Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

tiistai 28. marraskuuta 2017

Abu Dhabi GP: Bottas led Mercedes into a dominant 1-2!

Last weekend it was time for the season finale under the setting sun of Abu Dhabi. Once again I was at hospital with my son. To my deep disappointment I missed all free practice sessions and the qualifying! I don´t even remember, when I´d have missed qualifying during these 24 years of Formula 1 passion! The mobile application I had used before didn´t work this time so I had to settle for reading the results in the news. I felt absolutely heartbroken not to see the qualifying live!

It was a highly impressive qualifying for Valtteri Bottas, who made it on pole for the third time this season! And this time gloriously by driving, not due to Hamilton´s misfortune or mistake! There was a clear 0.172s gap between the Mercedes teammates at the end of Q2. But there was nothing the Ferrari teammates could do to challenge the Silver Arrows for a front row grid slot. Sebastian qualified third, already half a second down on the pole-setter Bottas. Kimi had shown promising pace in the qualifying as well, but in the closing stages of the final session Red Bull´s Ricciardo got the upper hand on the Iceman, claiming P4 and leaving the Finn in P5. Teammate Verstappen completed the third row for Red Bull. The flying Dutchman was already a second off the pole-setter´s pace. The pink-liveried Force Indias locked down the fourth row, Perez having the upper hand on teammate Ocon. McLaren´s Alonso and Williams´ Massa rounded out the top ten.

Luckily I managed to watch the race on my cell phone. Pole-setter Bottas kept his head ice cool at the start and held on to his lead. It was amazing how superb starts the top six drivers all took, as the pecking order remained unchanged. Mercedes were having a double lead, with Sebastian, Ricciardo, Kimi and Verstappen following close behind. Kimi seemed hungry to get past Ricciardo but overtaking proved a very difficult task at the Yas Marina Circuit. World champion Hamilton was close to his teammate but making it into DRS distance seemed impossible. Soon it was obvious, that the Mercedes duo was out of Sebastian´s reach, as the German Ferrari ace was unable to match Mercedes´ lap times.

Red Bull´s Verstappen was the first top driver to pit on lap 15. The Dutch Red Bull ace opted for a fresh set of red-marked supersoft Pirellis and re-joined the track in P9. Ferrari reacted right away and called Kimi in on the following lap. The Iceman opted for a similar tyre strategy. Ferrari´s strategy proved successful, as Kimi re-joined the track ahead of Verstappen. Ricciardo pitted on lap 20; in spite of a slightly delayed pit stop the Australian managed to stay ahead of Kimi, when re-joining the track. However, Red Bull´s reliability issues continued! Almost instantly after his pit stop, the "Smiling Avenger" had to retire the race due to a hydraulic problem.

Sebastian pitted on lap 21 and the race leader Bottas a lap later. Hamilton stayed out driving as fast as he could; was the Briton going to make it ahead of his teammate due to overcut? Hamilton came in three laps later, but in spite of a flawless pit stop the Finn managed to keep his lead. There were only two seconds separating the Silver Arrows. Hamilton was determined to attack his teammate. The Briton made it within DRS distance from the Finn, but Valtteri made sure, that Lewis had no chances to make a move. Bottas responded by improving his pace. Sebastian, on the other hand, was driving quite a lonely race in P3. He was already 15 seconds down on the race-leading Finn and teammate Kimi was 10 seconds behind Sebastian.

Further back in the midfield Renault´s Sainz had a catastrophic pit stop on lap 34. The Spaniard was driving an excellent race, but the pit stop led to a loose wheel, and Sainz had no option but to retire. Quite an unforgivable mistake from the Renault team.

Towards the end of the race the battle for victory really intensified. Hamilton was putting serious pressure on his teammate, who had clearly decided to win the race. There was only one mistake, that Valtteri made on the closing laps, a small lock-up. Other than that, the Finn made it impossible for his teammate to try a move. And Valtteri drove to the chequered flag as the race winner for the third time this season. In addition to taking pole and race win he also set the fastest lap time in the race, which made the weekend absolutely perfect for the cool-headed Finn. Hamilton had to settle for P2. There´s a revealing statistical detail in terms of Hamilton´s world championship seasons; after securing the world championship, Hamilton has never won a race during that season! This time, too the newly crowned world champion seemed to have lost his sharpest edge. Sebastian kept his 3rd place till the end and Kimi made it a very decent result for Ferrari by finishing 4th. Kimi´s P4 and Ricciardo´s retirement meant, that Kimi moved 4th in the championship standings, leaving Ricciardo 5th. Verstappen finished 5th for Red Bull and Hulkenberg 6th for Renault. Once again both Force Indias proved highly reliable, as the pinks finished 7th and 8th, Perez having the upper hand on his teammate. McLaren´s Alonso and Williams´ Massa (who was driving the very last GP of his F1 career) completed the top ten.

All in all, the season finale was kind of an anti-climax, as Hamilton had already clinched the world title in Mexico. The Yas Marina Circuit doesn´t offer many chances for overtaking, which made the last race of the season kind of boring. So now the 2017 season is officially over, although the drivers still run tyre tests for Pirelli today and tomorrow. So no more F1 racing for four months... The beginning of the 2018 season I´ll still be watching at hospital but I´ll definitely continue updating my blog! Many thanks for all my readers for following my blog! 

keskiviikko 15. marraskuuta 2017

Brazil GP: Sensational victory for Sebastian!

Me and my Finnish Formula 1 friend Heli Vepsäläinen at C More F1 studio with the Finnish F1 team: Tomi Tuominen, Toni Vilander and Ossi Oikarinen.
My bet on the top three: Vettel 1st, Verstappen 2nd and Bottas 3rd.

I had an exceptional race Sunday. I was still in hospital with my son, who was treated there because of an infection. However, my sister had arranged me a belated birthday surprise, a chance to visit the Finnish C More F1 studio in Helsinki! I was allowed to ask a friend to join me, so I went to the studio with Heli Vepsäläinen, whom I had met a few months earlier at the Santander event in Helsinki. We share the devoted passion for Formula 1 racing, so it was fantastic to meet her again. It was a memorable moment to meet the Finnish F1 team and get a live glimpse on how the Formula 1 broadcasts are made.

The race start was absolutely electrifying. Sebastian took a staggering start from P2 and snatched the lead! What a perfect move from the German! Bottas was second and his fellow countryman Kimi third. A lot happened on the opening lap. Red Bull´s Ricciardo spun in Turn 2 and dropped down to the back of the pack. Haas´ Magnussen and McLaren´s Vandoorne collided, which ended the race for both of them. Haas teammate Grosjean had a collision with Force India´s Ocon, which lead into the first ever retirement in Ocon´s Formula 1 career. Safety car was deployed. Hamilton had had a stunning opening lap, as the Briton had made it 14th already, having started to the race from the pit lane.

The re-start took place on lap 6. Sebastian held on to his lead, with the Finns Bottas and Kimi right behind him. Home hero Massa was driving an excellent race, as the Brazilian made it past McLaren´s Alonso at the re-start, moving 5th already. On flames was also Hamilton, who was absolutely storming through the field. On lap 21 the Briton jumped already 5th, having impressively made it past home favourite Massa. Now the hot question was: would Hamilton be able to make it on the podium? There were 10 seconds to Verstappen´s P4 and 17 seconds to the lead.

The top four pitted around lap 30; all of them opted for a fresh set of yellow-marked soft Pirellis. The pecking order remained unchanged after the pit stops. Hamilton was now leading the race, as the Briton had started to the race on the more durable soft rubber, which meant a longer first stint. Sebastian got his lead back, as Hamilton came in on lap 44, switching to the supersoft compound for his last stint. He re-joined the track in P5. Red Bull´s Ricciardo pitted on the very same lap, with a similar tyre strategy. The Australian dropped down to P8 after his second pit stop.

Hamilton was absolutely flying on his fresh supersoft tyres. On lap 57 he was already within DRS distance from Verstappen. Usually Max is known to be a very difficult driver to overtake, but this time even Max was toothless against Hamilton´s storming attack. Max was struggling with his worn tyres, and Hamilton made his move a couple of laps later, snatching P4 from the flying Dutchman. With ten laps to go, Max insisted to pit for the second time; the extra pit stop didn´t cost the Red Bull ace any positions, but Max re-joined the track in P5.

Kimi was only five seconds ahead of Hamilton in P3. Hamilton smelled Kimi´s blood and began his chase. With six laps to go, the Mercedes ace had closed the gap to the Iceman, which allowed him to use DRS. However, Kimi kept his head cool as ice and blocked Hamilton´s every attempt to try an overtaking move. Kimi´s defensive driving was absolutely brilliant. Sebastian drove to the chequered flag as the race winner, with the Finns Bottas and Räikkönen completing the podium. It was such a pleasure to see both Ferrari aces on the podium! What an absolutely sensational victory for Sebastian; I was so happy for him! Thanks to Kimi´s impressive driving, Hamilton was left in P4. However, starting from the pit lane and making it 4th was an outstanding performance from the newly crowned world champion. Verstappen finished 5th and teammate Ricciardo 6th. Williams´ Massa, who drove his last home Grand Prix, finished an impressive 7th, having made it past McLaren´s Alonso on the final lap. Force India´s Perez and Renault´s Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten.

There seems to be certain magic in terms of me visiting the F1 studio. My first time at the F1 studio was at the time of Bahrain GP 2012, which was won by certain Sebastian Vettel. And look, who won the Brazil GP on Sunday ;) Kimi, too has been on the podium on both occasions. In Bahrain 2012 the Iceman was second and in Brazil he was third! So this means I should be at the F1 studio every GP weekend, hahaha! :D

Me and Heli with the Finnish F1 commentator Niki Juusela after the race.

sunnuntai 12. marraskuuta 2017

Brazil GP / Qualifying: World champion Hamilton crashed out on his first flyer!

I´ve been at hospital with my son since Wednesday, so once again I´ve been watching the GP weekend events on my cell phone. I´m sitting on the hospital bed opposite my son. He´s drawing a gift to his father, as it is Father´s Day in Finland today. I´m tapping this blog post on yesterday´s thrilling qualifying.

There was huge drama already in the opening stages of Q1. There had been some rain before the qualifying, which had made track conditions a bit slippery. Both Mercedes drivers came out on the supersoft tyres at the beginning of the first session. But already on his very first flyer, the newly crowned world champion Hamilton suddenly lost control of his Silver Arrow and crashed out in Turn 6! The Briton´s qualifying was over before it had actually started. What an unexpected turn indeed! The session was red-flagged for some ten minutes. As the session was resumed, both Ferrari drivers came out on the yellow-marked soft tyres, whereas all the others opted for the supersoft compound. Sebastian went fastest right away, in spite of the harder tyre compound. Both Ferraris seemed to be flying, as only a moment later Kimi banged the fastest lap time. Red Bull´s Verstappen, on the other hand, reported about a possible power unit issue on the team radio. However, the flying Dutchman was able to set competitive lap times. The Finns Räikkönen and Bottas topped the timesheets, Valtteri being only 0.047s down on his fellow countryman. The most positive surprise in Q1 was Williams´ Massa, who jumped 4th at the very end of the first segment. In addition to the world champion Hamilton, out of Q2 were the Sauber duo of Wehrlein and Ericsson, Toro Rosso´s Gasly (who will also have a 25-place grid penalty due to the use of additional power unit elements) and Massa´s teammate Stroll, who had  suffered from technical issues in the morning´s free practice session and had had a gearbox change before the qualifying.

Sebastian reported about a light drizzle, as Q2 got underway. Red Bull´s Ricciardo was the only driver to come out on the soft Pirellis. The tyre strategy came down to the 10-place grid penalty, which the Australian had been given for the use of additional power unit elements. After Hamilton´s early crash, teammate Bottas really stepped up and raised his level. The Finn really started to shine on the Brazilian soil. He topped the timesheets after the first runs, with the red dynamic duo lurking behind the calm Finn. However, Sebastian went fastest on his second run and left Bottas second. Luckily there were no issues with Verstappen´s power unit, and the Dutchman was 3rd and Kimi 4th. Eliminated from the final segment were Force India´s Ocon, the Haas duo of Grosjean and Magnussen, McLaren´s Vandoorne and Toro Rosso´s Hartley, who hadn´t set a lap time due to a 10-place grid penalty, which the Briton had been given for using additional power unit elements.

The final session was absolutely hair-raising. Sebastian proved his top form by taking provisional pole by 0.082s to Mercedes´ Bottas. Kimi was third, already four tenths down on his teammate. Red Bull proved unable to match the pace of the top two teams, as Verstappen was seven and Ricciardo already nine tenths down on the pace-setter Sebastian. The rain slightly intensified before the final runs, but in the end, it didn´t have an effect on the track conditions. Unfortunately Sebastian didn´t manage to improve his lap time on his last flyer. According to his own words, he "chickened out" in the braking into Turn 1, where he lost the crucial time. Bottas, instead, drove a phenomenal, almost perfect lap and snatched pole from Sebastian by 0.038s! It was the third career pole for the Finn and a new track record. Kimi made it a splendid result for the red team, as the Iceman qualified third, only two tenths down on his compatriot. Verstappen completed the second row. Ricciardo qualified 5th, but will drop down to P15 due to his grid penalty. Force India´s Perez, McLaren´s Alonso, the Renault duo of Hulkenberg and Sainz and Williams´ Massa rounded out the top ten. Massa would have made higher up in the standings, hadn´t he been impeded by Renault´s Sainz. According to Massa´s words, Sainz had even admitted having done it deliberately, as the Brazilian had impeded him in one of the free practice sessions!

Once again the start will play a crucial role in the race. Will Bottas be able to keep his head cool and maintain the lead? I´m sure both Sebastian and Kimi are hungry to challenge the Finn for the lead. Hamilton will start to the race from the pit lane, as the Briton has had a power unit change. How high up will the new world champion make it in the end? Good points are definitely within his reach, but I´m not sure about the podium. The weather forecast says it´s going to be a lot warmer in the race, which is said to benefit Ferrari the most. We´ll find out about it in a few hours... I´m really looking forward to an entertaining and action-packed race! Forza Ferrari!

lauantai 4. marraskuuta 2017

Mexico GP: Hamilton secured his fourth world championship!

I´m writing this blog post not until a week after the Mexico GP. That´s because my world has turned upside down after my 11-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer two weeks ago. I spent last weekend at the hospital with him, as he was given his first treatment. I watched both the qualifying and the race on my cell phone, but since my son was feeling very sick, it was very hard to concentrate on anything else.

In terms of the pecking order, the qualifying was certainly interesting. The Mercedes teammates Hamilton and Bottas were topping the timesheets in Q1, the Finn being only six hundredths of a second down on his teammate. However, the real eye-catcher was McLaren´s Alonso, who made it fifth in the first segment, being only 0.29s down on pace-setting Hamilton. In Q2 it was Red Bull´s Verstappen, who was absolutely flying. After the first runs the Dutch Red Bull ace was massive half a second faster than Hamilton. However, teammate Ricciardo seemed unable to match his teammate´s pace, the Australian being as much as a second off Verstappen´s pace. Sebastian did a fantastic job as well, as the German jumped second on his second run, only 0.3s off Verstappen´s pace.

In the last segment it was obvious, that Verstappen was extremely hungry for pole. The flying Dutchman took provisional pole by 0.259s to Sebastian. I already thought, that Max was going to grab his maiden pole! Hamilton was third, whereas teammate Bottas was unable to set a lap time on his first flyer, as Verstappen impeded him. However, no penalties were given. Kimi was only 8th after his first run, and the Iceman was massive 1.6s off Verstappen´s pace. It was on the second runs, when the magic happened. Sebastian put together a phenomenal lap with a perfect first sector (where he had previously lost time compared to Verstappen) and grabbed pole by 0.086s to Max! What an outstanding lap it was! Max was so gutted for being deprived of his first-ever pole! Hamilton had to settle for P3, the Briton being four tenths down on pole-setting Sebastian. Teammate Bottas completed the second row. Kimi qualified in P5, surprising 0.75s down on his teammate. Ricciardo had mystically lost his pace in the qualifying, as the Australian was only able to make it 7th. This was the first pole for Ferrari in Mexico since 1970 and the 50th career pole for Sebastian!

The start was absolutely breath-taking. In Turn 1 my heart jumped into my mouth, as Sebastian first hit Verstappen and then Hamilton! The Briton got severe front wing damage and a puncture and had to pit immediately. Sebastian, too had a significant damage to his front wing, and he had no other option but to pit for a new nose. Both drivers opted for a fresh set of yellow-marked soft tyres. What a start to the race; both title contenders had dropped down to the back of the pack! Verstappen instead was leading the race with Bottas second and Force India´s Ocon third. Kimi had also dropped down at the start, losing positions to Ocon, Perez and Hulkenberg. The Iceman was in P7. Ricciardo´s difficult weekend continued, as the Australian had to retire already on lap 6 due to a power unit issue.

By lap 21 both Force Indias and Renault´s Hulkenberg had pitted, which benefitted Kimi, who had a longer first stint. The Iceman moved already third! On lap 22 there was a bizarre moment, as race leader Verstappen lapped Hamilton, who was shown blue flags! This definitely hasn´t happened too often in the previous years. Three laps later it was teammate Bottas´ turn to lap his teammate. By lap 29 Sebastian had already made his way through the field to P10. But it wasn´t enough! Sebastian needed P1 or P2 to keep his title hopes alive!

Lap 33 saw a hectic pit stop roulette. Both Verstappen and Bottas pitted from the lead, both opting for the red-marked supersoft compound. Kimi pitted, too -but for a fresh set of soft Pirellis. Hamilton pitted for the second time already, for supersoft Pirellis. So did Sebastian, choosing an aggressive strategy. The German Ferrari ace opted for a fresh set of purple-marked ultra soft tyres, which foreshadowed a flying last stint.

Towards the halfway point of the race Verstappen was still leading the race, followed by the Finns Bottas and Räikkönen. Ocon was fourth and Williams´ Stroll fifth. By this time Sebastian had already made it up to P8. Hamilton had had it difficult to make it through the field, and the Briton was stuck in P15. With 20 laps to go, Sebastian made an aggressive overtaking move on Force India´s Perez and jumped 6th already. Sebastian seemed absolutely determined to fight for every point available. Four laps later Sebastian made a self-confident move on Williams´ birthday boy Stroll, who proved unable to prevent storming Sebastian from taking the fifth place. Lap by lap it seemed more inevitable, that Hamilton was going to clinch his fourth world championship at the end of the race.

On lap 57 Hamilton moved 10th, whereas title rival Sebastian stormed past the pink Force India of Ocon, jumping fourth in the race. Teammate Kimi was in P3 but already 24 seconds ahead of Sebastian. The German kept banging fastest lap times, but the gap was too big. There was nothing Sebastian could do to make it higher than P4! With three laps to go, Hamilton managed to overtake Alonso after a tight fight and move 9th.

Verstappen took stunning third victory in a dominant style. I was very happy for the flying Dutchman; he definitely has magical talent and raw speed! Bottas finished second, and Kimi made it two Finns on the podium. After the first-lap collisions Sebastian drove a brilliant race, although P4 wasn´t enough to keep the championship hopes alive. Ocon finished 5th, Stroll impressive 6th, Perez 7th and Haas´ Magnussen 8th. P9 made Hamilton the first-ever British F1 driver to win his fourth world championship! That is an impressive achievement indeed.

Even though we already know the name of the 2017 world champion, there are two more rounds to go. I don´t know, whether I´ll be watching those at home or at hospital, but I´ll always keep my fingers crossed for my red-suited heroes. Hope to see tight wheel-to-wheel racing in the remaining races!

maanantai 23. lokakuuta 2017

US GP: Not even the perfect start helped Sebastian to beat Hamilton!

The show built around the US GP was absolutely amazing. Many celebrities had joined the paddock, such as the former president Bill Clinton and the 8-time Olympic medalist, Usain Bolt. The driver presentation made by the legendary Michael Buffer was an impressive part of the staggering show. The sun was shining and there was huge excitement in the air.

The start uphill into Turn 1 was absolutely thrilling. Sebastian took a perfect start and managed to get past title rival Hamilton going into Turn 1. What a promising start! I was so happy to see Sebastian snatch the lead from Hamilton. Bottas in the second Mercedes managed to keep his 3rd place, but Kimi lost his 5th place to Force India´s Ocon. Ricciardo in his RB13 was putting serious pressure on Bottas, and an overtaking move seemed to be only a matter of time. However, the Finn was stubborn to keep his 3rd place, doing everything he could to defend it. Bottas´ compatriot Kimi was doing a fantastic job as well, as the Iceman made a move on Ocon and snatched the 5th place back already on the second lap of the race.

Unfortunately Sebastian wasn´t able to pull away from Hamilton. Instead, the Briton banged fastest lap times, and on lap 5 he was already within DRS distance from the German. Sebastian seemed to be struggling with the tyres. On lap 6 Hamilton made his move at the back straight and made it past Sebastian; it was almost an easy-looking move, which I found quite surprising. After losing the lead to Hamilton, Sebastian was unable to match the Briton´s pace.

By lap 10 Red Bull´s Verstappen, who had started the race on the red-marked supersoft Pirellis, had made his way from P16 up to P6 already. The flying Dutchman was literally flying! What a phenomenal overtaking show this young Red Bull ace put up! Teammate Ricciardo was the first top driver to pit on lap 12. The Australian switched to the red-marked supersoft rubber and re-joined the track in P6. But this time it was Ricciardo, who was hit with a technical failure. On lap 16 the Australian suffered a sudden engine failure and his race was over.

By lap 20 both Mercedes and Ferrari had called their drivers in for their first pit stops; they all opted for the yellow-marked soft rubber. Verstappen at the wheel of his RB13 was now leading the race. However, Hamilton was right at the Dutchman´s tail and on the fresh tyres it was quite an easy task to overtake Verstappen. After getting overtaken he came in on lap 26, re-joining the track in P5. Meanwhile, Kimi was closing the gap to his fellow countryman Bottas.

Verstappen had an aggressive pit stop strategy, and the flying Dutchman pitted for the second time on lap 38. He re-joined the track in P5, having lost no positions due to his second pit stop. Ferrari reacted right away and called Sebastian in on the following lap. The German re-joined the track in P4 behind his teammate, who had closed the gap to Bottas. It was going to be an intense battle between the Finns! At the finish straight on lap 42 the inevitable happened; Bottas had no chance to defend his position on the dying tyres; the Iceman attacked and moved past his compatriot. What an excellent move from the Iceman! He was driving a superb race indeed.

With five laps to go, Sebastian was lurking right at Bottas´ tail. Mercedes´ one-stop strategy seemed to be a costly call for Bottas, who had absolutely no chance to keep the determined German behind him. It was an exciting overtaking move indeed, as having moved past Bottas into Turn 1, Sebastian also made a close move on McLaren´s Vandoorne, who got lapped by Sebastian. It was a classy move from Sebastian! Kimi was only a couple of seconds ahead of his teammate, so it was only a matter of time, until Kimi was asked to give way to his teammate. The Ferrari teammates switched positions already on the following lap. Meanwhile, also Verstappen had stormed past Bottas, who was struggling badly on his out-worn tyres. The Finn pitted for the second time only three laps before the chequered flag, as there was no threat coming from behind.

The final lap was utterly hair-raising. Storming Verstappen had closed the gap to Kimi and was already within DRS distance from the Iceman. The flying Dutchman was passionate about getting on the podium and was determined to attack the Finn before the chequered flag. And in the final corners it happened! Max drove to the inside of Kimi and made it past! What a bitter-looking moment for Kimi indeed! Max had driven a sensational race; what an entertaining final lap! But as Verstappen prepared for the podium ceremony, it was announced, that Max had been given a 5-second time penalty for gaining advantage by leaving the track when overtaking Kimi! This meant, that Max lost his third place to Kimi! It was an awkward-looking moment in the pre-podium room, as Kimi was brought in and Max was brought out... What a drama!

By winning the US GP Hamilton extended his championship lead into 66 points in the drivers´ championship standings. It means, that winning the championship is still mathematically possible for Sebastian, yet again extremely unlikely and against all odds. However, it was very heart-warming to see both red-suited Ferrari aces on the podium. In spite of losing the third place, I was happy for Max, too. That guy definitely knows, how to put up an entertaining show! It was a bit surprising how Hamilton´s one-stop strategy worked in a perfect way, whereas Bottas had to settle for disappointing P5 as a similar strategy didn't work for him. Ocon made it a superb P6 for Force India, and Sainz had a strong debut for Renault by finishing 7th. Force India´s Perez, Williams´ Massa and Toro Rosso´s Kvyat rounded out the top ten. And by the way, Mercedes has now officially secured their fourth consecutive constructors' championship, which came as no surprise.

What do I think about Max´s penalty? The rules in F1 always seem to cause a lot of talks. On one hand, it was allowed for the drivers to exceed the track limits, even though the drivers gained advantage when doing so. But on the other hand, it´s a different thing when overtaking is at hand. As far as I understand, the drivers aren´t allowed to leave the track and gain advantage when overtaking. For sure Max´s overtaking move offered a great show, and giving a penalty right after the chequered flag is just the opposite. But no matter the penalty, it doesn´t take anything away from Max´s absolutely outstanding performance in the race, storming from P16 up to P4!

sunnuntai 22. lokakuuta 2017

US GP / Qualifying: 11th pole of the season for unstoppable Hamilton!

It was midnight in Finland, as the qualifying got underway at the Circuit of the Americas. After the Japanese GP my family has been hit with a serious health issue regarding my youngest son, so it has been extremely hard to concentrate on anything else, including Formula 1. I have stayed awake at nights, so I felt extremely tired, as the qualifying started. But of course I wanted to see, how my favourites Sebastian and Kimi were going to perform on the Texan soil.

In Q1 both Mercedes and Ferrari came out on the supersoft Pirellis, whereas the rest opted for the softest compound. For the US GP weekend the ultra soft compound has been exceptionally pink-marked to spread the breast cancer awareness. In spite of the tyre choice, Hamilton went fastest in the first session. Red Bull´s Verstappen was second on the ultra soft Pirellis. Bottas was third and the Ferrari duo of Sebastian and Kimi fourth and sixth, both on the harder tyre compound. Carlos Sainz, who had switched from Toro Rosso to Renault after the Japanese GP, had an excellent debut for the new team. The Spaniard had beaten his teammate in two free practice sessions, and on his last run in Q1 he jumped fifth. Pierre Gasly (who had other duties in Japan) had been replaced by Brendon Hartley at Toro Rosso, and for a moment it seemed, as if the New Zealander was going to make it through to Q2. However, in the dying moments of Q1 he dropped from 15th to 18th. Hartley has also been given a 15-place grid penalty for using additional power unit elements. In addition to the Toro Rosso rookie, out of Q2 were the Sauber duo of Ericsson and Wehrlein and Haas´ Magnussen. Stewards penalised Magnussen with a 3-place grid drop for impeding Perez after Haas mistakenly told him that the Force India behind was not on a fast lap. Williams´ Stroll was given the same penalty for impeding Haas´ Grosjean.

In Q2 responsible for the only exception in terms of the tyre choice was Red Bull´s Verstappen, who opted for the red-marked supersoft tyres. The Dutchman had been handed a 15-place grid penalty for the use of additional power unit elements, which explained the Red Bull ace´s tyre decision. Once again it was Hamilton, who set the pace. Teammate Bottas made Mercedes´ performance look extremely strong, as the Finn was second, only two tenths down on his teammate. Sebastian was struggling with getting into the rhythm; in spite of being fourth fastest, he was already massive eight tenths down on pace-setter Hamilton. Kimi showed strong performance, edging his teammate in the second session. In the closing stages of Q2 drivers went up and down the order, but when the music stopped it was Williams´ Massa who had the 11th chair and was the first faller in Q2. Eliminated from the last session were also Toro Rosso´s Kvyat, McLaren´s Vandoorne, Haas´ Grosjean and Renault´s Hulkenberg, who didn´t record a lap time, saving his engine for the race. The German had also been given a 20-place grid penalty for using additional power unit elements. Also Vandoorne has a 5-place grid penalty for the same reason.

Hammer time continued in the last segment. The Briton took provisional pole by over four tenths to his teammate Bottas, who had set the fastest time on sector one but dropped back on the other two. After the first runs Kimi was third and Sebastian fourth. Red Bull seemed unable to match Mercedes´ and Ferrari´s pace, as Verstappen and Ricciardo were almost a second down on pace-setting Hamilton. Sebastian was the big improver on the second runs, as the German jumped second, being only 0.239s down on Hamilton, who was unable to improve his lap time on his last flyer. Bottas, too was unable to improve, which meant losing his front row grid slot to Sebastian. Ricciardo and Kimi set identical lap times for Red Bull and Ferrari respectively, the Australian claiming P4 and the Iceman P5. Verstappen qualified 6th but will drop down to the back of the pack due to his grid penalty. Force India´s Ocon yet again showed his class by qualifying 7th ahead of Sainz, who was delighted to place 8th on his Renault debut. McLaren´s Alonso qualified 9th ahead of Perez in the second pink car.

So it was the 72nd career pole for Hamilton, his 11th this season and 3rd in a row. It´s quite an impressive statistics, but I was extremely happy to see Sebastian putting his Ferrari second on the grid. As there isn´t a realistic chance for Sebastian to win the world championship this year, I just hope to see a magnificent race from him. No expectations this time. Hopefully he has a lot of fun on track, which converts into a strong result. That I hope for the Iceman, too.

sunnuntai 8. lokakuuta 2017

Japanese GP: Broken spark plug broke my heart!

I write this blog post utterly heartbroken. There was so much to be expected from the race after yesterday´s qualifying, but the reality showed its ugly face today. I feel out of words due to pure sadness.

Dark clouds started to build up over Ferrari already before the start. Sebastian reported about a spark plug issue already on the installation lap. The Ferrari mechanics did everything they could to fix the problem before the start -and it seemed, that they had succeeded in their work. But it was so hectic with fixing the car, that Sebastian missed the Japanese national anthem, which all drivers were obliged to attend.

As Sebastian was able to start from P2, I was confident, that the spark plug issue had been successfully fixed. The lights went out, and pole-setter Hamilton maintained his lead. Sebastian held on to his second place, although Verstappen had made his way past teammate Ricciardo, and the flying Dutchman was aggressively lurking right behind Sebastian. And soon Max made his move and overtook Sebastian, moving second. Meanwhile, Kimi had a battle of his own. The Iceman had taken a mediocre start from P10, and Renault´s Hulkenberg was challenging the Finn on the opening lap. Kimi ended up wide, going off track. He lost many positions and dropped down to P14. Ferrari´s setbacks seemed to continue.

Sebastian was in serious trouble on the main straight, as both Red Bulls and Force India´s Ocon flied past Sebastian in a heartbeat! Poor German was lacking power, which clearly indicated, that the spark plug issue hadn´t been successfully fixed! Sebastian had dropped down to P6. Meanwhile Toro Rosso´s Sainz had lost control of his car and crashed into the tyre wall, which caused safety car to come out.

The race was back on after a couple of laps. Mercedes´ Bottas had it easy to make his way past Sebastian, whose race had turned into the worst nightmare. On lap 4 Sebastian was called in to retire the car. I was devastated! I couldn´t believe, that a reliability issue was going to make Sebastian lose the world championship! I wanted someone to pinch me, that I would wake up from this horrible nightmare! It was absolutely unacceptable, that once again a reliability issue had ruined Sebastian´s race!

Luckily Kimi put up a staggering overtaking show. On lap 8 Sauber´s Ericsson crashed into the wall, nose first. Virtual safety car was deployed. As soon as the VSC ended, Kimi attacked Renault´s Hulkenberg, moving 8th. Meanwhile, both Ricciardo and Bottas managed to get past Force India´s Ocon, who had had an excellent start to the race. Kimi´s overtaking streak continued, as the Iceman first made a move on his ex-teammate Massa and then another move on Force India´s Perez, jumping already 7th in the race.

By lap 26 race leader Hamilton and both Red Bulls had pitted for a fresh set of soft Pirellis. Bottas, who had started the race on the more durable soft rubber, was now leading the race. Hamilton was right at his teammate´s tail, and Verstappen was putting serious pressure on the Briton. Mercedes made a tactical call, and Bottas let his teammate past, trying to slow down Verstappen. Kimi pitted on lap 29 -for a fresh set of super soft Pirellis. He re-joined the track in P6, just barely ahead of Force India´s Ocon. Compatriot Bottas pitted a couple of laps later -for a similar tyre choice.

After the pit stops there was only a 2.5-second gap between Hamilton and Verstappen, but otherwise the gaps between the top five were quite big. Ricciardo in P3 was already 10 seconds down on his teammate and Bottas was another 10 seconds behind Ricciardo. Kimi was already 15 seconds down on his fellow countryman.

On lap 47 Williams´ Stroll was hit with a sudden front-right puncture, which caused him to go off track. Losing control of his FW38 due to the puncture almost made him hit Ricciardo´s RB13, but luckily the contact was narrowly avoided. Once again virtual safety car was deployed. With four laps to go, the race was back on. The battle for victory and other podium places intensified on the closing laps. Verstappen had made it within DRS distance from Hamilton, and Bottas had closed the gap to Ricciardo. However, hitting traffic on the final lap prevented Verstappen from attacking Hamilton. Both Alonso in his McLaren and Massa in his Williams ignored the blue flags and made it difficult for the top two to get past. After the race Alonso was reprimanded and handed two penalty points for ignoring the blue flags.

Hamilton took his 61st career win, extending his lead into crushing 59 points in the championship standings! Verstappen continued his fantastic podium streak by finishing the runner-up. I was so happy for Max, whose driving was absolutely phenomenal. Teammate Ricciardo completed the podium; it´s already the Aussie´s 9th podium this year. The Finns finished fourth and fifth, Bottas having the upper hand on his compatriot. Ocon and Perez scored P6 and P7 for the pink team. Haas duo of Magnussen and Grosjean made an excellent job by finishing 8th and 9th. Williams´ Massa rounded out the top ten.

The cruel mathematics says, that Hamilton will secure the world championship in Austin, Texas, if he scores 16 points more than Sebastian. This means, that winning the world championship is no longer in Sebastian´s own hands. I can only imagine, what is going through Sebastian´s mind at the moment. I feel his disappointment, and I find it only understandable, that he escaped the post-race interviews. This must be a truly bitter and crushing moment for Sebastian to realise, that without a pure miracle, he won´t win the world title this year. Ferrari has built a truly outstanding and competitive car, which has performed fantastically. Nevertheless, reliability has been the Achilles heel in terms of the red car, especially after the summer break. But losing the championship doesn´t only come down to the team, but to Sebastian himself. He has made mistakes, which have cost him an awful lot of points. But this is not the time to point fingers at anyone or look for who is guilty. Now it´s time for the team (Sebastian included) to put their heads down, wrap their sleeves and continue the hard work.

I always thought, that the season 2010 has been the most difficult time in Sebastian´s Formula 1 career. I was surprised to be wrong about that! The most difficult moment so far has been the Brazilian GP 2009, when Sebastian lost his chances to win the world championship that year. The current situation reminds of that year. During the Red Bull years, since 2010, Sebastian has always been the driver to win the championship, not to lose it. I definitely feel his pain! After the race I went to the shower to cry (so that nobody would see it...)! I´ll turn 40 next week, and I know that this isn´t the kind of behaviour expected from a 40-year old woman, but I live Formula 1 with all my heart! And it hurts so much to see Sebastian out of the title race!

lauantai 7. lokakuuta 2017

Japanese GP / Qualifying: Untouchable Hamilton earned his first-ever Suzuka pole!

The Malaysian GP weekend had already been dramatic for Ferrari, and coming to Japan, the drama seemed to continue. Kimi had lost control of his SF70-H and crashed out in FP3, which had caused quite a massive damage to his Ferrari. Before the qualifying it was still uncertain, whether the team would be able to fix the car in time for the qualifying. In addition to that, the shunt had caused damage to the gearbox as well, which meant an unscheduled gearbox change and a 5-place grid penalty for the race!

Both Hamilton and Sebastian came out on the yellow-marked soft tyres, whereas the rest had super softs. Mercedes´ Bottas had a true moment of scare on his first run, as the Finn hugely lucky got away with a massive slide into the dirt in Degner 2. Against all odds, Ferrari had managed to fix Kimi´s car, and the Iceman was released from the pits with 11 minutes remaining. Hamilton had set the pace in spite of the harder rubber, but Kimi set an excellent lap time, jumping second. Verstappen in his RB13 was third, so the pecking order seemed extremely interesting. Q1 came to an explosive end, as Grosjean lost control of his Haas after putting a wheel over the kerb. The session was red-flagged. With 1m 18s remaining, the session was not restarted. The unlucky Grosjean was the first faller in the first session, followed by Toro Rosso´s Gasly, Williams´ Stroll and the Sauber duo of Ericsson and Wehrlein.

Q2 saw different tyre strategies as well. The Finns were using the soft Pirelli tyres, whereas everyone else opted for the red-marked super soft compound. Kimi´s and Valtteri´s tyre choice made sense, as both Finns had been given a 5-place grid penalty for gearbox changes. Hamilton underlined Mercedes´ dramatic return to top form in Suzuka, as the world championship points leader edged Sebastian by over six tenths of a second! Bottas went third fastest, and Kimi was sixth. Kimi´s lap time proved competitive enough, and the Iceman decided to sit out the second runs. So did the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo. In spite of the second runs, the top six remained unchanged. McLaren´s Alonso was the last driver to make it among the top ten, which made his teammate Vandoorne the first faller in Q2. Out of Q3 were also the Renaults of Hulkenberg and Palmer, Haas´ Magnussen and Toro Rosso´s Sainz.

In the decisive last session Hamilton stamped his authority all over the place. The Briton took provisional pole by crushing 4.5 tenths to title rival Sebastian. Hamilton´s pace was absolutely mind blowing; I knew that pole was out of everyone else´s reach. After the first runs, teammate Bottas was third, Ricciardo fourth and teammate Verstappen fifth. However, Ricciardo was already a second down on Hamilton! Kimi made a mistake on his first attempt, going wide, which ruined the Finn´s first attempt. Hamilton even improved his lap time by a couple of hundredths on his second run, earning his very first pole in Suzuka. Bottas improved his lap time on his second flyer as well, which made the Finn jump second. Sebastian did everything he could on his second flyer, but P3 was the maximum result today. Ricciardo was the faster Red Bull driver today, qualifying fourth. Verstappen was fifth, and Kimi had to settle for P6. Kimi was already massive 1.1s down on pole-setter Hamilton. The fourth row was locked down by the pinks, Ocon edging teammate Perez this time. Williams´ Massa qualified 9th, and McLaren´s Alonso completed the top ten.

However, various grid penalties will mix up the provisional starting order. In summary, penalised for using additional power unit components are Toro Rosso´s Sainz (20 grid places), McLaren´s Alonso (35) and Renault´s Palmer (20). The Finns, meanwhile, get 5-place drops for above-mentioned gearbox changes. This means, that Bottas will start to the race from P6 and Kimi from P10. Sebastian, on the other hand, will start to the race on the front row alongside Hamilton. Suzuka is known to be a difficult circuit to overtake, which underlines the importance of a great start. Sebastian really needs to deliver tomorrow and finish the race ahead of Hamilton! It´s very interesting to see, what kind of a role the tyre strategy will play tomorrow. I definitely hope, that Ferrari´s fortunes will turn around, and both red-suited aces will make it on the podium! Forza Ferrari!

sunnuntai 1. lokakuuta 2017

Malaysia GP: Kimi out, Sebastian from P19 to P4!

All Kimi had hoped for the Malaysia GP was, that he would make more than 100 meters in the race this time. To Kimi´s crushing disappointment his hopes weren´t answered! Kimi´s problems started already on the installation lap, as the Iceman reported on the team radio about loss of power. The Ferrari mechanics pushed the car into the garage and made everything they could to get Kimi in the race from the pits. But there was nothing the team could do; Kimi was out of the race before it had actually started! What a catastrophic turn after Sebastian´s difficulties already in the qualifying! Once again Hamilton had one contender out of his way...

The start was electrifying. Hamilton held on to his lead, with Verstappen right at his tail. Bottas took a superb start and made it past Red Bull´s Ricciardo, moving third. McLaren´s Vandoorne took a magnificent start from P7, jumping up to P5. At the end of the opening lap Sebastian had already made his way up to P13! There was clearly a lion unleashed! Sebastian had started to the race on the more durable soft rubber, which was possibly giving him an advantage at the end of the race.

Red Bull´s race pace was absolutely convincing. It was only a matter of time for Verstappen to challenge Hamilton for the lead. Max made his move on lap 4 and attacked Hamilton, snatching the lead from the Briton. Hamilton clearly decided to play it safe and didn´t defend his position too aggressively; he needed the points to strengthen his lead in the championship standings. After snatching the lead, Max started to pull away from the Mercedes ace consistently. Ricciardo was putting serious pressure on Bottas, who couldn´t anything but surrender to the "Smiling Avenger" on lap 9. By this time Sebastian had already made his way through the field up to P10 after overtaking Alonso in his McLaren.

On lap 21 Sebastian made a classy overtaking move on Perez´s pink Force India, jumping fifth already. The next target was Bottas in P4. Ferrari´s pace was much more competitive than Mercedes´ and Sebastian was closing the gap to the Finn extremely rapidly. Hamilton was the first top driver to pit on lap 27 -for a fresh set of soft tyres. In spite of the pit stop, the Briton re-joined the track ahead of Bottas and Sebastian. Verstappen pitted from the lead on the following lap -for a similar tyre choice. Surprisingly, also Sebastian pitted, in spite of starting the race on the more durable rubber. Sebastian switched to the super soft compound, which made him extremely fast on his second stint. Sebastian benefitted from the undercut, as Bottas pitted a lap later, snatching the fourth place from the Finn.

After the pit stops the situation in the lead had stabilised. Verstappen was leading the race, with Hamilton second, Ricciardo third and Sebastian fourth. Sebastian was absolutely flying on his fresh set of super soft tyres. He kept banging fastest lap times, being 1.5s faster than Ricciardo. It was only a matter of time, until the "fighting lion" would catch the escaping Australian. With ten laps to go, Sebastian had closed the gap to his ex teammate. The German was already within DRS distance from the Red Bull driver. However, setting lap record lap after lap had destroyed Sebastian´s tyres, and overtaking was everything but easy. Sebastian managed to make one attack going into Turn 1, but after that the overheating of the front tyres forced him to withdraw from the fight.

Max took his second career win, which was well deserved after all the difficulties during this season. I was very happy for Max, who got the best possible present for his 20th birthday. His driving was very enjoyable to watch. Hamilton made it the runner-up, extending his lead into 34 points in the championship standings. Ricciardo held on to his third place and completed the podium. Sebastian just barely missed the podium, but what a drive from the gutsy German! With that kind of fighting spirit and attitude he will definitely be fighting for the world championship! That was the driving, that makes me admire Sebastian so much! Bottas had to settle for P5 after a lame performance. Perez finished 6th for Force India, Vandoorne finished excellent 7th for McLaren, the Williams duo of Stroll and Massa finished 8th and 9th, and Ocon scored the last point for the pink team.

But what a bizarre episode took place after crossing the finish line! Sebastian decided to go in the outside of Stroll, to pick up the rubber on his tyres. Suddenly the Canadian decided to do the same, which made Stroll hit Sebastian´s SF70-H! In spite of the low speed there was massive damage on Sebastian´s Ferrari; poor Gina turned into a three-wheel wreck! Sauber´s Wehrlein stopped on the track and gave Sebastian a lift to the pits, although it isn´t allowed by the rules. After the race Sebastian commented the incident with a sense humour, but I just hope the damage won´t mean a gear box change or something else, which would cause a grid penalty for Japan!

Sebastian seriously proved his fighting spirit today. He showed that anything is possible, as long as you believe in it. I can´t wait for the Japanese GP, which is just around the corner! Bring it on!

lauantai 30. syyskuuta 2017

Malaysia GP / Qualifying: A turbocharger failure destroyed Sebastian´s qualifying!

For round 15 the Formula 1 circus moved to Malaysia, which will no longer host a GP weekend from next year on. Coming to the 19th Malaysia GP, the breaking news was that Pierre Gasly was to replace Daniil Kvyat at the wheel of Toro Rosso.

In Q1 both Mercedes and Ferrari came out on the yellow-marked soft tyres, as well as Red Bull´s Verstappen. All others opted for the red-marked super soft compound. There was a major shock in Q1 when Sebastian, having had an engine change after his problems at the end of the final practice, reported that he was limping into the pits. It seemed that his turbocharger had gone awol. What a moment of despair it was! His crew made everything they could to ready him for a desperate last-moment run, but it came to nothing. Sebastian was unable to set a lap time, and he was cruelly and inevitably out of Q2! It was so sad! I wanted to cry my eyes out.

Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas and Räikkönen were topping the timesheets in spite of using the harder rubber. Other notable Q1 moments were rookie Gasly impressively in the eighth place ahead of Renault´s Palmer, and even quicker than his Toro Rosso teammate Sainz. What a convincing debut from the Frenchman! Out of Q2 were the Haas teammates of Grosjean and Magnussen and the Sauber duo of Wehrlein and Ericsson, in addition to the unlucky Ferrari ace Sebastian.

Q2 saw everyone come out on the super soft Pirellis. Kimi went fastest on his first run, edging the birthday boy Verstappen by only five thousandths of a second. The Silver Arrows of Hamilton and Bottas were third and fourth. Both Kimi and Verstappen decided to sit out the second runs, as they obviously had no need to improve their lap times. The Finnish Mercedes pilot Bottas jumped up to the top on his second run at the end of the second session. Eliminated from the last session were both Williams drivers, Renault´s Palmer and both Toro Rosso pilots. This time Sainz led Gasly, but only by marginal 0.15s.

In the last decisive session Hamilton took provisional pole by 0.2s to Ferrari´s Räikkönen. Mercedes had been struggling with their pace in the free practice sessions, so it was a bit surprising to see such a strong performance from Hamilton in the qualifying. After the first runs Kimi was followed by the Red Bull duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen and Mercedes´ Bottas, the Finn being massive eight tenths down on his teammate. Mercedes had brought a new aero package to Malaysia, and Bottas had decided to use it on his car, whereas teammate Hamilton had decided to use the older specification. Verstappen improved his lap time on his last flyer, jumping up to third. Kimi showed Ferrari´s excellent pace at Sepang, the Iceman even setting the fastest time on sector 2. Such a shame, that Kimi had a little lock-up coming into the last corner, and the Iceman was only 45 thousandths of a second down on pace-setter Hamilton! Without the small lock-up, the pole would have been for Kimi to grab! Ricciardo qualified fourth, followed by Bottas, who was already six tenths down on his teammate. Force India´s Ocon, McLaren´s Vandoorne, Renault´s Hulkenberg, Force India´s Perez and McLaren´s Alonso rounded out the top ten. Kimi´s stunning performance made me happy, although I was so sad for Sebastian´s unfortunate qualifying-ending technical failure.

Due to the catastrophic first-lap collision in Singapore, Sebastian is already 28 points down on Hamilton in the championship standings. Today´s technical failure in the qualifying certainly doesn´t make Sebastian´s battle for the championship any easier. The German will start from the very back of the grid... No one has ever won the Malaysia GP outside the top ten! But history is there to be changed! Many people seem to believe that Sebastian´s fight for the championship is already over. Not me! No one knows, what will happen in tomorrow´s race and in the other remaining races. Hamilton has succeeded in everything he has done after the summer break, but every winning streak will come to an end at some point. Sebastian certainly can´t afford any mistakes, but he has a winning car and a lot of will power. Many people say that it requires a miracle, that Sebastian could win the championship. But I believe in this saying "It always seems impossible... Until it´s done!"  The fight for the championship is not over yet!

sunnuntai 17. syyskuuta 2017

Singapore GP: A heart-stopping start ruined Ferrari´s race!

What a race the Singapore GP turned out! And not in a positive way! Not at all! I have absolutely no words for my emotions right now!

It started to rain about half an hour before the start. The sky was covered with black clouds and there were flashes of lightning. The top three teams all opted for the green-marked intermediate tyres, whereas Renault and Force India for example opted for the full-wet Pirellis. I knew the start was going to be extremely crucial and exciting.

My heart almost stopped beating, when the lights went out! Sebastian only took an average start, opposite to his closest rivals Verstappen and Kimi. Kimi took a magnificent start, the best of the top three. Sebastian knew Max was going to challenge him into Turn 1, and the German naturally decided to defend his position. But defending his line, Sebastian moved significantly to the left, which lead into contact between the top three. In spite of the contact Sebastian drove into Turn 1 in the lead, but due to the contact Kimi lost control of his SF70-H and ended up crashing into Verstappen and taking them both out of the race! Sebastian had significant damage in his car as well, as the cooler of his SF70-H had seriously damaged. In Turn 3, due to the damage, Sebastian lost control of his car and hit the wall. There was an absurd moment, when Sebastian was driving on reverse, trying to continue his race. But his race was inevitably over. This was the first time ever in Ferrari´s history, that both cars were out of the race due to a first-lap incident! I was absolutely shocked. I couldn´t believe, what had just happened. I was convinced I was having a nightmare! In a heartbeat all my three favourites were out of the race. And Hamilton had been given the greatest gift of all -the lead in the race!

Safety car was deployed due to the collision. Red Bull´s Ricciardo was second in the race and Renault´s Hulkenberg was third. Perez in his pink Force India was fourth and Bottas in his Mercedes was fifth. Who would have predicted that to happen, especially Hulkenberg in P3? On lap 5 the safety car came in, and the race was back on. The rain had stopped, but there was still spray coming from the cars, which made the visibility poor. The full-wets turned out to be the right tyre choice at the re-start, and Bottas lost his fifth position to Renault´s Palmer, who was driving an excellent race.

The second safety car episode took place on lap 11. Toro Rosso´s Kvyat lost control of his car in the slippery conditions and ended up in the barriers, nose first. As safety car came out, Ricciardo pitted for a fresh set of intermediate tyres. The Australian re-joined the track in P3, so he lost one position only. Both Force India and Renault reacted to Ricciardo´s pit stop, and Perez, Ocon, Hulkenberg and Palmer were all called in to the pits. A switch to the intermediate Pirellis was made for all of them. Both Hamilton and Bottas stayed out, and due to the rivals´ pit stops the Finn had already made it up to P3.

The second re-start took place on lap 15. Hamilton held on to his lead, with Ricciardo second and Bottas third. Haas´ Magnussen was the first driver to pit for slicks on lap 25. Four laps later Ricciardo and Bottas also pitted for the dry tyres; Ricciardo opted for the red-marked super soft tyres, whereas Bottas switched to the ultra soft compound. Race leader Hamilton pitted a lap later for a fresh set of ultra soft Pirellis, similar to his teammate.

By the halfway point of the race Hamilton had been able to build a 10-second gap to Ricciardo, and Bottas was already 16 seconds down on the Australian. But there was one more safety car episode to come! Sauber´s Ericsson crashed into the barrier on lap 38, and his car stopped dangerously on the track. So safety car was deployed for the third time! Meanwhile, Renault´s Hulkenberg, who had been driving a superb race in P4, was hit with an engine issue, which dropped the unlucky German down to P10. When there were 11 minutes left in the clock (all 61 laps couldn´t be completed), Hulkenberg had to retire. The German now has the questionable honour to hold the record of most GP starts without a podium, which is now 129 races.

Hamilton drove to the chequered flag as the race winner. Ricciardo finished second and Bottas third. Sainz scored his personal best by finishing fourth for Toro Rosso. Perez took fifth for the pink Force India, and Renault´s Palmer was impressive sixth. This result was a total knockout for Ferrari, which lost this round by 0-40 to Mercedes. Sebastian´s catastrophic first-lap collision lead into Hamilton´s 28-point lead in the drivers´ championship standings! Which feels so bitter. This could be a turning point in terms of Sebastian´s fight for the fifth championship... Not to mention Ferrari´s fight for the constructors´ championship. The Red Team is already 102 points down on Mercedes in the constructors´ standings!

Social media is now full of opinions, accusations and judgement on who was at fault in the first-lap collision. 90 per cent of people seem to think it was Sebastian´s fault. And it hurts so much to read all those comments! But nevertheless, I can´t help but to agree. He was entitled to defend his position -but not by any means necessary! His unpredicted move to the left caused the collision between the top three. So in that way I agree with Verstappen, who said that it wasn´t a racing incident. The collision would have been avoidable! I feel out of words, I am so disappointed! I can´t anything but hope, that this collision won´t cost Sebastian the world championship this year. If it does... I think I will cry my eyes out!

However, in spite of today´s disappointment, there are six more rounds to go. And I believe in Sebastian with all my heart. I know he has the potential to convert a setback like this into success. Malaysia will be the next chance to chase the much-needed victory! And victories or no victories, I will always support Sebastian!

lauantai 16. syyskuuta 2017

Singapore GP / Qualifying: Magical Sebastian snatched pole!

The magical lights of Marina Bay Street Circuit surprise me every time, although this is already the tenth GP weekend in the metropolis of Singapore. The artificial lights bring out the glamour of Formula 1 cars, and I have to say Singapore is definitely the most fairy tale-like venue on the calendar.

Q1 got underway in the darkening night of Singapore. The Ferraris of Kimi and Sebastian rushed out on the purple-marked ultra soft Pirellis. Kimi´s pace seemed competitive right away, and the Iceman was six tenths faster than his teammate on the first attempt. The pecking order seemed quite evenly matched in the first session. Red Bull´s performance turned out very impressive, and for a moment the Red Bull duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen were topping the timesheets. However, Hamilton showed initially, that he couldn´t be written off from the fight for the fastest lap time, as the Briton jumped second, splitting the Red Bulls. The walls were near at the Marina Bay Circuit, and there was no room for mistakes. Williams´ Massa ended up hitting the wall at Turn 21, which caused the Brazilian a puncture. There was oil at Turn 20 due to the Porsche Cup race earlier on in the afternoon, which made the conditions extra slippery and challenging. The Red Bull duo had no need a second run, as they were topping the timesheets. Alonso in his McLaren made a second attempt at the very end of the first session -jumping 3rd! Sainz made it as high as 4th and Alonso´s teammate Vandoorne fifth -both setting their fastest lap times at the very end of the session. Kimi was 11th and teammate Sebastian 12th, as they made no second runs. These standings were quite modest in terms of Ferrari´s true pace. Once again familiar names were knocked out of the second session: Haas´ Magnussen, Williams duo of Massa and Stroll and Sauber teammates Wehrlein and Ericsson.

As the light turned green, all top drivers went out on the ultra soft tyres. Red Bull continued their top performance, as Verstappen went fastest on his first run. Sebastian was only 15 hundredths of a second down on the flying Dutchman. Ricciardo was third and Kimi fourth, so the battle for pole seemed to be down to these two teams. As track conditions kept improving throughout the second session, everyone opted for a second run at the end of the session. Kimi set a stunning lap time on his last run, jumping second. However, Red Bull took the upper hand on the red team again. Verstappen topped the timesheets, with his teammate Ricciardo second. There were only 53 thousandths of a second separating the Red Bull aces. Kimi was third and Sebastian fourth; Kimi edging his teammate by just four thousandths of a second! Mercedes was clearly struggling with their pace, as expected. Hamilton was unable to make it higher than fifth. In addition to the three top teams, both McLarens, Renault´s Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso´s Sainz managed to make it among the top ten.

But when the decisive Q3 got underway, Sebastian´s SF70-H came alive! It was magic right from the start. Sebastian took provisional pole, edging Red Bull´s Verstappen by 0.145s. Once again Ricciardo was third and Kimi fourth. The Mercedes teammates Hamilton and Bottas were inevitably out of the shootout for pole. Bottas was massive 1.1s down on Sebastian! Mercedes seemed utterly lost under the shining lights of Singapore. Kimi was setting a superb lap time on his second run -until he slightly touched the wall in the final sector, which destroyed the Iceman´s hopes of improving his lap time. Neither Verstappen nor Ricciardo was able to improve his lap time on his last flyer. That wasn´t the case for Sebastian, who was absolutely flying on his last run! Even though it meant a small kiss to the wall on the closing stages... Super Sebastian stormed on pole, the German Ferrari ace being three tenths faster than Verstappen! Ricciardo qualified third, which was an excellent result for Red Bull. Due to his mistake, Kimi had to settle for P4. Hamilton was left in P5, six tenths down on pole-setter Sebastian. Teammate Bottas had even more serious issues with his pace, as the Finn was already massive 1.3s down on Sebastian. Hulkenberg, Alonso, Vandoorne and Sainz completed the top ten.

There seems to be something magical about the combination of Sebastian and the Marina Bay Street Circuit. This 49th career pole was already the fourth pole in Singapore for Sebastian! Tomorrow is all about maximising the race result for Ferrari. Singapore is expected to be the most difficult circuit of the calendar for Mercedes, so Sebastian and Kimi need to use this advantage. I have to say I´m a bit nervous about the start, as Verstappen will be the driver to start alongside Sebastian on the front row... Max is known to be passionate about getting past his rivals right away, so there might be an extra risk at the start. If Sebastian manages to keep his lead at the start, he´ll win the race! And I definitely want to see my hero on the top step of the podium in the magical Singapore GP! It would be a dream come true to see a 1-2 for Ferrari!

sunnuntai 3. syyskuuta 2017

Italian GP: Ferrari was toothless against Mercedes´ "insane" pace!

After yesterday´s pouring rain the conditions were dry and sunny, when the race day came. All drivers opted for the red-marked super soft compound, except the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo, Renault´s Palmer and McLaren´s Alonso. They started the race on the yellow-marked soft Pirellis. Nine drivers altogether had been handed different grid penalties, so I wasn´t entirely aware of every driver´s grid slot. After all the penalties Verstappen started from P13 and Ricciardo from P16.

Against all odds, both Stroll in his Williams and Ocon in his pink Force India got an impressive start. Stroll was even challenging pole-setter Hamilton for the lead, but the Briton cut right ahead of the Canadian, which forced Stroll to lift his foot off throttle. Ocon immediately saw his chance and moved past Stroll, taking P2. Behind the top three there was an intense and wheel-banging battle between the Finns. First Kimi made a move on his compatriot Bottas, jumping 4th. Only a moment later Bottas snatched his position back from Kimi. The Finns´ rear tyres touched, but the fight was fair.

Verstappen had taken a stunning start from P13, and the flying Dutchman had gained 5 positions right away, making his way up to P8. Max was hungry to pass Massa, but the Brazilian had no intension to let the Dutchman through. Massa left no room for Max, which led into contact between the two. Max suffered a front-right puncture and got damage to his front wing. So Max´s luck definitely hasn´t turned around! Luckily he managed to limp into the pits, but an extra pit stop with a front wing change cost the Red Bull ace a lot of valuable time, making him drop to the back of the pack.

The Silver Arrows were absolutely flying around the Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Hamilton was pulling a gap to the others right from the very start. Bottas was flying as well; in no time the Finn had made his way past both Stroll and Ocon, jumping already second in the race. Kimi was complaining on the team radio of problems with the rear of his SF70-H. Sebastian made an easy-looking overtaking move on his teammate and moved fifth. Sebastian was driving with passion on the home turf of his team. The German attacked both Stroll and Ocon -jumping third in the race. However, it soon became obvious, that Sebastian had no chance to match the lap times of the Silver Arrows. At this point Sebastian was already 8 seconds down on Bottas.

Kimi, who was continually struggling with the rear of his car, was the first top driver to pit on lap 16. He re-joined the track on the soft compound in P11. Williams´ Stroll pitted a couple of laps later, for a similar tyre choice. Kimi benefitted from the undercut, as Stroll re-joined the track behind the Iceman. After the pit stop Kimi´s pace seemed more convincing, and the Iceman made an overtaking move on Ocon, making his way to P6. Sebastian, Hamilton and Bottas pitted on the sequential laps -all for a fresh set of soft tyres. Red Bull´s Ricciardo was the last top driver to pit, as the Australian had started the race on the more durable soft compound. Ricciardo re-joined the track behind Kimi in P5, but there were only 2.5 seconds separating these two. Ricciardo´s pace on the fresh super soft Pirellis was crushing and he attacked Kimi almost immediately. Kimi tried to defend his position, but there was nothing the Iceman could do. Ricciardo moved fourth and started to chase down Sebastian, who was 11 seconds ahead.

Mercedes´ dominance in Monza was absolutely dumbfounding. Hamilton had a 3.5-second gap to his teammate Bottas, but Sebastian was already massive 28 seconds down on Bottas! It was absolutely frightening, how superior the Silver Arrows were today! Ricciardo smelled Sebastian´s blood but ran out of laps to get within DRS distance from his ex teammate. Hamilton took his 59th career victory, and Valtteri made it a dominant 1-2 for Mercedes. Sebastian crossed the finish line in P3 -crushing 36 seconds behind race winner Hamilton! Nevertheless, it was very emotional to see Sebastian on the podium in front of the passionate tifosi. Ricciardo finished fourth, Kimi fifth, Ocon sixth, Stroll seventh, Massa eighth, Perez ninth, Verstappen being the last points scorer today.

Hamilton´s victory meant, that the Briton snatched the lead from Sebastian in the drivers´ championship standings for the first time this season. I definitely hope, that Singapore suits Ferrari in practice as well as it does on paper, because Sebastian really needs a victory to fight for the championship! In terms of the constructors´ standings, Ferrari is definitely the underdog, as they are already 62 points down on the title rivals Mercedes. But I count on Ferrari bouncing back both in Singapore and Malaysia, which should both suit Ferrari extremely well. Sebastian seemed very confident in the post-race interview in terms of Ferrari´s performance in the remaining races. I hope he knows something that I yet don´t! But I have to say I have a good hunch in terms of the last third of the season!

lauantai 2. syyskuuta 2017

Italian GP / Qualifying: Ferrari lost pace in a rain-disrupted qualifying!

It was raining heavily, when Q1 got underway. Everyone went out on the blue-marked full-wet tyres. Conditions were extremely challenging, but Hamilton went fastest right away. However, the rain worsened and Haas´s Grosjean aquaplaned off on the main straight, bringing out the red flags just four minutes in. After that the session was delayed by 15 minutes for massive eight times! This meant a 2,5-hour delay altogether! Due to the pouring rain the track conditions were much too slippery and dangerous for the F1 cars, even on the full-wets. Luckily many drivers used their sense of humour to cope with the frustrating break; the Red Bull drivers Verstappen and Ricciardo acted as a cameraman, and Williams´ Massa played football with his son and his team on the pit lane. When the break was finally over, everyone headed out on the full-wets. The track conditions kept improving all the time. The Mercedes duo set the pace, Hamilton having the upper hand on his teammate. Sebastian was the first driver to switch to the green-marked intermediate tyres, with five minutes remaining of the first session. Everyone else followed the German and pitted for the intermediate Pirellis. In terms of the pit stops, Kimi had a scary moment during his pit stop. He was released unsafely, and the Iceman was just barely able to avoid hitting Force India´s Perez, who was coming into the pits! Luckily Kimi had a lightning-fast reaction and avoided contact with the pink car. In addition to this, Kimi´s front-left brake was on fire! I was utterly surprised, that it seemed to have no effect on the Iceman´s performance, but Kimi had it easy to make his way to Q2. Bottas set the pace at the end of the first segment, with his teammate second and Sebastian third. Surprisingly Williams´ Stroll was fifth fastest, right ahead of Kimi! That was an impressive result from the Canadian rookie. In addition to Grosjean, who had crashed out at the beginning of Q1, out of Q2 were his teammate Magnussen, Renault´s Palmer and the Sauber duo of Ericsson and Wehrlein.

In Q2 the conditions remained unchanged. Both Ferrari and Mercedes sent their drivers out on the intermediate tyres, whereas the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo opted for the full-wet Pirellis. Sebastian and Kimi used only one set of tyres during the second session, whereas the Mercedes drivers pitted for a fresh set of intermediates at the end of Q2. Once again Hamilton and Bottas were  the fastest men on track, but there was a massive 7-tenth gap separating the teammates in favour of the Briton. Red Bull clearly had strong performance in the wet conditions, and Verstappen went third fastest. Once again Stroll caught my eye, as the Canadian was fifth fastest also in Q2. It seemed, that Ferrari was the team suffering the most due to the wet conditions. McLaren´s Vandoorne made it among the top ten, whereas teammate Alonso was knocked out of the decisive last session. Although it made no difference for Alonso, who had been handed a 35-place grid penalty for multiple power unit element changes! Q2 was interesting in terms of the Force India teammates. Ocon made it through to Q3, being 10th fastest. Teammate Perez was only two thousandths of a second slower than Ocon, being the first faller in Q2!

Right before Q3 got underway, the heavy rain began again. In spite of the pouring rain, Mercedes sent their drivers out on the intermediate tyres, which was Sebastian´s choice as well. All others headed out on the full-wets, which turned out to be the right tyre choice. Hamilton, Bottas and Sebastian all pitted for a fresh set of full-wet Pirellis, losing valuable time. The conditions were extremely slippery, and the visibility was terribly poor. Red Bull´s pace seemed fantastic, and at the beginning of Q3 Ricciardo was topping the timesheets, with Hamilton second and teammate Verstappen third. I was absolutely amazed at Ferrari´s lack of performance! It seemed, that both Sebastian and Kimi were struggling a lot on the wet track. On the other hand, Hamilton´s performance was amazing; the Briton made it on pole by 1,1 seconds! Verstappen qualified second and teammate Ricciardo completed the perfect result for Red Bull by qualifying third. Nevertheless, both of them have been handed grid penalties for multiple power unit element changes -25 grid slots for Ricciardo and 15 grid slots for Verstappen! This means, that Williams´ Stroll, who qualified fourth, will start the race alongside Hamilton on the front row! Another positive surprise was Force India´s Ocon, who made it as high as P5 (converting into P3 on the grid tomorrow)! Bottas didn´t manage to get the maximum out of his Silver Arrow, and the Finn was left in P6. Kimi managed to out-qualify Sebastian this time, the Ferrari teammates ending up in P7 and P8. The gap between the title contenders Hamilton and Sebastian was massive 2,5 seconds! That´s quite shocking indeed! Suddenly Ferrari lost their performance, after the rain had intensified again in Q3. I really don´t  know, what happened to the red cars in the pouring rain!

Hamilton has now more poles than any man in history -69- after topping the rain-disrupted qualifying in Monza. The weather prediction says, that it should be a dry race. I definitely hope so, as the wet conditions don´t obviously suit the SF70-H at all. Due to the Red Bull drivers´ penalties, Kimi will start from P5 and Sebastian from P6. Luckily the Monza circuit offers many chances for overtaking, so both Kimi and Sebastian have a good chance to make it on the podium. It´s interesting to see, how Stroll (who is the youngest-ever front-row starter) and Ocon will handle the pressure at the start. I wouldn´t be surprised to see some contact on the opening lap... But especially as it is Ferrari´s home race, I hope to see both red-suited Ferrari aces on the podium! Forza Ferrari!

sunnuntai 27. elokuuta 2017

Belgian GP: Flawless Hamilton took 58th career victory!

It was cloudy but dry, when the lights went out at Spa Francorchamps. In terms of the top three teams, there was no drama at the start. Hamilton held on to his lead, with Sebastian right at his tail. Bottas was third and Kimi fourth, followed by the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo. Sebastian was determined to challenge the British Mercedes pilot on the Kemmel straight, but there was no opportunity to make a move. Further down the pack there were sparks flying between the Force India teammates. They ended up hitting each other on the opening lap, but luckily there was no damage to either one of the pink cars. On lap 2 McLaren´s Alonso had made it P7 already, but due to the lack of the straight line speed, the Spaniard quickly started to lose positions.

Lap 8 was a disappointing turning point in terms of Max Verstappen´s race. Once again the flying Dutchman was hit with a technical failure, and his car came to a sudden halt on the finish straight! It must have been a devastating moment for Max, who was driving in front of his home crowd with high hopes. This was already the 6th DNF for the unlucky Dutchman! I felt absolutely gutted for him.

Hamilton started the pit stop roulette in terms of the top drivers on lap 12. He opted for a fresh set of yellow-marked soft tyres -aiming to go till the end. He re-joined the track in P4. A lap later Kimi in P3 was taken into investigation by the stewards for failing to slow down under the yellow flags, when Verstappen´s car stopped on the track. Similar to his teammate, Bottas pitted for a fresh set of soft tyres. Against all odds, Sebastian wasn´t able to pull a gap to Hamilton, in spite of running the ultrasoft tyres. When Sebastian pitted on lap 14 -also for soft Pirellis- he had no chance to re-join the track ahead of Hamilton. Kimi pitted for a similar tyre choice to his teammate´s. The Iceman re-joined the track in P4.

But then it came -the 10-second stop-and-go penalty for Kimi for not slowing down under the yellow flags on lap 8! This was a very unpleasant turn in terms of the Finn´s race. The Iceman had no choice but to come in and serve his penalty. This dropped the Iceman down to P7. However, Kimi was determined to make his way up. He made a clean overtaking move on Force India´s Ocon and after that there was Renault´s Hulkenberg in the Finn´s radar. The German was five seconds ahead of Kimi, but Kimi began his chase.

By lap 25 Kimi had closed the gap to Hulkenberg. He made his move on the Kemmel straight and moved ahead of Hulkenberg. Kimi was now fifth in the race. However, P4 seemed to be out of the Iceman´s reach, as Ricciardo was already 28 seconds ahead of the Finn, and there were only 16 laps to go.

Then something unexpected happened. Once again there were sparks flying from the pink cars! Coming to the legendary Eau Rouge, Ocon had made it alongside teammate Perez, but Perez left absolutely no room for his teammate. Ocon´s front wing hit Perez´s rear-right tyre, causing a front wing failure to Ocon and puncture for Perez. The situation looked quite dangerous, as they were driving 300 km/h! Due to the collision there was a lot of debris on the track, and safety car was deployed. Both pinks made it into the pits, and they were able to continue the race. Kimi, too pitted for a fresh set of ultrasoft tyres. Other top drivers pitted for fresh tyres a well. Sebastian and Ricciardo opted for the ultrasoft Pirellis, whereas the Mercedes teammates opted for a fresh set of soft tyres.

The re-start on lap 34 was a catastrophic moment for Bottas, who was driving in P3. Ricciardo took an aggressive re-start and made it past the Finn on the Kemmel straight. Kimi saw his chance at the same time, and the Iceman, too made a move on his countryman! Bottas ended up going wide and in a very short moment the Mercedes ace had dropped from P3 down to P5.

The final 10 laps were extremely exciting, as Sebastian was just barely out of  DRS distance from Hamilton. Sebastian put all the pressure he could on Hamilton and waited for his chance to make an overtaking move. The battle for victory was down to these two, as Ricciardo and Kimi turned out unable to match their rivals´ pace. I could almost feel Sebastian´s determination, but getting within DRS distance was very difficult. Hamilton drove a flawless race, claiming his 58th victory. Sebastian fought like a lion, but he had to settle for P2 today. Ricciardo completed the podium. Kimi finished fourth, followed by his compatriot Bottas. Kimi drove a strong race; I can´t help thinking about the 10-second stop-and-go penalty. Without the penalty the Iceman would have been on the podium!

By winning the Belgian GP, Hamilton decreased Sebastian´s lead in the championship standings to seven points only. The battle for the championship is definitely getting heated! In terms of the constructors´ championship, Mercedes now has a 44-point lead in the standings, which is a bit worrying. Luckily round 13 is just round the corner, which is next weekend already! I love these back-to-back races! Formula 1 is definitely the spice of my life!

lauantai 26. elokuuta 2017

Belgian GP / Qualifying: Hamilton made it 68th career pole, equalling Schumacher´s all-time record!

I was absolutely delighted, that the long and torturing 4-week summer break was finally over, and F1 was back this weekend! What made the Belgian GP weekend even more perfect, was this week´s news regarding Ferrari´s line-up for the 2018 season. Kimi´s contract for next year was confirmed already on Tuesday, and Sebastian´s three-year extension on his contract was the breaking news today. It´s difficult to describe, how over the moon I am, knowing that my two heroes -the ultimate dream team- will race for the red team next year as well!

At the beginning of Q1 both Mercedes and Ferrari sent their drivers out on the red-marked super soft tyres, whereas everyone else opted for the purple-marked ultrasoft Pirellis. As Kimi immediately suffered serious vibrations on his Ferrari, teammate Sebastian set the initial pace. The top three teams -Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull- sat out the second runs. In spite of the tyre choice, Hamilton topped the timesheets in the first session, with Sebastian second. Verstappen got closest to them, but had to run ultrasoft tyres to do it. Eye-catchingly, Palmer in his Renault was 8th fastest in the first session. Out of Q2 were both Williams drivers, both Sauber drivers and Toro Rosso´s Kvyat.

Unfortunately Kimi´s vibration issues continued in Q2. Kimi had been absolutely flying both in the first and the third free practice sessions, but now the Iceman seemed to struggle with his car. In spite of the problems Kimi was second fastest after the first runs, while once again Hamilton was topping the timesheets. Both Silver Arrows came out at the end of the session, although there would have been no need to do so. Hamilton set a staggering lap time, and teammate Bottas was already three tenths down on the Briton. Ferrari and Red Bull sat out the second runs. Kimi was the third fastest but was already seven tenths down on the pace-setter Hamilton. Red Bull´s Verstappen split the red cars. Both Haas drivers, both McLarens and Toro Rosso´s Sainz were knocked out of the final session. The luckless home hero Vandoorne will start at the back of the grid, after getting a 65-place grid penalty after a new gearbox and multiple power unit element changes. On the other hand, the black-and-yellow-liveried Renault seemed to have taken a step forward in terms of performance. Both Renault drivers made it through to Q3, Palmer being 7th and Hulkenberg 9th in Q2.

However, Palmer´s wretched luck returned the moment Q3 got underway, when his gearbox expired on his out lap and his Renault came to a halt. Hamilton took provisional pole by 0.36s to the Ferrari ace Kimi. Mercedes teammate Bottas split the red cars, as the Finn was third and Sebastian fourth. However, Hamilton turned out untouchable in the shootout for pole. The Briton improved his lap time by three tenths! Teammate Bottas was unable to match his teammate´s pace, and the Finn was already half-a-second off Hamilton. Sebastian´s second attempt was awesome, and the German made it 2nd after lapping two tenths slower than the pole-setter Hamilton. Unfortunately Kimi made a costy mistake on his second attempt, and the Iceman had to settle for P4. After showing such brilliant pace in the free practices, P4 must have been a bitter disappointment for the Iceman. Verstappen and Ricciardo both improved on their second runs but stayed where they were -5th and 6th. Hulkenberg qualified 7th for Renault, followed by the Force India duo of Perez and Ocon. The unlucky Palmer, who had suffered from a gearbox failure, rounded out the top ten.

Not only Hamilton set the new outright lap record for the Spa Francorchamps, but the Briton also equalled the all-time pole-position record of the legendary Michael Schumacher. That is an impressive achievement indeed. However, Sebastian´s long-run pace has made an impression on the title rivals Mercedes. Weather at Spa is highly unpredictable, so conditions may change quickly and vary a lot. Pole position doesn´t play such a major role at Spa, if compared to Hungary for example, so Sebastian has every opportunity to make it on the top step of the podium tomorrow. In the post-qualifying interview Kimi seemed very displeased with himself after making the mistake on his final flying lap, so I´m sure he´ll fight like a lion in tomorrow´s race. I´m hoping all the very best for both red-suited drivers! Forza Ferrari!

Meeting Kimi Räikkönen in Helsinki!


Laura Karhu on the left, me in the middle and Heli Vepsäläinen on the right. We all share passion for Formula 1.
In Helsinki city center there was a copy of this year´s Ferrari -made of ice! It had taken two
weeks and four men to make the SF70-H of ice. The icy masterpiece was designed by Kimmo
Frost. At the awesome event I met Laura Karhu and Heli Vepsäläinen -both Ferrari fans, whom
I hadn´t met live before. We knew each other from the social media, as we all had been tweeting
about Formula 1 and posted Formula 1 related comments and pictures on Instagram. It´s absolutely
fantastic to get to know new friends, who share the passion for Formula 1! Being friends with
someone isn´t about age or where you live, it´s about sharing the same interest and sharing a
common topic. We were there in front of the Santander stage waiting for Kimi for two hours
before the interview took place. So we had plenty of time to discuss Formula 1 and Kimi´s
red-hot renewed contract with Ferrari! All in all we had a wonderful afternoon in Helsinki!

The Finnish F1 reporter Mervi Kallio was the host of the event arranged by Santander, which is one of the biggest sponsors of Ferrari. Kimi´s wife Minttu and his son Robin were also present. Mervi had a little chat with the charming "Iceboy", who is now 2 years old.  

Kimi seemed very relaxed. Robin wanted to join his father on the stage, when Mervi Kallio interviewed the Iceman. However, Robin got shy, when Mervi asked him a question. Kimi made everyone laugh by saying, that in terms of talking, Robin reminded his father a lot ;) The ice-Ferrari had been covered before Kimi got on the stage and it was revealed by the designer Kimmo Frost.    

It was such a memorable experience to see Kimi live. He is such an inspiration for me! I admire him for many reasons. Not only he is an exceptional and highly talented racing driver but also a person, who dares to stand out of the crowd. He doesn´t try to please anybody by pretending to be something that he is not. I respect his determination to stay out of the social media. I admire Kimi´s ability not to care, what other people think of him. I wish I was able to do the same!                                                 

Kimi drove this Ferrari, when he came to the event.

I had met the F1 reporter Mervi Kallio first time in Sotshi at the end of April. Mervi seems a very warm-hearted person, who loves what she does. Sometimes I wish I had a job like her! Travelling around the world along with the F1 circus, getting the chance to interview all the drivers and writing about the intense world of Formula 1 sounds like a dream come true. It was very nice to meet her again in Helsinki!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
After the event I went to a cafe with my new friend Heli. In addition to a coffee and a snack we had glasses of sparkling wine to celebrate Kimi´s newly-confirmed one-year contract with Ferrari!

Heli has been to over 20 F1 races and she will travel to the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP in November.