Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 27. elokuuta 2016

Belgian GP / Qualifying: Verstappen became the youngest front row qualifier!

I was so so happy that the summer break was finally over! Four weeks felt like an eternity... Although I got to read news about Kimi getting married! It was quite a funny coincidence that Kimi and Minttu happened to get married on August 7th -which was also my wedding day! For me, however, it was the 17th wedding anniversary, as I got married already in 1999. I wish all the best for Kimi and Minttu, I hope they have a happy life together!

Back to racing then. Against all odds it wasn´t raining at Spa, but it was all sunny and the temperature was over 30 degrees Celsius! So it was a hot qualifying session -both in terms of the weather and the pecking order! In Q1 everyone came out on super softs, except Rosberg, who opted for the yellow-marked soft rubber. Teammate Hamilton made only one run to set a time within the 107 percent rule; due to the change of various power unit elements the Briton was to face a 55-place grid drop, so there was no sense to fight for pole. The team had made the decision to change all the parts at Spa, where the starting position mattered the least of all tracks. It´s actually a loophole in the regulations, but Mercedes were only wise to utilize this opportunity. After the first runs the Ferrari duo Sebastian and Kimi were topping the timesheets with Rosberg third. At the end of the session Williams´ Massa surprised everyone by jumping ahead of Sebastian and Kimi to top the opening Q1 session. Another surprise was Manor´s Wehrlein, who made it as high as P9. Out of Q2 were Manor teammate Ocon (who had replaced Haryanto), both Saubers and the unlucky Russian Kvyat, who -according to the latest rumours- is about to get fired from Toro Rosso due to his poor performance. Out were also Hamilton -who didn´t even try to make it through to Q2- and Alonso, whose McLaren stopped on the approach to Eau Rouge on its out lap.

The tyre choices were interesting in Q2. Rosberg, the Ferraris and Red Bull´s Ricciardo came out on the softs, whilst all their rivals opted for the red-marked super soft compound. In spite of the tyre choice, Rosberg had no difficulties to make it on the top! Red Bull´s home hero Verstappen -on the super softs- made an impressive first run making it second, only a tenth of a second down on Rosberg. The Force India duo Hulkenberg and Perez were 3rd and 4th on super softs as well. Kimi and Sebastian were 5th and 6th on the yellow-marked soft compound. Both Ferrari aces had a go on super softs late on, but chose to abort those laps, hence they too can start on the soft rubber, along with Ricciardo. The fallers in Q2 were the Haas duo Grosjean and Gutierrez, Renault duo Magnussen and Palmer and Manor´s Wehrlein.

In spite of Hamilton missing from the final shootout, there was an intense battle for pole between three teams. Kimi made a mistake at Stavelot on his first run, which he aborted. Rosberg -expectedly- took provisional pole but Red Bull´s Verstappen was only a tenth of a second down on the German. After his first run Sebastian was in P3. Williams´ Massa and McLaren´s Button opted for one run only. Both Williams were affected by engine software issues, which meant they were unable to run in qualifying mode. Neither Rosberg nor Verstappen was able to improve his lap time on the second run so pole was Rosberg´s. Kimi was flying on his second run, and the Finn pushed Ricciardo out of the third place. Kimi was only 17 thousandths of a second down on Verstappen and less than two tenths off pole! Pole could have been there for Kimi to take! Sebastian was complaining that the rear end had lost all grip by the end of the lap, and the German had to settle for P4 today. Ricciardo got beaten by his young teammate quite impressively; the Australian could only make it 5th today. Perez was 6th, Hulkenberg was 7th, Bottas 8th, Button 9th and Massa completed the top ten.

Verstappen got stunning support from Dutch fans, and the Dutchman was the youngest man to ever feature on an F1 front row! Wow, he is called "the flying Dutchman" for a reason! :) Tomorrow´s race will be a thriller! Rosberg on pole and Kimi in P3 will start to the race on the more durable soft tyres, whilst Verstappen in P2 will start on the super softs and will most likely have a shorter first stint. I have a hunch that both Max and Kimi will pass Nico already at the start ;) I´m sure there will be another electrical and hair-raising battle between Max and Kimi, who have tended to find each other on track this season! Spa is like Kimi´s home track, the Iceman always shines like a diamond there! Kimi has every chance to make it on the top step of the podium! I hope the hot weather will be an advantage for Ferrari. Somehow I feel that Sebastian has been struggling with his pace lately... The Finnish F1 commentators -including Sebastian´s ex trainer Tommi Pärmäkoski- were joking in the F1 studio today, that Kimi´s current top form is down to him getting married ;) Talking about Sebastian´s difficulties Tommi suggested that maybe Sebastian also should get married to improve his performance! :D

And you can never write off Lewis Hamilton, no matter if he started from the moon! Spa is known for good overtaking possibilities, so the Briton will most likely fight for a podium finish. What I´d like to see is a race dominated by the red team -with a little touch of orange!

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