Oh, joy of joys. To see the biggest natural race talent to ever graze this earth crawl back into the cockpit of a Formula 1 car… Well, it just doesnt get much better than that. Not only is he back, so is this blog! By popular demand as they say We Kimi fans have enjoyed a lot of cheerful days ever since the news of his return to F1 with Lotus. But as the qualifying session rolled on, so came the memories of the anguish and pain that tend to follow Kimi fans.
Hopes were up and expectations were high. The Lotus had shown genuine pace during testing so how far up would we see Kimi on the grid? Many a Kimi fan had pondered upon this Saturday. The day when we would finally see the true pace of the teams. Well, it was over almost before it began. With my newly downloaded app that shows the cars position on the track, I could see that Kimi did not have any traffic free laps in Q1. Until the end.
The single one he had at the very end was rippled by a mistake when he went wide at Turn 12. And here comes the heartbreaker. For some reason he thought he had enough time to do another timed lap. The team did not inform him that was not the case. So he slowed before the final turns for another run but the flag was already out. Had he not slowed, his lap would have comfortably sent him on to Q2 – even with the mistake. Result – eliminated in Q1, 18th on the grid that later became 17th due to a penalty for Perez.
Bad way to start his return season. But Kimi said No – I will not go quietly into the night! Not without a proper fight anyway. And fight he did.
I was naturally confident as well. I was never down or doubtful for even a second. Unlike many of my fellow Kimi fans. I did everything I could to cheer them up in spite of the result
2 years and almost 5 months ago Kimi had his last F1 start in his career. Or so we thought. Now its go time again. Come on!
The lights go out and Kimi gets a good start from the rear part of the grid but a collision ahead of him grinds him to an almost stop and the Saubers he had effectively cleared got in front of him again. The Melbourne circuit is not an easy track to pass people on and the Saubers would trouble him until the end of the race.
He was up to 14th on the 1st lap however and continued to make his way through the field. Also helped by retirements along the way. Including his teammate Grosjean that had an unfortunate run in with Maldonado that broke the steering on the Lotus. At one point he ran as high as second before his first pitstop on lap 19.
His pitstop was rather slow and was a contributing factor in not making it out in front of Kobayashi. He made amends on that on lap 25 however, when he pulled off the overtaking move of the race. Which can be seen in this clip: http://youtu.be/P1mWDVysg4Y
He also made a nice pass on Massa down the straight. Boo-yah bitch!
There was a bit of contact though which Kimi said slightly damaged the floor of the car and thus affecting the performance a tiny bit.
This clip also brings about the team radio of the day. A furious Kimi raging over why he is being blue flagged! His race engineer calmly responds that it is for the cars behind him. Haha. Pure comedy
I will say this though. I noticed that the marshalls were pretty loose handed with the blue flags. At one point I saw them waving them at the top 3 going by! And then again 20 seconds later for the cars the flags were really meant for. So it could be that Kimi saw something similar and reacted.
Back to his pitstops. They were 24,9 and 23,3 seconds. Compare that to Alonso stops that were 22 and 21,9 seconds. That is a huge difference of 4,3 seconds – just in stops.. There is certainly a lost position or two in there somewhere. I am sure that the Lotus team are aware of this and will work to improve this for Malaysia.
As you see there were several contributing factors that worked against Kimi in the race.
-Good start hampered by a collision in front.
-Slightly damaged floor
-And a steering that is not perfectly to his liking
-Hardly ever free air in the race to let the car run free
-Safety car period that cooled his tires so much that he was unable to keep Kobayashi behind him at the restart. And it was timed badly with his second stop
Not to make excuses or anything – and I dont need to – because his race was brilliant. But all these things add up. And the conclusion is that there is a lot more performance in the Lotus than we have seen so far. We saw a glimpse when Romain grabbed third in qualifying. And we saw great pace from Kimi when for several laps he clocked the same laptimes as the top 3.
After the safety car period he runs 10th after Kobayashi took advantage of his cold tires. As the heat comes back he is clearly faster but there is no way around Kamui this time. On the final lap all hell breaks loose when Maldonado crashes out unprovoked, Nico Rosberg gets a puncture from contact with Perez who could not keep up the pace due to having run 34 laps on the soft compound. That meant Kimi could steal 7th place from Perez in the final corner on the final lap. Great stuff!
Only a few days to the Malaysian GP. I cannot wait to see more of the cars potential in the hands of the Iceman. And no more screw ups please Go Kimi!
SORENS RACE RATING
6 out of 10. The DRS zones were not effective enough or Kimi would have been higher up in the results. Limited camera time on Kimi also drags the score down. (Hey, this is a biased review, remember?) Some good racing here and there from the other competitors and a fighting return from our Kimi lands the score.
Images © Lotus F1 Team/LAT Photographic