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.
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
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.
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??
But 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Take it away, Freddie.
Images © Price, Charniaux, Batchelor / XPB Images
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