Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 9. huhtikuuta 2017

Chinese GP: Hair-raising overtaking by Vettel and Verstappen!

In spite of the previous weather forecasts, the risk of rain during the race was only 20 %. There had been some light rain in the morning, so at the time of the start the track was partly dry but partly damp. Tyre choice was going to be the key factor in terms of the race: slicks or intermediates? All drivers, except Toro Rosso´s Sainz, opted for the green-marked intermediate compound. Sainz had decided to run the red-marked supersoft Pirellis. When the cars drove on the grid after the formation lap, Sebastian in P2 was significantly out of his grid slot. Luckily the German got away without a penalty for his action. As the lights went out, Hamilton stormed to the lead with Sebastian second and Bottas third. Ricciardo, who had started from P5, managed to jump Kimi and make his way in P4. Ricciardo´s teammate Verstappen, having started from P16, had an absolutely magical opening lap. The flying Dutchman managed to gain 9 positions right away! The harder the conditions are, the more Max Verstappen shines! My hunch was definitely right saying, that today was going to be a staggering overtaking show by the young Red Bull pilot.

The opening lap didn´t lack drama; Williams´ rookie Lance Stroll span off and got stuck onto gravel after Force India´s Perez had touched his rear tyre. Virtual safety car was deployed. Sebastian pitted already on lap 3 for a fresh set of yellow-marked soft Pirellis. However, other top four drivers -Hamilton, Bottas, Ricciardo and Räikkönen- decided to stay out. Sebastian re-joined the track in P6 behind Verstappen, who had already made his way up to P5!

But only a lap after virtual safety car had ended, Sauber´s stand-in Giovinazzi crashed to the wall on the finish straight! There was a huge amount of debris on track, and safety car was deployed. Both Mercedes drivers and Kimi in his Ferrari pitted for a fresh set of soft Pirellis. Red Bull teammates Ricciardo and Verstappen, on the other hand, opted for a fresh set of supersoft tyres. Driving behind safety car, Valtteri Bottas made an amateurish mistake. He was warming up his tyres, when the Finn suddenly lost the rear of his car and span. As if that hadn´t been enough, he span again when trying to re-join the track. Bottas lost awful lot of time and dropped down to P12!

On lap 8 safety car came in, and the race was back on. Hamilton was leading, with Ricciardo second and Kimi third. However, Red Bull´s Verstappen seemed to be absolutely flying and in no time the Dutch Red Bull ace made his way past the Iceman, snatching P3 already. Kimi was complaining about lack of torque on the team radio, which sounded quite worrying. Teammate Sebastian was right at the Finn´s tail as well.

On lap 11 flying Verstappen made a stunning overtaking move on teammate Ricciardo and snatched P2 from the Australian. Kimi, too started to put pressure on the "Smiling Avenger". For some eight laps there was an intense and exciting battle going on for P3 between Ricciardo and the two Ferraris. On lap 20, however, Sebastian was determined to get past his teammate and made a successful overtaking move on Kimi. After that it was Ricciardo, who was Sebastian´s next target. A couple of laps later it happened; Sebastian braked very late and went into the outside of Ricciardo. For a moment the ex-teammates were driving side by side. There was a breath-taking moment, when their wheels banged together, but Sebastian made it past Ricciardo! What an absolutely staggering overtaking move indeed! What an adrenaline rush the move caused! Bravo Sebastian, that was some proper racing!

On the other hand, Kimi got stuck behind Ricciardo and was unable to repeat his teammate´s move to pass the Australian. Once again, Kimi seemed to be struggling with the performance of his SF70-H, no matter how hard the Finn tried to push. But Sebastian was utterly on flames at Shanghai International Circuit. By lap 28 he had chased down Verstappen, who was struggling with his worn supersoft tyres. Usually Verstappen is a very tough driver to overtake, but this time he locked his wheels at the braking and ended up going wide, and Sebastian managed to overtake him easily. Now Sebastian was 2nd again!

Verstappen pitted for the second time on lap 30 -for another fresh set of supersoft Pirellis. Teammate Ricciardo shared a similar pit stop strategy. Red Bull´s rivals were also on a two-stop strategy. Both Mercedes drivers and Sebastian opted for another fresh set of soft tyres. Kimi had a longer second stint and was called into the pits not until on lap 40. This turned out to be a wrong strategic call, as Kimi dropped down to P6 behind Toro Rosso´s Sainz. Luckily Kimi managed to make his way past the Spaniard, but it wasn´t much of a comfort, as both Red Bull drivers were out of the Iceman´s reach.

Unfortunately Hamilton in the lead had already an 8-second gap to Sebastian. However, behind the top two there was an exciting battle for the last podium place between the Red Bull teammates. Ricciardo put extreme pressure on his young teammate, but Verstappen kept his third place. The Finns Kimi and Bottas had to be content with P5 and P6. Toro Rosso´s Sainz drove a strong race, in spite of spinning on the opening lap on the slicks. The Spaniard finished in P7, followed by Haas´ Magnussen. The eye-catching pink Force Indias of Perez and Ocon rounded out the top ten.

After season-opening Australian GP many people were complaining about the lack of overtaking on track. But today´s race was in a different class! I can´t help admiring Max Verstappen, who seems to know something about overtaking that others don´t! Like post-race interviewer Herbert stated on the podium, it was almost like Verstappen would have been playing a video game! No wonder he was once again been voted as the Driver of the Day -he got my vote as well!

Although Finnish Williams pilot Bottas had a disappointing race due to his own mistake, I appreciate his attitude a lot. In the post-race interview he didn´t blame cold tyres or anything, but honestly and forthright admitted, that he blew it. In terms of the tyres, he said, that others managed to keep their cars on track but he didn´t. In Bahrain we´ll see, whether Valtteri will be able to cope with the pressure and turn setbacks into success. I sincerely hope all the best for him!

The drivers´ championship standings look thrilling -Hamilton and Sebastian both have 43 points. Verstappen is third (25 points), Bottas fourth (23 points) and Kimi fifth (22 points). In terms of the constructors´ standings the situation is equally exciting; Mercedes has only a 1-point lead to Ferrari at the moment. Can´t wait for the Bahrain GP, which will be already next week!

Ei kommentteja:

Lähetä kommentti