Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 25. toukokuuta 2014

Monaco GP: A race like a horror film!

My hopes weren´t too high before the race but I really wanted to believe that the race would bring something positive. Well, I was very very wrong! The Monaco grand prix turned out to be like a horror film!

Everything looked so promising yet at the start. When the lights went out, Sebastian in P4 took a staggering start and made his way past Ricciardo to 3rd. Kimi starting from P6 also took a fantastic start and made his way up to P4 past Alonso and Ricciardo, who dropped back to 5th place. Rosberg maintained his lead and Hamilton was right behind him. Safety car was deployed already on the opening lap when Force India´s Perez and McLaren´s Button collided. The incident will be investigated after the race so there might be some penalty coming presumably for Button.

The safety car came in on lap 3 and it was time for re-start! Then the first horror film scene happened: once again Vettel was hit with technical problems as he told on the team radio that he was lacking power! Right away Kimi was able to overtake Sebastian and soon there were many others to follow... On lap 8 the German was asked to bring the car to the pits and his race was over! What an absolutely depressing and devastating moment! Sebastian´s RB10 seems to be haunted by all sorts of technical issues! I couldn´t believe my eyes... :(

After Sebastian´s retirement Kimi was driving in P3 and it gave me a lot of comfort to see the Iceman fighting for a podium finish. On lap 25 safety car was deployed again. Sutil at the wheel of his Force India lost the control of his car at the swimming pool chicane and crashed to the barrier, which left a lot of debris on the track. Immediately all the top drivers pitted for a new set of tyres. A dangerous incident occurred in the pits as Toro Rosso´s Vergne was released unsafely and he almost hit McLaren´s Magnussen. It was obvious Vergne was going to be penalised for the unsafe release.

Only a few laps after the first pit stop the second horror film scene hit when Kimi had to pit again for the second time! It was never shown on TV what actually had happened but after the race Kimi told the media that either one of the Marussias had hit his rear tyre behind the safety car causing the Finn a puncture. This meant only one thing: Kimi´s race was ruined! He dropped back to P13! What a moment of despair. There´re no words that can describe the amount of disappointment that hit me at this stage.

Vergne was handed a drive through penalty due to the unsafe release from the pits as expected. Such a shame, Vergne was driving an impressive race after starting from P7. So Rosberg was leading the race with his team-mate right behind him. Ricciardo was driving a strong race in P4 and Alonso was 5th. Rosberg was told on the team radio to save fuel as his fuel consumption was critical. On lap 52 Vergne´s race was over as the Frenchman faced an engine failure. By this point also Maldonado, Perez and Kvyat had also retired in addition to Sutil and Vettel. On lap 57 Williams´s Bottas got to experience his share of misfortune: the Finn was also hit with an engine failure and his race was over.

When there were 10 more laps to go Hamilton told on the team radio that he couldn´t see with his left eye and it also affected his pace significantly so the Briton couldn´t challenge his team-mate for victory. Also Ricciardo in P3 was able to close the gap to Hamilton but there wasn´t any chance to overtake. On lap 74 Kimi´s race got another very unfortunate turn when the Iceman tried to overtake Magnussen at the hair pin which caused them both to get stuck to the barrier. Kimi had to pit for a new front wing and the Finn was out of points! The incident between Kimi and Magnussen will be investigated after the race so there might be some penalties coming... At the end of the race Kimi bounced back and set the fastest lap time of the race.

So actually nothing new under the Monte Carlo sun: 5th consecutive 1-2 for Mercedes AMG with Ricciardo completing the podium. Alonso finished 4th, Hulkenberg 5th with a different tyre strategy, Button 6th and Massa 7th. What was very impressive was the fact that Marussia´s Jules Bianchi made it up to P8 and scored the first-ever points for Marussia! Grosjean in his Lotus finished 9th and Magnussen 10th. Nico´s win today meant that the German snatched the championship lead from his team-mate and they now have a 4-point gap in the championship standings. Alonso in 3rd place is already 61 points off Rosberg... So the only excitement seems to be, which one of the Mercedes drivers will clinch the title this year.

This was certainly a race I want to forget as soon as possible and move on to Canada! The misfortune of Kimi and Sebastian CAN´T go on forever, right? There´ve been so bitter disappointments this year. But I know the good is definitely worth waiting for :)

lauantai 24. toukokuuta 2014

Monaco GP / Qualifying: Rosberg beat his team-mate to pole!

This has been an exceptional qualifying Saturday for me. Me and my family had been invited to a birthday party and the party had been scheduled to start at 3 pm -exactly the same time as the qualifying was going to be underway! But luckily there was a way to solve this problem: I sat in the car with a tablet on my lap and watched both the pre-race broadcast and the start of the qualifying on the way. When we got there at the party I couldn´t even get me a cup of coffee before the qualifying was over... I guess I´m not a dream guest at parties on a GP weekend, hahaha ;)

In the last free practice session Red Bull´s Ricciardo had been able to split the Mercedes duo and the fact that he had been only 5 hundredths of a second slower than Hamilton gave me hope of one of the Red Bulls making it on the front row. All teams except Caterham, Marussia, Lotus and Sauber started to Q1 with the prime tyres. Right away Monaco proved its tricky nature as Toro Rosso´s Vergne spun and hit the barrier which caused the Frenchman a front wing damage. All teams in spite of Mercedes AMG and Red Bull switched to option tyres for their second run. Massa really seemed to be one of the unluckiest drivers on the grid as he got involved in a collision with no fault of his own. Caterham´s Ericsson locked up his rears and slid to the barrier taking Massa with him. Despite recording the tenth-best time in Q1 Massa was unable to return to the pits and was thus out of Q2! The Sauber duo Gutierrez and Sutil were the first drivers to be knocked out of the second session.

Everyone started to Q2 with the supersofts including the dominant Mercedes duo. Once again the Mercs topped the timesheets, this time Hamilton being the faster one of the team-mates. I was very delighted to see Vettel being 3rd fastest and finally out-performing his competitive team-mate! Both Toro Rossos made it among the top ten. Williams seemed to face a difficult qualifying: Massa was out because of the unlucky incident with Ericsson and Bottas couldn´t make it any higher than P13 today. After the qualifying Bottas told that they had struggled with getting the tyres warmed up. Straight line speed is one of the strenghts of the Williams team but Monaco is famous for lacking the long straights so no wonder their result was quite unassuming. Both Lotuses were also out of Q3.

Q3 was all about the battle between the Mercedes team-mates. Which one of them was going to conquer pole in the streets of the principality? Rosberg took the provisional pole but the German was only 59 thousandths of a second faster than his team-mate. At the end of the final session Rosberg made an error at the braking after his flying lap and slid down the escape road at turn 5, which brought out yellow flags. The incident prevented his rivals from improving their lap times and Rosberg clinched pole. The stewards took this into investigation after the qualifying because there was speculation that Rosberg might have done that deliberately but no evidence of any offence was found so Rosberg will retain his pole. However, this incident reminded of the qualifying at Monaco back in 2006 when Schumacher at the wheel of his Ferrari deliberately stopped his car on track to ensure his pole position.

Ricciardo, however, was the faster one of the Red Bull duo and took P3. Ricciardo was only 3 tenths off Rosberg, which was quite promising. After the qualifying Sebastian told that he had had problems with his ERS during the qualifying and due to those problems he didn´t have full power. So once again technical problems for Sebastian, who once again got out-qualified by his team-mate (P4 for Seb). At first a Finnish website reported that the German would have been handed a five-place grid penalty due to a gear box change but luckily that turned out to be false information. A gear box change yes but no penalty! That obviously made my night!! I was also disappointed to see that Alonso was 7 tenths faster than Kimi in Q3! It seems to be irrelevant what changes the Ferrari crew makes in terms of the set-up of Kimi´s car. Kimi´s F14T still seems to be all over the place! Alonso will start to the race from P5 Kimi from P6, Vergne from P7, Magnussen from P78 Kvyat from P9 and Perez from P10.

Monaco GP is all about the best possible grid slot as overtaking is nearly impossible so I won´t expect any miracles from my favourite drivers. But Monaco is also known of the zero tolerance for mistakes: if you lose your concentration for only a second you might end up into the barrier and your race is over. And I always keep my thumbs up for those I passionately support, no matter what the results will finally be so go Kimi and go Sebastian! I hope one day I can witness the glory of the Monaco GP myself as there certainly is something extraordinary and magical about the venue.

sunnuntai 11. toukokuuta 2014

Spanish GP: 4th consecutive win for Hamilton!

It´s Mother´s Day in Finland today and there isn´t a better way to spend it than watch intense Formula 1 action! At first the Spanish GP seemed to be a boring race but towards the end the battle for positions intensified and we saw some proper wheel-to-wheel racing.

Bottas in P4 took a stunning start and the Finn jumped 3rd right away. Hamilton maintained his lead but Rosberg was right at the Briton´s tail. Ricciardo lost the position to Bottas but it was obvious that the Australian was going to do anything to overtake the Finnish Williams driver. I was utterly happy that Kimi was able to keep Alonso behind him. Button in his McLaren starting from P8 had a poor start and he dropped down to P13.

Maldonado at the wheel of his E22 seemed to be completely unable to stay out of trouble. As if it hadn´t been enough that the Venezuelan crashed to the wall in qualifying, on lap 3 he was back in the lime light in a very questionable way. He collided with Caterham´s Ericsson which made Ericsson drop at the very back of the field. A moment later Maldonado was handed a 5-second stop and go penalty due to his foolish action.

The Mercedes duo rapidly pulled away from their rivals and disappeared to the horizon. In the first stint it really seemed that Bottas could actually fight for a podium place. Vettel was the first driver to pit and his tyre choice was the harder compound. Kimi chose the mediums and I was glad to see him exit the pits right in front of his team-mate Alonso, who had also chosen the mediums for the second stint. Bottas pitted not until on lap 20 and the Finn had absolutely no chance to keep Ricciardo behind. Unfortunately the Finn  couldn´t match the Red Bull driver´s pace.

The Mercedes drivers had a different tyre strategy. Hamilton put the mediums for the second stint whilst his team-mate Rosberg chose the hard tyres. On lap 24 we saw an impressive overtaking move by Kimi Räikkönen as he overtook Lotus´s Grosjean and moved up to the 5th place. After the first half of the race Sebastian had managed to make his way higher up in the pack and his pace seemed excellent.

Towards the closing stages of the race the battle for positions seemed to come alive. Both Mercedes and Ferrari team-mates had different pit stop strategies. At the end of the race Hamilton in the lead had old hard tyres whilst Rosberg had fresher mediums. Alonso on the other hand had stopped three times and also had fresh medium tyres at the end whilst Kimi had stopped only twice and had dying hard tyres at the end. It became obvious that Rosberg was going to do everything he could to pass his team-mate!

By the time there were still 10 laps to go Vettel with a 3-stop strategy had closed the gap to Kimi and was right at the Finn´s tail. Kimi was told on the team radio not to waste time with racing Sebastian because the German was so much quicker so Kimi let Sebastian easily past him. Kimi was in serious trouble with his old tyres and only three laps before the chequered flag also Alonso managed to pass Kimi in the DRS zone. That was a depressing incident to see! After passing Kimi Sebastian started chasing Bottas in P4 and in no time he was close enough to make his move and Bottas had no chance to defend his position. At the same time Kimi was lapped by the Mercedes duo which was a very crushing moment indeed and told all about the superiority of Mercedes AMG.

Rosberg managed to get within DRS distance in the battle with Hamilton but the German simply run out of laps to make an overtaking move. So a very dominant 1-2 for Mercedes AMG for the 4th time in a row this season and the first ever win for Hamilton on the Spanish soil. The Mercedes seem to drive in a whole different series compared to their rivals as they won the race with a 50-second margin over Ricciardo, who finished 3rd! Sebastian finished stunningly 4th, which was an awesome job in terms of the fact that he started from P15! Sebastian even set the fastest lap time in the race! It was a huge pleasure to watch Sebastian make his way through the field. It kind of gave a glimpse of last year's Sebastian and reminded that his skills haven't disappeared anywhere. Bottas came 5th, Alonso 6th, Kimi 7th, Grosjean finally 8th, Perez 9th and Hulkenberg 10th.

Hamilton grabbed the lead in the championship standings from his team-mate. Mercedes´s lead in the constructors´ standings is absolutely crushing: they have 197 points whilst Red Bull in the 2nd place have only 84 points! And only 5 races have been driven so far... Red Bull clearly seem to have improved their performance but an awful lot of work still needs to be done if they intend to catch up Mercedes! Monaco in a fortnight will, however, be a totally unique venue and I can´t wait to see Sebastian and Kimi back in action in the streets of Monaco.

lauantai 10. toukokuuta 2014

Spanish GP / Qualifying: Mercedes domination continues!

The 3-week break is finally over and the F1 circus has moved to Europe. Blue sky and sunny weather meant that finally there were stable conditions for qualifying without any chances of pouring rain or overwhelming heat. All teams had brought major upgrades for this GP weekend hoping they could have closed the gap to Mercedes AMG.

Almost right away in Q1 Lotus´s Maldonado lost the control of his E22 at the exit of turn 3 and crashed to the wall causing red flags. Different teams had different tyre tactics. Both Mercedes drivers and the Red Bull duo set their fastest lap times with the prime tyres whilst majority of the drivers used option tyres already in the first session. In spite of the tyre choice the Mercedes drivers topped the time sheets Nico being the fastest of those two. My hopes were high in terms of Sebastian´s performance. The German had had a catastrophic Friday as Sebastian´s RB10 was hit by a technical failure (an ERS overheating issue) already in the first free practice session and the problem was so severe that Sebastian missed the entire second free practice in the afternoon. But in Q1 it seemed that Sebastian was right on form and ready to fight for the top grid slots. Sauber´s Adrian Sutil was the first man not to make it into Q2.

Everyone started to Q2 with the softer compound of the Pirelli tyres. In Q2 it seemed that Lotus had actually managed to make a significant leap forward in terms of their performance as Grosjean was 6th fastest in the session! The fastest men were the same as in Q1: Nico topped the timesheets with Lewis 2nd. I was delighted to see Kimi as high as 7th because it seemed obvious that his F14T wasn´t an easy one to drive. Alonso also struggled with his pace and just barely made it in to the final session being 10th fastest! Both Force Indias were out of the final session. Magnussen at the wheel of his McLaren faced a power unit related problem and was unable to set a lap time. Toro Rosso´s Vergne didn´t start to the session, either.

My hopes dashed completely in the final session. The session had barely got underway as Sebastian had to stop his car on the track due to a gearbox problem! Already when the Red Bull ace left the pits he lost the second gear but he thought he could manage the lap without the second gear. But by reaching the first turn he had lost all the gears so his qualifying was over. So another red flag delay today. So disappointing! Why does it always have to be Sebastian´s car with all the problems this season?? Though I know this question and moaning isn´t fully justified as last season it always seemed to be Mark Webber´s car suffering from all the technical issues. Most of the drivers made only one run in Q3. As if by magic Hamilton found some extra pace and conquered the pole and left his team-mate Rosberg 2nd. Ricciardo made it in P3 but was already a second down on Hamilton! Bottas at the wheel of his FW36 took a surprising 4th place whilst his team-mate Massa made a mistake on his last run which kept the Brazilian down to P9. The Finn seems to enjoy it at Circuit de Catalunya and the track seems to bring the best out in him. Grosjean continued the excellent form and qualified 5th right in front of Kimi in P6 and Alonso in P7. Button in his McLaren was 8th fastest.

After the qualifying it´s more and more obvious that Mercedes´s mammoth advantage over their rivals hasn´t disappeared anywhere. I guess we can´t expect anything but overwhelming dominance by Mercedes AMG in tomorrow´s race. Without any technical woes there´s no doubt about the winner: it´s going to be either one of the Mercedes drivers and if I have to pick either one I´d pick Hamilton. He is living such an unbelievable momentum now.

I was utterly excited about Kimi beating his team-mate today! Though it seems that Kimi´s F14T is "all over the place" but I´m sure if anyone can tame the Prancing Horse it´s definitely Kimi so I´m expecting a strong race from the Iceman. In terms of Sebastian I´m more worried. He was handed a 5-place grid penalty due to the gearbox change so he´ll start to the race from P15. I just hope there won´t be any more technical issues facing him in the race! If the previous season was all about glory, this one seems to be all about setbacks. But they are meant to be overcome, right? :) I always believe in him no matter how high the mountain of difficulties will be!