It is time to introduce another guestwriter here on F1bias.com. His name is Charlen Harward Raymond and he is a semi-ok guy. His biggest asset is that he loves F1 and has a soft spot for Kimi Raikkonen. Other than that, there is not a lot of other positive… Oh wait, he is the editor of a motoring website called Shootout and he has done a lot of work as a motorjournalist at CAR Magazine. Here is his fab looking website: shootoutonline.co.za
You really should check it out. In addition to sweet rides, there is Kimi articles as well. What more can a human want?
So – I asked my South African friend if he would be so kind to do a write up of Kimis battle in the Spanish GP. And because he admires the heck out of me, he happily obliged. Enjoy.
Kimi drives hard race despite imbalances by Charlen Harward Raymond
I wasn’t exactly jumping with joy when the chequered flagged dropped on the Spanish GP. It was a heart wrenching affair to see the field struggling to match the pace of the Mercedes cars, but it was even worse seeing Kimi struggling to get past Bottas’ Williams. But first things first: let’s go back to FP1.
After Bahrain and Kimi storming to a well-fought second place (which should have been top honours, by the way), the Iceman started his race-weekend with a car that was well and truly off balance. Though he at times set competitive times during FP1 and -2, Kimi never had the confidence to dance with his Ferrari. And as we all know, Kimi is a sensitive driver. The car needs to talk to him, otherwise you might as well get the ice cream ready.
After the first two practice sessions and a debrief session with his team and race engineer, it was decided that Kimi will use a previous setup and “older” components on his car for the rest of the weekend. Basically, what they had hoped, was that the changes will rectify the imbalances of his ST15-T. If not completely, at least to a certain extent. It didn’t.
A Nightmare on Qualifying Avenue
The weekend went from bad to worse for Kimi and qualifying was an utter nightmare.
To add fuel to the fire, one set of Kimi’s tyres got so much heat into them that they were completely ruined. It meant that he could not do a competitive lap because of the damaged set of tyres. I don’t know HOW Ferrari managed to burn those tyres. Doesn’t the blankets come with temperature controls? Isn’t there supposed to be a team member checking the temperatures? I may not be a race engineer, but hell, man, it really isn’t that difficult to keep an eye on the tyres.
“We had one set of new tyres we would probably have used in the last qualifying but for some freak reason it got burnt in the blankets and destroyed. It is one of those things,” Kimi said after qualifying. “It has been a difficult few days, but that is part of the game. Tomorrow is the race and hopefully we can score points possible.”
The lack of balance and the lack of a set of new tyres had such a detrimental effect on his lap time that he eventually ended Q3 in 7th position. What made it even more frustrating was that both Toro Rosso’s out-qualified him. The words I uttered after I saw this cannot be posted in this review. There might be underage fans reading this…
However, I still maintained hope that the race would be better and that the Ferrari will have race pace; as we’ve seen over the course of the first four races this year.
A flying start for the Flying Finn
We knew Kimi had to fly off the grid when the lights go out and that’s exactly what he did. He managed to sail past both Toro Rosso’s and slotted in-between the two Williams drivers. It was Rosberg leading from Vettel and Hamilton, with Bottas, Kimi and Massa completing the top six. Kimi kept Bottas honest throughout the first stint and made sure his fellow Finn knew that he was not going to have an easy afternoon. Kimi pushed. Hell, if you didn’t see how he was trying then you didn’t watch the same race as me.
When Kimi made his first stop, the team had decided to fit a set of the harder tyre on his car. It was deja vu from what happened in Bahrain: give Kimi the longer lasting tyre for the middle stint and have him push with the softer tyre in the last. That would and could have worked again here in Spain, but Ferrari sort of forgot that they had to deal with Bottas.
We all realised that for Kimi to get on the podium would be a long shot. He was too far back and the mountain he’d have to climb was maybe just too steep. But still, he pushed. Not giving up an inch in his pursuit to get maximum points.
At the front, though, Rosberg led the way from Hamilton and Vettel who duelled hard forsecond place. Even though he did three pit stops to Vettel’s two, Hamilton still got the better of Ferrari’s quadruple champion and cemented second place in commanding fashion. In truth, that was rather boring. The real action happened behind between Kimi and Bottas. Massa fell away by the wayside and finished a rather lonely sixth, but the action attraction was for fourth and fifth positions: Kimi vs Bottas; Finn vs Finn; Ferrari vs Williams.
The final 26 laps
On lap 40 Kimi made his final stop and Ferrari fitted the medium tyre on his car. Bottas, at that time, made his final stop and had the hard tyre on his car. Race on! The Williams driver led Kimi by a relatively “comfortable” eight seconds, but he had to deal with the Finn on a mission. Kimi gradually closed that gap on Bottas and not before long he was right up on that Williams’ gearbox. This was almost like a scene from Braveheart: the hero, William Wallace charging toward the enemy, ready to take what is his!
Kimi fought and he fought hard, but Bottas had better drive out of the last corner. Regardless of how much Kimi caught up to him throughout the lap, that 0.5 second gap to the Williams would be blown out of the water each time they crossed the start/finish straight. And it became abundantly clear that no matter what Kimi tried, there would be no way past Bottas. But it didn’t stop Kimi from pushing and charging right up till the very end. Like William Wallace, Kimi fell at the hands of his enemy, but unlike Mr Wallace, Kimi lives to fight another day. Bottas ended the race in fourth place, with Kimi in fifth.
Those damn pesky backmarkers
This was a frustrating race, simply because the backmarkers continuously got in the way on the race leaders. Back in the day guys like Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock, Vitantoni Liuzzi and Kazuki Nakajima sat through sessions on how to be “good” backmarkers. Though they had their own race they tried to avoid getting in the way of the race leaders. Nowadays, it seems that backmarkers are in the same race as the leaders. The raging blue flags are not for them and they ignore it to the point that they will do lap after lap without adhering to it. Like some of the leaders, Kimi, too, had to battle with backmarkers, struggling to get past them. You can have a listen to Kimi’s complaint here:
What is very clear after the Spanish GP is that Mercedes GP have extended the gap between them and Ferrari (Vettel finished the race 45 seconds behind Rosberg) and that the battle to catch the Silver Arrows will be monumental. Not only is the Mercedes team as a whole more dominant, but also the Mercedes power unit. This was seen in how Bottas kept Kimi at bay. Even with DRS and KERS activated, Kimi could not pass the Williams and Ferrari have serious work to do.
There may be other points of interest, but we are fans of the Kimster. He is our driver and we back him, regardless. He will win in 2015 and there will be far greater results than this, but we have to be patient. Our time will come and when it does, we will throw one heck of a party!
Give me a follow on Twitter 😉
Images © Photo4, Batchelor, Moy, Charmiaux/XPB Images
Do not hesitate to contact me if you need any of these photos taken down for any reason.