Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 4. heinäkuuta 2015

British GP / Qualifying: Hamilton snatched pole in front of his home crowd!

Today´s qualifying has made me very nervous already several days before it actually took place. The reason for that is all the media speculation that is swirling around Kimi Räikkönen´s future at Ferrari. There are rumours that Kimi has two GP weekends to convince his team that he´s worth keeping also in 2016. This would mean that Kimi has to deliver both at Silverstone and at Hungaroring! During this week I´ve had difficulties to sleep at night because I´ve been thinking about Kimi´s situation. This has reminded me a great deal about Sebastian´s season at Red Bull in 2010 when the German made many silly mistakes and everything seemed to go wrong for him on track. But Sebastian managed to turn those obstacles into success so that´s what I´m hoping for Kimi as well. So I crossed my fingers down to my elbows when qualifying was about to start...

Everyone else except the Marussia duo started to Q1 on the orange-marked hard-compound tyres. Good to their word, from the very start of the qualifying the stewards were tough on drivers exceeding track limits in Turn 9. There were several drivers, whose times were deleted due to a track limits infringement: Vettel, Hulkenberg, Maldonado, Kvyat, Merhi and Verstappen. The Mercedes duo Rosberg and Hamilton and Bottas in his Williams were the fastest men after the first runs and they chose to sit out the second runs. All others made their second runs on the medium-compound tyres. Kimi showed excellent pace and the Iceman ended up topping the time sheets in Q1! What a staggering start for Kimi in the crucial qualifying! Nasr in his Sauber, both McLarens and both Marussias were eliminated from Q2. Everything looked good so far in terms of Kimi´s performance...

The beginning of Q2 saw almost everybody come out on the option tyres. There were more track limits violations to come: Lotus´s Maldonado went wide at Copse several times. The Ferraris came out not until at the end of the session. Ferrari were lucky to get Räikkönen through in 9th after an earlier time was disallowed for a track limits infringement. Kimi had only one lap to nail the competitive lap time but this time the Iceman could really deliver when it mattered the most so very impressive work from Kimi! Rosberg was the fastest man on track in Q2 with Bottas 2nd and Hamilton 3rd. Toro Rosso´s Verstappen on the other hand complained vociferously about the handling of his car and was unable to make it in Q3 but had to settle for P13. Also Perez in his Force India, the Lotuses of Grosjean and Maldonado and Sauber´s Ericsson were out of the final session.

Q3 saw Hamilton taking the provisional pole by only a one-tenth margin over his team-mate Rosberg. After the first runs both Williams cars were ahead of the Ferraris with Bottas third and Massa fourth. Surprisingly there were hardly any improvements on the second runs. Both Mercedes drivers didn´t improve their lap times, which meant that Hamilton snatched pole in front of his home crowd. So 8 poles out of 9 for the Briton this season! Massa at the wheel of his FW37 was the only driver in addition to Ricciardo in his Red Bull, who was able to improve on his second run and jumped third ahead of his team-mate Bottas. Finally Kimi managed to out-qualify his team-mate Vettel fair and square! Ferrari filled the third row with Kimi 5th and Sebastian 6th. After the last free practice session in the morning I really didn´t expect Williams to be that competitive as they were clearly behind the Ferraris in the FP3! So at the top the pecking order was clear: 1st row for Mercedes, 2nd row for Williams and 3rd row for Ferrari. Kvyat qualified 7th, Sainz 8th, Hulkenberg 9th and Ricciardo 10th.

I have to say I´m very very glad that Kimi had such very decent a qualifying! Just hope that there won´t be any collisions, mistakes or wrong tactical decisions in tomorrow´s race but that everything will go to plan. I really hope from the bottom of my heart that Ferrari will keep Kimi also next year as the Iceman not only has unique talent and skills but he is also the most popular driver among fans worldwide according to the recent survey done by the GPDA (over 200 000 fans from 194 countries took part in that survey including me)! F1 really needs a personality like Kimi and I hope Ferrari think so, too.

What about tomorrow´s race then? There will be battles: first of all between the Mercedes team-mates. It´s very tight between Williams and Ferrari as well so I´m hoping to see a wheel-banging battle for the last podium place. But first of all, I really really hope that Kimi will shine like a star tomorrow...!

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