Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 30. syyskuuta 2017

Malaysia GP / Qualifying: A turbocharger failure destroyed Sebastian´s qualifying!

For round 15 the Formula 1 circus moved to Malaysia, which will no longer host a GP weekend from next year on. Coming to the 19th Malaysia GP, the breaking news was that Pierre Gasly was to replace Daniil Kvyat at the wheel of Toro Rosso.

In Q1 both Mercedes and Ferrari came out on the yellow-marked soft tyres, as well as Red Bull´s Verstappen. All others opted for the red-marked super soft compound. There was a major shock in Q1 when Sebastian, having had an engine change after his problems at the end of the final practice, reported that he was limping into the pits. It seemed that his turbocharger had gone awol. What a moment of despair it was! His crew made everything they could to ready him for a desperate last-moment run, but it came to nothing. Sebastian was unable to set a lap time, and he was cruelly and inevitably out of Q2! It was so sad! I wanted to cry my eyes out.

Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas and Räikkönen were topping the timesheets in spite of using the harder rubber. Other notable Q1 moments were rookie Gasly impressively in the eighth place ahead of Renault´s Palmer, and even quicker than his Toro Rosso teammate Sainz. What a convincing debut from the Frenchman! Out of Q2 were the Haas teammates of Grosjean and Magnussen and the Sauber duo of Wehrlein and Ericsson, in addition to the unlucky Ferrari ace Sebastian.

Q2 saw everyone come out on the super soft Pirellis. Kimi went fastest on his first run, edging the birthday boy Verstappen by only five thousandths of a second. The Silver Arrows of Hamilton and Bottas were third and fourth. Both Kimi and Verstappen decided to sit out the second runs, as they obviously had no need to improve their lap times. The Finnish Mercedes pilot Bottas jumped up to the top on his second run at the end of the second session. Eliminated from the last session were both Williams drivers, Renault´s Palmer and both Toro Rosso pilots. This time Sainz led Gasly, but only by marginal 0.15s.

In the last decisive session Hamilton took provisional pole by 0.2s to Ferrari´s Räikkönen. Mercedes had been struggling with their pace in the free practice sessions, so it was a bit surprising to see such a strong performance from Hamilton in the qualifying. After the first runs Kimi was followed by the Red Bull duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen and Mercedes´ Bottas, the Finn being massive eight tenths down on his teammate. Mercedes had brought a new aero package to Malaysia, and Bottas had decided to use it on his car, whereas teammate Hamilton had decided to use the older specification. Verstappen improved his lap time on his last flyer, jumping up to third. Kimi showed Ferrari´s excellent pace at Sepang, the Iceman even setting the fastest time on sector 2. Such a shame, that Kimi had a little lock-up coming into the last corner, and the Iceman was only 45 thousandths of a second down on pace-setter Hamilton! Without the small lock-up, the pole would have been for Kimi to grab! Ricciardo qualified fourth, followed by Bottas, who was already six tenths down on his teammate. Force India´s Ocon, McLaren´s Vandoorne, Renault´s Hulkenberg, Force India´s Perez and McLaren´s Alonso rounded out the top ten. Kimi´s stunning performance made me happy, although I was so sad for Sebastian´s unfortunate qualifying-ending technical failure.

Due to the catastrophic first-lap collision in Singapore, Sebastian is already 28 points down on Hamilton in the championship standings. Today´s technical failure in the qualifying certainly doesn´t make Sebastian´s battle for the championship any easier. The German will start from the very back of the grid... No one has ever won the Malaysia GP outside the top ten! But history is there to be changed! Many people seem to believe that Sebastian´s fight for the championship is already over. Not me! No one knows, what will happen in tomorrow´s race and in the other remaining races. Hamilton has succeeded in everything he has done after the summer break, but every winning streak will come to an end at some point. Sebastian certainly can´t afford any mistakes, but he has a winning car and a lot of will power. Many people say that it requires a miracle, that Sebastian could win the championship. But I believe in this saying "It always seems impossible... Until it´s done!"  The fight for the championship is not over yet!

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