Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 13. toukokuuta 2017

Spanish GP / Qualifying: Sebastian only 0,051s away from pole!

After the magical and unforgettable Russian GP weekend it has been a bit difficult to get my feet back on the ground. However, now I´m back to watching Formula 1 action on TV at home. Qualifying made me a bit worried, as Sebastian had had a water leak in his SF70-H at the end of the third practice session, and there had been an engine change before the qualifying session.

Q1 started with drama. Sebastian came out as soon as the first session got underway, but he had only just embarked on a quick lap when he was instructed first to stop the car and then to pit. However, Sebastian got instructions on the team radio to change the engine settings, and miraculously the German banged in the fastest lap time! I could let out a sigh of relief. All drivers were on the yellow-marked soft Pirellis. It was Mercedes´ Hamilton, who went fastest on his first run, and the Briton had no need to come out for a second run. After the second runs Kimi was second and teammate Sebastian third. Bottas in his Mercedes was fourth. Wehrlein was a star for Sauber, getting into Q2 with 15th fastest time, which left teammate Ericsson as the first faller in 16th. In addition to Ericsson, out of Q2 were Renault´s Palmer, Williams´ Stroll, McLaren´s Vandoorne and Toro Rosso´s Kvyat.

Q2 saw Bottas spoil his first run by going wide in Turn 1. Once again it was extremely tight between the top teams Mercedes and Ferrari. After the first runs Hamilton was topping the timesheets with Sebastian second, only 85 thousandths of a second down on the Briton. Bottas was third, nine hundredths of a second down on his teammate. Kimi was fourth, followed by the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo. The top six decided to sit out the second runs. The battle was tight in terms of the midfield teams; Alonso in his McLaren stood out of the crowd by making it among the top ten. The fallers in Q2 were the Haas duo of Magnussen and Grosjean (who spun on his second run), Toro Rosso´s Sainz, Renault´s Hulkenberg and Sauber´s Wehrlein.

The battle got even more heated in the decisive final session. Hamilton was back on top form after lacking pace in Russia and took provisional pole, as teammate Bottas had gone wide on his first run. All top teams had brought significant upgrades for Barcelona. However, they didn´t seem to have any crucial effect on the current pecking order, as both Mercedes and Ferrari had brought upgrades of almost equal value. In spite of their upgrade package, Red Bull was still unable to match the top two teams´ pace. Hamilton failed to improve on his second run but Sebastian did, moving past Bottas into second place. Pole was so very close, as there were only 51 thousandths of a second separating the top two! Sebastian drove impressively fast in the first two sectors but lost four tenths in the last sector. The last chicane was too much of a challenge for the German this time. Kimi went faster too, but was left in fourth, behind his compatriot Bottas. The Red Bull teammates Verstappen and Ricciardo will start from the third row. Alonso in his McLaren was a remarkable seventh in what was arguably the drive of the day for McLaren. The pink Force Indias of Perez (8th) and Ocon (10th) were split by the Williams of Massa.

Two weeks ago Bottas made a dream start from P3, so Hamilton should definitely be aware of his teammate when the lights go out at Circuit de Catalunya tomorrow. There are very limited chances for overtaking at Circuit de Catalunya, so the start and the opening lap will play a key role. The result will also come down to reliability, as both Mercedes and Ferrari have had their share of reliability issues this weekend. Bottas missed almost the entire third practice session due to an engine change, and Sebastian also had an engine-related issue of his own before qualifying. I´m sure it will be an intense race tomorrow. Hope to see a red-coloured podium at the end of the race!

P.S. You can read my interview of Sebastian Vettel also on the Scuderia Ferrari Club Riga´s website:

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