Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 21. kesäkuuta 2015

Austrian GP: Rosberg beat Hamilton to victory!

Conditions were dry when it was time to race at Spielberg. Kimi had opted to start on the yellow-marked soft tyres along with Maldonado, Perez and Ricciardo whilst all the others were on the supersofts. The start was crucial as always. Rosberg in P2 got a superb start and rushed into turn 1 ahead of his team-mate Hamilton! Finally we saw some "maximum attack" from Rosberg. Verstappen in his Toro Rosso had an excellent start as well and the Dutchman made his way past Bottas´s Williams jumping 6th. The opening lap was very unfortunate for Kimi in his Ferrari: the Iceman got massive wheel spin exiting turn 2 and his Ferrari came into contact with Alonso´s McLaren. Both hit the wall and Alonso´s MP4-30 ended up atop the Ferrari´s cockpit, only inches from Kimi´s head! The accident looked very scary and the situation could have been much worse but luckily both drivers were unharmed. After such a disasterous qualifying I would have hoped to see a splendid recovery from Kimi in today´s race but things evolved in a whole different direction today. So it was a very disappointing DNF for Kimi who should be showing his best performance if the Finn wants to convince the team to use their option on him for one more year in the team... Safety car was deployed due to the crash.

Safety car came in on lap 7 and Rosberg started pulling a gap to his team-mate. Sebastian was third, Massa fourth and Hulkenberg fifth. Bottas had closed the gap to Verstappen and the Finn was clearly determined to overtake the Dutch rookie. Verstappen´s front brakes were overheating and he couldn´t prevent Bottas from overtaking him on lap 15. Bottas´s next target was Hulkenberg and the Finn started chasing the German ahead of him. On lap 25 Bottas attacked again and made an impressive overtaking move on the Force India pilot and passed him in style. Hulkenberg pitted for a fresh set of prime tyres right after that and Williams responded to this by taking Bottas in a lap later. But unfortunately Bottas´s pit stop took a couple of seconds too long and Hulkenberg managed to jump the Finn as Bottas rejoined the track.

Rosberg pitted from the lead on lap 33. There was some drama at the pit entry: Rosberg had a huge lock-up when entering the pits and for a second I thought there might be a penalty coming up for speeding in the pit lane but luckily it turned out that Rosberg had managed to brake in time. Hamilton pitted a couple of laps later but the Briton made a costy mistake when exiting the pits: he crossed the white line at the pit exit and was therefore handed a 5-second time penalty! Still Hamilton´s second place seemed secured as Vettel seemed unable to match the Mercedes´ pace. At the same time Bottas had made his way past Hulkenberg again.

Sebastian made his only pit stop on lap 36 and it went all wrong! The pit stop was delayed as the right rear wheel took longer to change, which cost 13 extra seconds! This was sufficient to drop him behind Massa´s Williams. I was so gutted for Sebastian! I knew Sebastian was going to hunt Massa down but would it be possible to overtake the Brazilian? It was definitely entertaining to watch Sebastian´s chase.

With less than 10 laps to go there was a huge battle going on between Lotus´s Maldonado and Toro Rosso´s Verstappen for P7. Their wheel-banging battle was definitely one of the highlights of the race. On the second last lap there was both scary and thrilling moment in the main straight where Maldonado was at the very edge of losing the control of his E23 but could somehow keep it on the track making his way past Verstappen! There has been a lot of talk about Maldonado and his propensity to make mistakes and cause crashes but this time the Venezuelan drove on the limit in a very entertaining way! The Finnish F1 commentator Oskari Saari has given the Venezuelan a hilarious nickname Maldonator, which naturally comes from the Terminator and you all know how the Terminator tends to sow destruction around him... I love the way Verstappen defends his position on track with such passion but this time he couldn´t prevent the Maldonator from overtaking him.

Sebastian managed to get within striking distance of Massa but there was no chance to try to overtake the Brazilian. So there was no choice but to settle for P4 this time. This was already the second time in-a-row that Ferrari gave away the podium place! In Canada Kimi lost the third place due to the engine mapping incident and Bottas made it on the podium instead. Today in Austria there was this pit stop fuss and Sebastian lost his third place to Massa! Not good work from the Ferrari team at all. But difficult times and setbacks are part of motor racing and the team both win and lose together. Sebastian has a very mature way of dealing with these setbacks as he doesn´t point his finger at the team for the failed pit stop but takes the disappointment as "part of motor racing".

Rosberg won the race although the German had been concerned about his tyres on the closing laps as there had been a lot of vibration. Hamilton completed the 1-2 for Mercedes. Behind Massa and Vettel Bottas finished 5th, Hulkenberg 6th, Maldonado 7th, Verstappen 8th, Perez 9th and Ricciardo 10th. This was the second points finish for Verstappen this season. Toro Rosso seem to be outperforming Red Bull in an eyecatching way!

Hamilton´s lead in the championship standings is now 10 points only. Sebastian is 39 points behind Rosberg. But in the constructors´ standings Mercedes are crushing their rivals: Mercedes have now 328 points whilst their closest rival Ferrari have 192 points... Kimi is clearly going through some difficult times now. I guess it usually goes that way that the difficulties emerge when you would least want them to. But every driver faces these turning points in his career. Sebastian had a difficult time in the summer of season 2010 but he turned those difficulties into victories and won the world championship that year. I´m absolutely convinced that Kimi also can overcome these hard times and return to winning. Kimi certainly isn´t interested in what other people think but I would like him to know that there are a huge amount of fans who are willing to support him no matter what happens on track! I´m part of that group, I will always support the Iceman and I wish this magnificent racing driver all the best in the future!

lauantai 20. kesäkuuta 2015

Austrian GP / Qualifying: 19th consecutive pole for Mercedes despite the spins!

The weather forecast said that there was a 30 % chance of rain during the qualifying session. The track was still damp on some areas after the rain-hit FP3 in the morning. So the weather was quite similar to ours in Finland: we are celebrating midsummer this weekend but the weather has left a lot to hope for. Sun has been hiding somewhere behind the clouds and there has been a lot of rain. Since we are lacking sunny and hot summer days I´m really enjoying all the Formula 1 action this weekend! It really makes my day!

Everyone started to Q1 on the intermediate tyres but on the drying track it was soon time for the slicks. Sauber´s Nasr and Williams´ Bottas were the first drivers to switch to slicks. In the changing conditions the Toro Rossos seemed promisingly competitive. Both Sainz and Verstappen had caught my eye already in the morning´s last free practice session. The track kept improving throughout the session and towards the end everyone came out on the supersofts. The conditions were challenging even for Mercedes: Rosberg went wide in turn 1 twice. In spite of that Rosberg was the fastest man in Q1 whilst his team-mate Hamilton couldn´t make it higher than P13 due to traffic. Sainz was 2nd, Vettel 3rd and Sainz´s team-mate Verstappen 4th. Excellent work from Toro Rosso indeed! But what was absolutely shocking and dramatic in the dying moments of Q1 was that Kimi in his Ferrari was left in P18 and couldn´t make it Q2! Kimi himself couldn´t believe his ears when he was told on the team radio that he was P18. Kimi has blamed miscommunication for this unfortunate turn: the Iceman had been told by the team that he had time for three timed laps but obviously that hadn´t been the case because the Finn had been sent out too late. I was absolutely shocked to see that Kimi was out of Q2! I´m so fed up with all these setbacks! Why can´t everything go to plan in terms of Kimi´s GP weekend?!? Once again Kimi will be facing an unnecessarily tough race tomorrow.

The beginning of Q2 saw almost everyone coming out on the supersofts. Except for Vettel, who sat out the first runs and came out not until there were only 5 minutes left in the clock. Rosberg continued his impressive pace and topped the timesheets with his team-mate second. Ferrari and Williams seemed to have a close battle with Sebastian third and Bottas 4th. Maldonado was the first man to be eliminated from Q3 whilst his team-mate Grosjean was able to make it among the top ten. Ericsson was also out of the final session whilst his Sauber team-mate Nasr proceeded into Q3. So was the case in terms of both the Toro Rosso and the Red Bull team-mates: Verstappen and Kvyat managed to make it in Q3 whilst Sainz and Ricciardo were out of the final segment. A very disappointing qualifying for especially Ricciardo who faced his first elimination from Q3 this season.

Q3 was unexpectedly eventful. Ferrari´s pace had looked very strong in all free practice sessions and I had developped an image in my head that this time Ferrari could truly challenge the Silver Arrows for pole but once again my image turned out to be nothing but a false illusion. When it came to decisive moments Mercedes seemed to find more speed. Although Sebastian was competitive it was obvious that the shootout for pole was going to be between the Mercedes team-mates. Hamilton took the provisional pole but Rosberg had clearly decided to challenge him for pole. The second runs didn´t lack drama: the rear of Hamilton´s car got away from the Briton on cold tyres into turn 1 putting him off road and out of the session! Rosberg had set fastest time for sector two and already had a promising grasp on the pole when the German made an error coming into turn 8 and went off track getting stuck in the gravel. But in spite of these errors it was another front row lock-out for the Mercedes team-mates. Impressively this was the 19th consecutive pole for Mercedes, which means that the Silver Arrows have now been on pole for an entire calendar year! How crazy is that! Sebastian made it 3rd only a tenth down on Rosberg. Massa qualified 4th whilst his Finnish team-mate Bottas was beaten to 5th by Force India´s Hulkenberg. Verstappen made only one run in the final session and the Dutchman qualified in P7, which was good work. Kvyat was 8th, Nasr 9th and Grosjean 10th (the Frenchman didn´t set a lap time).

No one knows what kind of weather to expect in tomorrow´s race. It can turn out to be anything from sun shine to pouring rain. The track is clearly demanding so I´m sure we´re going to see some mistakes as well. Ferrari´s race pace looks promising on the basis what we´ve seen in the long runs but whether Sebastian can take the battle to Mercedes for real is still kind of a question mark for me. There´re quite a few penalties, which make Kimi gain a few positions on the grid, which isn´t much of a comfort though. Both Red Bull drivers have been handed 10-place grid penalties due to taking their fifth engine of the season, exceeding the four permitted by regulations. The McLaren duo will drop 25 places on the grid, which is the cumulative result of using the fifth engine (10 places), the fifth turbocharger (5 places), the fifth MGU-K (5 places) and the fifth MGU-H (5 places). Kimi will put up a fight for sure and the Iceman has every opportunity to make it a strong points finish. Sebastian has also had some difficulties during this weekend as the German faced gearbox issues in both practice sessions on Friday but I´m counting on F15-T´s reliability in the race tomorrow. And in spite of the difficulties Sebastian always delivers when it matters the most. So I´m wishing all the very best for my heroes in tomorrow´s race!

P.S. I´m quite flattered that I have been called "the biggest Vettel fan in Finland" by the Finnish F1 commentator Oskari Saari! That happened yesterday when FP1 was live on TV. Saari tends to answer F1 fans´ questions posted on Twitter during the broadcasts and somebody had asked whether Vettel had named also his this year´s car. Saari told that he didn´t remember the name Vettel had given his SF15-T so instinctively I tweeted him that Eva was the name of Sebastian´s car. Then Saari commented that no wonder certain Iina Huhmarniemi knew the name of the car as she might be the biggest Vettel fan in Finland and he mentioned my blog, too. That was a very unexpected moment but what an honour to be called the biggest Vettel fan in Finland! :D

...and to prove a point I have to confess that there has been one more Vettel cake! I baked this for my colleagues at the end of May when it was my last day in that work place as I will switch pre-schools next August!

sunnuntai 14. kesäkuuta 2015

Canadian GP: Hamilton lead the race from start to finish!

The Canadian GP took place already a week ago but I haven´t had a proper chance to sit down and update my blog since I´ve been travelling around Finland (I made a quick visit in Norway as well) on a camper with my family. We arrived home yesterday evening so now I finally have time to write down a few words on last Sunday´s race!

There have been some really colourful and exciting races in Montreal in recent years but this year´s GP didn´t turn out to be as eventful as I had been hoping for. There wasn´t any huge drama at the start: Hamilton kept his lead, Rosberg maintained his 2nd place although Kimi tried to get past the German in turn one. Bottas in his Williams managed to keep his 4th place although Grosjean in his Lotus gave the Finn some pressure from behind. By lap 3 Sebastian had already jumped 4 positions making his way in P14. Also Massa in his FW37 had jumped two places and the Brazilian was ahead of Sebastian in P13. It seemed that Kimi could match Rosberg´s pace and the Iceman could stay within DRS distance from Rosberg.

Sebastian pitted already on lap 8 and his pit stop didn´t unfortunately go to plan but was delayed by several seconds. Sebastian was dropped down to P20 when he rejoined the track! At that point it definitely didn´t look good for the German Ferrari ace! Little by little the gaps between the top four started to grow: Hamilton in the lead had already a 3,5-second gap over his team-mate. Kimi was already four seconds off Rosberg and Bottas some three seconds behind Räikkönen. At this point of the race Sebastian seemed to be in trouble. Pace didn´t seem to be there at all!

The super soft tyres seemed to last excellently and unexpectedly and it started to look likely that it was going to be a 1-stop race for the most drivers. Kimi pitted on lap 27 and everything went well -until the Finn rejoined the track. Right after the pit stop there was drama for Kimi at the hair pin: Kimi suddenly span and lost over 10 seconds! It seemed that Kimi suddenly lost the control of his car and there wasn´t anything the Iceman could have done to avoid the incident. Right after the spin Kimi reported on the team radio that an exactly similar incident had happened to him in Canada last year! It had probably something to do with the engine mapping but it hasn´t been confirmed for sure yet. Williams responded to this immediately and called Bottas in on the following lap. Bottas managed to rejoin the track ahead of Kimi in P3! What a devastating moment for Kimi, he lost the 3rd place without his own fault! With wrong engine mapping no one could have controlled the car in the similar situation, that´s what I believe. I was so gutted that Kimi lost the third place right when the weekend had gone to plan so far!

Hamilton pitted not until on lap 30 and his team-mate Rosberg a lap later and the situation in the lead stayed unchanged. On lap 41 Kimi was called in for his second pit stop and a fresh set of super soft tyres. After the stop the Iceman was 18 seconds behind his countryman Bottas in P4. Of course I was hoping that Kimi could catch Bottas by the end of the race but I had my doubts whether that was actually possible. Kimi was, however, setting stunning lap times and decreasing the gap to Bottas lap by lap. Kimi´s team-mate Sebastian was fighting with Force India´s Hulkenberg and the Germans ended up touching each other.

With 14 laps to go Sebastian made a classy overtaking move on Lotus´s Maldonado and Sebastian was already 5th in the race! That was an impressive job from Sebastian, who had started to the race at the very back of the grid. In the lead there was no real fight for the win: Rosberg had closed the gap to Hamilton into 1,5 seconds but there was no way Rosberg could really have challenged his team-mate for the lead. Sorry to say this but in my opinion it was another dull 1-2 for the Mercedes team-mates! Bottas made it on the podium for the first time this year and Kimi had to settle for P4. Sebastian finished 5th, Massa 6th, Maldonado 7th, Hulkenberg 8th, Kvyat 9th and Grosjean 10th.

Next week it´s time for the Austrian GP at Red Bull Ring. I would definitely like to see Ferrari taking the fight to Mercedes there! The season is starting to get boring if no one is able to challenge the Silver Arrows for wins. But I strongly believe in the Ferrari team-mates. Kimi and Sebastian are definitely the guys, who can get the most out of the SF15-T! Roll on Austria!

sunnuntai 7. kesäkuuta 2015

Canadian GP / Qualifying: A catastrophic qualifying for Vettel!

At the moment I'm traveling around Finland on a camper with my family. Yesterday we were staying at the sea side in Kalajoki. We have a laptop wit us on the camper so I could watch the qualifying. It was raining heavily last night but I didn't mind as the quali was on.

McLaren's Jenson Button was unable to participate in the qualifying as his MP4-30 had grinded to halt in FP3 and needed a fresh Honda motor. Vettel in his Ferrari faced technical worries right away in Q1. When there were 5 minutes in the clock the German still hadn't been able to set a lap time. It was a MGU-H issue. Sebastian tried everything he could to set a competitive lap time at the end of the first segment but there was nothing Sebastian could do and he had to settle for the very disappointing P16! Both Finns, Räikkönen and Bottas made their first runs on the yellow-marked soft tyres and they both sat out the second runs while everyone except the Mercedes drivers came out on the supersofts. Both Lotus drivers seemed to be on top form and Grosjean made it in P1 on the supersofts. Rosberg and Hamilton were separated only by two thousandths of a second Rosberg having the upper hand. Also Massa at the wheel of his Williams faced power issues and the Brazilian was left in disappointing P17. So two big names were eliminated already in the first segment.

Kimi came right out when Q2 got underway. Finally it seemed that Kimi had been able to put every piece of the puzzle together and the Iceman was clearly flying! The Finn made it on top of the timesheets until the Mercedes drivers showed up on track. They were undercutting the red car by almost a second! Once again it was extremely tight between the Mercedes team-mates as there were only 12 thousandths of a second splitting those two this time in Hamilton's favor. Grosjean kept up his excellent work and the Frenchman was 3rd fastest in the second session. Force India's pace seemed promising as well as both Hulkenberg and Perez made it among the ten fastest. The Toro Rosso duo Sainz and Verstappen on the other hand were the first ones to be knocked out of the decisive final session. Alonso and both Saubers were out as well.

Kimi came out at the very beginning of the last session and the Iceman's first attempt was impressive. Hamilton's pace, however, was in a class of its own! The Briton took the provisional pole by 7 tenths to Kimi! This time not even Rosberg could match his team-mate's pace but ended up 3 tenths down on Hamilton. Kimi managed to improve his lap time on his second run but the Finn was still third in the standings. The Mercedes duo was unable to improve their lap times on their second runs so it was the 44th career pole for Lewis Hamilton! It was such a frustrating P2 for Rosberg. Bottas drove brilliantly as well a d the Finn qualified 4th. The Lotus duo Grosjean and Maldonado were stunning 5th and 6th. Hulkenberg qualified 7th, Kvyat 8th, Ricciardo 9th and Perez 10th.

Verstappen has been handed two penalties: the Dutch rookie got a 5-place grid penalty due to his crash with Grosjean in Monaco. He faced another 10-place grid drop due to taking his 5th engine in Canada. With Verstappen qualifying too low to take the full 15-place drop, he also field it is fot up a compensatory 10-second stop-go penalty for the race and will thud start at the rear of the field. And it also turned out that the technical worries were just a start of bad luck for Sebastian: The German was also handed a 5-place grid penalty for a red flag infraction in FP3. So the rear of the field it is for Sebastian as well!

Everything looks perfect for Kimi to challenge the Mercedes drivers for the top step of the podium today. And I'm sure Sebastian will fight like a wild animal to make his way through the field! I'm now in Lapland and I'll be watching the race up in the northern Finland in Levi!