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How’s your F1 2013 career going?
Viewing 15 posts - 76 through 90 (of 93 total)
29th June 2014, 21:48 at 9:48 pm
Race 15: Japan
Qualifying: 3rd – Race: 1st
I was 11th in Q1, 6th in Q2 with a single run per session. In a wet Q3 I was only 10th, but with a second lap I went 2.6s faster and finished 3rd, relegating Alonso to 6th and Rosberg, who had a ten-position grid penalty, to 9th; Hamilton took pole from Vettel. I overtook both by taking the inner line through the first corners, and on lap 2, while I was keeping the group packed up, Alonso hit Vettel, who retired, but continued. The Safety Car came in and I could manage my tyres in the following two laps, though I lost out on the lead to Webber due to a mistake. I stayed in the Red Bull’s tow and used all my KERS on the straight to pass him on lap 6; at the end of the lap, when I pitted, my medium tyres had already reached their maximum wear, so I feared I would run out of rubber before the end of the race. I had Webber on my tail coming out of the pits but took back the lead once everyone had stopped, especially Ricciardo, whom I struggled to pass but who eventually helped me gain a few tenths by keeping my rival behind. I then set three purple laps, only to have my first two beaten by the time Button and Webber, respectively, completed theirs; my third was a 1:36.8 and was to remain the race’s fastest lap. Webber then, fluctuating between 1.2 and 2 seconds behind me, had a sudden drop in performance and fell to 7th, while Button now was 4s behind me. I had to control my driving in the final two laps, as I had to lift in medium-fast corners and handle the over-steering out of the hairpin, but my lead was large enough for me to win the race safely and cut my championship disadvantage to four points, while Ferrari now also lead the Constructors’ Championship.
30th June 2014, 14:27 at 2:27 pm
Race 16: India
Qualifying: 11th – Race: 2nd
I qualified 11th once more, but I was lucky not to be further down the grid, as I would have needed a full 5 tenths to get into Q3. Alonso, Rosberg and Vettel claimed the first three spots. I had a good start and dived to the inside of turn 1, overtaking several drivers, and passing Hamilton at turn 3 to take second place behind Alonso. Like in Korea, I soon realised there was no point in trying to catch him as I was too slow; instead I looked after my tyres which were already looking like they would not last long enough. Behind me, I caught glimpse of Vettel running wide at turn 4 and losing many positions, and Rosberg did the same at turn 5 but lost no places. I wanted to pit on lap 6 as I had a little gap behind me thanks to the battles my rivals were having between them, but that gap was deleted by the time I reached the pits and I decided to wait. That was a good decision because Hamilton, who stayed out one lap longer than me, leapfrogged me in the pits and I would’ve lost many more positions by stopping early. I was resigned to another 3rd place like in Korea, as Alonso and Hamilton were in that same order ahead of me. Then, I had a brief presentiment and, on lap 11, Hamilton retired from second place for causes unknown. Webber behind me was replaced by Grosjean, then surprisingly Vettel became my closest threat, but I kept my foot down and did my job, while he over-drove the car and spun at turn 1, eventually finishing 7th. Rosberg ran wide at the same spot and lost the podium position which eventually became Perez’s, with Bottas 4th and Hulkenberg 5th. Alonso and I finally scored a one-two and I now lead the Drivers’ Championship, while our positive situation means we could actually mathematically take the teams’ title already in Yas Marina. The great result also persuaded Ferrari to offer me a contract extension for the upcoming season, which I have accepted.
8th July 2014, 13:55 at 1:55 pm
Race 17: Abu Dhabi
Qualifying: 6th – Race: 1st
After twelve laps in practice I was 6th, a second slower than Vettel and Alonso and 2 tenths slower than Rosberg in P4, but even with a setup I was more comfortable with I was slightly slower. I was much slower than the fastest drivers but not so down the order, and I got safely into Q3. I was 8th with my first lap, but improved by 8 tenths with my second attempt and finished 6th, 8 tenths behind polesitter Vettel who beat Alonso and Rosberg. With a good start I was up to 4th at turn 1 and passed Rosberg at turn 2, Alonso at turn 5 and Vettel at the hairpin. I had to keep my team mate and the Red Bull and Mercedes pairs behind me until my pit stop, but as my tyres were too worn out I had to pit one lap early, on the 5th lap. This proved crucial because, despite my times improving, I was still slower than my rivals, but they encountered traffic in the pit lane which I avoided so I took the lead back on lap 7. I now had a marginal gap on Vettel and my rivals were a little further apart, but that rapidly vanished as my medium tyres also degraded quickly. I was dramatically slow in the final two laps but due to the track’s configuration I kept the lead in the twisty final section and won, ahead of Rosberg and Hamilton while Alonso dropped down to 9th.
14th July 2014, 22:11 at 10:11 pm
Race 18: United States
Qualifying: 14th – Race: 3rd
I decided to use a setup for wet conditions which were forecast for the whole weekend, but that proved a bad choice when Q1 and Q2 were dry, so I qualified only 14th. The race started with some rain and everyone was on intermediates, while I already eyed a different strategy: the race was set to end in dry conditions. I jumped up into 3rd place behind Rosberg and Alonso, and while my team mate took the lead I was already 12s behind after three laps, with a train of cars busy trying to pass me without success. I pitted, as planned, on lap 7, but put on option tyres. I immediately skidded out of the pit lane and lost two positions, but lapped decently and lost a further place to Grosjean as he waited an extra lap to serve his stop. I then started putting some distance between me and Button, and when I became the fastest man on track I started gaining back on the three drivers ahead of me, namely Hulkenberg, Webber and Grosjean. I set the fastest lap and overtook the three within a pair of laps, with the leading couple now 30s in front. Had they stopped now for slicks, I could have challenged for the win; instead, because of their lead, they finished the race on intermediates and I cut the gap down to 22s, and further improved the fastest lap on the final tour of the circuit. I finished behind Alonso and Rosberg and due to Vettel’s retirement I have mathematically taken the Drivers’ World Championship, and Ferrari have also taken the Constructors’ World Championship.
15th July 2014, 11:20 at 11:20 am
Race 19: Brazil
Qualifying: 11th – Race: 3rd
I can’t explain the reason why after being 6th in practice I was only 11th in qualifying, but nonetheless I started 10th thanks to a penalty. Alonso was on pole but got overtaken by Vettel, and I jumped into third place behind the two. I kept between 3 and 4 seconds behind the pair for five laps, until my tyres started dropping off towards the end of my stint. I also lost a second in the pits on lap 8 as there was traffic but took my podium position back when I overtook Perez as he came out of the pit lane on the following lap. I then set my personal fastest times, though I still was at least half-a-second slower than the leading two. I extended my gap on the drivers behind me until Hamilton took fourth, four seconds behind. He quickly cut that gap to nothing but I was fast through the DRS zones and defended well, but because I was increasingly slow because of my tyres’ wear the drivers behind him caught up, though nothing happened in terms of position changes. I was about to lap a Marussia, and finished third fifteen seconds after Vettel had been classified second behind Alonso. Fernando would have needed to win with Vettel not scoring to take second place in the title on the same amount of points, so he remained third in the championship.
30th July 2014, 17:11 at 5:11 pm
Wins: 6 – Poles: 1 – Doubles: 1 – Grand Slams: 0
Australia – 13th + 4th
Malaysia – 6th + 1st
China – 12th + 10th
Bahrain – 10th + 6th
Spain – 5th + 12th
Monaco – 7th + 1st
Canada – 10th + 1st
Great Britain – 18th + 9th
Germany – 18th + 10th
Hungary – 12th + 7th
Belgium – 17th + 5th
Italy – 1st + 1st
Singapore – 10th + 2nd
South Korea – 11th + 3rd
Japan – 3rd + 1st
India – 11th + 2nd
Abu Dhabi – 6th +1st
United States – 14th + 3rd
Brazil – 10th + 3rd
30th July 2014, 17:11 at 5:11 pm
Season 2 – Scuderia Ferrari #1 (Difficulty 4/5)
Race 1: Australia
Qualifying: 6th – Race: 2nd
I was 7th in practice as I focussed on race simulation, and set my fastest time on lap 9 of 10. In Q1 I left the pits with ten minutes left and set the 16th fastest time only, but I improved in every sector on my second lap and rose to 7th, with the fastest sector 1 time of all. I was 9th at the end of the session with Alonso in 2nd. In Q2 again I left the pits with 10 minutes to go and went 10th fastest, then improved to 5th, 6 tenths slower than Alonso who ended the session on top. In Q3 I planned two runs, and to set two laps in the first and one in the second. I improved by only 2 tenths on my second lap and was 8th, and with two minutes remaining I left for my final try on a new set of super softs, which put me in 6th place, 6 tenths behind polesitter Vettel who beat Alonso in the final seconds.
I planned my strategy to two stops with the prime compound, the medium tyres, in the second stint. I jumped up to 2nd place after Alonso blocked me at turn 1, and Vettel pitted from the lead on lap 3 so I found myself leading for a lap, when Hamilton and I pitted. I came out back in 2nd place, now with the Brit behind me and with Vettel pushing harder on the option compound. He pitted on lap 8 and I led again until my second stop, planned for lap 12. I decided to pit one lap early hoping Vettel had been caught in traffic and thinking that I was better off defending on track rather than postponing the stop and continuing on worn tyres. This proved the right choice as Hamilton and Raikkonen behind me pitted on that lap too and, having swapped places, continued pursuing me in the final four laps. Grosjean led for one lap but he had been behind me enough for me to get back in front without having to push, and I set my personal best laps reducing Vettel’s lead by 2 seconds, though it remained of 10s when he took the chequered flag, having scored a hat-trick. Raikkonen was 3rd, the two Mercedes preceded Grosjean and Perez beat Alonso.
22nd August 2014, 17:23 at 5:23 pm
Race 2: Malaysia
Qualifying: 9th – Race: 15th
I only qualified 9th, 1.8s off Alonso’s pole time. I took the lead by driving through the pack at turn 1 and passing Alonso on the inside of turn 2, but one lap later I lost the lead to my team mate. My tyres dropped off well earlier than planned and I lost positions and had to anticipate my stop to lap 5. 6 laps on the hard tyres brought me to 8th place before I pitted once more for the option rubber and ended the race 15th, between the two Williams who I was much faster of in the last laps. Alonso won ahead of Hamilton and Hulkenberg.
Race 3: China
Qualifying: 13th – Race: 16th
I went for a setup which sacrificed a bit of performance for better handling, at least that’s what I thought in practice when the times couldn’t be easily compared as I had set them on degrading tyres. In Q1 I improved though, only to be knocked out of Q3 as I couldn’t go any faster on the softs. Alonso qualified 2nd and I was 13th. After a brilliant start I stormed through to 3rd place behind Alonso and Hamilton. First Webber, then Vettel and finally Rosberg led the charge against me while I almost kept Lewis’ pace and Fernando vanished in front. On lap 4 Nico got past as I started suffering from premature degradation, and I had to pit on lap 5 just after being passed by both Red Bulls. I was 7th when, three laps later, Vettel concluded the round of pit stops and became the only driver to lose a position to me. I started driving more smoothly to save my tyres but with three laps to go I could see with my eyes and with my telemetry that I wasn’t going to make it, so I pitted for a last set of softs. I was 18th, 7s adrift of Bottas who closed a train of six cars. I caught them at the last corner and passed two of them, but 16th was well below my standards.
31st August 2014, 19:01 at 7:01 pm
Race 4: Bahrain
Qualifying: 10th – Race: 2nd
In Bahrain I found my setup from last year to be very driveable, and though it feels like the car understeers it isn’t true. I lapped one second slower on mediums than Alonso on hards, but finished free practice in the top 10 and, most importantly, my option tyres still had some life in them when I ran out of fuel after ten laps. I got in Q2 with hard tyres, but I had to use two sets of mediums to enter Q3. I set a benchmark time in Q3 on hards but I couldn’t recover positions on mediums and ended up 10th, 1.5s slower than Vettel and Alonso on the front row. I rose to 3rd behind Vettel and Alonso at the start, and my team mate attacked successfully the German for the lead on lap 2. Vettel was back in front on lap 5 and on lap 6 we pitted while Alonso and Webber continued. The Safety Car came out just ahead of me and I got past almost immediately, but had to tackle the lap slowly with waved yellows, so both Webber and Perez got ahead of me. At the restart Perez was far behind the Red Bulls but I got alongside him at the chequered line and got past, then out-braked both Red Bulls to take P2. Alonso lapped 1.5s faster every time and won with almost ten seconds earned in five laps, and I made it our second one-two since we became team mates twelve races ago. The Safety Car is usually what I need to take a win, because after attacking at the start I tend to lose contact with my rivals, so I was lucky to pass three drivers so quickly this time when it put me at disadvantage.
Race 5: Spain
Qualifying: 7th – Race: 2nd
I was only 4 tenths off Alonso in practice as we ended up 2nd and 3rd to Rosberg. I had had no performance decrease in ten laps on the hard tyres, and my combined best sector times put me equal with Fernando’s lap. I was 3 tenths from Alonso’s P1 time in Q1 but P6. I was 10th in Q2 on medium tyres as rain started falling, but no one improved to knock me out. In a damp Q3 I was 8th with my first lap, inexplicably one second slower than Alonso. I improved by two tenths with a last-second attempt and beat Perez by 0.002s to take 7th place. Those ahead of me started slowly so I overtook them to take 2nd place behind the good-starting Alonso. I attacked him at turn 4 and he ran wide onto the gravel, dropping to last. I led comfortably until the pit stops, when my tyres were slightly too degraded, but I lost time in the pits as many drivers followed me in to change tyres. This nearly cost me two positions but I daringly passed Perez at turn 1 on the next lap, having to chase Webber. I was slowly catching him but I was using too much fuel, and when I changed engine mode I was caught by my pursuers and surrendered the win. Webber won with a ten seconds’ advantage on me and Alonso was 11th.
Race 6: Monaco
Qualifying: 4th – Race: 2nd
In a wet free practice I was the fastest man on track before I crashed into Perez at turn 2 as he tried to move to make me pass but cut me off. Seven drivers retired and I switched to intermediates as soon as the rain ceased, lapping 8s slower than I’d previously done. In two laps, though, I bettered my time and in the upcoming four laps lowered by 6 seconds my performance. As soon as I reached the peak on those tyres, with someone still on wets, I switched to option slicks. In two laps I was setting session best times, and lowered the fastest lap by a further 4 seconds, before giving up and sitting out from the remaining 10 minutes of the session after lapping 18 times. I was one second clear of my rivals at the end of the session, with further rain forecast for the remainder of the weekend. I lost the momentum in a rainy Q1 where I was easily through despite being 2.3s slower than Hamilton. In Q2, I was 6th at +1s from Alonso but on prime tyres. I was 4th in Q3 on my first attempt, but my second one was a nightmare and I ended 2 tenths from Alonso who was P2 to Vettel. I snatched the lead from Vettel at turn 4 after a good start had promoted me to P2, and I solidly led until lap 8 when I pitted. Alonso continued for a further lap and jumped ahead of Vettel, but Hamilton ahead extended his stint on super softs to twice as long as anyone else, building a 10s lead before he stopped. Rain started falling halfway-through but only became a problem in the final two laps, but nothing stopped Hamilton from winning by 21 seconds on the two Ferraris.
Race 7: Canada
Qualifying: 4th – Race: 1st
I was 4 tenths quicker than Rosberg in Q1 and 5 tenths quicker than Alonso, putting me on top of the timesheets. I was 8th in Q1 and 5th in Q2, not far from the leaders but fastest in sectors 1 and 3. I was 4th in Q3 on my first attempt and was going to take pole after the chequered flag but I messed up the final sector and didn’t improve. The first two rows were the same as at the last race, Vettel, Alonso, Rosberg and me. Nico’s bad start allowed me to easily attack Fernando and Sebastian for the lead, which I successfully did. Alonso overtook Vettel at the hairpin and I held him at bay because I earned a lot in the final chicane and that was enough to defend on the straights. I pitted on lap 9 for new intermediates because the hard rain forecast was ten minutes away. I set the fastest lap of the race with a 1:17.602 on my out-lap and took the lead back, while Alonso dropped three positions. Four more laps within a tenth of that time, culminating in a 1:15.987, helped me to extend my lead on Rosberg to 4 seconds. I lost all of those in the final three laps as the rain made driving almost impossible, and in the bunched up field Alonso recovered to 3rd place. I defended from the Mercedes to finally take a long overdue win.
Race 8: Great Britain
Qualifying: 1st – Race: 1st
I was 4th in free practice, behind Alonso and the two Mercedes by only 2 tenths despite me being the only one on prime tyres. I was 6th in Q1, last of the Ferrari-Red Bull-Mercedes drivers, without many efforts, and the same happened in Q2. In Q3 I set two consecutive laps in my first run, going first 7th then 2nd, two tenths off Hamilton’s pace. With a couple of seconds left I started a last attempt on a new set of mediums and improved by a tenth in S1 and by two further tenths in S2, giving me the fastest session time of the first two sectors combined. I didn’t lose my head in S3 and beat Hamilton by 129 thousandths to take pole. Alonso was 0.886 seconds slower than me and only qualified 7th. I kept the lead at the start despite Hamilton’s determined attacks, and Rosberg took P3 ahead of Vettel, who found himself in the middle of a close fight which delayed the group. The Mercedes and I ran away, and I set the fastest lap on lap 3 which, despite not lasting long – Rosberg beat it next time around – set the bar for some consistent and fast laps on my part. I pitted on lap 6 without troubles but Rosberg behind me caught traffic. Hamilton pitted one lap later but lost some tenths to me and I took the lead back. Alonso was pursuing Webber for P3 while Hamilton got closer to me as the laps went by. I set the fastest lap on lap 8 which was then beaten by 0.011s by Alonso on lap 10 and by 3 tenths by Vettel on lap 12. I won from pole but lost out on the hat-trick, and now I’m 2 points from Alonso in the championship.
Race 9: Germany
Qualifying: 6th – Race: 2nd
In practice I started my race simulation with a competitive lap but from then on lapped consistently between 3 and 9 tenths slower than that. After ten laps my tyres passed their duration test but I gave up trying to improve my time and I finished 5th, only one tenth slower than Alonso. My first flying lap in Q1 was a good one which put me in P4 at 2 tenths from Alonso, and I didn’t ruin my tyres further to try and get an useless improvement. In fact, I used the same set of tyres to get into Q3, albeit with a daring 10th place. Despite two attempts in Q3 I couldn’t go higher than 6th, almost a second slower than polesitter Alonso. I started well and made a move on the inside to take the lead. I held it tight but my tyres were degrading too quickly and I was forced to anticipate my stop by a lap. Hamilton got past in the final sector of lap 6 but he didn’t earn much as he gave me DRS on the back straight. Everyone else pitted one lap later and I recovered to 3rd, then attacked Webber at turn 3 to take 2nd place, with Hamilton already 7 seconds ahead! He had lapped in a 1:31.7, my fastest lap on options was a 1:36.0 which I improved to 1:33.2 on primes. I had done a good job to keep the pace of my rivals despite pitting one lap earlier but Hamilton was on another planet. As he ran away to take the win by 20 seconds, I was attacked by Rosberg and the Red Bulls, and I couldn’t see Alonso in my mirrors. Simply by beating him we would’ve been equal on the team mate battle if we had both finished on the podium, but he was somehow 16th and with an extra podium I’ve been promoted to first driver.
Race 10: Hungary
Qualifying: 4th – Race: 2nd
In practice I did a race simulation – or rather, a long stint-simulation – and my tyres passed the test; moreover, I was encouragingly quick, ending P2 at only 3 tenths from Alonso. I was 5th both in Q1 and Q2 on the same set of primes because I was able to go 8 tenths quicker in the second session. In Q3 I set a second lap which put me 4th at 3 tenths from Alonso, and although I managed to start a third lap on a the third set of options I’d saved in Q2 I couldn’t improve. Fernando had a penalty and started 11th, and Vettel inherited pole ahead of Rosberg. I overtook Rosberg at turn 1 and Vettel at turn 2 and led comfortably. My tyres degraded too quickly but I managed to have to pit only one lap earlier than planned, but Webber and Vettel leapfrogged me. My engineer told me Vettel had engine problems and I heard a strange noise when I reached him. I overtook him on lap 14 and immediately stopped pushing and looked after my tyres which had to last one lap longer than predicted. I successfully managed them and could defend from Button on the last lap to finish second, 20s from Webber who had been 5s in front when I became runner-up only 4 laps beforehand. Alonso finished 7th and has now dropped behind the Australian as well in the standings.
Race 11: Belgium
Qualifying: 9th – Race: 1st
I was 8th in practice, 15th in Q1 and 10th in Q2, under the rain, two tenths slower than Alonso in P9, only just quicker than Rosberg in P11; in Q3 Alonso took pole and I was 2.3s slower in P9, still under heavy rain. I took P3 at turn 1 in the dry race, and while Alonso attacked Hamilton after the Kemmel straight I used their tow to pass them both. On lap 3 the Safety Car was sent on track and I completed the lap without fear of being attacked and saving fuel and tyres. I wondered whether I should’ve pitted as the field was moving slowly but I decided against it and reached the Safety Car after Eau Rouge. The Safety Car entered the pits on lap 5 but I postponed my stop not to fall behind traffic. I pitted with Hamilton and Alonso on lap 6 and despite some slight traffic in the pit lane I did not lose P1, while Alonso had to wait behind me and dropped to 9th. Me and Hamilton now led Perez by 4 seconds and we set much faster times, lapping in the 1:50 and some tenths. I fended off the Mercedes on the straights and we safely finished one-two before Raikkonen came home third having surpassed both McLarens. Alonso was only 8th, Webber 7th, Rosberg 9th and Vettel recorded his first 0 this year having retired, which is probably what caused the Safety Car period.
1st September 2014, 18:46 at 6:46 pm
Race 12: Italy
Qualifying: 1st – Race: 1st
In front of my home crowd I led a Ferrari one-two in practice, beating Alonso by over half a second and receiving excellent signs from my tyres. I led Q1 by the same margin which put me in P6 in Q2, last of the front-runners. When it mattered most, though, I put in a perfect lap, a 1:22.601, and beat Vettel by 453 thousandths, while Alonso missed out on the front row by one thousandth only. While I ran away in the lead Vettel and Alonso battled for P2, with the Spaniard being overtaken by Hamilton and eventually dropping to 7th. Webber in P4 was much further behind but slowly caught up with us leading trio by the time I had to stop, on lap 6. Vettel stayed behind and lost time on cold tyres and I passed Hamilton who was coming out of the pits one lap later. The pair swapped places and fell to 5 seconds behind me while I used all my engine power to set the fastest lap, although by not that much of a margin as Alonso was later able to improve it. He also passed Vettel for P3 while I was about to lap Chilton and slowly falling into Hamilton’s clutches again, but the chequered flag fell to stop that from happening. For the second year in a row I’ve won at home from pole, and with two poles set this year I’ve already gone one better than last year; my two poles are also the only times I’ve beaten Fernando in qualifying this season.
14th September 2014, 18:25 at 6:25 pm
Race 13: Singapore
Qualifying: 6th – Race: 2nd
In practice I had to run five laps starting with a fuel load of 56 laps, meaning I was last by 2 seconds, but with 40 laps’ worth of fuel less I was 10th, 2 seconds off Hamilton which I selected as my rival going into the weekend. Qualifying was the first dry session of the weekend and I confirmed my fears that I lacked grip and traction out of corners. 11th in Q1, 7th in Q2, as I found more confidence on the super softs, set me up for Q3. A good first lap put me 6th, and I cut a corner on my second attempt and had to give up. Alonso set pole ahead of Vettel and Hamilton. At the start I successfully tried a crazy move, squeezing through Hamilton on the right and Vettel on the left, with only a few inches of space more than my car’s width. I took the lead and pitted on lap 5, but Hamilton had done so one lap earlier and leapfrogged me. Alonso and the others who waited one more lap stayed behind. It started raining towards lap 8, but I waited to see if the situation got bad enough to have to switch tyres. On lap 11 I became the first one to put intermediates on, excluding Vettel who had pitted for a new front wing one lap earlier. Hamilton and the others followed on lap 12 and I recovered to be 3 seconds from Hamilton instead of the 13 I had before stopping. Perhaps had my crew not replaced my slightly damaged front wing I could’ve made it back to the lead, but anyhow Hamilton ran away again and I managed my gap on Rosberg to finish 2nd.
15th September 2014, 16:07 at 4:07 pm
Race 14: South Korea
Qualifying: 13th – Race: 2nd
I could only manage 13th in Q2 as rain affected my second run, while Vettel took pole from Hamilton and Alonso. I had a good run on the outside of turns 1 and 2 and combined with a good tow down the straight I got up to 2nd place by overtaking Hamilton at turn 3. Vettel ran away, though I lapped only a second slower than him, and the drivers behind me didn’t form a train. Rosberg knocked Alonso into a spin at turn 3 on the fourth lap. I pitted on lap 5 and forced Vettel to stay stationary for some more time as Rosberg and other drivers stopped too. Hulkenberg was fractionally late and allowed Vettel to leave while I waited for him to go by, meaning I had cut on Vettel’s lead but not enough to attack him. He was caught in traffic but Alonso was barely going to hold him behind and Ricciardo wasn’t slow enough, and both pitted anyhow at the end of the lap. Rosberg was delayed by Bottas and messed up as he was then overtaken by Webber. I kept him behind quite easily till the end, and after sandwiching between the two Mercedes in Singapore I did so between the two Red Bulls in Korea. Raikkonen did not score points for the first time this year after a crash but Alonso recovered to 6th; Hamilton was 10th after recovering through the field.
16th September 2014, 18:04 at 6:04 pm
Race 15: Japan
Qualifying: 10th – Race: 8th
I was first in practice, but only 6th, 9th and 10th in each section of qualifying respectively, while Vettel beat Alonso and the two Mercedes to pole. I rose to 2nd on the first lap by overtaking Rosberg before going under the bridge, but Vettel had enough margin at Spoon Kurve to avoid my attack and run away. I noticed halfway-through my stint that my tyres should already have been replaced, so rather than trying to extend my second stint by a lap I was forced to take the difficult decision of converting to a 3-stop strategy. I stopped on lap 4 and put on another set of mediums. I was 13th and overtook two cars to become 11th before the others served their mandatory stop too. I was 3rd for a lap behind Alonso, who had overtaken me off track, and ahead of Hamilton. I stopped again on lap 8 and put on hard tyres, coming out 11th behind Ricciardo. I passed him on that lap, two laps later I caught and overtook Sutil and on the final lap I overtook di Resta to finish 8th after what could probably have been my best performance ever. Despite an extra stop I was in contention for points and despite pitting two laps earlier than Alonso I lost only a couple of seconds to him. However, my eleven-race podium streak came to an end; this is also only the second time, since I joined Ferrari, I have scored points but not stepped on the podium. Vettel won but Hamilton was only 5th, limiting his points gain to 6 in this round, while Vettel has passed Webber in the championship.
17th September 2014, 17:07 at 5:07 pm
Race 16: India
Qualifying: 12th – Race: 3rd
Free practice wasn’t encouraging and despite being 6th in Q1 I was 12th in Q2; Alonso took pole from Rosberg, Vettel and Hamilton. I recovered to 3rd at turn 3, behind Alonso and Vettel and ahead of Hamilton. I soon notice, though, that my option tyres wouldn’t have made it till the planned pit stop, but I decided that an extra lap in my second stint was feasible as I’d seen in practice that the prime compound could last ten laps. I stopped on lap 6 and despite two imperfect laps I was 4th when Webber and Hamilton pitted two laps later. I was in Webber’s tow, got DRS and overtook him into braking for turn 3. Button got past as well and held the pair up for a couple of laps. I set my personal best time on lap 9 but then it became a five-way fight for 3rd place: I held back Webber, Button and the two Mercedes. Uncountable swaps of positions later I was still ahead, when I realised tyre degradation was worse than planned. I slowed, perhaps excessively, on lap 13, and went a bit faster in the final two laps, still driving much more smoothly than I had previously done. I often had to counter-attack going into turn 4, at times with three cars alongside me using DRS, but I did not let the podium slip away from me and I finished 3rd, ages after Alonso and Vettel had crossed the line. I held Hamilton behind me and Fernando is now very close to him in the championship.
19th September 2014, 18:43 at 6:43 pm
Race 17: Abu Dhabi
Qualifying: 6th – Race: 1st
I went from being quickest by 6 tenths in FP to being 1.1s slower than Vettel in Q3. I qualified 6th, and ahead of me on the grid, on my same column were Alonso, on row 1, and Hamilton between us. I had a good start, overtook Vettel at turn 2 and Alonso at the hairpin. I handled the lead well but I had to anticipate my stop for excessive tyre degradation to lap 5. I pushed hard in the following lap but Vettel came out ahead of me. Sutil, though, held him up at the hairpin and, after obtaining DRS, I passed both at the hairpin. I had skidded out of track when I passed Sutil, though, so I had to give him the position back in the acceleration zone. I lost some time but re-passed the Force India with DRS and KERS, and continued that lap knowing Webber was likely going to get past me as well. He was closer than Vettel was, though, and again I took DRS and overtook him before the activation zone. I only resisted a few laps before I had to lower my pace to handle my tyres, visibly losing traction. Luckily there was battle behind me as I’d slowed down the field, and at times it proved crucial, especially on the last lap when Grosjean and Raikkonen made it to the podium at the expense of Hamilton and gave me a safety margin in the second DRS zone. I held my lead through the tight third sector and took a 5th win of the season when I’d stopped hoping for them and though I’d have to defend my championship lead till the last round. Instead, despite Alonso’s 11th place, we took both titles after this race, and I renewed my contract with Maranello.
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