ABU DHABI RACE REVIEW – RALLY WALES ROUNDUP ’11


Hi guys. It seems that I have either lost my muse, have writers block or simply lost my motivation for writing reviews at this point. So I am gonna take a hiatus from this blog for now. However, when we get an announcement for what Kimi is going to do, I will naturally put up a post on that.
I have just moved into a new house and there is loads of work to be done there. Also – I am getting married next spring, so that will take up an increasing amount of my time the closer it gets to that date 😀

I will do a quick recap of this weekends race and rally here though. I want to thank all my readers for checking into my blog and reading my posts. And just to clarify – I am not shutting it down. Just taking a little break. Not too bad timing either with the off-season just around the corner 😉

KIMIS RALLY IN WALES

The Rally of Wales kicked into gear last Thursday. With all the Williams rumors floating around, many believed that this would be Kimis last rally appearance. At least for quite some time. So with retirements in the last two rallies – by no fault of his own – it would be nice with a strong result to wrap up the season with.

He made it through the 3 stages on Thursday with decent pace. Ogier however called it quits after 2 kilometers or so on the first stage. Not what Citroen wanted as Loeb did have his 8th championship to lose to Hirvonen.

Day 2 was heartbreak for Hirvonen. He lost the car and crashed into some wooden logs and damaged the radiator. They desperately tried to fix it but to no avail. Loeb was crowned the WRC world champion for the 8th time. Simply unbelievable. There are no more hats to tip or superlatives to give. Amazing.

I said "cut the corner", Kimi. I didn't say "cut the grass."

Kimi on the other hand was picking up speed as day 2 went along. He set some good times on the final stages and was up to 7th overall.
Day 3 was unfortunately not going to be as good. On the very first stage of the day, SS12, he rolls the car and damaged the car enough that he deemed it unnecessary to continue on Sunday. Not the way we Raikkos wanted to see his possibly last rally in a while to end, but there it is.

Some people say that his rally career have been a disappointment or even a failure. But those people, I dare say, do not know the first thing about rally. Kaj Lindström said that for Kimi it is a 4 year plan to get to a point where they can fight with the top guys. So far they are only halfway with a mountain of learning still to do. But what he did with what he had was impressive.

The thing that is holding him back the most is the notes and knowledge of the stages. This is proven by whenever there is testing on the same piece of road, he is most of the time faster than his factory teammates Ogier and Loeb. Yup, you read it right. I will repeat myself – rallying takes a lot of experience. Kimis skills are, as we would expect, not the problem. Its getting used to hearing, making and driving after notes. As well as lacking the experience to know the different stages in the rallies like for instance Solberg does.

Anyway, the WRC season is over. And even Loeb getting taken out by fans in a car crash that damaged his car to retirement on the final day couldnt take his crown away. A big congrats to him and to Latvala who went on to win the rally.

SPEEDY RECAP OF ABU DHABI


Sebastian Vettel managed to bag yet another pole postition on Saturday, making it a total of 14. This gives him a chance to beat Mansells record of 14 in a season when F1 goes to the final race in Brazil next weekend. The McLaren looked set to take pole position all weekend. Especially in the hands of Hamilton. But yet again, Vettel found something on the final lap that the others didnt. Amazing lap. And very interesting to see the entire lap with the camera directed towards the helmet. With the clear visor it was possible to see his eyes while going round the track: http://youtu.be/T0_MV7CiijE

THE RACE

The lights go out at the fantastic Yas Marina Circuit (the complex itself, not the track) and Vettel takes the first corner with ease. But before you can think “here comes another Finger-boy win” we see the Red Bull skidding across the track with a rear puncture! Someone hit him? Did he hit something? Apparently not. Replays shows him being far ahead of the bunch when the back suddenly steps out and its all over. He limps back to the pits but the rear struts seemed to have been damaged from the long way round the track to the pits. So its the first retirement for Vettel this year. I guess it had to happen.

After this he chose to stay in the Red Bull garage and pit wall to follow the race. Not a typical thing for a driver to do in that situation. This article puts some great focus on what kind of mindset that Vettel has: http://www.planetf1.com/driver/3213/7307929/Horner-Cruel-luck-for-Vettel
Im sure this is part of the explanation why he is a double champion.

For Hamilton, this was his lucky day. In dire need of a good result, he inherits the lead from Vettel. Alonso makes it up to second behind him and does everything he can to catch up with the McLaren.

Another driver that does not seem to be doing everything he can, is Mark Webber. What is an amazing car in Vettels hands is just a good top field car in his. He has dropped to 5th and is having all kinds of problems passing Jenson Button. To add fuel to the fire, Buttons car was without KERS at that time and in spite of that the Australian is unable to make a pass stick. He is looking just as lost compared to his teammate as Massa is. Except Mark Webber didnt have to recover from a brain injury, just a broken leg.

In case I didnt make my point clear, I think Mark Webber is pretty useless and I am a bit baffled as to why Red Bull keeps him dragging on for another year. Anyway, he switches to a 3-stop strategy and is able to jump at least Massa for a 4th place in the end. Also helped by a trademark ballerina pirouette by the Brazillian.
Up front Hamilton is keeping station and Alonso at bay. He crosses the finish line and collects his 3rd win of the season, same tally as his teammate. It was in fact a very similar type win to the one we are used to seeing from Sebastian. Keeping just enough distance to his pursuers to stay in control in the pitstops and just controlling the pace towards the end. Is it the Vettel recipe for success?

DRIVER OF THE DAY

Hamilton deserves this one. Lets hope he has bounced back from his slump this season and that the clanging and banging are reduced. Because I sure like the entertainment he can bring on track. Kovalainen in the Lotus (Caterham?) was also most impressive. He had a fantastic start and kept Barrichello behind him during the first part of the race. A strong result.

DOUCHE OF THE DAY

This goes to Pastor Maldonado who had forgot all about what blue flags meant. He collected a drive-through penalty, went out and did exactly the same again!?? Trying to pick a fight with the leading cars?? *golf clap* Runner-up is Webber. Im tired of seeing him waste a space in a magnificent car.

SORENS RACE RATING

As great as the facilities at the Yas Marina Circuit is, the track itself leaves you wanting more. Even with DRS this year, passing was still pretty hard. The race had a few good scraps but I wasnt overly entertained, so its a 5 out of 10 for me. Bring on Brazil that always seem to produce some stellar racing. Crappiest facilities in all of F1, but the best fans and a great track in my opinion.

See you around Raikkos. Keep the faith!
Love, Soren

Images © McLaren, Mark Thompson, Red Bull/Getty Images, Charles Coates/LAT Photographic

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