Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 22. marraskuuta 2014

Abu Dhabi GP / Qualifying: Rosberg on pole for title-deciding season finale!

So this is it: the very last GP weekend of the year! I feel so bittersweet because this will be the very last race for Sebastian Vettel as a Red Bull driver. Although this season has been filled with difficulties Sebastian has had so many glorious and shining years in the team. One era comes to an end when Sebastian crosses the finish line tomorrow and takes off his helmet. I am excited about his future at Ferrari but I haven´t got used to the idea of Sebastian in the red suit -just not yet.

Qualifying was such a pleasure to watch. The venue is so perfect: I couldn´t think up any place more perfect to end the Formula 1 season! The scenery at twilight is absolutely breathtaking: the setting sun, artificial lights and thousands of lights in different colours make the venue almost magical. There was still some day light left when Q1 got underway. Teams started to the first session with different tyre strategies: to my surprise the Mercedes duo had chosen the supersofts right from the beginning but Ferrari, McLaren and Williams made their first runs on the yellow-marked soft tyres. Towards the end of the session everyone switched to the supersofts except Bottas at the wheel of his FW36 and in spite of his tyre choice the Finn was in P7 in the time sheets. This time there were 20 cars taking part in the qualifying as Caterham had managed to collect enough money to make it in Abu Dhabi. This meant 15 fastest made it into Q2 at Yas Marina. Both Lotus drivers were knocked out of Q2, so were Gutierrez in his Sauber as well as the Caterham drivers. The title contenders Hamilton and Rosberg were the fastest men on track.

Things began to get tight at the top in Q2. Hamilton was still topping the time sheets but the Williams duo Massa and Bottas had excellent pace and they pushed Rosberg down to P4. Rosberg had made a mistake on his final run so although the German hasn´t admitted that he would feel any pressure, that still might be the case... But it was a pleasure to see that Williams could actually match Mercedes´ pace. My favorites on the other hand had to really do their best to make it through to the final session as Vettel couldn´t make it higher than P9 and Kimi barely made it among the top ten in P10. Magnussen in his McLaren was the first man to be eliminated from the decisive last session whilst his team-mate Button made it easily among the top ten. Same implied to the Toro Rosso duo as well: Vergne was out of Q3 whilst his team-mate Kvyat made an impressive job and made it through to Q3.

Rosberg wasn´t the only Mercedes driver to fall into an error today. Rosberg took the provisional pole as Hamilton locked up his brakes on his first run and was unable to set a competitive lap time. Kimi was the only driver to make only one run in the final session. Although Hamilton had topped the time sheets in the two previous sessions Rosberg proved having the upper hand in the decisive session: the German snatched pole by 3 tenths of a second over his team-mate Hamilton! Bottas in his Williams made staggering fastest sector times in sectors one and two but couldn´t quite match Mercedes´ pace in the last sector and the Finn qualified in P3 being only a tenth of a second off Hamilton´s pace! So a very familiar P3 for the talented young Finn. Massa in P4 secured the second row for Williams. Ricciardo qualified in P5 with his team-mate Vettel alongside him in P6. Kvyat who will replace Vettel at Red Bull next season continued his brilliant job by making it in P7 on the grid. Button made it in P8 and the Ferrari duo was left in P9 (Kimi) and P10 (Alonso). What was slightly comforting was the fact that Kimi managed to outqualify Alonso. But I couldn´t help wondering how come there were 7 tenths of a second separating the Red Bull team-mates in favor of Ricciardo! Although this soon turned out to be quite irrelevant...

As I´ve just read on the official F1 website that both Vettel and Ricciardo have been excluded from the qualifying for excessive front wing flex! How can a thing like this happen in the last race of the season? The season started with the fuel-flow scandal and now the season seems to be ending with a front wing episode... Can´t believe Sebastian´s career at Red Bull will end like this! The front wing breach means the Red Bull duo will start to the race from the back of the grid! (The only positive thing about this is that Kimi will make it two places higher on the grid.) With Renault engine it will be hard to make it through the field to score points... So not a very glorious race I´m afraid. But this kind of fits this year so well: it has been difficulties after difficulties throughout the entire season. But one thing I´m sure about: Sebastian will move to Ferrari as a stronger and more determined driver than ever before! (And on Thursday it was finally confirmed that Ferrari is the team where Sebastian will be heading to!)

Rosberg has every opportunity to win the race as he already conquered pole position. But winning isn´t enough for the German to clinch the title if Hamilton finishes 2nd. I´m sure Rosberg is very happy about Bottas´ impressive pace and he certainly hopes that the Finn will make it ahead of Hamilton in tomorrow´s race! I personally don´t have any strong feelings in terms of the championship battle as I don´t have a favorite to take the title. I just hope there won´t be any technical failures for either one of the title contenders tomorrow so that who ever wins the title would do it it by driving! I´m going to enjoy every second of the race as after tomorrow there will be devastating four months ahead without any Formula 1 action!! 

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