Saturday, 11 October 2014

Russian Qualifying: Back in the USSR!!!

The Mercedes boys were back to their dominant selves, on paper at least. But in practice the Williams of Valtteri Bottas came very, very close to spoiling that party. We can't take any credit away from the Finn, as he hurled the car around the last couple of turns, attempting to pip Lewis Hamilton to the pole spot. Unfortunately, he couldn't quite capitalise on the fact that he was fastest through sectors one and two. Who knows, maybe he will have the pace to really challenge Lewis and Nico away from the lights.

Valtteri's stunning lap wasn't the only highlight of the session. After Q1 it felt like qualifying in Sochi would be the most boring of the year, with all the teams lining up in a ludicrously uniformed order. Mercedes were one and two, followed by the lone Williams of Bottas, due to Massa having problems and struggling to make the cut for Q2. In the rest of the field the McLarens were together, the Red Bulls were together and the Ferrari's were together. It was only in Q2 that things started to look a little less predictable.

The biggest upset was Sebastian Vettel not making it in to the Q3 Top Ten shootout. He has failed to match his team mate yet again and perhaps showed why he is leaving Red Bull Racing. Kvyat showed why he is joining 'the team with wings', by qualifying in a very respectable fifth place. It was a fantastic performance by him and extra special as he at his home Grand Prix this weekend. It must be a little concerning for Christian Horner, Helmut Marko and Dietrich Mateschitz, to see Red Bull Racing's sister team up there competing with them.

One highlight for me was Christian Horner, in an interview with the BBC, giving us all an insight in to the new nickname for Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat, who will both be racing for Red Bull next year. Horner referred to the two Dannys as the Double Ds. I wonder if we'll see the same kind of struggle for dominance between those two, as we've seen between Hamilton and Rosberg.

The Grid:
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:38.7591:38.3381:38.51318
26Nico RosbergMercedes1:39.0761:38.6061:38.71318
377Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1:39.1251:38.9711:38.92023
422Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1:39.5601:39.3811:39.12122
526Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault1:40.0741:39.2961:39.27727
620Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes1:39.7351:39.0221:39.62921
73Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault1:40.5191:39.6661:39.63521
814Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:40.2551:39.7861:39.70925
97Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:40.0981:39.8381:39.77126
1025Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault1:40.3541:39.9291:40.02027
111Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault1:40.3821:40.05213
1227Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1:40.2731:40.05816
1311Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1:40.7231:40.16313
1421Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1:41.1591:40.53618
1599Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari1:40.7661:40.98418
168Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1:42.5261:41.39718
179Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault1:42.6489
1819Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1:43.0648
1910Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault1:43.1669
2013Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault1:43.2055
214Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari1:43.64910

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Japanese Grand Prix: A real wet weekend!

At the time of writing this post, I'm sat here waiting for news on Jules Bianchi's condition, after he was involved in a incident at the site of Sutil's crash. In circumstances such as these, issues of safety and risk are always raised, and understandably, however I think that in this case everything was done to make the race as safe as possible. The rain became torrential, through the closing few laps of the race, and, after a spin from Sutil, the safety car was deployed. In my view, all appropriate action was taken and all we can do now is pray for Jules' speedy recovery.

Overall, it was a very exciting race, with the rain throwing up all sorts of drama and unpredictability. Despite the fact that the drivers started behind the safety car, the racing was on fire, and especially from the two Red Bull boys. This week Driver of The Day is actually Team of The Day and it goes to Red Bull Racing, for turning their weekend around. During qualifying, both Vettel and Ricciardo were struggling to get any kind of competitive pace out of their cars, whereas, through the midway period of the race, they were on fire. Vettel reeled in the Williams of Felipe Massa and dispatched him with relative ease. He then moved on to Bottas and dispatched the second Mercedes-powered Williams with just as much haste. Ricciardo acted similarly, with a couple of amazing manoeuvres, through the Dunlop curves. It was a great performance from the two Red Bull drivers and made it
impossible to choose between them, for Driver of The Day.

Jenson Button, in the McLaren, should also be commended for a great effort. His McLaren has been under performing all season, but he and his engineers managed to get him in to second place for a short period of the race. Ultimately, he just couldn't compete with the might of Red Bull Racing, but did manage to finish ahead of both Williams drivers. Ferrari, on the other hand, were back to their form of this season, Raikonnen struggling down the order and Alonso retiring during the two laps behind the safety car, at the very start.

We were spared the post-race theatrics, between Nico and Lewis. Everybody was much too concerned with Bianchi's condition. However, the result puts Hamilton in the driving seat, so to speak, with a ten point lead over his teammate. Once again, Lewis appeared to show his superiority over Nico, as he caught, passed and then left Rosberg behind. Rosberg complained of massive oversteer, but it's worth pointing out that, first of all it's normally Hamilton who moans, secondly they were both driving the exact same car, so there was no reason for them to be handling any differently, irrespective of the track conditions, and thirdly drivers often come up with excuses when they are under pressure. With only four races remaining, will Rosberg crumble or will he turn things around?

The Result:
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes441:51:43.021225
26Nico RosbergMercedes44+9.1 secs118
31Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault44+29.1 secs915
43Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault44+38.8 secs612
522Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes44+67.5 secs810
677Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes44+113.7 secs38
719Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes44+115.1 secs46
827Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes44+115.9 secs134
925Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault44+127.6 secs202
1011Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes43+1 Lap111
1126Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault43+1 Lap12
127Kimi RäikkönenFerrari43+1 Lap10
1321Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari43+1 Lap15
1420Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes43+1 Lap7
158Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault43+1 Lap16
1613Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault43+1 Lap22
179Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault43+1 Lap17
184Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari43+1 Lap21
1910Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault43+1 Lap19
2017Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari41Accident18
2199Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari40Accident14
Ret14Fernando AlonsoFerrari2Electronics5