Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 22. kesäkuuta 2014

Austrian GP: First ever podium finish for Bottas and 6th 1-2 for Mercedes AMG!

The start of the Austrian GP was absolutely thrilling. Surprisingly Massa in his Williams was able to maintain his lead. His team-mate Bottas lost his 2nd place for Rosberg but only for a moment as by turn 2 the Finn had snatched his position back from the Mercedes driver. Hamilton took a splendid start from P9 jumping four positions up to P5! At the start of the race it really seemed that Williams could finally match Mercedes´ race pace. Sebastian at the wheel of his RB10 on the other hand had a catastrophic start to the race. On lap 2 the German reported on the team radio that he had no drive so his race was ruined! All of a sudden he got the drive back but at that point it was too late: the quadruple world champion was already one lap down!

Luckily Kimi had gained a position at the start and the Iceman was driving in P7. The battle for victory looked extremely intense: the top 4 drivers Massa, Bottas, Rosberg and Hamilton were all within DRS distance with each other. Rosberg was the first one of them to pit for a fresh set of soft tyres on lap 12. After the first pit stop Bottas rejoined the track right behind Rosberg but ahead of Hamilton. Massa was the one who lost most during his pit stop as he dropped back to P5. Force India´s Perez was leading the race at this point as the Mexican had a different tyre strategy and hadn´t pitted yet.

Perez pitted not until on lap 30 and the battle for victory intensified between Rosberg, Bottas and Hamilton. Massa wasn´t able to quite match the pace of those three. At this point it seemed that Bottas could really challenge the Mercedes drivers as his pace looked so promising. And Mercedes didn´t seem to have a problem-free race this time, either but again they faced some brake issues. At the halfway point of the race Sebastian´s race turned pitch-black: at the back of the field he tried to overtake Sauber´s Gutierrez and ended up damaging his front wing. A moment later Sebastian was told to come to the pits as there was no sense continueing the race. Considering the fact that Sebastian won´t probably get through the season with only 5 power units anyway this was the only right call to be made. I felt so gutted for Sebastian! Won´t these problems ever end? To be honest, Red Bull was lacking performance so badly at Red Bull Ring! I wanted to see Sebastian fighting for points today but all those hopes vanished already at the beginning of the race.

The second pit stop was a turning point for Bottas. It didn´t go perfectly in terms of timing and the Finn rejoined the track behind Rosberg and Hamilton. At this point it became obvious that the fight for the victory was going to be between the Mercedes team-mates as Bottas had already a several-second gap to the Mercedes duo. Kimi on the other hand faced another difficult race. The Iceman was driving in P11 and we got to hear some team radio communication in traditional Kimi style ;) Kimi was told on the team radio that he was racing Button and he should improve his lap times by two tenths. Kimi told the team to give him more power!

Rosberg´s gap to his team-mate stayed around one second and Hamilton had no real chance to challenge Nico for victory today. Bottas took his first ever podium finish, which was a staggering achievement from the young and fast Finn! Bottas´ performance gave me some joy although I was so disappointed due to Sebastian´s DNF and Kimi´s lame performance. Bottas´ team-mate Massa finished 4th and Alonso 5th, Perez 6th, Magnussen 7th, Ricciardo 8th, Hulkenberg 9th and Kimi 10th. But I´m sincerely happy for Bottas, who looked absolutely delighted when spraying champagne on the podium!

Rosberg has an upper hand now in the championship battle as the German now leads the standings with a 29-point gap over his team-mate. On the other hand, it´s not that huge a lead yet. It only takes one retirement for Nico and one win for Lewis and suddenly the lead has shrunk to 4 points only. I have a couple of wishes considering the British GP in a fortnight: I do hope Williams will be able to keep up the momentum and still challenge Mercedes on the British soil. And I do hope from the bottom of my heart that Red Bull Ring was the worst track of the season for Red Bull and they will be back on the very top when going to Silverstone! No wonder there were some Finnish swear words coming from Sebastian´s mouth this weekend... Though the Finnish F1 commentator Oskari Saari still hasn´t revealed what the German Red Bull ace actually said! ;D

lauantai 21. kesäkuuta 2014

Austrian GP / Qualifying: A sensational front row lock-out for Williams!

It was absolutely fantastic to see the Formula 1 circus come back to Austria after an 11-year break. The scenery at Red Bull Ring (former A1 Ring) is very eye-catching: the perfect venue for Formula 1 racing! The track is only 4,3 km long but the altitude variations make it stand out from all the other tracks on the calendar.

Most drivers made their first run in Q1 on Pirelli´s soft-compound tyres and then switched to supersofts at the end of the session to improve their lap time. That wasn´t, however, the case in terms of the Williams drivers, Mercedes duo or Red Bull drivers. Also Alonso at the wheel of his Ferrari set his fastest lap time on the yellow-marked soft tyres. Still Hamilton topped the timesheets with his team-mate Rosberg in P3. The Russian Toro Rosso driver Kvyat made an impressive work and was 2nd fastest in the first session (on supersofts naturally). Red Bull had seemed to be struggling with their pace already in the free practice sessions but still it was pretty worrying to see Sebastian being only 15th fastest in spite of the tyre choice. Both Sauber drivers were out of Q2 as well as the Marussia and Caterham drivers.

Q2 held some nasty surprises. As expected, Rosberg and Hamilton were the fastest men on track but this time they didn´t have the huge margin over their rivals like in previous races. The Williams duo Bottas and Massa were right on Mercedes´ tail! Perez in his Force India was the first to be knocked out of the final session whilst his team-mate Hulkenberg progressed into Q3. Button in his McLaren was out of Q3 as well but his team-mate Magnussen managed to make it into Q3. And what broke my heart was to see Sebastian at the wheel of his RB10 not to make his way into the decisive final session! Sebastian was only 13th fastest today whilst his team-mate Ricciardo also made it among the top ten. Ricciardo has beaten Sebastian already 6 times in qualifying this year! It was such a disappointment to see that on Red Bull´s home soil Sebastian couldn´t do better today. Kimi at the wheel of his Ferrari also had difficulties to pull out a decent lap but the Iceman just barely made it into Q3 by being 10th fastest.

When the final session got underway it became obvious that the Williams drivers could really challenge the Mercedes duo for pole in Spielberg! After the first runs Bottas was topping the timesheets with Rosberg 2nd and Massa 3rd. Q3 involved some dramatic turns as well as Hamilton´s first lap time was disallowed due to track limit violation at turn 8. The stewards had informed the drivers already beforehand that failing to respect track limits between turn 8 and 9 would lead to disallowing the lap time. Kimi and Hulkenberg made only one attempt in Q3 but Hulkenberg shared Hamilton´s fate as the German´s lap time was disallowed as well due to a similar violation. More drama was to follow: Hamilton locked up and spun on his second run and was therefore unable to set a lap time! I couldn´t help wondering if the huge amount of pressure was starting to show... Rosberg had to abort his flying lap due to yellow flags caused by his team-mate so he had to settle for 3rd place. Massa at the wheel of his FW36 sensationally made it on pole being 87 thousandths of a second faster than his team-mate Bottas, who completed the front row lock-out for Williams! Wow, who could have predicted that one coming?! This was the first 1-2 for Williams since the German GP in 2003! So the grid for tomorrow´s race looks like this: 1.Massa, 2. Bottas, 3. Rosberg, 4. Alonso, 5.Ricciardo, 6. Magnussen, 7. Kvyat, 8. Räikkönen, 9. Hamilton, 10. Hulkenberg.

So what are my expectations for tomorrow´s race? I´m sure the Williams drivers will have a hard time with Rosberg especially. Mercedes´ race pace on the long runs has been very impressive but let´s see what Massa and Bottas will be capable of. Mercedes cars have already turned out to be vulnerable and not immune to technical worries so I believe both Massa and Bottas have a real chance to fight for victory tomorrow. Hamilton needs a miracle to be able to win tomorrow as he starts from P9. Kimi also has a challenging race awaiting... Not to mention Sebastian, who will start from P13!

P.S. Unfortunately I missed a huge part of the Canadian GP, which took place a fortnight ago as I was travelling on a camper with my family. So for the first time in 4 years I also didn´t write a blog post although there was a race! And what a race it was: both Mercedes cars were hit with overheating problems and in Hamilton´s case it lead to DNF. Ricciardo took his maiden win in F1, Rosberg finished 2nd in spite of lacking the extra 150 HP due to a failure of his MGU-K and Vettel finished 3rd. Perez and Massa collided on the final lap and Perez was handed a 5-place grid penalty for Austrian GP due to causing the collision.