Hello European season. Kimi is sitting pretty in 2nd place in the championship. But have Lotus kept up with the bigger teams in developing the car? Have some made a giant leap forward? The questions are always many once we get to Spain and the bigger updates gets fitted to the cars.
And qualifying usually tells all. But maybe not this year.. So much have been said about the tires and it’s not going to go away either. And when Nico Rosberg stuck the Mercedes on the pole and Hamilton 2nd as a Mercedes front row lockout, the questions were still not really answered. Have Mercedes got on top of their race pace problems? If not, then this will be the first Barcelona GP in a long long time that doesn’t have a front row winner.
Vettel on 3rd having used only mediums and Kimi lines up fourth having used most of the hard tires with only one fresh set remaining. So a different strategy is certainly shaping up. Alonso qualifies a surprising 5th after having shown tremendous speed in the practice sessions.
Lights out and the cars scramble and joust down towards turn 1. Kimi gets an ok start and amazingly seems to keep Alonso behind him. But instead of trying the outside line around Hamilton he has to slightly lift which enables Alonso to make up 2 places from Kimi and Hamilton. He is a slippery weasel. Both off and on the track.
At this time it is all about getting past the Mercedes roadblocks. It baffles the mind the speed they have in qualifying – only to drop like proverbial stones once the race commences. You hear Christian Horner speak a lot of trash about the Pirellis but I think Ross Brawn is possibly even more unhappy with the nature of this years rubber.
Kimi makes a boudacious move on Hamilton into turn 10. That’s right. I said boudacious. Cause that’s what it was. He can then take up the hunt on the top 3, having lost some time at this point. He slowly catches the leaders but it does take a little more life out of the tires than if he had been further up ahead.
Surprisingly, Vettel is not making progress in getting past Rosberg for the lead. It emerged later that Red Bull were trying for a 3-stopper. This really hurt their pace more than needed. Especially considering they had a lot of fresh hards available. So Alonso pits early and gets the jump on Vettel after his stop. Ferrari clearly got their stop exactly right. Because Massa also got the jump on Kimi, having stopped 2 laps earlier.
Alonso gets past the race-pace struggling Mercedes. And effectively takes the lead of the race. Vettel, who is wrongly holding on to the 3 stop strategy, quickly loses ground to the Ferrari – even after passing Rosberg. Kimi also passes Rosberg on the main straight. Being the only man putting on the mediums again tells a story of a different strategy to the others.
Felipe baby is having a great race in 3rd place, but is no match for the tire whisperer who catches him rather quickly as his stint progresses. Massa has to pit for new rubber while Kimi flies by. Next target up ahead is the championship leader. He catches him and follows Vettel for one lap before the Red Bull concedes to another stop. Kimi loses a couple of seconds more while Alonso catches up on fresh rubber.
I spare a thought for Lewis Hamilton who is now battling with Toro Rossos and Williams. He is even passed by Maldonado in the Williams which promts a disgruntled radio message to his team. One of several this afternoon.
Kimi get a another set of medium tires slapped on. Which seems to hint of a 3-stopper. He is almost a full pitstop behind Alonso so he has to make some serious ground up. He is rapidly catching Vettel. Again. He loses a lot of time and a lot of life from his tires trying to get past his badminton-buddy. Kimi finally goes for a pass but Vettel gives him way too hard a time into turn 10-11. All the while, Alonso is unchallenged up in front. I cannot count the times where Kimis pace have been compromised by a so-so grid position.
Anyway, after Vettels rather stern defending he seems to make it a little bit easy for Kimi into turn 1 and Kimi takes 3rd place. I wonder if that came from the pit wall. Because Vettel really left the inside open for a looong time. Whatever reason, I am not complaining. Time to catch the number 2 Ferrari. Again. Fortunately, the Ferrari pits before Kimi completely catches up and prevents losing him even more time.
Alonso has just pitted however and easily catches up to Kimi on his fresh rubber. Kimi, ever the gentleman, doesn’t make it hard for Alonso and lets him pass without defending at all. I guess due to running on a completely different strategy. But I would still have liked to have seen a much bigger effort in keeping Alonso behind. It could have taken some life out of the Ferraris tires – just like his own struggles getting past people.
After this the race was pretty much settled. One stop left to do for the front runners. But with Alonso making a gap ahead, the positions were decided at this time. So after another stop for Kimi to the obligatory other compound, Alonso rolls across the line to the cheers of the bankrupt Spaniards. Kimi takes second while Massa completes the podium. Vettel keeps his championship lead with 4 th position but the fight is on.
Race rating? A 6 out of 10 for me.
Could Kimi have won the race? Only with a lot of ifs and buts. IF he had qualified better and/or made a better start, then yes. Possibly. Had he been in 2nd after the first corner and disposed of Rosberg quickly, then maybe. Or if he had made the start that Alonso did 2 years ago and shot to first place, then yes. I think he could have won by controlling his pace a lot better without losing time and tirelife behind others. But he didn’t and that is the reality we have. He got second place which is more than good enough for me. Especially since it seems that Lotus did not lose any ground after the major Europe updates.
In 2 weeks we have the Monaco GP coming up. A race where qualifying is more crucial than anywhere else. The good news is that Boullier has promised updates that will help the qualifying pace of the Lotus. Hungarian link:
Kimi always has something special around the principality. I remember him qualifying 2nd in 2009 with an absolute pile of shit. So lets hope he can take the fight for pole to those Mercs. Just 4 points off the championship lead. The hope is alive and well. This is Mr. consistency we are talking about here. Another win would really light things up. He has another one due. And it cannot come soon enough. Brace yourselves. The Ice age is coming.
Keepin’ it real,
Images © XPB Images, Red Bull/Julian Finney/Getty Images
Do not hesitate to contact me if you need any of these photos taken down for any reason.
Thanks for the review today. I was waiting for you to comment on James Allison departure, any thoughts? Or you agree with Kimi’s answer that is too early to say if it is going to have an impact or not. Nick Chester (is that right?) has been with the team for very long years. It might be safe to say that they will be okay, at least I want to believe that! I know it is part of the business but Ferrari always taking the best of other teams lol. But on the other hand it is not known the reasons he left right? But I tell you this, “If” he left because of the team lack of resources I hope he will regret, because I am sure big sponsors will come on board. Here is the beginning: “Tycoon pays £1m for Lotus F1 stake” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/leisure/10052519/Tycoon-pays-1m-for-Lotus-F1-stake.html#disqus_thread
Now one thing that bothers me: when Vettel wins is always the car, and when Alonso wins is always how great a driver he is. I think it is disrespectful for other great drivers out there. And today he didn’t admit and I don’t think he ever will that Ferrari has a better car than the rest. The BBC’s tittle today was something like this, “Heroic Victory by Alonso”, Heroic??? really??? What did he do there that was so heroic?
I wish your wife Happy Mother’s Day!
Yea, perhaps I should have made a comment on Allisons departure from Lotus. But there has already been said so much about it. But I can give my opinion here at least 🙂 I think its a game changer. I know one man doesnt make a team, but Allison is quite the innovator and goes a long way in measuring up to Newey. I think Kimi should go to Red Bull next year. They have the resources and they have the designer. And it seems that no one does rule changes better than Newey. That’s my take on it.
I kind of think Alonso did an heroic race in Barcelona too… and it is so because without his decision to go outside Kimi and Lewis in T2-T3 he would have got stuck behind Kimi for the rest of the race (first stint is a train of cars using DRS on the straights and he knew he couldn’t match Kimi’s tyre conservation so he boldly go for that position and eventually built his advantage on Kimi in the first part of the race). That decision was carefully thought (saving KERS on the start straight line + balancing the risks of dirt on the track on the outside line with the aerodynamical advantages of air drag out of the train of cars ROS-VET-HAM-RAI) and considering nowadays journalism his courage to go that way turned into heroic 😉 So in the end Soren maybe you should have put it right: “heroic slippery weasel like driver on and off the track!”
I see your point cristian, but I simply cannot put “heroic” and “Alonso” in the same sentence.
Hi it is me again. May I post this comment I read at the Telegraph’s blog? I thought it was interesting:
Today 04:59 PM
Congratulations to Ferarri and especially to Alonso and Massa for their well deserved wins. And, of course to Raikkonen, who from an on-board perspective ably showed us his sensitive feeling and smooth response to the feedback from the car.
Off the start, Alonso once again demonstrated his oportunistic awareness by taking advantage of Hamilton’s need to brake heavily to avoid Vettel. Alonso’s speed carried him neatly past both Raikkonen and Hamilton.
Rob Smedley is an example of how the race engineers can push their charges, encouraging Massa who among other things, executed a superb non-DRS .
These few examples of F1 drivers employing their racing skills have seemed to be overlooked by certain posters and who masquerade as F1 fans and especially a partisan detail geek.A telling fact has been ignored by the skoffing Mercedes F1 team’s relatively dismal result from Spain.
It may have not come to the attention of said “F1 fans” and trolls that the boss off Mercedes, Herr Dieter Zetsche, was in Barcelona this weekend. Clearly this gentleman is no fool and he would have seen first hand the meteoric pace “his cars” set in qualifying and then the complete contrast with regards the race pace. And, of course, he would have heard the drivers‘ opinions.
People directly connected with F1 from commentators and ex-drivers have criticised the tyres. In fact Niki Lauda, who is an advisor to Mercedes AMG, referred to the present tyres as a joke – live in front of millions of viewers.
Now I know that the blinkered view of some posters will simply pass this off as sour grapes without considering the broader picture.
If the board of directors, who rubber stamp the AMG F1 team’s budget, are convinced that their car is fast enough to qualify on pole but restrained by the artificial scenario created by the tyres then they could withdraw the team at the earliest opportunity. They are business men and it is the company image that matters and Mercedes do not want to become the but of someone’s joke.
Toyota, BMW are just to name a few who left for various reasons and Porsche, who seem to know something about racing cars, have snubbed Ecclestone’s F1.
These issues cannot be ignored.The warning is there.
Do these so-called fans want more back markers who their team can easily thrash: remote controlled racing from the pit wall or do they want to see real unrestrained racing between the differing race skills of the drivers complemented by the tactical and technical ingenuity of their teams?
(Edited by author 1 hour ago)
No problem. Thats an interesting comment. It sounds like the author is German because a lot of the statements are what is voiced in German media? That being said, it’s understandable. Must be frustrating for Red Bull and Mercedes. They actually seem to have the fastest car this year – but the speed is being taken out by the tires. Some are happy about that and some are obviously not. And to be honest, I’m not even sure what side I am on. On one hand, I would like to see flat out racing not tire conserving pace. On the other, it does make some interesting races. And as long as Kimi and Lotus is handling the tires as well as they are. Well…
Pirelli are going to make the tires a little more durable from Silverstone on. But if that helps Mercedes, it will be too late for them by then anyway.
Could this race have been won? It’s too difficult to tell but honestly I think that the Ferrari had too much pace today, and Alonso always had it in the bag though Kimi could’ve pushed him much further to the win if the start had gone better and maybe a 4 stop was the better strategy.
With all that being said, I have a bad feeling that Monaco is gonna be a disaster. Track position is king around that circuit and the Lotus is not a good qualifier. Kimi will probably end up stuck behind the one-lap wonder Mercedes cars who will be lapping about 3 seconds/lap slower than Lotus can for 50 damn laps without having any chance to overtake, crap.
Or maybe I’m just worrying too much, hopefully I’m wrong.
You are probably right. The Ferrari was (worryingly) the fastest car yesterday. Still, I think with a better track position, Kimi could have given the Ferrari a run for its money. But that will remain speculation.
I am kinda upbeat about Monaco. I know it can easily go both ways. But for some reason, I have faith in Kimi and the Lotus for this race. That don’t amount to a hill of beans in this world, I know – but it’s something 😉 If the proposed updates are working, then a front row start could be very possible.
I also believe something good is going to happen in Monaco.
Lovely review Soren! With many laughs and smiles (Felipe baby, can you see the ferrari WDC, slippery weasel). Keep up the good work!
tire whisperer lol
Thanks guys 😀
Soren, just a reminder, as everyone here seems to lament Kimi’s grid position: no one could come near the Mercs in quali in Spain. Their one lap pace there was just way way faster. Kimi’s Q3 lap was very close to Vettel’s, so Kimi did very well in improving from his typical p7 slot which is the Lotus’s true one lap position.
Secondly: the start. I agree things must improve here, but it must be said that HAM’s lock up into T1 is what slowed Kimi down and gave the ever alert Alonso the option of taking a line past both.
Also: no mention of Kimi’s superlative middle stint which was too much for the second Ferrari to handle and ensured second place for the Ice cool Lotus pilot.
Hey, this is supposed to be a KR centred review ????
Hm. Point taken, Jim. Kimis middle stint was really something else. Should have touched on that. I kinda rushed the analysis a bit since Monday was Game of Thrones night. I guess it’s time to readjust the Kimi glasses 😉
@jimstanford excellent points, all. bravo.
@soren lol game of thrones notwithstanding, i think by the time the race was run tire deg exhaustion had set in on u by that point. u r excused! lol ❤
“Alonso rolls across the line to the cheers of the bankrupt Spaniards.”
Pure class as a comment…
Glad you liked it 😀 Some poorly disguised sour grapes from my side, tbh.