Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 29. marraskuuta 2015

Abu Dhabi GP: Mercedes dominated the season finale!

As it was the very last race day of the season I wanted to make the most of it. I sat on the sofa with a cup of coffee and watched every pre-race broadcast enjoying every second of it. The sun started to set at Yas Marina and it was time for the lights go out...

Both Mercedes drivers got an excellent start and Rosberg had no difficulties to maintain his lead. Kimi´s start left a little to hope for and Force India´s Perez was challenging the Iceman for real. Luckily Kimi managed to maintain his third place. Williams´ Bottas was the one to lose most at the start: the Finn dropped down to P10 on the opening lap! Sebastian, who had started from P15, made brilliant work and jumped to P12 on the first lap. Lotus´ Maldonado and McLaren´s Alonso on the other hand collided on the opening lap, which lead to Maldonado´s retirement from the race. Alonso had to pit for a new front wing.

At first it seemed that Kimi could actually match Mercedes´ pace. Rosberg was clearly controlling the race. Hamilton followed his team-mate closely but the Briton had no chance to challenge the German. The pit stop roulette started already on lap 6. By lap 8 Sebastian had already made his way up to P5 thanks to his rivals´ pit stops. Sebastian himself had started to the race on the soft tyres so the German had a much longer first stint than his main rivals. Williams´ Bottas pitted on lap 9 and his pit stop definitely didn´t lack drama. Williams ended up releasing Bottas unsafely from the pit stop: the Finn crashed his front wing into Button´s McLaren, who was just driving to his pit box! Very frustrating for the Finnish Williams pilot, who had to pit again on the following lap for a new nose! And a moment later Bottas was given a 5-second penalty for the unsafe release, which ruined the Finn´s race for good.

On lap 11 the top three drivers pitted for a fresh set of soft tyres. Those yellow-marked soft tyres seemed to suit Kimi´s SF15-T perfectly and after the pit stop the Iceman was the fastest man on track! A few laps later Hamilton managed to overtake Sebastian easily and take P2 from the German, who hadn´t pitted yet. Rosberg had a 6-second lead over his team-mate. Sebastian was third but his team-mate on the new tyres was right at Sebastian´s tail. Sebastian didn´t make any effort to prevent Kimi from overtaking him, which told a lot about Ferrari´s team spirit. It was so great to see how well the Ferrari team-mates worked together as a team.

Sebastian pitted not until on lap 24 for the first time. Fresh soft tyres for him as well. Sebastian rejoined the track in P6. When Ricciardo in his Red Bull and Perez in his Force India pitted for the second time, Sebastian was back in P4. Hamilton had decreased his gap to Rosberg into just 1,5 seconds but that was actually all Hamilton could do. Rosberg pitted from the lead on lap 32 and Kimi a lap later. But the pit stop was anything but smooth for Kimi! The team had difficulties with detaching his front right tyre and the pit stop cost the Iceman a few frustrating extra seconds! Luckily there was no one at Kimi´s tail so he didn´t lose a position because of the delayed pit stop. Kimi rejoined the track behind his team-mate but Sebastian let him through for the second time on lap 37.

Sebastian pitted for the second time on lap 40 and once again he rejoined the track in P6. He was right at Ricciardo´s tail and finally it turned out quite easy for the German Ferrari ace to make an overtaking move on his Australian ex team-mate. Hamilton was stubborn and insisted on the team radio that he wouldn´t pit for the second time but would try to go till the end on the second set of tyres. However, the team told his driver it was much too risky and Hamilton had to settle for coming in for the second pit stop.

On lap 46 Sebastian managed to make his way past Force India´s Perez, whose race pace was anything but impressive. Rosberg in the lead had an 8-second gap over his team-mate, who was trying everything he could to close the gap. That, however, turned out to be a mission impossible! Rosberg cruised to the third victory in-a-row and Hamilton had to settle for P2. Kimi drove an awesome race and completed the podium. I was so so happy for the Iceman! There seems to be something magical about these night races as they seem to suit the Iceman especially well. Sebastian finished the race in P4, which was a magnificent result considering the fact that he had started to the race from P15. Although Ferrari´s race pace was convincing, it still wasn´t quite enough to challenge the Mercedes duo... Perez finished 5th, Ricciardo 6th, Hulkenberg 7th, Massa 8th, Grosjean 9th and Kvyat completed the top ten. Bottas ended up in P13 after all the setbacks. Toro Rosso´s Verstappen had a difficult race as well (he faced a 5-second time penalty due to gaining advantage for overtaking off-track) and the Dutchman drove to the chequered flag in P16, which meant no points this time.

After the race it was so heartwarming to hear Sebastian´s interview where he used a Finnish swearing word to describe his feelings! I haven´t heard Sebastian speak Finnish for a long time... And I definitely won´t for a long time as the season 2015 is now officially over! :´(

I hope there´ll be a lot of F1 rumours going around during the off-season so that I´ll have something to write about on my blog ;) Or I hope I would maybe bump into Kimi or Sebastian here in Finland over the winter, hahaha :D Thanks to all my readers for sharing this memorable F1 season with me! I´m suffering from the withdrawal symptoms already...

Roll on season 2016!

lauantai 28. marraskuuta 2015

Abu Dhabi GP / Qualifying: Rosberg on pole again!

It´s inevitably the very last GP weekend of the season at hand. I feel very wistful as I know how much I´m going to miss F1 action over the long winter! But before that I´m going to seize the moment and enjoy every second of this Abu Dhabi weekend. The venue of Yas Marina Circuit is so magical. And qualifying threw some surprises...

Surprisingly the Mercedes drivers made already their first runs on the red-marked supersoft tyres. What wasn´t a surprise was their speed. Ferrari on the other hand had a different strategy: Kimi and Sebastian opted for the soft tyres. Other teams made their second runs on the supersofts including the Mercedes duo but nevertheless, Kimi was 7th fastest in spite of his tyre choice. Hamilton was topping the timesheets with his team-mate Rosberg second. The Force India duo had excellent pace as well with Perez 3rd and Hulkenberg 4th. By contrast, Ferrari´s Sebastian Vettel, who was expected to be among Mercedes´ biggest threats, failed to progress beyond Q1 thanks to a misunderstanding over his position. The German was left 16th, which was a shock to me! I was so much hoping for Sebastian to be able to challenge the Mercedes duo for a front row grid slot... McLaren´s Alonso suffered a puncture at the end of Q1 and the Spaniard was left 17th. Sauber´s Ericsson also had a technical problem on his Sauber and the Swede was out of Q2 as well.

Kimi´s driving was very convincing in Q2. The Iceman came out not until there were only 7 minutes left in the clock and the Finn made it straight in P3! It was kind of consolation for me to see Kimi driving so superbly after such a bitter disappointment in terms of Sebastian. There were more technical problems to follow in Q2: this time it was Grosjean´s E23, which came to a silent halt due to a gearbox problem and the Frenchman´s qualifying was over. Once again Perez seemed to be flying at the wheel of his Force India and the Mexican ended up 3rd fastest in the second segment. To nobody´s surprise Hamilton and Rosberg were the fastest men on track. Unfortunately Sainz bumped his Toro Rosso team-mate Verstappen out of Q3, which was another disappointment for me. Also Button, Maldonado and Nasr were out of the final segment.

Darkness had already fallen when Q3 got underway. Rosberg took provisional pole by two tenths of a second over his team-mate Rosberg. Perez continued his superb driving and took P3 on his first run. Kimi was 4th less than a tenth of a second off Force India´s Perez. Hamilton managed to improve his lap time on his second run but Rosberg came back at his team-mate and claimed pole by 0,377s over his team-mate! Very convincing work from Rosberg, who has clearly got his self-confidence back. Kimi also managed to improve on his second run and by way of  consolation for Ferrari, Kimi took third, narrowly beating the flying Force India of Perez. Ricciardo in his Red Bull qualified 5th, Williams´ Bottas 6th, Force India´s Hulkenberg 7th, Bottas´ team-mate Massa 8th, Red Bull´s Kvyat 9th and Toro Rosso´s Sainz 10th. What was quite shocking was that this was already the 15th front row lock-out for the Mercedes duo this season! That definitely tells all about Mercedes´ superiority this year!

Last night I had a dream that I got a chance to meet Sebastian Vettel briefly as he was attending a motor sport event in Finland. That is such a huge dream for me to meet the Ferrari duo one day! Such a shame that I have so little possibilities to make this dream come true! But luckily everyone is allowed to dream. Maybe it´s also the magical and fairytale-like Yas Marina Circuit that makes me so emotional... I hope it´ll be a magical race for my red-suited heroes! Forza Kimi! Forza Sebastian! Forza Ferrari!

maanantai 16. marraskuuta 2015

Brazilian GP: Rosberg from pole to victory!

I was hoping to see a colourful race but destiny decided otherwise. However, there was some drama before the start as Sainz´s Toro Rosso came to a halt on the pit lane and the Spaniard´s STR10 had to be towed back to the pits. This meant Sainz had to start to the race from the pit lane. And the race did have a promising start as Bottas from P7 had a staggering start. The Finn took an aggressive line on the right and made his way past Kvyat´s RB11 and Hulkenberg´s Force India. Once again Bottas came very close to Kimi in the first corners but this time there was luckily no contact between the Finns. Rosberg maintained his lead with his team-mate Hamilton following him closely. Sebastian was third and Kimi fourth. Sainz´s problems continued and his car stopped on the track already on the opening lap. Sainz parked his STR10 quite dangerously but surprisingly safety car wasn´t deployed. Luckily no one lost control of his car until the marshals managed to move the car away! Potentially there could have been a chance for a serious accident...

Already on the opening laps of the race it was obvious that the Ferrari duo couldn´t match Mercedes´ pace. As obvious was the fact that Bottas in his Williams was unable to take the battle to the Ferrari duo. Pit stop roulette started already on lap 11 when Kvyat, Massa and Hulkenberg pitted. Bottas pitted a lap later for a fresh set of prime tyres and rejoined the track in P10. A couple of laps later both the Ferrari duo and the Mercedes duo made their pit stops. After the first pit stops top four remained unchanged: Rosberg was leading the race with Hamilton second, Sebastian third and Kimi fourth. Hamilton was almost within DRS distance from his team-mate but couldn´t quite get close enough to make any move on his team-mate. Sebastian was already 6 seconds off Hamilton and Kimi had a 10-second gap to his team-mate.

However, overtaking turned out to be possible for some drivers. Verstappen made a staggering overtaking move on Force India´s Perez and made it up to P9. There´s something magical about this young rookie´s driving. He seems to be capable of things that others aren´t... And this wasn´t the Dutchman´s only overtaking move in the race. Later on in the race he repeated his overtaking move against Sauber´s Nasr. It was utterly entertaining to watch how this young man drove his STR10 at Interlagos.

Sebastian pitted already on lap 32 for a fresh set of soft tyres, which revealed that the German was on a 3-stop strategy. Mercedes had to match Ferrari´s strategy so Rosberg and Hamilton pitted on the following laps. Both Mercedes drivers opted for white-marked medium tyres. Kimi´s tyres were much older than his team-mate´s so the Iceman didn´t even try to prevent Sebastian from overtaking him. Bottas pitted not until on lap 42 for the second time and rejoined the track in the familiar P5. There was already a massive 45-second gap to his countryman Kimi in P4. Kimi pitted on lap 47 for a fresh set of medium tyres, which was meant to last til the end of the race. Sebastian pitted a lap later for the third time and opted for medium tyres. Once again the Mercedes duo pitted right after Sebastian. Their tyre choice was similar to Sebastian´s.

Although Hamilton was only a couple of seconds behind Rosberg there was no battle for the victory at Interlagos. Rosberg took his second consecutive victory and once again Hamilton had to settle for being the runner-up. Sebastian completed the podium with his team-mate fourth. Bottas who finished fifth got lapped by Rosberg on the final lap! Quite shocking how huge the gaps evolved during the race! Hulkenberg in his Force India finished 6th and Red Bull´s Kvyat 7th. Massa finished 8th on his home soil but after the race the Brazilian was excluded from the standings due to exceeding the maximum tyre temperature in terms of his rear right tyre. That meant Grosjean finished 8th, Verstappen 9th and Maldonado rounded out the top ten.

I was happy to see Sebastian on the podium although I was hoping that Ferrari would have been closer to Mercedes in the race. It would have been so perfect to see both Sebastian and Kimi celebrating on the podium! Now there´s only the final round of the season left! Feels kind of bittersweet already. Luckily there´s still one more GP weekend to enjoy this season. Can´t wait for Abu Dhabi as the venue is absolutely outstanding and breathtaking!

sunnuntai 15. marraskuuta 2015

Brazilian GP / Qualifying: Rosberg on pole for a fifth successive round!

Yesterday was a very exceptional and emotionally hard Saturday for me. I went to a relative´s funeral, which took place in another town so I got home when qualifying had already got underway. I missed Q1 and Q2 but got to see the most decisive moments of the qualifying. After such a difficult day I was happy that it was F1 weekend but to be honest, it was quite hard to concentrate on the qualifying and to prevent my thoughts from wandering else where...

I heard there had been no surprises in the first two sessions. Once again McLaren had told Alonso to stop the car immediately in Q1. Alonso seems to be so familiar with all the disappointments and technical issues that this time the Spaniard had had no rush back into the pits but he sat down on a chair enjoying the sun! His team-mate Button was expectedly out of Q2 as well. The McLaren duo obviously haven´t lost their sense of humour in spite of the highly difficult year as they got an idea to  go onto the podium in the middle of the qualifying as they though it was their only chance to get up there during this season!

There were familiar faces in the last segment: both Mercedes drivers, both Ferraris, both Williams drivers, both Red Bulls and Hulkenberg in his Force India and Verstappen in his Toro Rosso. Verstappen was the only driver to make only one attempt in Q3. Rosberg took provisional pole with his team-mate Hamilton second only 88 thousandths of a second behind the German. Sebastian was third, Bottas fourth and Kimi fifth. On his second run Rosberg managed to improve his time and Hamilton couldn´t quite match his team-mate! So it was fifth consecutive pole for Rosberg, who seems to have found his qualifying pace again. Sebastian also managed to improve his time but he had no real chance to challenge the Mercedes drivers for a front row grid slot. Bottas managed to keep Kimi at bay so Bottas was 4th and Kimi 5th. Hulkenberg made an excellent job by qualifying 6th ahead of Kvyat in the older-spec Renault-engined Red Bull. Massa had problems with finding pace at his home circuit and the Brazilian could only make it 8th on the grid. Ricciardo in his Red Bull had the new-spec Renault engine but couldn´t make it higher than P9. Verstappen in his STR10 rounded out the top 10.

However, there have been a few penalties given for the Brazilian grand prix. Bottas has been given a 3-place grid penalty due to overtaking Nasr under red flags in Friday free practice so the Finn will drop down to P7 on the grid. Red Bull´s Ricciardo suffers a 10-place grid drop due to an engine change and the Australian will drop down to disappointing P19. Sauber´s Nasr has also been handed a 3-place grid penalty due to impeding his countryman Massa in the qualifying and with all the penalties taken into account the Brazilian will drop to P13.

I don´t have any clue what the weather forecast predicts for the Brazilian grand prix. But I´m pretty sure it will be a colourful race once again. This time I really really hope that the Finns will stay away from each other! ;) Now that the world championship has already been resolved Rosberg has found his hidden pace again. I think Hamilton will have it hard trying to beat his team-mate today! Ferrari´s long-run pace seems competitive so I hope Sebastian and Kimi are able to take the battle to the Mercedes duo. But Bottas and Kimi are scaringly close each other on the grid... Hope it will be a clean fight for a podium finish. Today I feel I really need the F1 action more than ever to cheer me up. Sebastian and Kimi, I put my faith in you that you´ll make my day! Forza Ferrari! (All the best for Max Verstappen as well!)

maanantai 2. marraskuuta 2015

Mexico GP: A nightmare race for the Ferrari duo!

Kimi in his Ferrari and the McLaren team-mates Alonso and Button were the only drivers to start to the race on the white-marked medium tyres. All the others were on the yellow-marked soft tyres. Lights went out in dry and warm conditions. Rosberg maintained his lead with Hamilton following him closely. Kvyat in his Red Bull jumped third. Sebastian in the other Ferrari collided with Red Bull´s Ricciardo in turn 1, which caused the German a rear-right puncture. Sebastian´s race turned a lot more difficult right at the start! He had to pit for a fresh set of medium tyres and try to make his way through the field.

The Mercedes duo started increasing the gap to the Red Bulls of Kvyat and Ricciardo, who had no chance to keep up with Mercedes´ pace. At the back of the pack Kimi made consistantly his way further up in the field. By lap 8 Kimi had made his way up to P13 already. Now the Iceman was only 5 seconds off P10 to score points! Bottas in his Williams pitted already on lap 9 and opted for a fresh set of medium tyres. It was a bit surprising as the Finn had reported on the team radio only a moment earlier that his soft tyres were still in good shape. Also Bottas´ team-mate Massa and Force India´s Hulkenberg pitted a lap later.

By lap 18 Sebastian had managed to make his way up to P11 but suddenly he made a mistake and span off track! Luckily he managed to continue the race but dropped down to P16 and had to begin overtaking all over again... Sebastian has very rarely made mistakes this season so this one caught me by surprise. But I was absolutely confident that the German Ferrari ace could easily make it into points, however.

Kvyat was the first top three driver to pit on lap 22. He opted for a fresh set of prime tyres and rejoined the track in front of the Finns Kimi and Bottas. Only a lap later there was once again huge drama between the Finnish countrymen! This time Bottas made an overtaking move on Kimi but Kimi was absolutely stubborn not to let Bottas past, which lead into a collision between the Finns! Kimi ended up off track with the rear suspension broken and the Iceman was out of the race. Surprisingly Bottas got away from the collision unharmed and could continue fighting for good points. What an utterly disappointing moment! This could have been prevented... But Kimi had decided not to leave Bottas any room and Bottas was passionate about overtaking Kimi. And sometimes collisions happen in motor racing. But I definitely was looking forward to a whole different race in terms of Kimi...! Bottas now got his revenge as they had collided previously in Sochi where Kimi had tried an overtaking move on Bottas but ended up knocking Bottas out of the race.

By lap 26 Toro Rosso´s "Flying Dutchman" Verstappen had already made his way up to P4 but after the pit stop he dropped down to P8. Rosberg in the lead pitted not until on lap 27 and Hamilton on the very next. Sebastian in his Ferrari pitted already for the second time and got lapped by Hamilton, which must have been an awkward moment for the German.

A bit surprisingly Rosberg was called to the pits for the second time on lap 47. Mercedes didn´t want to risk anything and they could definitely afford an extra pit stop. Hamilton was asked to box a lap later but the reigning world champion questioned team´s decision and didn´t drive to to pits immediately. But the team adviced the Briton that it was a clear instruction and  Hamilton had no choice but to drive to the pits a lap later. On lap 52 Rosberg was leading the race with a 3-second gap over his team-mate Hamilton. Kvyat was third, Bottas fourth and Ricciardo had made his way past Massa and jumped 5th.

But what a turn the race got then! Sebastian lost control of his SF15-T already for the second time in the race and crashed to the barrier! The German´s race was over. Already the second mistake for Sebastian in one race! I can´t describe my emotions at that very moment. All my high hopes were crushed in a heart beat! And I could only imagine how terrible Sebastian must have felt at that moment... I´ve read his very hard on himself in terms of mistakes and I can imagine him being very pissed at himself! Safety car was deployed and everyone rushed into the pits. All top drivers except Bottas, who came into the pits a lap later than his rivals. At first it seemed to be the wrong call but it turned out working well and the Finn managed to keep his 4th place.

Four laps later the safety car came in and the race was on. Bottas had a fantastic re-start and made immediately his way past Kvyat and jumped 3rd. The Red Bulls of Kvyat and Ricciardo seemed unable to match the Finn´s pace. Hamilton instead had decreased his gap to Rosberg into just one second but Hamilton had no real chance to challenge his team-mate for the victory after all. Rosberg won the Mexico Grand Prix and this time Hamilton had to settle for being the runner-up. Bottas completed the podium, which was quite unexpected after such an eventful race. The Red Bull duo Kvyat and Ricciardo finished 4th and 5th and Bottas´ team-mate Massa 6th. The Force India duo Hulkenberg and Perez finished 7th and 8th, Verstappen 9th and Grosjean 10th.

It was midnight here in Finland by the time I had watched all the post-race interviews. I was feeling so emotional because of the race that I had difficulties to fall asleep... And I have to say I really needed the swim in the 5-degree lake this morning, hahaha ;) But these emotions are what make watching F1 so great and memorable. Sometimes it´s toxicating feeling of success and glory, sometimes it´s bitter disappointments due to costy mistakes... All emotions are needed. Making mistakes is what makes us human. In spite of costy mistakes I´ll always support Sebastian and Kimi, no matter what. Chin up boys and towards new challenges!

sunnuntai 1. marraskuuta 2015

Mexico GP / Qualifying: Rosberg on pole for fourth straight event!

This weekend the Formula 1 circus returned to Mexico after 23 years! The redevelopped Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is hosting the 17th race of the season. Qualifying started with a 30 % chance of rain. McLaren´s Button was unable to participate in the qualifying after the team were unable to resolve an engine signal problem on his car from FP3. Kimi had also faced an engine issue in the last free practice session and the Iceman could complete only 15 minutes of running. It also took plenty of time to get the car back into the pits after the session but luckily the mechanics had been able to fix the problem by the start of the qualifying session. The car had needed a gear box change, which meant a 5-place grid penalty for the Iceman for the race.

In Q1 the teams had different tyre strategies. Mercedes and Williams made their first runs on the white-marked medium tyres whilst Ferrari came out on the soft tyres not until halfway through the opening segment. Red Bull opted for soft tyres as well. Rosberg was the fastest man on the track in spite of running on the mediums only. Sebastian was second on the softs and Hamilton third on the mediums as well. Kimi´s problems continued in the qualifying. The Iceman reported on the team radio that he was having problems with the brakes and the Finn was unable to make it higher than P13 in the first session. Alonso was the first faller in Q1 followed by Sauber´s Nasr and the Marussia duo Rossi and Stevens.

Kimi´s difficulties continued when Q2 got underway. Kimi came out on the medium tyres but his lap times were everything but competitive. Kimi drove a few laps but had to settle for P15 at the end. That was utterly frustrating as Kimi will drop 5 grid places due to the gear box change. And Sebastian´s pace showed that Ferrari really had the performance to fight for the second row starting positions! There´s no such thing as bad luck in Formula 1 but lately every time there have been difficulties in the SF15-Ts they have always been in Kimi´s car... I really hope these setbacks will go away and Kimi will have a staggering end to the season! Sebastian came out at the end of the session and immediately jumped second. The end of Q2 saw spits of rain but luckily they didn´t make the track conditions worse. This time Hamilton was topping the time sheets with Sebastian second and Rosberg third. I was also happy for Verstappen, who could improve his lap time on his last flying lap and make it among the top ten. His team-mate Sainz on the other hand was the first man to be knocked out of the last segment. The Lotus duo Grosjean and Maldonado were also out, so was Sauber´s Ericsson and unfortunately also Kimi.

In Q3 Toro Rosso´s Verstappen and Red Bull´s Ricciardo made their first runs on the used set of soft tyres whilst all their rivals opted for a fresh set of option tyres. This time Rosberg aced his partner on both of their opening laps. However, there was only one tenth of a second separating the Mercedes duo. The track conditions were changing under the darkening sky. A closely-fought Q3 session saw Sebastian take third, four-tenths off Rosberg. The Force Indias of Hulkenberg and crowd idol Perez made only one run at the end of the session. There were no improvements on the lap times on the second runs so the top ten remained unchanged. Red Bull seemed quite competitive as well with Kvyat qualifying 4th and Ricciardo 5th. There was only one-thousandth of a second separating the Red Bull duo! However, the Red Bulls were half a second off Sebastian´s pace. The Williams duo Bottas and Massa qualified 6th and 7th, Verstappen 8th and Force India duo Perez and Hulkenberg 9th and 10th respectively.

The surface of the track is still quite slippery so I´m sure we´re going to see some mistakes in the race. Hopefully it will be an eventful one! The atmosphere at the circuit seems absolutely amazing as there´re tens of thousands of fans cheering especially for Perez, who is their home hero. There´ll be a tight battle between the Mercedes team-mates into turn 1... Hopefully Sebastian will benefit from the battle of the Mercedes drivers ;) Who knows how the weather will turn out when the lights go out. On damp track Red Bull could be dangerously competitive. In the dry I think no-one will be able to challenge Mercedes if there´re no mistakes or technical issues. Sebastian has scored podiums in all of the last five races -including victory in Singapore. I strongly believe there´s sixth one on the way! ;) In terms of Kimi I don´t have any other expectations except that he´ll exceed all my expectations ;) Go Sebastian! Go Kimi! Forza Ferrari!

maanantai 26. lokakuuta 2015

US GP: Hamilton clinched his 3rd title in a colourful race!

Like predicted, the rain had stopped by the time it was time to start the engines. The track was still damp so everyone started to the race on the green-marked intermediate tyres. The start itself was absolutely hair-raising. Hamilton stormed to the lead forcing his team-mate Rosberg wide in the first corner. Nico dropped down to P5 due to Hamilton´s manoeuvre. Kimi started to the race from P18 and jumped 8 positions immediately making his way up to P10! It was a very promising start to the Iceman. The other Finn Bottas on the other hand faced setbacks right from the start. He had hit Lotus´ Grosjean on the opening lap and had to pit for a new front wing.

On the intermediate tyres on damp track Red Bull seemed frighteningly competitive. Hamilton was leading the race but Kvyat in his Red Bull was only 1,5 seconds behind the Briton. It seemed that the Russian could seriously challenge the Mercedes ace for victory on Texas soil. Kvyat tried aggressively to make an overtaking move on Hamilton but ended up going wide and Hamilton could snatch his lead back. Sebastian, who had started to the race from P13 had already made his way through to P7. Pit stops haven´t been one of Williams´ strengths this season. Everything didn´t go to plan this time, either. Bottas rejoined the track on the soft tyres, which soon turned out to be an utterly wrong call on the damp track and the Finn had to pit for a fresh set of intermediate tyres only a couple of laps later!

On lap 7 virtual safety car was deployed because there was so much debris on the track due to the first lap incidents. At the same time Bottas drove to the pits and retired the race due to a suspension failure. What a disappointing race for the Finnish Williams driver. Right when the virtual safety car ended Rosberg got a staggering re-start. He made his way first past Ricciardo  and then past Kvyat jumping already second! Nico seemed to have every chance to win the race.

At this stage of the race there was intense and thrilling wheel-to-wheel battles on track. Ricciardo managed to pass his team-mate Kvyat and could even overtake Rosberg and take the second place from the German Mercedes driver! The Red Bulls seemed to fly around the damp track. A little further behind Kimi had a battle of his own with Toro Rosso´s teenager Verstappen. Kimi´s and Max´s tyres even touched slightly at one point. A very entertaining show indeed! At the same time Ricciardo made his way to the lead by overtaking Hamilton. Only a moment later also Rosberg managed to pass his team-mate, whose tyres were completely gone. Hamilton pitted for slicks and Vettel did the same a lap later. The Red Bull duo pitted also a lap after Sebastian. What an eventful race this turned out!

But what a turn the race got on lap 20. Right after his pit stop Kimi drove off track destroying his front wing and almost got stuck in the wall. The Iceman could continue his race but had to pit for a new nose. At the same time Rosberg snatched the lead from Ricciardo on lap 22. Hamilton was third, Vettel 4th and Kvyat 5th. Only a few laps later the team asked Kimi to drive to the pits and retire the car due to overheating of the brakes caused by the crash some laps earlier. Such a shame, Kimi´s race had begun so well! A mistake of his own was definitely something that I didn´t want to see happening in the race but you don´t always get what you want... So disappointing!

Halfway through the race safety car was deployed as Ericsson´s Sauber came to a halt on track and the Swede left it in a dangerous place. Rosberg had increased his lead into 10 seconds already but the gap vanished when the safety car came out. Sebastian pitted for a fresh set of prime tyres. Was he going to race until the very end on these tyres? Ferrari seemed to try a different strategy, which could possibly offer a chance to win for Sebastian.

At the re-start Sebastian made an overtaking move on Red Bull´s Kvyat and jumped fourth. After that the German had entertaining battle with his last year´s team-mate Ricciardo and finally Ricciardo had no chance to prevent Sebastian from overtaking him! Sebastian was magnificently already third in the race!  The Russian Red Bull pilot Kvyat tried to hold back Verstappen in his Toro Rosso but ended up making a mistake himself and lost the position to Verstappen. The young Dutchman seemed to be absolutely on fire! Verstappen passed Ricciardo and jumped fourth. As soon as the track had dried out, Red Bull´s pace was gone with the wind! It´s crazy how pace can disappear so suddenly as conditions change. Force India´s Hulkenberg also tried to overtake Ricciardo but they ended up colliding with each other and Hulkenberg´s race was over. Ricciardo also got some damage on his car but was able to continue. Once again virtual safety car was deployed due to Hulkenberg´s crash. In addition to the Red Bull duo also Rosberg pitted for a fresh set of soft tyres.

Hamilton was leading the race with Sebastian second, Rosberg third and Verstappen fourth. After the re-start Sebastian had no chance to hold back Rosberg, who could quite easily overtake the German Ferrari pilot. With 13 laps to go Kvyat suddenly lost the control of his RB11 and ended up crashing into the barriers. The Russian himself was at fault and he apologized to his team on the radio. Safety car was deployed for the second time. Both Hamilton and Vettel pitted for a new set of soft tyres. So Sebastian wasn´t going to drive till the end on those prime tyres after all!

With some ten laps to go Rosberg was still leading the race with his team-mate second and Sebastian third. But what a dramatic turn the race got on lap 48! Rosberg made a costy mistake and Hamilton snatched the lead! And after that there was no-one and nothing that could prevent Hamilton from securing his third world title in Austin! Hamilton won the race and Rosberg had to settle for the very bitter second place. Sebastian took superb third and completed the podium. An amazing drive from the German indeed, making his way from P13 up to P3! And what was absolutely delightful as well was the fact that Verstappen finished 4th. The young rookie drove an impressive race and wasn´t afraid to take the battle to Kimi, who is much more experienced than him. I was so so happy for both Sebastian and Verstappen. They surely know how to put up a great show! Wow, so impressive. Perez finished 5th, Button impressively 6th for McLaren, Sainz 7th, Maldonado 8th, Nasr 9th and Ricciardo completed the top ten. Astonishing that after strongly leading the race Ricciardo finally had to settle for P10!

Hamilton totally deserves the championship. He has been on a totally different level compared to his team-mate Rosberg. They have an equal car but Hamilton is the one, who has delivered all year. So it definitely takes more than a superior car to win the championship. Hamilton has had difficult times in his career when things in his private life have effected his driving but he has been able to turn these setbacks and difficulties into success and that is something only the true top drivers are capable of. There´re three more rounds to go this season and I don´t think Hamilton is willing to let anyone else win in spite of clinching the title already at this point.

The Mexico GP will take place already this week. I definitely want to see a fighting Ferrari duo there although chances for the championhip are already gone. And I´ll always support Kimi and Sebastian, no matter if they make mistakes! Forza Ferrari!

sunnuntai 25. lokakuuta 2015

US GP / Qualifying: Exceptional qualifying in extreme conditions!

So far this has been an exceptional GP weekend. It was known already beforehand that the hurricane Patricia would hit Mexico this weekend, which would bring massive amount of rain into Texas area as well. The third free practice took place yesterday morning although it was raining quite heavily already. But in terms of the qualifying, things took unexpected turn. All the teams were ready for the qualifying to take place some time in the afternoon but the weather conditions were quite extreme. It was pouring down with rain and it was extremely windy. The qualifying was delayed with 30 minutes at a time. I was sitting in front of TV for three hours waiting for the qualifying to get under way! And I have to say that it was very entertaining three hours really! Although there was no running on track, most of the teams did everything to put up a good show for the fans, who were sitting in the grandstands soaking wet. And what a show it turned out to be! One of the most hilarious moments was when the Red Bull duo Kvyat and Ricciardo started dancing together in the pit lane. Toro Rosso also knew how to entertain their fans. Both Verstappen´s and Sainz´s fathers were in the pit garage and they decided to put the race suits on! They also borrowed their sons´ helmets and Carlos Sainz Senior sat down into his son´s car whilst Jos Verstappen jumped into Max´s car. A moment later the Toro Rosso duo started bowling in the pit lane with a ball and a few Red Bull cans. As it kept raining and raining and there were absolutely no signs of raining to end Verstappen decided to go fishing in the pit lane with a rod and line. One of the Force India team members put up a breakdance show and Rosberg started playing soccer with his team members. It made my day to see what kind of great sense of humour those guys had! One team, which was missing from all the fun was Ferrari! I would have loved to see Kimi and Sebastian coming up with a little show to entertain fans although I know it´s very much against Kimi´s personality to do something like that! So it was an utterly entertaining show although the qualifying never took place last night! After a delay after another it was finally decided by the stewards that the qualifying was postponed to 9 am local time, which meant afternoon here in Finland.

When it was time for qualifying it was still raining in Austin! Not as heavily as yesterday though. Before Q1 it was declared by the race control that it wasn´t allowed to use intermediate tyres during the first session. There was quite a lot standing water on the track and the conditions were extremely tricky even with the full-wet tyres. Sainz at the wheel of his Toro Rosso lost control of his STR10 when he touched the kerb and the Spaniard ended up crashing into the wall. The session was red-flagged and Sainz´s qualifying was over! Kimi was the first driver to join the track at the re-start, which meant the Iceman had an excellent track position. The lap times kept improving lap by lap towards the end of the session. But the risk of aquaplaning was very high and Sebastian at the wheel of his SF15-T was about to experience that personally. With 4 minutes in the clock the German lost control of his Ferrari and touched the wall but luckily there was no significant damage to his car! Ricciardo in his RB11 was the fastest man on the slippery track with the Mercedes duo behind him. Sebastian made it into Q2 just barely being the last driver to make it through to Q2! I got a bit scared as the elimination from Q2 was so close! Both Saubers and Marussias were out of Q2.

Q2 saw conditions deteriorating towards the end of the session. Turn 10 turned out very dangerous as several drivers span there. Hulkenberg, Button, Verstappen and Räikkönen were among those, who experienced a terrifying moment at that turn. I can nothing but admire the talent of all the F1 drivers as no-one actually crashed out there but everyone could regain the control of his car after losing it for a moment! Rosberg in his Mercedes was the fastest man on track in the second session with his team-mate only tenth of a second behind the German. Ricciardo was third and his team-mate Kvyat 4th but the Red Bull duo was already over a second off Rosberg´s pace. Sebastian was 5th fastest and his team-mate Kimi 8th. Q2 was disappointing for the Finnish Williams driver Valtteri Bottas, who was unable to make it higher than P12. Bottas had a poor track position behind Force India´s Perez so the Finn didn´t manage to pull out a competitive lap time. Both McLarens and Lotuses were also out of the final session.

Except that there was no Q3 today! At first the final session was delayed with 10 minutes but the rain was only getting heavier by the end of the delay so it was decided by the race control that Q3 wasn´t going to take place. So Q2 determined the grid positions for the race! Both Ferrari drivers have been handed a 10-place grid penalty for an engine change (which had been planned already in advance). This means the grid will line up: First row Rosberg and Hamilton, second row Ricciardo and Kvyat, third row Perez and Hulkenberg, fourth row Massa and Verstappen and fifth row Alonso and Grosjean. Bottas qualified 12th but has been given a 5-place grid penalty due to a gear box change. After all the penalties Sebastian will finally be dropped to P13 and Kimi P18.

Who knows how the weather will turn out when it´s time to start to the race!? The weather forecast says that there´s only 20 % chance of rain at the time of the start but let´s see... The Ferrari duo has challenging starting positions no matter if it´s wet or dry but I´m very confident that they´ll put up a good show today! If it´s dry it´s a total mystery how the tyres will work as there has been absolutely no running in the dry this weekend! One thing I know for sure: it´ll be a thrilling race no matter how the conditions turn out to be! All the very best for the Prancing Horse today! Go Sebastian! Go Kimi!

P.S. My heart absolutely loves F1 weekends but my back definitely doesn´t! I have suffered from a back issue for almost a year now and it always gets worse when I sit a lot. So F1 weekends don´t exactly help in terms of that. Today is all about sitting in front of TV: qualifying, pre-race broadcasts, race, post-race interviews and writing my blog of course! Poor back... ;) But watching Formula 1 is something that I enjoy so much so I don´t care about the back pain, haha!

sunnuntai 11. lokakuuta 2015

Russian GP: Hamilton won dramatic Russian GP!

Russian GP was extremely dramatic right from the start until the very end. First of all, I considered it a true miracle that Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz was able and allowed to race after that terrible crash yesterday! When lights went out Rosberg got a good start although Hamilton was seriously challenging the German into the first corners. Kimi from P5 got a rocket start and he had passed his team-mate already on the starting straight and made his way past Bottas into turn 2. Kimi seemed so determined to fight for the podium place! Already on the opening lap Force India´s Hulkenberg and Sauber´s Ericsson collided, which ended the race for both of them. Safety car was deployed. There was a dangerous-looking situation when Rosberg braked very heavily after hearing about the safety car and Hamilton could just barely avoid hitting Rosberg´s rear. Kimi in third place was also close to hitting Hamilton´s car but luckily there was no contact between either one of them.

On lap 4 safety car came in and the race was on again. Immediately after the re-start Bottas took his 3rd place back from Kimi and at this stage Williams seemed significantly more competitive than Ferrari. Rosberg in the lead suddenly reported on the team radio having problems with the throttle. Soon after that his Mercedes proved to be undrivable. The German couldn´t help sliding wide in the corners and in no time Hamilton passed him and snatched the lead. Also Bottas overtook Rosberg and the Ferrari duo did the same a moment later. There was nothing to be done By the team to fix Rosberg´s problem and he had no choice but to pit and retire the race. A very devastating moment for the German as it would have been an absolutely valuable victory for him in terms of the championship battle!

At the same time there was intense battle between the Ferrari team-mates. Sebastian made it alongside Kimi but the Iceman seemed absolutely determined to keep his German team-mate behind him. Tight but fair battle! Safety car was deployed again on lap 12 as Lotus´s Grosjean lost control of his E21 and crashed into the wall with high speed. Luckily the Frenchman was unharmed but his race was over. The top eight drivers continued on track but Ricciardo in his Red Bull and Perez in his Force India pitted for a fresh set of tyres. In terms of Perez this turned out to be a wise move indeed.

5 laps later it was time for the re-start. It didn´t go to plan for Kimi and Sebastian once again made his way alongside the Finn. Kimi went wide and let Sebastian past him a moment later. It was an expected move from Ferrari as Kimi no longer has any chance to win the championship whilst Sebastian still has a mathematical chance to win the title. Midway through the race Sebastian had already closed the gap to Bottas in P2 and was within DRS distance from the Finn. Bottas was the first one of them to pit for a fresh set of soft tyres. The Finn hit traffic when he rejoined the track and Sebastian pitted a few laps later. The German´s pit stop took only 2,2 seconds and he jumped Bottas when exiting pits. Kimi pitted a lap after Sebastian but in spite of a great pit stop he couldn´t quite jump Bottas. Hamilton was leading the race, Perez was second (he had already pitted during the second safety car), Vettel was third, Ricciardo 4th (also pit stop done during the second safety car), Bottas 5th and Kimi 6th. The Finnish countrymen had wheel-banging battle for the 5th place but in site of the intensity their battle was fair. At the same time Sebastian had made his way ahead of Perez and was in P2. I was seriously doubting if Perez could go till the end with the same set of tyres... Unfortunately Sainz had to retire from the race due to brake issues but his driving until then was quite impressive!

Hamilton was leading the race in a class of his own and he had increased his gap to Vettel already up to 12 seconds. Sebastian had a firm grasp on the second place as there was another 10-second gap to Perez behind him. But with some 10 laps to go it turned out that there was going to be a huge battle for the last podium place! Bottas in his Williams made a staggering overtaking move on Ricciardo and made his way past the Australian! Kimi tried to repeat the same but went wide again and had to give the position back to the Red Bull pilot. But a couple of laps later the Iceman managed to get past Ricciardo and he seemed passionate to fight for the podium place. Bottas had already smelled Perez´s blood and Kimi started chasing the Mexican as well.

Towards the end of the race Perez, Bottas and Kimi were all within DRS distance from each other and it was the beginning for a hair-raising battle. On the second last lap Bottas forced an overtaking move on Perez, who was seriously struggling with his tyres. But the 4th place clearly wasn´t going to satisfy Kimi, who wanted to make it on the podium today. On the very last lap of the race there was huge drama: Kimi made "a hero or zero" move on Bottas, which ended in a collision between the Finns! Bottas´ race was over and Kimi´s SF15-T was significantly damaged and there was huge amount of sparks flying around as the Iceman tried to make his way till the chequered flag. Hamilton cruised to victory, Sebastian finished 2nd and Perez, who had been overtaken both by Bottas and Kimi, ended up 3rd after all! Massa in his Williams also managed to overtake Kimi on the closing lap and the Brazilian finished in P4 ahead of Kimi. Kvyat finished 6th in front of his home crowd, Nasr 7th, Maldonado 8th, Button 9th and Alonso 10th. However, the incident between Kimi and Bottas was investigated by the stewards and Kimi was handed a 30-second time penalty for causing the collision. This meant that Kimi dropped from P5 down to P8. Alonso was also handed a 5-second time penalty due to not respecting the track limits at turn 16, which dropped the Spaniard down to P11. Kimi´s penalty meant another inevitable fact, too: Mercedes officially secured the constructors´ championship!

I understand well why Bottas was absolutely pissed after the race. On the closing lap the podium place was within his reach but success turned into a bitter disappointment. I didn´t like the collision, either but I absolutely loved the Kimi we saw on track today! Formula 1 racing is all about passion and Kimi drove with true passion today. It doesn´t always end in a beautiful way but that´s how motor racing is. And had the overtaking move worked, it would have been seen as "a heroic move". When there´s a slightest chance, you´ve got to go for it... Even though it doesn´t always end well! So all respect from me for Kimi for driving passionately today! And fourth podium in a row for Sebastian made me very very happy today!

As far as the drivers´ standings are concerned, Sebastian made his way past Rosberg. Sebastian is now 66 points down on Hamilton and 7 points ahead of Rosberg with 4 more rounds to go. Can´t wait what will happen in Austin in a fortnight...!

lauantai 10. lokakuuta 2015

Russian GP / Qualifying: Third pole of the season for Rosberg!

When qualifying was about to get underway I was still quite shaken due to the crash that had happened in the last free practice session in the morning. Toro Rosso´s Carlos Sainz had lost control of his STR10 midway through FP3 on the high-speed approach to turn 12. The rear had got away from the Spaniard under braking and he had hit the left-hand wall before impacting -and submarining under- the T12 barriers. My heart jumped into my mouth when I saw Sainz all covered with the water-filled barriers. The radio wasn´t working due to the crash so there was no radio contact to Sainz and it was a dangerous-looking accident indeed. I really consider it a miracle that Sainz sustained no injuries and hopes to compete in Sunday´s race! It remains to be seen whether the Spanish Toro Rosso will really be able to do so. Should he be allowed, he´ll have to start from the pit lane. But more importantly I was so so relieved that Sainz was okay after such a horrific crash.

Q1 saw the Mercedes duo coming out on the soft tyres as expected and Rosberg was in electric form from the off. Rosberg was the driver to set the fastest lap time in the first segment. The Ferraris of Vettel and Räikkönen didn´t come out until there were some 8minutes left in the clock and they both opted for a fresh set of super soft tyres. Bottas in his Williams made his second run on the red-marked super soft tyres as well and the Finn´s pace was absolutely convincing. Bottas jumped second splitting the Mercedes duo. The Finn was only a tenth of a second down on Rosberg. Alonso was the first driver to be knocked out of Q2, which didn´t matter as the Spaniard will face a 25-place grid penalty due to an engine change. Ericsson in his Sauber and both Marussias were also out of the second segment.

Hamilton´s car lost telemetry at the start of Q2, which didn´t naturally help the Briton. Both the Williams of Bottas and Massa and the Ferraris of Vettel and Räikkönen came out at the end of the session making one run only. Once again Rosberg topped the time sheets with his team-mate second. Bottas was once again at the Mercedes duo´s tail in third place. Kimi´s pace seemed quite excellent as well as the Iceman was fourth fastest in the second session. Kvyat at the wheel of his RB11 failed to make it into Q3 whilst his team-mate Ricciardo managed to make it among the top ten. Maldonado in his Lotus was left in P14 which also caught my eye as his French team-mate Grosjean had no difficulties to make it through to the final session. The session was a disaster for the Brazilian Williams driver, who spoiled one lap with a mistake and then had another ruined By traffic. By the time he got back into his rhythm, his tyres were already done. It was an utterly disappointing P15 for Massa, who was the highest-profile casualty in Q2. However, I was glad to see that Toro Rosso´s Verstappen made it among the top ten.

By the time Q3 got underway it had turned out quite tricky for the teams to get the tyres up to the temperature. Rosberg took provisional pole with a 3-tenth margin over his team-mate. Both Mercedes driver opted to stay out rather than pitting for fresh rubber but neither could improve. Hamilton abandoned his final run after an error. Williams´ Bottas was quick enough to out-qualify the Ferraris and the Finn was third fastest today. Sebastian completed the second row by qualifying fourth. Kimi was fifth fastest today with Hulkenberg 6th, Perez 7th, Grosjean 8th, Verstappen 9th and Ricciardo 10th.

To be honest, it was refreshing to see Rosberg taking the third pole of the season and I really hope that he manages to keep his lead at the start tomorrow. Williams´ race pace is kind of a mystery but I´m confident that the Ferrari duo will be able to challenge Bottas. I don´t have any clue on the weather forecast for tomorrow but I hope it will be a dry race. Tyre degradation will also be kind of a question mark as there were different tyre compounds used at Sochi last year. And due to the very little running that the teams have been able to do in the practice sessions (the first session was delayed due to a diesel leak on the track, the second session was rain-hit and the last one was red-flagged due to Sainz´s crash)

sunnuntai 27. syyskuuta 2015

Japanese GP: Hamilton cruised to victory!

I couldn´t wait to get up this morning and hear more interesting stories from Sebastian´s ex trainer Tommi Pärmäkoski, who has been visiting MTV3´s F1 studio both yesterday and today. Viewers were asked to post questions on Twitter for Tommi and I also posted one. My question to Tommi was this: During those years that he worked with Sebastian, what was the most difficult moment and on the opposite, what was the most rewarding moment? I had no clue that they would pick my question for Tommi! I was so so happy to hear Tommi answering my question live on TV! He gave a very long answer but shortly told he said that the Turkish GP in 2010 when Sebastian collided with his team-mate Webber has been the most difficult moment during those years. The answer didn´t surprise me. I remember that race so so well and I remember thinking it was probably a crucial turning point in terms of Sebastian´s Formula 1 career. The most rewarding moment then... Tommi told about Red Bull´s first moments of success. The team had built up from "nothing" and had faced lots of setbacks on the way. When the same mechanics and team members started to succeed it was a very touching moment to experience it together after all those difficulties.

The weather was sunny and hot when the lights went out at Suzuka. It was extremely tight between the Mercedes team-mates into turn one. Hamilton, however, seemed absolutely determined to get past Nico, so he gave Nico no room to turn two and Nico went wide and Hamilton took the lead. Sebastian starting from P3 had made his way past Bottas in his Williams and the German also managed to pass Nico a moment later and take the second place. Ricciardo had also taken a stunning start but unfortunately he hit Massa in his Williams going into turn one and they both suffered a puncture, which forced them to limp into the pits. Due to Ricciardo´s incident Kimi had jumped 5th. Also Force India´s Perez had contact at the start and the Mexican also had to pit on the opening lap.

 From the very start Hamilton started to open a gap to his rivals. There was nothing Sebastian could do to match the Briton´s sweeping pace. On the other hand there was one team that was lacking pace and performance badly and it was McLaren. Button experienced a bitter moment when he was overtaken on both sides on the main straight by Nasr and Verstappen. Quite awkward in front of the home crowd of their engine supplier... Rosberg had caught Bottas but the German was told on the team radio that his engine was overheating so he had to leave a bigger gap to the Finn.

On lap 13 Sebastian pitted for a fresh set of hard tyres. Sebastian had a perfect pit stop: it took only 2.2 seconds! Kimi pitted a lap later for a similar tyre choice. Hamilton on the other hand opted for a fresh set of medium tyres for his second stint whilst his team-mate Rosberg opted for hard tyres as well. Bottas´ tyre choice was similar to Hamilton´s so it was very interesting to see how the race was going to evolve. After the first pit stops Hamilton was still in a firm lead, Sebastian was second and Bottas managed to keep his third place ahead of Rosberg. Not for long though: already on the out lap Rosberg made an overtaking move on Bottas and managed to make his way past the Finn. Kimi was still in P5.

On lap 27 we saw a bizarre situation when Toro Rosso´s Sainz made a very late decision to come into the pits and the Spaniard hit the mark at the pit entry destroying his front wing. At the same time Kimi had closed the gap to Bottas who seemed to be struggling with his pace on the medium tyres. However, Kimi found no opportunity to try to overtake his fellow countryman so Ferrari called him into the pits. Another set of hard tyres for the Iceman. Those orange-marked hard tyres seemed to suit the SF15-T extremely well.  The second pit stops were a turning point in the race: Kimi managed to jump Bottas to P4 but Rosberg also managed to jump Sebastian to P2 so Mercedes were back in the double lead!

By the lap 40 Sebastian had closed the gap to Rosberg but even if the German got within DRS distance from his fellow countryman, there was no opportunities for Sebastian to challenge the Mercedes pilot for the second place. Bottas at the wheel of his FW37 had also chased down Kimi but no real chances to overtake in that battle, either. At the back of the pack there was a dangerous situation as Marussia´s Stevens had a 360-degree spin and his team-mate Rossi just barely was able to avoid crashing into his team-mate. Behind the top ten Verstappen had impressively made his way through the pack. The Dutchman started from P17 (he had been handed a 3-place grid penalty due to parking his STR10 dangerously on the track in yesterday´s qualifying) and finally made his way up to P9! Stunning overtaking moves and no stupid mistakes. Great performance from this young rookie indeed!

Hamilton took a sweeping victory, which was the 41st victory in his F1 career. Now Hamilton equals Senna in the all-time standings. Another 1-2 for Mercedes as Rosberg finished second. Once again Sebastian had to settle for being "the best of the rest" by completing the podium. Kimi drove an excellent race and the Iceman finished 4th behind his team-mate. Bottas finished 5th, Hulkenberg 6th, Grosjean 7th, Maldonado 8th, Verstappen 9th and Sainz 10th. Important points for Lotus, who are in a serious economical crisis at the moment. Another very frustrating day for McLaren. Alonso was complaining on the team radio by saying that he had "a GP2 engine" on his car. Not the best and most constructive comment to say on Honda´s home soil...

On the podium it was enjoyable to watch how Hamilton and Vettel were fooling around with each other. When Sebastian was interviewed, Hamilton poured champagne over the German. A moment later when Hamilton was interviewed, Sebastian did the same for the Briton. The great champagne revenge by Sebastian, hahaha ;) Hamilton has a crushing 48-point lead in the championship standings and he seems to be on the path towards the world championship if there won´t be any miracles happening in the upcoming races. It will be tight between Rosberg and Vettel: Rosberg managed to increase his gap by 3 points but the gap to Sebastian is still only 11 points. Let´s see how things evolve at Sochi in a fortnight... First of all it will be interesting to see in what condition the track will be after last summer´s flood!

P.S. My husband bought me a new laptop yesterday so now I can enjoy writing my blog again :D My wrist and fingers didn´t like tapping blog posts on my smart phone! ;)

lauantai 26. syyskuuta 2015

Japanese GP / Qualifying: Mercedes back on top form!

It was quite an early morning in Finland when pre-qualifying broadcasts got underway. But I became so so happy when I noticed that Sebastian Vettel´s ex trainer Tommi Pärmäkoski had been invited to join the F1 studio. It was so exciting and entertaining to hear him telling stories behind the scenes. He worked with Sebastian for 3,5 years so he really knows Sebastian like his own pockets.

When qualifying got underway one thing was certain: Mercedes were back on top form! All the struggling they had in Singapore now seemed to be distant history. Hamilton set the pace in the first segment with his team-mate second. I was happy how well Kimi could match Mercedes´ pace as the Iceman was only half a second down on Hamilton. Ferrari and Williams were quite evenly matched on their first runs as Bottas was 4th and Sebastian 5th. Those times were set on the orange-marked hard tyres. Surprisingly, both Hamilton and Rosberg made second runs on the hard tyres although it wouldn´t have been necessary. The Ferrari team-mates and Williams´ Bottas instead decided to sit out the second runs. In the last minute of the first session Toro Rosso´s Verstappen lost power and stopped at an odd angle at the hairpin and it naturally caused yellow flags. How disappointing for Verstappen, who was in P8 at the moment! But the technical failure meant that the Dutchman´s qualifying was over. Button led those who failed to make it through to Q2. Both Sauber drivers as well as the Marussia duo were out of the second session.

Q2 saw everyone coming out on the white-marked medium compound. This time Rosberg turned the tables and set the fastest lap time ahead of his team-mate Hamilton, who was less than a tenth of a second down on his team-mate. Kimi was third 7 tenths down on Rosberg. Only a few hundredths of a second separated Kimi, Massa and Bottas so it was extremely tight between Ferrari and Williams. It was no surprise that Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams decided to sit out the second runs. Those top three teams had absolutely no difficulties to make it into the final session. Hulkenberg, Sainz, Maldonado and Alonso got knocked out of the final segment.

Rosberg took provisional pole but there were only 76 thousandths of a second separating the German from his team-mate, who had made a mistake on his flying lap. Bottas in his Williams pulled out an impressive lap and made it P3 on his first run. Sebastian´s lap left a little more to hope for and he was only 4th fastest. Kimi didn´t feel as confident as in the previous sessions and the Iceman couldn´t make it higher than P6 on his first run. The Ferrari duo was split by Massa in his Williams. Kvyat at the wheel of his Red Bull and Force India´s Perez opted for one run only. However, the final segment ended in dramatic fashion. In the last minute of the session the Russian Red Bull driver Kvyat lost control of his Red Bull approaching to the hairpin,tearing off both wheels and flipping before coming to rest. The session was immediately red-flagged. Amazingly, Kvyat managed to walk away unharmed from the wreckage of his heavily-damaged RB11. It seemed that the Russian himself was at fault: he had put a wheel on the grass, which caused him to lose control of his car. As there were only 38 seconds left in the clock it was decided that the red-flagged session would not be restarted. That meant no one could improve their lap times so Rosberg took pole with Hamilton second and Bottas third. Sebastian qualified 4th, Massa 5th, Kimi 6th, Ricciardo 7th, Grosjean 8th, Perez 9th and Kvyat 10th. After the qualifying I read that Red Bull need to change Kvyat´s chassis so the Russian will start to the race from the pit lane.

I was so confident that Kimi was fighting for P3 today so it was very unfortunate for him that the session was red-flagged. And Suzuka isn´t known as a circuit of many overtaking possibilities... It´s interesting to see how Williams´ race pace will turn out. It hasn´t always been as good as their qualifying pace. However, I don´t think there´s anyone who can seriously challenge the Mercedes duo in the normal dry conditions. But you never know how the weather turns out in Japan... Sebastian seemed so disappointed after the qualifying so I think he´ll do everything he possibly can to take the fight to both Williams and Mercedes!

I can´t wait for tomorrow´s pre-race broadcasts and to hear more of those great stories behind the scenes from Tommi!

sunnuntai 20. syyskuuta 2015

Singapore GP: Vettel was the most shining star in the Singapore night!

Due to work I´ve missed all the free practice sessions this weekend so I was extremely happy that today I didn´t have to rush anywhere but I could just sit down on my sofa and watch all those pre-race broadcasts on TV. Mercedes drivers faced difficulties already before the start. Rosberg´s engine went off twice in the pit lane and there was a fuss around Hamilton´s car as well. However, both Mercedes drivers were able to start normally to the race. Lights went out and the race was on! This time it was Max Verstappen´s Toro Rosso that was halted on the 8th grid slot. What a shame! In Monza the same had happened to Kimi and now Max shared the same fate. Sebastian on the other hand got a superb start and kept his lead. The order in terms of the top seven maintained unchanged: Ricciardo was second, Kimi third, Kvyat 4th, Hamilton 5th, Rosberg 6th and Bottas 7th.

In just two laps Sebastian had increased his lead into 4 seconds. Kimi followed Ricciardo very closely but the Iceman seemed unable to try an overtaking move on the Australian. The Mercedes duo was unable to match both Ferrari´s and Red Bull´s pace. That was something I actually didn´t expect although Mercedes´ qualifying pace had been quite tame.

On lap 13, when Sebastian had already made his lead grow up into 5 seconds, Massa in his Williams and Hulkenberg in his Force India collided! Massa was simply unable to avoid the collision in any way as there was really nowhere the Brazilian could go. The virtual safety car was deployed due to the incident as Hulkenberg´s Force India was stuck in the barrier. The incident was taken into investigation by the stewards and Hulkenberg was decided to be at fault. The German was handed a 3-place grid penalty for the Japanese GP next week. All top drivers rushed into the pits: Sebastian, Ricciardo, Kimi and both Mercedes drivers. The top three opted for a fresh set of super soft tyres whilst the Mercedes duo opted for the prime tyres. Kvyat at the wheel of his RB11 was the one who lost most during the pit stop as the Russian Red Bull pilot dropped from P4 down to P6 behind the Mercedes duo. A few laps later the actual safety car was deployed and Sebastian´s 6-second lead slipped through his fingers.

On lap 18 safety car came in and after the re-start the top six remained unchanged. Sainz in his Toro Rosso suddenly faced problems with his gearbox and it took a moment for the Spaniard to get the gears working again. However, Sainz dropped down to P18. At this stage Sebastian´s pace didn´t look too convincing. Ricciardo could easily keep up almost within DRS distance from Sebastian. I started thinking if Sebastian was doing that deliberately so that his team-mate Kimi could possibly try to make an overtaking move on Ricciardo.

Towards the halfway point of the race Hamilton suddenly reported about significant loss of power on his car. In no time the Briton was overtaken by his team-mate Rosberg, Kvyat and then Bottas. The Briton´s lap time was 13 seconds slower than that of Vettel´s but the team didn´t take him in. They did everything to fix the issue on track but finally Hamilton had no choice but to drive to the pits and retire the race. Also Massa in his Williams had to retire the race due to gearbox problems. Alonso in his McLaren was the next driver to retire.

On lap 37 the safety car was deployed for the second time! Sebastian reported on the team radio that there was a man walking on the track! Sometimes crazy things happen in F1 races and this was definitely one of them! The race was on a few laps later. Verstappen at the wheel of his STR10 had made his way sensationally through the field and was already in P8 when there were some 15 laps to go. The Dutchman had closed the gap to Perez in his Force India but overtaking was no easy task. At the same time Verstappen´s team-mate Sainz was right at the Dutchman´s tail. Suddenly on the second last lap we heard a team radio message saying that Verstappen should let Sainz past. The immediate reaction from the 18-yaer old rookie was to shout "No!!" on the team radio. I didn´t understand the team order at all. Why would Verstappen have let Sainz to pass him? Verstappen seemed really fast and he was seriously challenging Perez although overtaking wasn´t easy. I was so so happy that Verstappen decided to disobey the team orders! There was absolutely no reason for him to give his position to Sainz!

Sebastian took the third win of the season for Ferrari and I was thrilled. Ricciardo finished 2nd and Kimi completed the podium by finishing third. So my dream actually came true as both red warriors were standing on the podium today. Kimi had had some issues with his SF15-T so P3 was an outstanding result from the Iceman. Rosberg drove to the chequered flag in P4, Bottas in P5, Kvyat in P6, Perez in P7, Verstappen in P8, Sainz in P9 and Nasr in P10. There really seems to be something magical about Sebastian and Singapore. Without any doubt Sebastian was the most shining star in the Singapore night. I hope he is having a heck of a party with Kimi and the team tonight!

I was so happy to read after the race that Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost hadn´t upbraided Verstappen for not obeying the team orders but he had said instead that Verstappen was right to question the order to allow Sainz pass. Verstappen´s driving is so passionate, I really love to watch him race!

Sebastian is now seriously involved with the championship fight! Hamilton still has a firm 41-point lead in the drivers´ championship standings but Sebastian is only 8 points off Rosberg! Ferrari really seem to have found extra speed in the second half of the season! Luckily the next race will be already next week. Oh how I love these back-to-back races!

lauantai 19. syyskuuta 2015

Singapore GP / Qualifying: Vettel stormed on pole in a superior way!

I started my day by going swimming in a lake. The water was about +13 degrees so it was a very refreshing start to the day! Exceptionally I had a work day although it's Saturday. But luckily I got home right in time to watch qualifying live on TV. And what an incredible qualifying I was about to see!

The venue of Marina Bay Circuit is absolutely breathtaking. In my opinion it's the most perfect venue for an F1 race. The cars look astonishing in those artificial lights. During the opening minutes of the first session I just kept staring all those shiny cars and enjoyed the sight of their beauty. The Ferraris didn't only shine nicely but they seemed to perform convincingly as well. What really caught my eye was the fact that Mercedes seemed to lack pace in the way that hasn't been seen previously this season. Sebastian was the fastest man on track after the first run on the soft tyres. His pace was utterly crushing as the German was 7 tenths of a second faster than Red Bull's Ricciardo. Sebastian's lap time was so convincing that he could afford to sit out the second runs. His team-mate Räikkönen and Red Bull's Ricciardo made their second runs on another set of soft tyres whilst all their rivals opted for a set of red-marked super soft tyres. Red Bull's Kvyat topped the timesheets with Hamilton second. Sebastian was third and Ricciardo fourth in spite of the different tyre strategy. Maldonado in his Lotus, both Saubers and both Marussia drivers were out of Q2. American Alexander Rossi replaced Merhi at Marussia for five upcoming GP weekends including this at Singapore.

When Q2 got underway it became clearer and clearer that Red Bull were on top form. The Mercedes pilots seemed to be seriously struggling with their pace. However, to me it still seemed too unreal to be true and I was sure that at least by Q3 they would push some miracle button on their car and they would be back on top. But after the first attempts Sebastian had clocked the fastest lap time with Kvyat second and Kimi third. Hamilton was 9 tenths off the pace! Both Ferrari and Red Bull drivers sat out the second runs. In the dying moments of Q2 Sainz in his Toro Rosso clobbered the wall with the left-rear of his STR10 in turn 19 and caused yellow flags in sector 3. This meant that no one could improve his lap time at the end of the session. Both Force Indias were out of the final session, so were the McLarens of Alonso and Button. Sainz, who had hit the wall, was naturally also out of Q3. I was very happy for his team-mate though: Verstappen continued his impressive performances and was 5th fastest in Q2! Hamilton was left in P6 and his team-mate Rosberg in P7.

In Q3 Hamilton aborted his first flying lap after running wide over the kerb in turn 7. Sebastian took provisional pole by three tenths of a second over Ricciardo. Kimi was third only six hundredths of a second off Ricciardo. Verstappen at the wheel of his STR10 opted for one run only. Right at the end Sebastian emphasized his superiority by increasing his pole margin from 3 tenths into half a second! Wow, he was really on fire today! Ricciardo managed to maintain his second place and Kimi made it P3 today. Although I couldn't help noticing that Kimi was 7 tenths of a second off his team-mate's pace. But any way, third place on the grid is an excellent place to start to the race. Kvyat completed the second row by qualifying 4th. Finally Hamilton qualified 5th and Rosberg 6th 1.4 seconds back from Vettel's polesitting Ferrari! Bottas in his Williams qualified 7th, Verstappen 8th, Massa in the other Williams 9th and Grosjean completed the top ten for Lotus.

So for the first time since June of last year, Sunday will see a grand prix start without a Mercedes on pole position! Mercedes' streak of consecutive front-row starts is halted at 23 races - one short of Williams' all-time record. Also Hamilton's personal run of consecutive pole positions was halted at seven, one short of Ayrton Senna's record. Performance-wise it's really interesting to see what will happen in the race tomorrow. Mercedes have only finished off the podium once this season, which happened in Hungary in the summer. After the qualifying Hamilton was complaining that the tyres weren't working on the car and that there was no grip.

I hope Sebastian's pace in the race will be as mesmerizing as it was today in the qualifying! Kimi had also issues with the grip today so the Iceman was surprised that he managed to qualify as high as third. Hopefully his start will be much better than in Monza two weeks ago! However, I have a good feeling about the race. But before that I want to seize this moment and this feeling of happiness, which Sebastian created by conquering pole for the first time as a Ferrari driver! If he won tomorrow I would definitely want to hear comments from him in Finnish. He has put so much effort into speaking Italian lately that he seems to have forgotten all about Finnish... And I miss him speaking Finnish in his own perfect way! :D

sunnuntai 6. syyskuuta 2015

Italian GP: Hamilton started from pole, lead every lap of the race, set the fastest lap time and took a sweeping victory!

The start of the Italian GP was absolutely perfect for Hamilton, who managed to maintain his lead easily. I had high hopes for the Ferrari duo but the start turned out to be an absolute nightmare for Kimi. I still don´t know what went wrong but Kimi´s SF15-T got into anti-stall mode, which meant that it took a few seconds for Kimi to get his car rolling from the grid slot. This meant that the Iceman got passed by the whole pack! I can´t help admiring his rivals´ reflexes that nobody actually hit the rear of Kimi´s Ferrari in this very unexpected situation. It was such a devastating moment indeed! Right when everything looked so good in terms of the race... But I knew the Iceman wasn´t going to give up but put up a great overtaking spectacle.

Hamilton started pulling away from his rivals right away. Sebastian tried to keep up with the British Mercedes driver but unfortunately there was very little he could do. Massa in his Williams was third followed by his team-mate Bottas. Rosberg was down in P5. By lap 10 Kimi had already made his way up to P9. The Finn´s driving looked utterly entertaining and Kimi seemed determined to make his way as high up as possible. By lap 14 Rosberg was right at Bottas´ tail but the Finn was determined to keep the German behind him. Rosberg was told on the team radio that his brakes started to overheat so he had to back off a little. Rosberg was the first top driver to pit on lap 19. He rejoined the track on a fresh set of prime tyres. Massa at the wheel of his FW37 pitted a lap later but Rosberg´s undercut move worked out and the Brazilian rejoined the track behind the German Mercedes pilot. Hamilton on the other hand kept on storming on the track and he set faster lap times than those on the fresh set of tyres!

Kimi picked off drivers in front driver by driver. Sebastian pitted not until on lap 26 and the Ferrari pilot rejoined the track in P2. Hamilton pitted from the lead a lap later and easily kept his lead. Kimi was still staying out on track but his tyres were seriously coming off. There was absolutely nothing Kimi could do to prevent Rosberg from overtaking him on the straight. Right after that the Iceman was called to the pits for a fresh set of medium tyres. However, there was huge drama when Kimi was coming to the pit entry as Marussia´s Merhi was about to hit the rear of Kimi´s car. Luckily Merhi was able to control his car and avoid collision. But this episode certainly made my heart jump into my mouth! Luckily Kimi´s pit stop was quick and the Finn rejoined the track in P10.

Kimi continued to put up a staggering overtaking show and on lap 33 Force India´s Hulkenberg had to surrender to the storming Iceman. Hamilton had a safe lead but Sebastian in P2 was slowly but surely getting pressure from Rosberg in P3. With 10 laps to go Hamilton´s lead had already increased into 22 seconds. The Briton proved to be absolutely untouchable. However, with 5 laps to go dark clouds suddenly started to gather upon the Mercedes drivers. On TV we saw clearly upset Toto Wolff and soon after that we heard Hamilton´s team radio message where Hamilton was told to set competitive lap times, not to ask any questions but just execute. I started wondering if there were some technical worries in terms of Hamilton´s car...

On the closing laps Kimi had closed the gap to Perez in his Force India and Kimi attacked the Mexican in turn 1 making his way ahead of the Force India pilot. Excellent work from Kimi indeed! The start of the race had been horrendous for him but he had fought his way through the field in an impressive way. With just two laps to go it was Rosberg´s turn to face huge drama. Without any warning his engine blew out with flames coming from the rear of his car. Rosberg had already closed the gap to Sebastian being ready to fight for the 2nd place!  So a highly frustrating DNF for Rosberg and no points!

Hamilton cruised to victory in an absolutely dominant way and Sebastian made all the tifosis super happy by finishing second. I was so so happy for him! The Williams team-mates Massa and Bottas had an intense and thrilling but fair fight for the 3rd place, which ended in Massa´s favor. Kimi drove to the chequered flag in P5, which was a great result after the catastrophic start. The Force India duo scored excellent points as Perez finished 6th and Hulkenberg 7th. Red Bull´s Ricciardo finished 8th, which was the absolute maximum after all the penalties. Ericsson and Kvyat completed the top ten.

However, no matter how dominant Hamilton was today, his victory may still be compromised. Both Mercedes drivers are under investigation over starting tyre pressures. When both Mercedes were checked ahead of the start Hamilton´s left-rear tyre was found to be 0.3 psi below the required mark, with the same tyre on Rosberg´s car 1.1 psi under. Ferrari´s starting tyre pressures were also checked but they were found to be above the required value. So we´re living exciting moments now... What will be the penalty for the breach? Will the Mercedes drivers get a time penalty, which wouldn´t possibly change the result in Hamilton´s case as his winning margin was 25 seconds? Or will the Mercedes duo be excluded from the final standings? I really don´t know what to expect although there was a similar case in the GP2 series this weekend and the driver was excluded from the standings due to a similar breach.

For now Hamilton has massive 252 points in the championship standings to Rosberg´s 199 and Vettel´s 178. It certainly seems that there´s nobody who can challenge the self-confident Mercedes pilot for the championship this year. Rosberg really seems unable to take the fight to his team-mate. So in a fortnight the F1 circus will move to Singapore. The night race in Singapore is in my opinion the most perfect venue for Formula 1. Sebastian has always performed well there so once again I´ll be looking forward to the race with high hopes. And I´m convinced that Kimi won´t make the same mistake with the start twice if it even was his mistake... Roll on Singapore!

P.S. I just read on the Finnish web site that no penalties have been given to the Mercedes drivers due to the breach! Quite unbelievable... Something like this can only happen in Formula 1! (I mean I can´t understand why the GP2 driver was penalised for a similar breach and the F1 drivers weren´t... It doesn´t make any sense to me!)

Italian GP / Qualifying: Finally a perfect qualifying from Kimi!

It's almost midnight in Finland. I've spent the day at my parents' house and I didn't come home until at half past nine in the evening. I've had an awful headache all day but finally I managed to get rid of it! And what would be a better way to spend the midnight than writing about Formula 1 ;)

This weekend the F1 circus moved to legendary Monza, which is also the venue for Ferrari's home race. The top teams started to Q1 on the medium tyres like expected. At the beginning of the first segment there was an incident where Sauber's Ericsson was blocking the Force India of Hulkenberg but the stewards declared that the case was to be investigated after the qualifying. The Ferrari team-mates both made their second runs on the prime tyres, which I found a bit surprising. Hamilton who was topping the timesheets had also set his lap time on the medium tyres. Rosberg was second with a similar strategy. I was happy to see Kimi in P3. Both Force Indias seemed to have excellent pace as well although both Perez and Hulkenberg had set their fastest lap times on the soft tyres. To my disappointment Toro Rosso lost their race against time to get Verstappen out for a flying lap due to an engine issue. This was the first time in Verstappen's brief F1 career that he failed to reach Q2. We saw a bizarre episode when the team sent Verstappen out in the dying moments of the first session and almost immediately Verstappen's engine covers came off! In addition to the Dutchman also both McLarens and both Marussias got knocked out of Q2.

When Q2 got underway Hamilton was on fire right from the start. The Briton set a staggering lap time being 7 tenths of a second faster than his team-mate! However, partly Rosberg's tame performance can be explained by using an old-spec engine, which the German had reverted to. Ferrari's pace seemed fantastic: both Kimi and Sebastian were faster than Rosberg! Hamilton and Räikkönen , who were the fastest drivers after the first attempts, decided to sit out the second runs. Red Bull's Ricciardo also suffered from engine issues and didn't set a lap time in Q2. Also his team-mate Kvyat was knocked out of the decisive Q3 as well as Maldonado (Lotus), Nasr (Sauber) and Sainz (Toro Rosso).

Once again there was no doubt about who was going to snatch pole in Monza. After the first runs the Briton was topping the timesheets with Sebastian second and Kimi third. Massa in his Williams was fourth and Rosberg was in surprisingly low P5 being half a second slower than his team-mate! After yesterday's free practice sessions it seemed that Mercedes were 1,5 seconds faster than their closest rival Ferrari, which looked quite depressing. Luckily this didn't turn out to be the case in today's qualifying! Hulkenberg was yet another driver to suffer from technical woes in the qualifying: the German stopped at the pit lane entry as he reported a loss of power in his VJM08. Hamilton didn't manage to improve his lap time on his second run but his pole was never threatened. Kimi pulled out an amazing lap and edged his team-mate Sebastian fair and square! What a perfect day for the Iceman for a change! It was tight though as there were only five hundredths of a second separating the Ferrari team-mates. Rosberg was left fourth, which must have been a bitter disappointment for the Mercedes driver. The Williams duo Massa and Bottas occupied the third row with Massa being the faster one of the Williams drivers. Perez qualified 7th, Grosjean 8th, Hulkenberg 9th and Ericsson 10th.

Various penalties have been applied for tomorrow's race. Ericsson has been penalized three grid places for impeding Hulkenberg in Q1. The McLarens of Alonso and Button, the Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Kvyat and the Toro Rossos of Sainz and Verstappen are all affected by multiple engine and gearbox penalties. Verstappen will also have to serve a drive-through penalty in the first three laps of the race after the stewards decided that his STR10 was released in an unsafe condition during Q1. This many penalties make me very confused about tomorrow's grid. All I know is that Red Bull and Toro Rosso are set to occupy the final two rows of the grid but I've lost the count of the number of grid slots that each driver has been dropped... A 35-place grid drop feels nothing but ridiculous, not to mention the 105 grid places that the McLaren duo was set to drop at Spa! 4 power units per season is too little for the majority of the teams it seems.

Rosberg faced problems with the new-spec engine so problems may emerge for Hamilton as well. I'm sure that both Kimi and Sebastian will drive with all their heart in front of the tifosis so I'm confident that both of them will stand on the podium tomorrow! I don't mind the order as long as either one of them will be on the top step, haha! ;D But I definitely don't want to see any exploding tyres this time!

sunnuntai 23. elokuuta 2015

Belgian GP: Grosjean made it on the podium in addition to the Mercedes duo!

The sun was still shining when it was time for the Belgian grand prix. It was windier than on the previous days but against all odds there was no sign of rain! Hulkenberg in his Force India faced problems already before the formation lap and he reported his team he was losing power. The German drove to his grid slot but was unable to start so there was a new formation lap. Sainz in his Toro Rosso had problems as well and the Spaniard was to start to the race from the pits. Kimi had dropped down to P16 due to a gearbox change so another setback for the Iceman. Hamilton took a superb start from pole and kept his lead. Perez in his Force India had a rocket start as well and the Mexican made his way up to P2 and for a second it seemed that he could actually challenge Hamilton for the lead. Bottas got a poor start and he lost a position at the start dropping 4th. Rosberg also had a bad start and he dropped down to P5. Ricciardo in his Red Bull jumped 3rd at the start.

Already on the opening lap it was obvious that there was something wrong with Williams´ race pace. In no time Bottas had to surrender first to Rosberg and then Vettel. Ricciardo was the first top driver to pit, which happened already on lap 8, much earlier than I had expected. Force India responded immediately by taking Perez in a lap later. Also Bottas came in but it turned out to be a disasterous pit stop for the Finn... Williams blew up big time as Bottas was fitted three soft tyres and a medium tyre! I don´t remember any other case when something like this would have happened! Naturally you can´t mix the tyre compounds so Bottas had to face the inevitable: a drive-through penalty, which dropped the Finn down to P11.

Sebastian pitted not until on lap 14 (the lap I first thought the pit stop roulette would start) and he rejoined the track on the white-marked medium tyres, After the first pit stops Hamilton was still leading the race with his team-mate Rosberg second and Perez third. Grosjean had made his way to P4, Ricciardo was 5th and Vettel 6th. At this point Kimi had made his way through the field and was in P9.

Approaching the halfway point of the race Ricciardo´s RB11 suddenly came to a halt on the main straight due to a technical failure. Virtual safety car was deployed. Many drivers pitted for the second time including Massa and Räikkönen. Hamilton´s gap to Rosberg was 2,6 seconds at this stage. When there were about 10 more laps to go it was obvious that Sebastian was on a 1-stop strategy. His medium tyres seemed to be in a good shape according to the data. Grosjean in P4 was rapidly closing the gap to Sebastian as the Frenchman had a much fresher set of tyres at the end. The gap decreased tenth by tenth and suddenly Grosjean was already within DRS distance from Sebastian... I was expecting to see an intense and thrilling battle for the podium place but I never got to see one. On the second last lap Sebastian´s rear right tyre suddenly exploded right after Eau Rouge! It destroyed Sebastian´s race when a podium finish was already in the German´s reach! I don´t have any words to describe how gutted I was! For sure it was risky tactics from Ferrari to try a 1-stop strategy but according to Pirelli´s estimations the medium tyres should have lasted for around 40 laps and Sebastian´s tyres were only 28 laps old... If only the race had been a lap shorter! It was such a hair-raising and devastating moment! After the race I had to cool down my emotions and jump into a lake for a swim ;) I needed some time to get my thoughts together before writing this blog post.

At the same time Kvyat at the wheel of his Red Bull was storming through the field on the fresh set of soft tyres and the Russian had made his way up to P5 towards the end. On the closing lap Kimi was in P7 and Toro Rosso´s Verstappen was right at the Iceman´s tail. The Dutchman tried a brave overtaking move and got past Kimi for a moment but then went wide and Kimi snatched his position back. Verstappen seemed to be on fire today as he definitely didn´t hesitate to make overtaking moves, which were very enjoyable to watch.

So nothing new under the Belgian sun: Hamilton and Rosberg made it a 1-2 for Mercedes. Grosjean completed the podium, which was an impressive achievement from the Frenchman, who has had bad moments at Spa as well. In 2012 he caused a major collision at the start of the race and was penalised with a 1-race ban. Today it was a completely different story for him! Kvyat finished 4th, which was remarkable job from the Russian Red Bull driver, Perez was 5th, Massa 6th, Kimi 7th, Verstappen 8th, Bottas 9th and Ericsson 10th. Kimi had a very decent race day as the Iceman started to the race from P16 and finished 7th so at least it was a little of a comfort. Sebastian on the other hand was told to be so pissed off after the race that he had forgotten to go for the weigh-in right after the race but luckily there were no penalties given for him due to the incident. I can only imagine what kind of thoughts must have been going inside Sebastian´s head after the puncture...

Hamilton has now increased his lead into 28 points in the drivers´ championship standings and due to the misfortunate puncture Sebastian is already 39 points off Rosberg. But the battle continues at Monza in a fortnight and I know Sebastian isn´t going to give up until the world championship becomes mathematically impossible! In spite of being absolutely gutted for Sebastian´s puncture there were a few reasons for joy as well: I was happy about Kimi´s self-confident and impressive driving and Verstappen´s crazy but brave overtaking moves! ...Roll on Monza!

lauantai 22. elokuuta 2015

Belgian GP / Qualifying: Untouchable Hamilton took 6th consecutive pole!

So far the Belgian GP weekend has been exceptional as far as weather is concerned. There has been no rain in either one of the free practice sessions or in the qualifying today. Instead there have been warm temperatures and blue skies! Let´s see if we get some rain in the race, rain is kind of part of the Belgian GP weekend ;)

The start to Q1 was business as usual: all top teams started to the first session on the medium tyres. The pace of the Silver Arrows was absolutely convincing with Hamilton having the upper hand on his team-mate. Kimi didn´t have a very good first attempt but I was sure everything would go to plan this time. At the end of Q1 everyone came out on the yellow-marked soft tyres except the Mercedes duo, which had opted for another set of medium tyres. It tells a lot about Mercedes´ dominance that in spite of the tyre choice it was Hamilton and Rosberg topping the timesheets although the medium tyres were supposed to be 1,5 seconds slower than the soft ones! Perez in his Force India surprised everybody in Q1 being third fastest. The Ferrari duo made it safely into Q2 with Sebastian 6th and Kimi 7th. No surprises in the drop zone: Nasr in his Sauber, the McLaren duo and the Marussia duo were out of Q2.

Q2 got a shocking turn when there were eight minutes left in the clock. Kimi in his Ferrari became a big-name casualty of Q2, after technical issues forced to bring his very sick-sounding SF15-T to a halt approaching turn 14. I didn´t want to believe my eyes! Not again... No more unlucky incidents for Kimi this season! This oil pressure issue meant that Kimi´s qualifying was over. An utterly disappointing turn indeed! Rosberg was the fastest man on track in Q2 with his team-mate 2nd and Sebastian 3rd. I was a bit worried about Sebastian´s driving as in certain corners he exceeded the track limits with all four wheels... I definitely didn´t want to see his lap times deleted, which could have lead into him being eliminated from the decisive Q3. Luckily there was no action from the stewards in terms of this matter! I was a bit gutted for Verstappen as well: the Dutchman had complained about losing power already in Q1 but I don´t actually know what happened to him in Q2 as he didn´t set a lap time at all. He´ll also be facing a 10-place grid penalty for an engine change... Perez on the other hand kept up his good work and made it P4 in Q2.

Hamilton took provisional pole in Q3 but in their second attempts Rosberg and Hamilton had it very tight through the first sector. But over the rest of the lap the Briton was simply irresistable! So 6th consecutive pole for the British Mercedes driver. Once again Rosberg was left in his team-mate´s shadow. Finally there was almost half a second separating the team-mates. Behind the two silver cars Bottas was a distant third for Williams. Behind the Slver Arrows the battle for positions was extremely close as just two tenths of a second covered third through to eight. Sebastian paid the price for the closely-matched field as his fastest lap proved good enough only for ninth! Another disappointing turn. With penalties taken into account the grid will line up thus: 1. Hamilton 2. Rosberg 3. Bottas 4. Perez (!) 5. Ricciardo 6. Massa 7. Maldonado 8. Vettel 9. Grosjean (5-place grid drop due to a gear box change) 10. Sainz 11. Hulkenberg 12. Kvyat 13. Ericsson 14. Räikkönen 15. Nasr 16. Stevens 17. Merhi 18. Verstappen 19. Button 20. Alonso. Impressive job from Perez especially!

McLaren have been forced to change so many parts in their power units this weekend that altogether Button and Alonso would be having a 105-place grid penalty! This is absolutely ridiculous because there´s no way they can be dropped so many grid places! And this penalty isn´t converted into time penalty so it actually doesn´t change the team´s back-of-the-grid starting positions.

It´s interesting to see how the start will work out for all the drivers as there´s the new rule that denies the teams to assist the drivers at the start in terms of the clutch settings for example. There might be some poor starts tomorrow... My favorites don´t have the perfect conditions to start to the race but I´m sure Kimi will have a strong race if only there won´t be any technical issues! Let´s see how good Williams´ race pace is at Spa. And there might be some rain coming from the sky. But I´m counting on one thing especially: Kimi isn´t called "the king of Spa" without a reason!!

perjantai 21. elokuuta 2015

Kimi at Santander karting event in Helsinki

It was pure entertainment when Kimi was on track!
Tuesday August 18 was everything but an ordinary weekday for a Kimi fan like myself. There was a unique event taking place on that day: a karting event organised by the Ferrari sponsor Santander Bank. The event took place at the parking lot next to the Helsinki ice rink. The weather was absolutely perfect: +23 degrees Celsius and blue skies. This was an extraordinary chance for some amateur Finnish drivers to challenge their idol on track at the wheel of a go-kart. There had been preliminary races around Finland previously in the summer and the fastest drivers of those rounds had made their way into this event with Kimi. Also selected members of media had an opportunity to take their chances on challenging Kimi. Behind the microphone Kimi notoriously doesn´t enjoy the company of the media but on track  behind the wheel it turned out to be clearly a whole different story! Kimi started to the 5-minute race from the 7th (last) grid slot but the Iceman made his way to the lead in no time and made fun of the media ;)

The Iceman at the wheel of his go-kart.
You don´t get a chance to see Kimi live too often so I absolutely loved every second of the event. Kimi seemed quite relaxed and he really seemed to enjoy the driving. And the Iceman was absolutely convincing behind the wheel. Starting from the last grid slot it usually took only a few laps from him to make it into the lead. But it wasn´t as easy when it came to driving the simulator, which was on site. It´s a well-known fact that Kimi isn´t fond of simulators so when he had a go on the simulator against some amateur Finnish players he had to settle for P3 and P2. So it´s obvious that playing a game and driving a real car are two quite different things and at the wheel of any motor vehicle Kimi absolutely shines!

In the final Kimi faced the four quickest contenders from the previous rounds. I was pretty convinced that Kimi was going to win the final in a dominant way but things evolved differently. Heikki Joenkari, an amateur karting driver, managed to increase his lead into some four seconds already at the beginning of the 10-minute final. Kimi made it up to P2 easily but he had no real chance to catch up Joenkari. So Kimi had to settle for P2 in the final. The race was very entertaining to watch as there were some tight battles on track and at some point there were pieces of the barriers flying in the air as the drivers hit them. It was so great to listen to Kimi´s interview on the podium when he was interviewed by the Finnish F1 commentator Oskari Saari. I was surprised that Kimi was so talkative. It´s always a memorable moment for a fan to see her idol in front of her eyes!

Of course Oskari Saari asked also if Kimi had anything new to tell
about his contract situation. He said he didn´t have any news to
announce. But we didn´t have to wait any longer than till the following day when Ferrari announced that they had renewed Kimi´s contract for 2016! I was mega happy when I heard the news! I´m absolutely thrilled that Kimi and Sebastian will continue as team-mates also next year as they definitely make the best line-up ever for Ferrari! Just wondering if Kimi knew about this already on Tuesday when he stood on the podium in front of his fans... There were no conclusions that could be made from his words but I had a strong feeling that there might be some awesome news considering his contract in the near future. It´s very possible that I heard what I wanted to hear as I had wished from the bottom of my heart that Kimi would continue at Ferrari in 2016 as well! So it´s very hard to find any words to describe how overwhelmingly happy I am at the moment! :D

After the final Kimi was interviewed on the podium by Oskari Saari.
Heikki Joenkari managed to beat Kimi!

Luckily the torturing 4-week summer break is now over and it´s time for the Belgian GP weekend! As Kimi is known for being the "king of Spa" I can´t wait for the qualifying tomorrow!                   

The opening lap of the 10-minute final with Kimi making his way up position by position.