Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 29. huhtikuuta 2018

Azerbaijan GP: First win of the season for Hamilton in an action-packed race!

Conditions at the Baku Street Circuit were extremely windy, as the lights went out. Sebastian on pole got an impressive start, and the German stormed to the lead. He was followed by the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Bottas. Kimi, who started on the ultrasofts from P6, got an awesome start, and the Iceman was right at Verstappen´s tail. However, Ocon in his Force India was challenging Kimi, going into Turn 3. The Frenchman ended up hitting Kimi´s SF71-H, which caused significant damage to the Iceman´s front wing. Ocon himself had to retire the race due to the collision. Williams´ Sirotkin, too, faced a DNF already on the opening lap. Safety car was deployed right away, as two cars had stopped on the track. Kimi had to pit for a new front wing, and he switched to the yellow-marked soft Pirellis. The unscheduled pit stop dropped the Iceman down to P14. Kimi´s race definitely hadn´t started the way I had hoped for!

The re-start took place on lap 6. Sebastian held on to his lead with determination. Further down the pack both Verstappen and Renault´s Sainz managed to make it past Ricciardo. Kimi had taken a convincing re-start as well; in a couple of laps the Iceman had already made his way up to P11. The yellow Renaults of Sainz and Hulkenberg were absolutely flying around the Baku Street Circuit in a way never seen this season! Sainz was challenging Verstappen for P4, and the Spaniard managed to make it past the flying Dutchman. Hulkenberg followed his teammate´s example and passed Verstappen a lap later. The Red Bull ace was seriously in trouble with his pace. Renault´s pace was incredible; who could have predicted to see the Renault teammates in 4th and 5th? However, Hulkenberg´s joy was very premature, as on lap 10 the German made a rarely-seen mistake and ended up hitting the wall, which caused a puncture and ended his race.

The Red Bull teammates were having a heated battle of their own for P5. Ricciardo was extremely hungry to overtake his teammate, but the hot-headed Dutchman was stubborn to defend his position by any means necessary. On lap 11 they even banged their wheels, when Ricciardo made a move, but luckily neither one of the drivers got damage to his RB14. However, this was only the beginning of an adrenaline-filled battle, which had severe consequences...

Sebastian and Hamilton banged fastest lap times alternately. On lap 21, however, the Briton pushed a bit too hard, locking up his front tyres. The mistake made the gap to Sebastian increase into seven seconds already. Due to a flat spot on his tyres, the reigning world champion had no choice but to pit for a fresh set of soft Pirellis, re-joining the track in P3. Sebastian pitted on lap 30 for a similar tyre choice to Hamilton. Bottas was now leading the race, as Sebastian re-joined the track in P2. Bottas´ pace was excellent, and it seemed, that the Finn was going to drive a very long first stint.

The battle between the passionate Red Bull teammates was continually ongoing. On lap 34 Ricciardo smelled his teammate´s blood and made a bold move, moving past Verstappen! However, the Australian pitted a few laps later, with his teammate pitting a lap after Ricciardo. Both Red Bull drivers opted for a fresh set of ultrasoft tyres. Verstappen´s pit stop strategy proved more successful, as the Dutchman re-joined the track ahead of teammate Ricciardo. This meant one thing only; Ricciardo had a desperate mission to overtake his hard-fighting teammate for the second time!

Lap 39 saw a dramatic turn; something that had been "floating in the air" for the entire race. Ricciardo decided to make a move on his teammate, who ended up changing his line twice at the braking. Ricciardo hit the rear of Verstappen´s Red Bull, which wiped both Red Bulls out of the race! What a catastrophic turn for the Austrian-based team! A true worst-case scenario indeed! Safety car was deployed, and all top drivers pitted for a fresh set of ultrasoft Pirellis. Magically, Mercedes had made the most genius strategic call, and against all odds, Bottas had taken the lead in the race! Sebastian was second, Hamilton third and Kimi fourth.

There was a bizarre-looking incident behind safety car, as Haas´ Grosjean got caught by surprise by the low grip caused by the cold tyres. All of a sudden the Frenchman lost control of his car and ended up into the wall. This brought even more debris on the track, which meant more laps behind the safety car. The safety car came in with only five laps to go. Sebastian was hungry to get back in the lead. Too hungry! Going into Turn 1 on the cold tyres, Sebastian was way too optimistic about his braking, and he went wide. This move turned very costly for Sebastian, as he lost positions to Hamilton and Kimi. In a blink of an eye Sebastian had dropped from P2 down to P4! It really hurt my heart to see this happening!

Had Sebastian had a little more patience, he would have won the race! As three laps before the chequered flag the race-leading Bottas suddenly suffered a rear-right puncture after hitting debris on the finish straight! What a cruel turn for the Finn, who hadn´t put a foot wrong in the race! However, a much desired win turned into a bitter DNF. On the closing laps Force India´s Perez managed to make it past Sebastian as well, which worsened the consequences of the German´s greedy move. Due to Bottas´ puncture teammate Hamilton crossed the finish line as the race winner, with Kimi second and Perez third. I was very happy for Kimi, who had had a difficult start to the race but who finally had "luck" on his side. Due to the mistake of his own, Sebastian had to settle for P4. However, Perez is still under investigation by the stewards for a DRS infringement. Sainz finished 5th for Renault. Sauber´s Leclerc was the well-deserved Driver of the Day, as the rookie made it 6th in the race. Another positive surprise was Williams´ Stroll, who finished 8th behind McLaren´s Alonso.

Hamilton´s first win of the season made the Briton move at the top of the drivers´ championship standings. Hamilton has now 70 points to Sebastian´s 66 points. Kimi is third with 48 points and his compatriot Bottas fourth with 40 points. Ferrari has taken the lead in the constructors´ championship standings with 114 points to Mercedes´ 110. So Sebastian´s venturesome move came with a high price. With hindsight it´s easy to say, that he should have had more patience and that he should have waited for a better chance for overtaking. But no way he could have known, that Bottas was about to suffer a puncture a lap later... I admire Sebastian for his passionate attitude towards racing, even though it sometimes leads into mistakes. But I have to say I was so gutted for him, finishing the race in P4! In Australia safety car worked for him, but today was a different story.

It would be extremely interesting to be present at Red Bull´s debriefing tonight! There´s no denying it; Verstappen´s season has been a disaster so far. The man has raw speed and exceptional talent, but there have simply been too many thoughtless mistakes this season! If he wants to improve and become a world champion one day, he has to take a good look in the mirror and learn from his mistakes. He can´t make his personal interest a priority, putting the team´s interest aside! If Max can overcome these difficulties, he has no doubt a great future ahead of him.

2 kommenttia:

  1. Heips! Annan ilmaisen vinkin, kun englanniksi kerran kirjoitat. Käytäthän jatkossa heittomerkkiä eli '-merkkiä aksenttimerkin sijaan. Eli esim. McLaren´s pitäisi olla McLaren's. Aksenttimerkkiä käytetään joissain kielissä (esim. ranskassa) tiettyjen kirjainten yläpuolella, ei välissä eli esim. café. Heittomerkki löytyy yleensä näppäimistöltä oikeasta laidasta enterin vierestä. Mukavaa kesää ja bloggailuailoa!

    1. Hei! Kiitos kommentistasi. Enpä ole asiaa edes huomannut, että olen käyttänyt väärää merkkiä! Korjaan asian heti seuraavassa kirjoituksessani :)