Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

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)