Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 30. heinäkuuta 2017

Hungarian GP: Amazing 1-2 for Ferrari despite Sebastian´s steering problems!

The race day turned out the hottest day of the GP weekend, the temperature being 30 degrees Celsius. When the lights went out, both Ferraris took an excellent start. Sebastian held on to his lead, with Kimi right behind his teammate. Verstappen took a stunning start from P5, and the flying Dutchman made his way past both Silver Arrows drivers. Also teammate Ricciardo managed to overtake Hamilton going into Turn 1. However, Turn 2 was a different story. Verstappen had gone wide in Turn 1, and teammate Ricciardo saw his opportunity to get past his teammate. The Australian was already slightly ahead of Max. However, Max was stubborn to hold on to his 3rd place and braked way too late into Turn 2. This caused a lock-up, and Max´s RB13 ended up crashing into the sister Red Bull of Ricciardo. The impact caused terminal damage to Ricciardo´s RB13, and the Australian was out of the race. Safety car was deployed. This was definitely the worst case scenario for the Red Bull teammates! It was a mistake from Max, who had been too passionate to defend his position by any means necessary. Some laps late the stewards handed him a 10-second time penalty for causing the collision.

Safety car came in on lap 5, and the race got underway again. The Ferrari duo´s pace seemed dominant, and the Silver Arrows were unable to match the red cars´ performance. However, soon after the re-start Sebastian started to suffer from steering problems, which seemed to get worse, as the race evolved. Hamilton, on the other hand, had problems with his team radio, which wasn´t working properly.

Bottas was the first top driver to pit for a fresh set of soft Pirellis. The Finn´s pit stop left a little to hope for, but it was good enough to keep the Finn ahead of his teammate Hamilton, who pitted a lap later. Ferrari reacted to Mercedes´ strategy, and they called Sebastian in on the very next lap. Kimi was leading the race, and the Iceman kept banging fastest lap times. There would still have been life left in Kimi´s tyres, but the Finn was called in shortly after Sebastian´s pit stop. Kimi re-joined the track right behind his teammate. Had Kimi stayed out a couple of laps longer, he would have benefitted from the overcut and got ahead of Sebastian.

Verstappen, who hadn´t pitted yet, was leading the race. Mercedes´ second stint on the yellow-marked soft rubber made the Silver Arrows utterly alive. Hamilton had rapidly closed the gap to teammate Bottas. It also seemed to be only a matter of time, when the Mercedes pilots were about to attack the Ferraris in the lead. Kimi was questioning on the team radio, whether Sebastian was driving on full throttle. Sebastian´s pace was affected significantly by the steering issues. He was told on the team radio to avoid kerbing, which made his driving very challenging indeed.

Verstappen pitted as late as lap 42. Due to his 10-second penalty, he re-joined the track in P5. With almost 30 laps to go, the top four -Sebastian, Kimi, Bottas and Hamilton- was separated by a few seconds only! As Hamilton clearly seemed to have more pace than his teammate Bottas, the team asked the Finn to let Hamilton through. If the Briton turned out unable to challenge the Ferraris, he would give the position back to Bottas. Valtteri proved to be a true team player and let Hamilton pass him. Immediately the Briton pulled away from his teammate and started hunting down the Ferraris.

Kimi was right at his teammate´s tail, the Iceman being clearly faster than Sebastian. Kimi kept asking on the team radio, whether this was the right strategy from the team, as Hamilton was closing frighteningly fast and started putting serious pressure on the Finn. But there were no team orders at Ferrari; Sebastian really needed the victory to extend his lead in the drivers´ championship standings!

Towards the closing laps of the race, there was hair-raising battle between Sebastian, Kimi and Hamilton, who were all within DRS distance from each other. But overtaking at Hungaroring was almost impossible, unless you made a big mistake. Verstappen had also closed the gap to Bottas, but not even the flying Dutchman was able to make an overtaking move this time. There were about five seconds separating the Mercedes teammates when starting the final lap, so I was very sceptical about Hamilton giving the position back to Bottas. But in the last sector of the very final lap the Briton clearly slowed down and let Bottas past going into start finish straight! This was a very sportsmanlike move from the triple world champion. So it was amazing 1-2 for the Italian-based team, and Bottas made it two Finns on the podium! Kimi has now been on the podium in Hungary for the massive eight times in his career! No wonder Kimi was voted as the Driver of the Day, which was very well deserved!

All in all, the team spirit varied a lot from team to team. Red Bull faced the catastrophy of the teammates colliding with each other. However, I was happy to see, that Max admitted his mistake after the race, which hasn´t always been the case. I´m sure he learned a lession today. In terms of Mercedes, I was impressed with their team effort today. I´m convinced this wouldn´t have worked out last year! Had Rosberg been asked to let Hamilton through, no way Nico would have obeyed the team order! It seems, that Finns are perfect teammates; where there´s a Finn in the team, there´s harmony inside the team! Ferrari, on the other hand, wanted to secure the maximum points for Sebastian, who really needs every point possible to extend his lead in the championship standings. Thanks to his victory, the margin to Hamilton is now 14 points.

I was so happy to see such a dominant Ferrari today. Both Sebastian and Kimi made me over the moon with their phenomenal 1-2! This was the perfect way to start the summer break of four weeks. Gosh, I´m going to miss Formula 1 action in the upcoming weeks! Sebastian and Kimi, have a fantastic summer holiday! Enjoy your time off, you have definitely deserved it! But before the summer break... Hope you have a heck of a party tonight!

lauantai 29. heinäkuuta 2017

Hungarian GP / Qualifying: Staggering front row lockout for Ferrari!

I knew the Hungaroring suited the red cars well, so I was quite confident in terms of qualifying. But I also knew that chief rivals Mercedes weren´t going to give up on pole without a fight. And what a qualifying it turned out!

Ferrari proved their performance already in Q1. Sebastian went fastest on the super soft tyres. Red Bull had also taken a step forward in terms of pace. Verstappen in his RB13 was only 22 thousandths of a second down on Sebastian, followed by Kimi in his SF70-H. Mercedes seemed to struggle a bit with their pace in the heat of Budapest. Eye-catching was the performance of Paul Di Resta, who was a last-minute replacement for Williams´ unwell Felipe Massa. Di Resta hadn´t been driving an F1 car since Brazil 2013; considering this it was impressive, that the Scot was only seven tenths down on his teammate Stroll. Unfortunately both of them were out of Q2, along with Haas´ Magnussen and the Sauber duo of Wehrlein and Ericsson.

Hamilton´s difficulties continued in the second session. The Briton went wide at Turn 4 on his first run. Sebastian, on the other hand, set a magical lap time on his first attempt. The German seemed to be on flames on the Hungarian soil. After a few not-so-successful races it was absolutely heart-warming to see such a strong and dominant Sebastian. Once again Verstappen was able to match Sebastian´s pace quite well, as the flying Dutchman was only two tenths down on the Ferrari ace. Both Ferrari and Red Bull drivers stayed in the garage at the end of the session, whilst the Mercedes teammates came out for the second run. Hamilton went fastest by a tenth of a second to Sebastian. Verstappen was third and Kimi fourth. McLaren had also made an improvement in terms of pace, as both Alonso and Vandoorne made it among the top ten. Toro Rosso´s Sainz took the last spot in Q3. This time the pinks didn´t make it in Q3. Along with Ocon and Perez eliminated were Renault´s Palmer, Toro Rosso´s Kvyat and Haas´ Grosjean.

Sebastian was absolutely untouchable in the last session. He set a blistering lap time -a new outright lap record for the Hungaroring! Bottas in his Mercedes was second, already over three tenths down on the storming Sebastian. Title rival Hamilton, who had been targeting a record-equalling 68th pole, abandoned his first attempt after sliding off the road at Turn 4. The Briton repeatedly complained about vibration on the team radio. Kimi, too, had a lock-up on his first run, and the Iceman was six tenths down on his teammate, ending up in modest P5 on his first run. Hamilton managed to improve his lap time on his second run -but he only made it in P3! Kimi underlined Ferrari´s dominance as he lapped just 0.168s slower than his teammate to complete the Italian team´s third front row lockout of the season! Without a small mistake in the middle sector Kimi could have challenged his teammate for pole. Bottas was the quicker of the two Silver Arrows drivers, lapping 0.2s slower than Sebastian. The Mercedes drivers had to settle for the second row this time. Verstappen was the quicker of the Red Bull teammates, who were never quite in the mix for pole. Once again Renault´s Hulkenberg was impressive seventh, followed by the McLaren duo of Alonso and Vandoorne. Toro Rosso´s Sainz rounded out the top ten.

After such a dominant qualifying, I don´t expect anything less than a 1-2 for Ferrari in tomorrow´s race! Sebastian really needs the victory to extend his lead in the championship standings, going into the summer break. Hopefully there won´t be any tyre issues this time... A clean start will be the key to a successful race. I really hope to see Sebastian standing on the top step of the podium! Accompanied by teammate Kimi and certain Max Verstappen please! ;)

sunnuntai 16. heinäkuuta 2017

British GP: 4th consecutive win on home soil for Hamilton!

The sky was grey, but conditions were dry, as the lights were about to go out at Silverstone. Due to the stoppage of Palmer´s Renault there had been another formation lap before the start. I was extremely worried about the conditions of Sebastian´s SF70-H, as there was smoke coming from the rear of his Ferrari. Verstappen, who was alongside him on the grid, reported on the team radio, that Sebastian´s brakes were on fire! Luckily everything seemed normal after the start. Hamilton and Kimi both got a superb start. Behind those two it was extremely tight between Sebastian and Red Bull´s Verstappen. The flying Dutchman had the upper hand in the end and managed to make it past the German. Bottas, who had started from P9, had gained two positions right away and was in P7. This time there was a first-lap incident between the Toro Rosso teammates Kvyat and Sainz. Fighting for positions, Kvyat hit the kerb and lost control of his car and ended up crashing into Sainz! The Spaniard was out of the race, but Kvyat was able to continue the race. Safety car was deployed. Later on in the race the Russian was given a drive-through penalty for re-joining the track unsafely after the incident.

After a couple of laps the safety car came in, and the race was back on. Bottas made it past Force India´s Ocon and jumped P6. Two laps later the Finn made a move on Renault´s Hulkenberg and passed the German in style. There was no doubt, that Valtteri was going to fight for a podium place. Things got heated between Verstappen and Sebastian. The Ferrari pilot seemed to be faster than the Red Bull ace, but Max is known as a driver, who can´t be overtaken easily. Sebastian made a move on the Hangar straight but Max wasn´t going to give up on his third place. A lap later Sebastian made another move, making his way ahead of the Dutchman. But Max drove absolutely fearlessly and was stubborn to defend his position by any means necessary. He went wide but re-joined the track ahead of Sebastian. What a breath-taking battle between my two favourites!

As there was no overtaking Verstappen, Ferrari called Sebastian in on lap 19. The pit stop was almost perfect, and Sebastian re-joined the track on soft Pirellis in P6. Red Bull reacted to Ferrari´s strategy right away and called Max in on the following lap. There was a small difficulty with attaching the rear-left tyre, and Max re-joined the track behind Sebastian. This was a genius strategy from Ferrari, as Sebastian benefitted from the undercut. Kimi had been able to match Hamilton´s pace surprisingly well, and the Iceman was doing excellent job. Kimi pitted on lap 25, also for a fresh set of soft tyres. Kimi re-joined the track ahead of teammate Sebastian.

Mercedes reacted immediately and took Hamilton in. Teammate Bottas, who had started to the race on the soft compound, pitted not until on lap 32. His last stint was looking competitive, as he opted for the red-marked super soft tyres. Bottas re-joined the track in P4. Hamilton was leading the race with a clear margin, Kimi was second and Sebastian third. There were about five seconds separating the red-suited drivers, and for some reason Sebastian seemed unable to match his teammate´s pace.

With ten laps to go, storming Valtteri had closed the gap to Sebastian and made it within DRS distance from the championship leader. The Finn was determined to pass Sebastian. He made a move on the Hangar straight, getting alongside the German already. Sebastian had a lock-up going into the next turn, but just barely managed to keep Valtteri behind. This was true racing! And a lap later Valtteri did it; he made a successful overtaking move on Sebastian and jumped third. Now his eyes were on his fellow countryman Kimi, who was 8 seconds ahead of Valtteri.

What a dramatic turn the race took three laps before the chequered flag. Suddenly Kimi suffered a front-left puncture, which forced the Iceman to come in for an unscheduled pit stop! Red Bull made a pre-cautionary pit stop as well and called Verstappen in. Kimi was now fourth in the race. What a shame! Kimi had driven such an impressive and strong race, and without the unlucky puncture he would have finished in P2! But unfortunately this was only the beginning... As only a lap later also Sebastian suffered a front-left puncture! How was this even possible, that both Ferraris were hit with a similar problem? Sebastian limped into the pits, but the unlucky German dropped down to P7 due to his extra pit stop. What a disappointing and horrifying end of the race!

Hamilton took his 4th consecutive win on his home soil; now the Briton has won the British GP already five times in his career. Bottas made it the second 1-2 of the season for Mercedes, which meant maximum points for the Silver Arrows. Kimi finished on the podium despite the unlucky puncture. This time Verstappen managed to finish the race; P4 was a great result for the Dutchman. Teammate Ricciardo, who had started to the race from the back of the grid, managed to make it as high as P5, which was a magnificent job from the Australian. No wonder he was voted as the Driver of the Day. Hulkenberg finished sixth for Renault, followed by disappointed Sebastian in P7. The pinks scored points as well, as Ocon finished 8th and teammate Perez 9th. Massa scored the last point for Williams.

Sebastian´s puncture meant bad news for his championship lead; Sebastian´s lead has now shrunk from 20 points into one point only! Valtteri is now 22 points down on his teammate. Mercedes has further increased their lead in the constructors´ standings, as the Silver Arrows are already 55 points ahead of their closest rival Ferrari. This is only the halfway point of the season, but I certainly feel a bit worried for Sebastian and Ferrari... Mercedes have emerged stronger and stronger every race. The red team has to bounce back in Hungary!

lauantai 15. heinäkuuta 2017

British GP / Qualifying: Hamilton took the 67th pole position of his career!

In Britain the weather often tends to play a major role during the GP weekend. So was the case in terms of today´s qualifying. It was raining, as Q1 got underway, so the first session started in damp conditions. Both Ferrari and Red Bull sent their drivers out on the green-marked intermediate tyres, whilst their rivals initially opted to slick tyres. However, the conditions turned out too tricky and slippery for slick tyres; soon everyone pitted for the intermediate tyres. This time the unlucky Red Bull pilot was Daniel Ricciardo, whose RB13 stopped on the track due to a suspected turbo failure, when there were 10 minutes in the clock. The session was red-flagged. When the session was resumed, the track kept improving towards the end of the session. A do-or-die, last-minute lap from Alonso after a switch to dry rubber saw McLaren top a thrilling Q1 phase! Verstappen was second for Red Bull, Hamilton third for Mercedes and Hulkenberg fourth for Renault in the mixed conditions. Williams´ Stroll was the first driver to be eliminated from Q2, along with Haas´ Magnussen and the Sauber duo of Wehrlein and Ericsson. Ricciardo -already carrying a 5-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change- will start from the back of the grid.

The start of Q2 had seen everyone move to slick tyres after earlier rain. Mercedes´ Bottas was notably the only man to set his fastest lap time on soft rather than super soft tyres. The Finnish Mercedes ace had also been given a 5-place grid penalty due to a gearbox change -similar to Ricciardo. The Q2 tyre choice means, that Valtteri will be the sole top-ten runner to start Sunday´s race on the more durable rubber. Similar to the end of Q1, the track kept improving lap by lap. The crowd favourite Hamilton absolutely owned the second session. The Briton topped the time sheets with a huge 8-tenth margin to his teammate Bottas. The Mercedes duo was followed by the Ferrari teammates Sebastian and Kimi. Vandoorne out-qualified his teammate Alonso for the first time in his career, as the Belgian was the last man to get through to Q3. In addition to Alonso, out of Q3 were also Renault´s Palmer, the Toro Rosso teammates Kvyat and Sainz and Williams´ Massa. Alonso´s qualifying performance was of little significance, as the Spaniard will drop to the rear of the grid thanks to penalties totalling 30 places due to power unit element changes.

In Q3 Hamilton put on a staggering display for his home fans, taking provisional pole with a two-tenth margin to Sebastian. Bottas was third and Kimi fourth; the Finns were separated by only five hundredths of a second! Verstappen in his Red Bull was clearly off the pace, as the Dutchman was over a second down on Hamilton. The shootout for pole came down to the final runs. Bottas had a big lock-up on his final Q3 run, which cost him the front row grid slot. Hamilton on the other hand was flying in front of his home crowd; the Briton improved his lap time by six tenths! Hamilton took the 67th pole position of his career -and with the biggest margin of the season so far! Kimi drove impressively as well, as the Iceman made his way on the front row! Half a second separated these two. Sebastian qualified third, two tenths down on his Finnish teammate. Bottas had to settle for P4 due to his mistake; thanks to his penalty he will drop down to P9 on the grid. Verstappen qualified fifth -1,5 seconds down on pole-setter Hamilton! Hulkenberg took a superb sixth for Renault. The Force India teammates Perez and Ocon were 7th and 8th. Vandoorne scored his best grid position to date, qualifying 9th, and Haas´ Grosjean rounded out the top ten.

Pole-setter Hamilton was briefly under stewards´ investigation after the session for possibly blocking the Haas of Romain Grosjean early in the final phase, but the officials quickly decided that no action was warranted. Tomorrow´s race will certainly be extremely interesting. The British weather won´t probably fail to produce some extra excitement for the race, as there is a 50-percent chance of rain during the race. I was so happy to see such a strong and convincing qualifying from Kimi, who has been given a lot of criticism for his tame performance during this season. Tomorrow Kimi will have a superb chance to challenge Hamilton at the start. In case of mixed conditions, Red Bull´s Verstappen will shine. He has the courage to overtake even in slippery and wet conditions. The wetter it gets, the more surprises there will be... Can´t wait for the lights to go out!

sunnuntai 9. heinäkuuta 2017

Austrian GP: Valtteri Bottas from pole to victory!

When the lights went out at Red Bull Ring, pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas got a perfect start. It was so perfect, that it seemed like a jump start, as Bottas´ reaction time was only 0,2 seconds. Sebastian was right at the Finn´s tail. Unfortunately the other Finn´s start left a lot to hope for. In Turn 3 Kimi lost positions both to Red Bull´s Ricciardo and Haas´ Grosjean and dropped down to P5. There was also a first-lap incident between three cars. Toro Rosso´s Kvyat made a last minute braking and hit Alonso´s McLaren. Their contact made Alonso hit Red Bull´s Verstappen. Both Alonso and Verstappen were out of the race. Kvyat was given a drive through penalty later on in the race for causing the collision. Nevertheless, Verstappen had faced difficulties already at the start, as the Dutchman was hit with a clutch failure, which caused a poor start; so even without the collision with Alonso it would have been unlikely for the unlucky Dutchman to finish the race. It´s unbelievable, that Max has had five retirements in seven races! I feel so gutted for the flying Dutchman, I definitely understand his frustration. On the other hand I know, that he´s time will come...

Luckily Kimi managed to get past Grosjean quite quickly so the Iceman gained one position back. Meanwhile Hamilton was making his way through the field. He made an overtaking move on Perez and jumped sixth. Some laps later the Briton attacked Grosjean and was already in P5. Teammate Bottas was in a class of his own in the lead. Sebastian seemed unable to match the Finn´s pace. Kimi was struggling with the performance of his car, as there was an issue with a sensor. The team gave instructions on the team radio, what Kimi should do to fix the problem. However, the issue turned out to be a difficult one to fix.

By lap 19 Hamilton had decreased the gap to Kimi and the Briton was already within DRS distance from the Iceman. Tyre degradation seemed quite high -even for Hamilton, who had started to the race on the super soft Pirellis. Valtteri in the lead was banging fastest lap times one after another, although also he reported on the team radio, that his tyres were blistered. Hamilton was the first top driver to pit on lap 32, which was a bit surprising in terms of his tyre choice. Naturally the Mercedes ace opted for a fresh set of ultra soft tyres. Red Bull´s Ricciardo pitted two and Sebastian three laps later -both for a fresh set of super soft tyres. For a moment the Finns had a double lead in the race, as Valtteri was leading with Kimi second.

Valtteri drove an amazing 42-lap stint on his blistered ultra soft tyres, until he pitted for the first and only time. Kimi pitted not until a couple of laps later -for red-marked super soft tyres as well. The battle for podium places was tightened towards the end of the race. Sebastian had closed the gap to Valtteri lap by lap and he was right at the Finn´s tail when starting the final lap. Valtteri´s rear-left tyre was badly blistered, which affected the Finn´s pace on the closing laps. The other fighting couple was Ricciardo and Hamilton. Hamilton had gotten within DRS distance from the Australian and did everything he could to make it on the podium. The battle between Valtteri and Sebastian brought me a flashback of Sochi; and like in Russia, Valtteri managed to take victory. However, it was fantastic to see such a strong performance from Sebastian! It was a great battle for the victory. Ricciardo was also utterly happy about his fifth consecutive podium finish. Hamilton had to settle for P4 and Kimi for P5. To be honest, I had hoped a little more from Kimi, as he had started to the race from P3. Behind the top drivers Grosjean in his Haas made an excellent job by finishing 6th. Once again the pink team scored important points, as Perez finished 7th and Ocon 8th. In spite of the catastrophic qualifying both Williams drivers made it in the points (Massa 9th and Stroll 10th).

Sebastian is now 20 points ahead of Hamilton in the drivers´ championship standings. It is worth noting, that after today´s victory Valtteri is only 15 points down on his teammate. This means Valtteri will be a serious contender in the fight for the championship! Hamilton should definitely be aware of this super fast Finn´s performance and talent! Now it seems, that once again Mercedes has the upper hand on the red team in terms of pace and performance; Mercedes has 287 points to Ferrari´s 254 in the constructors´ standings.

I love these back-to-back races, as the Formula 1 circus will move to Silverstone already next week. This July is so perfect -three weekends out of four are GP weekends! :)

lauantai 8. heinäkuuta 2017

Austrian GP / Qualifying: Bottas clinched his second career pole!

As the Formula 1 circus moved to Spielberg, Austria all eyes were still on Sebastian Vettel since his deliberate collision with title rival Hamilton in Azerbaijan GP. On Monday (which happened to be Sebastian´s 30th birthday) Sebastian attended the meeting at the FIA´s  Paris headquarters. After the meeting the FIA announced that there was going to be no further action over Sebastian´s clash with Hamilton. The Ferrari driver had taken full responsibility for his actions and publicly apologised for his mistake. He was very much aware of the fact, that he hadn´t been setting a good example. Sebastian was also committed to devote personal time to the education of drivers in junior formulae. In light of these developments it was decided, that the matter was closed. There has been a lot of talk about Sebastian escaping any further sanction for his deliberate collision. Personally I´m satisfied with how things evolved. For me as a true fan of Sebastian the most important thing was, that he admitted his mistake and took full responsibility. I was impressed by the letter Sebastian wrote on his website and how he publicly apologised to his fans and the whole motorsport world. This kind of a role model, who admits his mistakes and publicly apologises for them, I´m willing to look up to with admiration and respect! In my opinion Sebastian handled the difficult situation on his best behaviour and I´m sure he has learned a lot from it.

So onwards to the qualifying in Spielberg. Q1 saw different tyre strategies. Both Sebastian and Kimi came out on red-marked super soft Pirellis, as well as Bottas in his Mercedes. Teammate Hamilton, on the other hand, opted for the purple-marked ultra soft compound. However, Kimi´s first effort hadn´t produced a lap time competitive enough, so the Iceman had to make a second run at the end of the session -this time on the ultra softs. Hamilton was topping the timesheets, but Kimi jumped second on his final run. Sebastian and Bottas, who had both sat out the second runs, were third and fifth. They were surprisingly split by Toro Rosso´s Sainz. Palmer in his Renault was the first faller in Q1. A complete disaster of a day saw the Williams teammates Massa and Stroll stuck in 17th and 18th! Both Saubers were also out of Q2, which was no surprise unfortunately.

Q2 saw Hamilton run Pirellis´ super soft tyres, whilst all his rivals were on the ultra soft Pirellis. Hamilton had been given a 5-place grid penalty for a gearbox change for the race, so the tyre choice was to guarantee the best possible race strategy for the Briton. Hamilton´s pace was impressive, as he was second fastest, only 0,15s down on teammate Bottas, in spite of the harder tyre compound. Sebastian was able to improve his lap time on his second run, and the German jumped second. Hamilton was third, Verstappen fourth and Kimi fifth. Haas´s Grosjean caught my eye, as the Frenchman was able to make it as high as P7. Teammate Magnussen had suffered a suspension failure already in Q1, which had ruined the Dane´s qualifying. Both McLaren drivers, Renault´s Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso´s Kvyat were eliminated from the final session.

Q3 saw an exciting start, as Mercedes´ Bottas took provisional pole. However, Sebastian was only four hundredths of a second down on the Finn! Hamilton was third and Kimi fourth, followed by the Red Bull duo Ricciardo and Verstappen in fifth and sixth. However, the end of the decisive last session was kind of an anti-climax. A late on-track stoppage for Haas´s Grosjean and then an off for Red Bull´s Verstappen prevented improvements in the dying seconds of Q3 as these incident brought out the yellow flags. So it was second career pole for Valtteri Bottas! I was so happy to see such a strong performance from Sebastian after the catastrophic Azerbaijan GP. Hamilton qualified third, but he will drop down to P8 due to his gearbox penalty. Kimi qualified fourth, but due to Hamilton´s penalty the Iceman will start to the race from P3. This time Ricciardo (P5) out-qualified his teammate Verstappen (P6). Grosjean kept up his excellent work in Q3 and qualified 7th. The Force India teammates Perez and Ocon and Toro Rosso´s Sainz rounded out the top ten.

As Sebastian now has nine penalty points on his licence, he can´t afford any mistakes in tomorrow´s race. Sebastian surely benefits from Hamilton´s penalty, but you can never write the Briton out from the podium fight. The strategy will be interesting for sure. Hamilton will start on the slower tyre compound, but how much longer will he be able to run on his first stint? And how well will he be able to match Ferrari´s and his teammate´s pace? Can´t wait to find out the answers tomorrow! Hoping for a brilliant & successful race for both red-suited drivers! And hope to see Max Verstappen finally finish the race for a change!

sunnuntai 25. kesäkuuta 2017

Azerbaijan GP: Ricciardo claimed victory in a chaotic race!

First of all, I´m going to take a few deep breaths before I start writing down my thoughts on today´s race. I´m still riding the emotional roller coaster caused by the Formula 1 action in Baku! Who needs thrillers or action films, when you can watch the Azerbaijan GP?! What an eventful and action-packed race! And not all turns were the ones I was hoping for.

The first drama took place at the start. Hamilton in his Mercedes took a clean start and held on to his lead. Kimi from P3 had a rocket start and was challenging his countryman Bottas for the second place. Going into Turn 2, Kimi was already slightly ahead of his compatriot. However, hitting the kerb made Bottas´  Mercedes jump and hit Kimi´s Ferrari! Kimi crashed to the wall, which caused significant damage to his front wing. Bottas instead had a front right puncture and the Finn had to pit for a fresh set of tyres and a new front wing. Re-joining the track, Bottas was already a lap down! This looked like a difficult race for Valtteri.

Surprisingly Red Bull´s Ricciardo pitted already on lap 6. The first-lap incident had caused some debris on the track, and some debris had gotten in the brakes of Ricciardo´s RB13, and they needed to be cleared. Hamilton was leading the race with a clear 3-second margin to Sebastian. Force India´s Perez was impressive 3rd, but Red Bull´s Verstappen was right at the Mexican´s tail. Verstappen´s driving was once again extremely convincing, but as soon as it seemed that Perez´s third place was threatened, Verstappen was hit with a technical failure! I felt so gutted for the flying Dutchman, who has already faced four DNFs in eight races due to technical failures! I find that quite unacceptable. On lap 12 Verstappen´s RB13 stopped on track due to an oil pressure issue. Also Kvyat´s Toro Rosso had stopped on track a couple of laps earlier, and safety car was deployed. All top drivers pitted for a fresh set of soft tyres.

Bottas benefitted from the safety car, as he was allowed to overtake all cars and take his place at the back of the pack. Safety car came in on lap 16 -but only for a very short while! The re-start was everything but clean and once again there was debris on the track. Safety car was back out! All drivers complained about safety car driving around dangerously slowly. And what a dramatic turn the race took right before the second re-start! Coming into Turn 15, Hamilton slowed down so significantly, that Sebastian crashed into the Briton´s rear, breaking his front wing! Sebastian got totally caught by the heat of the moment. He drove alongside his title rival showing his hands -and then deliberately hit Hamilton´s car! The re-start took place and the race was back on. The emotions were running extremely high!

Behind the heated title rivals there was drama as well. At the re-start there was a collision between the pinks, as Ocon made an over optimistic move on teammate Perez, which lead into contact between the Force India partners. Perez´s race was over, and Ocon lost several positions as well. Behind the pinks there was Kimi, who unfortunately hit the debris on the track and suffered a rear right puncture. The Iceman managed to limp into the pits, but there was severe damage in his SF70-H, and the Finn had no choice but to retire. At this point Hamilton was still leading the race with Sebastian second. But it was absolutely unbelievable to notice, that Massa was third and his Williams teammate Stroll was fourth! Who could have expected that to happen?

On lap 22 the race was red-flagged, as there was still so much debris on the track. Everyone drove into the pits to wait for the race to be resumed. I looked at Sebastian standing on the pit lane with his trainer Antti Kontsas and I couldn´t help wondering, what was going on in the German´s mind. I mean he must have realised, what a huge mistake he had made by deliberately hitting Lewis´ Mercedes! I definitely felt his anger for the front wing damage, but there was no way that could justify his actions! It was such a non-athletic act, not something you expect from a quadruple world champion! All I could think was, that Sebastian needed to calm down and get his head cool before the re-start.

During a 15-minute break the track had been cleaned of all the debris, and the race was re-started. Miraculously Ferrari had been able to fix Kimi´s car during the break, and the Iceman was back in the race! So was the case with Perez´s pink-liveried Force India as well. Ricciardo in his RB13 got a flying re-start, as the Australian made a phenomenal overtaking move, which made him pass both Williams cars! This meant the "Smiling Avenger" was already third in the race.

However, Hamilton faced an unexpected problem in the lead. His headrest was loose, which was a possible safety threat. The Briton was advised on the team radio how to get it attached, but there was no way Hamilton could fix the problem on his own. Being a question of safety, Hamilton was called into the pits, so that the team could attach the headrest properly. This meant, that Sebastian was almost handed the victory in the narrow streets of Baku! Almost... Because at the same time Sebastian was handed a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for dangerous driving! I can´t even describe how I felt when I saw the penalty on the TV screen! It was totally deserved, no question about that. But it broke my heart to realise, that without the penalty for the stupid mistake Sebastian would have won the Azerbaijan GP! It was totally in vain, that he lost the 25 points for the victory! Those can turn out to be extremely valuable points at the end of the season... I could nothing but wonder, how Sebastian had the nerve to question his penalty on the team radio.

Sebastian re-joined the track right ahead of title rival Hamilton. Against all odds, Ricciardo was now leading the race, Williams´ Stroll was second and Haas´ Magnussen was third! What a lottery the Azerbaijan GP turned out! Meanwhile Bottas was absolutely flying and the Finn was making his way through the field position by position. With ten laps to go, Valtteri had already made his way past Force India´s Ocon and was 3rd in the race. The Finnish Mercedes ace smelled Williams rookie Stroll´s blood and started his chase, although the Canadian had already opened a 12-second gap to the Finn. Bottas drove with such determination, that he closed the gap slowly but surely -second by second. Meanwhile his fellow countryman Kimi had to retire the race only a few laps before the chequered flag.

Ricciardo took his fifth victory, but what an incredibly exciting turn we saw at the finish straight a moment later. Bottas had made it into DRS distance from Stroll and made it past the Canadian right before the chequered flag!! It was an amazing recovery for Valtteri and definitely one of the most impressive overtaking moves ever! I was so so happy for Lance Stroll, who has managed to turn setbacks into success after huge loads of criticism! Sebastian finished fourth, ahead of Hamilton. Ocon finished 6th for Force India, Magnussen 7th for Haas, Sainz 8th for Toro Rosso, Alonso 9th for McLaren (!) and Wehrlein scored one point for Sauber (!).

Sebastian now has a 14-point lead in the drivers´ championship standings. It feels bittersweet, as the lead could have been 27 points! Also Ferrari is now 24 points behind title rival Mercedes. I have to admit that I was disappointed to watch Sebastian´s post-race interviews. The FIA has stated, that the data from Hamilton´s car has proved, that the Briton hadn´t braked or lifted his foot off throttle in Turn 15. Sebastian has also been given 3 penalty points due to his dangerous manoeuvre. So there isn´t any question about Sebastian´s guilt. In my opinion he should behave like a man -like a sportsman- and take responsibility for his actions. A quadruple world champion doesn´t deliberately hit another driver for any reason! Everyone makes mistakes, and the heat of the moment sometimes makes you do things that shouldn´t be done. Only admitting your mistakes allows you to learn from them! I hope Sebastian has a long look in the mirror after this and decides to learn from this human error. There are millions of people, who look up to him (me included) so it does matter, what kind of a message he gives to his fans!

I admire Sebastian from the bottom of my heart. My support for him is always there, even though I don´t always accept his on-track actions. Getting caught by the heat of the moment only proves his passion for racing. He has had his outbursts also before (Turkey 2010, Mexico 2016) and these make him vulnerable -human behind the wheel. But I believe in Sebastian, that he will learn from this, take responsibility and then move on. It´s difficult to put my emotions into words... There´s so much hatred and criticism on social media at the moment... All I want to say is, that hopefully Sebastian knows that there are fans, who stand by him, no matter what mistakes he makes!

lauantai 24. kesäkuuta 2017

Azerbaijan GP / Qualifying: Frighteningly fast Hamilton stormed to pole!

This was only the second time, that the Formula 1 circus moved to Baku, Azerbaijan. The street circuit is known for its combination of long straights and 90-degree corners. The narrowest point of an F1 circuit can also be found in Baku; this looks narrow indeed for the modern wider F1 cars!

Already the free practice sessions had proved, that it was extremely difficult for the drivers to get both the tyres and the brakes up to the ideal temperature. All drivers had been struggling with poor grip, so escape roads were taken by most drivers at some point. Sebastian, for example, had had to use reverse three times during Friday, which is quite rare, when talking about F1 cars. These features made also qualifying different. Everyone came out on the super soft Pirellis already at the beginning of the first session, as it could easily take five or six laps, until the tyres were up to the optimal temperature. So there weren´t two separate attempts, like usually, but actually only one longer run. Hamilton showed the potential of the Silver Arrows by topping the time sheets by half a second to Red Bull´s Verstappen. The Ferrari partners Kimi and Sebastian were 3rd and 5th. Ericsson was the lone Sauber eliminated in Q1 as teammate Wehrlein had produced a great 15th fastest lap. Out of Q2 were also McLaren teammates Alonso and Vandoorne and Grosjean in his Haas. Renault´s Palmer was out of the qualifying due to the FP3 fire in his car.

Red Bull´s Verstappen had suffered from reliability issues already in the FP3, and the flying Dutchman´s problems continued in the qualifying. In spite of reporting of a power unit related problem on the team radio in Q2, the Dutchman managed to set a 4th fastest lap time. In addition to the Dutch Red Bull ace, also Massa in his RW38 had a moment of scare, as they both lost control of their car for a second and almost brushed the wall. Hamilton, whose pace had seemed to be missing in the free practices, definitely "found his performance" in Q2, as the Briton took everyone´s breath away by an outstanding lap. Teammate Bottas was two tenths off Hamilton´s pace. Mercedes seemed to be clearly ahead of their rivals in terms of pace, but Ferrari and Red Bull seemed quite evenly matched. The Toro Rosso boys Kvyat and Sainz were the first fallers in 11th and 12th. Also Magnussen (Haas), Hulkenberg (Renault) and Wehrlein (Sauber) were eliminated in the second session.

The shootout for pole was breath-taking. Mercedes´ Bottas seemed to be at home on the narrow and slippery streets of Baku, and the Finn went fastest on his first run, in spite of slightly kissing the wall! Hamilton made a mistake in the last sector, which made him 0,15s short of provisional pole. Sebastian´s hopes of a competitive lap time ended in the Turn 2 escape road. Considering the challenging circumstances, it wasn´t surprising, that the decisive last session was red-flagged! Ricciardo´s Red Bull stopped in Turn 6, after he broadsided and brushed the outer wall; at this point there were 3 minutes and 33 seconds remaining! Bottas was topping the time sheets with teammate Hamilton second, Verstappen third, Kimi fourth, Ocon fifth and Sebastian sixth. Neither Williams had run by this stage. The question during the 9-minute delay in everyone´s mind was: Would anyone be able to reach sufficient tyre and brake temperatures to improve in the closing stages of Q3?

My answer was no, but look, how things turned out after all! Bottas managed to improve his lap time on his final run; in spite of a staggering lap it wasn´t enough to get the Finn on pole. I don´t know where Hamilton found his pace, but I have to say, that the Briton was frighteningly fast today! He conquered pole by almost half a second to his teammate! Red Bull saw their second-row slot disappear as both Kimi and Sebastian improved. Kimi was impressive third, although the Iceman was already over a second off pole-setter Hamilton. Sebastian qualified fourth, only a tenth off his teammate´s pace. Verstappen had an issue with gear sync on his final run, and the flying Dutchman had to settle for P5. "The power of the pink" was also there, as Perez qualified 6th and Ocon 7th. Eye-catching was the fact, that Lance Stroll (P8) had made it in Q3 only for the second time in his F1 career and also out-qualified his teammate Massa (P9). I´m sincerely happy for the Canadian, who has had more than his share of criticism in the first half of the season.

About tomorrow´s race then: Who will be the first driver to crash into the wall? I´m sure there will be some drama in the race. I am also very aware of the frightening pace of Hamilton, who will start the race on pole. Sebastian has to take a phenomenal start from P4 to challenge the Briton, and he has to fight like a lion to keep his lead in the drivers´ championship standings! Sebastian has to attack on the opening laps, as it seems more difficult for Mercedes to get the tyres up to temperature. I´m definitely looking forward to a thrilling race! I believe in the red-suited warriors; I know that they will do everything to extract the maximum out of their SF70-H. Forza Ferrari!

maanantai 12. kesäkuuta 2017

Canadian GP: First 1-2 of the season for Mercedes!

Formula 1 is the highlight of my Saturday, no matter where I am.

I tend to plan my life according to the F1 calendar so every now and then I have to make some arrangements not to miss the F1 action. Last Friday I drove to Ikaalinen with my twin sister to attend the gig of famous Finnish pop star Antti Tuisku so I missed both FP1 and FP2. On Saturday we drove to Hämeenlinna and spent the evening at a spa hotel. Missing qualifying was no option for me so I sat at the balcony of my hotel room and watched the qualifying on my cell phone. A glass of sparkling wine, setting sun and Formula 1 action made my evening just perfect! Due to the special circumstances, however, I didn´t write a blog post on the qualifying, which turned out quite surprising. Hamilton had magically found his missing pace and his driving was absolutely convincing. The Briton amazed his rivals by setting a staggering opening lap in Q3 and taking the provisional pole. Sebastian was hungry to match the pace of his title rival, but the German Ferrari ace was four thousandths of a second down on Hamilton after the first runs. But there was even more to come from Hamilton, who improved his lap time by over two tenths on his last run. Hamilton absolutely nailed the first sector especially, leaving all his rivals utterly toothless. By taking his 65th career pole Hamilton equalled the pole record of his legendary idol Ayrton Senna. To honour this legendary record, the Senna family had donated a race-worn helmet of Senna to Hamilton. Sebastian had no choice but to settle for P2. Bottas qualified third for Mercedes and Kimi was fourth at the wheel of his SF70-H. The Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo locked down the third row.

I was at home in time to watch the race on TV. What a colourful start the race had! Verstappen in P5 had an absolutely magical start and the flying Dutchman took a brave line going into Turn 1. By doing so, the Red Bull pilot hit Sebastian´s Ferrari causing an end plate damage to the German. Hamilton held on to his lead, but Verstappen had jumped second due to his phenomenal start! However, there was more drama on the opening lap. Grosjean in his Haas hit Sainz´s Toro Rosso, which caused the Spaniard to go sideways on the track. Sainz crashed into unfortunate Massa, and they were all out of the race. There was so much debris on the track that safety car was deployed. Behind Hamilton and Verstappen, Bottas was third and Sebastian fourth. Ricciardo was fifth; Kimi had lost two positions and dropped down to sixth.

Safety car came in a few laps later, and the race was back on. Unfortunately Sebastian´s front wing had taken such severe damage, that the German had to pit for a new front wing. This unexpected turn made him drop down to the back of the pack. But the German had no intention to give up! On lap 11 it was Verstappen´s turn to face drama. All of a sudden the Dutchman was hit with a technical failure -his RB13 was out of power! What a frustrating moment for Max, who was driving such an impressive race! Due to Max´s DNF virtual safety car was deployed.

First pit stops saw different tyre strategies. Kimi pitted for a fresh set of red-marked super soft Pirellis, whereas Red Bull´s Ricciardo opted for a fresh set of soft tyres. Bottas, who pitted a few laps later, had a similar tyre strategy to Ricciardo. It was interesting to see, that on the contrary to his teammate, Hamilton opted for a fresh set of super soft Pirellis. By the halfway point of the race Sebastian had already made his way up to seventh.

Against all odds Ferrari opted for a two-stop strategy. Kimi pitted on lap 42 -this time for another set of ultra soft tyres. The Iceman lost positions to Force India´s Ocon and teammate Sebastian. Although Sebastian, too had no choice but to pit for the second time on lap 50. The team told him on the radio, that he would catch Ricciardo and the Force Indias on his fresh ultra soft tyres eight laps before the chequered flag. Both Sebastian and Kimi were utterly flying on their fresh set of tyres. 

With less than ten laps to go, Kimi suddenly faced a brake issue, which had significant effect on his pace. Kimi went off track, and teammate Sebastian had it easy to make it ahead of his teammate. The team gave Kimi instructions on the team radio to fix the problem, which he finally managed to do (after cursing in Finnish). The pink Force Indias seemed to be stuck behind Ricciardo´s Red Bull, and Sebastian had already managed to close the gap to the trio. Ocon seemed to be the faster one of the pink cars and he was asking on the team radio for a chance to get past his teammate Perez. However, Perez had no intention to let his teammate through, even though the team promised, that Perez would get his position back if Ocon turned out unable to overtake Ricciardo by the end of the race.

Sebastian was absolutely determined to make it as high as possible after the unfortunate start to the race. He made a bold and risky-looking overtaking move on Ocon on lap 66 -jumping fifth! Sebastian´s next target was Perez. A few laps later the German made a self-confident move on the Mexican, and Sebastian was now fourth in the race. I absolutely loved the way Sebastian fought like a lion throughout the race! He definitely showed everyone, what a true racer is like. The seventh race of the season was the first time that Sebastian didn´t make it on the podium this year, so I didn´t feel too disappointed. Sebastian had driven a fantastic race with true passion!

Unbelievable but true, this was only the first 1-2 for Mercedes this year! Hamilton took a dominant victory ahead of teammate Bottas. Ricciardo was just barely out of Sebastian´s reach, and the Australian completed the podium. Once again the pink cars scored excellent points, although there will be plenty of talk about the team orders inside the team this week! Kimi finished in P7 after his brake issues. I have to say that I was happy for home hero Lance Stroll, who finally managed to drive a strong race; the Canadian scored his first points by finishing 9th.

Thanks to his victory, Hamilton cut Sebastian´s championship lead into just 12 points. Mercedes made it ahead of Ferrari in the constructors´ championship standings by eight points. The battle for the world championship couldn´t be any more exciting!

sunnuntai 28. toukokuuta 2017

Monaco GP: First Ferrari win since 2001!

After yesterday´s superb qualifying I had high hopes for today´s race. And I have to say that the red team didn´t let me down! Both red-suited warriors absolutely nailed the start. When the lights went out in sunny Monaco, Kimi took a fantastic start and held on to the lead. Sebastian was right at his teammate´s tail. The order of the top six remained unchanged, as Mercedes´ Bottas was third, followed by the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo in 4th and 5th, and Toro Rosso´s Sainz in 6th. Disappointed Hamilton, who had started from P13, was able to gain only one position at the start and he was 12th in the race. Already from the opening laps the red cars started to increase the gap to Bottas and the rest of the field.

Renault´s Hulkenberg was the first driver to retire the Monaco GP. On lap 16 the German´s race was over with oil and smoke coming out of the rear of his Renault. The gap between the Ferrari drivers varied from DRS distance to 2 seconds, but Kimi seemed to be in control of the race. Bottas seemed unable to match Ferrari´s pace. Tyre degradation wasn´t an issue in the streets of the Principality. Verstappen was the first top driver to pit on lap 33 -for a fresh set of red-marked super soft tyres. The flying Dutchman started the pit stop roulette, as Bottas pitted a lap later and Kimi on lap 35. The tyre strategy was very similar; both Finns opted for the super soft compound as well. However, both Sebastian and Ricciardo stayed out banging excellent lap times. Kimi instead re-joined the track behind backmarkers Button and Wehrlein and lost valuable time.

Ricciardo pitted on lap 39, opting for a similar tyre strategy to his teammate. And what a perfect strategy the Australian had! He re-joined the track in P3, so the Australian gained two positions due to his perfect pit stop strategy. Race leader Sebastian pitted a lap later, and what a turn the race had! Sebastian´s pit stop wasn´t perfect, but the German still re-joined the track ahead of teammate Kimi! Sebastian had done great job by setting fastest lap times at the right time, so the lead was his. After his pit stop Sebastian quickly started to build the gap to his teammate. By lap 50 Sebastian was already 10 seconds ahead of Kimi. I couldn´t help wondering, where Kimi´s excellent pace had suddenly disappeared.

On lap 61 there was a nasty-looking incident at Portier. Button in his McLaren had tried to overtake Sauber´s Wehrlein, although there was no room for overtaking. Button crashed into Wehrlein´s Sauber, which ended up on its side against the wall. Safety car was deployed. Luckily Wehrlein himself was unharmed but it took a while, until the German was helped out of his car. During safety car Verstappen pitted for the second time; he opted for a fresh set of ultra soft tyres, aiming for an aggressive last stint. Also Wehrlein´s teammate Ericsson crashed into the wall behind the safety car. The Swede himself seemed to be puzzled, what had actually happened.

11 laps before the chequered flag safety car came in and the race was on. Ricciardo was really struggling on the cold tyres and just barely avoided hitting the wall. The Ferraris were out of reach, but Ricciardo, Bottas and Verstappen had a close battle for P3. Sebastian drove to the chequered flag as race winner, and Kimi made it a staggering 1-2 for Ferrari. This was the first Ferrari win in Monaco since 2001! Ricciardo completed the podium for Red Bull. It was significantly eye-catching, that there was no Mercedes driver on the podium this time! Bottas had to settle for P4, followed by Red Bull´s Verstappen in 5th. Not even the fresh tyres helped Verstappen to challenge Bottas and teammate Ricciardo for the last podium place. Sainz finished impressive 6th; P7 was the maximum for Hamilton today.

It was overwhelming to see both Ferrari drivers on the podium, although I couldn´t help noticing how disappointed Kimi looked after losing the victory to his teammate due to the pit stop strategy. There has already been a lot of talk about "conspiracy theories", that Ferrari arranged Sebastian to win. I don´t believe in these theories. Kimi was unlucky to get stuck in the traffic after his pit stop, which allowed Sebastian to benefit from the fastest lap times. Usually the first driver to pit benefits from the undercut, but this wasn´t the case today.

Sebastian now has a very promising 25-point lead in the drivers´ championship standings. Ferrari also made it ahead of their title rival Mercedes in the constructors´ standings by 17 points. To me it really seems, that the pecking order has turned around; Ferrari now seems to have the upper hand in terms of pace and performance!

lauantai 27. toukokuuta 2017

Monaco GP / Qualifying: Kimi on pole for the first time since France 2008!

Today´s qualifying in sunny Monaco held several surprises. Almost all drivers came out at the beginning of the session, and everybody´s tyre choice was the purple-marked ultra soft compound. It was surprising, how well even the softest tyre compound lasted; the drivers made several flying laps on the same set of tyres. Red Bull had clearly made an improvement since Spain, as Verstappen was topping the time sheets in Q1, which was quite unexpected. Nevertheless, Sebastian was second only 12 thousandths of a second behind the flying Dutchman. Teammate Kimi as well was only two hundredths of a second down on his teammate. What really caught my eye, was Hamilton, who was struggling with overheating rear tyres. The Briton could manage only 10th in the opening session! Monaco is known for no room for mistakes, so there was drama already in Q1. Grosjean in his Haas spun but the Frenchman still managed to get into Q2. Ericsson in his Sauber hit the barrier, which broke his rear suspension and caused a puncture. In addition to the Swede, out of Q2 were also Force India´s Ocon, Renault´s Palmer, Williams´ Stroll  and Ericsson´s teammate Wehrlein. McLaren was a positive surprise instead. Vandoorne made it as high as P6. Jenson Button replaced Alonso, who had travelled to the USA to take part in the legendary Indy 500 race. The Briton, too made it through to Q2.

Q2 brought the second round of surprises. Hamilton´s difficulties continued in the second session. He nearly went off at Massenet on his out lap, and was down in 13th complaining of no grip. On the other hand, both Ferraris were on top. Kimi was utterly on flames in the narrow streets of the Principality, and the Iceman was heading teammate Sebastian by two tenths. Hamilton faced huge drama at the end of the session. He had set competitive sector times for the first two sectors, but arriving at the Swimming Pool he found Vandoorne´s McLaren parked in the wall! The Belgian had broken his front suspension against the inside barrier, similar to Ocon´s incident in FP3. Yellow flags were out, which meant, that Hamilton was shockingly out of the decisive Q3! Even though Vandoorne had crashed into the wall, he had set a lap time competitive enough to make it in Q3. Teammate Button was the last driver to make it among the top ten, so it definitely was a successful qualifying for McLaren.

The shootout for pole was absolutely hair-raising. Kimi continued his staggering performance and took provisional pole. It was extremely tight behind the Iceman, as three drivers -Red Bull´s Ricciardo, teammate Sebastian and Mercedes´ Bottas- were all seven tenths off the pace. It was so thrilling to watch the second runs; who would conquer the most wanted pole of the season? Kimi stamped his authority on the streets of the Principality by improving his lap time by a tenth on his second run. Sebastian´s pace was very evenly matched, but at the chequered flag the German was 43 thousandths of a second off his teammate´s pace! Bottas in his Mercedes made a fantastic second run as well, and an all-Finnish front row was very close to happen! However, Bottas was two thousandths of a second down on Sebastian and had to settle for P3! It couldn´t have gotten any closer! The Red Bull teammates Verstappen and Ricciardo were 4th and 5th; eye-catching was the fact, that Ricciardo was half a second down on his teammate. Sainz in his Toro Rosso qualified 6th, ever-present Perez was 7th for Force India and Haas´ Grosjean made it 8th. McLaren duo of Button and Vandoorne completed the top ten. Such a shame, that both McLaren drivers have grid penalties; Vandoorne three places for his collision with Massa in Spain and Button 15 places for an MGU-H and turbocharger replacement overnight.

Kimi´s pole was an utterly impressive and amazing achievement, as it was the Iceman´s first pole since 2008 French GP! By this phenomenal drive Kimi put an end to all talks about questioning his motivation and driving skills. I had hoped to see an all-Ferrari front row, so my hopes were answered. I couldn´t help noticing, how disappointed Sebastian looked after the qualifying. But everything is wide open in terms of tomorrow´s race... Competitive start is everything in Monaco. Secondly, you have to stay away from the walls, which means that mistakes won´t be forgiven in the race. Strategy plays an important role as well. Tomorrow Ferrari has an excellent chance to increase their lead in the constructors´ championship standings, as Hamilton will have it hard to make it in the points. Hopefully both Kimi and Sebastian will keep their heads cool and we´ll see another 1-2 by the red-suited heroes! Forza Ferrari! Forza Kimi! Forza Sebastian!

sunnuntai 14. toukokuuta 2017

Spanish GP: Wheel-banging battle for victory between Hamilton and Vettel!

The red cars shared mixed fortunes at the start of the Spanish GP today. Sebastian, who started from the front row alongside pole-setter Hamilton, got a magical start and stormed to the lead. Kimi on the other hand, had contact with compatriot Bottas, who hit Kimi´s rear right tyre. This made Kimi crash into Red Bull´s Verstappen, who was in the outside of Kimi trying to get past the Iceman. The collision broke Kimi´s suspension and the Iceman was out of the race! Verstappen managed to drive into the pits but was forced to retire as well. What a disappointing start to the race!

I was absolutely delighted to see, that Sebastian was able to build a gap to Hamilton lap by lap. Bottas, who had had an engine change before yesterday´s qualifying, was unable to match his teammate´s pace. However, Red Bull´s Ricciardo in P4 was no threat to Bottas. Sebastian was the first top driver to pit on lap 15. The German opted for another set of soft Pirellis and re-joined the track right behind Ricciardo. It was crucial to get past the Australian quickly, and Sebastian made a successful overtaking move on his ex-teammate shortly after his pit stop. Sebastian´s driving was such a pleasure to watch, he seemed so determined to get the third win of the season.

Race leader Hamilton didn´t pit until on lap 22. The Briton had a different tyre strategy, as he opted for a fresh set of white-marked medium tyres. Hamilton re-joined the track in P3, behind Bottas and Sebastian. Bottas, who was leading the race, hadn´t pitted yet. Sebastian on the fresh soft tyres was right at the Finn´s tail in no time. Bottas tried his very best to keep the hungry Ferrari ace behind him, but lap 25 was the turning point. On the finish straight, with the help of DRS, Sebastian made a bold overtaking move, which made him even go wide. But Sebastian made it past Bottas and snatched the lead back to himself!

Bottas was called into the pits on lap 27 -after he had already been overtaken by his teammate Hamilton. Bottas had a similar tyre choice to his teammate -a fresh set of medium tyres. He re-joined the track in P3, already significantly down on Vettel and Hamilton (almost half a minute). At the halfway point of the race it seemed, that victory was within Sebastian´s grasp as Hamilton seemed unable to match Sebastian´s pace.

On lap 35 there was an incident between McLaren´s Vandoorne and Williams´ Massa at the back of the pack. Massa dived alongside the Belgian to make an overtaking move, but Vandoorne ended up crashing into the Brazilian. Vandoorne´s race was over, as his McLaren got stuck in the gravel. Virtual safety car was deployed. A couple of laps later Hamilton pitted for the second time; he was going to run the soft compound on his last stint. Hamilton re-joined the track in P2. Right after his pit stop the virtual safety car ended and the race was back on. Sebastian pitted a lap later, and the German had no choice but to opt for the medium tyres on his last stint. It was extremely tight between Hamilton and Sebastian, as the Ferrari ace exited the pits. They drove side by side into Turn 1, their wheels touched slightly but Sebastian was utterly determined to keep his lead. At this point my heart definitely skipped a couple of beats! I knew it was going to be a thrilling battle for the victory!

Only a lap later, on lap 39, there was huge drama for Mercedes´ Valtteri Bottas. Without any warning his engine blew up and the Finn had to park his Silver Arrow on the track. What a bitter moment for Bottas, who had won the Russian GP two weeks ago! Meanwhile Hamilton started to put serious pressure on Sebastian. The Briton was already within DRS distance from race-leading Sebastian and had an advantage in terms of the tyre compound. On lap 44 the inevitable happened -Hamilton moved past Sebastian on the finish straight. Hamilton quickly increased his lead into a few seconds but was unable to pull away from Sebastian. At this point Ferrari considered "plan C", which meant a third pit stop and soft tyres for the closing laps of the race. However, Sebastian stayed out and made all he could to chase down Hamilton and to challenge him for the victory.

Hamilton drove to the chequered flag as race winner; this was the 55th win for the Briton. Sebastian finished the runner-up. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed, as Sebastian had taken such a magical start to the race and at the halfway point of the race it had seemed that he was going to win the race! But Hamilton had a better strategy, no doubt about that. And he definitely benefitted from the virtual safety car. Ricciardo in his RB13 completed the podium, but the "Smiling Avenger" was already 75 seconds down on race winner Hamilton! Today was a superb day for the pink-liveried Force Indias, as Perez finished stunning 4th and teammate Ocon 5th. Hulkenberg in his Renault finished impressive 6th, and Toro Rosso´s Sainz 7th. And who would have predicted to see Sauber´s Pascal Wehrlein in P8? Sainz´s teammate Kvyat finished 9th and Haas´ Grosjean rounded out the top ten.

Sebastian is still leading the drivers´ championship standings with 104 points to Hamilton´s 98. Mercedes, on the other hand, has the lead in the constructors´ standings. They have 161 points to Ferrari´s 153. So the battle will get even more heated in Monaco in a fortnight!

Then a few lines about something, that made a huge impression on me today. After the unlucky collision between Bottas, Kimi and Verstappen in the first corner there was a small Ferrari fan in the international TV footage, crying heart broken because of Kimi´s retirement. Around the halfway point of the race there was TV footage about the very same boy in the Ferrari motorhome, comforted by Kimi himself! This was such an amazing and touching gesture from Kimi and the whole Ferrari team! Formula 1 is all about strong emotions. I´m sure this little boy will remember this day for the rest of his life! And this gesture will definitely make him admire Kimi even more!

lauantai 13. toukokuuta 2017

Spanish GP / Qualifying: Sebastian only 0,051s away from pole!

After the magical and unforgettable Russian GP weekend it has been a bit difficult to get my feet back on the ground. However, now I´m back to watching Formula 1 action on TV at home. Qualifying made me a bit worried, as Sebastian had had a water leak in his SF70-H at the end of the third practice session, and there had been an engine change before the qualifying session.

Q1 started with drama. Sebastian came out as soon as the first session got underway, but he had only just embarked on a quick lap when he was instructed first to stop the car and then to pit. However, Sebastian got instructions on the team radio to change the engine settings, and miraculously the German banged in the fastest lap time! I could let out a sigh of relief. All drivers were on the yellow-marked soft Pirellis. It was Mercedes´ Hamilton, who went fastest on his first run, and the Briton had no need to come out for a second run. After the second runs Kimi was second and teammate Sebastian third. Bottas in his Mercedes was fourth. Wehrlein was a star for Sauber, getting into Q2 with 15th fastest time, which left teammate Ericsson as the first faller in 16th. In addition to Ericsson, out of Q2 were Renault´s Palmer, Williams´ Stroll, McLaren´s Vandoorne and Toro Rosso´s Kvyat.

Q2 saw Bottas spoil his first run by going wide in Turn 1. Once again it was extremely tight between the top teams Mercedes and Ferrari. After the first runs Hamilton was topping the timesheets with Sebastian second, only 85 thousandths of a second down on the Briton. Bottas was third, nine hundredths of a second down on his teammate. Kimi was fourth, followed by the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo. The top six decided to sit out the second runs. The battle was tight in terms of the midfield teams; Alonso in his McLaren stood out of the crowd by making it among the top ten. The fallers in Q2 were the Haas duo of Magnussen and Grosjean (who spun on his second run), Toro Rosso´s Sainz, Renault´s Hulkenberg and Sauber´s Wehrlein.

The battle got even more heated in the decisive final session. Hamilton was back on top form after lacking pace in Russia and took provisional pole, as teammate Bottas had gone wide on his first run. All top teams had brought significant upgrades for Barcelona. However, they didn´t seem to have any crucial effect on the current pecking order, as both Mercedes and Ferrari had brought upgrades of almost equal value. In spite of their upgrade package, Red Bull was still unable to match the top two teams´ pace. Hamilton failed to improve on his second run but Sebastian did, moving past Bottas into second place. Pole was so very close, as there were only 51 thousandths of a second separating the top two! Sebastian drove impressively fast in the first two sectors but lost four tenths in the last sector. The last chicane was too much of a challenge for the German this time. Kimi went faster too, but was left in fourth, behind his compatriot Bottas. The Red Bull teammates Verstappen and Ricciardo will start from the third row. Alonso in his McLaren was a remarkable seventh in what was arguably the drive of the day for McLaren. The pink Force Indias of Perez (8th) and Ocon (10th) were split by the Williams of Massa.

Two weeks ago Bottas made a dream start from P3, so Hamilton should definitely be aware of his teammate when the lights go out at Circuit de Catalunya tomorrow. There are very limited chances for overtaking at Circuit de Catalunya, so the start and the opening lap will play a key role. The result will also come down to reliability, as both Mercedes and Ferrari have had their share of reliability issues this weekend. Bottas missed almost the entire third practice session due to an engine change, and Sebastian also had an engine-related issue of his own before qualifying. I´m sure it will be an intense race tomorrow. Hope to see a red-coloured podium at the end of the race!

P.S. You can read my interview of Sebastian Vettel also on the Scuderia Ferrari Club Riga´s website:

perjantai 5. toukokuuta 2017

An interview with Sebastian Vettel!

Photo by Jerry Andre.

During the Russian GP weekend I had a once-in-a-life-time chance to sit down with the quadruple Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel and interview him in terms of his F1 career.

Q: First of all what has changed since last year? I mean you seem to be utterly on flames this season! Three races and two wins! What has changed since last year?

SV: I´m sure that I learnt a lot last year. I think obviously this year we have a stronger package, which allows us, you know, fight for victory. I think in the beginning of last year honestly was quite good as well. We were not where we wanted to be after the break but I think the first couple of races should have been better than they were and then people look back at last year and say it was so bad but in the end I think it wasn´t actually that bad. We still managed to get a lot of podiums. We had some races where we were not doing a great job. Some races were a bit unlucky, which didn´t lead to a good result. And then, very quickly obviously you lose connection to the front. Mercedes were very strong and dominant last year again so... I think it was a different year and this year seems to be a different start to the better for all of us.

Q: What has been the most difficult moment in your Formula 1 career and how did you get over it?

SV: Well, first of all I think that I´m blessed that I´ve had a lot good moments so not so many bad moments. But one of the most difficult that I remember that comes into my mind is 2009 at the end of the year, Brazil when the championship was decided before the last race. I was really down because, okay people said before the race, Jenson has so many points, he is so many points ahead and so on. I was believing we can do it until the end of the race so when I had to realise that, you know, fighting for the championship is not anymore an option I was quite down so... Also that point, as I said, now that I look back I´m very blessed because I´ve won four championships and trying to win more but... Yea, at that time obviously, you never know if you get another chance to win championship or fight for championship so it was quite tough to realise that, you know, the dream was over. But for sure it gave me a lot of boost for the last race in that year in Abu Dhabi and then obviously the next season, which was very good.

Q: Late Dr. Aki Hintsa is one of the key figures behind your success. What are the most important things or lessons that you have learnt from Dr. Hintsa?

SV: You need more than your book to write that down! (laughs) Well, first of all, Aki was a great person and I think mostly it´s the humanity that I learned... Because he has seen a lot of people, he has met a lot of people from all different types of... how can I say... society... But I think he was inspiring in many ways to anyone because he was the person he was and he had the gift talking to people. He never tried, you know, convince me of something or this is how you have to do it, this is how you have to think. It was always, you know, when you talked to him it was always on the same level. And that I think he had a great gift and he was obviously key. Very early on the way I met him was a complete surprise. We had the same... we were on the same plane to the test in Barcelona in 2007. I didn´t know him, he didn´t really know me and then we sat next to each other on the plane and then we said, yea, when are you flying back and we had a little chat and then we had the same flight back as well and then I said how do you get back, where do you live and then he said in Switzerland. Okay, but where and it turned out we lived in the same village. So I said okay no problem, I can take you back home and that´s how we started and then we talked. I was fascinated by his work. First of all, when I met him I said okay I want to work with you. I know that I had different people taking care of that side, physical preparation and so on but I want to work with you, even though he was with McLaren, I was with Red Bull and BMW at that time but... you know I... For some reason, sometimes you know things in life and I wanted to work with him. Yea, and then, he said okay, we shook hands and that´s how we stayed in touch in the beginning and then we actually started working together so it was a great start and then as I said in the beginning it was only the professional side because I saw that this is a way to become more professional, to become a better driver. But then, throughout the years, I think we had a very deep connection and good friendship and I started to appreciate the human side of Aki, which I think is the biggest inspiration. I got... so... Obviously it was quite a big loss but yea, actually because we didn´t see every day it still feels, his words are still very much with me. His advice are very much with me, we exchanged also some stuff in writing so on so on. In a way he´s still there always and still feels like that he´s there to ask, even if he doesn´t answer anymore but... you know. He has obviously been a very important person, plus he introduced me to the, you know, the great and positive side of Finland, which I didn´t know beforehand.

Q: Which outburst do you regret more, Turkish GP 2010 (the outburst after colliding with teammate Webber) or Mexican GP 2016 (team radio message to Charlie Whiting)? Why?

SV: I don´t regret either one so. For sure, knowing what I know now, maybe I would do things differently but... Probably, if I had to choose, I would pick the Mexico last year because I was insulting, you know, someone, which wasn´t my intention. In the heat of the moment in racing, it´s just the volcano that burst.

Q: Then about your Finnish. How are your Finnish skills? I mean your Italian is impressive. How would you describe yourself in Finnish?

SV: Umm... Ei paha (Not bad)! (laughs) I know some words. Obviously I´ve had Finnish trainers for the last eight, nine years so. Yea, and obviously through Aki, I like the Finnish culture, I like Finnish people, I like the country, I think it´s beautiful so. My Finnish is not very good. (Interviewer´s comment: But you pronounce it very well indeed.) So at least when I come in somewhere say hello, they think I´m Finnish but then... I´m lost. Usually Finnish people speak English very well so it´s quite easy.

Q: Is mental training part of your training programme? If it is, what kind of methods do you use?

SV: Not really. So... Yea, I don´t have any methods. I mean there´s stuff that I think you can call mental training or preparation that I´ve picked up, you know, throughout the years trying to get into the zone before the race, listening to, you know, the same music, having the sort of same routine, closing my eyes, visualizing the track and so on but it´s stuff that sort of came up through the years. It´s not really that, you know, I sat down with a guru and he told that this is what you have to do.

Q: What has been the most terrifying moment on track?

SV: Terrifying, in terms of scary? Well, fortunately I have to say -touch wood, I don´t see any wood- but that I didn´t have a huge crash so far in my career, which obviously helps. I´ve had a couple of shunts for sure. Yea, I think I broke my finger ten years ago in World Series but other than that nothing big happened. Usually I think you always feel in charge of what you do, you feel in control, even though you are on the limit and you can lose control easily when you are pushing too hard but. I think the worst, terrifying moments are when you lose the car and you know that there´s nothing you can do to stop you hitting the wall or the barrier or whatever so. It goes fairly quickly if it happens but these moments are not so nice. But as I said so far, nothing happened and it´s not something I think about, you know, when I´m driving so I´m not scared of taking a risk and trying something new.

At this stage the dictaphone overheated and stopped recording the interview! I also asked Sebastian about the things he has learnt from teammate Kimi, on or off track. Sebastian told about his appreciation and respect for Kimi, as they have no "bullsh*t" in their relationship, Kimi being a very straightforward guy. As Sebastian is known to like Finland and Finnish people, I also wanted to know, if he has ever tried winter swimming. And I was surprised that he said he has! That has also been thanks to Dr. Aki Hintsa, who has introduced the crazy Finnish hobby to Sebastian!

Photo by Jerry Andre.

tiistai 2. toukokuuta 2017

Russian GP: When dreams met reality!

Kimi and Sebastian  filming for social media at the pit wall.
My dream came true last weekend, as at short notice I got an unbelievable chance to attend the Russian GP weekend. And what a weekend it turned out to be! I spent four magical and absolutely memorable days at Sochi Autodrom in Russia. I have seen my heroes live on track in the winter tests in 2015 but never this close in front of my very eyes! Ferrari was filming a video for social media on Thursday. At this point I was shaking like a leaf, because my dream was about to come true... My dream of meeting the quadruple F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel in person and interview him! I felt absolutely unreal as I sat down in front of the Ferrari motorhome to interview my idol. There were tens of photographers behind my back taking
Gina on the pit lane.
photos, and from the corner of my eye I could see the flash lights flickering. But in that very moment I ignored everything that happened around me and it was all about interviewing Sebastian. He turned out to be very easy to talk to and he impressed me with his great sense of humour. He gave an extremely deep answer, when I asked him about the most important things that he has learnt from late Dr. Aki Hintsa, who has been one of the key figures behind Sebastian´s success. Sebastian told the story, how he had met Dr. Hintsa for the first time. He also revealed, which incident he regrets more, Turkish GP 2010 or Mexican GP 2016. I also asked him, how he would describe himself in Finnish, as he is known to like Finland and Finnish people. There are absolutely no words to describe my feelings during the interview! I had to pinch myself to believe, that it was actually happening and I wasn´t just dreaming!

For eight years I have dreamed about meeting Sebastian Vettel and interviewing him!
Sebastian signing a poster for me after the autograph session.

 I couldn´t believe my ears, as Sebastian´s PR manager Britta Roeske asked me to step inside a car with Sebastian Vettel! Sebastian was goingfor an autograph session at the other side of the track. It was like "behind the scenes", getting a glimpse of Sebastian´s typical Thursday on track. I was absolutely overwhelmed, I couldn´t expect anything like this! In addition to this, Britta arranged me and my husband a chance to watch two practice sessions at Ferrari garage, which was absolutely magical. Seeing the cars so closely was an impressive experience indeed. Watching F1 on TV gives you an impression that the cars aren´t loud enough, but I can assure they are loud at the garage! Qualifying was hair-raising and it couldn´t have ended in any more perfect way! Ferrari took 1-2 for the first time since 2008! Sebastian conquered pole, with only 59 thousandths of a second separating him from his teammate Kimi! Valtteri Bottas finished third, only 95 thousandths of a second down on Sebastian. It was extremely tight between Ferrari and Mercedes. I promised, that if Sebastian won the race, I would go swimming in the Black Sea! However, there was a certain Finn, who was absolutely determined to prevent Sebastian from winning -and me from getting into the sea!

At the paddock with my husband Robert, who has also
followed Formula 1 for over 20 years.

Coffee break at Ferrari motorhome.

Sebastian and Kimi on the grid ready for the start of the Russian GP.

Valtteri Bottas, who started from P3, took a staggering start and stormed past both Ferrari aces by Turn 1! The Finn was hungry to get his maiden win. At the closing stages of the race Sebastian had closed the gap to Bottas, but unfortunately the German ran out of laps. So although I would have wanted to see Sebastian on the top step of the podium, I was happy for Valtteri, who had driven a historical race indeed. And there were two red-suited drivers on the podium after all, as the Iceman finished third! Britta took us right under the podium to watch the podium ceremony and the interviews, which were made by Eddie Jordan. Although I had hoped for Sebastian´s victory, it was quite nice to hear the Finnish national anthem!
Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen on the podium. Kimi´s physio Mark Arnall with Kimi´s trophy and helmet at the paddock.
After the race I got to talk to Sebastian for a short moment, until it was time leave the paddock. I guess you can read my feelings on my face!
The most unbelievable experience during the Russian GP weekend was to actually see all drivers, team principals and other significant figures of F1 live right in front of my own eyes! I´m so

maanantai 17. huhtikuuta 2017

Bahrain GP: Superb win for Sebastian!

The sun had already set, when the lights went out and the Bahrain GP got underway. Mercedes´ Bottas, who had conquered his maiden pole only a day before, got the perfect start and held on to his lead. Hamilton, who started on the dirty side of the track, was overtaken by storming Sebastian. Right away the German Ferrari ace was right at Bottas´ tail and definitely "smelled the Finn´s blood". Red Bull´s Verstappen, starting from P6, had an excellent start as well, making it ahead of teammate Ricciardo. The poorest start was taken by Kimi, who lost positions both to Williams´ Massa and Red Bull´s Verstappen on the opening lap and dropped down to P7.

It was extremely tight between the top five. Kimi was clearly faster than Massa; the Iceman was losing valuable time behind the Brazilian. On lap 8 Kimi decided to make an overtaking move on the finish straight and made it ahead of his ex-teammate. Meanwhile, Bottas in the lead was complaining about lack of grip in terms of the rear tyres. The Finn was told on the team radio, that his rear tyre pressures were high. It clearly influenced Bottas´ pace.

Ferrari made a bold strategic move, as they called Sebastian in already on lap 11. Ferrari decided to try the undercut, although it was possible, that Sebastian could get stuck in the traffic. The German opted for another set of super soft Pirellis and was absolutely flying after his pit stop. Red Bull reacted right away and took Verstappen in. But immediately after the pit stop the flying Dutchman suffered a rear brake failure and his race was over! And there was more drama to come. Toro Rosso´s Sainz, who was exiting the pits, crashed into Stroll´s Williams, causing a lot of debris on the track. Both Sainz and Stroll were out of the race, and safety car was deployed. (After the race Sainz was given a 3-place grid penalty for the next race for causing the collision.)

The Mercedes drivers drove into the pits sequentially. Race leader Bottas pitted first, but his pit stop wasn´t perfect. The Finn opted for another set of super soft tyres -similar to Vettel. Hamilton slowed down unnecessarily much, coming into the pits; by this move he impeded Ricciardo, who was right behind the Briton. The stewards took Hamilton´s move into investigation. When safety car came in a few laps later, Sebastian was leading the race with Bottas second and Hamilton third. Massa was fourth, Ricciardo fifth and Kimi 6th. So once again Kimi was behind Massa!

After the re-start Ricciardo, who had opted for the yellow-marked soft Pirellis, was in trouble with lack of grip. Kimi made a great overtaking move on the Australian and jumped fifth. The Iceman immediately started to chase down Massa. And on lap 24 it happened: at the end of the finish straight Kimi managed to get past Massa, making him already fourth in the race. Meanwhile, Hamilton was given a 5-second penalty for driving unnecessarily slowly in the pits!

Sebastian in the lead had increased his gap to Bottas into five seconds. Bottas was struggling with his pace, which had miraculously disappeared over night. Teammate Hamilton, on the other hand, was absolutely flying. In no time the Briton was right at his teammate´s tail. The team asked Bottas to let Hamilton past, which must have been a bittersweet moment for pole-setter Bottas. The Finn had no choice but to obey.

After the second pit stops Sebastian was still in the lead. Bottas was second, as Hamilton had suffered the 5-second time penalty during his second pit stop. However, Bottas´ problems with his pace continued, and Hamilton had an easy task to move ahead of his teammate. Sebastian and Hamilton had a different tyre strategy, as Sebastian was on the soft compound, whereas Hamilton ran the super soft Pirellis. Hamilton was hungry to chase down Sebastian and challenge him for the victory. However, there were 8 seconds separating the rivals.

Hamilton managed to decrease the gap, but there was no catching Sebastian! The German took his second win of the season under the floodlights of Bahrain. What a brilliant victory indeed! Hamilton crossed the finish line second, and teammate Bottas completed the podium. It must have been extremely disappointing for the Finn, who -without the tyre pressure issues- would have had the chance of his life to fight for the victory. Kimi finished the race in P4. Once again, there was a lot of talk about Ferrari´s strategy. Why didn´t Ferrari take Kimi in sooner on his second stint... Kimi sounded extremely upset on the team radio, questioning the strategy. Sebastian´s strategy was perfect, but the one with Kimi was far from that! Ferrari can´t afford mistakes like this, if they want to win the constructors´ championship!

Behind the top four, Ricciardo finished 5th for Red Bull, Massa 6th for Williams, Perez 7th for Force India, Grosjean 8th for Haas, Hulkenberg 9th for Renault and Ocon 10th for Force India. Once again, good points for the pink cars :) Sebastian is now leading the drivers´ championship standings! He has now 68 points to Hamilton´s 61. Bottas in P3 is 30 points down on Sebastian and Kimi is already 34 points down on his teammate. In terms of the constructors´ standings, it´s extremely tight! Ferrari has now 102 points to Mercedes´ 99. What a thrilling show this season will be!

Sebastian looked so happy on the top step of the podium. He definitely has the momentum on his side at the moment. I can´t wait for the Russian GP, which I´ll be watching live at Sochi Autodrom!