Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

maanantai 17. huhtikuuta 2017

Bahrain GP: Superb win for Sebastian!

The sun had already set, when the lights went out and the Bahrain GP got underway. Mercedes´ Bottas, who had conquered his maiden pole only a day before, got the perfect start and held on to his lead. Hamilton, who started on the dirty side of the track, was overtaken by storming Sebastian. Right away the German Ferrari ace was right at Bottas´ tail and definitely "smelled the Finn´s blood". Red Bull´s Verstappen, starting from P6, had an excellent start as well, making it ahead of teammate Ricciardo. The poorest start was taken by Kimi, who lost positions both to Williams´ Massa and Red Bull´s Verstappen on the opening lap and dropped down to P7.

It was extremely tight between the top five. Kimi was clearly faster than Massa; the Iceman was losing valuable time behind the Brazilian. On lap 8 Kimi decided to make an overtaking move on the finish straight and made it ahead of his ex-teammate. Meanwhile, Bottas in the lead was complaining about lack of grip in terms of the rear tyres. The Finn was told on the team radio, that his rear tyre pressures were high. It clearly influenced Bottas´ pace.

Ferrari made a bold strategic move, as they called Sebastian in already on lap 11. Ferrari decided to try the undercut, although it was possible, that Sebastian could get stuck in the traffic. The German opted for another set of super soft Pirellis and was absolutely flying after his pit stop. Red Bull reacted right away and took Verstappen in. But immediately after the pit stop the flying Dutchman suffered a rear brake failure and his race was over! And there was more drama to come. Toro Rosso´s Sainz, who was exiting the pits, crashed into Stroll´s Williams, causing a lot of debris on the track. Both Sainz and Stroll were out of the race, and safety car was deployed. (After the race Sainz was given a 3-place grid penalty for the next race for causing the collision.)

The Mercedes drivers drove into the pits sequentially. Race leader Bottas pitted first, but his pit stop wasn´t perfect. The Finn opted for another set of super soft tyres -similar to Vettel. Hamilton slowed down unnecessarily much, coming into the pits; by this move he impeded Ricciardo, who was right behind the Briton. The stewards took Hamilton´s move into investigation. When safety car came in a few laps later, Sebastian was leading the race with Bottas second and Hamilton third. Massa was fourth, Ricciardo fifth and Kimi 6th. So once again Kimi was behind Massa!

After the re-start Ricciardo, who had opted for the yellow-marked soft Pirellis, was in trouble with lack of grip. Kimi made a great overtaking move on the Australian and jumped fifth. The Iceman immediately started to chase down Massa. And on lap 24 it happened: at the end of the finish straight Kimi managed to get past Massa, making him already fourth in the race. Meanwhile, Hamilton was given a 5-second penalty for driving unnecessarily slowly in the pits!

Sebastian in the lead had increased his gap to Bottas into five seconds. Bottas was struggling with his pace, which had miraculously disappeared over night. Teammate Hamilton, on the other hand, was absolutely flying. In no time the Briton was right at his teammate´s tail. The team asked Bottas to let Hamilton past, which must have been a bittersweet moment for pole-setter Bottas. The Finn had no choice but to obey.

After the second pit stops Sebastian was still in the lead. Bottas was second, as Hamilton had suffered the 5-second time penalty during his second pit stop. However, Bottas´ problems with his pace continued, and Hamilton had an easy task to move ahead of his teammate. Sebastian and Hamilton had a different tyre strategy, as Sebastian was on the soft compound, whereas Hamilton ran the super soft Pirellis. Hamilton was hungry to chase down Sebastian and challenge him for the victory. However, there were 8 seconds separating the rivals.

Hamilton managed to decrease the gap, but there was no catching Sebastian! The German took his second win of the season under the floodlights of Bahrain. What a brilliant victory indeed! Hamilton crossed the finish line second, and teammate Bottas completed the podium. It must have been extremely disappointing for the Finn, who -without the tyre pressure issues- would have had the chance of his life to fight for the victory. Kimi finished the race in P4. Once again, there was a lot of talk about Ferrari´s strategy. Why didn´t Ferrari take Kimi in sooner on his second stint... Kimi sounded extremely upset on the team radio, questioning the strategy. Sebastian´s strategy was perfect, but the one with Kimi was far from that! Ferrari can´t afford mistakes like this, if they want to win the constructors´ championship!

Behind the top four, Ricciardo finished 5th for Red Bull, Massa 6th for Williams, Perez 7th for Force India, Grosjean 8th for Haas, Hulkenberg 9th for Renault and Ocon 10th for Force India. Once again, good points for the pink cars :) Sebastian is now leading the drivers´ championship standings! He has now 68 points to Hamilton´s 61. Bottas in P3 is 30 points down on Sebastian and Kimi is already 34 points down on his teammate. In terms of the constructors´ standings, it´s extremely tight! Ferrari has now 102 points to Mercedes´ 99. What a thrilling show this season will be!

Sebastian looked so happy on the top step of the podium. He definitely has the momentum on his side at the moment. I can´t wait for the Russian GP, which I´ll be watching live at Sochi Autodrom!

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