Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 28. toukokuuta 2017

Monaco GP: First Ferrari win since 2001!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

lauantai 27. toukokuuta 2017

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

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

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

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

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

sunnuntai 14. toukokuuta 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

lauantai 13. toukokuuta 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

perjantai 5. toukokuuta 2017

An interview with Sebastian Vettel!

Photo by Jerry Andre.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Jerry Andre.

tiistai 2. toukokuuta 2017

Russian GP: When dreams met reality!

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

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

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

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

Coffee break at Ferrari motorhome.

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

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