Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

maanantai 16. huhtikuuta 2018

Chinese GP: Verstappen destroyed Sebastian´s race!

Yesterday´s Chinese GP was... quite a race! I had looked forward to a red-coloured race. I have to say I "saw red" during the race, but not in the way I had hoped for!

Drama started to unravel already at the start. Kimi in P2 got a better start than teammate Sebastian on pole. Sebastian saw that and made things uncomfortable for Kimi by blocking him, going into Turn 1. Due to Sebastian´s move Kimi first lost a position to his compatriot Bottas and then also to Red Bull´s Verstappen, who had started to the race on the ultrasoft compound! Sebastian had hoped that the red team would have maintained their double lead after the start, but in reality his move had led to a very different situation. However, I really can´t blame Sebastian for his move. Every driver concentrates on his own race and in the heat of the start it´s impossible to predict, what kind of consequences a certain move might have. However, Kimi had dropped down from P2 to P4. Hamilton was fifth.

Sebastian was controlling the race in the lead, as Bottas was already three seconds adrift. Verstappen seemed unable to match the Finn´s pace and was already eight seconds down. Kimi, on the other hand, wasn´t fast enough to challenge the Dutchman for P3. At this point everything looked so promising for Sebastian!

Red Bull opened the pit stop roulette in terms of the top teams on lap 18. And what a pit stop strategy the energy drink team had! They made a double stop, as both Verstappen and Ricciardo drove into the pits on the very same lap. It was an impressive effort from the Red Bull team to make two stops in a row! Both Red Bull aces opted for the white-marked medium Pirellis, which indicated a one-stop race for them. Hamilton pitted on the following lap, and teammate Bottas a lap after his teammate. Both Silver Arrows switched to the hardest compound as well. Sebastian and Kimi now had a double lead in the race.

However, Ferrari had no choice but to react to Mercedes´ strategy, and they called Sebastian in. But Bottas benefitted from the undercut, making the Finn snatch the lead, as Sebastian re-joined the track on a fresh set of medium Pirellis. Sebastian was right at the Finn´s tail, but Bottas seemed to have a grasp on the victory. At this point it seemed, that Ferrari were going to "sacrifice" Kimi´s race to increase Sebastian´s chances to win the race. Kimi stayed out on the worn tyres, although his lap times were significantly slower than the top two´s.

By lap 26 Bottas and Sebastian had closed the gap to Kimi. The Iceman did everything he could to hold his compatriot back, to give his teammate a chance to overtake the Finnish Mercedes ace. However, a lap later Bottas made a classy move on Kimi and took the lead. Sebastian moved ahead of his teammate immediately and attacked Bottas, but the Finn defended his position like a lion.

Kimi pitted not until on lap 28 for a fresh set of medium tyres. At this point it seemed, that the Iceman´s race was ruined. He re-joined the track in P6, 10 seconds behind Red Bull´s Ricciardo. I was sad for Kimi, as he had lost two positions at the start due to his teammate´s move, and now the team "sacrificed" his race to make his teammate win. That´s F1 racing but it didn´t sound very fair!

Lap 30 was the turning point in the race. There was a weird-looking incident, where the Toro Rosso teammates collided in Turn 14. Gasly hit his teammate Hartley, leaving a lot of debris on the track. After the race it turned out to be a miscommunication issue, as the teammates were to switch places at some point of the race, and Gasly thought Hartley would give way in Turn 14. However, the Toro Rosso collision brought safety car out, and Gasly was handed a 10-second time penalty for causing the collision. Bottas and Sebastian had already passed the pit entry, when safety car was deployed, but Red Bull reacted right away and called their drivers in for another double stop. Both Verstappen and Ricciardo opted for a fresh set of yellow-marked soft tyres, which was a genius strategy. Due to the Red Bull duo´s pit stops Hamilton moved third and Kimi fifth.

The re-start took place on lap 35. Bottas made an excellent job and held on to his lead. Soon Kimi was in trouble with Ricciardo, who was on the fresh soft tyres. There was a huge difference in terms of the grip of those two cars, and there was nothing Kimi could do to prevent the Australian to attack him. Ricciardo made a stunning move and passed Kimi. Meanwhile Ricciardo´s teammate Verstappen was challenging Hamilton for P3. But once again the flying Dutchman was lacking patience, and he made a move in an undoable place! Verstappen went off and dropped down to P5. Unfortunately this was only the first stupid move from the Dutch Red Bull ace!

Ricciardo was absolutely flying on his fresh soft tyres, and on lap 40 the Honey Badger made a move on Hamilton and passed the reigning world champion! I can only imagine, what was going through Sebastian´s mind at that time. Also Verstappen had made it past Hamilton, and both Red Bull drivers were storming towards the lead... On lap 42 Sebastian´s nightmare materialised, as his ex teammate Ricciardo stormed past the German, claiming P2 already. The Australian was utterly on flames! He had already smelled Bottas´ blood and the chase had begun!

With 13 laps to go, Verstappen made his second mistake, which had dramatic consequences. Max made a thoughtless overtaking move on Sebastian in Turn 6, ending up crashing into Sebastian´s SF71-H! That was a stupid move, which cost both drivers dearly! However, due to this collision, Kimi´s race was saved, as the Iceman moved third. Verstappen was given a 10-second time penalty for causing the collision. I was proud of Sebastian, who kept his head cool and said on the team radio, that he didn´t even need to comment Verstappen´s manoeuvre.

Meanwhile, there was a dramatic turn in the lead. With some ten laps to go, Ricciardo had hunted down Bottas, who had no chance to defend his lead on the worn medium tyres. What a rise the Australian had made after the safety car, making his way from P6 to the lead! Ricciardo crossed the finish line as the race winner. The Finns had a tight fight for P2, but Bottas had the upper hand and finished the runner-up, with Kimi completing the podium. I was very happy for the Iceman; he definitely deserved the podium finish! Hot-headed Verstappen finished in P4, and the 10-second penalty cost him one position only, dropping him in 5th behind Hamilton. Hulkenberg finished 6th for Renault. Poor Sebastian was struggling badly after the collision, and the German got passed by McLaren´s Alonso on the second last lap, finishing in modest P8. What a huge injustice, that in spite of the penalty, Verstappen finished the race ahead of Sebastian!

I have looked up to Max Verstappen a lot in the past. I´ve admired him for his courageous moves and his passion on track. Unfortunately there´s only a thin line between courageous moves and stupid manoeuvres. I was so angry at Verstappen after the collision! However, Max saved my respect for him by his action after the race. Max humbly admitted his mistake and had apologised to Sebastian immediately after the race. Max certainly knew, that without the stupid move, he would have been there to fight for the victory with his teammate! Sebastian kept his head cool and didn´t start calling Max any names after the race. Sebastian has had outbursts of his own in the past, so he was wise enough to understand, that these things can happen sometimes. But still, it was so unfair, that Max finished the race ahead of Sebastian!

Sebastian now has 54 points in the drivers´ championship standings, whilst Hamilton has 45 points. Bottas in third has 40 points and Ricciardo in fourth has 37. Kimi has now 30 points. The situation in terms of the constructors´ standings is extremely interesting, as Mercedes leads by one point only! Red Bull in third is now 30 points down on Mercedes.

The round 4 takes the F1 circus to Baku, Azerbaijan, which was the venue of huge drama last year. Let´s see, what the grand prix holds this year.

Ei kommentteja:

Lähetä kommentti