Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 2. syyskuuta 2017

Italian GP / Qualifying: Ferrari lost pace in a rain-disrupted qualifying!

It was raining heavily, when Q1 got underway. Everyone went out on the blue-marked full-wet tyres. Conditions were extremely challenging, but Hamilton went fastest right away. However, the rain worsened and Haas´s Grosjean aquaplaned off on the main straight, bringing out the red flags just four minutes in. After that the session was delayed by 15 minutes for massive eight times! This meant a 2,5-hour delay altogether! Due to the pouring rain the track conditions were much too slippery and dangerous for the F1 cars, even on the full-wets. Luckily many drivers used their sense of humour to cope with the frustrating break; the Red Bull drivers Verstappen and Ricciardo acted as a cameraman, and Williams´ Massa played football with his son and his team on the pit lane. When the break was finally over, everyone headed out on the full-wets. The track conditions kept improving all the time. The Mercedes duo set the pace, Hamilton having the upper hand on his teammate. Sebastian was the first driver to switch to the green-marked intermediate tyres, with five minutes remaining of the first session. Everyone else followed the German and pitted for the intermediate Pirellis. In terms of the pit stops, Kimi had a scary moment during his pit stop. He was released unsafely, and the Iceman was just barely able to avoid hitting Force India´s Perez, who was coming into the pits! Luckily Kimi had a lightning-fast reaction and avoided contact with the pink car. In addition to this, Kimi´s front-left brake was on fire! I was utterly surprised, that it seemed to have no effect on the Iceman´s performance, but Kimi had it easy to make his way to Q2. Bottas set the pace at the end of the first segment, with his teammate second and Sebastian third. Surprisingly Williams´ Stroll was fifth fastest, right ahead of Kimi! That was an impressive result from the Canadian rookie. In addition to Grosjean, who had crashed out at the beginning of Q1, out of Q2 were his teammate Magnussen, Renault´s Palmer and the Sauber duo of Ericsson and Wehrlein.

In Q2 the conditions remained unchanged. Both Ferrari and Mercedes sent their drivers out on the intermediate tyres, whereas the Red Bull duo of Verstappen and Ricciardo opted for the full-wet Pirellis. Sebastian and Kimi used only one set of tyres during the second session, whereas the Mercedes drivers pitted for a fresh set of intermediates at the end of Q2. Once again Hamilton and Bottas were  the fastest men on track, but there was a massive 7-tenth gap separating the teammates in favour of the Briton. Red Bull clearly had strong performance in the wet conditions, and Verstappen went third fastest. Once again Stroll caught my eye, as the Canadian was fifth fastest also in Q2. It seemed, that Ferrari was the team suffering the most due to the wet conditions. McLaren´s Vandoorne made it among the top ten, whereas teammate Alonso was knocked out of the decisive last session. Although it made no difference for Alonso, who had been handed a 35-place grid penalty for multiple power unit element changes! Q2 was interesting in terms of the Force India teammates. Ocon made it through to Q3, being 10th fastest. Teammate Perez was only two thousandths of a second slower than Ocon, being the first faller in Q2!

Right before Q3 got underway, the heavy rain began again. In spite of the pouring rain, Mercedes sent their drivers out on the intermediate tyres, which was Sebastian´s choice as well. All others headed out on the full-wets, which turned out to be the right tyre choice. Hamilton, Bottas and Sebastian all pitted for a fresh set of full-wet Pirellis, losing valuable time. The conditions were extremely slippery, and the visibility was terribly poor. Red Bull´s pace seemed fantastic, and at the beginning of Q3 Ricciardo was topping the timesheets, with Hamilton second and teammate Verstappen third. I was absolutely amazed at Ferrari´s lack of performance! It seemed, that both Sebastian and Kimi were struggling a lot on the wet track. On the other hand, Hamilton´s performance was amazing; the Briton made it on pole by 1,1 seconds! Verstappen qualified second and teammate Ricciardo completed the perfect result for Red Bull by qualifying third. Nevertheless, both of them have been handed grid penalties for multiple power unit element changes -25 grid slots for Ricciardo and 15 grid slots for Verstappen! This means, that Williams´ Stroll, who qualified fourth, will start the race alongside Hamilton on the front row! Another positive surprise was Force India´s Ocon, who made it as high as P5 (converting into P3 on the grid tomorrow)! Bottas didn´t manage to get the maximum out of his Silver Arrow, and the Finn was left in P6. Kimi managed to out-qualify Sebastian this time, the Ferrari teammates ending up in P7 and P8. The gap between the title contenders Hamilton and Sebastian was massive 2,5 seconds! That´s quite shocking indeed! Suddenly Ferrari lost their performance, after the rain had intensified again in Q3. I really don´t  know, what happened to the red cars in the pouring rain!

Hamilton has now more poles than any man in history -69- after topping the rain-disrupted qualifying in Monza. The weather prediction says, that it should be a dry race. I definitely hope so, as the wet conditions don´t obviously suit the SF70-H at all. Due to the Red Bull drivers´ penalties, Kimi will start from P5 and Sebastian from P6. Luckily the Monza circuit offers many chances for overtaking, so both Kimi and Sebastian have a good chance to make it on the podium. It´s interesting to see, how Stroll (who is the youngest-ever front-row starter) and Ocon will handle the pressure at the start. I wouldn´t be surprised to see some contact on the opening lap... But especially as it is Ferrari´s home race, I hope to see both red-suited Ferrari aces on the podium! Forza Ferrari!

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