Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 25. maaliskuuta 2018

Australian GP: Lucky Sebastian took superb victory!

There were blue skies and 24 degrees Celsius, as the cars headed to the formation lap. Mercedes had been forced to change the gear box on Bottas´ W09, which had caused a 5-place grid drop for the Finn. This meant modest P15 for the Finnish Mercedes pilot. It was so exciting to see the lights go out for the very first time this season!

The top three took an excellent start. Hamilton held on to his lead, although Kimi almost had a chance to challenge the Briton going into Turn 2. Sebastian followed his teammate closely. Red Bull´s Verstappen, who started the race on the super soft compound, lost a position to Haas´ Magnussen, who jumped 4th. Bottas in P15 wasn´t able to gain any positions at the start and was stuck in his starting position. Williams´ rookie Sirotkin was the first driver to retire already on lap 5. The unlucky Russian suffered a brake failure.

On lap 9 Bottas managed to make a move on Force India´s Ocon, moving 13th. At the same time, Red Bull´s Verstappen faced drama. The Dutchman suddenly lost control of his RB14 and had a 360-degree spin in Turn 1. He lost positions to both Haas´ Magnussen and teammate Ricciardo, dropping down to 8th. Since the spin Max suffered from severe over steer and his RB14 seemed very difficult to drive. It was hard work to keep the car on track.

Ferrari were able to match Hamilton´s pace, and the gaps between the top three were only about two seconds. Haas was driving a brilliant race, as Magnussen was 4th and teammate Grosjean 5th. However, the American-based team had no chance to keep up with Kimi. The Iceman was the first top driver to pit on lap 19. He opted for the yellow-marked soft tyres, which was the hardest compound available for the weekend. Mercedes had no choice but to take Hamilton in as well; the Briton opted for a similar tyre choice. Sebastian stayed out instead, as he was in no hurry to pit. His P3 was comfortably secured, as the Haas duo was over 25 seconds down on the German.

What a huge drama the successful Haas team faced right after their pit stops! There were difficulties in attaching Magnussen´s rear-left tyre, and right after the pit stop the Dane had to stop the car and retire. Only two laps later, during Grosjean´s pit stop, there was an issue with his front-left tyre, and also the Frenchman had to retire the car after re-joining the track! Virtual safety car was deployed due to Grosjean´s retirement, and Sebastian pitted from the lead on lap 27. Sebastian, too opted for a fresh set of soft Pirellis. I was absolutely amazed to see, that Sebastian re-joined the track ahead of Hamilton, maintaining his lead! What a genius pit stop strategy from the red team, to keep Sebastian out in case of a (virtual) safety car! Hamilton, too couldn´t understand, what had just happened! Sebastian got lucky with the virtual safety car this time. Once he had got a grasp on the victory, I knew, he wasn´t going to let it slip through his fingers!

As it took time to get Grosjean´s car removed from the track, safety car was deployed. The re-start took place on lap 31. Sebastian held on to his lead, but it was obvious, that Hamilton was going to challenge the Ferrari ace sooner or later. Kimi instead had it difficult to match his teammate´s pace. Due to Haas´ unfortunate retirements, Red Bull´s Ricciardo was right at Kimi´s tail, and the Australian was definitely hungry to make it on the podium in front of his home crowd.

Sebastian and Hamilton banged the fastest lap times alternately, which foreshadowed a tight battle towards the closing laps. With some 10 laps to go, the Briton had already made it within DRS distance from Sebastian. However, Hamilton´s intense effort made him lock his tyres; in a blink of an eye the reigning world champion was over two seconds adrift. Hamilton, as well as his teammate Bottas, had an overheating issue with the power unit, which forced the Briton to back off at the end of the race. The issue seemed quite significant, as Kimi managed to decrease the gap to Hamilton into 1.5 seconds on the final lap! On the other hand, Ricciardo was putting serious pressure on the Iceman, but the Melbourne circuit offered very little chances for overtaking, so the Honey Badger had to settle for P4. McLaren had an impressive opening for the season, as Alonso finished 5th and teammate Vandoorne 9th, getting both cars in points. Verstappen finished 6th for Red Bull and Hulkenberg 7th for Renault. Teammate Sainz completed the top ten, which made the day pretty great for Renault as well. All in all, P8 was all Bottas could do after the catastrophic qualifying yesterday.

I had hoped for a red-coloured race, so my hopes were definitely answered! Only a Ferrari 1-2 would have made the day more perfect than this! What an amazing way to kick off the new season! I was overwhelmingly happy to see Sebastian standing on the top step of the podium, accompanied by the Iceman. It´s so great, that F1 is finally back; I have missed these adrenaline-filled race weekends so much! All the best for Sebastian and Kimi this season; I hope it´s going to be a bright red season!

2 kommenttia:

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