Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 5. lokakuuta 2014

Japanese GP: A tragic end to the rain-hit race!

This time the weather forecasts were completely accurate: heavy rain started moments before the race was about to start and track conditions were extremely tricky and slippery as there was lots of standing water on the track. The race started behind safety car with everyone having the full-wets on but visibility was so bad that the cars could go only 80 km/h and the race was red-flagged after two laps. All cars arrived in the pit lane and the race was delayed by 20 minutes. Luckily the rain stopped and the race got re-started behind safety car. Alonso in his Ferrari was the first driver to retire from the race: his F14T stopped on the track on lap 3 when the Spaniard suddenly lost all power in his car.

On lap 9 the conditions had finally improved so much that the safety car came in and the race was finally on! Only a lap later McLaren´s Button thought the track was dry enough for the intermediate tyres and the Briton was the first driver to pit for the green-marked intermediates. That proved to be the right call. Button is known for his excellent intuition in terms of the tyres and mixed conditions have always suited him well. A few laps later all the top drivers pitted for a fresh set of intermediate tyres.

After the pit stops the situation remained unchanged in terms of the lead: Rosberg was leading the race with his team-mate Hamilton right at the German´s tail. Button had jumped third thanks to his genious pit stop strategy. Vettel had managed to get past his team-mate during the pit stops. Williams were struggling a lot in the wet conditions and suffering from the lack of grip whilst both Red Bulls seemed to fly especially in the fast corners! Massa had no chance to hold the Red Bull duo behind although DRS wasn´t enabled at this stage of the race. Red Bull had so much more downforce in the high speed corners that overtaking looked easy. Vettel was the first to overtake Massa and Ricciardo did the same only a short moment later. After getting past Massa it was only a matter of time when Sebastian managed to chase down Bottas in the other Williams. It was an easy task as the Finn was two seconds slower than the Red Bulls! Bottas shared his team-mate´s fate and couldn´t defend his position against the Red Bull duo. At this point I was so glad to see how competitive Sebastian was in the wet after yesterday´s tough qualifying!

Kimi was in P9 when he pitted for the second time on lap 24. Kimi´s pit stop was delayed by 8 seconds as there were difficulties with the attachment of his front right tyre. Kimi´s F14T just seemed to lack pace: a few laps on the fresh tyres seemed competitive but the pace dropped significantly after that. The delayed pit stop meant the Iceman had it difficult to even fight for a points finish today.

In the halfway point of the race the conditions had improved in a way that DRS was enabled, which meant that finally Hamilton got his chance to challenge his team-mate for the victory! On lap 29 it happened: Hamilton made a bold overtaking move on Rosberg who suffered from strong oveersteering issues and took the lead!  Hamilton instantly pulled away from his team-mate after that.

Button´s third pit stop also got delayed by a few seconds and due to the delay both Ricciardo and Vettel managed to get ahead of the Briton. By lap 38 it had started to rain lightly and a lap later I had a very scary moment when I saw Sebastian going wide in the slippery conditions. Luckily he didn´t lose any positions and was able to rejoin the track safely. By lap 41 the rain had increased so much that using DRS wasn´t allowed anymore. Track conditions deteriorated and Magnussen in his McLaren pitted for a fresh set of full-wet tyres.

The incident on lap 43 was the beginning of what turned into catastrophic series of events. Sutil in his Sauber was still driving on the intermediate tyres but due to the aquaplaning he lost the control of his car and crashed into the tyre wall. There were yellow flags but no safety car was deployed until a couple of laps later.  On lap 46 the commentators told on TV that there was also an ambulance on the location where Sutil had crashed and that Marussia´s Bianchi was also out of the race. At this stage I had no idea what had happened. All of a sudden the race was red-flagged on lap 47 with 7 more laps to go and all the cars came into the pits. Soon there was more information: Bianchi had also lost the control of his car and crashed his car into the recovery vehicle, which was lifting Sutil´s Sauber off the track. There was no TV footage of what had happened but I got very scared. Bianchi had lost the control of his car at high speed and crashing into a crane sounded extremely dangerous and frightening... There were also some track marshals there and maybe involved in the crash...

This is actually completely irrelevant at the moment but Hamilton won the race with his team-mate Rosberg second. Vettel was in P4 when the race was red-flagged as he had pitted when the safety car had been deployed on the closing laps and due to the extra pit stop Ricciardo had jumped into P3. The final standings were determined by the situation on the lap 44 and that´s why Sebastian made it in P3 as it was right before his pit stop. But like I said, this feels so secondary even though it´s my favourite driver who was standing on the podium. But no spraying champagne on the podium and all the top three drivers looked so serious and concerned. There was no news about Bianchi´s condition except that he had been unconscious and had been moved to the nearest hospital.

When I´m writing this there´s still no new information on Bianchi´s condition. The FIA steward Mika Salo has told that Bianchi´s car went straight underneath the recovery vehicle, which automatically means serious consequences. I hope from the bottom of my heart that Bianchi isn´t suffering from a serious head injury and that he´ll have a speedy recovery. This is the saddest side of Formula 1 racing: serious accidents happen seldom but when they do it´s devastating :´( I´m shocked about what happened and there´s no use to think "what ifs" at the moment, what if the safety car had been deployed right away after Sutil´s crash and so on, it doesn´t change the fact what has already happened. It´s always shocking when there´s a serious crash, no matter which driver is involved. You don´t want to see these things happening to anybody. I´ll update my blog when I hear something new on Bianchi´s condition. Despite Sebastian´s comforting success all my thoughts are now with Bianchi and his family!

P.S. It has now been confirmed that Bianchi has suffered a severe head injury and the Frenchman has been operated at the local hospital. Bianchi is in a critical condition in ICU. I'm so worried. I know it'll be hard to fall asleep tonight.

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