Sep 8, 2008

50th post : Stand up for the Spa King

We Kimi fans aren't baffled. A refurbished version of Kimi Raikkonen, the Kimi Raikkonen we knew, ruled La Source, Eau Rouge and Blachimont. He drew a line between men from boys in a manly circuit. To hell with qualifiers, to hell with setup, we want racing. We want circuits like Spa Francorchamps but we also want the heavens to stay shut for 3 more mins :) With sheer pace, Kimi went past his title rivals Massa and Hamilton without depending on nature fiasco. A true racer but more importantly a passionate racer who just can't settle for anything but victory. I stand up for our champion, the one and only Kimi Matias Raikkonen.

Race review - courtesy: darkmaiden

That race was just….awesome? Chilling? Breath taking? I don’t know what word describes it but the name Kimi Raikkonen says enough for me today. He was flying. And despite the crash, he’ll keep flying! start: Rain fell on the track hours before the grid lined up, the rain had stopped slightely for the start but it remained damp enough to cause a bit of drama at turn 1. Kimi said on Saturday that he was hoping for dry weather and knew it would be difficult if it rained. But that didn’t stop him going all out off his start line. It was one of the best grid starts up front all season, in that he later continued to use it to pass the two cars infront. As expected Kimi went around the outside for turn 1 as Heikki had a terrible start, so one job was already done, to pass that McLaren. But that was not all – Kimi wanted to pass everyone. He ran wide out of turn 1 and loved to use the extra tarmac area in the run up to Eau Rouge, as he gained a lot of speed, while Massa who stayed on the right line exiting the corner didn’t have as much speed as Kimi. Kimi already planned the night before to sort his teammate out once and for all, well at least for today, and he did it. Great move on Felipe and it was actually the first overtaking between the two on equal measures. I was clapping, and I’m sure all of you were too!

Then Lewis was next, and yes, oh yes, Kimi looked so scary in Lewis’ mirrors that it caused Lewis to spin on the second lap at turn 1 I guess! Kimi was pushing hard and ran wide at the exit again using the extra run off area, but I have a feeling that he liked to use it to gain more speed as he knew he was a lap lighter than Felipe, and so Kimi did everything he could to get as far ahead as possible. He’s a smart lad and a great racer.

Lewis pitted first then as we all expected, and I laughed. But oh no, Kimi pitted just a lap later! So yes indeed Kimi was lighter than Felipe in qualifying but by only one lap as Massa pitted in the next lap. By the time Kimi pitted though, he built up such a lead that he still came out infront of Lewis with also Felipe later behind. It was close the whole race between the Ferrari and McLaren infront but Lewis consistently showed he was quicker but Kimi drove like a bat out of hell to stay in front. It’s not the first time I’ve used that phrase, perhaps Batman can be another name for Kimi! He had a good lead of 5 seconds from Lewis and it all seemed okay. There was a long way to go so I still wasn’t predicting a Kimi win just yet.

I kept chanting, talking to Kimi as if he was there with me, “Hold it, baby, steady…fly, keep flying…”. He had a brilliant start, just exactly what he needed and what we all were waiting to see for a long, long, long time. I had completely missed the fact that Kimi had a new chassis this weekend at Spa. Since Friday I could see how much better he seemed with it. Obviously! It’s a damn brand new chassis. It took months for Kimi & co to sort his problems out, first we thought it was just qualifying like last year but then Domenicali revealed it was understeer. So bucket loads of understeer as well as qualifying issues really put Kimi in the gutter this summer. And why on earth did it take Ferrari so long to fix this? A new chassis, and voila, Kimi’s flying and fighting for wins. I was so angry when I realized this. No bloody wonder, Kimi’s been suffering. I doubt it took him 5 races to realize he’s got an understeer issue. He needed a completely new chassis. I hope everyone shuts the crap up now about his motivation, retirement and all the other bollocks they can come up with for his dismal summer.

Anyway, it being Spa and all, Kimi clearly had more adrenalin than usual as we saw from the start, which is probably where the drivers get the most adrenalin. But oh man…we were in for some ending. The second round of pitstops were very important. Kimi and Lewis both pitted on the same lap and Kimi’s stop was longer. This was logical as his first stop was shorter than Lewis’s and Kimi had to make up the ground, which he did of course with 5 hand seconds. Lewis began closing on Kimi after a while on the harder tyres, and it seemed Kimi wasn’t as comfortable with these and he was on the softer tyre at the start. But some how Kimi increased his gap at some times and held in there. I continued chanting and praying “Steady baby, keep it cool, keep focused,” and being a typical die hard fan I felt it was working hahahaha!

Felipe was settling for third place by then it seemed. With Heikki’s big drop at the start and having a drive through penalty for not avoiding an avoidable collision with Webber earlier, no one was there to stop Kimi. Only Lewis was. But the sun was shining and Kimi was flying…no one could have stopped him, even Lewis couldn’t have despite having a faster car as the sector times kept showing. Kimi and Spa together is like magic. The Iceman showed today that he owns this place and always will, even if he crashes out, he’ll take the fastest lap with him. Kimi was flying today and despite Lewis being quicker than him as the sector times showed, Kimi made it work. Until the rain came obviously.

There were some great battles meanwhile down the field, with Heikki taking most of the spot light climbing through and battling with Kubica. Lewis was praying for it to rain as he couldn’t catch Kimi, well everytime he did take a few tenths out of him, Kimi would just hit back going quicker again. It was really close, but God knows how Kimi pulled it off and managed to keep it. Not knowing whether to back off and conserve the engine for Monza, Lewis kept getting closer then dropping off. It seemed Kimi could win safely with 4 laps to go. Until Lewis’s prayer was answered…

The rain came and it was dancing time. Lewis closed in drastically in just one sector towards the end and my heart, as well as everyone else’s watching, was almost jumping through my chest! The McLaren was going to pass the Ferrari, it was just a matter of time. I wasn’t worried but just anxious. I knew Kimi would defend as well as he did. He did a brilliant job. As Lewis and Kimi braked towards the chicane, both locked wheels and Kimi remained inside on the racing line. Lewis had plenty of room, I do not care what more lies he says to the media (obviously the dumb viewers would believe him which is why he says it). Kimi allowed the whole kerb for Lewis. Lewis had the option to drive along the kerb. But he didn’t. He probably got worried about contact and cut the chicane. But he definitely had room. Kimi’s the most fair and decent racer out there, never ever been involved in cheeky tactics or incidents or penalties, so Lewis can waffle all he likes to justify cutting the corner.

At the time, I was fuming and believed he cut it and gained an advantage. Then the replay was shown and Kimi actually re-passed Lewis, it was just for one second before Lewis immediately passed Kimi gain before getting to the next corner. Kimi hardly had a chance to take his position back. I do not know the rules very well, but a reader here named Soren mentioned a ruling that you cannot re-pass until the next corner. We’ll find out about this, and see whether that’s why the FIA penalized Lewis. There’s probably more to it, we’ll found out soon enough as McLaren typically appeal against the decision.

But oh my goodness, my heart was thumping like mad even more. I’d love to hear what you guys were doing! I kept chanting “Steady Kimi, hold it hold it hold it…” and Kimi and Lewis were at it like we haven’t seen in ages! Absolutely brilliant! Only a track like Spa could give that entertainment. Opportunities were written all over the place between the two fighters. Kimi took his usual aggressive outside line again for turn 1 and tried to get Lewis back, his front wing touched Lewis’ rear right wheel it seems but it no major contact and they continued on up to Eau Rouge. The rain was getting heavier and I nearly had a heartattack! Imagine the adrenalin between the actual racers!

Both guys were wobbling and dancing and Kimi was just going mad, running on the run-off areas everywhere! Lewis ran off onto the grass somewhere and that seemed the only chance Kimi could run off with it. But as they moved on, the track became harder and harder to stick on. Lewis and Kimi both slipped and with the backmarker Williams just ahead, Kimi took evasive action to avoid hitting Lewis by just inches! Kimi got back infront and then spun but managed to get back on track without losing too much ground. Oh dear. Lewis was ahead and Kimi was not going to settle for second, no bloody way. Settle for second with Lewis next to him on the top step of the podium? No thanks!

That’s Kimi for you. The same Kimi that we all adored since his younger days at McLaren. Risking it - all for the win, or nothing. That’s the kind of passion you can never get bored off. People said he had changed, he is lacking. No. Just no. corner where Kimi ran wide and spun and then crashed – Lewis also had a tiny moment there as the videos just barely show. The puddles and no traction control just caught Kimi out, this time. He was too eager on the exit to get back to Lewis before the finish and no TC meant he was off. He crashed into the wall and, oh, my heart sank with the thousands of other fans watching. Head in my hands! “Oh Kimi….Kimi……damnit, damn you all to hell!” Just joking, I didn’t really say the last part. But yeah, it’s just the fact that Kimi didn’t get to the finish in P1 and hold that trophy, see his smile, which hurt the most. The main thing, and the only thing we should be happy about is that Kimi is happy in his car finally. He was going to win at Spa again. He won it. Don’t worry about the points or whatever, he won this one, and just because the results won’t give credit to him, doesn’t mean he didn’t perform as he should have. He did what he is made for. Gotta praise it. Would you have rather Kimi settle for second? And what if he did, and Lewis being penalized and all, would you liked Kimi to inherit the win like that? Nah. His instincts were right. Oh my word…I love you Kimi. Love you so much. Never ever change! You did the right thing. Massa inherited victory in the end; he was a good boy to play it safe in that rain, good boy, don’t want to ruin it all by spinning off and Ferrari are lucky he was there. It’s kind of funny how after all that, with Kimi owning the field at Spa again, Massa ended up winning it.

And should Kimi back Massa for the title now? No! They both have chances. Instead of being 23 points off Lewis in the title, Kimi is now 19 compared to Massa’s 2. As soon as it’s mathematically impossible for Kimi to win the title, then Ferrari can ask him for a favour. Just as they did with Massa last year, who was actually out of contention by Monza. I expect Ferrari to treat Kimi with the same respect, and at least let Kimi have the chance to fight Lewis one more time. Kimi is happy with the car, it’s a bit late (thanks for helping him out Ferrari, could have done it sooner though you think!) but it’ll be just cruel to take it away from him so soon. I don’t know how Heikki can put up with it at McLaren, being Lewis’s bitch. It was satisfying to see Heikki hold Lewis up in the race, hehe. Kimi for sure won’t as long as it makes no difference to Massa’s situation. And damn right, Kimi said after the race he’s going to try and win all the races. I can’t help feeling the FIA just penalized Lewis to butter up the championship drama. Nothing more, nothing less. The biggest winner today was Heidfeld who was in 9th position before the last 3 laps! He must be pretty chuffed.

With Lewis’s prayers for rain being met, my prayers of course were kind of answered in the end afterall. I just wanted Kimi to go mad and have fun on his favourite track. He looked like he did, didn’t he? So I can’t complain. It had been such a long time, but there was the Kimi we’ve been longing to see. So I couldn’t be happier. He was there all along, it’s just that damn car of his held him back for months. He even said to ITV before the race that he knows he’s fast, it’s just been difficult getting everything working together. Today was proof that he was indeed held back and he just let rip today. Awesome! And you see what happens when Kimi lets it all out? He flies, and his teammate, and the faster McLaren, don’t have an answer. Not at Spa at least. I’m going to go to Spa next year, I’ll try my hardest to go and to see the magic in real life, just once at least. Every Kimi fan should experience it. I'll admit that I really wanted to cry once Kimi hit the wall. I can't be positive about it all. It really, really, really hurt. Even more so than the hard days at McLaren. It felt a bit like Nurburgring 2005. But this one hurt the most, simply because it took a lot of time and effort and courage. Kimi wasn't lacking confidence today, he's that guy who pulled off the last lap win in Japan 2005 remember. It was just...jinxed I guess. I'll be going through all the pictures tonight, and having already seen one of Kimi with what looks like tears on his cute cheeks, I'll probably cry to be honest!

Let's get on with it. What's has happened, nothing can change it. It’ll be a great battle for Kimi to fight in the next two months, now going to Monza next weekend. He had a new engine today at Spa like Hamilton, and Massa had his Valencia one. I think Monza will be hard to win for Kimi, unless he changes his engine. He might aswell just go for it and have fun as I said. That’s up to him and depends on whether he feels he can qualify decently at Monza. Kimi took pole at the Italian circuit in 2006 with a win-less McLaren car. He finished 2nd behind Schumacher. Last year of course Kimi had a big accident in practice at Monza and his neck injury affected his race but he still came 3rd. It’s going to be exciting.

I hold a toast to Kimi for what he did today – may he always be happy and content with his instincts and have all the fun he can in the remaining 5 races of 2008. He kept his word by going pedal to the metal this weekend. He’ll keep his word about winning the next races. So cheers and... KEEP FLYING KIMI!!!!!!!