Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 25. lokakuuta 2015

US GP / Qualifying: Exceptional qualifying in extreme conditions!

So far this has been an exceptional GP weekend. It was known already beforehand that the hurricane Patricia would hit Mexico this weekend, which would bring massive amount of rain into Texas area as well. The third free practice took place yesterday morning although it was raining quite heavily already. But in terms of the qualifying, things took unexpected turn. All the teams were ready for the qualifying to take place some time in the afternoon but the weather conditions were quite extreme. It was pouring down with rain and it was extremely windy. The qualifying was delayed with 30 minutes at a time. I was sitting in front of TV for three hours waiting for the qualifying to get under way! And I have to say that it was very entertaining three hours really! Although there was no running on track, most of the teams did everything to put up a good show for the fans, who were sitting in the grandstands soaking wet. And what a show it turned out to be! One of the most hilarious moments was when the Red Bull duo Kvyat and Ricciardo started dancing together in the pit lane. Toro Rosso also knew how to entertain their fans. Both Verstappen´s and Sainz´s fathers were in the pit garage and they decided to put the race suits on! They also borrowed their sons´ helmets and Carlos Sainz Senior sat down into his son´s car whilst Jos Verstappen jumped into Max´s car. A moment later the Toro Rosso duo started bowling in the pit lane with a ball and a few Red Bull cans. As it kept raining and raining and there were absolutely no signs of raining to end Verstappen decided to go fishing in the pit lane with a rod and line. One of the Force India team members put up a breakdance show and Rosberg started playing soccer with his team members. It made my day to see what kind of great sense of humour those guys had! One team, which was missing from all the fun was Ferrari! I would have loved to see Kimi and Sebastian coming up with a little show to entertain fans although I know it´s very much against Kimi´s personality to do something like that! So it was an utterly entertaining show although the qualifying never took place last night! After a delay after another it was finally decided by the stewards that the qualifying was postponed to 9 am local time, which meant afternoon here in Finland.

When it was time for qualifying it was still raining in Austin! Not as heavily as yesterday though. Before Q1 it was declared by the race control that it wasn´t allowed to use intermediate tyres during the first session. There was quite a lot standing water on the track and the conditions were extremely tricky even with the full-wet tyres. Sainz at the wheel of his Toro Rosso lost control of his STR10 when he touched the kerb and the Spaniard ended up crashing into the wall. The session was red-flagged and Sainz´s qualifying was over! Kimi was the first driver to join the track at the re-start, which meant the Iceman had an excellent track position. The lap times kept improving lap by lap towards the end of the session. But the risk of aquaplaning was very high and Sebastian at the wheel of his SF15-T was about to experience that personally. With 4 minutes in the clock the German lost control of his Ferrari and touched the wall but luckily there was no significant damage to his car! Ricciardo in his RB11 was the fastest man on the slippery track with the Mercedes duo behind him. Sebastian made it into Q2 just barely being the last driver to make it through to Q2! I got a bit scared as the elimination from Q2 was so close! Both Saubers and Marussias were out of Q2.

Q2 saw conditions deteriorating towards the end of the session. Turn 10 turned out very dangerous as several drivers span there. Hulkenberg, Button, Verstappen and Räikkönen were among those, who experienced a terrifying moment at that turn. I can nothing but admire the talent of all the F1 drivers as no-one actually crashed out there but everyone could regain the control of his car after losing it for a moment! Rosberg in his Mercedes was the fastest man on track in the second session with his team-mate only tenth of a second behind the German. Ricciardo was third and his team-mate Kvyat 4th but the Red Bull duo was already over a second off Rosberg´s pace. Sebastian was 5th fastest and his team-mate Kimi 8th. Q2 was disappointing for the Finnish Williams driver Valtteri Bottas, who was unable to make it higher than P12. Bottas had a poor track position behind Force India´s Perez so the Finn didn´t manage to pull out a competitive lap time. Both McLarens and Lotuses were also out of the final session.

Except that there was no Q3 today! At first the final session was delayed with 10 minutes but the rain was only getting heavier by the end of the delay so it was decided by the race control that Q3 wasn´t going to take place. So Q2 determined the grid positions for the race! Both Ferrari drivers have been handed a 10-place grid penalty for an engine change (which had been planned already in advance). This means the grid will line up: First row Rosberg and Hamilton, second row Ricciardo and Kvyat, third row Perez and Hulkenberg, fourth row Massa and Verstappen and fifth row Alonso and Grosjean. Bottas qualified 12th but has been given a 5-place grid penalty due to a gear box change. After all the penalties Sebastian will finally be dropped to P13 and Kimi P18.

Who knows how the weather will turn out when it´s time to start to the race!? The weather forecast says that there´s only 20 % chance of rain at the time of the start but let´s see... The Ferrari duo has challenging starting positions no matter if it´s wet or dry but I´m very confident that they´ll put up a good show today! If it´s dry it´s a total mystery how the tyres will work as there has been absolutely no running in the dry this weekend! One thing I know for sure: it´ll be a thrilling race no matter how the conditions turn out to be! All the very best for the Prancing Horse today! Go Sebastian! Go Kimi!

P.S. My heart absolutely loves F1 weekends but my back definitely doesn´t! I have suffered from a back issue for almost a year now and it always gets worse when I sit a lot. So F1 weekends don´t exactly help in terms of that. Today is all about sitting in front of TV: qualifying, pre-race broadcasts, race, post-race interviews and writing my blog of course! Poor back... ;) But watching Formula 1 is something that I enjoy so much so I don´t care about the back pain, haha!

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