Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 23. elokuuta 2014

Belgian GP / Qualifying: Fourth pole in a row for Rosberg in wet conditions!

I´m so so happy that Formula 1 is finally back after the summer break, which felt like an eternity for me! Gosh how I´ve missed the GP weekends! Yesterday it was so great to know that after a busy day at work I could sit down on the coach and watch the second free practice... Which turned out a bit less entertaining as I had expected as Kimi faced a troubled session and Vettel was unable to drive a single lap due to engine problems that had hit his RB10 already in the first practice session!

Some 40 minutes before the qualifying was set to get underway the heavens opened and flooded the track. So it was going to be a wet-weather qualifying in cold conditions: the temperature was only 9 degrees Celsius! Different teams had different strategies: Ferrari, Williams and Sauber started to Q1 with wet-weather tyres whilst all the others chose the intermediate tyres. Gutierrez in his Sauber was the first driver to face problems: the Mexican´s Sauber stopped on the track and his qualifying was over. Everyone made their second attempts on the green-marked intermediate tyres though there was some light rain falling in the closing minutes of the first session. Rosberg and Hamilton in their Silver Arrows were the fastest men on track, which was no surprise at all. Maldonado in his Lotus was the first driver to be knocked out of Q2. Force India´s Hulkenberg didn´t make it into Q2, either as the German made a mistake on his final run. Andre Lotterer had replaced Kobayashi at Caterham this weekend and to everybody´s surprise Lotterer ended up being a second faster than his Swedish team-made Ericsson! Not a very flattering result in terms of Ericsson... But what caught my eye in a very positive way was the fact that Kimi was faster than his team-mate in the first session!

Q2 was also run under the threat of rain. This time, however, everyone started to the session on the intermediate tyres. There was still some rain and the track was wet. This time it was Hamilton, who topped the time sheets with his team-mate Rosberg second. Ferrari and Williams seemed to have quite similar pace. To me it seemed that Ferrari had actually managed to improve their car significantly during the summer break! And from the first moment of the GP weekend it was obvious that this was a track that Kimi enjoyed driving on despite all the problems. I hadn´t expected that Ferrari could actually match Williams´ pace on the long straights of Spa Francorchamps. Both Toro Rossos were out of the final session, so were Perez, Sutil, Grojean and Bianchi (who had done an excellent job and made his way through to Q2!).

When Q3 got underway the track was still damp and the intermediate tyres were the answer. The rain had stopped and even the sun had come out! Rosberg took the provisional pole. Almost all top ten drivers had their off-track moments and although Hamilton tried to challenge his team-mate the Briton was unable to pull out a perfect lap and he was out-qualified by two tenths of a second by his team-mate. In the post-qualifying press conference Hamilton told a glazed front left brake had cost him time in Q3 so he had lost his chance to make it on pole. I was so so so happy to see Sebastian qualifying in P3, I could have been jumping out of joy! In spite of the fact that Sebastian was 2,1 seconds off Rosberg on pole! What a massive gap indeed! But after yesterday´s ignition problems had required a change of power unit it was absolutely delighting to see the German in P3. Alonso in his Ferrari made it in P4 completing the second row. Ricciardo qualified 5th, which was a frustrating moment for the Australian as he got beaten by Sebastian this time. Bottas made it in P6, which was lower than I had expected but wet conditions have never been a blessing for the Williams team. Magnussen in his McLaren will start to the race in P7 and Kimi at the wheel of his F14T completes the fourth row. I´m convinced that Kimi would have been able to make it higher up on the grid had the Finn pulled out a flawless lap.

So Nico will start to the race on pole -no surprise at all. This was already the 4th pole in a row for the German Mercedes driver and the 7th this season. It´s interesting to see, whether Hamilton can really challenge his team-mate for the victory and if there will be some team orders... Hamilton has stated that he´ll obey if the orders come from the technical chief Paddy Lowe instead of his race engineer. That remains to be seen... It is expected to be a dry race tomorrow so I´m a bit concerned about Red Bull´s pace in the dry. The long straights are definitely a weakness for both Red Bull and Ferrari... So Bottas has every chance to fight for a podium finish if everything goes to Williams´ plan! Kimi will be strong as always at Spa Francorchamps! No matter how bad a car the Iceman has he can always get something extraordinary out of his car in Belgium! I´m keeping my fingers crossed that the Iceman finally has a problem-free race and nothing would be more satisfying than seeing the "man of very few words" on the podium ;) Brakes have proved to be the Achilles heel for Mercedes so anything can happen in tomorrow´s race. Can´t wait to keep my thumbs up for Kimi and Sebastian! Woohoo, Formula 1 is back!!! :D

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