The sun has set on pre-season testing c/o James Moy Photography
This time next week I will be touching down in Melbourne for the start of a Formula 1 season, the anticipation for which I have rarely felt. It’s not just going to be the first day back at school. Nor the first day at a new school. It’s going to feel like the first day at a new school in a different country, speaking a whole new language. It is a veritable voyage into the unknown… and I can’t wait.
We always say you can’t learn much from testing, but that’s not altogether true. In past years, laptimes have been a not blind science. With reliability reaching almost bulletproof levels, yes sandbagging occurred, but more often than not we would arrive in Australia with a pretty good handle on who was where. And when laptimes didn’t give the clues…
Now that the dust has settled from the 2013 season, I thought it was time to do a short round-up and a glance towards the coming season. After Kimi left Lotus for his back surgery, I must admit that some of my motivation to follow F1 and write about it were seriously weakened. But I caught the final races. F1 races are still few and far between so I enjoy the racing still.
Kimi was the big talkie when he took sick-leave for the final 2 races. If he had been paid what he was owed by Lotus, I’m sure he would have finished the season in style. But seeing that Lotus were on a wild goose chase after non-existant Quantum Group money, Kimi called it quits and pulled one of his best moves of the season. Get the back surgery done as early as possible to be fit for fight when winter testing in the red car rolls around in January.
As I am sure you have heard, the surgery went well, thank goodness, and Kimi is enjoying some well-deserved R&R before he goes back for checkups. Steve Robertson threw the media a curveball by saying that Kimi was to have surgery in Salzburg when he in fact was operated on in Strasbourg. (A town where he did rallies in and around by the way) Robertson just said afterwards that he got the town names mixed up. Haha. Nice one.
I have also given Kimis unusual first-lap exit from Abu-Dhabi some thought. It was a very atypical error from the Finn and I do wonder if he did it half on purpose. He was talked into coming to Abu Dhabi. Finds out during the weekend that no salary is coming in spite of lofty promises. And on race day, he just “loses” concentration for a few seconds and bam – I’m outta here suckers! Well – that is just speculation on my part and likely not true. But one wonders.
So – Kimis replacement is Pastor Maldonado. I guess that is as big a sign as it can get; that there is no Quantum money and there never was. Maldonados PDVSA money is needed to save the debt-ridden Lotus team. Romain will have an easy task beating him in qualifying and races next year. Which will only add to his already overhyped status due to a few good races in the final part of the season. Hulkenberg had been so much better for the team. The Lotus team decided to publish this tweet after the announcement. I have no clue why they would do that. We are not laughing with you, Lotus. We are laughing at you.
I had to giggle when I saw Massa joining Vettel in the donut making after the final race in Brazil. First off – it wasn’t really donuts – more like U’s. Second – why was he celebrating? That he was leaving Ferrari? Perhaps it was the fact that he cost Ferrari 2nd place in the WCC by getting a penalty? The points Ferrari would have had with a 3rd and 4th place in Brazil would have moved them ahead of Mercedes. But Massa blew it. Even if the penalty was harsh, the drivers had all been warned before the race not to cross the lines at the pit entry with all 4 wheels. Ok, Felipe baby. Go on. Make your funny little half-donuts.
So what about next year? I know plenty of people are hoping and expecting a shake-up in the pecking order of the teams. I may have to apply some cold water to that. There is a whole lot going for Red Bull being at the very front again. They have the man-power, the resources and the experience. And with the weak link of Webber removed, there might be no stopping them. They also have the brain, dont forget. Adrian Newey have always done well with bigger rule changes. My hope is that the engine will play a bigger part than aerodynamics next year. And in that case, the manufacturer teams should have an advantage. Which, with Kimi at Ferrari, would be excellent.
The first testing sessions are 2 months from now. And then we will hear the V6 turbo engines spring to life. I am not too worried about the sound. Should sound good. The 1,5 liter 4-pots from the 80’s sounded pretty sweet. And we will see what kind of speed the 2014 cars have in them. Some say that the new cars are 10 seconds slower – which is slower than GP2. I doubt it, but if that is the case, I dont think anyone involved will accept that and some tweaks will be made. Thankfully that is not hard to do. Rpm limit with 1-2000 more rpms should do wonders for instance.
There is no doubt that the Raikkonen-Alonso pairing will be the strongest for next year. And to me, that is the most exciting and interesting aspect of 2014. I have a friend that is adamant that Kimi will quickly have a clear upperhand on Alonso next year. Not only because of his talent but also due to his immense feel for the tires and the fact that throttle control and ability to not break traction will be harder and even more crucial next year. The turbo engines have so much more torque and power from a lot lower in the rev range than the V8s did. Remember how Lotus raved over Kimi after he won in Australia? How he hardly broke traction even once. It’s difficult to envision how hard that really is to accomplish in an F1 car during a race.
I am not so sure that Kimi will have an upperhand on Alonso that easily. I may not like the bugger, but he is a great driver. What I do know is that the power struggle inside Ferrari between Montezemelo and Alonso is far from over. Latest development is that Monty have leaked to the press that Alonso has been restrained to write tweets about Ferrari. Ferrari themselves will take care of that. But he can tweet about anything else. Ouch. Chew on that for a while. That’s gotta be hard to swallow for someone like Alonso.
This year, we had to say goodbye to a dedicated Kimster and a dear friend to many, Denise “Dindi” Minoza. I am sure other fans of Kimi have passed on as well but we knew this one and she went far too early. She is and will be missed. RIP Dindi.
And with that I will round off my 2013 round-up. We have exciting times ahead of us. So keep passing the open windows and let the winter of our discontent pass you by.
Thanks to my friend Zeljka, for the video below.
Its been one of the most fascinating 48 hours in Formula 1 for some time as silly season has been ramped into overdrive with talk of driver deals and contracts, signed and unsigned, flooding in. While confirmed deals would normally serve to give us some clarity, quite incredibly the F1 driver pool for 2014 now appears more clouded than ever. Each turn of events has, in its own way, created new questions.
Kimi, Quantum and Lotus
The Raikkonen / Lotus relationship is over and it is a shame it had to end this way. But end it had to, and so it is probably better that it’s been done now.
There seems, to me, no small coincidence that the day after having his seat fitting at Ferrari, Kimi or his management team decided to move forward his planned treatment on the back injury which nearly saw him pull out of…
Translated with the help of Claudio Acquista and Margherita Turdolina
by Leo Turrini
Yesterday, Kimi came back home
It doesn’t happen to everyone, eh?
As you may know; In the historic headquarters of Ferrari, there are dedicated avenues and lanes, with a lot of official titling to the drivers who have won the F1 world championship with the “Reds”. And to be clear, there is still no “Alonso avenue”.
But yesterday, on Thursday, he suddenly materialized on “Räikkönen street”. The nameholder of the road – Kimi, himself.
After almost four years, he is back in Maranello.
As the legend goes, the West is stronger than the truth, and when he entered the gates, the Blonde proclaimed: “I’m finally back home.”
But come on. Even though this isn’t true, it is likely. And therefore wonderful.
The purpose of the visit? Formalities, procedures, seat measurements. A look at the turbo engine. And greetings to old friends from the first time around. As well as meetings with important people. Wow.
“I wonder if you’ll find me again”, as Gianni Togni (*an Italian ’80’s singer) sang when I was 20 years old.
Well, they found each other again.
I celebrated by drinking vodka in the company of Vice Nume Odin (Nume is the title that Leo has been given by his followers) and the ultimate “cloggaro”, johnny99. (cloggaro is the name that Leo gives to the faithful followers of his blog)
May fate smile to us, Kimi.
PS. However, if the unthinkable happens in 2014, 2007 style, we will go to Räikkönen Square! But for me, even the eventual opening of “Alonso avenue” would be nice, eh?
Many an eyebrow crept north when Scuderia Toro Rosso announced that Daniel Ricciardo’s seat at Red Bull’s farm team would be taken by young Russian Дании́л Квят (Daniil Kvyat), the man from Ufa in Bashkortostan, whose name is almost unpronouncable for the untrained western toungue. Although he’s been quite impressive in Formula Renault 2.0 and the GP3, many people see the direct jump into F1 as somewhat pre-mature.
Two of the last people to make such a leap were Jarno Trulli (Formula…
Just a couple of articles as a follow-up on the story I did yesterday on what I dubbed radiogate. I thought they were interesting. As I said yesterday – this stuff is not in the usual F1 channels. And we even have a statement from Kimi manager. Strange.
Thanks again to my anonymous translator. No, it’s not google translate, smartass.. Have you tried? It stinks at doing Finnish! Anyway, here they are. Enjoy.
P.S. I added a bit from Mika Salos latest blog as well.
Manager dumbstruck over the way Räikkönen was treated.
F1 | Turun Sanomat 05:36 |
Steve Robertson sighed deeply on the phone on Tuesday. You could hear his sigh from Dubai to Turku when he was asked how he felt about Alan Permane’s public cursing on the team radio when the drivers battled for positions in the overtaking incident.
– I have never heard any person from any team management shout at Kimi like that, Robertson pondered.
– Grosjean squeezed Kimi the same way three weeks earlier in Korea. Of course his tyres were now worn out, but Kimi always tries to fight as long as his machinery allows him to do that, Robertson said.
Some reporter colleagues asked me after India if Räikkönen only drives for himself without listening to anyone. I asked his manager the same question.
– Just like all top drivers Kimi drives first and foremost for himself – otherwise none of them would win championships. But of course Kimi knows how to play for the team. If his teammate drives for the championship when he himself is out of it already, then he doesn’t make his WDC-battle difficult.
– Grosjean is not driving for the WDC, so in that situation he was just like any other competitor to Kimi who threathens his position, Robertson said to TS.
Häkkinen has a clear-cut opinion about Räikkönen’s driving – Did Kimi do the right thing?
– Lotus-team’s operation in India looked quite stupid. The incident where Romain Grosjean tried to overtake Kimi should have been handled better, writes Häkkinen.
Räikkönen didn’t let Grosjean by immediately since his tyres were pretty much worn out. After that there was a heated discussion containing swear words between Räikkönen and Alan Permane.
– I understand Kimi. If he had made room for Grosjean in the fast corner then his tyres would had been in an even worse condition. Kimi would’ve easily lost 3-4 seconds before getting back on his pace again.
– Kimi was thinking just like every experienced driver thinks. If he had let Grosjean by in the wrong place, then someone else could’ve also passed him – and Felipe Massa was very close.
– Why was the team’s language exceptionally harsh towards Kimi and why didn’t the team give him earlier information about how close Grosjean was? One could also ask why Grosjean had to go so greedily for the overtake that their tyres clashed, writes Häkkinen.
Edit: Just added a snippet from Mika Salos blogg as well, on the same subject:
I think it was pretty rude what Permane said to Kimi in the radio. The team should not act like that. It’s the driver whose emotions are running high in situations like that and the team has to remain calm. Räikkönen’s departure from the team is a big blow for Lotus. Both result- and PR-wise. It is already showing as emotional outbursts. Lotus is now trying to turn Grosjean into a race winner so that they can more easily explain to sponsors and team owners that they still have a good man in the team.
When a driver decides to leave a team the disagreements are usaully with the team’s management and nobody else. When I left Toyota I stayed in good relationships with the Toyota-engineers, but the relationship with a few managers broke immediately since they started to act in such a childish manner immediately after my decision.
Driver markets are still pretty much open in Lotus, Force India and Sauber. It also looks like Sergio’s seat in McLaren hasn’t yet been confirmed. The Lotus-seat is the most wanted one, but soon drivers will start to panic and make deals with other teams unless Lotus doesn’t start making contracts. If that happens then Lotus will be left crying without getting any good driver. We’ll see if Lotus needs money from the driver or if they can take someone who can, like Kimi, help raise the sponsors interest in the team. Of course there is no driver on the market who could even remotely fill Kimis boots.
Sorry for the delay. I had to digest and reflect on the events in India before I could decide how to attack this one. So for this edition of my review, I won’t do a rundown of the race as usual. I will touch on what has been the big ‘talkie’ since the race. Yes, even more than Vettels 4th championship. Huge congratulations to him by the way. The superlatives have been used up already. Perhaps that is why some people have grown tired of him. Just like the last time a German broke all the records and won everything that was to win. In Vettels case, I have only admiration for his achievement. And with Newey and the rest of the Red Bull team behind him, I see no reason why they will not be frontrunners next year as well. In spite of regulation changes. Hopefully not as dominant as they are now of course.
Anyway, back to the issue at hand. The infamous Lotus team radio message. If you can call it that. I see that the english media is not touching this subject a whole lot. Which is why I have received help from my Finnish correspondant in translating a few articles in the Finnish media that does cover this in further detail. It is always more interesting to get the stories from people that have an incentive to follow something more closely than others. That is where you find the nuggets and usually the correct perspective.
Here is the video of the exchange between Alan Permane and Kimi Raikkonen:
Permane: Kimi, get out of the fucking way!
Kimi: Don’t shout there fucker! I get out of the way when I have a chance, but not during fast corner.
Some people have tried to marginalize, excuse and play down the way Mr. Permane behaved on the radio. To those people I say, you really have no frickin’ clue what you are talking about. “Oh, but when Kimi does it, it gets on t-shirts and is regarded as funny”. If that is how you view this incident you are either completely clueless or you have a major problem with seeing things in context. Maybe both. Let me sit you down and explain why.
There are drivers and then there is the pitwall. We have all heard drivers giving harsh outbursts, shouting and swearing over the radio during the race. It is normal. They are pumped up on adrenaline and they are trying to drive a tricky car in anger on the track. No wonder they come across as pissed sometimes. The pitwall is expected to be that calm voice, helping and assisting their drivers. Be it focusing, or keeping them updated on other crucial information. They are the calm compared to the storm inside the car.
But here we have a profiled leader within the Lotus team, SHOUTING and swearing from the pitwall to a driver in the middle of a race. Perhaps it has happened in Formula 1 before but I have never heard anything like that in all the years I have followed the sport. Not only is it unprofessional but it is so far out of line that it has left the ballpark. Even if Kimi should have moved over before he did, does not excuse this craziness. Besides, Kimi said that he was going to move over. He just wanted to do it at the right place and not in a fast corner.
Imagine for instance Sam Michael shouting and swearing at Hamilton in Brazil last year now that he was going to Mercedes. Ridiculous right? Yes indeed. In fact McLaren did all they could to try and give Hamilton that last win with them. A stark contrast to the things happening in Lotus at the moment. They were able to do so in spite of having to exclude Hamilton from participating in things regarding next years car.
Anywho. This speaks against any theories that Kimi held up Grosjean for a prolonged period of time. And Massa was never a real threat from behind. From the footage it looked like half a lap behind Kimi at the max. It certainly wasn’t 4 or 5 laps like in Bahrain 2012 or in Germany this year for instance. Those times there was a victory on the line. Not just a 3rd place. Where was the abuse over the radio to Grosjean then? None. Which is good. Because I certainly would not have approved of that either. But the irony is palpable.
It is clear that Permane has a beef with Kimi for some reason. And it came out in the open for all to see once again. We saw this in Singapore when he didn’t even hide that he was not pleased with Kimis drive from 13th to 3rd with backpain. The only thing Permane could say was a sneer that Grosjean was clearly faster and would have had the podium instead of Kimi if not for the DNF. He was also fuming after Korea when Kimi overtook Grosjean when he made a mistake.
Does that justify some fans going apeshit on Twitter and Facebook with abuse and swearwords towards the Lotus team? No, of course not. I detest such behaviour. It’s low-brow and only has the opposite effect of what they are trying to achieve. It just stoops them to the level of the person they are criticizing. I understand the frustration and anger because of the blatant unfair treatment that Kimi received. But you will always get a lot further with well-chosen words for your critique.
Having said that, I was tempted to let manners be manners after the race. Only my proper upbringing and many years in the finest private schools saved me from going down the same road as the common riff-raff. So let that be a shining example to you all.. But in all seriousness – it gives Kimi fans a bad name. So please behave is my earnest advice.
The honeymoon between Kimi and Lotus is clearly over. He has still not received his full salary. He has effectively been demoted to 2nd driver. With the number 1 driver having accumulated only about half as many points. And Kimi is still doing his very best to keep scoring for Lotus to the end of the season. Just because he enjoys driving. And now he also has to put up with public scorning over the radio. This is what is known as unprofessional business conduct. Behave like this while running a business and you will quickly run into problems. Disagreements should take place behind closed doors, not in public like this. It hurts the image of the business. Which it certainly already has for Lotus. Kimi is being his diplomatic self to the press after the race:
Lotus realized this and have now issued a statement in the words of Boullier where he apologizes for the outburst on the radio and that it won’t happen again. A good effort but not quite. I personally think it should have come from Permane himself. But he most likely refused to do any such thing when asked. Here is the statement: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/110961
A sad thing that came out after the race was Alan Permane sending these tweets:
@AlanPermane It seems I have upset a few people by shouting at Kimi, I can understand the die hard fans not liking it, but I do find it odd that.. Some of them say they want to kill my family because of a telling off. #losers
Ok, that sounds bad. And Permane received a lot of sympathy for these tweets. However, upon further investigation there has so far not been found a single tweet containing death threats to Permane or his family. What was found was some nutcase that repeatedly tweeted “Fuck your family” to Permane. It’s sickening – but it’s not a death treat. Here is a screen shot: http://scontent-b-lhr.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/73279_10151941756907778_419562323_n.jpg
After a while, Permane decided to delete the tweets above. Probably because he was being called out on it and realized his mistake. But some media channels picked this up and have posted articles saying that he DID receive death threats over this. The world apparently will and wants to be deceived.
So what is next? Will we see Kimi in Abu Dhabi? Time will tell. But I think so. The fact is that Kimi only deserves praise for what he has done for Lotus for the past two years. Certainly not abuse over the radio. He has brought them more points than they ever thought possible. So many in fact that they struggle to pay him his points bonuses for 2 years in a row. Not to mention all the fans, publicity and thereby sponsors that is a direct consequence of Kimis entrance into the Lotus team. Sadly for Lotus, this debacle has hurt them and their image more than people think.
Enjoy the short break to Abu Dhabi. Keep smiling. And keep your cool and wits about you. Just like the Iceman. A small bonus here at the end. A friend of mine caught a small exchange between Permane and Kimi after the race. There is no sound. But if you know how Kimi is and how Finns behave in general, it doesn’t take an expert in body language to tell that this is one pissed off Finn. Thanks to Karthik for this footage.
Here is the small collection of the previously mentioned Finnish articles. Once again a big thank you to my translator.
Saari baffled over Permane’s swearing: He crossed the line
Räikkönen admitted in MTV3:s interview, that after his Ferrari-deal was announced some people in the team seemed to change their attitude towards him. Yesterday, Alan Permane ordered Räikkönen to give way by using swearing words. Räikkönen replied by swearing back.
– It’s easy to determine that based upon that discussion they are maybe not best friends, but one shouldn’t draw too many conclusions over that.
– I question his behaviour. It’s one thing to say it firmly than to say it like he did. It lacked respect and I think he crossed the line. I believe Permane as a smart man knows himself that he overreacted once he gets time to calm down. That’s what it’s like and this is not the most serious thing in the world.
“Kimi was not fuming over Grosjean”
– In sport there is an emotional charge which sometimes boils over. It describes certain kinds of things about the current situation, but it’s not the whole picture. Kimi mostly has good relationships with people in the team who are important for him.
– One thing has to be noted; although Grosjean wondered over Kimi’s actions, Kimi wasn’t angry at him. Räikkönen only said that he is racing everyone and I doubt any of this bothers Grosjean in any way.
Räikkönen in transition
Räikkönen didn’t take part in the Lotus team’s photo which was taken in honor of Grosjean’s podium. That describes the situation, Räikkönen has already partly left the team.
– It’s a transition. I don’t think the atmosphere is disturbing in any way, but it’s clear that in a situation like that they sort of exclude the driver. It’s inevitable.
Lewis Hamilton was in a similar position last year when his switch from McLaren to Mercedes was announced at the end of September. He said that suddenly he didn’t get all data at his disposal and he wasn’t invited to all meetings. Saari thinks that Räikkönen’s attitude has been professional all the time and that he has proved that with his driving performances.
– Now he ran out of tyres. Otherwise Kimi would had been on the podium. The only thing he can improve is his driving in qualifying, but it’s been like that the whole time in Lotus.
– If we start to see really bad performances then we can say that his attitude has changed, but he works like a professional. I don’t sit at their lunch table every day listening to what they talk about, but Kimi has seemed to be in a good mood on the outside and I haven’t seen any anxiety on the outside on either sides, Saari said.
Kimi Räikkönen is not the only iceman in Lotus anymore. It is becoming more and more apparent from the team management’s orders to Kimi that the emotions have clearly cooled – and even frozen.
Right after Kimi’s Ferrari-deal was announced, Kimi battled himself to 3rd position (from 13th) in Singapore even though he had backpains.
After the race, when I asked Alan Permane in a friendly manner from what he thought about that kind of persistence from a driver who is leaving the team, his reply chilled the atmosphere at once. Permane dismissed the question by saying that everyone could see that Romain Grosjean was faster and that he would have beaten Kimi without the retirement.
In Korea Räikkönen overtook Grosjean and came in 2nd, although the Frenchman cried to get his position back. Eric Boullier said that he knew without asking that Kimi wouldn’t had obeyed him at that point.
Now in India the team management’s language has turned vulgar. Permane snapped when Räikkönen made Grosjean’s overtake so tough – and the driver paid him back the same way…
At least Lotus got what they wanted. Grosjean took a Räikkönen-like 3rd podium while his teammate collected some odd points in the background like in Japan. Lotus caught Ferrari with nine points and the 3rd position is now 24 points away.
Räikkönen’s race was much like his 3rd race in Lotus last year in China. There Kimi tried to hold on with worn tyres in 2nd position ahead of a long train, then when he lost the grip completely the whole row went past him. Räikkönen came in 14th.
It has been boiling between Räikkönen and Lotus for a long time
There was a lot of fuss around Lotus on Sunday in Indian GP after Alan Permane and Kimi Räikkönen cursed to each other on the public team radio. Permane and Räikkönen had a heated argument on the paddock where they apparently shouted things that can’t be printed. Räikkönen was not seen in the Lotus team photo where they celebrated Grosjean’s 3rd podium.
Räikkönen’s comeback to F1 with Lotus has been a significant success story. Out of the big stars only Niki Lauda and Alain Prost have made a successful comebacks to F1 after having a break.
Räikkönen have benefited from Lotus and Lotus has benefited from Räikkönen. Lotus couldn’t however fulfill their obligations. They didn’t pay Räikkönen’s salary in time so it was no wonder that Räikkönen made a contract with Ferrari in summer.
After the summer break, Lotus clearly changed their attitude towards Räikkönen. Earlier the car was being completely suited around Räikkönen, but after the Ferrari-deal the team has concentrated their resources around Romain Grosjean. Räikkönen’s and Grosjean’s driving styles are very different and the one suffers when the other is favoured.
Due to the better treatment in autumn Grosjean has got a lot of self-confidence. At the same time Räikkönen has faded. However, Räikkönen doesn’t obey team orders and the argument on Sunday was only a matter of time.
Lotus is also irritated over Räikkönen revealing that his salaries were delayed. Räikkönen would be free to leave the team immediately because the employer hasn’t kept their commitments. Räikkönen has decided to drive in Lotus for the rest of the season just for the joy of it.
The media awaits with interest for Räikkönen’s arrival to the paddock area in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. Sebastian Vettel secured his 4th WDC on Sunday, but Räikkönen probably gets more requests for interviews.
We will wait with excitement to see if Räikkönen and Lotus can make up their argument and if Räikkönen even drives in the season’s last races.
What a racetrack Suzuka is. Perhaps the last real unforgiving track bar street circuits. In 2009, Timo Glock cut his leg and cracked a vertebrae in an incident on the track. Luckily no such injuries this weekend. But there were a fair share of incidents and ventures into the tire wall or the graveltrap.
Kimi was one of those in FP2. No contact, just beached his car in the gravel and thus missed some long runs. The change to the 2012 tire construction has not been good news for the Finn. Ever since the Pirelli rubber was changed after Hungary he has been struggling in qualifying. This Saturday was no exception. “He doesn’t like the front end,” Permane told AUTOSPORT. “He doesn’t like the turn in. It is not sharp enough for him. But, if you try to sharpen it up too much, you then lose the rear.”
Story here: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/110635
So the car is more understeery but some improvements have been made. Sadly, that didn’t come through in Q3. As he usually does (which is kinda unique in F1, let alone the world we live in) he admits when he makes a mistake. And he screwed his final lap a little and ended up in 9th. Without the mistake, he would have started at least 7th, and likely even higher since the grid was very tight. The Suzuka track is not an overtaking bonanza of a track so once again I went into race day not hoping a whole lot. Vettel with KERS trouble misses out on taking his 5th consecutive pole in Japan and Webber thus gets his first pole position of the season. Hamilton is 3rd while Grosjean lines up beside him in 4th.
As the lights go out, both Red Bulls seem to bog down while Hamilton and Grosjean surges forward. Hamilton gets overambitious as he tries to cut across in front of Vettel. His rear tire catches some front wing and immediately ruptures. Game over for the Brit. Grosjean has a good start and is lucky to be able to take advantage of his competitors misfortune and he surges to the front. As another stroke of luck for the Frenchman, it is Webber who is in
close pursuit and not Vettel, who is in 3rd.
Our protagonist gets a bad start. Lots of wheelspin which lost him some places. So he finds himself in 11th behind Button. Again making his race a lot more difficult than it had to be. This is the nature of racing though. And when it comes to starts, you win some and you lose some. He spends a few laps behind the McLaren but gets by on lap 7.
Up ahead, there are two Red Bulls in close quarter behind the other Lotus. Mark Webber tries for an undercut by pitting earlier than the Lotus on lap 11. Romain pits the next lap but Webber, as expected, fails miserably to make any jump on Grosjean when he had the chance. Even though he had 7 or 8 seconds of clear air when he exited the pit lane. Vettel stops 3 laps later and a slightly different strategy is shaping up.
A line of cars are starting to form behind long-stinting Ricciardo. Hulkenberg, Massa, Alonso and eventually Kimi and Gutierriez. The Toro Rosso is defending well but the cars make their way past and we get the treat of seeing Kimi pass Gutierrez on the outside in 130R. Ricciardo pits and Hulkenberg is again in front of Alonso just like in Korea. The Hulk proving his worth.
Mark Webber has closed right up to Grosjean and pulls into the pits on lap 25 as the 3 stop strategy is coming into play. Grosjean, being on a 2-stopper has to keep it going 4 more laps. By that time, Webber is ahead of him and has a golden opportunity to win this race. Which he naturally fails to capitalize on. He could have gunned it like Vettel did in Singapore to make up enough time to negate an extra stop. But he didn’t. And you know why? Because he is unable to. That speed is long gone if it ever really was there.
Grosjean pits on lap 29 and loses the lead of the race. Vettel keeps going until lap 37, making good use of the tires for a final quick stint on fresh hards. Kimi makes his final stop on lap 31 and comes out in 7th place marginally ahead of Ricciardo and Rosberg. Massa ahead gets a drive-thru penalty for pitlane speeding so that’s one less competitor to worry about. It did cause some confusion on the radio for Kimi:
Slade: “Massa has a drive through penalty”
Kimi: “Why we have drive through penalty?”
Slade: “Massa, has penalty, Massa, Massa” 😀
Angered by this exchange, he immediately sets a fastest lap to cool off. Or something like that.. 1.35.5 was very quick for that stage of the race though.
Vettel comes out 3,5 seconds behind Grosjean after his stop. He wastes no time in closing the gap which was done in about 2 laps. The very next lap he gets past the Lotus down the straight. In spite of Grosjean making another idiot chopping move in trying to “defend” himself. It was so bad in fact, that Sebastians DRS closed, as he had to take evasive action to avoid contact and only opened it again for the final part of the straight. Job done in a
swift manner though.
No Country For Old Men
Webber pits and gets the softer tire for his final 10 lap stint. He is 5 seconds behind Grosjean when he should have been well ahead of him. But he now has the absolute fastest package on the track. A Red Bull with fresh soft tires and only a few laps to go, so no real tire preservation needed. In effect there should have been fire trails after his car as he was chasing down the Lotus. It takes him 4 laps to catch Grosjean on worn tires. On top of that he is unable to get past Grosjean. Lap after lap he fails doing what Vettel did in one try..
It actually takes him 6 tries and some help from traffic to get past the Frenchman. But he finally takes 2nd place as Vettel is almost 10 seconds up the road.
Meanwhile, the Sauber, Ferrari and Lotus fight is going on. Alonso got past the Sauber but Kimi has no chance in doing the same down the straight. Even with the DRS wing open their top speed is almost the same. So Kimi has to get smart once again. And he does. He passes Hulkenberg for 5th place at the chicane, thus having DRS down the straight to keep his position. A brilliant move, reminiscent of his calcualted move on Schumacher in Spa last year. Video here. (no audio)
So Vettel crosses the line to win the Japanese GP for the 5th time in a row. I can only tip my hat to such an achievement. The championship is not secured but will be in the next race unless he has a DNF and Alonso scores a 2nd place I think. Kimi turned a bad start to the weekend into a good one. His qualifying and start was poor but his race pace and race craft was flawless. He fought his way up from 11th to 5th. Helped a little by a retirement and a penalty of course. Remember that he started 7th last year and finished 6th. You will probably call me biased and I know I am at times. But Kimis race really was an impressive display of how to cope and make the best out of a very tricky situation. Which brings me to my next point. How to make a mess of a very favorable situation.
GROSJEAN AND LOTUS ANALYSIS
So Grosjean is now hailed as some sort of wunderkind. This because he has qualified well and kept out of trouble a few races. Well, I have another view. And I will testify to the fact that although his antics and first lap incidents have decreased, he is far from a clean racer
and he still has serious problems with his spatial awareness. His defensive moves are dirty at best and he is now the number 1 boy at Lotus. Why? Because Lotus desperately needs to big up Romain as much as possible to sell their team to sponsors for next year. And Kimi is currently reduced to a measuring stick for Romain. If he matches or beats Kimi, then he is as good as Kimi or better. Alan Permane is one of the forerunners in this PR campaign. If Kimi finishes ahead of Grosjean, it is to be expected and reasons for that are given. Safety cars and what not. Something that is conveniently left out when it is the other way around.
Mon Dieu! I am on le podium and Kimi is not here. Parfait! I am now number UN driver in Lotus!
Kimi has also been cut out from the technical meetings as well as banned from access to the factory. Expect race strategies and any remaining parts to favor Grosjean for the last races. The tech meetings and factory access is expected due to Kimis switch to Ferrari of course. Im just mentioning it. Eric Boullier touts that Kimi would have been forgotten if he had not come back to Lotus: http://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/raikkonen-perhaps-highest-paid-driver-in-2013-boullier/
That is not only preposterous, it is a fallacy. It would be the other way around in fact. Although Lotus has had a decent car the past two years, their popularity would not have SOARED like it did without Kimi. As for points? Where would they have been in the championship? RG has less than half the points of his teammate this year. Even with his latest upturn in performance. 2012? Less than half the points there as well. But now that there are financial troubles and Kimi get points bonuses, Lotus are desperate to get Grosjean to finish ahead of Kimi. Not only due to sponsors but also because of money trouble. I thank Lotus for getting Kimi back to F1 but this is getting ridiculous. Give credit where credit is due.
THE WEBBER FACTOR
What about Grosjean in Japan? Was it the fantastic race that so many so-called pundits are saying? No it was not. Why? Let me count the reasons. He got a good start, yes. But only due to the Red Bulls both starting badly and Hamilton getting a puncture. That’s okay. It happens sometimes. But don’t make it sound like it was a “stroke of genius” or an “out of this world start” or some other nonsense that I have seen.
I like to chop vegetables. And other drivers.
He is now leading the race. That is very good. What is even better is that he has an aging and over the top Webber behind him and not a 4-time champion. Let me tell you what that is. That is an open goal. Webbers pace in the Red Bull is nothing short of pathetic. Speaking of points? Mark Webber also has half the points of his teammate this year. Anyway, this is where Grosjean should have opened a gap big enough to control the rest of the race in comfort. This is obvious. He could not have done that with Vettel on his heels.
But he sure as heck could have with Webber behind. But he didn’t. That is not impressive. That is depressive. Had it been Vettel in 2nd chasing him down, I would not be writing this. Because that would be a different story. Clear air and a Lotus with a racepace proven to be on par even with Vettel in the Red Bull at times this year, (at least in the hands of Kimi) should have been a slam dunk. Webbers racepace have been worse than the Mercs, the Ferrari and the Lotus this year. Which is why he is 5th in the WDC. And which is also why Romain should have nailed it. Don’t forget that Grosjean also had the advantage of DRS not being enabled until lap 6 effectively, as the marshals had to clear away the Marussia and Caterham from the turn 1 crash.
But instead he wasted his golden opportunity and not only loses the lead but 2nd place as well. Slips down to 3rd and it is still hailed as a great drive. That baffles me because it just wasn’t. Ok, compared to how he drove last year in Japan it was a great drive. But that really shouldn’t be the norm a driver should be judged by. But Lotus is quick to step up and hail his drive as the second coming, which was expected of course.
Fun tidbit. Edd Straw awarded Grosjean a 10 in the Autosport drivers ratings for Japan. Kimi didn’t even get that in the Australia ratings when he came from down in 7th to win the race. Go figure..
Ok, enough of that. India is coming up so Im hoping for no mistakes in qualifying for Mr. Raikkonen. Time to close it down until then. But feel free to leave a comment 😉
After a disastrous qualifying that saw Kimi in 10th, corrected to 9th after Webbers penalty, hopes weren’t high for a good result in Korea. A broken frontwing (and a mistake from Kimi as well) saw to that. Ok, he got a podium in Singapore and I know I said that I wouldn’t doubt his abilities again. But come on. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, right..?
Perhaps not lightning but apparently the Iceman does..
As the lights go out, Kimi gets a so-so start but being cautious in turn 1 gave Perez the opening to slip by on the inside. Down at turn 3 after the long straight, there is mayhem as ballerina Massa spins and almost gives Alonso a tap on his sidepod as half the field has to take evasive action. This enables Kimi to make up a couple of places even though he has to almost stop for a wrong-facing Massa. Doesn’t look good for the Brazillians aspirations for a drive next year.
Pleese Mistah. Can I drive for you guys neks year? I will be a good skoolboy.
Raikkonen vs Ricciardo. Round 3.
Grosjean got the jump on Hamilton so he is in 2nd, getting all excited about maybe eating a victory croissant stuffed with Brie de Melun after the race. Dream on little froggy. It’s not going to happen.
Lap 4 and Kimi is feeling rather racy as he gets right up the exhaust of Ricciardo down the straight. He does a signature pass on the outside of turn 3, defends down to turn 4 and makes it stick. Impressive. I was expecting a long haul behind the Toro Rosso as it’s usually known for its great top speed. However, Kimi is now on an angry prowl for his future teammate.
Alonso is not making any progress on Hulkenberg ahead of him as the German is driving beautifully. Kimi doesn’t have time for that and gets a sweet tow on the Ferrari down the straight and gets by the Spaniard. This time on the inside. The Ferrari still has superior traction out of corners and Raikkonen has to defend hard and brake very late to keep his position. But he does and takes up the hunt for the Hulk.
Alonso pits on lap 9 and one would think Lotus should have pitted Kimi the following lap as an answer to this. Hulkenberg pits instead. And the black car is left out for yet another lap. This unfortunately leaves him behind Alonso once again with Hulkenberg up ahead after the stops.
As this is going on, Hamilton has a chance to take the position back from Grosjean down the straight and it looks to be in the bag. Grosjean then makes a very very late twitch to the right and Hamilton practically has to lift and coast to avoid contact. He probably still has Spa 2012 in the back of his mind. Not cool Groggy, not cool.
Alonso is now hounding Hulkenberg in the Sauber while Kimi is keeping a slightly bigger gap. In all likelyhood managing his harder tire. Webber has closed up behind them and a Sauber train is starting to take shape. Up ahead, Vettel is slowly but surely building up a bigger and bigger gap to the other Lotus. Still, the long wheelbase Lotus is working very well for both drivers it seems. Kimi has closed right up to Alonso again, but since Alonso also has DRS, passing is not as straight forward as earlier.
This fight goes on until Kimi pits as the first car in the gaggle, obviously attempting an undercut. Just as he comes out, Paul di Resta has had enough of racing and puts his Force India into the tire barrier. On another part of the track, Hamilton is losing seconds every lap due to tire wear. As Britney comes up to pass his teammate, something in the joint on his frontwing snaps and it’s sparks city down the straight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_KlflU65DU
Funny. Not so funny for Hamilton though as he comes on the radio saying: “When are you gonna call me in?? These tires are fucked.” Lol. So colorful. The reply was that they had to service Nicos frontwing first. Bad luck Lewis. One more lap you go.
Because of this, Kimi catches a break as Hamilton comes out of the pits behind him. His undercut has worked perfectly as he is well clear of Alonso and Hulkenberg too.
Webber pits and we just see Kimi hot on the tail of Perez in turn 1. Well, Perez runs wide and Kimi snatches another spot. Strange place to make a mistake I thought. But down the straight I get my answer. The entire thread of Perez’ front tire delaminates in an explosive manner: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfBuq9F0Dto
Weirdly the tire is still rolling and it doesn’t look anything like the failures we saw in Silverstone. It seems Pirelli made some changes to the design for safety reasons.
Safety Car comes out so debris can be cleared and several cars pit. When the smoke clears, Kimi finds himself sitting pretty for another podium in 3rd place. And once again, I look like an idiot. Sure, he caught a lucky break or two with Hamilton and the safety car. But one does not simply rule out the Iceman.
Just throw another shrimp on the barbie, mate.
More drama down the straight. Hulkenberg actually passes Lewis for 4th as the German is having a fantastic race. And to think that he may even be without a seat next year due to him being one of the bigger drivers, (because weight plays a big role for next years regulations) is nothing but a crying shame. He is one of the very best in the field. Sutil runs out of talent and glasses Webbers Red Bull in the side leaving it bleeding oil and coolant which almost immediately catches fire. Burn Bull, Burn!
Where’s the fire, bitches!
And here is where this race really starts to get nutty. Kimi is right behind Grosjean on the start-finish straight and he makes the pass! But not before Groggy has made another late move chop which is his idea of defending. It’s to no avail as Kimi grabs 2nd place. No croissant for you!
That’s well and awesome but now there is a Jeep or a Ssangyong or something blasting down the straight. Maybe not blasting, but driving at least.. You can almost see the big question marks coming up around Vettels helmet as there is no signs for a safety car or anything. Turns out it’s the fire truck that was let out on track before the SC. That’s a doozy..
SC pulls in and Kimi is not fooled by Vettels restart and stays with him. Do I see a tiny hope for a fight for the victory? Meanwhile, Alonso dices with his old teammate in the Mercedes. He gets by but Hamilton doesnt give up and retakes the position. Alonso looking a bit forlorn in this race to be honest.
Guess who is on the team radio howling about being allowed past his teammate. Its our smiling frenchman that feels he ought to be given back the position which he lost fair and square due to a mistake he made himself. No Grogro, that is not how it works. It gets so bad that Boullier has to come on the radio and tell him to keep racing. Oh dear..
Kimi is pushing like hell but Vettels fresher tires coupled with the superiority of the Red Bull proves too much to handle. Plenty of action still around all over the track though.
Hamilton passing Hulkenberg before getting repassed.
There is a mighty scrap between Gutierrez, Maldonado, Perez and Massa. With Bottas in the mix as well. Massa shows he has some skills yet as he takes advantage of Maldonado and Gutierrez and passes both in one swoop. Great stuff.
Another significant battle is Hamilton vs Hulkenberg. The Merc is faster but not where it counts. The Sauber has unbelievable traction out of turn 1 and 2 and no matter how close Lewis gets, there is no catching him. Hamilton even managed to pass him in the first DRS zone but the Hulk just repassed him in the second zone. Even before his DRS had opened. Amazing. Frustrating for the Brit but highly entertaining to watch.
Eventually a great race comes to an end and Vettel is the first to cross the finish line for the fourth time in a row. He could wrap it up already next weekend in Japan. Just like he did in 2011. Hopefully no wolf song this time. Kimi is not far behind and we have yet another podium consisting of Vettel, Raikkonen and Grosjean. Good race. I love to be proven wrong like this. I also have some hope that Kimi will get a better starting position in Japan. He mentioned that they were aware of the problem they have in qualifying.
Time for me to wrap it up as well. Only a few days to more racing action. Vettel may have won the title this year but if we have races like this one in Korea, I won’t complain.
It doesn’t amount to much but I dedicate this review to my friend Denise “Dindi” Miñoza, who passed away on the 2nd of October. She died from a serious infection, only 31 years of age. She was such a fun loving gal and a great Kimi fan. Gone way too soon. She was also a much loved DJ on a local radio station. She leaves behind many grieving people that will miss her dearly. My heart goes out to her family in this time. R.I.P. Dindi. We love you.
Below is a banner a friend of mine made for our Kimi group on Facebook. The quote is Dindis own words about Kimi.
Well, thank you Kimi. You just made me look incredibly stupid. On second thought, I guess it only serves me right for being such a pessimist. Not to mention a doubter in your abilities. But can you blame me? Kimi had a pinched nerve in his back that almost made him sit out Qualifying. And in Free Practice the pain was so bad that he was unable to breathe under braking. So I was very vocal about having no hope for a good result, let alone finishing the race. If it was me, I would have aimed for the bed and called my Momma in Denmark to comfort me over the phone. Maybe sing “Elefantens vuggevise” to me or something. I always liked that when I was a kid. But I digress.
That is hardly Kimis style. Even though he was unable to do setup work during practice because of the pain, he saddled up for qualifying and managed 13th place. Disappointing when you see his teammate qualifying in 3rd. But also highly understandable and impressive given the situation.
The injury goes back to his first year in F1 during testing in France in 2001. He had a severe crash and he got a damaged joint between a rib and the spine, causing “a lot of pain”, according to Aki Hintsa. This apparently can act up if triggered. This is only the second time I can remember this being an issue during his career. Now and one time during pre-season testing with Ferrari. What caused the injury to act up this time was due to his seat not being secured properly during Friday practice. And when he went over the kerbs around the Singapore circuit it must have flamed up.
I send many a kind thought to McLaren doctor, Aki Hintsa that gave Raikkonen a shot of cortisone before the race. It apparently alleviated the pain enough to finish the race.
And then some..
The lights go out and Rosberg challenges polesitter Vettel from his 2nd starting position. He seems to have taken the lead but brakes too late in his efforts to pass the Red Bull. He goes wide and Vettel snatches the lead right back. Now lets pause for a second. It takes a cool and calculated driver to pull the move Vettel just did. He sees his lead being taken but doesn’t lose his nerve by braking way too late. Had he done that he would have slipped down the field or even made contact. Instead he brakes exactly right and seizes the opportunity when his opponent goes wide. A tap on the KERS button along with a better exit and he is back in the lead. One of the best moves in the race.
Kimi passes di Resta
Alonso does a trademark rocket start and goes from 7th to 3rd. Fantastic. What is even more amazing is that Webber actually keeps his starting position after the first couple of corners by overtaking Grosjean to retake 4th. The time of miracles are far from over.
Paul di Resta makes a small mistake in the final turn on the first lap and Kimi being right behind doesn’t need to be asked twice and takes 12th place.
“Well done”, I think, but he is so far back that it is hardly anything to be excited about. 2 laps down and Vettel already has a lead of 4 seconds. He gets it up to 6-7 seconds before he clearly backs off to save fuel and tires. In the meantime, Kimi manages to make up another position by passing Gutierrez. But he is stuck behind Perez. Which is probably why Lotus pits him as the first of the cars on lap 10.
New set of softs for the Finn. This brings him out in a bit of free air. Making it possible to make up time on those ahead of him, namely Perez and Hulkenberg. He catches up to Bottas at an incredible rate and passes him with surprising ease. The Caterham of van der Garde is the next car in his sights and it looks to put up more of a fight than the Williams did. He gets past him when the Caterham pits and immediately sets a purple first sector. He is already ahead of Hulkenberg after his stop and the same goes for Perez after his stop on lap 14. That is 4 real places made up. “Huh, he is in the points now”, I think to myself. I had serious doubts of him even getting there. Now his back just has to hold.
Lap 25 and Red Bulls new chosen Aussie decides to bin his Toro Rosso in the barrier by the tunnel. That’s just beautiful. Safety Car out. Vettel must be happy about losing his 11-second lead because of his future teammate. He probably wonders what the deal is with him and those Australians.
Plenty of cars use the opportunity to pit for new rubber. Among them both Lotuses. To my surprise they pull off two well coordinated pit stops seconds within each other. The only thing that kept Kimi from jumping Button in the pits was that he had to wait for cars to go by. Surprisingly, Vettel, Rosberg, Webber and Hamilton did not choose to stop. Alonso did and is sitting pretty in 5th behind those 4 and they all have to stop again. Alonso may not.
When the SC goes in, Vettel has his work cut out for him. Because the pitlane is not only long but also has a lower speed limit of 60 kph, a pit stop will take almost half a minute. So that is the gap that Vettel has to make to Alonso on the harder tire that is already 12 laps old, if he is to keep his lead. What then followed was a display of pure supremacy going on for about 15 laps. Vettel takes off like a bat out of hell and makes his pursuers look like GP2 cars. After 10 laps the gap is a mammoth 23 seconds to second placed Rosberg and are already close to the gap needed to Alonso. Some people may find it boring but I enjoyed seeing the full speed of Vettel and the RB9 released. Not often you get to see that these days. Forget Webber. Giving him the same chance is like letting air slowly out of a balloon. The man blows. He’s had it. Over the top. No superlatives really covers Vettels stint. Just fantastic.
During Vettels power stint, people in front of Kimi have went into the pits one by one and suddenly I see Kimi is in P4. What the heck? The safety car came in handy for a change. He has though, on the other hand, been stuck behind Button all this time. But he has been busy as well. Not as spectacular to watch as Vettel but actually just as impressive in another subdued way. His tires are old and his back could have been better. But in some weird way he has managed to simultaneously put enough pressure on Button to make him wear out his tires while saving his own tires in the process. How he did that, I have no idea. Probably no one does. But on lap 55 he pulls out the overtaking move of the race:
Listen to Jacques Villeneuve, (at least that is who I have been told by my french peeps, he is. Correct me if I am wrong) who absolutely hates Kimis guts. He can’t help himself in shouting “Magnifique!”. I suspect he went home and washed his mouth with soap after the race. But Kimi gets to you. Even haters. And we have it on record now. Even Villeneuve loves Kimi deep down inside 😀
I am screaming my head off as Kimi makes the pass while realizing that he is now in a podium position! O Soren, of little faith. Grosjeans retirement also helped him get there of course. Something the Lotus team was keen to point out after the race for some reason.
Still 6 laps to go and there are some fast cars on fresh rubber coming through behind him. Webber is on the forefront of that charge. No worries as Kimi pulls away from Jenson at 3 seconds a lap. And when Webbers car gives up the ghost with a couple of laps to go, there is nothing stopping the Iceman from claiming his 7th podium of the season. Fantastic. One of Mr. Raikkonens finest drives to date.
Vettel is another star shining bright in the Singapore night sky. Fireworks go off as he crosses the line more than half a minute clear of Alonso. Kimi follows suit. Its a podium of champions and one should expect no booing after what turned out to be an interesting race after the safety car. Lots of scraps down the field that I havent touched on. But no.
ON THE BOOERS
I have had my say on them before. But I need another rant. So we have a 26 year old guy who is breaking records almost every GP. He just drove a race that most F1 drivers only dream of. And he gets booed? Those folks are pathetic little people.
Listen. There are plenty of other drivers that have deserved boos or worse but they didn’t get it. Even in the current field, several drivers should be booed every race by their standards. Take Lewis. He downright lied to the stewards in 2009 in Australia. That is pretty nasty and serious. But he doesn’t get booed. Oh, he doesnt win all the time? I see. What about Schumacher? Punting into the side of Damon Hill and Villeneuve. The latter actually got him excluded from the championship in 97. He parked his car in Rascasse to hinder Alonso in qualifying in 2006. Did he get booed in Monza that year?
Horner: “I don’t like those booers.” Vettel: “I don’t care. I’m winning!” “Kimi: “Dude.. The morphine for my back is kicking in.”
What about Alonso? Emails and text message proof of him trying to exploit Ferrari data to his advantage in 2007. Thats very very ugly. No boos for him though. Adrian Sutil? He put a frickin’ glass in someones neck and faced criminal charges. No? But when a young kid has an appetite for winning, and just goes out to put on a show for the fans, then that is suddenly worth jeering. Yea, that makes a lot of sense. If you are a complete inbred idiot that is.
Malaysia you say? Yea, he went after the win even though his team didnt want him to. What a horrible horrible crime.. He made the final laps exciting at least. And he did apologize for it after. But of course, that doesnt matter to the petty and small-minded. They just need any excuse they can find. Anyway, moving on to better things.
Just a little to the left, Mark. Aah.. Thats the spot.
On the cool down lap, Alonso decided to pick up the stranded Webber. A nice gesture as Webber did the same for Alonso a while back. And its a fun thing to see as it reminds people of the iconic images of Senna hitching a ride with Mansell. So a lot of fans was understandably furious when Webber received a penalty for it. He had 2 reprimands before and a 3rd meant a 10 grid penalty for the next race. Seemed uncalled for and very harsh. And I agreed until I saw the footage of Alonso stopping in the middle of the track and Webber running over the track as Hamilton and Rosberg had to swerve to avoid a crash. Looking at that, it is very justified:
Plenty of people were amazed by Kimis race. Here are some quotes.
Lewis: “I don’t know how Kimi came from where he did. Jeez. That’s incredible!” Video of that interview here: http://youtu.be/UzgY3bA1ZK0
Button: “How Kimi did that many laps on a set of tyres when he was fighting to get past me, I really don’t know.”
Paul Hembery of Pirelli: “Kimis pass was absolutely phenomenal. We all cheered when Kimi got ahead of Jenson. Kimi is Kimi, even with a painful back.”
There was also a strange quote by Lotus chief engineer Alan Permane who said: “Of course it’s good for the team and good for Kimi. But without Romain [Grosjean]‘s problem, he would have beaten Raikkonen. So that’s good for us to know”.
Ok? That is a strange way to praise your own driver if you ask me. Make of that what you will. Just don’t go too crazy on the conspiracy theories, will ya?
Anyway, Kimi also made a pass on Maldonado that was missed by the directors during the race. It was in the same place as he passed Button and just as impressive.
Karun Chandok does a nice run-down of Kimis race here: