Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 27. marraskuuta 2016

Abu Dhabi GP: Nico Rosberg is 2016 world champion!

The sun started to set as the lights went out at Yas Marina Circuit. There was immense concentration by all drivers, as the season finale was at hand. Both Mercedes drivers got excellent starts; Hamilton maintained his lead with teammate Rosberg right at his tail. Kimi got a fantastic start as well, and the Iceman managed to overtake Red Bull´s Ricciardo, who had started to the race on the super soft Pirellis. Kimi was now 3rd in the race. Verstappen on the other hand, had contact with Force India´s Hulkenberg right after the start; the Dutchman spun at Turn 1! Luckily he was able to continue, but he had to start racing all over again from the very back of the pack. Due to Verstappen´s incident Sebastian was now fifth, right at Ricciardo´s tail.

The pit stop roulette started already on lap 7, as both Hamilton and Kimi pitted -both for a fresh set of yellow-marked soft tyres. On the following lap their teammates Rosberg and Sebastian pitted -for a similar tyre choice. Red Bull´s Ricciardo pitted on lap 10, also opting for the soft Pirellis. Teammate Verstappen instead stayed out having already made his way impressively through the field. Hamilton had re-joined the track ahead of the Flying Dutchman, but both Rosberg and Kimi re-joined the track behind the Red Bull pilot. Rosberg was stuck behind Verstappen, but against all odds, teammate Hamilton didn´t pull away from his rivals. It really caught my eye, how slowly Hamilton was driving. It seemed as if the Briton was trying to give his rivals a better chance to attack Nico! Which was sneaky tactics indeed.

McLaren´s Button -who was driving his career-ending race- got a front suspension failure on lap 13, which forced the Briton to retire from the race. Unfortunately it wasn´t the kind of a closure that Button would have wanted to have for his long and successful F1 career. On lap 20 Rosberg was told on the team radio, that it was critical to get past Verstappen. Right after that message Rosberg attacked on the super fast Dutchman. Verstappen managed to defend his position in terms of Nico´s first move, but Nico was determined to take P2 from the Red Bull teenager. Their wheels almost touched, and it must have been a hair-raising moment for Nico, who had the most to lose in this race! After the second move Rosberg managed to get past Verstappen.

Verstappen pitted not until on lap 22 -for soft rubber as well. It seemed likely, that he´d go till the end on that set of tyres. He re-joined the track in P8. Teammate Ricciardo drove into the pits for the second time on lap 25, opting for another set of soft tyres. This made Ferrari react; they called Kimi in. However, on the new set of soft tyres, Kimi dropped down behind both Red Bulls when re-joining the track! It definitely wasn´t the perfect pit stop strategy for the Iceman! Teammate Sebastian instead stayed out and kept driving competitive lap times. Hamilton pitted on lap 29 and teammate Rosberg on the following lap -both for another set of soft Pirellis. Sebastian was now leading the race, but he had one more pit stop awaiting...

It was refreshing to see a different pit stop strategy from Sebastian. He came in not until on lap 38, and he opted for a fresh set of red-marked super soft tyres. I was confident that Sebastian was going to fly on his fresh tyres! He re-joined the track in P6, behind teammate Kimi. Sebastian was significantly faster than all his rivals, and he started his chase towards podium. In no time Sebastian had chased down his teammate, who didn´t make an effort to defend his position. Ricciardo was only some 4 seconds ahead and race leader Hamilton only 10 seconds away. Sebastian was absolutely determined to aim as high as he could.

With 10 laps to go, Hamilton was told on the team radio to drive faster. The team was worried, that Sebastian might be a real threat to the Briton. But Hamilton kept his teammate right at his tail -driving on a defensive mode- to give Verstappen and Vettel a better chance to attack Nico. Sebastian had already got within DRS distance from Ricciardo. The German made an overtaking move on his ex teammate, which turned out successful due to his much fresher tyres.

With five laps to go, the top four was within 2,7 seconds! The battle for championship truly intensified during those closing laps. Sebastian smelled Verstappen´s blood and attacked the Dutchman, who is known as a very challenging driver to overtake. And Sebastian made it past Verstappen, who was the only top driver on a one-stop strategy. The German was now third in the race but seemed passionate to get past Rosberg as well.

Although Hamilton slowed down even more on the final lap, he couldn´t prevent Rosberg from finishing the runner-up, which meant that Nico was 2016 world champion! To be honest, it was refreshing to see a new world champion. And I was very delighted to see Sebastian on the podium as well. Verstappen finished 4th, Ricciardo 5th, Kimi 6th, Hulkenberg 7th, Perez 8th, Massa 9th and Alonso 10th. Kimi had a strong first stint, but somehow Ferrari seemed to lack pace on the hardest tyre compound. I can´t help thinking, what Kimi would have been capable of, had he had a similar pit stop strategy to his teammate...

I´m very happy that Hamilton won the race; so he was able to dedicate the victory for his deceased friend Dr Aki Hintsa, who passed away last week. On the other hand I´m happy for Nico, who finally won his first world title. Nico has been one of the underrated drivers on the paddock so far, but I´m sure it will change now. It´s impressive that Nico is already a second-generation world champion, as his father Keke Rosberg was crowned world champion in 1982.

Knowing that the Formula 1 season is now officially over, I feel so empty. What am I going to do during this long off-season? I´m going to miss GP weekends so much! And I´m going to miss writing my blog! So if there´s any F1 related topic you want me to write about, please let me know! ;) I´m already looking forward to the 2017 F1 season!

lauantai 26. marraskuuta 2016

Abu Dhabi GP / Qualifying: Hamilton on pole for the title-deciding race!

After Brazil GP my world turned upside down, as I heard about the passing away of Dr Aki Hintsa, who had worked for 11 years in F1 as a doctor and coach. He had been diagnosed with cancer in the summer 2015, and the doctors had given him only a few months to live. However, against all odds Dr Hintsa managed to win his battle against cancer. The last news I read about him said that he was well and the Finnish F1 team planned to invite him in the Formula 1 studio for some GP weekend. There was absolutely no way I was prepared to hear the news of his passing away! Suddenly cancer had recurred and he had lost his battle against cancer. He was taken so early, only at the age of 58. He would have had so much more to give to the world! I read Oskari Saari´s book about Dr Hintsa and his holistic model for personal success, as it came out in the spring 2015. The book made a huge and lasting impression on me -deeper than I even realised first. The news of Dr Hintsa´s death has gone deep into my emotions, although I never even had the honour to meet this unique and extraordinary man. Today I read the news that Oskari Saari will finish the biography of Dr Hintsa, as the man himself had wished only days before he passed away.

So my thoughts have been very distracted this weekend. On one hand I´m trying to enjoy the very last GP weekend of the season, but on the other hand my thoughts are with Dr Hintsa and his family. I didn´t see qualifying live on TV today, as I took part in my grandmother´s 90th birthday party. This made me go through deep thoughts as well, as the possibility to celebrate your 90th birthday in decent health definitely cannot be taken for granted! However, I took a look on the Formula 1 news, as I was sipping coffee at the party ;)

Luckily qualifying was on, when I came home and turned my TV on. To honour Dr Hintsa´s memory, Hamilton had had the text "Dr Aki Hintsa 1958-2016" put on his helmet for the weekend. Hamilton had a close friendship with Dr Hintsa, who had helped the Briton a lot during his career. The Briton had met Dr Hintsa only a day before his death. Coming to this season-finale, Hamilton has said that he wants to win the race for his friend, and the Briton´s determination was there to be seen in qualifying already. He was the fastest man in Q1, with points-leading teammate a whole second off his pace. Ferrari´s pace seemed excellent indeed, as Kimi was second fastest with teammate Sebastian 3rd. A bit surprisingly, both Toro Rossos were out of Q2, as Kvyat was the first faller in Q1. Teammate Sainz was left in modest P21. Manor´s Wehrlein was responsible of the most positive surprise, as the German managed to make it to Q2 by making it 16th in the first session.

All top teams came out at the beginning of the second session. Once again, Red Bull ran a different tyre strategy to their rivals; they ran the super softs instead of the ultra softs, meaning they will start on the longer-lasting -but slower- rubber. There wasn´t any ambiguity about Mercedes´ dominance, as once again Hamilton was the fastest man at Yas Marina with teammate Rosberg at his tail. Worth noticing was the fact, that Red Bull´s Verstappen managed to split the Ferrari teammates in spite of the tyre choice. Both Verstappen and Ricciardo left the pits for second runs on the purple-marked ultra soft rubber, but they aborted their flying laps as there was no need to improve. This time Williams´ Bottas led those who failed to get through to the final segment.

In Q3 Hamilton took provisional pole; especially his second sector was absolutely crushing. Rosberg tried his very best to take the battle to his teammate, but he was still three tenths down on Hamilton, who seemed to be a man on a mission. Kimi had driven an extremely strong qualifying, and the Iceman was third after the first runs. Ricciardo was fourth, Verstappen fifth and Sebastian sixth. Both Silver Arrows managed to improve their lap times on the second runs, but Hamilton held on to pole by three tenths of a second. Behind the dominant Silver Arrows, Ricciardo unfortunately displaced Kimi for third on their second runs. However, the duo was separated only by a hundredth of a second! Sebastian -who a bit surprisingly got beaten by his teammate in the qualifying battles this year- finished 5th, and Red Bull´s Verstappen had to settle for P6, as the Dutchman had made a mistake on his final run. Hulkenberg and Perez locked out row four for Force India. Alonso underlined McLaren´s improvements with ninth, and Williams´ Massa rounded out the top ten.

Rosberg may have a 12-point advantage heading into tomorrow´s title-deciding race, but for now the momentum is definitely with Hamilton. It seems that the Briton has got some extra boost for this weekend. He wants to win the race and dedicate the victory for his deceased friend. I have a feeling that it´s exactly what Hamilton will do tomorrow! But winning the world championship isn´t only in Hamilton´s own hands anymore. All Nico has to do is to finish on the podium and he´ll clinch his first world title. I´m not a fan of either one of the Mercedes drivers, but I really appreciate Hamilton´s gesture to have Dr Hintsa´s name on his helmet and his intention to dedicate the possible victory for him -so yes, this time I actually hope Hamilton is going to win the race tomorrow! (I never thought I´d one day hope Hamilton to win!)

maanantai 14. marraskuuta 2016

Brazil GP: Wild Verstappen show in extreme conditions!

Predictions of rain turned out to be quite accurate, as it was raining quite heavily at Interlagos today. There was drama already before the race got underway; Grosjean in his Haas was making his way to the grid, but lost control of his car due to aquaplaning and ended up in the wall with broken front suspension! That was a huge disappointment for the Frenchman, who would have started to the race from P7. The track conditions were so wet, that the start was delayed by 10 minutes.

Due to the challenging conditions the race was started behind safety car; everyone was on the blue-marked full-wet Pirellis. There was still a lot of standing water on the track, and the spray caused by the cars made visibility really poor. It was still raining lightly. Safety car came in on lap 7, and the race was finally on. Kimi was struggling on the wet track, and Verstappen attacked the Finn immediately. Max made a brave overtaking move on the Iceman and took P3. Renault´s Magnussen and McLaren´s Button soon pitted for a fresh set of intermediate tyres, but the top drivers still continued on the track on the full-wets.

Sebastian in P5 had a scary moment on lap 11 going uphill into the last corners. He suddenly lost the control of his car and span! Luckily the German didn´t hit anything but all he lost were some extra seconds. Sebastian pitted right away -for intermediate tyres as well. But everything didn´t go to plan during the pit stop; the team had difficulties to attach the rear-left tyre, which cost other valuable seconds. Sebastian re-joined the track in disappointing P19. Definitely not a promising start to Sebastian´s race!

Turn 14 was a turning point in the race. Sauber´s Ericsson lost the control of his car in high speed and crashed into the wall. Ericsson´s Sauber stopped at the pit entry. Red Bull´s Verstappen drove into the pits managing to avoid hitting the Sauber. Safety car was deployed, and the pit entry was closed. However, also Ricciardo in his RB12 drove into the pits. Both Red Bull pilots opted for a fresh set of green-marked intermediate Pirellis. The Australian was soon taken into investigation for entering the pits after the pit entry had already been closed. Hamilton was leading the race behind safety car, teammate Rosberg was second, Kimi was third, Verstappen fourth and Hulkenberg fifth.

Safety car came in on lap 19, and the race was on again -but only for a very short moment. Coming on the start-finish straight Kimi´s SF16-H aquaplaned, which caused the Iceman to crash into the outside wall. The impact threw the Finn spinning across the straight into the inside wall. It was an utterly frightening moment, as there were plenty of cars coming behind Kimi -driving 300 km/h! It´s amazing how quick reflexes the F1 drivers have! Without a lightning quick evading move from Manor´s Ocon, he would have hit Kimi´s Ferrari! My heart jumped into my mouth; Kimi´s crash could have ended in a catastrophic way! Luckily the Iceman was unharmed and could walk away from the car on his own. But the crash really got under my skin and scared me a lot! Due to Kimi´s crash the race was red-flagged, and everyone drove into the pits.

During the session suspension the stewards announced a 5-second time penalty for Ricciardo due to entering the pits although the pit entry had been closed. Williams´ Massa was also given a similar penalty for overtaking before the safety car line. After half-an-hour suspension the race was re-started behind safety car. After six laps behind safety car the race was red-flagged again! The conditions were very extreme and challenging; in the name of safety it was the right decision from the stewards. Everyone remembers Japanese GP 2014 and the consequences the extreme conditions caused. There had been plenty of dangerous looking crashes today already so the stewards didn´t want to jeopardise the safety of the drivers; although many drivers were saying on the team radio that the conditions were drivable.

After another half-an-hour suspension it was still raining, and the track conditions hadn´t improved. The race was re-started behind safety car. The top ten certainly seemed interesting, as the race was back on after a few laps behind safety car. The top three involved quite familiar names, as Hamilton was leading the race with teammate Rosberg second and Red Bull´s Verstappen third. But Force India´s Perez was fourth, Toro Rosso´s Sainz fifth, Sauber´s Nasr sixth, Red Bull´s Ricciardo seventh, Manor duo of Ocon and Wehrlein eighth and ninth and McLaren´s Alonso tenth.

Verstappen seemed to have different driving lines compared to his rivals. Once again the Flying Dutchman was extremely aggressive at the re-start and made a bold move on Rosberg -snatching P2 from the German! Red Bull seemed extremely competitive in the wet conditions, and Max seemed to be perfectly in control of his RB12. He started to chase down Hamilton, who wasn´t too far away. But what a scary moment Max had on lap 39! The Dutch teenager hit the kerb in the inside on the start-finish straight and lost the control of his RB12! With a combination of huge talent and good luck he managed to avoid hitting the quadrail and was able to continue the race after the spin. Rosberg was close to take his second place back from the Red Bull driver, but Max was just barely able to stay ahead of Rosberg.

The track conditions were slightly improving, and Ricciardo pitted for a fresh set of intermediate tyres. The Australian´s lap times looked extremely good, and the team called Verstappen to pit a few laps later -for intermediates as well. Meanwhile Sebastian was making his way through the field -first past Alonso and then Nasr. After a difficult first half of the race, Sebastian was driving a strong race in P6.

However, safety car was deployed again on lap 48! Williams´ Massa, who was driving his very last home race, also lost control of his FW38 on the start-finish straight and ended up in the wall! For sure not the kind of a result the Brazilian would have hoped in front of his home crowd! In spite of the DNF, it was a very emotional moment for the home hero Massa, who was in tears when walking into the pits.

Red Bull´s tyre strategy proved wrong; there was no way the Red Bull duo could drive competitive lap times on the intermediate tyres! Both Ricciardo and Verstappen pitted for a fresh set of full-wet Pirellis. It was a costly pit stop especially for Max, who dropped down to P16 after re-joining the track. However, after safety car had come in, we saw a spectacular and absolutely wild Verstappen show! The Dutchman continued choosing different driving lines, and he seemed to be flying around the circuit. The overtaking move he made on his teammate Ricciardo was stunning! Next on the Flying Dutchman´s overtaking list were Kvyat, Ocon and Nasr. A moment later Max had a wheel-banging battle with Sebastian for P5, but Sebastian had no chance to defend his position against the hungry Dutchman. With only a few laps to go, Max was right at Perez´s tail fighting for the last podium place. And after another spectacular overtaking move P3 was Max´s! Max´s driving was absolutely breath-taking today, in a class of his own!

Hamilton won the Brazil GP for the very first time; so the championship battle will be down-to-the-wire in Abu Dhabi. Rosberg finished the runner-up, and Verstappen completed the podium. It was no wonder, that Max was voted as the Driver of the Day; today he definitely deserved it! Perez finished 4th for Force India. Sebastian managed to make it past Sainz at the end of the race, finishing fifth. Hulkenberg finished 7th in the second Force India, Ricciardo was 8th, Nasr 9th and Alonso 10th. At the end of the day there were five safety cars and two red flags in the race! The race length came very close to the time limit, but finally all 71 laps were completed.

I was jumping of joy for Max, but the red team´s performance left a lot to hope for in terms of the season finale in Abu Dhabi. Ferrari was seriously struggling with their pace in the wet conditions, although especially Kimi had driven an excellent qualifying. There´s still one more chance of a red-coloured podium... But who will be the world champion this year? Rosberg still has a 12-point lead in the standings. To win the title, Hamilton needs to win in Abu Dhabi and Rosberg has to finish lower than third.

P.S. My thoughts on the chaotic race can also be read on the website of Scuderia Ferrari Club Riga:

lauantai 12. marraskuuta 2016

Brazil GP / Qualifying: 60th career pole for Hamilton!

It´s a bit difficult to understand that this is actually the second last GP weekend of the season! So it´s inevitably time for round 20 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Hamilton needed pole more than ever to keep his title hopes alive. And look how it turned out...

There was a hint of rain in the air as qualifying started, with a warning that there was a 70 percent risk of a proper downpour. Everyone came out on the yellow-marked soft Pirellis right at the beginning of the first session. At first I was worried about Sebastian, who was still in his pit garage, while his rivals were doing their first runs. It was reported that the German had a brake problem, but luckily he soon joined in. After the first runs Hamilton was topping the timesheets with his teammate Rosberg second, Red Bull´s Verstappen third, Ferrari´s Räikkönen fourth and teammate Vettel fifth. The top nine (including also Red Bull´s Ricciardo, the Williams duo of Massa and Bottas and McLaren´s Alonso) sat out the second runs. McLaren´s Button was the first faller in Q1 -knocked out only by two hundredths of a second. Out of Q2 were also Renault´s Magnussen, the Manor duo of Wehrlein and Ocon and the Sauber duo of Ericsson and Nasr.

Mercedes dominated the second session as well -Hamilton once again having the upper hand on his teammate. The pecking order was excitingly mixed up in terms of Red Bull and Ferrari. It was no surprise that the drivers of these three top teams decided to sit out the second runs. Alonso in his McLaren was a refreshing surprise as the Spaniard was 7th fastest in Q2. Another positive surprise was Haas´ Grosjean, who made it as high as P9. Both Bottas and local boy Massa were knocked out of Q3 in a major shock for Williams. Both Toro Rossos were also out of the final session, this time Kvyat acing teammate Sainz.

In the decisive final session Mercedes was in a class of their own, but behind them there was an extremely tight battle for positions between Ferrari and Red Bull. Hamilton took provisional pole with Rosberg second, Verstappen third, Vettel fourth, Ricciardo fifth and Kimi sixth. Both Mercedes drivers managed to improve their lap times on their second runs, but Hamilton managed to snatch pole by a tenth of a second. The other big mover was Kimi, who leapt to third, as Verstappen, Vettel and Ricciardo all failed to improve on their second run. It was a fantastic run from Kimi, although he was 6 tenths down on pole setter Hamilton. Verstappen qualified fourth and Sebastian fifth -with only one hundredth of a second separating these two! Ricciardo was sixth and Grosjean an impressive seventh for Haas. The Force India teammates of Hulkenberg and Perez and McLaren´s Alonso rounded out the top ten.

The risk of rain in the race tomorrow is even higher than in the qualifying today. Wet conditions would definitely mix up the pecking order... Rosberg is the driver, who has the most to lose. Hamilton needs victory tomorrow, but even a victory doesn´t necessarily guarantee that he would win the championship. Rosberg doesn´t need more than P2 tomorrow. But there´re other factors, which may have an effect on his race apart from his own performance... Factors like Max Verstappen. There have been some hot rumours, that Mercedes´ Team Principal Toto Wolff had called Verstappen´s father Jos to make sure, that Max won´t interfere with the championship battle between the Mercedes teammates! But Max has his own race to run -with huge passion like always. I´m sure it will be tight between Kimi and Max going into Turn 1... I think Kimi has a real chance to win tomorrow, as neither Hamilton nor Rosberg want to take any risks at the start. Looking forward to a hair-raising race!

maanantai 31. lokakuuta 2016

Mexico GP: Result-changing penalties for Verstappen and Vettel!

Yesterday´s race went deep into my emotions. At first I thought that there wasn´t  awful lot happening on track, but suddenly the whole world turned upside down... I´d better start telling all the way from the start.

All top eight cars got a great start, and Hamilton maintained his lead. However, going into Turn 1 the Briton locked up his front tyres and ended up going on the grass; in other words, he cut the corner and re-joined the track still ahead of teammate Rosberg. The German had a battle of his own with Red Bull´s Verstappen, who was going side by side with Rosberg into Turn 1. Luckily the cars didn´t touch, and Rosberg managed to keep his 2nd place ahead of the Flying Dutchman. There was also a first-turn incident between Sauber´s Nasr and Manor´s Wehrlein, who collided with each other. There was a lot of debris on the track, and safety car was deployed. Red Bull´s Ricciardo pitted right away on the opening lap -for a fresh set of medium Pirellis.

Red Bull´s Verstappen was the next top driver to pit on lap 13 -for medium rubber, similar to his teammate. At this point Sebastian was in P7 right at Massa´s tail. On team radio we heard frustrated Sebastian, who complained, that Massa was only destroying his own race by trying to block his overtaking moves. After all other top drivers had pitted -for a fresh set of medium tyres- Sebastian was leading the race, Hamilton was second, Rosberg third, Verstappen fourth and Ricciardo fifth. Kimi was sixth. Sebastian´s pace seemed excellent. I was so happy; finally Sebastian was driving a strong race! I was happy for Kimi, too, as the Iceman had re-joined the track ahead of Force India´s Hulkenberg. My joy was so so premature...

Sebastian pitted finally on lap 33 -for medium rubber as well. He re-joined the track in P6 behind teammate Kimi. The Iceman was called into the pits for the second time on lap 46 -for another set of medium Pirellis. Ricciardo pitted some five laps later -for a fresh set of yellow-marked soft tyres. It meant the Australian was going to have an aggressive last stint; whereas teammate Verstappen, both Mercedes drivers and Ferrari´s Vettel were on a one-stop strategy.

With ten laps to go, Sebastian was driving a very strong and impressive race. He had decreased the gap to Verstappen into just four seconds. Max had already over 50 laps on his tyres, whereas Sebastian had 20 laps less on his! Sebastian seemed determined to make it on the podium! At the same time Ricciardo was rapidly closing the gap to his ex teammate...

Kimi was also driving a good race. With four laps to go, the Iceman finally managed to get past Hulkenberg -who ended up spinning- and jumped 6th. It was a superb overtaking move from the Finn. Teammate Sebastian was having a wheel-banging battle with Verstappen for the third place. Sebastian planned a move on the Dutchman; however, Max ended up going wide on the grass, which meant cutting the corner. Sebastian was absolutely furious on team radio and shouted that Max should give the position to him for gaining advantage by cutting the corner. Many swearing words told everything about the quadruple world champion´s frustration.

Meanwhile Ricciardo had also got within DRS distance from the German. On the second last lap Ricciardo was absolutely passionate about getting past Sebastian. The Australian made a move on the Ferrari ace; but Sebastian changed his line at the braking and prevented Ricciardo to overtake him. Sebastian´s move was very questionable, as FIA had just announced a couple of weeks earlier, that changing line at the braking was no more allowed by the rules! The incident was going to be investigated after the race.

On the second last lap I decided to vote Sebastian as the Driver of the Day, as the German had fought  in the race like a lion. I was absolutely delighted, that "the old Vettel" was back! Once I had voted, I heard an utterly outrageous, shoddy and inappropriate team radio message by Sebastian! The team tried to tell his driver, what Charlie Whiting had said about the incident with Verstappen, but Sebastian was shouting on the radio that Charlie should f*ck off! When crossing the finish line, Sebastian showed impolite hand gestures to Verstappen, who had finished ahead of him in P3. I was absolutely shocked! I got a shocking flashback of the Turkish GP 2010; Sebastian had collided with teammate Webber and afterwards showed very inappropriate hand gestures implying that Webber was "crazy". I instantly regretted, that I had voted Sebastian as the Driver of the Day. This behaviour was unsportsmanlike and utterly inappropriate for a quadruple world champion! No adrenaline rush or living in the heat of the moment can justify that!

Hamilton won the race, and teammate Rosberg finished the runner-up. Verstappen crossed the line third, but there was more drama to come. The Dutchman was already in the pre-podium room, when it was announced, that he had been given a 5-second time penalty for gaining advantage by cutting the corner, and he dropped down to P4! However, I found the penalty a bit questionable, as Hamilton hadn´t been penalised for similar action in Turn 1 on the opening lap. Sebastian looked so happy on the podium, which I think he didn´t deserve. Until later on in the night the stewards had investigated Sebastian´s incident with Ricciardo, and the German was handed a 10-second time penalty for changing the line at the braking! So after all the penalties Ricciardo was 3rd, Verstappen 4th and Sebastian finally dropped down to P5! What a dramatic and heart-stopping race! Kimi finally finished 6th, but all my thoughts were with Sebastian, whose behaviour I found absolutely impossible to understand.

I look up to Sebastian as a role model and he´s a huge idol to me. I understand that even a quadruple world champion is a human being, and everybody makes mistakes. In the heat of the moment and in an adrenaline rush you might say things without considering, if they are nice or not. But such outrageous and shoddy language and inappropriate hand gestures, which Sebastian used, cannot be justified by anything at all! Although Sebastian´s actions can´t be defended or accepted in any way, I would like him to know, that I still stand by him; I admire him from the bottom of my heart, even though I don´t always agree with his action on track. I wish I could personally tell him that!

P.S. My thoughts on the race can be read also here:

sunnuntai 30. lokakuuta 2016

Mexico GP / Qualifying: 10th pole of the year for Hamilton!

I had looked forward to this GP weekend very much, as I got a special visitor on Friday. Erja, who lives in Ilmajoki, Finland some 300 km away, came to visit me for the weekend. I learnt to know Erja last winter, as we both took part in the ReadySetRed competition arranged by Ferrari on social media. Sometimes it's possible to find a true friend and soul mate on social media! Erja is as crazy about Formula 1 as myself, so it was really awesome to get together and watch the free practices and qualifying together. It was fantastic to share thoughts and opinions with somebody as enthusiastic as myself!

In Q1 everything was looking promising in terms of Ferrari´s pace. After the first runs Kimi and Sebastian were topping the timesheets! Unfortunately though, it wasn´t the true pecking order. Hamilton went fastest at the end of the first session, but otherwise the pack was quite mixed-up. Kimi was still second fastest, Red Bull´s Ricciardo third and Sebastian fourth. Surprisingly, Rosberg was only 6th fastest in the first segment. All drivers opted for super soft rubber. Putting top teams aside, there were two drivers, who caught my attention in Q1. Sauber´s Ericsson drove a stunning lap, which made him jump 13th in the standings. Manor´s Wehrlein was a positive surprise as well, as the German managed to make it in to Q2 by jumping 16th. Their teammates Nasr and Ocon were both eliminated from the second session, so were the Haas duo of Gutierrez and Grosjean and Toro Rosso´s Kvyat.

Q2 was again all about tyre strategy. Both red cars came out on soft rubber at the beginning of the session. Mercedes and Force India opted for the similar tyre compound. Once again it was the Red Bull drivers, who stood out of the crowd by opting for the red-marked super soft Pirellis. After the first attempts Verstappen was topping the timesheets with Hamilton 2nd, Sebastian 3rd and Ricciardo 4th. Rosberg in P5 and Kimi in P6 had to made second runs, whereas the top four stayed in the pit garage. Rosberg opted for another set of soft tyres, whereas Kimi made his second run on super soft tyres. However, Kimi didn´t improve his lap time, which means that he´ll start to the race on the yellow-marked soft compound. Out of the decisive Q3 were the McLaren duo of Alonso and Button, Force India´s Perez, Renault´s Magnussen, Sauber´s Ericsson and Manor´s Wehrlein.

Hamilton set the pace in Q3. Red Bull´s pace seemed very impressive, as both Red Bull drivers were ahead of Rosberg, who was well behind teammate Hamilton. By comparison, Ferrari were absolutely nowhere! Kimi was 6th and Sebastian 8th after the first runs. Rosberg, however, managed to vault past Verstappen and Ricciardo to claim the other front-row grid slot. Teammate Hamilton was firmly on pole, which was his 10th pole of the year. Red Bull locked out row two, with Verstappen third and Ricciardo fourth. Force India´s Hulkenberg starred as he beat both Ferraris to secure fifth. Kimi was left in P6 and teammate Sebastian in P7. It definitely wasn´t the result the red-suited warriors were hoping for! It was extremely tight between the Scuderia teammates, as there were only 5 thousandths of a second separating them at the end of the session. Williams duo of Bottas and Massa and Toro Rosso´s Sainz rounded out the top ten. What a huge difference there was in the performance of the Toro Rosso teammates, as Kvyat was knocked out already in Q1.

Again today´s start will be extremely interesting. I´m expecting both Verstappen and Ricciardo take aggressive starts on the super soft rubber, so they might challenge the Silver Arrows for real on the opening laps. I hope Ferrari´s race pace turns out excellent! Hopefully both Kimi and Sebastian manage to get past Hulkenberg already on the opening lap. I also hope that Ferrari´s pit stops will be absolutely perfect today -so no broken wheel nuts this time! Who ever will be doing the podium interviews today must be absolutely scared of Ricciardo making it among the top three, as the podium ceremony might involve doing another shoey ;) I really hope to see a red-suited driver finally on the podium after such a long dry season! Forza Kimi! Forza Sebastian! Forza Ferrari!

tiistai 25. lokakuuta 2016

US GP: A broken wheel nut destroyed Kimi´s race!

US GP turned out to be quite a dramatic race, and unfortunately not in a positive way. The start was interesting, as both Red Bull´s Verstappen and the Mercedes duo started on the more durable soft tyres, whereas all other top ten drivers started on the super softs. In spite of the tyre choice, Hamilton on pole got a fantastic start and held on to the lead. Teammate Rosberg, on the other hand, lost a position to Red Bull´s Ricciardo, who stormed to second. Kimi got a stunning start from P5 and managed to get past Verstappen. There was a first-turn incident between Williams´ Bottas and Force India´s Hulkenberg. The German damaged his front wing due to the collision, and Bottas suffered a puncture. Hulkenberg had to retire the race only a few laps later.

Both Kimi and Ricciardo pitted already on lap 8 -both for a fresh set of soft tyres. Also Verstappen drove into the pits a lap later, although he had started to the race on the yellow-marked soft tyres. Another set of soft tyres for the "Flying Dutchman" as well. Rosberg, on the other hand, pitted a couple of laps later -for white-marked medium tyres. Teammate Hamilton opted for soft tyres, different to his teammate. Kimi´s pace had seemed superb on the super soft compound, but after the pit stop the Finn´s pace suddenly disappeared. He was in serious trouble with Verstappen, who got his chance on lap 13. Unfortunately there was nothing the Iceman could do to prevent the Dutch teenager overtake him. Sebastian was now leading the race -until he pitted on lap 15 for a fresh set of soft Pirellis as well.

Verstappen was absolutely flying, and he put serious pressure on Rosberg, who was third in the race. The passionate Dutchman was told on the team radio to take it easier not to destroy his tyres. Max responded to his team by saying, that he wasn´t racing to finish fourth. He definitely has the right attitude!

The second pit stop roulette saw different tyre strategies. Kimi pitted already on lap 25 and opted for another set of super soft tyres. This meant, that the Iceman most probably was on a three-stop strategy. Ricciardo on the other hand, pitted for a fresh set of medium tyres. He had every chance to make it to the chequered flag on that set of tyres. On lap 27 there was a bizarre episode, as Verstappen drove into the pits, but the pit crew wasn´t ready at all! The miscommunication issue cost Max over 10 seconds! Unfortunately the failed pit stop was only the beginning of setbacks for the young Dutchman. Soon after the pit stop an engine issue hit his RB12 like a lightning, and Max was out of the race!

Virtual safety car was deployed due to Max´s retirement, and both Mercedes pilots drove into the pits. They opted for medium Pirellis, which meant, that they were going till the end on those tyres. Ricciardo was quite gutted for Mercedes´ "free" pit stop, as the Australian had pitted already some laps earlier. After virtual safety car had ended, Hamilton was leading the race with teammate Rosberg second. Ricciardo was third, Kimi fourth and Sebastian fifth. At this point it seemed like a strong performance for Ferrari. I was proven wrong....

Kimi pitted for the third time on lap 39 for a new set of soft tyres. But what a catastrophic turn the pit stop turned out to be! The mechanic had a problem with attaching Kimi´s rear-right tyre; nevertheless the Iceman was released from the pits normally. But the team noticed their error immediately and told Kimi to stop at the pit exit. What a sad sad sight it was to see Kimi reversing his SF16-H in the pit lane! Such a mistake should never have happened! Kimi was driving an excellent race; he would have brought valuable points for the red team, especially as one Red Bull was already out of the race! But things like this sometimes happen in motor racing... No matter how bitter and disappointing it feels!

There was a wheel-banging fight for P5 on the closing laps. Toro Rosso´s Sainz, Williams´ Massa and McLaren´s Alonso were all within DRS distance from each other. Alonso saw his chance to overtake Massa, but the manoeuvre ended up in a collision. Massa suffered a puncture and had to have an extra pit stop, which cost him valuable positions. On the very last lap Alonso attacked Sainz and managed to snatch P5 from his compatriot. An utterly excellent race from both Spaniards on Texas soil.

So Hamilton won, and teammate Rosberg made it a 1-2 for Mercedes by finishing the runner-up. Ricciardo completed the podium. Sebastian drove a flawless race and finished 4th. Such a pity that the German´s pace wasn´t quite enough to have made it on the podium! Alonso finished 5th, Sainz 6th and Massa dropped down to 7th due to his extra pit stop. Perez, Button and Grosjean completed the top ten. Once again it was Ricciardo, who knew, how to put up a hilarious show on the podium. This time the "Smiling Avenger" made podium interviewer Gerard Butler do a shoey with Red Bull!

In spite of Hamilton´s victory, Rosberg still has a 26-point lead in the drivers´ championship standings with only three more rounds to go. Round 19 is just round the corner -next weekend. I still believe in the red team. Every new race offers a new opportunity for the red team to take the battle to Red Bull and Mercedes! I have faith in Ferrari -always.

P.S. You can read my article on the race weekend also here:

sunnuntai 23. lokakuuta 2016

US GP / Qualifying: Hamilton clinched pole ahead of teammate Rosberg!

This weekend it is time for round 18, as the Formula 1 circus moves to Austin, Texas. All drivers like the Circuit of the America a lot, and this is the fifth time that a Formula 1 race takes place there. Last year the weather threw a real challenge for the qualifying, but yesterday the weather was absolutely beautiful -blue skies and 23 degrees Celsius.

In Q1 the top teams came out not until in the halfway point of the session. Nothing had changed from the previous races; once again Mercedes were stamping their authority all over the place. Hamilton aced teammate Rosberg by one tenth of a second. I found it a bit worrying, that both Red Bull drivers were faster than the Ferrari teammates. Also Force India´s Hulkenberg managed to make it ahead of the red-suited warriors in the first segment. The top nine didn´t make second runs. Home team´s Grosjean was the first one of those left behind. Also Renault´s Magnussen, McLaren´s Button, the Manor duo of Wehrlein and Ocon and Sauber´s Nasr were out of Q2. What caught my eye was the fact, that Sauber teammate Ericsson managed to get in to Q2 quite easily -making it as high as P14.

Once again Q2 was all about tyre strategy, which turned out quite interesting. Both Silver Arrows came out on the yellow-marked soft tyres, and in spite of the tyre choice they were convincingly fast -2nd and 3rd in the standings. Red Bull´s Ricciardo set the fastest lap time -but the Australian was on the super soft compound. Teammate Verstappen opted for a different tyre strategy; the Dutchman set his fastest lap time on the more durable soft compound, similar to the Mercedes teammates. The red team ran their drivers on the red-marked super soft Pirellis; Sebastian was fourth and Kimi fifth in the standings. This means that both Mercedes drivers and Red Bull´s Verstappen can thus potentially gain advantage by starting the race on the more durable soft Pirellis. Force India´s Hulkenberg (who will drive for Renault next year) did an impressive job in the second segment as well, making it 6th in the standings -only three tenths of a second down on Ricciardo on the top! Eliminated from Q3 were Perez, Alonso, Kvyat (who gets to keep his seat at Toro Rosso next year), Gutierrez, Palmer and Ericsson.

The battle for pole was going to be between the Mercedes teammates. Hamilton had the upper hand after the first attempt -but only by 72 thousandths of a second. Ricciardo at the wheel of his RB12 was already half a second off the Briton´s pace. However, it was kind of shocking to see, that Ferrari were a second down on the Mercedes duo! Although Kimi had made a small mistake in the last sector on his first run. Force India´s Hulkenberg, Toro Rosso´s Sainz and both Williams drivers opted for one run only. At the end of the decisive last session Hamilton set a crushing time in the first sector, and the Briton clinched pole by two tenths of a second. Teammate Rosberg had to settle for P2 this time. Red Bull locked out row two, with Ricciardo heading "The Flying Dutchman". Kimi led teammate Sebastian for an all-Ferrari third row. Hulkenberg, Bottas, Massa and Sainz completed the top ten.

The start today will be extremely interesting. Will the Silver Arrows be able to take the lead in spite of their harder tyre compound? Ricciardo in P3 has an excellent opportunity to challenge the Mercedes drivers, as the Australian starts on the super soft Pirellis. And once again Verstappen and Kimi are frighteningly close to each other on the grid... But in terms of duels on track, coming to the US GP weekend the FIA has given drivers more specific guidelines on defensive manoeuvres. The teams have now been informed, that any change of direction under braking which results in another driver having to take evasive action will be considered abnormal and hence potentially dangerous to other drivers. Any such move will be reported to the stewards. So it´ll be interesting to see, if this new rule changes the way Verstappen defends his position on track. Nevertheless, I´m looking forward to seeing passionate driving both by Max and my red-suited favourites!

sunnuntai 9. lokakuuta 2016

Japanese GP: Sensational Verstappen prevented Mercedes taking 1-2!

When I woke up early in the morning and switched my TV on, I heard very disappointing news from Suzuka; Ferrari had been forced to change Kimi´s gearbox, which automatically meant a 5-place grid penalty for the Iceman. What a disappointing turn, as Kimi had driven such a fantastic qualifying yesterday! The penalty meant P8 for Kimi on the grid. Unfortunately my high hopes for a podium finish started slowly to fade away. This is the frustrating aspect of Formula 1 racing; the driver giving his best performance isn´t enough, but the technical details matter equally much as well.

The start was surprising. Hamilton in P2 got a catastrophically poor start, and his Mercedes almost got into the anti-stall mode. The Briton dropped down to P8. Verstappen, who started from P3, almost got a chance to challenge Rosberg for the lead, but Rosberg held on to the lead firmly. Perez in his Force India was third after the start! Ricciardo in the second Red Bull was fourth and Sebastian in his Ferrari fifth. Force India´s Hulkenberg was sixth and Kimi seventh. Sebastian had staggering first few laps, as the German first made a stunning overtaking move on Ricciardo, and on the following lap he managed to overtake the Mexican Force India pilot. Sebastian had already jumped 3rd, and it seemed he had every chance to make it on the podium today. Kimi had a battle of his own for P6. On lap 6 the Iceman made a move on Hulkenberg in Turn 1 and stole the sixth place from the German. Ferrari´s race pace seemed impressive indeed.

Red Bull opened the pit stop roulette on lap 11. Both Red Bull drivers pitted on the very same lap -both for orange-marked hard Pirellis. The Ferrari teammates pitted two laps later -for a similar tyre choice. Rosberg, too pitted from the lead and opted for hard tyres -as well as Force India´s Perez. Ferrari´s pit stop strategy left a little to hope for, as Kimi re-joined the track behind both Ricciardo and Perez. Hamilton pitted a lap later also for hard Pirelli tyres -and managed to re-join the track right ahead of Kimi! The Iceman made a fantastic overtaking move on Perez at the end of the finish straight, but at this time it was only P8 for Kimi (although both Williams drivers, who had started to the race on the white-marked medium tyres, hadn´t pitted yet). A bit later both Massa and Bottas got overtaken by Kimi, who was driving an excellent race.

Kimi was the first top driver to pit for the second time. The Iceman drove into the pits on lap 27 -for another fresh set of hard tyres. This was excellent tactics from Ferrari, who could now benefit from the undercut in terms of the battle with Ricciardo. After the pit stop Kimi got a great track position and started lapping in fastest lap times. Verstappen and Rosberg were the next top drivers to pit -for a similar tyre choice to Kimi´s. Ricciardo didn´t pit until on lap 33, and the Australian re-joined the track some five seconds behind Kimi. Hamilton pitted a lap later -and still managed to re-join the track ahead of Kimi.

Ferrari decided to try a different strategy with Sebastian. He pitted for a fresh set of soft tyres, which meant an aggressive last stint. The German Ferrari ace re-joined the track behind Hamilton but ahead of teammate Kimi. Sebastian could smell Hamilton´s blood and started closing the gap to the Briton. There was a significant difference between those two tyre compounds, and I really hoped, that Sebastian could actually challenge Hamilton for a podium finish. To my disappointment that wasn´t the case unfortunately.

With 10 laps to go, Rosberg had a safe 5-second lead to Red Bull´s Verstappen. Towards the end of the race Hamilton seemed determined to challenge the Flying Dutchman for the second place. Hamilton started chasing the Dutchman and decreased the gap slowly but surely. Traffic was an issue for all top drivers, and they were all complaining on the team radio about the blue flags. So was Verstappen, who had Hamilton right at his tail, already within DRS distance from him. On the second last lap Hamilton made an overtaking move on Max, who is known to be a difficult man to pass. Max changed his line at the braking, which was in the "grey area" again, but Hamilton had too much speed going into that corner and he ended up cutting the corner by going straight.

Rosberg took his first win in Japan and increased his lead into 33 points in the drivers´ championship standings. Max was the impressive runner-up; preventing Mercedes taking 1-2 is always a fantastic result. Once again Max was voted as the Driver of the Day, which was well-deserved. Hamilton completed the podium, which was the maximum he could do after the catastrophic start. Sebastian finished 4th and Kimi 5th, so strong race from both red-suited drivers. Without the penalties they would have been up there fighting for the podium places! Ricciardo finished 6th, Perez 7th, Hulkenberg 8th, Massa 9th and Bottas 10th.

Mercedes now clinched their third constructors´ championship. I have a hunch, that Rosberg will win the drivers´ title this year. Hamilton seems so distracted at the moment. Posting photos on Snapchat during the official press conference is disrespectful behaviour even from a three-time world champion! Having fun is okay, but there should be another time and place for that!

I´m already looking forward to the round 17 at Austin, Texas. Once again I´m wishing the very best for the red team (and a certain blue-suited driver)!

P.S. My thoughts on the GP weekend also here:

lauantai 8. lokakuuta 2016

Japanese GP / Qualifying: Rosberg took pole in Suzuka thriller!

The most interesting question ahead of the qualifying was, whether Red Bull was still ahead of Ferrari in terms of the pecking order. The Scuderia gave their answer in Q1; Sebastian and Kimi were topping the timesheets -split only by 15 thousandths of a second. But where the red cars had used the soft Pirelli tyres, the silver ones had done their times on mediums. Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo had also set their times on the medium compound. However, Ferrari´s pace seemed absolutely promising. The first faller in Q1 was McLaren´s Button, which must have been a disappointment to the Honda-powered squad. Out of Q2 were also Renault´s Magnussen (teammate Palmer surprisingly made it to Q2), Sauber duo of Ericsson and Nasr and Manor duo of Ocon and Wehrlein.

In Q2 it turned out, that Ferrari and Red Bull were seriously breathing down Mercedes´ necks. Hamilton made a small mistake on his flyer, which enabled Rosberg to take the upper hand on his teammate. After the first attempts the pecking order was quite straight forward: first Mercedes, second Ferrari and third Red Bull. These top six sat out the second runs. Williams, on the other hand, made one run only at the end of the second session. A bit surprisingly, either Bottas or Massa couldn´t make it into the final segment. The American team Haas were the surprise of the hour in a positive way, with both Grosjean and Gutierrez making it among the top ten. Out of Q3 were also Toro Rosso teammates (Kvyat acing Sainz this time!), McLaren´s Alonso and Renault´s Palmer.

Q3 was absolutely thrilling. Hamilton took provisional pole on his first run, with teammate Rosberg second. It was hair-raisingly tight between Ferrari and Red Bull; those four drivers were separated only by six hundredths of a second after the first runs! The red-suited drivers seemed to be a fraction ahead of their closest rival Red Bull. However, Rosberg grabbed the advantage back from Hamilton by thirteen-thousandths of a second (equating to 82 centimetres on track)! Kimi drove an outstanding lap at the end of the session and managed to extract the maximum out of his SF16-H -making it third. Teammate Sebastian qualified fourth, but carrying a three-place grid penalty for his collision in Malaysia, he´ll start to the race from P7. The flying Dutchman Verstappen out-qualified teammate Ricciardo in fifth and sixth, with Perez next up for Force India. The Haas duo of Grosjean and Gutierrez were eighth and tenth respectively, split by Force India´s Hulkenberg.

I´m expecting a thrilling race tomorrow. Rosberg clearly has the momentum now; I have a hunch that Hamilton has no chance to beat his teammate this time. Kimi´s performance at Suzuka has been impressively strong; it´s no secret that Kimi loves the track. Kimi has every chance to make it on the podium tomorrow. Sebastian, on the other hand, is more of a question mark. Hopefully he will take a wise start and he manages to improve from there. Red Bull´s race pace is convincing, too but hopefully Ferrari will have the upper hand this time. Can´t wait for tomorrow´s race. It´s absolutely wonderful to wake up early in the morning, have a cup of coffee and watch Formula 1 action -there´s nothing better than that!

sunnuntai 2. lokakuuta 2016

Malaysia GP: Dramatic engine failure for Hamilton!

As previous years have shown, the opening lap in Malaysia has usually been quite eventful. So was the case also this weekend. Already before the start Williams´ Massa had an electrical issue with his FW38, and the Brazilian was unable to start for the formation lap. The start to the race was quite dramatic; Hamilton maintained his lead, but behind the Briton there was a tight battle for positions between his teammate Rosberg, Red Bull´s Verstappen and Ferrari´s Vettel. Going into Turn 1 Sebastian was fully concentrated on his battle with Verstappen; he braked very late -too late-, which was too optimistic. Sebastian couldn´t avoid hitting Rosberg, who was in the outside ahead of him going into Turn 1. The contact made Rosberg spin and destroyed Sebastian´s front suspension. Sebastian´s race was over, already before it actually got started! Rosberg was able to continue, but he dropped down to the back of the pack. Sebastian was taken into investigation for causing a collision, but so far there hasn´t been any penalties. Unfortunately this wasn´t the first mistake Sebastian has made this year.

Hamilton was leading the race, with Red Bull´s Ricciardo second and Verstappen third. Force India´s Perez had managed to get past Kimi, which was a bit of a surprise to me. A couple of laps later Kimi managed to take his fourth place back from the Mexican. Meanwhile Rosberg was aggressively and determinedly making his way through the field. Both Rosberg and Verstappen pitted already on lap 9; Rosberg opted for a fresh set of orange-marked hard tyres, whereas Verstappen´s choice was a fresh set of soft tyres. On lap 17 Rosberg made an overtaking move on Sauber´s Ericsson and jumped already 7th!

On lap 19 Verstappen had closed the gap to Kimi on his fresher tyres. There was no battle, however, as Kimi drove into the pits -for a fresh set of hard tyres. Hamilton pitted also on the very same lap -with a similar tyre choice. Ricciardo in his Red Bull pitted a lap later; the Australian also opted for the hard Pirellis. So Verstappen was the only top driver to have a different tyre strategy. This made the race extremely interesting. Would it be possible to make the race on a one-stop strategy?

On lap 27 Verstappen pitted for the second time -this time for a fresh set of hard Pirellis. Some four laps later Rosberg, too pitted for a similar tyre choice to Verstappen´s. Kimi in his SF16-H pitted a lap later -for hard compound as well. The Iceman re-joined the track right ahead of Rosberg, but the German seemed absolutely determined to get past the Finn. The fight for P4 was definitely on. Simultaneously there was a hair-raising battle between the Red Bull teammates. Young Verstappen seemed stubborn to get past the "smiling avenger", but Ricciardo had no intension to let his teammate through. It seems that Verstappen has learned something from the previous races, as the battle was wheel-banging but fair -no "crazy" moves this time.

Rosberg put serious pressure on the Iceman, who was driving flat out. Rosberg had clearly decided to get past by any means necessary, which lead to a questionable overtaking move. Rosberg "dived" into the inside and ended up hitting Kimi. Luckily there was no puncture, but the floor of Kimi´s SF16-H got damaged. Rosberg was taken into investigation by the stewards for causing a collision, and he was given a 10-second time penalty. That was a start for Kimi´s battle against time; the Iceman´s mission was not to let Rosberg more than 10 seconds away from him. That turned out to be not an easy task...

Hamilton had over a 10-second gap to Ricciardo in the lead, and it seemed as if the Briton was cruising to victory. All of a sudden something very unexpected happened on lap 41; Hamilton faced an engine failure with huge flames coming from the back of his car! Hamilton´s race was over, and the Briton had to wave goodbye for the 25 points. Virtual safety car was deployed. Kimi pitted alongside the Red Bull duo and Rosberg; all of them opted for a fresh set of soft tyres for the last stint.

With 12 laps to go, Ricciardo was leading the race with teammate Verstappen second. Unbelievable but true, Red Bull was having a double lead in the race! Max was right at his teammate´s tail, but the "flying Dutchman" kept his head cool and didn´t try anything stupid. Rosberg was third and did everything he could to increase the gap to Kimi over 10 seconds. But there was nothing Kimi could do; Rosberg got some extra power for a couple of laps and it was enough to stretch the gap into over 10 seconds. So although Rosberg got a penalty for causing a collision, there wasn´t one at the end of the day, as Nico was still able to make it on the podium. Kimi drove a fantastic race and gave everything he could, but Ferrari was lacking speed. P4 was the maximum result today. Williams´ Bottas finished 5th and showed, that a one-stop strategy was possible in Malaysia. Perez finished 6th, Alonso 7th, Hulkenberg 8th, Button 9th and Renault´s Palmer completed the top ten. Good points especially for McLaren.

The podium ceremony was utterly hilarious. Ricciardo really knows how to put up a good show! To celebrate his victory, he didn´t only do a shoey, but got teammate Verstappen, Team Principal Horner and even Rosberg involved in it, too! I have to say I felt a bit sorry for Verstappen, who had to drink sparkling wine from his teammate´s racing boot! ;) So now Rosberg has a 23-point lead in the drivers´ championship standings. Hamilton has had so many technical issues with his power unit this year... But who  knows what will happen in Japan next week!

Sebastian Vettel has been in my thoughts a lot lately. He has just been given two penalty points and a 3-place grid penalty for Japan next week! He isn´t known for making mistakes, but this year there has been quite a few of them. If I´m asked, he should have admitted honestly, that the collision today was his fault and not to blame Rosberg for getting involved with his battle with Verstappen. But in spite of all the mistakes, I support Sebastian from all my heart. I believe in him, and I know he can turn these setbacks into success. Ferrari as a team is struggling too with their pace and performance, as Red Bull has clearly taken the upper hand in the battle for the second place in the constructors´ standings. But in spite of difficulties the fans are always there. Sebastian, Kimi and the whole Ferrari team are always in my heart!

P.S. You´re welcome to read my thoughts also here:

lauantai 1. lokakuuta 2016

Malaysia GP / Qualifying: 8th pole of the season for Hamilton!

There have been some significant track changes at Sepang, which meant, that it was a bit unknown for the teams, as they prepared for the qualifying. The entire track has been resurfaced, and nine corners have been changed since last year. The new asphalt meant more slippery conditions and hotter track temperature.

Q1 got underway seeing different tyre strategies. The Mercedes came out on the yellow-marked soft tyres, whereas both Ferrari drivers made their first runs on the white-marked medium Pirellis. Red Bull copied Ferrari´s tyre strategy. Hamilton was the fastest man in the first segment, and teammate Rosberg was only 16 thousandths of a second off the Briton. Obviously hey had absolutely no need to make a second run. The Force India duo of Perez and Hulkenberg were surprisingly competitive as well, and they decided to sit out the second runs as well. Both Kimi and Sebastian opted for a fresh set of soft tyres at the end of the session. Kimi jumped third and Sebastian fourth. There was only a thousandth of a second separating the Ferrari aces! Out of Q2 were the Saubers of Ericsson and Nasr, Renault´s Palmer, the Manors of Ocon and Wehrlein and McLaren´s Alonso, who has a 45-place grid drop thanks to engine-change penalties. The Spaniard didn´t even try to set a competitive lap time, as fast laps would just have wasted tyres!

To my surprise everyone opted for the soft tyres in Q2. The Mercedes teammates headed out right away, and Hamilton absolutely smashed his teammate by half a second at the beginning of the second session. After the first runs Hamilton and Rosberg were topping the time sheets, with Verstappen and Ricciardo 3rd and 4th. Kimi was fifth and teammate Sebastian sixth. Williams´ Massa was 7th, and they all sat out the second runs. Button made it as high as P8, which was an impressive achievement from the British McLaren pilot, who is now driving his 300th GP weekend! The Force Indias of Hulkenberg and Perez rounded out the top ten. Finnish Williams pilot Bottas was the first faller in Q2. Out of the last segment were also Haas teammates Grosjean and Gutierrez, Renault´s Magnussen and Toro Rosso teammates Kvyat and Sainz.

In the decisive last segment Rosberg had an off on his first flyer, and the German was only in P5 after the first runs. Hamilton took provisional pole, and the Briton was close to the fastest lap ever recorded at Sepang International Circuit! Red Bull ace Verstappen was second with his teammate Ricciardo third and Kimi fourth. Button made only one run at the end of the last session. Rosberg was able to improve his lap time on his second run, although he had made a small mistake at the final hair-pin. Rosberg jumped second, but was still four tenths of a second down on his teammate. Verstappen failed to improve but held on for third. Teammate Ricciardo had to settle for P4 today. The Ferraris of Vettel and Räikkönen filled out row three, and the Force Indias of Perez and Hulkenberg locked out the fourth row. Button in his McLaren qualified 9th and Massa in his Williams completed the top ten.

I truly believe, that the Silver Arrows could face strong competition in the race, with the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Ricciardo in striking distance on the second row. Ferrari´s long-run pace has been quite impressive as well. I hope there will be a wheel-banging battle for the podium places tomorrow! One thing is for sure -there will be hot and humid, whether there´ll be rain or not. It will be a hard race in terms of tyres, and tyre management will be one of the key factors tomorrow. Last year Sebastian won the Malaysia GP, which was his first victory in the red team. Repeating that tomorrow would be a dream come true, although I know it might not be realistic to expect that. Once again it´ll be tight between Red Bull and Ferrari... I wouldn´t be upset at all to see Verstappen on the podium, either ;) A podium finish would be a perfect way to celebrate the young man´s 19th birthday!

sunnuntai 18. syyskuuta 2016

Singapore GP: The magic of pole worked for Rosberg!

Before today´s race the Singapore GP had been won from pole six times in seven races. That was a nice omen for Rosberg, who started the race on pole today. In the dark night of Singapore the start was electric and colourful. Red Bull´s Verstappen got a very poor start from P4 and dropped down to P8. Hulkenberg in his Force India tried to find his way past Verstappen, but he ended up colliding with Toro Rosso´s Sainz. The collision made Hulkenberg crash into the wall -leading to the German´s retirement. Williams´ Bottas, who had started to the race from P10 due to Perez´s grid penalty (the Mexican had been dropped 8 places due to two separate violations under the yellow flags in yesterday´s qualifying), also suffered a puncture due to an incident at the start. Safety car was deployed, but it came in after only a couple of laps.

Rosberg was leading the race with Red Bull´s Ricciardo second and Hamilton third. Kimi had taken an excellent start and was right at Hamilton´s tail. In spite of the impressive speed, both Mercedes drivers were told on the team radio to manage their brakes. Especially Hamilton wasn´t allowed to drive flat out due to the issue with the brake temperatures. Red Bull´s Verstappen started the pit stop roulette on lap 14. The flying Dutchman opted for another set of supersoft tyres. By this time Sebastian Vettel, who had started to the race on the yellow-marked soft compound, had impressively made his way through the field and was already in P10.

A couple of laps later both Hamilton and Ricciardo pitted -for a different tyre choice. Like teammate Verstappen, Ricciardo opted for another set of supersoft tyres, whereas Hamilton opted for the yellow-marked hardest compound. A lap later it was Rosberg´s turn to come in -for a similar tyre choice to his teammate´s. Once again it was Red Bull´s Verstappen, who was responsible for offering an entertaining show. The Dutch teenager was stuck behind Toro Rosso´s Kvyat and Max seemed absolutely passionate to get past the Russian. Kvyat, on the other hand, was stubborn and had no intension to let Max get past him. But this time there were no questionable moves and the battle seemed fair. It took over 10 laps for Max to overtake the Russian, but finally his overtaking move worked out!

Approaching the halfway point of the race, Kimi had chased down Hamilton. Although the Iceman had got within DRS distance from the reigning world champion, it seemed very difficult to make a successful overtaking move. But on lap 33 Hamilton locked up at the braking and Kimi struck like a lightning and overtook the Briton. What an absolutely staggering overtaking move by the Iceman! It was the true highlight of the race.

After the second pit stops there was a clear 5-second gap between Kimi (P3) and Hamilton (P4). However, the Briton was told on the team radio to push and close the gap to Kimi. Obviously Hamilton wasn´t suffering from the brake issue anymore, as he improved his pace and started to close the gap rapidly. 15 laps before the chequered flag Hamilton was called in for the third and final time. The Briton opted for a fresh set of supersoft tyres. Kimi was called in not until a couple of laps later... Which turned out to be a wrong call! Hamilton benefitted from the undercut and jumped the Iceman, as the Finn re-joined the track. What a bittersweet moment indeed! Kimi had made such a spectacular overtaking move on Hamilton earlier in the race, but due to the pit stop strategy the podium slipped through his fingers!

Also Ricciardo in P2 pitted for the third time -for a fresh set of ultrasoft tyres. Race leader Rosberg, however, couldn´t afford making a third pit stop without losing the lead to the Red Bull driver. Ricciardo started the chase on his fresh tyres and closed the gap to Rosberg by several seconds per lap. The critical question was: would Rosberg be able to manage his tyres till the end and would Ricciardo be able to not only chase him down but to overtake as well?

On the final lap Ricciardo was already within DRS distance from Rosberg but there was no chance for overtaking. Ricciardo crossed the finish line only four tenths behind the winner Rosberg! Hamilton finished 3rd. Unfortunately there was no chance for Kimi to challenge the Briton for a podium finish. Nevertheless, Kimi drove a brilliant race! And outside the limelight, Sebastian finally finished the race fifth! That was a remarkable achievement considering his starting place at the back of the grid. No wonder Sebastian was voted as the driver of the day by fans today! Verstappen finished 6th behind Sebastian, and I have to say that those two offered some entertaining overtaking today! Alonso finished 7th (which is definitely worth mentioning), Perez was 8th, Kvyat was 9th (a great result from the recently so unlucky Russian!) and Renault´s Magnussen scored the last point.

So once again it was all about the magic of pole position, as Rosberg drove from pole to victory. Rosberg is clearly enjoying the momentum now; the German is now leading the drivers´ championship standings by 8 points. There are still 6 more races to go. It´s going to be so tight between the Mercedes teammates. But I´m still anxiously waiting for to see a red-suited driver on the top step of the podium this year... Hopefully in Malaysia my dream will come true!

P.S. My thoughts on the GP weekend also here:

lauantai 17. syyskuuta 2016

Singapore GP / Qualifying: A sweeping pole for Rosberg!

I never stop admiring the breath-taking venue of the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore. The atmosphere there seems so mesmerising, even watching it only on TV! The artificial lights, tens of thousands of multi-colour lamps and shining Formula 1 cars make the venue absolutely magical. Singapore is by far my favourite round on the F1 calendar!

Sebastian Vettel, my huge idol, has taken four poles in Singapore but this time the magic fell through. Although Ferrari seemed to be very close to Mercedes and Red Bull in terms of the pace, there was big drama in the first session. Unlucky Sebastian had a suspected broken front anti-roll bar on his Margherita. The German´s front wheel kept lifting off the ground and Sebastian wasn´t able to set a time good enough to go into Q2 but was left horribly in P22! I was so gutted and so sad for Sebastian, who will face a massive amount of work tomorrow trying to make his way through the field in the race! Red Bull´s Ricciardo was the fastest man in Q1 with Kimi second and Verstappen third. At this point Mercedes seemed to be struggling with their pace a bit, as Hamilton was "only" fourth and teammate Rosberg 8th. In addition to Sebastian, out of Q2 were the familiar names -Renault duo Magnussen and Palmer, Manor duo Wehrlein and Ocon and Sauber´s Nasr.

The tyre strategy in Q2 was interesting. The Mercedes drivers came out on the purple-marked ultrasoft tyres, whereas the Red Bull teammates opted for the red-marked supersoft compound. In spite of the different rubber, both Ricciardo and Verstappen set extremely competitive lap times, making it 3rd and 4th in the standings. Kimi made his first run on the ultrasoft rubber as well, but managed to make it only 5th. The five frontrunners (Rosberg, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Verstappen and Räikkönen) sat out the second runs. Grosjean in his Haas, who had suffered from brake problems the entire weekend, put his Haas sideways on into the barriers in Turn 10, when there was only less than a minute remaining. Easing off for the resulting yellow flags, neither Williams got through to the final session. Bottas ended up the first faller in Q2. Teammate Massa was left 12th. It remains to be seen, whether there will be any actions after the stewards have investigated some improvements under the yellows, notably after Force India´s Perez jumped to 9th after overtaking Haas´ Gutierrez.

Q3 was delayed by 10 minutes as the plastic barriers in Turn 10 needed to be fixed. Rosberg and Hamilton set the initial pace, but after the first attempts Hamilton was surprising 7 tenths down on his teammate. Kimi made a superb first run, and the Iceman was third, 9 tenths off Rosberg. In the end Hamilton was unable to challenge his teammate for pole, on the contrary, the Briton tried too much on his second flyer and made small mistakes here and there. All he could do was to make it 3rd this time. Red Bull´s Ricciardo on the other hand, managed to improve his lap time in the end -making it on the front row alongside Rosberg! Verstappen had been absolutely flying at Marina Bay in the free practice sessions, but in the qualifying the Dutchman couldn´t quite nail it. The Red Bull teenager had to settle for P4, which left a little to hope for. To my disappointment Kimi fell fifth in the closing moments of the last segment. To be honest, I was hoping to see Ferrari to be more competitive. Toro Rosso, on the contrary, made stunning job, as Sainz qualified 6th and teammate Kvyat 7th. Hulkenberg was 8th, Alonso impressively 9th and Perez 10th.

The start will be thrilling especially due to the tyre strategy. Rosberg on pole will start to the race on the ultrasoft tyres, whereas Ricciardo in P2 and Verstappen in P4 will start on the more durable supersoft rubber. Once again, Kimi and Verstappen are frighteningly close to each other on the grid... I´m crossing my fingers that there won´t be any incidents in the first corner! The probability of safety car is extremely high, so the timing of the pit stops plays a crucial role in tomorrow´s race as well. It remains to be seen, what Sebastian will be able to do from the back of the grid... Hopefully the suspension problem can be fixed overnight!

In the last free practice session this morning there was a surprising and even a bit funny moment, as a giant lizard suddenly emerged on track! Verstappen reported on the team radio about the lizard, which wisely waited for Max to drive pass until it crossed the track. The lizard must have heard about Max´s aggressive driving style, so it was wise enough to wait, hahahahaha :D The team joked about Max encountering Godzilla ;) Hopefully there won´t be any lizards on track tomorrow, however! I´m hoping to see a magical race with lots of success for my three favourites!

sunnuntai 4. syyskuuta 2016

Italian GP: First victory for Rosberg at Monza!

The start was the most exciting moment of the Italian GP. Hamilton on pole got a very poor start, which cost the Briton five positions immediately! Teammate Rosberg stormed to the lead. Sebastian had taken the most impressive start of the top five and was right at Rosberg´s tail. It was quite close actually, that Sebastian would have been able to challenge Rosberg for the lead. Kimi in the second Ferrari was right behind his teammate. Williams´ Bottas was fourth and Red Bull´s Ricciardo managed to overtake the Briton on the opening lap as well. Hamilton dropped as far down as P6.  Ricciardo´s teammate Verstappen, on the other hand, had also had a problem at the start. His RB12 got into anti-stall mode, which cost the Dutchman many positions.

Already on lap 2 Hamilton made an overtaking move on Ricciardo and jumped 5th. Only a moment later the Briton had chased down the Finnish Williams pilot Bottas and started putting serious pressure on the Finn. After 8 laps of intense battle and defensive driving, there was nothing Bottas could do to prevent the storming Briton from overtaking him. Meanwhile Kimi was right at his teammate´s tail, but the Iceman was told on the team radio to leave bigger a gap to Sebastian to cool down his engine.

Kimi pitted on lap 16 for a fresh set of super soft Pirellis. Teammate Sebastian came in a lap later, and opted for a similar tyre choice. This was a clear sign, that both Ferraris were on a 2-stop strategy, as they had used only the red-marked super soft compound so far. Sebastian had a small delay during his pit stop, as there was an issue with his rear-left tyre. However, the German re-joined the track right ahead of teammate Kimi.

At this point Rosberg was leading the race with a safe 12-second gap to his teammate. Sebastian and Kimi were some 21 seconds behind Hamilton, so it was going to be close in terms of the track positions after Hamilton´s pit stop. Rosberg pitted not until on lap 25, which was almost the halfway point of the race! Mercedes´ tyre strategy differed significantly from that of Ferrari´s; both Mercedes drivers had started to the race on the yellow-marked soft Pirellis. Pit stop saw Rosberg to opt for the white-marked medium Pirellis! Hamilton pitted a lap after his teammate -for a similar tyre choice. This meant, that Mercedes were on a 1-stop strategy. Hamilton re-joined the track behind the Ferraris of Sebastian and Kimi; but the red team had one more pit stop to make!

Sebastian came in for his second pit stop on lap 34; this time for a fresh set of soft tyres. The Iceman pitted a lap later -also for the soft rubber. It wasn´t a big surprise, that Kimi re-joined the track right behind Red Bull´s Verstappen, as these two have got into a  duel in so many previous races as well. This time things didn´t get heated, as the Dutch Red Bull driver pitted shortly after Kimi. Teammate Ricciardo had his second pit stop not until on lap 38. The Australian "smiling avenger" opted for a fresh set of super soft tyres -which meant an aggressive last stint.

Towards the end of the race there was only one battle on track -between Bottas and Ricciardo for the 5th place. Six laps before the chequered flag the Australian made a bold move on the Finn at the end of the finish straight, and managed to overtake Bottas! Otherwise there was no fight for positions, so all in all it was a bit boring race. Rosberg took his first win at Monza and decreased Hamilton´s lead in the drivers´ championship standings into just 2 points! In spite of the poor start Hamilton made it 2nd quite easily due to the pit stop strategy. Sebastian made all tifosi overwhelmed with joy by completing the podium. Kimi finished a strong 4th. It´s such a shame, it would have been such a pleasure to see both red-suited drivers on the podium at Ferrari´s home race! Ricciardo finished 5th ahead of Bottas. Verstappen had made a stunning (and not questionable!) overtaking move on Force India´s Perez, which made the Dutchman jump 7th.

It´s incredible, how good the Silver Arrows are at the moment. If a driver of any other team got a poor start like Hamilton today, his race would be practically ruined. It would be crazy to even dream about a podium finish. But in terms of Mercedes, even after a poor start, you are able to finish second! It tells all about Mercedes´ superiority at the moment. However, I´m so happy that Sebastian made it on the podium! I´m sure my friend, who was watching the race live at Monza, was so touched to see Sebastian celebrating his 3rd place today!

So now the season in Europe is over and it´s time for the fly-aways... Singapore has always been good to Sebastian, so I´m really looking forward to the next GP weekend!

P.S. You´re welcome to read my thoughts on this weekend´s F1 action also here:

lauantai 3. syyskuuta 2016

Italian GP / Qualifying: Fifth pole for Hamilton at the ´Temple of Speed´!

This weekend it was time for the round 14 -the legendary Italian GP. Q1 saw different tyre strategies. Quite unexpectedly the Ferraris came out on the yellow-marked soft Pirellis, whilst the Silver Arrows opted for the super soft compound. Hamilton was supreme from the very beginning of the qualifying, no matter which tyre compound he was on. The Ferraris were a bit over a second down on Hamilton after the first runs. However, there was no need for a second run. Also both Red Bulls and Bottas in his Williams decided to sit out the second runs. Once again Toro Rosso´s Kvyat was bumped out of Q2, whereas teammate Sainz made it 13th in the first session. Out of Q2 were also both Saubers and both Renault drivers, as well as Manor´s Ocon, who faced a technical failure and did not record a time.

In Q2 the Mercedes of Hamilton and Rosberg headed out on the soft Pirellis; once again Hamilton was stamping his authority all over the ´Temple of Speed´. Red Bull tried Mercedes´ strategy, but setting a lap time competitive enough on the soft tyres was mission impossible for the Red Bull duo; Verstappen and Ricciardo had to made their second runs on the super soft tyres. After the first attempts Sebastian was 3rd and Williams´ Bottas 4th and they were the only drivers to sit out the second runs. The gap between Mercedes and Ferrari turned out quite significant -7 tenths in Q2. However, it was great to see, that Ferrari was back at being Mercedes´ number one challenger on Italian soil! Red Bull seemed to be struggling with their pace on the long straights of Monza. Haas´ Gutierrez was a great seventh -opposite to his teammate Grosjean, who was eliminated from Q3 and will thus suffer a 5-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change. Williams´ Massa was the first faller in Q2; a very disappointing result for the experienced Brazilian, who will retire from F1 after this season. Out of the last segment were also both McLarens, Manor´s Wehrlein and Toro Rosso´s Sainz.

Q3 turned out very predictable -Hamilton took provisional pole and had absolutely no intension to let it slip through his fingers. After the first runs Rosberg was second -three tenths off his teammate´s pace. Kimi was third and teammate Sebastian fourth -the only drivers to get within a second of the rapid Silver Arrows. Hamilton managed to improve his lap time on his second flyer -and ended up seeing off teammate Rosberg by nearly half a second! It was the world champion´s third successive pole in Italy and his seventh of the season. The Briton now has historical 5 poles at the ´Temple of Speed´, which means Hamilton now equals the pole record with the legendary drivers Juan Manuel Fangio and Ayrton Senna. Sebastian finally aced teammate Iceman by a tenth of a second, the Ferrari duo locking out the second row for the Italian-based team. Williams´ Bottas was an impressive fifth, the Finn being only a thousandth of a second faster than Red Bull ace Ricciardo. Teammate Verstappen had to settle for P7. Force India´s Perez qualified 8th, with teammate Hulkenberg 9th. Gutierrez in his Haas rounded out the top ten.

Mercedes have two advantages tomorrow -in terms of both tyres and pace. Hamilton and Rosberg are the only top ten drivers to start to the race on the more durable soft rubber, whereas everyone else is forced to start on the super soft Pirellis. We´ll see, if the tyre compound plays any role at the start. Of course I´m hoping, that the red-suited drivers both get a stunning start and they will storm into the double lead past the Silver Arrows! Unfortunately though, Mercedes´ pace is totally in a class of their own... But I´m sure the passionate tifosi will give the Ferrari aces an extra boost for the race! A friend of mine will also be watching the race live at Monza, and I´m sure she´ll have a time of her life! Just wishing I will get a chance to go there one day as well...

I´m also eagerly waiting for, whether Kimi and Max will again find each other on track tomorrow! Just wondering, whether there will be more heated fuss about this young Dutchman´s driving... Victory for Ferrari would be a dream come true in front of the tifosi!

maanantai 29. elokuuta 2016

A letter to Max Verstappen

Dear Max,

What a staggering talent you are! Since your first season at Toro Rosso, you´ve made a huge impression on me. Many people thought, that you were too young for Formula 1, but I had a hunch, that there was something unique and extraordinary about you. And I have to say, that you haven´t let me down in terms of your talent and skills!

I was overwhelmed with happiness, when I read about your promotion from Toro Rosso to Red Bull. Although I felt kind of sad for Kvyat, I thought you really deserved this chance. This was your chance to shine -which you did dazzlingly from the very first race with your new team. Who could have thought that you were going to win the Spanish GP at the wheel of the RB12? Before your move to Red Bull, I had admired you kind of secretly, but after the first victory I couldn´t help telling officially about my admiration for you. I was a bit afraid, that you may have got too much too soon -but then came Monaco GP and all the crashes to the wall. I was sure the Monaco GP was a healthy lesson about how fleeting success can be  -and that it can never be taken for granted.

You really stand out of the crowd. You have exceptional talent and true passion for racing. Your driving style is risky but passionate and courageous. You race from all your heart, which I truly admire. You divide opinions, which is a sign of being exceptional. There has been a lot of talk about your defensive moves in recent races; some of them have been in "the grey area" in terms of the rules. As long as you haven´t been taken into investigation by the stewards for your moves, I have thought you are only putting up an entertaining show for the fans. Even though you ended up in a collision with my two other favourite drivers yesterday, I was ready to defend you publicly in my blog. I felt so bad, as I saw Twitter being full of angry and hatred-filled tweets about your driving...

Today I don´t know what to think. I logged in on Facebook after work and I saw many news about your post-race comments. According to you have stated, that both Kimi and Sebastian should be ashamed to have caused such a collision, being as experienced as they are, and then complaining about your actions. I also read you having stated, that had there been no collision in Turn 1, you wouldn´t have been so aggressive later or or forced Kimi off track. I know media often rips sentences out of the context, but have you really stated this way? If you have, I am utterly shocked!

You´re still very young; yet you have achieved many things, which many can only dream about. Exceptional talent and success bring great responsibility as well. Formula 1 world is ruthless, and it´s easy to let all the success go into your head. From the bottom of my heart I hope you won´t ever let that happen! I hope you always manage to keep your feet firmly on the ground and not let the shining success change you into something you´re not. You´re amazing on track, but it doesn´t justify arrogant comments or revenge on track. I work at a kindergarten, and even pre-school children are taught not to hit back if someone hits you first! Even with huge talent, you have to earn your respect on track. Arrogant comments destroy that respect... There's only a very fine line between courage and stupidity.

You may be in a turning point in terms of your F1 career. There´re lessons to be learned. The ball is in your hands; I hope you´ll make the right choices. You´ve millions of fans, who look up to you as a role model. I am one of them. You have all the talent and the skills to become a world champion one day -so act like one!

Yours sincerely,
Iina Huhmarniemi
your Finnish fan

P.S. I would be forever grateful, if you had time to read my letter and write a reply to your fans. Thank you so much. Wishing you all the best!

sunnuntai 28. elokuuta 2016

Belgian GP: Turn 1 from a horror film!

What a start the Belgian GP had! Kimi got an excellent start from P3, and the Finn was determinedly challenging the Red Bull teenager Verstappen into Turn 1. Max was in the inside and Kimi in the outside, when suddenly Kimi´s teammate Sebastian turned in and hit his teammate! Kimi had nowhere to go and he couldn´t avoid hitting Verstappen as well. Oh gosh, it was like a horror film scene -all my three favourites hitting each other! Kimi´s front wing was seriously damaged and he had to limp into the pits. In the pits there were flames coming from the floor of Kimi´s SF16-H and the team had difficulties to get the new front wing changed. Íceman´s race was practically ruined! What was Sebastian thinking when turning into Turn 1?

On the opening lap Toro Rosso´s Sainz´s rear tyre exploded and his car suffered severe damage. Virtual safety car was deployed, as there was a lot of debris on the track. Rosberg was leading the race and teammate Hamilton had already jumped 12th after starting from the back row. Kimi on the other hand was down in P19. The race didn´t look too good for the Iceman... The other Finn Bottas, who had also started to the race on the super soft Pirellis, was now in P4.

After the virtual safety car the race was on only for a couple of laps, until there was another incident. Renault´s Magnussen hit the kerb on the top of Eau Rouge and lost control of his car, which lead into a massive shunt into the barriers. Magnussen´s car turned into a total wreck, so it was a small miracle that the Dane didn´t get badly hurt. He got a wound on his ankle but got out of the car on his own. Safety car was deployed, which started the pit stop roulette. Kimi came in for a fresh set of soft tyres. Williams, on the other hand, decided to call Bottas in not until a lap later, which turned out to be a wrong call, as the Finn lost many positions and dropped down to P12.

Some four laps later the race was red-flagged, as there was so massive damage in the tyre barrier after Magnussen´s crash. All cars pitted and waited for the restart. Verstappen stepped out of his RB12 and rushed to the pit wall to explain, what had happened in the first-lap incident between him and the Ferrari duo. This time Verstappen wasn´t to be blamed for the collision, which was Team Principal Horner´s opinion as well.

After a ten minutes´ wait the race was restarted behind the safety car. Rosberg was leading the race with Red Bull´s Ricciardo second. Force India´s Hulkenberg was third, McLaren´s Alonso surprisingly 4th and Hamilton already fifth! Kimi started the chase and jumped two positions immediately. This brought the Finn behind Red Bull´s Verstappen; it´s funny how these two have tended to find each other on the track this season! Once again there was an electrical and heated battle between these two; Kimi managed to get past the flying Dutchman after their tyres had slightly touched. Both, however, ended up going off track and Kimi was asking on the team radio, whether he had to give Verstappen the place back, which he finally did. Once again Max was in "the grey area" when defending his position against the determined Iceman. A few laps later Max pitted, which made Kimi´s race a little easier.

By lap 18 Hamilton had made it past Hulkenberg and the Briton was already in P3, which was quite amazing in terms of his starting position. In the halfway point of the race Hamilton pitted for a fresh set of soft Pirellis but had a small delay during his pit stop -the Briton re-joined the track in P9. Towards the end of the race Sebastian started snatching positions one by one. First the German passed Massa in his Williams and then Alonso in his McLaren. Teammate Kimi also made his way past Massa but couldn´t quite challenge his compatriot Bottas for P8.

Rosberg had no difficulties whatsoever and cruised to victory on a 2-stop strategy. Red Bull´s Ricciardo was the runner-up (2stops as well) with Hamilton completing the podium on a 3-stop strategy. Force India made an impressive job at Spa, as Hulkenberg finished 4th and Perez 5th. Sebastian had to settle for P6. Alonso, who had also started to the race from the very back of the grid, finished 7th, which was quite impressive. Bottas finished 8th, Kimi 9th (4 stops!) and Massa completed the top ten. I would be lying, if I said I wasn´t disappointed at Kimi´s result. The Iceman had had such a stunning start, but collision caused by his teammate had ruined his race! That was the case in terms of home hero Verstappen as well, who ended up finishing 11th. His pace was gone after the first-turn incident!

Sebastian seems to be struggling with his pace, right as I wrote yesterday. He definitely doesn´t seem to be happy with the car and the way things are going at the moment... Sebastian´s ex trainer Tommi Pärmäkoski was visiting the Finnish MTV Formula 1 studio today, and spectators were asked to post questions for him on Twitter. I posted a question as well, and I was so so happy that my question was picked among those, that Tommi answered in the post-race broadcast. My question was about Sebastian´s weaknesses both as a racing driver and as a person, if there were any. I wrote my question before the start of the race -what a relevant question it turned out after the race start! Tommi replied in a way, which I kind of expected; Sebastian feels very comfortable when he´s happy with his car and when everything is going according to plan. He´s an absolute perfectionist, and things can get difficult, when he gets beaten by his teammate for example... If I´m asked, who was at fault in the first-corner incident today, I say it was Sebastian, as he left absolutely no room for his teammate. But I want Sebastian to know, that I support him always, no matter what happens on track! Everyone makes mistakes. Nevertheless, I´m a fan of Sebastian from all my heart!

After the race Twitter was full of angry and hatred-filled tweets about Verstappen and his driving. I have very opposite feelings about this young man! He may make some questionable moves when defending his position, but today for instance, he wasn´t even taken into investigation by the stewards for his actions. For me it means he hasn´t done anything against the rules. Max definitely stands out of the crowd. His driving style is risky but passionate and bold. This Dutch teenager divides opinions, but so have all great Formula 1 drivers done, just to mention Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna. So I´m not ashamed to say that I´m a huge fan of Max Verstappen!

What an F1 weekend this has been! I´m still writing this blog post in an adrenaline rush, overwhelmed with so many emotions... Which is what makes Formula 1 racing so amazing! And round 14 will be already next week at Monza, can´t wait!

P.S. Hamilton is still leading the championship standings, but now Nico is only 9 points down on his teammate...

P.P.S. My thoughts can be read also here:

lauantai 27. elokuuta 2016

Belgian GP / Qualifying: Verstappen became the youngest front row qualifier!

I was so so happy that the summer break was finally over! Four weeks felt like an eternity... Although I got to read news about Kimi getting married! It was quite a funny coincidence that Kimi and Minttu happened to get married on August 7th -which was also my wedding day! For me, however, it was the 17th wedding anniversary, as I got married already in 1999. I wish all the best for Kimi and Minttu, I hope they have a happy life together!

Back to racing then. Against all odds it wasn´t raining at Spa, but it was all sunny and the temperature was over 30 degrees Celsius! So it was a hot qualifying session -both in terms of the weather and the pecking order! In Q1 everyone came out on super softs, except Rosberg, who opted for the yellow-marked soft rubber. Teammate Hamilton made only one run to set a time within the 107 percent rule; due to the change of various power unit elements the Briton was to face a 55-place grid drop, so there was no sense to fight for pole. The team had made the decision to change all the parts at Spa, where the starting position mattered the least of all tracks. It´s actually a loophole in the regulations, but Mercedes were only wise to utilize this opportunity. After the first runs the Ferrari duo Sebastian and Kimi were topping the timesheets with Rosberg third. At the end of the session Williams´ Massa surprised everyone by jumping ahead of Sebastian and Kimi to top the opening Q1 session. Another surprise was Manor´s Wehrlein, who made it as high as P9. Out of Q2 were Manor teammate Ocon (who had replaced Haryanto), both Saubers and the unlucky Russian Kvyat, who -according to the latest rumours- is about to get fired from Toro Rosso due to his poor performance. Out were also Hamilton -who didn´t even try to make it through to Q2- and Alonso, whose McLaren stopped on the approach to Eau Rouge on its out lap.

The tyre choices were interesting in Q2. Rosberg, the Ferraris and Red Bull´s Ricciardo came out on the softs, whilst all their rivals opted for the red-marked super soft compound. In spite of the tyre choice, Rosberg had no difficulties to make it on the top! Red Bull´s home hero Verstappen -on the super softs- made an impressive first run making it second, only a tenth of a second down on Rosberg. The Force India duo Hulkenberg and Perez were 3rd and 4th on super softs as well. Kimi and Sebastian were 5th and 6th on the yellow-marked soft compound. Both Ferrari aces had a go on super softs late on, but chose to abort those laps, hence they too can start on the soft rubber, along with Ricciardo. The fallers in Q2 were the Haas duo Grosjean and Gutierrez, Renault duo Magnussen and Palmer and Manor´s Wehrlein.

In spite of Hamilton missing from the final shootout, there was an intense battle for pole between three teams. Kimi made a mistake at Stavelot on his first run, which he aborted. Rosberg -expectedly- took provisional pole but Red Bull´s Verstappen was only a tenth of a second down on the German. After his first run Sebastian was in P3. Williams´ Massa and McLaren´s Button opted for one run only. Both Williams were affected by engine software issues, which meant they were unable to run in qualifying mode. Neither Rosberg nor Verstappen was able to improve his lap time on the second run so pole was Rosberg´s. Kimi was flying on his second run, and the Finn pushed Ricciardo out of the third place. Kimi was only 17 thousandths of a second down on Verstappen and less than two tenths off pole! Pole could have been there for Kimi to take! Sebastian was complaining that the rear end had lost all grip by the end of the lap, and the German had to settle for P4 today. Ricciardo got beaten by his young teammate quite impressively; the Australian could only make it 5th today. Perez was 6th, Hulkenberg was 7th, Bottas 8th, Button 9th and Massa completed the top ten.

Verstappen got stunning support from Dutch fans, and the Dutchman was the youngest man to ever feature on an F1 front row! Wow, he is called "the flying Dutchman" for a reason! :) Tomorrow´s race will be a thriller! Rosberg on pole and Kimi in P3 will start to the race on the more durable soft tyres, whilst Verstappen in P2 will start on the super softs and will most likely have a shorter first stint. I have a hunch that both Max and Kimi will pass Nico already at the start ;) I´m sure there will be another electrical and hair-raising battle between Max and Kimi, who have tended to find each other on track this season! Spa is like Kimi´s home track, the Iceman always shines like a diamond there! Kimi has every chance to make it on the top step of the podium! I hope the hot weather will be an advantage for Ferrari. Somehow I feel that Sebastian has been struggling with his pace lately... The Finnish F1 commentators -including Sebastian´s ex trainer Tommi Pärmäkoski- were joking in the F1 studio today, that Kimi´s current top form is down to him getting married ;) Talking about Sebastian´s difficulties Tommi suggested that maybe Sebastian also should get married to improve his performance! :D

And you can never write off Lewis Hamilton, no matter if he started from the moon! Spa is known for good overtaking possibilities, so the Briton will most likely fight for a podium finish. What I´d like to see is a race dominated by the red team -with a little touch of orange!