Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

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.

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!