The weekend in Russia was a strange one. Almost no running on Friday due to rain and diesel and what not. Some running on Saturday that saw Kimi clinch 5th on the grid with an ok qualifying.
When the lights went out on Sunday, the start Kimi pulled off was to be symptomatic for his entire race. And I mean that in a good way. He gets a great start, beating Vettel off the line and also getting past Bottas with a better exit through turn 2. Now running in 3rd behind Hamilton with Rosberg leading. Unfortunately, the safety car is called out due to Hulkenberg spinning and taking Ericsson with him.
Safety Car goes in and the restart is on. Kimi seems to have no speed at all down the straight and is a sitting duck for Bottas who takes 3rd position back. When Crashjean decides to park his Lotus into the barriers around turn 3, the Safety Car is called out once again.
And its deja vu at the restart. Kimi clearly down on top speed on the straight has to defend from his teammate. Which he does very well. Kimi complains about lack of top speed on the radio. After a good scrap, Vettel dives on the inside of Kimi into turn 2. And this is crucial: Kimi sees Vettel coming and leaves room. He does go wide and keeps his position by cutting the corner. But decides in all fairness to give the position to Vettel after a few corners.
Fast forward to the closing stages of the race. Rosberg retired at the start of the race and Vettel jumped Bottas in the pitstops so he is running second behind Hamilton. Rosberg just can’t seem to catch a break. However, Kimi is fairing better on the softs than the supersofts for some reason and is the quickest in the train of cars fighting for the last podium position.
Bottas finally gets past RIC and so does Kimi a couple of laps later. Only to see the Aussie retire his car shortly after. Perez is ahead due to a clever pit stop after the second Safety Car. But his tires have seen better days and Bottas makes the pass and Kimi shortly after in a feisty move. On the second to last lap! Kimi is not taking any prisoners. It is clear he wants the podium position he had earlier in the race.
Bottas is a lot slower and Kimi goes on the inside of Bottas like he did once before during the race. The difference is that Bottas gave Kimi ample room. This time he doesn’t. He closes the door and Kimi has no where to go but into the Williams. Result: The Finn in the white car retires and the Finn in the red car limps his car across the line in 5th with a broken suspension.
MY 2 CENTS
So here is my beef with the whole thing. Bottas knew full well Kimi was all over the back of him. His mirrors had been full of a red car for a large part of the race. And those final laps even more so. He left the door open at the end of turn 3 and Kimi went for the gap. You have to glance in your mirrors when fighting. There was plenty enough time to leave a little room for Kimi and the fight could have gone on. I suspect that Bottas saw Kimi coming, panicked and closed the door hoping for a miracle.
I stated the following on Twitter, that people always love quoting Sennas speech about if you no longer go for a gap, you are no longer a racing driver. Well, Kimi did that. Because he is a full on racer. In fact, he is probably the last of a kind in todays Formula 1. He is a blast from the past when Formula 1 was a no-nonsense mans sport. Where you raced hard and settled your differences after the race. Today, when a driver actually does live up to Sennas words, people bitch and moan. Because it was not a banzai, reckless move. Kimi said he would have made the turn without any problems. And if Bottas had bothered to look (or he did look and panicked) and leave a space, then the show would have went on. He might even have been able to retake the position.
Consider this. They slap Kimi with a penalty. An extremely hard one at that. 30 seconds even though he already lost 20 seconds due to a broken suspension and 3 license points. Alright. So be it. But how come Ricciardo got Squat. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing. For the
exact same move on Raikkonen in Monaco this year?? Sure, I was mad back then. But there was a gap and Ricciardo took it. Kimi could have closed the door earlier but he didn’t.
Monaco reveals the idiocy of the stewards. Alonso was penalized in Monaco for precisely the same move on Hulkenberg. Why did he get a penalty? Probably because Hulkenberg crashed into the barrier. So the steward logic is – it is okay to make contact, as long as the
other driver doesn’t crash out. That is utter bullshit because some drivers are just better at getting out of a situation than others. It also depends on where it happens. Any move under investigation should be judged primarily by the move itself. If you judge it by how bad it goes for the driver being passed, then it is no different to the play acting of an injury in football. “Oh no! Poor guy. Better hit the other driver hard.” Stupid.
I hope Kimi does exactly the same if he is in the same position. I loved it and I want to see more of it. Senna would have had none of this pussyfooting bull-crap. A toast to Kimi. He was the fighter of the day. And he deserved better. From Bottas and the whiney new-age stewards. Cheers!