Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 23. marraskuuta 2014

Abu Dhabi GP: Hamilton is the 2014 world champion!

There was some extra excitement in the air when the lights went out today as the championship-deciding season finale was about to get underway. And what a staggering start Hamilton got from P2! He started like a rocket and stormed to the lead leaving his team-mate Rosberg in second place. Bottas in his Williams also got a lousy start as the Finn had some issues with his clutch so Valtteri lost 5 positions at the start! His team-mate Massa benefitted from Valtteri´s poor start and the Brazilian made his way up to P3. Both Red Bulls started to the race from the pit lane as they had been excluded from the qualifying due to the front wing infringement. Both Vettel and Ricciardo were on the prime tyres as well as the Force India duo Hulkenberg and Perez, Vergne in his Toro Rosso and McLaren´s Magnussen.

Kimi had a promising start and the Iceman made his way up to P5, which made me really happy. But on lap 5 the Finn lost positions both to his team-mate Alonso and Kvyat in his Toro Rosso. So it seemed to be another difficult day in the office for Kimi! Kvyat was the first driver to retire as the Russian faced a technical failure on lap 16. At that point Hamilton had a 2,6 -second lead over Rosberg with Massa third some 5 seconds behind Rosberg. The Red Bull duo and Magnussen were the only drivers who still hadn´t pitted.

On lap 24 dark clouds started to gather over Rosberg´s title hopes. The German made a small mistake and went wide, which made the gap to Hamilton increase almost into 4 seconds. Only a lap later Rosberg suddenly lost power and the team told him on the radio that he had an ERS failure! What a dramatic turn in terms of the championship battle! Rosberg was able to continue racing but his lap times were seriously slower than his rivals´! It soon became inevitable that Rosberg was going to lose positions one by one. Massa at the wheel of his Williams was the first man to overtake the unlucky German and the Brazilian Williams pilot made his way up to P2! Bottas was over 10 seconds behind Rosberg but it was just a matter of laps when the Finn would move ahead of Rosberg.

On lap 28 it was Maldonado´s turn to face technical issues as the Venezuelan suffered a splashy engine failure and his E22 caught massive flames. With some 10 laps to go Massa pitted for the second time for a fresh set of supersoft tyres and when he rejoined the track there was a 10-second gap to Hamilton, who was leading the race. Massa drove lap times second faster than Hamilton and he managed to decrease the gap into 3 seconds but Hamilton didn´t even have to try to drive as fast as he could have. Ricciardo at the wheel of his RB10 also had to do a late second pit stop so Bottas´ 3rd place was secured.

With only a few laps to go Rosberg had dropped down to P13 and was out of points. The team urged him to drive to the pits and retire the race as there were so many technical issues in his car due to the ERS failure but Rosberg told his team that he wanted to drive to the chequered flag. That was such an honourable gesture from the German, something that a real racing driver would do in spite of losing his chances to win the title! So Hamilton cruised to the victory with the Williams duo Massa and Bottas completing the podium. Ricciardo finished 4th, Button 5th, Hulkenberg 6th, Perez 7th, Vettel 8th, Alonso 9th and Kimi 10th. At the checkered flag Rosberg was finally in P14. There´s not much to celebrate about Sebastian´s and Kimi´s results so I´m actually looking forward to the nest season already.

So Lewis Hamilton is the 2014 world champion! The Briton won 11 races this season whilst his team-mate Rosberg won only 5 so there´s no doubt that Hamilton really deserves the crown. Although Nico has been faster in the qualifying sessions in general, Hamilton has had the upper hand in the races. And it was so heartwarming to see Nico congratulating his team-mate after the race in spite of the huge personal disappointment. Nico proved to be a real professional and a sportsman who is able to handle a defeat, not everyone can do that! I´m sure Nico will be twice as hungry to win the championship next year!

So this is it: the last race of the season is over and Sebastian is no more a Red Bull driver! I can´t fully realize that yet. As there´s going to be a long off-season ahead, I´m going to look back at Sebastian´s years at Red Bull and write a blog post on the most memorable memories I have of those years so stay tuned! :)

lauantai 22. marraskuuta 2014

Abu Dhabi GP / Qualifying: Rosberg on pole for title-deciding season finale!

So this is it: the very last GP weekend of the year! I feel so bittersweet because this will be the very last race for Sebastian Vettel as a Red Bull driver. Although this season has been filled with difficulties Sebastian has had so many glorious and shining years in the team. One era comes to an end when Sebastian crosses the finish line tomorrow and takes off his helmet. I am excited about his future at Ferrari but I haven´t got used to the idea of Sebastian in the red suit -just not yet.

Qualifying was such a pleasure to watch. The venue is so perfect: I couldn´t think up any place more perfect to end the Formula 1 season! The scenery at twilight is absolutely breathtaking: the setting sun, artificial lights and thousands of lights in different colours make the venue almost magical. There was still some day light left when Q1 got underway. Teams started to the first session with different tyre strategies: to my surprise the Mercedes duo had chosen the supersofts right from the beginning but Ferrari, McLaren and Williams made their first runs on the yellow-marked soft tyres. Towards the end of the session everyone switched to the supersofts except Bottas at the wheel of his FW36 and in spite of his tyre choice the Finn was in P7 in the time sheets. This time there were 20 cars taking part in the qualifying as Caterham had managed to collect enough money to make it in Abu Dhabi. This meant 15 fastest made it into Q2 at Yas Marina. Both Lotus drivers were knocked out of Q2, so were Gutierrez in his Sauber as well as the Caterham drivers. The title contenders Hamilton and Rosberg were the fastest men on track.

Things began to get tight at the top in Q2. Hamilton was still topping the time sheets but the Williams duo Massa and Bottas had excellent pace and they pushed Rosberg down to P4. Rosberg had made a mistake on his final run so although the German hasn´t admitted that he would feel any pressure, that still might be the case... But it was a pleasure to see that Williams could actually match Mercedes´ pace. My favorites on the other hand had to really do their best to make it through to the final session as Vettel couldn´t make it higher than P9 and Kimi barely made it among the top ten in P10. Magnussen in his McLaren was the first man to be eliminated from the decisive last session whilst his team-mate Button made it easily among the top ten. Same implied to the Toro Rosso duo as well: Vergne was out of Q3 whilst his team-mate Kvyat made an impressive job and made it through to Q3.

Rosberg wasn´t the only Mercedes driver to fall into an error today. Rosberg took the provisional pole as Hamilton locked up his brakes on his first run and was unable to set a competitive lap time. Kimi was the only driver to make only one run in the final session. Although Hamilton had topped the time sheets in the two previous sessions Rosberg proved having the upper hand in the decisive session: the German snatched pole by 3 tenths of a second over his team-mate Hamilton! Bottas in his Williams made staggering fastest sector times in sectors one and two but couldn´t quite match Mercedes´ pace in the last sector and the Finn qualified in P3 being only a tenth of a second off Hamilton´s pace! So a very familiar P3 for the talented young Finn. Massa in P4 secured the second row for Williams. Ricciardo qualified in P5 with his team-mate Vettel alongside him in P6. Kvyat who will replace Vettel at Red Bull next season continued his brilliant job by making it in P7 on the grid. Button made it in P8 and the Ferrari duo was left in P9 (Kimi) and P10 (Alonso). What was slightly comforting was the fact that Kimi managed to outqualify Alonso. But I couldn´t help wondering how come there were 7 tenths of a second separating the Red Bull team-mates in favor of Ricciardo! Although this soon turned out to be quite irrelevant...

As I´ve just read on the official F1 website that both Vettel and Ricciardo have been excluded from the qualifying for excessive front wing flex! How can a thing like this happen in the last race of the season? The season started with the fuel-flow scandal and now the season seems to be ending with a front wing episode... Can´t believe Sebastian´s career at Red Bull will end like this! The front wing breach means the Red Bull duo will start to the race from the back of the grid! (The only positive thing about this is that Kimi will make it two places higher on the grid.) With Renault engine it will be hard to make it through the field to score points... So not a very glorious race I´m afraid. But this kind of fits this year so well: it has been difficulties after difficulties throughout the entire season. But one thing I´m sure about: Sebastian will move to Ferrari as a stronger and more determined driver than ever before! (And on Thursday it was finally confirmed that Ferrari is the team where Sebastian will be heading to!)

Rosberg has every opportunity to win the race as he already conquered pole position. But winning isn´t enough for the German to clinch the title if Hamilton finishes 2nd. I´m sure Rosberg is very happy about Bottas´ impressive pace and he certainly hopes that the Finn will make it ahead of Hamilton in tomorrow´s race! I personally don´t have any strong feelings in terms of the championship battle as I don´t have a favorite to take the title. I just hope there won´t be any technical failures for either one of the title contenders tomorrow so that who ever wins the title would do it it by driving! I´m going to enjoy every second of the race as after tomorrow there will be devastating four months ahead without any Formula 1 action!! 

sunnuntai 9. marraskuuta 2014

Brazilian GP: Nico from pole to victory after a tight fight!

Everyone expected to see a rain-hit race at Interlagos but against all odds the sun was shining in the blue skies when the cars stood on the grid ready for the race. Sutil in his Sauber had qualified 13th but due to some "technical changes" the Sauber pilot started to the race from the pit lane. Grosjean, Kvyat, Hulkenberg and Sutil were the only drivers who had chosen the prime tyres whilst all their rivals started to the race on the option tyres.

There was no big drama at the start: Rosberg stayed in the lead with his team-mate Hamilton right at his tail. Massa maintained his 3rd place with his team-mate Bottas right behind the Brazilian. Both of my favorites suffered at the start: Kimi lost a position to Sauber´s Gutierrez and Sebastian dropped down two places as both McLaren´s Magnussen and Alonso in his Ferrari managed to get past the German. Already on the opening laps it was obvious that tyre degradation was going to be a huge issue as the track temperature was 50 degrees Celsius! Maldonado in his E22 and Massa in his FW36 were the first drivers to pit for a set of medium compound tyres already on lap 6.

On lap 10 Hulkenberg in his Force India was leading the race with Toro Rosso´s Kvyat 2nd as neither one of them had pitted yet. Massa was handed a 5-second stop-and-go penalty due to speeding in the pit lane, which questioned his chances to keep his 3rd place in the race. Kvyat and Sutil came into the pits on lap 18 and the situation in the lead returned to normal.

The race was very eventful in terms of the pit stops. Bottas had a catastrophic second pit stop: the Finn lost many valuable seconds as he apparently had problems with his safety belts and one of the mechanics had to fix the problem. At the same time Hamilton faced drama at turn 4: the Briton lost control of his car and went wide but managed to bring the car safely back to the track without hitting anything. Rosberg managed to increase his lead up to 7 seconds due to Hamilton´s spin. Force India´s Perez was also handed a 5-second stop-and-go for the same reason as Massa: speeding in the pit lane.

Kimi had already jumped as high as P3 on lap 31 until the Iceman made his second pit stop five laps later. His pit stop didn´t go to plan, either! Kimi´s F14T was dropped down too early and his front right tyre hadn´t yet been attached. This cost Kimi dearly! Ricciardo had to face a bitter sweet disappointment as well as the Australian had to retire the race on lap 40. He had a brake disc failure and there might have been a suspension failure as well so Ricciardo had to limp to the pits and face the cruel situation: his race was over.

On the second half of the race Bottas at the wheel of his FW36 faced more trouble. He failed to defend his position against both Hulkenberg and Räikkönen and when the Finn pitted for the third and final time the pit stop was delayed again by at least 5 seconds! That must have been utterly frustrating for Bottas, who has got used to podium finishes recently and now had to fight to score even one point. Also Bottas´ team-mate Massa had an eventful third and last pit stop: the Brazilian drove to McLaren´s pit box until he noticed his error and parked into his own pit box! That was quite a comic episode.

After the final pit stops Rosberg was still in the lead but Hamilton was already within DRS zone. It seemed that Hamilton wasn´t going to let his team-mate win the race easily. With less than 20 laps to go Massa made an impressive overtaking move on Force India´s Hulkenberg and snatched P3 from the German. The Brazilian home crowd cheered loudly. Räikkönen and Hulkenberg both had a 2-stop strategy whilst all the other top drivers pitted three times. With 10 laps to go Kimi had no chance to hold back Button, who had much fresher tyres than the Iceman. Also Sebastian managed to get past his next year´s team-mate at the same time.

With still 5 laps to go Alonso had chased down his team-mate with fresher tyres and tried to find a place to overtake the Finn. Kimi, however, was very persistent and did everything he could to keep the Spaniard behind him. And Kimi did it with style -he changed his line only once in a corner and left his team-mate enough room in every corner -no dirty moves. Kimi defended his position with such passion but a few laps later there was nothing to do: Alonso opened his DRS on the main straight and moved ahead of the Iceman. But it was so cool to see such passionate driving from the Iceman! :D

Although Hamilton was within DRS reach during the closing laps he had no real opportunity to make an overtaking move on his team-mate. So Rosberg won the Brazilian GP and decreased Hamilton´s championship lead to 17 points. Massa finished 3rd on his home soil, which he absolutely deserved. Button finished 4th, Vettel 5th, Alonso 6th, Kimi 7th, Hulkenberg 8th, Magnussen 9th and Bottas 10th. What an eventful race! Both Sebastian and Kimi showed passionate and skillful driving today so I´m very happy with P5 and P7, although I´d always prefer to see these guys on the podium ;)

So there´s only one race left and the championship fght will go down to a wire in a fortnight. In two weeks´ time we´ll know who is going to be the world champion 2014!

P.S. I love the F1 broadcasts by the Finnish MTV! It was so entertaining to watch Oskari Saari interviewing Red Bull´s team principal Christian Horner for Finnish TV before the race. Oskari Saari was asking about the engine freeze situation and how things are evolving. Horner answered that they were actually nowhere in terms of the engine freeze discussion and all they had been doing was just drinking lots of mineral water. At this point Saari suggested that maybe they should put something else into those bottles than mineral water to solve things out in a better way. It was so hilarious! It´s always a pleasure to watch Saari´s interviews as he has such a relaxed way of doing his work and especially with Christian Horner things often go a bit out of control ;D Can´t wait for the interviews at Abu Dhabi! I haven´t heard any Finnish comments from Sebastian for a while so that would be a perfect end to this season at Abu Dhabi ;)

lauantai 8. marraskuuta 2014

Brazilian GP / Qualifying: Only 33 thousandths of a second separated polesitter Rosberg and Hamilton!

The weather forecast said that there was 100 % certainty for rain in the afternoon at Interlagos. However, there were only a few drops falling when Q1 got underway. The teams seemed to be sure that there was no threat of rain showers as they didn´t rush out when the session went green. The Williams drivers were the only ones to make their first runs on the white-marked medium tyres, which was quite surprising. Even the Mercedes duo Rosberg and Hamilton set their first lap times with the soft compound of Pirellis. In my opinion they would have easily made it into Q2 with the harder compound tyres. Since both Marussia and Caterham were still missing from the grid, 14 fastest made it into Q2. Rosberg topped the time sheets with his team-mate second. Massa in his Williams seemed to be on fire in front of his home crowd. In the few previous races the Brazilian has been clearly beaten by his Finnish team-mate Bottas but now Massa has magically found some pace as fans have been cheering for him on his home soil. Vettel in his RB10 didn´t make it any higher than P13, which was quite worrying. Grosjean, Vergne, Perez and Maldonado got knocked out of the second session, which was no surprise for me.

It was very tight between Mercedes and Williams in Q2 as well. Again it was Rosberg who set the fastest lap time but his team-mate Hamilton was left 4th in this second session! Massa stormed to P2 being only four hundredths of a second slower than the German Mercedes driver. Also Bottas made it ahead of Hamilton, which gave me a bit of hope that there could actually be a fight for pole in the final session. What raised my hopes as well was that Kimi was faster than his team-mate Alonso, which had been kind of a trend during this weekend. I was happy to watch Kimi´s driving: the problems with the front end of his F14T seemed to be overcome. Alonso only barely made it into Q3 being the last of the top ten. Both Saubers as well as Hulkenberg in his Force India and Kvyat in his Toro Rosso were out of Q3. For some reason Kvyat was unable to set any kind of lap time during Q2.

The final session held tension, excitement and lots of entertainment. Ferrari were the only team to make only one run in the 12-minute session. It was obvious that both Rosberg and Hamilton tried to extract the absolute maximum out of their cars to make it on pole. When the session started Rosberg had a firmer grip on the pole position as the German claimed the provisional pole. In his second run, however, Hamilton deprived the pole from his team-mate. But only for a very short moment! Rosberg finished his second run shortly after Hamilton and snatched pole by only 33 thousandths of a second! That fight was really an enjoyable one to watch. Massa qualified in P3, which made him extremely emotional in front of thousands of fans. Bottas completed the second row. Button in his McLaren made it in P5, which was quite an impressive achievement for the Briton. Vettel finally qualified 6th, which is not bad if considering that he managed to beat his team-mate Ricciardo, who will start to the race from P9. Magnussen qualified 7th, Alonso 8th and Kimi was left in P10. Kimi´s result was slightly disappointing as the Iceman´s pace had seemed so promising in both free practice sessions and in the first two qualifying sessions.

Rosberg left no room for any suspicions: the German was the fastest man on track in all three practice sessions as well as in all qualifying sessions. So it seems that the German has at least one hand on the championship throphy in spite of the fact that he´s 24 points off his team-mate. I´m sure Rosberg has learnt from what happened at Austin last week and he won´t let Hamilton pass him -at least not without a fight. The weather will surely play a role in the race tomorrow: rain is expected at some point in the race. I´ve been wondering if Red Bull´s lack of performance was due to the fact that they had wet-weather set-up in their cars in the qualifying. That would make sense as especially Ricciardo´s pace seemed so lame today. Wet race would favor Red Bull but certainly not Ferrari. One thing is for sure though: the championship battle won´t come to an end tomorrow but it will go down to the very last race of the season until we know, which one of the Mercedes team-mates will be crowned world champion this year.

Some how I feel so empty as there have been four consecutive years when Sebastian Vettel has taken the championship title. Emotionally there´s something missing from my own thoughts this year as he isn´t there fighting for the title at the moment. I´m so used to the tradition of baking a championship cake for my colleagues at work and I wouldn´t like to break this tradition. So I have ended up with a whole new idea so that I wouldn´t have to let go of this cake tradition: as Sebastian will be moving to Ferrari (though it still hasn´t officially been confirmed), I´ll bake "the best line-up ever" cake or something like that... I´ll post a photo on my blog when I do that ;)

Still I´m so excited about the race. Thumbs up for Kimi and Sebastian! (And secretly for Bottas, too).

maanantai 3. marraskuuta 2014

US GP: 10th victory of the season for Hamilton!

I don´t know if anyone noticed but this weekend I didn´t write a blog post on the qualifying session. That´s because I had plans for the weekend and I was visiting my twin sister with my sons and couldn´t watch the qualifying live on TV. Actually I wasn´t too gutted about not seeing the qualifying as Vettel had stated already after the Russian GP that he would probably skip the entire qualifying session due to the power unit change. The German had already used all five power units that are allowed for the season and taking the 6th power unit meant that Vettel would have to start to the race from the pit lane. And I also had an intuition that Kimi would be struggling with his F14T so I was quite happy to settle for reading the results on my phone after the qualifying.

However, I got back home by the time the race took place! Sebastian had attended Q1 because there had been a threat that the FIA would exclude him from the race on the basis of the 107 % rule if he hadn´t set a competitive lap time in the qualifying. And as a huge Vettel fan I also immediately thought of all the Vettel fans who had come to the circuit to see their idol drive. Sebastian completed only three laps in Q1, which still must have been a huge disappointment to the fans out there! Qualifying had been business as usual: Rosberg in his Mercedes had conquered pole with his team-mate Hamilton 2nd and a 2nd row lock-out for Williams team, this time Massa being the faster of the Williams drivers. Thus the grid lined up: Ricciardo in his Red Bull 5th, Alonso in his Ferrari 6th, Magnussen in his McLaren 7th, Räikkönen 8th (Button had qualified 8th but due to a 5-place grid penalty the Briton was dropped down to P12), Sutil in his Sauber 9th and Maldonado in his Lotus completing the top ten. There were only 18 cars on the grid at Austin as both Caterham and Marussia were unable to arrive in the USA due to massive financial problems. They´ll also be out of the Brasilian GP next week!

The lights went out and Rosberg maintained his lead with Hamilton right at his tail. Bottas took a poor start and lost the 3rd place to his team-mate Massa. There was drama already on the opening laps: Perez in his Force India collided with Sutil in his Sauber and both drivers were out of the race. Also Kimi´s Ferrari got hit by Perez´ Force India and there was a lots of debris on the track! Safety car was deployed and Sebastian, who had started to the race from the pit lane pitted twice during the safety car switching first to the soft tyres but then back to the white-marked mediums! Obviously the German had suffered a puncture due to the debris on the track. The race wasn´t looking good for Sebastian at that point!

After the restart Bottas tried to challenge his team-mate for the third place but the order remained unchanged. Ricciardo made his way up after a bad start and jumped to P5 already by overtaking Alonso in his Ferrari. Kimi was in P7 but the Iceman´s pace didn´t seem too promising. Massa and Ricciardo were the first top drivers to pit on lap 15. Massa chose a fresh set of soft tyres whilst Ricciardo switched to the medium compound tyres. Bottas and Rosberg pitted a lap later but Ricciardo managed to undercut the Finn and made his way up to P3!

On lap 24 it finally happened: Hamilton snatched the lead from his team-mate! Somehow the passing move looked so easy. Rosberg stated after the race that he had had difficulties with getting into the rhythm so after losing the lead the German couldn´t challenge his team-mate for the victory anymore. At the same time Kimi´s lap times were looking very slow. Once again Kimi was in trouble with the front end of his F14T and his car seemed to be sliding all over the place! Against all odds Lotus had suddenly found some impressive pace and it was really painful to watch how Grosjean managed to overtake the reigning world champion in the half way point of the race!

With 5 laps to go Vergne in his Toro Rosso forced his way past Grosjean at the wheel of his E22 and forced the Frenchman off track. A couple of laps later Vettel passed Kimi and took P12. The German had pitted already four times during the race! At this point it seemed that a points finish was out of Sebastian´s reach. But the fresh set of soft tyres helped Sebastian to make his way through the field at the end of the race. No one could prevent Hamilton from taking his 10th win of the season and the 32nd of his career! Rosberg finished 2nd and Ricciardo made it in P3 due to Massa´s delayed pit stop. Massa finished 4th and his team-mate Bottas 5th. Alonso took P6 and Sebastian finally drove to the checkered flag in P7, which was absolutely the maximum result considering the fact that he had to start to the race from the pit lane. Magnussen in his McLaren finished 8th and Vergne 9th but due to the 5-second penalty given for colliding with Grosjean the French Toro Rosso driver was dropped down to P10 and Maldonado finished 9th.

Hamilton´s win lifted the Briton 24 points clear of his team-mate in the championship standings. Now the fight for the desired crown is officially between the Mercedes team-mates as Ricciardo is now mathematically out of the fight. Brasilian GP takes place already next Sunday and then there´ll be the season finale at Abu Dhabi with the double points... I´m, however, not passionate about the championship battle as I don´t care which one of the Mercedes drivers takes the title. I don´t have high hopes in terms of Ferrari´s performance at the end of this season so I´m kind of waiting for the next year to arrive!

At the moment I have one thought very clearly on my mind: I really want to witness that live when both Sebastian and Kimi will be testing the new Ferrari in the winter! I have never seen Kimi at the wheel of an F1 car and I don´t know how many seasons there will be for the Iceman so I guess I´d better do everything to make my dream come true until it´s too late! I really really hope this dream will come true. Life is short, you have to chase your dreams!