Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 14. toukokuuta 2017

Spanish GP: Wheel-banging battle for victory between Hamilton and Vettel!

The red cars shared mixed fortunes at the start of the Spanish GP today. Sebastian, who started from the front row alongside pole-setter Hamilton, got a magical start and stormed to the lead. Kimi on the other hand, had contact with compatriot Bottas, who hit Kimi´s rear right tyre. This made Kimi crash into Red Bull´s Verstappen, who was in the outside of Kimi trying to get past the Iceman. The collision broke Kimi´s suspension and the Iceman was out of the race! Verstappen managed to drive into the pits but was forced to retire as well. What a disappointing start to the race!

I was absolutely delighted to see, that Sebastian was able to build a gap to Hamilton lap by lap. Bottas, who had had an engine change before yesterday´s qualifying, was unable to match his teammate´s pace. However, Red Bull´s Ricciardo in P4 was no threat to Bottas. Sebastian was the first top driver to pit on lap 15. The German opted for another set of soft Pirellis and re-joined the track right behind Ricciardo. It was crucial to get past the Australian quickly, and Sebastian made a successful overtaking move on his ex-teammate shortly after his pit stop. Sebastian´s driving was such a pleasure to watch, he seemed so determined to get the third win of the season.

Race leader Hamilton didn´t pit until on lap 22. The Briton had a different tyre strategy, as he opted for a fresh set of white-marked medium tyres. Hamilton re-joined the track in P3, behind Bottas and Sebastian. Bottas, who was leading the race, hadn´t pitted yet. Sebastian on the fresh soft tyres was right at the Finn´s tail in no time. Bottas tried his very best to keep the hungry Ferrari ace behind him, but lap 25 was the turning point. On the finish straight, with the help of DRS, Sebastian made a bold overtaking move, which made him even go wide. But Sebastian made it past Bottas and snatched the lead back to himself!

Bottas was called into the pits on lap 27 -after he had already been overtaken by his teammate Hamilton. Bottas had a similar tyre choice to his teammate -a fresh set of medium tyres. He re-joined the track in P3, already significantly down on Vettel and Hamilton (almost half a minute). At the halfway point of the race it seemed, that victory was within Sebastian´s grasp as Hamilton seemed unable to match Sebastian´s pace.

On lap 35 there was an incident between McLaren´s Vandoorne and Williams´ Massa at the back of the pack. Massa dived alongside the Belgian to make an overtaking move, but Vandoorne ended up crashing into the Brazilian. Vandoorne´s race was over, as his McLaren got stuck in the gravel. Virtual safety car was deployed. A couple of laps later Hamilton pitted for the second time; he was going to run the soft compound on his last stint. Hamilton re-joined the track in P2. Right after his pit stop the virtual safety car ended and the race was back on. Sebastian pitted a lap later, and the German had no choice but to opt for the medium tyres on his last stint. It was extremely tight between Hamilton and Sebastian, as the Ferrari ace exited the pits. They drove side by side into Turn 1, their wheels touched slightly but Sebastian was utterly determined to keep his lead. At this point my heart definitely skipped a couple of beats! I knew it was going to be a thrilling battle for the victory!

Only a lap later, on lap 39, there was huge drama for Mercedes´ Valtteri Bottas. Without any warning his engine blew up and the Finn had to park his Silver Arrow on the track. What a bitter moment for Bottas, who had won the Russian GP two weeks ago! Meanwhile Hamilton started to put serious pressure on Sebastian. The Briton was already within DRS distance from race-leading Sebastian and had an advantage in terms of the tyre compound. On lap 44 the inevitable happened -Hamilton moved past Sebastian on the finish straight. Hamilton quickly increased his lead into a few seconds but was unable to pull away from Sebastian. At this point Ferrari considered "plan C", which meant a third pit stop and soft tyres for the closing laps of the race. However, Sebastian stayed out and made all he could to chase down Hamilton and to challenge him for the victory.

Hamilton drove to the chequered flag as race winner; this was the 55th win for the Briton. Sebastian finished the runner-up. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed, as Sebastian had taken such a magical start to the race and at the halfway point of the race it had seemed that he was going to win the race! But Hamilton had a better strategy, no doubt about that. And he definitely benefitted from the virtual safety car. Ricciardo in his RB13 completed the podium, but the "Smiling Avenger" was already 75 seconds down on race winner Hamilton! Today was a superb day for the pink-liveried Force Indias, as Perez finished stunning 4th and teammate Ocon 5th. Hulkenberg in his Renault finished impressive 6th, and Toro Rosso´s Sainz 7th. And who would have predicted to see Sauber´s Pascal Wehrlein in P8? Sainz´s teammate Kvyat finished 9th and Haas´ Grosjean rounded out the top ten.

Sebastian is still leading the drivers´ championship standings with 104 points to Hamilton´s 98. Mercedes, on the other hand, has the lead in the constructors´ standings. They have 161 points to Ferrari´s 153. So the battle will get even more heated in Monaco in a fortnight!

Then a few lines about something, that made a huge impression on me today. After the unlucky collision between Bottas, Kimi and Verstappen in the first corner there was a small Ferrari fan in the international TV footage, crying heart broken because of Kimi´s retirement. Around the halfway point of the race there was TV footage about the very same boy in the Ferrari motorhome, comforted by Kimi himself! This was such an amazing and touching gesture from Kimi and the whole Ferrari team! Formula 1 is all about strong emotions. I´m sure this little boy will remember this day for the rest of his life! And this gesture will definitely make him admire Kimi even more!

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