Tag Archives: Kimi Raikkonen

Surgery rules Raikkonen out of final two races of 2013 season

Kimi Raikkonen is to miss the final 2 races of the 2013 season due to a back injury, his management have confirmed today.

The Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat have reported the news today, and was soon confirmed by Sky Sports. Raikkonen previously complained of back pain during the Singapore Grand Prix, due to the bumpy nature of the track.

This means that his appearance for Lotus at last week’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was his last for the team. Unfortunately, it ended at the first corner, in a clash with Giedo van der Garde.

He will undergo an operation on his injury next week. Is is currently unknown who his replacement will be, although reserve driver and 2012 GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi is the current favourite.

Kimi Raikkonen to rejoin Ferrari in 2014

After months of speculation, it has finally been announced that Kimi Raikkonen is to rejoin the Ferrari team for the 2014 season.

The Finn has reportedly signed a 2-year contract, and will partner Fernando Alonso in the 2014 and 2015 campaigns. He replaces Felipe Massa, who served an 8-year stint with the team.

Despite being uncerimoniously booted out of the Scuderia 4 years ago, this move appeared to be inevitable over the last few days. With Massa’s departure yesterday, the stage was set for two world champions to be driving for Ferrari at the same time since Alberto Ascari and Nino Farina in 1953.

It is also understood that the Finn holds a 12-month “break” option in his contract, which may be used if his return to Ferrari doesn’t go as well as expected…

2013 half-way driver rankings: 4th – 1st

In the last of 3 articles, I rank this year’s F1 drivers based on their performances in the first 10 races.

We are left with 4 drivers, each driving for a different team, which shows just how spoiled we are for driving talent these days. Without delay, here’s the driver in 4th place:

4th – Fernando Alonso

Previous ranking: 1st

Previous quote: “In 9 years of watching F1, this [2012 season] was the closest thing to perfection I’ve ever seen.”

Had Fernando Alonso reached his peak in late 2012? It’s a question I refused to believe at the start of this season, but slowly I can see why this may be the case.

Flawless victories in China and Spain demonstrate what he can do when the car is on form. Spirited drives in Australia and Canada earned him praise as well. But we’ve also seen uncharacteristic errors from the Spaniard – a bizarre decision to stay out with a broken front wing in Malaysia cost him a potential podium finish.

Making the error of activating his broken DRS wing in Bahrain forced a second unscheduled stop, ruining any chance of a good result. As well as this, we have seen Alonso become more visibly flustered by Ferrari’s incompetence at building a consistently competitive car. A rift in the team grew over the summer break, fuelled by comments from Luca di Montezemelo, criticising Fernando for turning on his team.

None of this has helped his 2013 challenge in the slightest. It also puts him under pressure as to his drive for the 2014 season – should he switch to Red Bull or Lotus, or continue to try with a team that can’t fix a wind tunnel after 3 years of failure?

At this point, there’s no correct decision. All he can do for now is push on track, and try to close the gap to Sebastian Vettel as much as possible. But the title may already be out of reach, thanks to his early-season errors.

3rd – Lewis Hamilton

Previous ranking: 2nd

Previous quote: “If Hamilton can transform Mercedes like Schumacher did to Ferrari, he will go down as one of the best drivers of the modern era.”

3rd place in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix confirmed what many had hoped over the winter – Hamilton’s switch to Mercedes was indeed the right call. More than that, we are seeing inspired, confident drives from the Brit more than ever.

Coping with a car that proved erratic under braking and suicidal when it came to tyre wear, two podiums in Malaysia and China were also very impressive, with his first Mercedes pole position to boot. Losing out in the pit stops in Monaco cost him another excellent finish.

Once he got to grips with the W04, wins were just around the corner. To everyone’s surprise, he calmly converted a pole in Hungary into a win, and I feel he could have done it even with Vettel unhindered by backmarkers. More superb victories in 2013 are expected, naturally.

Any poor finishes were the fault of the car, not the driver. The two Pirelli tyre massacres – Barcelona and Silverstone – threw him out of podium-finishing places. If it weren’t for these, he would have finished in the top 5 at every single race. With himself and Kimi Raikkonen both on form, there could still be a surprise winner to the 2013 season.

2nd – Sebastian Vettel

Previous ranking: 4th

Previous quote: “I still think that he was out-performed by other drivers on the grid.”

His unsporting antics in Malaysia earned him criticism, but in my mind it has cemented Vettel as a true racing driver. No triple world champion would throw away a victory like that – drivers like Hakkinen, Senna and Gilles Villeneuve have done the exact same.

His 2013 campaign is already shaping up to be one of his best – flawless performances are a standard for him these days. Of course, he is assisted by the Red Bull RB9′s stellar pace, but what world champion won their title in a Minardi? Sebastian has proven himself, once again, to be more calculating, more tactical and overall faster than his disillusioned teammate.

If it wasn’t for a gearbox failure in Silverstone, he would have finished in the top 4 at every single race. Such consistency is what we’ve come to expect from the triple world champion, and we’ve seen so much of it that perhaps we’re used to it. Perhaps that’s a good and a bad thing, but at the end of the day, Vettel is as ferocious a racing driver as ever.

1st – Kimi Raikkonen

Previous ranking: 3rd

Previous quote: “Raikkonen did a hugely impressive job this year, establishing himself as one of the sport’s finest drivers.”

It’s easy to appreciate Vettel’s stellar streak of wins across multiple seasons. But Raikkonen’s string of second-placed finishes is perhaps even more impressive, considering the speed difference in the cars they drive.

This year’s Lotus is reliable and consistent on the tyres, but lacks overall pace. The fact that such a car can be dragged to 5 2nd-placed finishes in 8 races is proof of Kimi’s impeccable racecraft. A win in Melbourne was earned with supreme tactical finesse, surprising many inside and outside the paddock.

Where the E21 has failed, it has tended to drag Raikkonen down with it, but I doubt any other driver could do much better. But even where his car was clearly off the pace, we still saw tremendous racecraft from the Finn, with Monaco being the prime example. After falling to 13th, Kimi pulled off three impressive passes on the final lap to snatch 10th place.

Such consistency has earned him the record for most points finishes in a row, with 27 being his current streak. It’s impossible not to recognise this kind of racecraft, and that’s why I’m tipping Raikkonen to be the surprise victor of the 2013 championship.

Who can catch Sebastian Vettel in 2013?

We are now halfway through the 2013 season, and Sebastian Vettel again holds a commanding lead in the championship – a sizeable 38 points over nearest rival Kimi Raikkonen.

But if the form of the first half of 2013 is anything to go by, we’re in for an unpredictable battle all the way to the end. Let’s have a look at the drivers who will take the fight to the Red Bull:

Kimi Raikkonen

Gap to Vettel: 38 points

Finishing form in 2013: 1-7-2-2-2-10-9-5-2-2

To say that his return to F1 has been a success would be a massive understatement. Kimi has been on the pace from the get-go, and has shown nothing but sheer determination and speed every time he’s out on track.

What holds him back though is the team itself. Lotus is bearing the brunt of severe overspending in recent years, and they have shown to be unpredictable when it comes to car development. A temporary slump from Monaco to Silverstone hurt Raikkonen’s chances of making steady progress, and it remains unclear whether Lotus can keep up to Red Bull in the development race.

The E21 can be described as “erratic” when it comes to performance between races – track temperature impacts on their car moreso than others, and this tends to make or break their race weekends before they even begin.

But when the car is on the pace, so is Kimi, every single time. The emergence of Romain Grosjean as a more reliable teammate may also come in handy, as the team may opt to use him as a tactial tool to delay his rivals. If Raikkonen is to win the championship, it won’t be by out-pacing the Red Bull, rather by clever tactics and strategy.

Fernando Alonso

Gap to Vettel: 39 points

Finishing form: 2-DNF-1-8-1-7-2-3-4-5

Rumours of a rift in the Ferrari garage wouldn’t be unrealistic – Alonso has been unhappy with the pace of his Ferrari for some time now, and he can only do so much with the 3rd fastest car.

Like Raikkonen, Alonso is being forced to put more pressure on his team to achieve results, but Ferrari’s leadership has struck back, claiming Fernando should put the team before himself. This has produced a rather worrying situation where Fernando may lack the support from Ferrari in order to win the title.

To make matters worse, Alonso is not the faultless driver he was last year. A bizarre decision to stay out with a broken front wing cost him a Malaysian Grand Prix finish, and Fernando made the mistake of accidentally activating his broken DRS wing in Bahrain, despite having just pitted to have it fixed down.

It’s clear that he has been rattled by years of chasing the apparently unassailable Vettel, and it is now a case of whether Alonso will jump ship altogether, or continue to fight with Ferrari. Despite being a fan, I can’t see any realistic chance of the Ferrari/Alonso combination catching Sebastian in this form.

The next 2 races are expected to suit the F138 though, so if we are to see any late-season charge, we will have to see Fernando perform well in Spa and Monza.

Lewis Hamilton

Gap to Vettel: 48 points

Finishing form: 5-3-3-5-12-4-3-5-1

Only a week ago, I assumed that the 2013 title battle was a 3-horse race. It seemed impossible that the tyre-melting Mercedes could possibly mount a charge. But mount a charge it did, in the searing heat of Hungary no less. Lewis Hamilton is now equipped with the best car to take down Sebastian Vettel, but is it too late?

A 48-point gap is by no means unassailable – look at what Fernando Alonso managed after Silverstone 2010. But the fact that Red Bull are so strong in the second half of the year is the biggest issue. Tackling Vettel at the power circuits – Spa, Suzuka and Austin – will be Hamilton’s biggest test.

Another factor will be Lewis’ reliability – we know all too well what happens when Hamilton goes off the rails, and to do so in 2013 would be catastrophic. I feel that he still lacks the precision driving that Raikkonen excels in, and this could be the difference between becoming the champion and crashing out at the decisive moment.

Lewis has progressed in leaps and bounds in the last 2 years, but it remains to be seen whether he can tackle his major weakness in 2013.

Malaysian Grand Prix practice: Rain threatens proceedings as Raikkonen continues to lead

Kimi Raikkonen topped the timesheets for today’s practice sessions for the Malaysian Grand Prix, but the local weather is already causing a storm. After FP2 was disrupted by heavy rain, there are fears that the local thunderstorms may hit the circuit during tomorrow’s qualifying and the race.

Regardless, the field is tightly bunched at the front at the moment. Here’s what happened today:

First practice

It was another slow start to this weekend’s racing, as it took until the half hour mark for anyone to set a lap time.

Australian GP race winner Kimi Raikkonen had a delayed start to his weekend – a KERS fault meant that he was stuck in the pits longer than anyone else. He eventually finished the session 0.06 seconds off the leader.

The Red Bulls continued to demonstrate their excellent one-lap pace, with both Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel leading FP1 at certain points. It was Webber who was to set the fastest time, a 1:36.935 leaving him over a tenth of a second ahead of his teammate.

Lap times dropped off towards the end of the session, as it became clear that the hard tyres were only lasting around 20 laps.

The only major drama was when Esteban Gutierrez spun off, carrying too much speed into Turn 14.

Pos  Driver               Team                  Time       Gap       Laps
 1.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault      1:36.935            15
 2.  Kimi Raikkonen       Lotus-Renault         1:37.003  + 0.068s  15
 3.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault      1:37.104  + 0.169s  21
 4.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari               1:37.319  + 0.384s  13
 5.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes              1:37.588  + 0.653s  19
 6.  Adrian Sutil         Force India-Mercedes  1:37.769  + 0.834s  17
 7.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari               1:37.771  + 0.836s  15
 8.  Paul di Resta        Force India-Mercedes  1:37.773  + 0.838s  15
 9.  Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes              1:37.840  + 0.905s  18
10.  Romain Grosjean      Lotus-Renault         1:37.915  + 0.980s  17
11.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes      1:38.173  + 1.238s  16
12.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Renault      1:38.673  + 1.738s  16
13.  Sergio Perez         McLaren-Mercedes      1:38.830  + 1.895s  17
14.  Nico Hulkenberg      Sauber-Ferrari        1:39.054  + 2.119s  17
15.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari        1:39.204  + 2.269s  16
16.  Valtteri Bottas      Williams-Renault      1:39.208  + 2.273s  19
17.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:39.284  + 2.349s  17
18.  Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:39.567  + 2.632s  16
19.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham-Renault      1:40.728  + 3.793s  17
20.  Jules Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth     1:40.996  + 4.061s  14
21.  Charles Pic          Caterham-Renault      1:41.163  + 4.228s  18
22.  Max Chilton          Marussia-Cosworth     1:41.513  + 4.578s  14

Second practice

It was Raikkonen who set the fastest time in FP2 on the medium tyres, but by only 0.4 seconds compared to Webber’s time in FP1.

Rain was expected from the off, so many drivers took to the track immediately in order to maximise running. As expected, the rain fell early on, and it increased in strength at around the halfway mark. A spin by Nico Hulkenberg on his in lap demonstrated how treacherous the conditions were.

Drivers soon tip-toed out onto the track soon after, but spins marred several drivers’ sessions. Sergio Perez, Giedo van der Garde and Romain Grosjean all had off-track excursions on the intermediate tyres.

The track dried out sufficiently for slicks with 10 minutes to go, but nobody was able to improve on Raikkonen’s earlier time. Sebastian Vettel was within 0.016 seconds of the Lotus, with Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso 3rd and 4th.

The McLarens showed no signs of improvement from Australia, finishing Friday 11th and 12th. Further back, Jules Bianchi was able to set a lap 0.152 seconds faster than the Williams of Valtteri Bottas.

Pos Driver                Team                    Time       Gap      Laps
 1. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault           1:36.569            28
 2. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        1:36.588  + 0.019s  27
 3. Felipe Massa          Ferrari                 1:36.661  + 0.092s  33
 4. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 1:36.985  + 0.416s  23
 5. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault        1:37.026  + 0.457s  29
 6. Romain Grosjean       Lotus Renault           1:37.206  + 0.637s  26
 7. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                1:37.448  + 0.879s  32
 8. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes    1:37.571  + 1.002s  30
 9. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes                1:37.574  + 1.005s  32
10. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes    1:37.788  + 1.219s  10
11. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes        1:37.838  + 1.269s  21
12. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1:37.865  + 1.296s  29
13. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari          1:38.068  + 1.499s  31
14. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari          1:38.645  + 2.076s  23
15. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:38.738  + 2.169s  31
16. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault        1:38.801  + 2.232s  27
17. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:38.904  + 2.335s  31
18. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth       1:39.508  + 2.939s  30
19. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault        1:39.660  + 3.091s  28
20. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault        1:40.757  + 4.188s  29
21. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault        1:40.768  + 4.199s  32
22. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth       1:41.438  + 4.869s  23

Raikkonen takes surprise triumph in Melbourne thriller

Kimi Raikkonen has taken the first victory of the 2013 Formula 1 season, employing a stellar strategy to sneak ahead of the rest of the field.

Pole sitter Sebastian Vettel struggled for pace slightly, and could only manage 3rd position. Ferrari confirmed their excellent race pace with 2nd and 4th for Alonso and Massa, while Lewis Hamilton and Adrian Sutil put in brave drives for their teams. Here’s the breakdown of what happened:

A typical Webber start

At the start, Mark Webber made yet another disastrous start, falling to 9th by the end of the first lap. The Ferraris stormed past Webber and Hamilton, with Massa fending off Alonso for 2nd.

Having qualified a brilliant 3rd, Lewis began to slip down the order. First he was passed by Massa and Alonso, then he came under huge pressure from Kimi Raikkonen, to which he succumbed to on Lap 2. Amazingly, Jules Bianchi in the Marussia had a storming start, and managed to get up to 13th before burning out his first set of tyres.

Jenson Button, predictably, was the first to pit for new tyres, seeing as the McLaren had shredded his super-softs in Q3 earlier. Webber followed suit, and it quickly became clear that the Red Bulls were struggling to control their tyre wear.

By Lap 6, Vettel’s typical “first lap advantage” had run out, and both Massa and Alonso were breathing down his neck. Raikkonen, having dispatched of the Mercedes, was the quickest of the 4 of them, and soon joined the action up front.

Resurgent Sutil

Vettel removed his super-softs on Lap 8, with Massa, Alonso and Raikkonen pitting soon after. This left the Mercedes drivers briefly out in front, who had opted to stay out on the options for longer than anyone else.

Adrian Sutil found himself at the front of the pack, having started on the medium tyres. More impressively, he was capable of holding off Vettel lap after lap, and even began to pull away from the Red Bull.

Sebastian seemed unable to pull the maximum out of the medium tyres, and Alonso made his second pit stop in response, having been backed up by both the Red Bull and Massa. Sutil and Vettel pitted on Lap 21, and the world champion exited the pits behind Fernando, his sudden change in strategy now paying diviends.

Despite his initial pace, Massa was caught unawares by this development, and fell away from the frontrunners after his second stop. Vettel improved on his new set of rubber, diving past Sutil at Turn 3.

Approaching the halfway mark, Pastor Maldonado became the first retirement of the day, touching the grass in the braking zone of Turn 1 and spinning into the gravel.

Mercedes’ strategy falls apart

Up at the front, Hamilton and Rosberg again found themselves ahead of the leaders, being on a different strategy. Nico was running as high as 3rd, but an electrical problem forced him to pull over and retire.

Light rain soon began to fall around Albert Park, making conditions even trickier. Raikkonen now led Hamilton, neither of them having made their second stop, while the 3-stopping Alonso soon began to catch the Mercedes.

On Lap 31, after spending a few laps staring at the Mercedes’ rear wing, Alonso took advanateg of a lock-up at Turn 12, and swept past Hamilton for 2nd place. Lewis pitted soon after, and it became apparent that his attempt at a 2-stop had failed.

Once the final set of stops were over and done with, Raikkonen was now in control of the Grand Prix, holding a solid 6 second lead over Fernando Alonso. Vettel and Massa both overtook Hamilton for 3rd and 4th, whose slower car was now restraining his efforts.

Sutil led the race briefly again, but began to sharply drop back on his final set of tyres. With the Force India out of contention, the focus switched back to the front, where Alonso was doing his absolute best to reel in Raikkonen.

A tense finish

Having fallen to as little as 4 seconds during the stops, Kimi was able to bring the gap back up to 7 seconds once he put his foot down. However, Fernando remained vigilant, knowing that his tyres were 5 laps newer than the Lotus’.

Adrian Sutil slipped away from the frontrunners, even on the super-soft tyres, and was even reeled in by teammate Paul di Resta, who had a very quiet race in 8th place. The Force Indias were within a second of each other with a few laps to go, but Di Resta was ordered to hold position until the end.

McLaren knew they would have a difficult race, and a 9th placed finish by Button was acceptable considering how poor qualifying was. Sergio Perez was resurgent towards the end of the race, but was unable to pass Romain Grosjean for 10th on the final lap.

Holding the 6-second gap until the end, Raikkonen cruised to his first victory of the season, his superior strategy and speed proving to be unmatched. Alonso and Vettel joined him on the podium, while Massa and Hamilton slipped away in the final stint.

Red Bull’s “domination” clearly failed to materialise, and the 2013 season looks to be just as closely-fought as 2012. The Malsyaian Grand Prix can’t arrive quickly enough.

2012 final driver rankings: 3rd – 1st

In the last of 4 articles, I rank the 25 drivers from the 2012 season in terms of their performances.

This final section deals with Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, and Kimi Raikkonen – but in which order? Let’s find out…

3rd – Kimi Raikkonen

Previous ranking: 5th

Previous quote: “Overall he has been hugely impressive, and I am tipping him as the dark horse for the 2012 title.”

While he was unable to keep up the pressure for the world title, Raikkonen did a hugely impressive job this year, establishing himself as one of the sport’s finest drivers.

Victory could have come as quickly as his third race since his return, but Kimi initially appeared rusty in racecraft. This cost him a well-deserved win, and was his only major flaw across the entire year.

If it wasn’t for his tyres falling off the cliff in China, he would have finished every single race in the points. Not spinning and making a slow recovery in Brazil would have meant that he would have completed every single racing lap in 2012. These are very impressive feats from a driver only just returning to the sport.

Kimi only got more impressive as the season progressed. He took three podiums in a row from Germany to Belgium, then a string of good finishes kept him within striking range of Alonso and Hamilton. A worthy win followed up in Abu Dhabi, but it was too late to keep him in contention for the title battle.

Raikkonen appears perfectly at home within Lotus, a team that actively encourages his laid-back behaviour. Is it a match made in heaven? I think it might just be.

2nd – Lewis Hamilton

Previous ranking: 2nd

Previous quote: “2012 has seen a new evolution in Lewis Hamilton”

Hamilton’s 2012 title challenge will go down as a failure, forgotten within only a decade or two. However, this doesn’t do justice to what was a magnificent flourish in form for Lewis.

From the offset, he was quick. He deserved wins immediately, but luck was not on his side – being passed by Button in Melbourne, Alonso and Perez in Malaysia, and crucially, a series of disastrous pit stops.

McLaren are entirely to blame for Hamilton losing the championship. Once they had sorted out their horrifically slow pit stops, the car began to fall apart. Technical failures robbed Lewis of good results in Germany, Korea, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

Nevertheless, we were able to see how good a driver he really is. Outstanding victories in Canada, Hungary, Italy and USA were a joy to watch – when the team and car allowed him, Lewis was unstoppable. After announcing his move to Mercedes, he was freed from the shackles of a restrictive contract, and the next few seasons will show if he is legend material.

Will 2013 yield any results at Mercedes? I doubt anything will come just yet. But it will be hugely interesting to watch – if Hamilton can transform the team like Schumacher did to Ferrari, he will go down as one of the best drivers of the modern era.

1st – Fernando Alonso

Previous ranking: 1st

Previous quote: “For Alonso never to get a third title would be a tragedy.”

To put it simply, Alonso’s performances this year have been nothing short of astounding. I would even suggest that this is the best season performance we have ever seen from a Grand Prix driver.

By pre-season testing, it was already clear that the Ferrari was several seconds off the frontrunner’s pace. Yet Fernando managed to drag the car into 5th by the first race. When the opportunity arose in Malaysia, he grabbed it and never looked back. He battled tooth and nail with Pastor Maldonado in Spain, never giving up despite the Williams’ speed advantage.

At no point in 2012 did Alonso have the fastest car. Yet he managed 3 wins and another 10 podiums, more than any other driver on the grid. If it wasn’t for crashing out on the first laps of Spa and Suzuka, he could have taken 9 podium positions in a row.

His determination and raw speed throughout the season cannot be underestimated. It is something of  miracle that he found himself battling Vettel until the final lap of Brazil, but he somehow pulled it off. A mere 3 points separated him from the greatest championship victory in the history of the sport.

Fernando has already said that he can never recreate this season’s performance again, and to an extent I believe him. In 9 years of watching F1, this was the closest thing to perfection I’ve ever seen.

Top 10: Overtakes of the 2012 season

Like the previous year, 2012 was a fantastic season for overtaking. Without further ado, let’s have a look at the best passes of the 2012 season:

10th – Sergio Perez on Lewis Hamilton, Japanese Grand Prix

Perez eliminated himself from the Suzuka race later on with an ill-judged pass on Hamilton at the same corner. But his first move was brave, albeit slightly clumsy.

The Sauber came from miles behind at the Turn 11 hairpin, threw his car into the corner, and just about made it stick.

9th – Lewis Hamilton on both Toro Rossos, Spanish Grand Prix

An overtaking article wouldn’t be complete without Lewis Hamilton. Recovering from a disastrous 2011 season, he immediately set out to prove that he is one of the finest drivers on the grid.

Arguably his best pass was on Ricciarado and Vergne in quick succession in Barcelona:

8th – Kimi Raikkonen on Nico Hulkenberg, Grand Prix of America

Nico Hulkenberg performed admirably in the second half of 2012. But he was left completely helpless when Kimi made a ruthless move around the outside in Austin.

Passes like these are very underrated – the sheer level of bravery and confidence required is unparalleled.

7th – Romain Grosjean on Lewis Hamilton, European Grand Prix

Despite the (justified) criticism of Grosjean’s antics this year, he remains a fiesty racer when the opportunity arises.

His best move of the year was this ballsy pass on Hamilton, where he refused to budge and forced the McLaren off the racing line.

6th – Fernando Alonso on Romain Grosjean, European Grand Prix

Before this season, who would have guessed that the Valencia street circuit would throw up one of the best races of 2012?

Another great pass from that race was Fernando Alonso’s incredible move around the outside of turn 1. It’s even tougher than it looks –  the exit barriers of that corner close in rapidly, so even a few kp/h too many, and you’re in the wall.

5th – Kimi Raikkonen on Paul di Resta, German Grand Prix

Raikkonen spent several laps behind the Force India before he made a proper attempt to overtake. But it was well worth it.

After attempting to undercut Di Resta exiting the Spitzherhe, he dived around the outside of the following corner, and muscled his way through.

4th – Kimi Raikkonen on Michael Schumacher, Brazilian Grand Prix

Raikkonen and Schumacher were back to their old antics in Brazil. At the same corner, Raikkonen squeezed past Michael on the race of his first retirement in 2006.

This time though, it was around the outside, and not a millimetre of space was shared between the two. Just look at that photo, and that tells you everything you need to know.

3rd – Kimi Raikkonen on Michael Schumacher, Belgian Grand Prix

As you can tell, I’ve hugely enjoyed Raikkonen’s performances this year. He’s been absolutely outstanding all year – but more on that in another post.

This time, he bravely shot down the inside of Schumacher’s Mercedes entering Eau Rouge. It wasn’t as brilliant as Mark Webber’s similar move last year, but still very commendable.

2nd – Felipe Massa on Bruno Senna, Singapore Grand Prix

After a miserable start to the season, Massa picked up his game hugely.

The first sign of Felipe’s comeback was in Singapore, where an incredible slice up the inside of Bruno Senna netted him an extra place. Bonus marks go for the dramatic slide entering the corner. Awesome stuff.

1st – Nico Hulkenberg on Lewis Hamilton & Romain Grosjean, Korean Grand Prix

While the Korean Grand Prix wasn’t a standout race, it brought one of my favourite passes from one of the best upcoming drivers on the grid.

Hulkenberg has been brilliant in the final few races of 2012, and this move was icing on the cake. After waltzing past Grosjean, he proceeded to barge his way alongside Hamilton, and then shoved his way past entering the next corner. Brilliantly calculated, and fantastic to watch – a classic overtake.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many videos of the pass online. This is the best I could come up with.

The heroes of Interlagos 2012

To put it simply, the Brazilian Grand Prix of 2012 was one of the best races I’ve seen in my life. Aside from 2008, you couldn’t ask for a better conclusion to a fabulously entertaining season.

What make the race even more special was that it wasn’t just the two title contenders driving their hearts out. Throughout the field, we saw some astounding performances, resulting in a race that will be talked about for years to come.

Let’s have a look at the stars of Brazil 2012:

Sebastian Vettel

Couldn’t write this article without him. Punted into a spin at turn 4, his championship battle appeared to be over before it even begun.

What happened next was pure magic. Vettel blitzed through the field at an astounding pace, even with a damaged floor and exhaust. He tore his way up to an incredible 6th place after only 10 or so laps.

A mistake deciding what tyres to go onto, and then a slow pit stop, left him down in 12th as the race entered its final 20 laps. However, he again laid waste to the midfield, tearing back up to 6th to seal the title.

What was even more impressive is how he continued to push his way up the field, even when the championship was effectively decided. A true triple world champion’s performance.

Nico Hulkenberg

This was the true shock of the day. With the rain falling, a smart tyre choice helped Hulkenberg gain 25 seconds over most of the grid.

With this opportunity, he kept Button and Hamilton under massive pressure, and shocked most viewers by putting a pass on the McLaren.

Even more amazing was how he managed to pull away from the fastest cars on the grid. A small error at turn 1 ruined his chances of victory, but the subsequent penalty was too harsh in my opinion. Still, it doesn’t detract from an absolutely enthralling performance.

Felipe Massa

The fast-starting Ferraris laid waste to the Red Bulls at the start, and surprisingly were able to pull away comfortably for most of the race.

Massa’s start was particularly impressive, moving up as high as 2nd before shuffling down the order soon after. After losing a lap to the leaders after a delayed pit stop, the safety car period gave him an opportunity to fight back, and he seized it with both hands. He picked off car after car, and eventually relieved 2nd to Alonso.

His resurgence in form has been extremely impressive, and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him fighting on equal terms with Fernando next season.

Lewis Hamilton

Again, Lewis did everything right, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

After taking his 7th pole of the year, he was all set to dominate the race, but several factors collided to take him out. The first period of rain allowed Jenson Button to briefly take the lead off the sister McLaren. A poor call for intermediate tyres dropped him down the order, but the safety car slashed a 45-second deficit, and gave him another chance to take a final win with his childhood team.

But like so many times this year, it didn’t happen. A mistake by Nico Hulkenberg took Hamilton out on the spot, and ruined what could have been a beautiful end to the McLaren-Hamilton relationship.

Kimi Raikkonen

All set to finish every single lap of the 2012 season – an incredible record – Raikkonen decided to entertain the fans watching at home instead. A true heroic performance!

Kimi Raikkonen takes stunning win in breathtaking Abu Dhabi GP

Kimi Raikkonen has taken a surprise victory in one of the most tense and exciting races in recent times – in Abu Dhabi, of all places.

The Finn inherited the lead after Lewis Hamilton’s engine expired, and he was unbeatable in terms of raw pace. Fernando Alonso did well to move up to second place, but Sebastian Vettel was the star of the day, dropping to the back twice, and still fighting his way through to a podium finish.

In contrast to expectations, the race was jam-packed with unpredictability, and brilliant racing. Here is what happened:

At the start, Mark Webber had an absolute howler of a getaway, allowing Kimi Raikkonen to waltz into 2nd place from 4th. Jenson Button was quickly passed by Fernando Alonso, as the Ferrari made its way into 4th place.

A 4-car clash occurred at the first corner, as Nico Hulkenberg squeezed Bruno Senna, Paul di Resta and himself into an unavoidable accident. Romain Grosjean was then clipped by Nico Rosberg, and the Lotus crawled back to the pits.

Up front, Lewis Hamilton made a mistake on lap 2, nearly being passed by Kimi Raikkonen, but the McLaren just about held his position.

At the back, Sebastian Vettel began to make progress, but clipped his front wing against Bruno Senna’s Williams, suffering minor damage. Sebastian wasn’t fazed though, and made his way up as far as 13th before lap 10.

However, the race took another sharp twist, with the safety car deployed for a scary crash between Rosberg and Narain Karthikeyan. The HRT backed off going into turn 16, and the Mercedes smashed over Narain, forcing both cars out on the spot.

Red Bull took this opportunity to pit Vettel, dropping him to the back of the field. At the restart, the sister Red Bull put Alonso under huge pressure, but Fernando managed to hold onto 4th place.

From 19th, Sebastian got to work again, passing both Paul di Resta and Romain Grosjean within a matter of corners. However, he passed Grosjean off the track, and was forced to allow the Lotus past. A lap later, the Red Bull sailed past again to secure 17th place.

Then, as if the title battle didn’t need another twist, it got another one – Lewis Hamilton suffered a sudden engine failure, causing him to coast to a halt. A dejected Lewis exited his car, and at the same time, Alonso found his way past Pastor Maldonado for 2nd place.

Mark Webber then closed in on the Venezuelan, but put the Williams under too much pressure, clashing with Pastor at turn 12, spinning the Red Bull and leaving him in 7th. Vettel quickly closed in on his teammate, and a conveniently timed pit stop for Mark ensured that there was no inter-team battle.

After his stop, Webber began to battle with Felipe Massa, resulting in yet another clash at turn 16. They clashed wheels, with Webber running wide, and Massa suffering an embarrassing spin.

The majority of the frontrunners pitted around lap 30, with Button finding his way past Maldonado in the meantime. Vettel stayed out, but it became clear that his used tyres were beginning to wear. He had found his way up to 2nd, but Alonso was now reeling him in at several tenths per second.

Red Bull made the sensible call, and pitted Vettel on lap 37, with Sebastian emerging in 4th place. Within a lap, a bizarre crash caused another safety car, and a perfect opportunity for Vettel.

In the battle for 5th, Paul di Resta shoved Sergio Perez off the track, who clashed with Romain Grosjean once he rejoined the circuit. A damaged Grosjean then moved into Webber’s path, eliminating all 3 cars on the spot.

On the restart, there were no major changes of position, but the battle at the front began to intensify. Button in 3rd was under pressure from Vettel behind, while Alonso began to slowly reel in Raikkonen.

The last 10 laps were incredibly tense. With only a few laps to go, Sebastian made a brave move on Jenson to take 3rd place, and reduce the damage to his championship lead. Meanwhile, Fernando was able to close the gap to a single second on the last lap, but Kimi was able to keep it together, and took an incredible victory.

Pastor Maldonado had a quiet run to 5th, followed by Kamui Kobayashi, Felipe Massa, Bruno Senna, Paul di Resta and Daniel Ricciardo.

The gap between Vettel and Alonso is 10 points, and despite Kimi’s win, he has now been ruled out of the title bid. The F1 circus will roll up in Austin in two weeks time, where the next plot twist will take place…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers