Closing, closing.. The number 7 car has some real speed in hand at the closing stages of the race in China. Just one more lap and he will be in DRS range of his teammate. Surely, it could be pos… What’s this? Is that another Renault engine blowing chunks all over
the tarmac?? And on the start-finish straight no less! Safety Car to the finish. Whoop-de-doo. FFFFFUUUUUUUUUUU!! Not only do we have to hear whining and bickering from Red Bull over the weak Renault power plant, now we have to suffer them ruining the climactic ending of the race as well. Motherf… I predict some birds in my garden will soon meet their end.
Talk about the ultimate tease. Up until then, it had been an interesting race to be honest. When the lights went out, we saw a Kimi that was hell bent on taking back the 4th position that he had given away to the Williams cars in qualifying. It was an aggressive Kimi pulling no punches looking for those gaps to first get past Massa and then Bottas in a great move on the inside of turn 6. Take a look – complete with Arrivabenes elated fist pumping:
I think most of the F1 viewer base were hoping for another Ferrari challenge towards Mercedes. But as the first pitstops approached, those dreams went down the drain. Hamilton just put in a second or more quicker laps before his stop, making it very obvious that there was more than plenty of speed to draw from. Rosberg however, didn’t seem to have that same speed and began complaining before his stops that Hamilton was driving too slow and allowing Vettel to catch up. The drama. But even then, Rosberg were able to keep Vettel at bay with relative ease.
Kimi had no problems keeping up with Vettel in the first stint. But lost a lot of time after his stop. Partly because Ferrari chose to let him run 2 extra laps after Vettels stop and also due to a less than perfect stop. So instead of a 2 second gap, there was a 6 second gap. I think Ferrari wanted to try something a little different by giving Kimi fresher tires at the end of the race. Because the strategy was repeated in stop number 2. So I cannot fault them for that. Especially since it seemed to be working until that fateful Safety Car.
After lap 40 we get treated to one of the best scraps of the race between Ricciardo and Ericsson. Truly great racing. But for me, it was interupted and topped by something else. The team radio of an annoyed Finn. I had actually followed the build up on my F1 app. I
knew Alonso was coming up to be lapped by his old teammate. I just knew that the Spaniard would make it unnecessarily difficult. He was not in a fight like Button and Maldonado. He was alone, undistracted and knew full well a faster car was coming up. But because Alonso has proven himself to be a small and bitter man numerous times, Kimi had to get on the radio. I can guarantee you beyond a shadow of a doubt that Alonso made it especially hard for Kimi to get by. Because that is just how he is.
“Come on. Get that McLaren out of the way!” Of course I was pissed on Kimis behalf. But now I was also amused, because we had been served another classic Kimi tidbit. In fact, a friend of mine already jumped on the opportunity and made shirts available that is
decorated with these undying words. Perhaps you wanna grab one yourself. I want it in white I think ;)
Could Kimi have caught and passed Sebastian? I would have said just maybe. But according to Kimi himself after the race, he could have. “The safety car didn’t help, my speed was enough to attack Seb and pass him. It is what it is now. With a better starting position I would have had a better chance. I have to do a better job if I want to stand on the podium.” Source: http://gp-live.hu/f1-hirek/raikkonen-felallhattam-volna-a-dobogora-kinaban-de-teny-jobb-munkat-kell-vegeznem/
Before I round off this short review, I will touch on something I found endearing. In a manly way of course. Arrivabene and Kimi have really hit it off. He speaks directly without wrapping his words and Kimi likes that. And from the numerous interviews I have read, it seems that Arrivabene understands Kimi and what he needs to thrive. I have not seen anything like this since Jean Todt in 2007. And they have remained good friends. And to be fair, Kimi has also known Arrivabene since his first stint in Ferrari.
Here is one such article that underlines some of the things I mentioned: http://adamcooperf1.com/2015/04/12/sensitive-raikkonen-will-thrive-with-team-support-says-arrivabene/
Allrighty then. Bahrain is next weekend. Everyone and his sister is calling for Kimi to up his game in qualifying. It’s true. And I know he will. And it won’t because of what we demand. It will be because he works at it. Which he does. Hard. In the established pecking order, a minimum 4th grid position should be no real problem on an ordinary Saturday. Vettel is an extremely good qualifier. But he is beatable. The Mercs are out of reach under normal circumstances. But they too are beatable on race day. Especially in hot weather. Sadly, Bernie has a boner for night races so Bahrain will not be as hot as it could have been. But a podium is overdue. Kimi had the potential speed for that in all 3 races so far. Now it’s time for a payout.
Take it away Mr. Mercury.
Images © Photo4, Batchelor/XPB Images, Charles Coates/LAT
Do not hesitate to contact me if you need any of these photos taken down for any reason.