second lap for the prime tyres. Kimi had his first pit stop on lap 8 and the Iceman had a few seconds´ delay because Lotus crew had to check Kimi´s car for possible damages due to the collision with Webber on the opening lap. On lap 18 Webber was leading the race and McLaren´s Perez was second. Neither one of them had pitted because they both had started to the race with the hard tyres.

After the second pit stops Sebastian was leading the race and his team-mate Webber was some 10 seconds behind the German. By lap 38 Kimi, who had pitted only once, had benefitted from his rivals´ pit stops and the Iceman was already in P3! Lotus had changed Kimi´s strategy and they were convinced that Kimi could go to the end with the same hard tyres which had been changed already at the beginning of the race. Kimi´s team-mate Grosjean shared a similar pit stop strategy, except the fact that the Frenchman´s tyres were 6 laps fresher than Kimi´s.

On lap 40 something totally absurd and unexpected happened. Webber was hit by an alternator failure and he had to stop his car on the track! The Australian couldn´t believe his ears when the engineer told him on the team radio to stop the car immediately. And this wasn´t the first time when Red Bull had issues with the alternator! It´s odd that it usually always hits Webber´s car... But Red Bull were very concerned about the reliability of Vettel´s RB9 as well!

Sebastian had a 25-second gap over his closest opponent who was Kimi in P2. Rosberg was 3rd and he was decreasing the gap to Kimi whose tyres were gone. Unfortunately there was no way Kimi could prevent Rosberg from overtaking him! The inevitable happened when there were 8 laps to go. There was nothing left of Kimi´s tyres and his lap times were lousy. Grosjean was right at Kimi´s tail and Kimi didn´t make it easy for his team-mate to make the overtaking move. We didn´t hear the discussion between Kimi and Alan Permane on the team radio but the Finnish F1 commentator Oskari Saari told that some swearing words had been used in the conversation. Permane had told Kimi in a firm voice to "Get out of the f*cking way", to which Kimi had replied: "Don´t f*cking shout". So soon there might be T-shirts for sale with that text on ... ;) Unfortunately that wasn´t the last position which Kimi lost due to the failed tactical call. Also Perez and Hamilton managed to get past the Iceman whose tyres had died completely and who had to pit for the second time at the end of the race. In spite of some reliability concerns (why Sebastian was told not to use his drinks bottle for example) Sebastian drove to the chequered flag as a race winner and 4-time world champion! And just for the celebration the German did some stunning donuts in front of the grand stand :D Rosberg finished 2nd, Grosjean 3rd, Massa 4th, Perez 5th, Hamilton 6th, Kimi finally 7th, Di Resta 8th, Sutil 9th and Ricciardo 10th. Alonso didn´t manage to finish the race on points.

Sebastian himself was emotional and speechless after the race. It´s absolutely amazing what this young German has just achieved. 4 championship titles in only 117 race starts! That´s unique. For his team-mate Webber it took 130 race starts to clinch his first win! 10 wins this season so far for Sebastian. The statistics don´t lie: you have to be exceptionally talented and motivated to achieve things that Sebastian has achieved in spite of his young age. I´m trying to find words to describe the feelings I´m going through at the moment... And once again I miserably fail! You could assume that it would become easier over the years to deal with these emotions as this is the 4th time already that Sebastian won the world championship. But believe me: it doesn´t! And if the trend of the previous three years continues, I won´t get too much sleep tonight! That man is so amazing... Out of reach of any proper words! I simply loved to watch how Sebastian did the donuts on the track and how he bowed in front of his championship-winning car. Legendary moments!

All the warmest congratulations for Super Sebastian for the incredible achievement! You made my day, no matter of the fact that I shared Webber´s fate on the road today, hahaha ;)

lauantai 26. lokakuuta 2013

Indian GP / Qualifying: 3rd pole in-a-row at India for Seb!

This has been an absolutely perfect Saturday! My morning began with watching three hours of Formula 1 action and after those entertaining hours I headed to a spa hotel with my twin sister. I'm sitting in our hotel room at the moment. Before going to a restaurant having something to eat I've just enough time to write a few words on today's qualifying :-)

The majority of the drivers started to the first session with the medium tyres. What was interesting to see was that many drivers, like Nico Rosberg didn't even try to avoid getting all four wheels off track! The stewards didn't give any reprimands on that action, which I found very peculiar indeed. On the other hand some other top drivers like Kimi at the wheel of his Lotus seemed to pay attention to his driving at the corners to keep at least one wheel inside the track lines.  Vettel in his RB9 set his fastest lap time with the primes and made his way easily in to the Q2. Grosjean at the wheel of his E21 made a similar tyre choice, which turned out to be a wrong call! The Frenchman was the first one to be knocked out of Q2! What a mistake by the driver and the team! If I'm asked, I would say that Grosjean's decision seemed a bit arrogant move: Red Bull can afford making decisions like that but not any other team at the moment! Once again I was delighted to see Bottas in his Williams making his way through to the Q2 whilst his team-mate Maldonado qualified 18th and was out of the second session.

Q2 didn't hold any major surprises. A slight surprise though was to see McLaren's Button topping the timesheets in Q2. Kimi's performance made me extremely happy as well. The Iceman managed to set a 4th fastest lap time. I was confident that after many tricky GP weekends Kimi could finally succeed in the qualifying! Both Toro Rossos were out of the final session as well as the both Force India drivers. Bottas qualified in P15 right ahead of Sauber's Gutierrez.

In Q3 we saw different tyre strategies. Webber, Alonso and Button made their first run with the medium tyres whilst Vettel, Hamilton and Rosberg started to the decisive final session with the option tyres. Once again Kimi made only one attempt with the softer compound. Q3 was pretty much business as usual: Sebastian was utterly phenomenal and totally flawless! The German snatched pole at the Buddh International Circuit for the 3rd time in-a-row! Rosberg completed the front row and his team-mate Hamilton qualified 3rd. Webber was 4th fastest with the prime tyres. Massa was 5th, Kimi 6th and Hulkenberg 7th. The last three of the top ten also set their fastest lap times with the primes: Alonso 8th, Perez 9th and Button 10th.

Tomorrow's race will be nerve-wrecking! Sebastian definitely has a convincing history on the soil of India: two races, two pole positions and two victories. And this man needs only 5th place in the race go secure his fourth drivers' championship! The different tyre choices will make the race extremely interesting. The soft tyres will only last about ten laps before they get blistered... And let's see if the stewards interfere with leaving the track with all four  wheels. It certainly benefits some drivers! And what will Kimi be capable of tomorrow? P6 gives a lot of hope. But he mustn't get stuck behind Webber, who has the hard tyres! An impressive start is needed as well.

I actually won't see the race live because I'm coming back home a bit later. I'm gutted if I don't see Sebastian clinching his title live... But I'll definitely watch the race when I get home! Meanwhile here at the spa hotel... I'll have a glass (or two...) of vanilla cognac just to wish good luck for my two favourite drivers, hahaha ;-)

sunnuntai 13. lokakuuta 2013

Japanese GP: 5th win in-a-row for Sebastian!

Once again: what a race! Unexpected things happened already at the start. Both Red Bulls got a lousy start and Grosjean from P4 was able to storm to the lead! Hamilton jumped second but in the first corner Vettel´s front wing touched Hamilton´s rear tyre causing a puncture for the Briton. Hamilton had to come to the pits for a tyre change. Only a few laps later he had to retire due to high brake temperatures. Kimi had a poor start as well and the Iceman lost two positions and dropped to P11.

During the first pit stops Rosberg was released unsafely from the pits and the German nearly crashed to Perez, who was coming in for his pit stop. Rosberg was handed a drive-through penalty due to this incident, which didn´t make Mercedes´s day any brighter. After the first pit stops Grosjean was still leading the race, Webber was second and Vettel third. Kimi had made his way through to P7.

Webber came for his second pit stop already on lap 26. Meanwhile his team-mate Sebastian was furiously catching Grosjean in the lead. When Grosjean pitted a few laps later, Sebastian at the wheel of his RB9 took the lead. More drive-through penalties were handed. Ricciardo in his Toro Rosso was handed one due to leaving track when overtaking Di Resta. Massa also got one for speeding in the pit lane. Massa´s penalty benefitted Kimi, who gained one position this way.

After the second pit stop Sebastian rejoined the track in P3 behind Webber and Grosjean. On lap 41 Sebastian made a dashing overtaking move on Grosjean and got past the French Lotus driver! Only a couple of laps later Webber had to pit for the third time so Sebastian took the lead again. So the Red Bull drivers had a different strategy: two stops for Sebastian while Webber had a three-stop strategy.

At the end of the race Perez and Rosberg got involved with another incident. Perez blocked Rosberg´s line in the braking, which caused Rosberg hitting Perez´s rear tyre. Perez got a puncture and had to pit for a tyre change. On the second last lap Webber finally managed to overtake Grosjean and made his way up to P2. Kimi also made a spectacular move on Hulkenberg on the same lap and got past the German! That was definitely the most awesome pass of the whole Japanese GP! So 1-2 for Red Bull, Grosjean 3rd, Alonso 4th, Kimi 5th, Hulkenberg 6th, Gutierrez 7th (a great race from the Mexican!), Rosberg 8th (after all the incidents...), Button 9th and Massa 10th. On the final lap Maldonado made a questionable pass on his Finnish team-mate at the last chicane and claimed P16.

However, in spite of the 5th win in-a-row Sebastian didn´t clinch his 4th WDC at Suzuka. There´re now 90 points separating Sebastian and Alonso in the championship standings so 5th place in India is enough for Sebastian to clinch the title in a fortnight. This season really seems to be going from win to win for Sebastian! Still this young man keeps amazing me every time he does that! It´s so difficult to describe what kind of a feeling I´m having after this kind of a race. But it´s definitely one of the very best feelings in life: pure happiness. After the race I headed for a zumba marathon arranged by my twin sister and I utterly loved to dance. This is one of those days that I feel so so extremely happy! My birthday is tomorrow and Sebastian couldn´t possibly have given me any more perfect birthday present ;D

lauantai 12. lokakuuta 2013

Japanese GP / Qualifying: Webber beat Vettel to Suzuka pole!

I´ve had a lot of stress at work this week so I was extremely glad that the week was coming to an end and it was time for thrilling Formula 1 action again. In spite of the early wakeup all the tiredness was gone by the time qualifying got underway!

These Asian venues seem to involve dramatic events this year. Last week at Korea there were flames, sparks and exploding tyres. This trend seems to be continuing in Japan this weekend. Already in the free practice sessions we´ve seen a lot of crashes and in Q1 there was a dramatic moment when Gutierrez´s car in Sauber´s garage was suddenly on fire! The flames were spectacularly big and Gutierrez rushed out of his car. I just read fuel vapour was the cause of the dramatic fire. The car wasn´t damaged, however, so Gutierrez could continue his driving soon after the incident! Toro Rosso´s Vergne also had to stop his car on track due to the car catching fire! So what a dramatic Saturday under the Japanese sun!

But let´s get back to what happened on the track in Q1. Grosjean set the fastest lap time, which gave me hope that Lotus would be up there to fight for the top three grid slots. Bottas in his Williams made a magnificent job by being 12th fastest in the first session! His team-mate Maldonado also made it in to Q2. Sutil in his Force India was the first man to be knocked out of Q2 this time.

In Q2 some of the top drivers made their first run on the hard tyres but changed to the medium tyres at the end of the session. Bottas drove an excellent second session and outqualified his team-mate. Bottas will start to the race from P13 whilst Maldonado will be right behind him in P15. Q2 was pretty much business as usual: the top ten consisted of the two Red Bulls, Mercedes duo, the two Ferraris, both Lotus drivers, Sauber´s Hulkenberg and Button in his McLaren.

Sebastian had suffered from a KERS problem already in the third practice session in the morning and the problem hit him again when Q3 got underway. Sebastian pulled out a very decent lap but without KERS it wasn´t enough for clinching the pole! Webber beat his team-mate in qualifying for the very first time this season! Hamilton qualified 3rd, Grosjean 4th, Massa 5th, Rosberg 6th, Hulkenberg 7th, Alonso 8th, Kimi 9th and Button 10th. Hulkenberg´s achievement is impressive once again. Considering Sauber´s performance so far this season, it´s impressive that Hulkenberg can outqualify drivers like Kimi and Alonso! I was really hoping to see more from Kimi. P9 puts the Iceman in to a difficult position on the grid though Kimi is the one who makes the miracles when the lights go out. And as we´ve seen before, even P17 on the grid can´t necessarily stop Kimi from winning the race...! The grid slot may be an obstacle but it doesn´t mean Kimi wouldn´t be capable of winning the race. That´s simply how it is :D

In the post-race press conference Webber stated that the pole felt hollow because Seb had been hit by the technical issues. That sounded like Webber would have known that he had absolutely no chance to take pole in "normal circumstances". And taking into account the number of the lousy starts that the Australian has had this year, I don´t see he has any chance to hold Sebastian back at the start tomorrow! The most interesting question is: will Sebastian be able to secure the 4th consecutive WDC tomorrow? It means Seb has to win the race and Alonso mustn´t finish on points. I didn´t buy a bottle of champagne yet... I hope I won´t have to regret it tomorrow! ;D

sunnuntai 6. lokakuuta 2013

Korean GP: Sparks, flames and exploding tyres!

The 2013 Korean Grand Prix didn´t lack thrilling entertainment and colourful events! When the lights went out, Sebastian immediately took the lead and it certainly seemed that the German Red Bull driver wasn´t going to give up on it at any circumstances. Grosjean in his Lotus had a fantastic start and the Frenchman was able to get past Hamilton in turn three. Massa in his Ferrari spun on the opening lap and hit his team-mate Alonso but Alonso managed to keep the 6th place. Thanks to Massa´s incident Kimi was able to overtake both McLarens and was in P8.

On lap 6 right before the first pit stops Kimi made a staggering overtaking move on Alonso and made his way up to P6. It was entertaining to watch the battle between these two -who will be team-mates next year! It made me feel huge pleasure to see Kimi overtaking the Spanish Ferrari driver. This could be an omen in terms of the next season, hahaha ;) After the first pit stops Alonso, however, managed to get ahead of Kimi, who was among the last top drivers to pit for a new set of prime tyres. Kimi got stuck behind Alonso and Hulkenberg so Lotus decided to change their strategy and they called Kimi to the pits for the second time on lap 26. That turned out to be an excellent call.

Rosberg had just managed to get past his team-mate Hamilton, whose tyres were in bad shape. Right after that Rosberg´s front wing failed and touching the asphalt there was a stunning looking shower of sparks flying around. Rosberg had to pit for a new nose. On lap 31 we saw another dramatic event. Kimi was storming around the track with the new set of prime tyres and the Iceman had just overtaken Perez in his McLaren when something unexpected happened. Perez had locked his front-right tyre in the braking just a moment before and suddenly the whole surface of the tyre came away! This caused the safety car to come out. Majority of the drivers rushed into the pits. Kimi had pitted a few laps earlier so the Finn was now 3rd in the race!

The safety car came in on lap 36 but it didn´t take long until it was needed on the track again! Only a couple of laps later Sutil in his Force India spun and hit Webber´s Red Bull causing Mark´s RB9 to catch fire. There were big flames and a lot of black smoke and Webber´s race was destroyed. So the safety car was deployed for the second time. Only a moment before Kimi had made a phenomenal overtaking move on his team-mate Grosjean who had fallen into a small mistake. Fortunate for Kimi, there were yellow flags on the straight so Grosjean couldn´t use DRS and try to take the position back.

Grosjean asked for a team order on the team radio, but the Team Principal Boullier told Grosjean to concentrate on racing. After the restart there was no chance for Kimi to challenge Vettel for the victory. Sebastian immediately built up a clear gap over the Lotus duo. So no doubt of the winner: it was the fourth consecutive race win for Sebastian today! Kimi took the brilliant second place and his team-mate Grosjean completed the podium. After the race the atmosphere between Kimi and Grosjean seemed somehow cold but Grosjean had been told to have a smile on his face on the podium! And there wasn´t anything unclear about the overtaking situation: Grosjean had made a mistake and Kimi used the advantage and snatched the second place. Today´s race showed once again the brilliance of Kimi Räikkönen as a racing driver. From P9 on the grid up to the P2! Grosjean started the race from P3 and still he didn´t manage to finish any higher. There is something absolutely magical about Kimi and his performance. Though the car still wasn´t like Kimi would have wanted it to be! A lot of understeering, some KERS issues... Kimi is absolutely and utterly phenomenal, a real super star of Formula 1!

Sauber´s Nico Hulkenberg finished the race in P4, which was a superb job from the Sauber driver. No matter how hard Hamilton tried to get past Hulkenberg, the German blocked every attempt to get past. A brilliant achievement indeed! Hopefully Hulkenberg will get a Lotus seat for 2014, his skills have definitely stood out this weekend! Hamilton finished 5th, Alonso 6th and Rosberg 7th.

The situation in the championship standings is crushing. Sebastian now has a 77-point gap over his closest opponent Alonso. The numbers feel somehow unreal. Red Bull have over 400 points in the constructors´ standings whilst their closest rival Ferrari have 284 points... It certainly looks like to be a very superior WDC and WCC for Red Bull this year but I guess the point is to keep the feet firmly on the ground as long as the titles are officially secured. But Sebastian is so superior to his rivals at the moment. His success story is absolutely unbelievable. You should think up a whole new word for the way this young man drives his car! I feel there´re no existing words, which would do justice to this man´s skills behind the wheel! Phenomenal, unique, exceptional, raw talent... Just to name a few adjectives, which unfortunately seem too lame and inadequate to describe Sebastian Vettel. What if I just say that the way he drives is simply... Sebtastic! ;D

lauantai 5. lokakuuta 2013

Korean GP / Qualifying: Vettel´s triumph continues!

It was an early morning here in Finland when I got up to watch the third free practice session. How come it is so easy to get up early when it´s because of Formula 1 racing ;) On work days I find it hard to get out of bed and feel so tired! Formula 1 racing always makes me cheer up, no matter how late it has been when going to bed the previous night!

I had a strong feeling that either one of the Red Bulls was going to be on pole, their pace had been so promising the whole weekend. In Q1 it was kind of a surprise for me that also some top drivers used the supersoft tyres. Kimi at the wheel of his E21 set the fastest time of the first session with the option tyres. Also Rosberg in his Mercedes and Hulkenberg in his Sauber had a similar tyre choice. Vettel in his RB9 was the fastest man on the prime tyres (6th). The Williams drivers were the first ones to be knocked out of Q2. Bottas in P17 was half a second quicker than his team-mate Maldonado. Initially I thought that Maldonado had the new front wing in his car in the qualifying as well so I was wondering how Bottas could beat him with half a second. It turned out, however, that Maldonado didn´t like the new front wing so it was put in Bottas´s car for qualifying.

Q2 was a tight battle for the place among the top ten. Sebastian gave a glimpse of his true pace by setting the fastest lap time in the second session. Kimi´s driving didn´t look too perfect whilst his team-mate Grosjean performed extremely well and showed that Lotus could be able to fight for the place on the second row. Surprisingly, both Sauber drivers made it among the top ten, even Gutierrez! Button in his McLaren was the first one not to make his way in to the final session. Perez was out of Q3 as well. Neither one of the Force India drivers made in in to Q3, either.

In Q3 Sebastian´s strategy was similar to that in Singapore: the German went out at the beginning of the session and claimed the provisional pole by setting an extremely competitive lap time! Kimi had only one attempt in Q3, although that one-run strategy has never proved to be a good strategy for Kimi. I have to admit Kimi´s performance was a disappointment: the Iceman did a mistake on his flying lap and went wide, which destroyed his lap. So a disappointing 10th place for the Finnish Lotus ace. Once again there was no one who could beat Sebastian´s lap time! Hamilton in his Mercedes qualified 2nd being two tenths of a second slower than Sebastian. Seb´s team-mate Webber qualified 3rd but he´ll face the 10-place grid penalty due to getting the ride from Alonso at Singapore. Grosjean made a magnificent job by snatching P4 and thanks to Webber´s penalty the Frenchman will start from P3 tomorrow! Rosberg qualified 5th, Alonso 6th, Massa 7th, Hulkenberg 8th, Gutierrez 9th and Kimi 10th. They all will start to the race from one place higher on the grid due to Webber´s penalty.

I think we´re going to see another Sebastian Vettel show tomorrow, although Hamilton will do everything he can to overtake the German at the start. But Yeongam circuit has always suited Sebastian perfectly so I believe he´ll cruise to victory tomorrow :) Maybe not in such a dominant way as in Singapore but I´m confident that he´ll win. Alonso is always a threat as the Spaniard has made the most staggering starts of all this season. It is a piece of cake for Alonso to gain 3 positions at the start and Ferrari´s race pace is always very consistent. Let´s see what Webber will be capable of starting from P13. Kimi started from the same grid slot in Singapore and he ended up on the podium...! I´m also very impatient to see what kind of magic Kimi will do tomorrow. I don´t know why the Iceman has fallen into errors so easily this weekend, that´s really not typical of Kimi at all! But I hope and trust that there´ll be no mistakes tomorrow! Kimi definitely knows how to amaze his fans!