CHINA GP 15 – GET THAT MCLAREN OUT OF THE WAY!

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Chinese Grand Prix - Race Day - Shanghai, China
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.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Chinese Grand Prix - Race Day - Shanghai, China

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:

https://vid.me/e/s0HC

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Chinese Grand Prix - Race Day - Shanghai, ChinaI 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.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Chinese Grand Prix - Race Day - Shanghai, China

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 ;)
http://www.redbubble.com/people/evenstarsaima/works/14564516-hilarious-kimi-team-radio-chinese-gp-2015

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/

I don't think these two are Alonso fan club members.

I don’t think these two are Alonso fan club members.

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.

Love,
Soren

Take it away Mr. Mercury.

Nico: I'm angry. Lewis: I'm not.

Nico: I’m angry.
Lewis: I’m not.

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MALAYSIA GP 2015 – WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Malaysian Grand Prix - Practice Day - Sepang, Malaysia

Hey guys. It’s been a while since I made a post on my blog. Family life is the main culprit. But naturally, seeing Kimi in 2014 in a car more fit for a donkey didn’t help either. I was actually going to write a post for Australia. Kimi didn’t finish but it was obvious how monumentally better the Ferrari is this year. Kimis pace until the DNF downunder proved that – and even more so, Vettels podium. But I fell ill and had to tend to my ailing body rather than write a review.

Enough with the excuses though. We had a cracking race in Malaysia. I was tempted to turn off the TV at first. But I am glad I didn’t.

QUALIFYING

There is no getting around the frustration of what could have been. The Ferrari was more than quick enough for a second row start. And a first row with some luck. Alas – such luck was not at Kimis disposal. One could blame the powers that be for the poorly timed rainfall. But I would much rather blame the true culprit: Bernie Ecclestone. Malaysia was fine a few years ago. Until he got the idea of moving the race and qualifying forward in time. When everyone knows that it almost inevitably always rains in the afternoon during the rainy season in Malaysia. However, I suspect it is done with serious intent. To hopefully give some shakeup and create some excitement in the beginning of the season. I firmly believe that is the main motivation. Not to appease European viewers by letting them sleep an extra hour or two.

But I digress. Here is what happened. Kimi got out of the garage a tad too late and was stuck behind Ericsson. He tried to pass but it cost him enough to miss Q2. P11 it is. Video: http://indavideo.hu/video/Kimi_beragadt

THE RACE

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Malaysian Grand Prix - Race Day - Sepang, Malaysia

Lights out and the second longest dash of the season down to turn 1 is on! Kimis start is poor. You see the car squirming due to an excess of wheelspin. He gets through the first few turns unscathed but is down to 14th until he makes a stunning pass on the outside
of turn 4. He picks off 2 drivers in one sitting with that move. Unfortunately, one of those drivers is the rookie Felipe Nasr. Another hothead Brazillian just like his namebrother.

We get to “enjoy” the consequences of that when he outbrakes himself in an idiotic attempt to fight Kimi. The result is that Nasr clips Kimis rear wheel, giving him an immediate puncture just as he had passed the pit entrance. Now he has to make the very long way around the Sepang track, with the wheel disintegrating and damaging his floor in his progress. Making the car lose downforce.

29761.3

It is like a total infathomable repeat of history from last year! Kimi does fantastic in the practice sessions. Enter the rain in qualifying and the car was not as good anymore. But even with the dog of 2014 he managed to qualify 6th. Then in the race, another Scandinavian clips Kimis rear tire. Giving him a puncture that damages his floor. Deja vu. Now where is that fucking remote so I can turn off this miserable shit??

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Malaysian Grand Prix - Race Day - Sepang, MalaysiaBut what is this? Karma hits the mongrel Ericsson as he copies his Sauber teammate and outbrakes himself in turn 1. He proceeds to clumsily get stuck in the gravel. Cue Nelsons laugh. Safety Car is brought out, which does Kimi a huge favor. It would have been an even bigger favor if the idiot rookie Nasr had known how to behave behind a Safety Car. But no. He wants to fuck with Kimi some more and for some reason just stays way behind instead of catching up to the rest of the field. What an utter moron. At least Kimi is not a lap down. But he is 17th.

VETTEL IS DEALT HIS FAVORITE HAND

Up ahead, Vettel has decided to stay out on his mediums whereas both Mercedes cars opted to pit for new hards. It would turn out to be the decisive strategic move of the race. As the Mercs make their way through traffic, Vettel is undisturbed in front. And he can turn out some quick laps on the softer rubber. Giving him the gap and buffer he would need for the rest of the race. Very reminiscent of his Red Bull days. This is what he does best. And Mercedes giving him that opportunity was a huge mistake for them. But undoubtedly good suspense- and entertainmentwise.

KIMIS MONSTRUOUS FIGHTBACK

Back in the field, Kimi is hardly getting any screen time at all. But since I have the timing app where I can follow each cars position on the track in real time, I know exactly when and where Kimi is passing people. And he sure isn’t wasting any time. In just a few laps he has made it past 5 cars including 2 McLarens and his old teammate and finds himself in 12th position.

The next obstacle a few seconds ahead of Kimi is a 9-car Hulkenberg DRS train. Great, now we are going to see Kimi catch up to that, not being able to pass. And Ferrari calling him in way too late and losing 2 or 3 positions in the progress. That was the general state of business last year. But lo and behold! Ferrari actually makes a great strategy call for Kimi and calls him in before catching up and losing any time. Bolts on a new set of mediums and only has a couple of cars to battle instead of a huge train. Now I have seen everything. I guess when you remove the Spanish flu from a team, the entire organization will quickly heal and improve.

Not only that, the stop is fast and flawless. He emerges in 17th. But only has Sainz and Maldonado to deal with. And once he had made minced meat of them, the DRS-train had dissolved due to people stopping for new tires. It has been a long while since I have seen such a good strategy call from the Ferrari pitwall on Kimis behalf.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Malaysian Grand Prix - Race Day - Sepang, Malaysia

After passing Felipe Nasr for the 3rd time in under 20 laps, Kimi has edged his way into the top 10. In fact, he overtook Nasr AND Button in one swoop. Next up is another pass of Alonso in his McLaren. He claims he didn’t think it was 1995 after he crashed (which I
don’t believe for one second) but he might think it is 2001 and racing for Minardi. Because the track position is eerily similar. The Spaniard had to retire his car just a few laps later. And Alonso went to his hotel room to practice his samurai mantra of how the Mercedes performance proves he made the right choice in going to McLaren. Good luck with that. As long as the car is not red, eh?

RELAX LITTLE BIRDIES

Meanwhile, Kimi has climbed up to 6th place. After grabbing my rifle and randomly shooting and shouting at birds in my garden after qualifying, I am now certain that they can rest easy on their branches today. It’s not optimal, but giving the horrible hand he was dealt, it’s pretty damn good.

Next up is the two Williams. Kimi is catching Bottas with 2-3 seconds per lap. As the white cars both pit, Kimi finds himself 13 places up and in 4th. That was one heckuva recovery from the Finn. Damage control, yes. But great to see Kimi in a car that suits him infinitely better than 2014.

The other Ferrari of Vettel is also making a lot of progress. He is catching Hamilton after a stop. Just as he makes the pass, Hamilton dives into the pits. Ferrari clearly having the advantage over Mercedes on tire wear in Malaysia.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Malaysian Grand Prix - Race Day - Sepang, Malaysia

The race is only halfway done. And there is a lot of great fights all through the field. Contact and spins. Lots of action – which was great. When it comes to the top 4, the excitement was mostly if Vettel could really hold off the chasing Mercs. Kimi having spent a lot of tires getting to where he is, has to nurse the tires until the point where he can make the final stop for hards and drive them to the chequered flag. There was a glimmer of hope that Rosberg might go to the end on the set of tires that he retook 3rd position from Kimi with. But like I said, the recovery drive had spent Kimis mediums and Rosberg could build a gap big enough for another stop.

FINAL WORDS

As the laps ticked on down the Mercedes boys, especially Hamilton, were getting more and more frustrated as the possibility of catching Vettel was slipping away. Some heated team radio messages only added to the enjoyment. And sure enough, Vettel takes the chequered flag and the win in his second race for Ferrari. As much as I would like to have seen Kimi in the mix, I know that will come. It was a well deserved win for the German and congratulations and praise is in order. Given Rosbergs snarky comments and attitude in Australia towards Vettel, the satisfaction is only that much sweeter.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Malaysian Grand Prix - Race Day - Sepang, Malaysia

The drives of the day belong to the Ferrari boys. Splitting it 50/50 between the two. Vettel did exactly what he had to do. Kimi got a shitty deal but kept his head down and drove a fantastic race in a stricken car. He was naturally disappointed with the result as he knew he had a real shot at victory. But that opportunity was already lost on Saturday. He knows and Ferrari knows that qualifying is paramount. A second row starting position has to be the minimum to expect from both Ferraris in a non-dramatic Saturday. That is what the car seems to be capable of, judging from the two races. A hot temperature also seem to help the red cars. We will see how much once we move to Europe.

So I choose to focus on the positives here instead of lamenting over what could have been. The season is long. And we have a good car. Kimi will have his days in the sun as well. Until China, stay safe, stay frosty. And keep passing the open windows.

Love,
Soren

Take it away, Freddie.

Vettel: "And then Alonso was like: "The car is shit. I'm gonna bang it into this wall and take a break. Kimi: "But then he was all like: "Duuuhh.. I drive go-karts."

Vettel: “You know, Kimi. Sometimes I like to sing while I swerve to warm the tires.”
Kimi: “Yea, I don’t do that.”

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A DARK DAY IN OCTOBER

Bianchi Suzuka 2014

Jules during the first red flag at Suzuka 2014.

I had planned to do a post about the crazy driver switcheroos that have been happening over a very short period of time. But I now sit here finding it extremely hard to find any words. Poor Jules Bianchi ran out of luck on Sunday. I instantly knew something was very wrong when I saw the images of smoke rising up from behind the tow vehicle. Marshalls gesturing frantically and no replays shown. I feared the worst and unfortunately I was right. Thankfully, he is still alive but on the other hand, brain damage is nasty nasty business. Once you have done what you can when it comes to surgery and so on, there is usually only time and a vague prognosis left. It’s not like a broken bone where you know exactly how long it will take to heal.

The official statement today is that Jules has suffered diffuse axonal injury. Pretty much the worst there is. Because the damage is, like the name says, very diffuse. I remember it from when Richard Hammond crashed and suffered the same type of injury and diagnosis. And that is one of the lights in the tunnel. Because Hammond got out of it on the other side, didn’t he. And as close to the same person he was as far as we can tell. Although his family are probably much more aware of the slight changes he is bound to have picked up from this.

But the hard statistics are that only 10% of people with this type of brain damage ever wake up again. But let us count our blessings even in dark times. He is still alive. He is in the best physical condition a person can be, which always helps. And he has the best treatment available. So hope lives and I will keep praying for him. If you want to read more about the condition, Gary Hartstein explains it well here:
http://formerf1doc.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/diffuse-axonal-injury/

If you have not seen the video of the crash yet, you can find it here:
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=818_1412603603
There is no gore, but the force of the impact is sickening.

RIP ANDREA DE CESARIS

andrea-de-cesaris-307688
If that wasn’t enough, an old Formula 1 hero died this weekend. Andrea de Cesaris suffered a fatal crash on his motorbike, killing him instantly. RIP old warrior. I remember a couple of his races vaguely when I watched F1 sporadically in the early 90’s. He earned the nickname “de Crasheris” after his first couple of years in F1. He had some seriously spectacular crashes. And he seemed absolutely unfazed and fearless in spite of them. The nickname is a bit unfair as he was actually quite a capable and talented driver.

I remember reading one team boss saying that he was amazed that de Cesaris made it out of F1 alive. I forgot who it was. But my first thought when I heard of his accident was that it finally caught up with him. A stupid thought probably, but you just can’t remove the need for speed from a racer. No matter how retired he is. I recommend this rundown of his 15-year long career in F1: http://counter-x.net/f1/de_cesaris/index.html

THE VETTEL-FERRARI MOVE AND THE REPERCUSSIONS

The news of Vettel leaving Red Bull and with pretty much 100% certainty teaming up with best mate Kimi Raikkonen next year was sadly overshadowed by Bianchis accident. But it is still quite a bombshell. Not many people in the world saw that coming. It is a brave and bold move from the German. Going from the safety of the brilliant Red Bull team to a Ferrari team who – let’s be honest – has been quite messy for several years. He goes to a team where there is still waves from Luca being forced to step down. A team that has a power unit far inferior to the Mercedes engine. A team who has been nowhere near in producing the downforce that Red Bull are able to in their cars.

Vettel clearly hopes to do what Schumacher did, pull Ferrari back into a championship winning streak. However, Ferrari has no Newey by the design helm. What they do have is a new team principal in Marco Mattiacci with no previous experience from racing to speak of. But the man is ambitious and pulls no punches. He is the first proper team principal successor to Jean Todt as I see it. He still has a lot to prove though. But if he starts with restructuring the team, getting rid of Alonso and aquiring Vettel together with Kimi Raikkonen, he is off to a pretty good start.

Even Kimi have loosened up on his adamant comments that he will quit F1 after 2015. So there is a definite no-nonsense plan to get Ferrari back to the top in a couple of years. Before that, they pinned a lot of that plan on Alonso. But that approach have failed time and again. So time for a new and better one. Not to mention that the team-mate dynamic is bound to be unproblematic with this line-up. Exiting times.

FERNANDO ALONSO

What is equally as interesting is seeing how Fernando Alonso has once again burned his bridges. To the point where he may in fact not even have a drive next year. He said he has all the options. Well, I don’t think so. Red Bull have clearly said that they did not even consider him: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/116152
Toto Wolff have stated in not so many words, that they do not want to risk a “mess” by hiring Alonso as it is now. In other words, team bosses know that Alonso is an outstanding top class driver. But they also know that he comes with a price. And some luggage. Clearly, for some, it is simply not worth the hassle. If you haven’t already, you should read this brilliant article by Mark Hughes on the topic of Alonsos exit from Ferrari:
http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/f1/alonso-leaves-ferrari/

So where will he go? McLaren is the obvious answer. But last I heard was that Ron Dennis said that they have not hired him. Honda seems to want him. But does McLaren? He was a ticking bomb the last time he was there. It doesn’t matter if Lewis was favored or not. Nandos blackmailing and Ferrari-IP using antics is simply not cricket. And they have not been forgotten in Woking either, I’m sure. But at the same time, it would probably not be wise for McLaren to pass on an opportunity like Alonso. So it’s a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Will be interesting to see where the self-proclaimed samurai warrior ends up. The samurai should make a mental note: “A samurai must never bite the hand that feeds him. No matter how skilled he is.”

FINAL THOUGHTS

If this had been 20 years ago or longer, Jules would be dead. But this is the situation today: Safety has come so far that it saves lives and thank God for that. But in some cases (specifically head injuries), it sends drivers into a coma or vegetative state instead of killing them instantly. Some might argue that there is not much difference between the two. However, as long as there is breath there is hope. And anyone would cling to that when it comes to loved ones. I don’t know what my point is or if I have one at all. Maybe that safety equipment needs another quantum leap like it took after May 1st, 1994.

When we see the awful footage of Bianchi slamming into that tractor, lifting it clear off the ground, it is hard to imagine how anything could possibly prevent a human from getting hurt in such a shunt. But that is what progress is for. In 1920, a car crash at 40 kph could kill you instantly. Today, we get out of our cars without a scratch and start yelling at the other guy instead. Unthinkable back in the day. I am certain that some bright minds can take us even further in this area.

Get well soon, Jules. We are rooting and praying for you!
Here is a photo we took of you while you were nice enough to say hi, give a smile and sign an autograph for my wife at Spa in 2012.

Love,
Soren

Jules Bianchi Spa 2012

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SPA 2014 – THE ICEMAN SHINES. ALL IT TOOK WAS A CLEAN RACE

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Belgian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium
Sorry for being a bit late with my review of Spa. One of my harddisks decided to call it quits. And it had to be the one with the OS. Oh, well. It was about time I upgraded the old gal anyway. Spanking new OS, SSD disk, twice the RAM and its smooth sailing. Now I just need to make an image of the installation in case it happens again. I was too lazy for that before. Nothing beats learning the hard way.

Ok, back to racing. As always, any Kimi fan has high hopes for Kimi around the Belgian track. And with good reason. He has won it more times than any of his current colleagues. And he would have won it more times if it weren’t for the fact that Spa used to take a year off now and then in the beginning of his career. Alas, for this year he is in possession of the Shitbox Speciale. The aero sucks donkey-dong and the engine is asthmatic compared to the Mercedes. So a repeat of the sensational win in 2009 is off the cards. At least that car had the oomph it needed on the long straights due to the KERS. The F14T is kinda like the F60 – but without the KERS.

That being said, Spa is probably the track on the calendar where driver skill matters most. The fabulous sector 2 with turns like Rivage and Pouhon is what separates the men from the boys. And Kimi sure knows how to work his magic there given half a chance. Just get some goosebumps watching Kimi in this V10 powered attack of Spa. The glorious, but oh so fragile MP4-20:

By the way. Fuck V6 sounds.
Right. Qualifying was wet-dry and very tricky. Kimis maximum was probably around P5. But the lack of heat in the tyres and the mistakes that often follow suit, saw him secure 8th place on the grid. Rosberg once again snatched pole from Hamilton. That makes it 4 poles in a row for the German. The stage is set for another showdown. And you probably know who drew first blood.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Belgian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium
THE RACE

Lights out and Hamilton jumps ahead of Nico and is first out of La Source. Making great use of his skill and knowledge of Spa, Kimi manages to pass the crazy Dane in the McLaren. If you looked closely at the TV pictures, you could see Magnussen do some wild defending after Kemmel into Les Combes. (Not the last time he would do this.) He brakes a tad too late which makes him vulnerable for attack and Kimi snatches his place. Rødgrød med fløde, tak! Vettel fails at his attempt to take the lead, also overshoots and goes back to 3rd place.

But Nico is not satisfied. He gets a good tow on Hamilton down the Kemmel straight on lap 2, but not nearly close enough to make any attempt of a pass. That didn’t deter him from trying though. A half-hearted attempt at going side by side into Les Combes results in chipping off a big part of his front wing. What is worse is that it immediately results in a puncture for the race leader. I can vividly imagine Hamilton shouting the foulest things inside his helmet as he has to limp all the way around the longest track on the calendar. Toto Wolff looked ready to howl at the moon as steam almost seemed to evade from his ears.

As the race goes on, we hear that Alonso will get his usual 5 second slap on the wrist. This time for the mechanics not having cleared the track within the allowed time. When the same happened for Kimi in Monaco in 2008, he was given a proper drive-through. A drive through where you can take the 5-second penalty together with a pitstop is not a penalty. But I digress.

Kimi now runs in 6th behind Bottas. And later behind Alonso as Bottas passes the Spaniard. He has no trouble keeping up and looks faster as well. But there is no getting by on the straight. So he does a surprisingly early stop on lap 8. It is a gamble. Because it requires him to make swift progress of the gaggle of cars he comes into from exiting the pit lane. And doing so without taking too much life out of the tires. This decision did put him slightly on the backfoot in the second half of the race. But it may still have been the best choice. So kudos to the Ferrari pit wall for doing something right for Kimi.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Belgian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium

He made it out ahead of Rosberg who had a frontwing change on the same lap. He makes a sweet pass on Gutierrez before Blanchimont. Unfortunately missed by the cameras. The following lap he zooms by Sutil who has learned to keep out of the Icemans way when he sees him in his mirrors. Then he makes minced meat of Vergne and setting the fastest lap in the progress. Ah. No one hitting the Iceman. No idiotic team calls. A track that brings out the best in drivers and Kimi is suddenly running in 2nd place behind Ricciardo. More proof that if you just leave him alone and give him the proper tools, he will beat any teammate under normal circumstances. Just imagine him in a car that actually fits his driving style.

Ricciardo up front is pulling away from Kimi while Vettel behind him is losing ground. An unthinkable scenario when it comes to the Red Bulls just a year ago. Both Red Bulls are on the same tire as well. So Vettel not comfortable at all in the car this year.
Halfway through the race we get some further entertainment as we watch the battle between Danish dynamite and the Spanish firecracker. Kevin Magnussen does some brilliant defending. Pissing off Alonso to the point where he just can’t hold his hand on the wheel anymore. Oh, this does make me laugh :D

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Belgian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium

Raikkonen did his final stop with half the race to go. The harder tire between 1 and 2 seconds slower makes it an immense challenge of keeping them alive for about 155 kilometres distance at race pace. He does a beautiful pass on the outside of Button into the final chicane. From there on in it was a question of maintaining pace while preserving tires and defending the position he had clawed his way into from 8th.

He ran as high as second before eventually being passed by Rosberg and finally Bottas on fresher tires. Still, 4th is a cracking result all things considered.
Alonso has another rendezvous with Magnussen towards the end of the race. His brilliant defending turns a little bit ugly down the Kemmel straight. He forces Alonso onto the grass at 300 kph+. “All da time you leave-a da space!” If not for that slightly crazy move he would have kept his position instead of a 20-second penalty. Other than that, he positioned his car perfectly.

The final 3 laps was probably the best of the entire race. Epic fight between Magnussen, Vettel, Alonso and Button. Positions shifting back and forth. Lovely stuff.
Ricciardo wins. Unbelievably it is his third win this year. Rosbergs 2nd place puts him 29 points ahead of Hamilton. And I think it is safe to say that the gloves are off between the two from now on.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Did Rosberg do it on purpose? I really don’t know. I can only guesstimate from looking at the onboard. I think he wanted to do something, anything, in a split second. Probably out of frustration over losing position. Perhaps it was race induced red mist. I think he did a slight adjustment of the wheel in the heat of the moment that was not fully thought through. So we get a deja vu of last years booing on the podium. Only it is a different German that is targeted this time around. Bottas on the podium again. He is a coming star for sure. But Ricciardo is also looking a whole lot better than I thought he was.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Belgian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium

Kimi did an awesome job. But as he pragmatically stated: It was just because of his first clean race this season. Ever so modest. I have never seen and I never will experience Kimi big himself up. And we don’t need to either. We have Alonso and Hamilton to do that and that is more than enough.

I propose that we just hold 12 races at Spa next year. I don’t mind. The remaining 8 can be divided between Suzuka and Monaco. Places where it still takes balls. Kimis post race statement: http://www.formula1.com/news/headlines/2014/8/16261.html

All right. Monza is coming up. Don’t expect a review because I fear that Ferrari will be absolutely humiliated there. On the other hand it will be interesting to see which team clocks the highest top speed this year. It might even break some records.

Take care peeps. Enjoy life.

Love,
Soren

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Belgian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium

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THE CURIOUS CASE OF KIMI RAIKKONEN 2014

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Hungarian Grand Prix - Race Day - Budapest, Hungary
It’s time to delve into Kimis 2014 season. Now this is not going to be some sort of apologetic post although some will probably perceive it as that. I simply want to go through his season, race by race. Basically to try and understand what the hell is going on. Because there is no doubt that the season has been abysmal so far. It’s kinda like a nightmare that you just want to end. Hence my lack of motivation to write the normal amount of reviews like I usually do.

Has Kimi been underperforming? No, I dont think so. He has looked less than impressive in a race or two. Canada comes to mind. But we sometimes need to look past the race result itself. He has had his fair share of issues and incidents that hampered his race and results and we need to include these factors in the equation.

10 years ago, Kimi actually had a season similar to this one. After 10 races in 2004, he had 28 points using todays points system. The main problem was not only the car being inferior to the mighty Ferrari that year. But also its horrible reliability. 8 out 18 races Kimi retired because of technical problems. (Yes, even Germany was technical, as his rear wing broke off and caused the accident.)

The only saving grace for McLaren that year was Kimis stunning victory at Spa from 10th place. A feat he would repeat in 2009, saving the face of another team that had given him a dog car.

But this is 2014. So what do we know? Ferrari have managed to not only produce a vastly inferior engine to the Mercedes but also a very tricky car to drive and set up. Kimi had his fair share of problems in pre-season testing. Which gave him a whopping 1000 kms of less tracktime compared to his teammate. But let me just do a quick rundown of his races this season.

AUSTRALIA
Qualified 11th. Race finish: 7th. 6 points.

Issue: Traffic every lap in qualifying. He spun into the wall but that had no effect on his final quali result.
He got a hefty bang from Kobayashi during the start. But suffered from unpredictible and changing handling throughout the race. A lot coming from the brake-by-wire system that was far from being perfect at that point. And it would plague him for several races to come.

MALAYSIA
Qualified 6th. Race finish: 12th. 0 points.

Issue: Kimi was 2nd and 3rd in all practice sessions but when the rain came in qualifying, he could only manage 6th.
Kevin Magnussen drove into the back of Kimi on lap 2, giving him a puncture. This dropped him to the very back of the grid and spent the rest of the race fighting his way up to 12th position.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Malaysian Grand Prix - Race Day - Sepang, Malaysia
BAHRAIN
Qualified 5th. Race finish: 10th. 1 point.

Issue: Good qualifying. But gets another hit from behind from Kevin Magnussen on lap 1 of the race. No visible damage or puncture this time. The nature of the Bahrain track highlighted just how underpowered the Ferrari was to the Mercedes cars. And he dropped back to 10th as he was out-tractioned and out-accelerated by several cars.

CHINA
Qualified 11th. Race finish: 8th. 4 points.

Issue: Lots of different problems in practice sessions. Gear change problems in Q2 stopped Kimi from going to Q3.
In the race he had to back off in the final parts of the race over concerns about high fuel consumption. Complained over an unusual lack of grip during the race. Low temperatures combined with Kimis over-easy smooth driving style is likely a big reason.

SPAIN
Qualified 6th. Race finish: 7th. 6 points.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Spanish Grand Prix - Race Day - Barcelona, SpainIssue: Ferrari politics. The presence of Santander CEO, Emilio Botin at the race, saw Ferrari switch the pit stop strategies for Alonso and Raikkonen so that the Spanish Santander backed driver could finish in front. Also part of a plan and effort from Ferrari to try and persuade Alonso into staying at Ferrari.

The power of Alonsos car was also turned up for qualifying in an attempt to make sure that Alonso qualified ahead of Kimi. (FIA requested after qualifying that the power was turned down only on Alonsos car, not Kimis.) When that didn’t happen, action had to be taken during the race. It was a sham and a farce that not many people in the public know about. To quote Kimi in the team radio after the race: “I didn’t come here to be the second choice. You should explain me this shit!”

MONACO
Qualified 6th. Race finish: 12th. 0 points.

Issue: A great start and Vettels retirement sees Kimi running 3rd behind the two Mercedes cars. He is nearly on the same pace as the Mercs and is all but set for a podium finish. But the clownish Max Chilton managed to run into him during a safety car period, giving him a puncture. After stopping for new tires, this dropped him way back and he could only manage 12th on the near impossible to pass streets of Monaco.

This horrible misfortune was highlighted by the fact that Kimi was not informed over the team radio during the SC period, that backmarkers were about to unlap to get back on the same lap. If he had been, the collision with Chilton would not have happened.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Monaco Grand Prix - Sunday - Monte Carlo, Monaco
CANADA
Qualified 10th. Race finish 10th. 1 point.

Issue: Lack of running in practice. Kimi complains about the car sliding around more than usual on super softs during qualifying.
Some brake problems in the beginning of the race. Was always stuck behind cars during the race. Kvyats Toro Rosso for a big part of the race. Yet more inconsistent handling. The lack of oomph of the Ferrari engine made it very hard to pass even if the pace was much faster. In general a very unimpressive race to watch for a Kimi fan. His single point only came due to the crash between Perez and Massa.

AUSTRIA
Qualified 8th. Race finish: 10th. 1 point.

Issue: Made a small mistake in qualifying that cost him 1 or 2 places.
In the race, his brakes started overheating on the 2nd lap. Forcing him to slow down. Ferrari lets him stay out for 3 or 4 laps too long before his pitstop, making him lose 3 race positions. He lost 1-2 seconds a lap and still he was not brought in. These kind of calls boggles the mind.

BRITAIN
Qualified 18th. Race finish: DNF. 0 points.

Issue: Wet/dry qualifying session. A golden chance for Ferrari to take advantage of, but fails miserably with both drivers.
Kimi has a horrible monster-shunt on the first lap. He runs wide at the exit of turn 5, hits a dip before re-entering the track which makes him lose control of the car and crash heavily into the guardrail. Race over for Kimi and Bianchi steps in as test driver as a precaution for the test sessions the following week. Otherwise and thankfully, Kimi is ok to race in Germany.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - British Grand Prix - Race Day - Silverstone, England
GERMANY
Qualified 12th. Race finish: 11th. 0 points.

Issue: Once again when fitting the supersofts, the car slides around all over the place. He loses the back end in turn 2 and can only manage 12th.
During the race, Kimi seemed to be the punching bag of choice when passing or being passed. At one point he was sandwiched between a Red Bull and a Mercedes which made him lose a big part of his front wing. This worsened the graining factor, causing loss of pace. Kimi does however finally say that he was able to drive the car the way he wanted to – apart from these problems. First time we really hear this.

HUNGARY
Qualified 16th. Race finish 6th. 8 points.

Issue: Ferrari does another monumental and disgraceful blunder. They gamble that Kimis time is quick enough for Q2. He asks them several times if they are really sure. They are. Except it wasn’t. So Kimi starts 16th when he would have been comfortably in Q3.
Easily the best race for Kimi this year. Great fightback from 16th to 6th. If not for getting stuck behind Massa, his result would have been even better. It shows some promise for the remainder of the season.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Hungarian Grand Prix - Race Day - Budapest, Hungary
As you can see, (and it has been said before) Kimis problem is not that he suddenly decided to suck. It is coming to grips with a very unpredictable car in terms of setup vs. Kimis driving style. It is coming to grips with a far from perfect brake-by-wire system. As well as battling horrendous team-calls. Political or not. Throw in the likes of Kevin Magnussen and Max Chilton into the mix and you got a season from hell. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

Spa is coming up in less than a week and there is hope for another great result. Especially when we know how Kimi simply loves this track and masters it better than his peers. Unfortunately, some realism have to be introduced. Even if the car feels better between Kimis hands, the Ferrari engine is still down on power to the Mercedes powered cars. And horsepower does matter a lot more in Belgium than it does in Hungary. But a good result could still be on the table. And heaven knows that we Kimi fans need one these days.

Finally, a big congratulations to Minttu and Kimi. As they are now expecting a child together. Let us hope that the child will inherit Kimis uncanny car feel so the next generation can also enjoy a Raikkonen phenomenon :D

getpic

Take care peeps.

Love,
Soren

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KIMI RAIKKONEN’S PROBLEMS AT FERRARI EXPLAINED

A well-written reminder and a more in-depth view of why Kimi is having such difficulties in the 2014 Ferrari.

I had to repost as the reblogging fucked up my site format.
Originally posted on pitlane talk.

Kimi explained

It was no surprise to us that Kimi Raikkonen was struggling with the F14-T in Melbourne. Besides the obvious problems on the car (brake balance, traction and top speed), it features a problematic design that could extend Raikkonen’s struggles for a few more races.

Upon his return to Formula 1, the Finn enjoyed a stable car under Lotus branding: a push-rod suspension that allowed easy tweaks on front and rear end setup. Raikkonen likes a responsive, almost oversteery front end, without having to dial in too much input on cornering. In 2012, the steering precision was a little off for his tastes, so Lotus resolved the matter in a couple of race weekends and in Bahrain he was already on the podium. The E20 was known for its quick response to setup changes, which was mostly down to efficient push-rod packaging.

The situation at Ferrari now is a lot more complicated.

The very nature of the Prancing Horse’s cars after Schumacher’s departure consisted of stubborn understeer throughout the years. Nothing that a few setup changes couldn’t solve, or resources couldn’t handle. Kimi shined at Ferrari in 2007 and, despite a few off moments, was on it in 2008 and 2009 as well.

So what has changed at Ferrari that gave Kimi such a shock struggle in Melbourne this year?

Since 2012, Ferrari decided to develop their cars on the basis of a PULL-ROD SUSPENSION, something that was abandoned by teams at the end of 2010. The solution has its advantages, as it lowers the nose and the suspension, along with the center of gravity. However, the problem lies in fine tuning.

One of the major disadvantages of a pull-rod approach is the limitation on adjusting the car’s handling, which is due to difficulty accessing certain areas of the car. For example, in the case of a rear pull-rod, you have to remove the floor as well as the gearbox to fine tune the rear end because there’s simply no space to operate around the springs.

Therefore if the car’s handling is fundamentally understeery, it’s simply impossible for Kimi’s crew to counter that with more oversteer in two practice sessions. There’s not enough time to disassemble and reassemble the car until Kimi is comfortable with the handling as it’s usually difficult to get it right on the first try. Even if the mechanics are able to find the optimum input, the pull-rod suspension is a stubborn system that usually doesn’t react as precisely to setup changes as a push-rod.

Spending Friday practices in the garage picking apart the front end of the car is not a solution, especially this year when every kilometer counts.  Repackaging the front pull rod would be a solution, but it would affect the overall balance of the car and could make things worse. The quickest way would be to induce oversteer aerodynamically, which is why Ferrari will manufacture new parts for Raikkonen to solve his problems. Even that might take a few good weekends.

Fernando Alonso is able to cope with the system a lot easier, having raced with a pull-rod suspension at Minardi in 2001. Which is probably why Ferrari decided to reinstall the system to make the Spaniard more comfortable in the car.

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Kimi Raikkonen’s problems at Ferrari explained

Soren:

A well-written reminder and more in-depth view of why Kimi is having such difficulties in the 2014 Ferrari.

Originally posted on pitlane talk. :

It was no surprise to us that Kimi Raikkonen was struggling with the F14-T in Melbourne. Besides the obvious problems on the car (brake balance, traction and top speed), it features a problematic design that could extend Raikkonen’s struggles for a few more races. 

Upon his return to Formula 1, the Finn enjoyed a stable car under Lotus branding: a push-rod suspension that allowed easy tweaks on front and rear end setup. Raikkonen likes a responsive, almost oversteery front end, without having to dial in too much input on cornering. In 2012, the steering precision was a little off for his tastes, so Lotus resolved the matter in a couple of race weekends and in Bahrain he was already on the podium. The E20 was known for its quick response to setup changes, which was mostly down to efficient push-rod packaging.

The situation at Ferrari now is a lot more complicated.

View original 385 more words

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