Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 19. huhtikuuta 2015

Bahrain GP: Hamilton took win in a thrilling race!

The setting sun looked breathtaking when the cars were ready for the warm-up lap. Unfortunately Jenson Button was unable to start to the race due to severe technical issues in his MP4-30. Felipe Massa´s Williams was also hit with electrical problems and the Brazilian was unable to start to the warm-up lap. Williams managed to solve the issue and Massa started to the race from the pit lane.

The start in the darkening night of Bahrain was absolutely thrilling. Hamilton maintained his lead and Sebastian followed the Briton closely. Kimi at the wheel of his Prancing Horse took an impressive start and going to the turn 1 he made his way past Rosberg, who dropped down to P4. Everything looked promising for Ferrari. Soon it became obvious that Rosberg was dangerously fast behind Kimi. On lap 4 Nico was within DRS distance from Kimi and managed to squeeze past the Iceman. The other Finn Valtteri Bottas was driving in P5 only a couple seconds behind Kimi. Only a few laps later Rosberg had closed the gap to Sebastian and was right at the German´s tail. Sebastian made a mistake and went wide but managed barely to maintain his second place. At Sakhir we saw very truculent Nico Rosberg: the German had clearly decided to attack in an aggressive way. And that´s definitely what Nico has to do if he aims to beat his invincible team-mate Hamilton in the near future!

On lap 9 sparks were flying and my heart jumped into my mouth when Nico made his aggressive overtaking move and passed Sebastian in his Ferrari after a fair fight. Sebastian was the first top driver to pit for a fresh set of soft tyres on lap 14. Mercedes had to react as well and Nico pitted on the following lap. However, Sebastian benefitted from the undercut and moved ahead of Rosberg. Hamilton pitted on lap 16 and rejoined the track right ahead of Vettel and Rosberg. At the same time Rosberg made another aggressive overtaking move on Sebastian and took P3 (Kimi hadn´t pitted yet and was driving in the lead).

Kimi pitted not until on lap 18 and the Iceman´s strategy differed from that of his rivals´. After the pit stop Kimi headed back to the track on the harder compound of Pirelli tyres. I was a bit suspicious about Kimi´s lap times: could the Iceman set lap times competitive enough to still fight for a podium finish? Kimi answered me very shortly: he set absolutely stunning lap times and was even a second per lap faster than the top three drivers!

Again Sebastian was the first top driver to make his second pit stop. Prime tyres for him for the last stint. Hamilton pitted from the lead a lap later with similar strategy. Also Rosberg made his last pit stop but for the second time Sebastian managed to jump him during the pit stops! I felt so delighted that Sebastian had once again got ahead of Rosberg but my delight was sooo premature... Only a short moment later Sebastian made another mistake and went slightly off track so it was an easy task for Nico to move ahead of the German Ferrari driver. There were more setbacks to come: Sebastian told the team that there was something wrong with his front wing and he had to pit for a nose change. Sebastian rejoined the track right behind the Finnish Williams pilot Bottas in P5.

Kimi was still driving in the lead but the Finn didn´t have a problem-free race, either as the Iceman reported that he was having problems with the radio. Kimi pitted not until on lap 41 for a fresh set of soft tyres. I knew we were about to see Kimi on fire after that: the Iceman was going to storm towards Rosberg! And Kimi´s performance on the fresh tyres was breathtaking: he was 2-3 seconds faster per lap than Rosberg. It was exactly the Kimi I have missed! I had absolutely no doubt that he was inevitably going to catch up Rosberg.

I thought Sebastian would have had a strong chance to get past Bottas but I was wrong. Williams´s straight line speed was faster than that of Ferrari and Bottas drove very wisely not making any mistakes. Sebastian drove behind Bottas for the last 20 laps but it seemed that there was nothing the German could have done to overtake the stubborn Finn ;) Kimi on the other hand had caught up Rosberg when there were only 2 laps to go. Going into turn 1 Rosberg went wide and Kimi thanked for the opprtunity by passing Rosberg with style! A moment later we heard Rosberg complaining about a brake issue on the team radio. Though I´m convinced that Kimi would have managed to pass Nico even if there hadn´t been any brake issues!

Hamilton won the race under the fireworks and Kimi took stunning P2. Rosberg had to settle for P3 and Bottas managed to drive to the chequered flag in P4 right in front of Sebastian in his Ferrari. Ricciardo had a dramatic end to his race in P6: right after crossing the finish line the Australian was hit with an engine failure! Grosjean in his Lotus finished 7th, Perez in Force India 8th, Kvyat in his Red Bull 9th and Bottas´s team-mate Massa 10th. Toro Rosso´s performance was a huge disappointment: both cars were lacking pace really badly and both Sainz and Verstappen faced DNF due to technical failures.

It was enjoyable to watch Kimi on the podium today. Although the Iceman wasn´t entirely happy with his performance as he had to settle for P2 instead of the win. But it was such a pleasure to see the fighting Kimi back on track! It´s obvious that Kimi and Sebastian make a fantastic line-up and the atmosphere in the team is awesome. I´m absolutely convinced that Maurizio Arrivabene is the perfect Team Principal for Ferrari. What a charismatic leader with an awesome attitude and philosophy! I was slightly disappointed that Sebastian made those mistakes, which cost him the podium place but mistakes are part of motor racing and I´m sure the German will bounce back stronger when the F1 circus moves to Europe in three weeks!

Hamilton has a convincing 27-point lead in the drivers´ standings with his team-mate Rosberg second. Sebastian in P3 is only 1 point behind Rosberg and Kimi made his way up to P4 in the standings. Kimi is now 23 down on his team-mate. There are 52 points separating Mercedes and Ferrari in the constructors´ standings in favor of Mercedes. This is a good sign in terms of the upcoming races: Mercedes aren´t as dominant as they were last season! All teams bring major updates to Barcelona so it´ll be very interesting to see, which team will make the biggest step forward. These three weeks can´t go fast enough... Roll on Barcelona!

lauantai 18. huhtikuuta 2015

Bahrain GP / Qualifying: Sebastian splits the Mercedes!

Me and my family had been invited to a relative´s birthday party today but luckily I managed to get home right in time for the qualifying. The night was already darkening at Sakhir. I love these night races! The artificial lights make the F1 cars look even more magical than in daylight. The setting at Sakhir is so perfect: I love that little pond next to the circuit with those alight palm trees! I wish I could experience all that live some day!

Q1 was business as usual: almost all teams made their first runs on the harder compound of Pirelli tyres. Alonso in his McLaren set his fastest lap time on the soft tyres and managed to make it as high as P9! That showed McLaren had clearly managed to take a step forward. Although Alonso´s team-mate Button had a disastrous qualifying: his MP4-30 quit even before the Briton had set a lap time. Sebastian at the wheel of his SF15T came out not until there were only 6 minutes left in the clock. The German made his first and only run on the soft tyres but Sebastian seemed to be a bit lost with his rhythm. Kimi had made his first attempt on the harder tyres but the Iceman had locked up his tyres which caused flat spots on his front tyres. On his second attempt the Finn made his way up to P5. In the first session the Williams drivers looked dangerously competitive: Bottas split the Mercedes duo, Hamilton being the faster one of the Mercedes team-mates. Maldonado in his E23 suffered from an engine issue and the Venezuelan was the first one to miss out on Q2. Kvyat was out of the second session as well, which was a huge disappointment for the Russian Red Bull driver.

In Q2 Hamilton showed that once again it was hammer time: the Briton nailed a magical lap time, which made him 1,2 seconds faster than his team-mate Rosberg! To be honest, I was a bit worried about Rosberg. He has been so tame this season! He seems to be somehow lost in the battle against Hamilton. This time it was Kimi splitting the Mercedes duo! Ferrari´s pace looked very convincing, especially because Kimi had set his fastest lap time on the used set of soft tyres. Grosjean in his Lotus made a great impression as well being 7th fastest of the second phase. What caught me by disappointment was to see Toro Rosso´s Verstappen being knocked out of Q3! The Dutchman had had brake issues during the free practices and in the qualifying he had some under/ oversteer issues but in the post-qualifying interview he didn´t want to use them as an excuse to not making it into Q3. His team-mate Sainz was 10th fastest and barely made his way into the final phase of the qualifying. Force India´s Perez, both Saubers and Alonso were also out of  Q3.

When Q3 got underway the Ferraris were the very first to come out on track. After the first attempts Hamilton had a firm grip on the pole. Ricciardo in his Red Bull was second but the Australian was the only one, who had set his lap time on a fresh set of soft tyres. There was absolutely nobody who could challenge the British Mercedes driver for pole today. But what was absolutely delighting was the fact that Sebastian managed to split the Mercedes and make it P2! Kimi drove the best qualifying of the season and qualified in P4 being 3 tenths of a second slower than his team-mate Sebastian. The Iceman had already beaten his team-mate in Q2 but when the times really mattered, Sebastian managed to nail it. The Williams duo locked the third row Bottas being the faster one of the Williams team-mates. Ricciardo qualified 7th, Hulkenberg 8th, Sainz 9th and Grosjean 10th.

The starting positions for tomorrow´s race are absolutely pulsating: a Mercedes-Ferrari battle will feature large in tomorrow´s race. It´s so thrilling to see if Sebastian will be able to challenge Hamilton for the lead coming to the turn 1. Hopefully Kimi will take as electric a start as a week ago in China and will get past Rosberg on the opening lap! In hot conditions like Malaysia and now Bahrain Ferrari really seem to be flying! In Malaysia Ferrari had a clear advantage over Mercedes in terms of tyre degradation but I don´t know if the same implies in Bahrain. Ferrari´s race pace on the long runs has been even better than that of Mercedes so I´m sure Mercedes will face a clear threat from the red cars tomorrow. It would be such a fascinating thought to see Ferrari take a 1-2 under the bright lights of Sakhir. But I definitely want to see the Iceman on the podium!

tiistai 14. huhtikuuta 2015

Aki Hintsa: The anatomy of winning by Oskari Saari

Aki Hintsa: The anatomy of winning was published in March 2015. It tells the story of the man behind Formula 1 champions and reveals the secret to success. Aki Hintsa is a Finnish pshysician specializing in preventive medicine. At the beginning of his career Hintsa worked as a missionary doctor in Ethiopia in the 1990s.  He is best known for his work in F1 as a doctor and coach. Hintsa worked in the facades of F1 for 11 years before he quit his job after the 2013 season.

Hintsa´s practices have made drivers turn into champions. The book contains never-before-published information from the inner circle of F1 in a compelling and humorous way. For example there's a hilarious story of what happened when Dr Hintsa decided to challenge Kimi Räikkönen for a race on snow mobiles... It also contains Hintsa´s comprehensive model for personal success, which anyone can apply in his/her personal life. Hintsa has a holistic approach to human well-being and health. The journey towards success begins with three fundamental questions: Who are you? What do you want? Are you in control of your life? Hintsa´s practices have been the key factor behind the success of not only F1 drivers but also many top level business executives.

Nowadays Hintsa concentrates on running a unique clinic in Geneva with clients including prominent figures and top athletes. The aim of the clinic is to improve the client´s physical and non-physical performance and quality of life in a holistic, individually tailored manner. The author of the book is Oskari Saari, a journalist, producer and nonfiction author. He´s known throughout Finland (and worldwide) as the commentator on the Formula 1 races.

The book made a huge impression on me. The story was so compelling that it was difficult to let the book off my hands in the evening. Before reading the book I knew very little about Aki Hintsa although I´ve been a huge Formula 1 fan since 1994. Actually the only thing I knew was that Hintsa worked as McLaren team doctor. It was absolutely thrilling to read all those inside stories about the cooperation between Hintsa and such F1 champions as Mika Häkkinen, Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel. Though I´m a passionate Vettel fan, I had no idea that Hintsa has been such a key figure behind the German´s success. A couple of months ago it was breaking news that Sebastian had bought himself a summer cottage in Joutsa, Central Finland. Who else would have been the seller but Aki Hintsa himself!

Nor had I any idea that Sebastian´s former performance coach Tommi Pärmäkoski was part of Hintsa´s team as well! Tommi worked as Sebastian´s coach from 2009 to 2011 and this was the start to a legendary success story. During those years Sebastian won two world championships. I always had the intuition that Sebastian and Tommi were a perfect team and that Tommi had great expertise in terms of psychological performance. A flashback hit me when I read in the book about the Turkish GP in 2010. The Red Bull team-mates Vettel and Webber had had tight battles for victories already earlier that season but the Turkish GP was a turning point in terms of Vettel´s career. Webber was driving in the lead until Sebastian tried to overtake his team-mate and the situation lead into a collision and both Sebastian´s and Mark´s race was ruined. Sebastian´s gestures on the live TV coverage showed that the situation was out of control. I remember my own reactions after this very GP. I was very worried that this collision between the team-mates could ruin Sebastian´s hopes for winning the championship. I had a strong hunch that this episode would either make Sebastian a stronger racer if he was able to deal with the situation and keep his feet firmly on the ground. Or it would ruin the German´s hopes to fight for the championship that season. Luckily Sebastian managed to turn the difficulties into success and he won his very first world championship that year. I doubt what would have happened if Tommi hadn´t been there with his psychological skills! Hintsa´s model was all about helping the driver manage extreme stress due to the physical and mental demand of the races.

It seems to me that Aki Hintsa was one of the few people who understood that Kimi had to be given the personal space he needed. There was absolutely no way Kimi could have been forced to do things he hated: huge amount of PR work and being in the lime light all the time. Demanding these things from Kimi would have meant deteriorated performance from Kimi in the races. Luckily Hintsa managed to make McLaren Team Principal Ron Dennis convinced of this aspect. This is only one aspect which shows Hintsa´s exceptional psychological knowledge.

The book made me pore over my own life. Would I be able to answer questions like who I really am and am I in control of my own life? They sound like simple questions but they are more complex than they sound. So there´s a very deep aspect in this book as well. One of the best things is that an ordinary person like myself can learn and apply Hintsa´s model and aim for an improvement in the quality of my life.

So far the book hasn´t yet been translated into English but I´m sure it will be. Every passionate Formula 1 fan should definitely read it! For a fleeting moment reading the book makes you a part of the inner circle of F1. In addition to being a talented F1 commentator Oskari Saari has impressive skills as a writer. I hope there´re many more F1 related books to come in the future!

sunnuntai 12. huhtikuuta 2015

Chinese GP: A much expected 1-2 for Mercedes!

Those Sundays are the best when you wake up to watch a Formula 1 race. Luckily today was such a Sunday as the Chinese GP was about to get underway. And what a race this turned out to be! Not necessarily in terms of the battle in the front but some other events further down in the pack.

When the lights went out the Mercedes duo kept their double lead with Hamilton first and Rosberg second. Sebastian also maintained his third place. This time Kimi managed to take a stunning start and his driving through the first corners was impressive. The Iceman managed to get past both Williams drivers and he was right at his team-mate´s tail. Massa in his Williams was 5th and his team-mate Bottas 6th but almost immediately it was obvious that Williams had no chance to match Ferrari´s race pace. Exactly how I expected it to be.

Red Bull´s race was a catastrophy right from the beginning. Kvyat, who had started to the race on the prime tyres was back in P14 with Ricciardo right behind him. Ricciardo on the soft tyres was significantly faster than his Russian team-mate but it was clear that Kvyat wasn´t going to make overtaking easy for Ricciardo. Soon Kvyat was told on the team radio that he was on a different strategy from his team-mate so he shouldn´t hold Ricciardo up. Still it took a while before Kvyat let his team-mate pass him. Red Bull was definitely in trouble with their tenuous straight line speed.

Sebastian was the first top driver to pit for a fresh set of soft tyres on lap 14. A lap later Hamilton pitted from the lead. Mercedes changed their strategies: plan A was to drive the second stint on the prime tyres but because Ferrari had opted for the soft tyres, Mercedes matched their strategy. Rosberg and Kimi also pitted for a set of new soft tyres and the situation in the lead remained unchanged after the first pit stops. At the same time Kvyat in his Red Bull faced a DNF due to an engine failure. Another depressing turn in terms of Red Bull´s race!

Around mid-way through the race we heard Rosberg complaining on the team radio about his team-mate´s pace. Nico complained that Lewis drove unnecessarily slowly in the lead which caused Sebastian to catch Nico up. On the other hand Nico didn´t want to close the gap on his team-mate because in that case he would have been forced to drive in the dirty air, which would have destroyed his tyres.

In the second half of the race there were solid few-second gaps between the top four and it seemed that neither Rosberg could challenge his team-mate for the win nor could Kimi challenge his Ferrari team-mate for the podium place. The Williams duo were already half a minute behind the lead. Mercedes and Ferrari had identical strategies: both teams chose the prime tyres for the last stint. Williams on the other hand opted for the prime tyres on both their second and last stint, which made Massa and Bottas even slower and unable to match Ferrari´s pace.

On lap 35 we saw a bizarre episode when Maldonado in his Lotus drove to the pits. The Venezuelan went wide in the turn of the pit entry and he had to switch to reverse and even needed help from the track officials to get the car back on track! Something which can be expected only from certain drivers, haha ;)

Towards the end of the race we heard some legendary team radio comments from Kimi once again. When the Iceman was lapping Alonso in his McLaren (what a pulsating moment to see as Kimi and Alonso were team-mates at Ferrari last year) he told on the radio:" Get the McLaren out of the way!" Classic Kimi! A few laps later he repeated the same message on the radio when there were Lotus´ Maldonado and McLaren´s Button ahead of him.

Behind the lead Toro Rosso´s Max Verstappen had performed in an impressive way. The young Dutchman was in P8 and about to score valuable points for Toro Rosso again but then something unexpected happened when there were only two more laps to go. Verstappen´s STR10 was hit with an engine failure and it stopped on the finish straight. That was such a shame, I was so gutted for Verstappen! He had shown some impressive overtaking moves previously in the race. Due to the lack of straight line speed he couldn´t use DRS to pass his rivals but instead he braked very late into corners and gained the advantage there. It would have been a certain points finish for the Dutchman! He´s performance in spite of his young age has impressed me greatly. In spite of the fact that he still has many things to learn in terms of the procedures like what buttons to press when your engine fails he has definitely proved that he is in the right place in the right time. There´s no doubt this man knows how to drive an F1 car! And he has done it in a mature style. Without the technical failures he´d have scored points in all three races this year. At Shanghai he would also have beaten Ricciardo in his Red Bull (Kvyat and Sainz had already retired from the race), which definitely caught my eye.

Due to Verstappen´s engine failure safety car was deployed. At the same time we saw a comical episode when the track marshals tried to push Verstappen´s car off the track. This turned out to be a difficult task: the car hit the wall many times before the marshals got their job done! Unfortunately there were only two more laps to go, which meant that driving to the chequered flag behind the safety car was an empty climax for the race. Hamilton won the Chinese GP with Rosberg second and Vettel 3rd. Kimi finished 4th, Massa 5th, Bottas 6th, Grosjean 7th (well done from the French Lotus driver!), Nasr 8th, Ricciardo 9th and Ericsson 10th. Without the safety car it would have been thrilling to see if Kimi could have challenged his team-mate for the podium place. Kimi set excellent lap times in the second half of the race and was the fastest of the top four drivers. He had already closed the gap to Sebastian into 1,5 seconds. Though closing the gap is one thing and making the overtaking move is a whole different thing! Well, we´ll never find out!

Hamilton is still leading the drivers´ standings with 68 points to Vettel´s 55. Rosberg is third with 51 points. Kimi has now 24 points. Mercedes has a strong lead in the constructors´ standings with 119 points to Ferrari´s 79. But it´s definitely interesting to see how things evolve at Mercedes. There seems to have started a war between the Mercedes team-mates in the post-race press conference. Rosberg has openly complained about Hamilton ruining his race by driving unnecessarily slowly in the lead. Hamilton responded to his team-mate by saying that it wasn´t his job to take care of Nico´s race and if he was too slow Nico could have tried to pass him. I don´t mind if there´s a psychological war breaking loose because this only benefits Ferrari, who have a perfect harmony in the team.

Luckily there´s only one week to wait until the next race in Bahrain! I love these back-to-back races!

lauantai 11. huhtikuuta 2015

Chinese GP / Qualifying: Hamilton conquered pole for the 3rd time this season!

Conditions for qualifying in China were perfect: it was sunny and warm and the temperature was about 19 degrees Celsius. Q1 got underway in quite a typical way: top teams like Mercedes and Ferrari made their first runs on the harder tyre compound whilst the midfield teams came out on the yellow-marked soft tyres right at the beginning of the first session. The Williams drivers Bottas and Massa stayed in their pit garages until there were only about 7 minutes left in the clock. The Mercedes duo were the only drivers who didn´t use soft tyres in Q1 and they still made it easily among the 15 fastest. Sebastian topped the time sheets with his team-mate Kimi second. In terms of the Finns the situation looked good as Bottas was right behind Kimi in P3. Hamilton was 5th and Rosberg 8th but they had set their fastest lap times on the prime tyres. No surprises in terms of the knockout zone: Hulkenberg in his Force India was the first man to be eliminated from Q2. The McLaren duo missed out on the second session as well as the Marussia duo Merhi and Stevens.

Williams´ Bottas was one of the first drivers to set a lap time in Q2 but when Hamilton came out the magic started to happen. Hamilton nailed an unbelievable lap time being 2 seconds faster than the Finn! Rosberg seemed unable to match his team-mate´s pace but ended up being three tenths of a second slower than the Briton. The Ferraris came out not until at the end of the session and the pecking order was clear: first the Mercedes duo then the Ferraris. Both Saubers made it among the top ten which I found a bit surprising. Maldonado was the first man to be knocked out of the final session whilst his team-mate Grosjean made it through to Q3. Kvyat at the wheel of his RB11 had suffered from some power issues during the qualifying and the Russian was out of Q3. So were both Toro Rosso drivers, which was surprising, too as their pace had seemed quite convincing in the free practice sessions.

In the final and decisive last session one thing was clear: Ferrari were unable to carry the fight to Mercedes. The silver cars had a decent edge on sheer speed. Hamilton took provisional pole by 3-tenth margin to his team-mate. Both Ferrari drivers made their first runs on used rubber which meant there was no chance to set competitive lap times. At the closing stages of Q3 Rosberg managed to improve his lap time but there were still 4 hundredths of a second separating him from Hamilton in the Briton´s favor! Rosberg sounded so frustrated on the team radio. The German would desperately have wanted to take the pole but he wasn´t quite fast enough. Sebastian pulled out an impressive lap and he snatched P3 being 9 tenths of a seconds off Hamilton´s pace. Kimi, however, made mistakes in the first sector of his flying lap and was unable to match Sebastian´s lap time. Kimi had had some issues during the out lap so the Finn´s tyre temperatures weren´t optimal on his time lap. Kimi looked absolutely gutted after the qualifying and said in the interview that the result was down to his shitty lap! Without the mistakes the Iceman would have been up there fighting for a second row grid spot. Both Williams drivers made it ahead of Kimi, Massa P4 and Bottas P5 so Kimi had to settle for P6. Kimi ended up being half a second off his team-mate´s pace and that´s a lot! The other Finn, Valtteri Bottas wasn´t satisfied with his lap, either. And you shouldn´t ever be satisfied if you get beaten by your team-mate! Bottas also had a tyre pressure issue: they had gone a little too high on his rear tyre pressures, which led to oversteer. Ricciardo in his Red Bull qualified 7th, Grosjean 8th, Nasr 9th and Ericsson 10th.

Shanghai International Circuit is extremely demanding on tyres so it´ll be interesting to see, whether Ferrari still have an advantage over their rivals in terms of tyre management. Both Mercedes and Ferrari saved one set of soft tyres in the qualifying. Mercedes harvested it already in Q1 as they ran only on the hard tyres. Ferrari saved the set in Q3 as they made their first runs on the used set of soft tyres. In Malaysia Sebastian was able to make one pit stop less than Mercedes, which was a key factor in terms of his victory. Let´s see if Ferrari can repeat this tomorrow. I really hope Ferrari´s race day speed matches what they had in Sepang! Kimi on the other hand once again made his race day a little bit harder as his qualifying was far from perfect. But I sincerely believe that Williams won´t be able to match Ferrari´s race pace. But Williams are scaringly fast on the straights so it won´t be an easy task to overtake those two...

Kimi has now had three poor qualifying sessions this season. The Iceman can´t afford letting this form continue! He has to start delivering also in qualifying sessions, otherwise it´s an easy task for Sebastian to beat him every time. This could be a turning point in Kimi´s career: whether he goes up towards success or his career in F1 starts to fade away. Nevertheless, in spite of all the mistakes, errors and bad luck (though there isn´t such thing in F1 actually) I´ll always support the Iceman no matter what! Difficulties are meant to be overcome, that´s what I strongly believe in!