Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

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.