Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 20. kesäkuuta 2015

Austrian GP / Qualifying: 19th consecutive pole for Mercedes despite the spins!

The weather forecast said that there was a 30 % chance of rain during the qualifying session. The track was still damp on some areas after the rain-hit FP3 in the morning. So the weather was quite similar to ours in Finland: we are celebrating midsummer this weekend but the weather has left a lot to hope for. Sun has been hiding somewhere behind the clouds and there has been a lot of rain. Since we are lacking sunny and hot summer days I´m really enjoying all the Formula 1 action this weekend! It really makes my day!

Everyone started to Q1 on the intermediate tyres but on the drying track it was soon time for the slicks. Sauber´s Nasr and Williams´ Bottas were the first drivers to switch to slicks. In the changing conditions the Toro Rossos seemed promisingly competitive. Both Sainz and Verstappen had caught my eye already in the morning´s last free practice session. The track kept improving throughout the session and towards the end everyone came out on the supersofts. The conditions were challenging even for Mercedes: Rosberg went wide in turn 1 twice. In spite of that Rosberg was the fastest man in Q1 whilst his team-mate Hamilton couldn´t make it higher than P13 due to traffic. Sainz was 2nd, Vettel 3rd and Sainz´s team-mate Verstappen 4th. Excellent work from Toro Rosso indeed! But what was absolutely shocking and dramatic in the dying moments of Q1 was that Kimi in his Ferrari was left in P18 and couldn´t make it Q2! Kimi himself couldn´t believe his ears when he was told on the team radio that he was P18. Kimi has blamed miscommunication for this unfortunate turn: the Iceman had been told by the team that he had time for three timed laps but obviously that hadn´t been the case because the Finn had been sent out too late. I was absolutely shocked to see that Kimi was out of Q2! I´m so fed up with all these setbacks! Why can´t everything go to plan in terms of Kimi´s GP weekend?!? Once again Kimi will be facing an unnecessarily tough race tomorrow.

The beginning of Q2 saw almost everyone coming out on the supersofts. Except for Vettel, who sat out the first runs and came out not until there were only 5 minutes left in the clock. Rosberg continued his impressive pace and topped the timesheets with his team-mate second. Ferrari and Williams seemed to have a close battle with Sebastian third and Bottas 4th. Maldonado was the first man to be eliminated from Q3 whilst his team-mate Grosjean was able to make it among the top ten. Ericsson was also out of the final session whilst his Sauber team-mate Nasr proceeded into Q3. So was the case in terms of both the Toro Rosso and the Red Bull team-mates: Verstappen and Kvyat managed to make it in Q3 whilst Sainz and Ricciardo were out of the final segment. A very disappointing qualifying for especially Ricciardo who faced his first elimination from Q3 this season.

Q3 was unexpectedly eventful. Ferrari´s pace had looked very strong in all free practice sessions and I had developped an image in my head that this time Ferrari could truly challenge the Silver Arrows for pole but once again my image turned out to be nothing but a false illusion. When it came to decisive moments Mercedes seemed to find more speed. Although Sebastian was competitive it was obvious that the shootout for pole was going to be between the Mercedes team-mates. Hamilton took the provisional pole but Rosberg had clearly decided to challenge him for pole. The second runs didn´t lack drama: the rear of Hamilton´s car got away from the Briton on cold tyres into turn 1 putting him off road and out of the session! Rosberg had set fastest time for sector two and already had a promising grasp on the pole when the German made an error coming into turn 8 and went off track getting stuck in the gravel. But in spite of these errors it was another front row lock-out for the Mercedes team-mates. Impressively this was the 19th consecutive pole for Mercedes, which means that the Silver Arrows have now been on pole for an entire calendar year! How crazy is that! Sebastian made it 3rd only a tenth down on Rosberg. Massa qualified 4th whilst his Finnish team-mate Bottas was beaten to 5th by Force India´s Hulkenberg. Verstappen made only one run in the final session and the Dutchman qualified in P7, which was good work. Kvyat was 8th, Nasr 9th and Grosjean 10th (the Frenchman didn´t set a lap time).

No one knows what kind of weather to expect in tomorrow´s race. It can turn out to be anything from sun shine to pouring rain. The track is clearly demanding so I´m sure we´re going to see some mistakes as well. Ferrari´s race pace looks promising on the basis what we´ve seen in the long runs but whether Sebastian can take the battle to Mercedes for real is still kind of a question mark for me. There´re quite a few penalties, which make Kimi gain a few positions on the grid, which isn´t much of a comfort though. Both Red Bull drivers have been handed 10-place grid penalties due to taking their fifth engine of the season, exceeding the four permitted by regulations. The McLaren duo will drop 25 places on the grid, which is the cumulative result of using the fifth engine (10 places), the fifth turbocharger (5 places), the fifth MGU-K (5 places) and the fifth MGU-H (5 places). Kimi will put up a fight for sure and the Iceman has every opportunity to make it a strong points finish. Sebastian has also had some difficulties during this weekend as the German faced gearbox issues in both practice sessions on Friday but I´m counting on F15-T´s reliability in the race tomorrow. And in spite of the difficulties Sebastian always delivers when it matters the most. So I´m wishing all the very best for my heroes in tomorrow´s race!

P.S. I´m quite flattered that I have been called "the biggest Vettel fan in Finland" by the Finnish F1 commentator Oskari Saari! That happened yesterday when FP1 was live on TV. Saari tends to answer F1 fans´ questions posted on Twitter during the broadcasts and somebody had asked whether Vettel had named also his this year´s car. Saari told that he didn´t remember the name Vettel had given his SF15-T so instinctively I tweeted him that Eva was the name of Sebastian´s car. Then Saari commented that no wonder certain Iina Huhmarniemi knew the name of the car as she might be the biggest Vettel fan in Finland and he mentioned my blog, too. That was a very unexpected moment but what an honour to be called the biggest Vettel fan in Finland! :D

...and to prove a point I have to confess that there has been one more Vettel cake! I baked this for my colleagues at the end of May when it was my last day in that work place as I will switch pre-schools next August!

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