2015 F1 driver rankings #16: Kimi Raikkonen

2015 F1 season review

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Kimi Raikkonen

Beat team mate in qualifying4/19
Beat team mate in race4/14
Races finished14/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate245/963
Kimi Raikkonen 2015 form guide

Two years ago Kimi Raikkonen was third in these rankings. But since his return to Ferrari the dependable pace which saw him win races and set new records for consistent points-scoring appears to have deserted him.

In the opening races of the season he looked like a perfect foil to new team mate Sebastian Vettel’s fiery one-lap pace, taking the fight to Mercedes by eking out his tyre life. It worked to great effect in Bahrain, where he came second, and China where he might have taken third off his team mate had the Safety Car not intervened. In Malaysia he recovered to finish fourth despite being eliminated in a rain-hit Q2 and picking up a puncture early in the race.

But all too often Raikkonen was the architect of his own undoing. His lap one crash with Fernando Alonso in Austria was a case in point: the collision itself was a racing incident, but what was the second-quickest car in the field doing fighting for track position with the second-slowest? Raikkonen was only that far down in the first place because he’d dropped out in Q1.

He spun away a podium in Canada and dropped it again in Britain when it rained. Then came those late-season collisions with Valtteri Bottas, in both of which his rival was clearly blameless.

Raikkonen’s sub-par performances were periodically aggravated by car troubles: a braking glitch in Mexico, a poorly attached wheel in Australia and a seemingly endless string of problems in Hungary. But while his team mate twice recovered from such setbacks in qualifying and finished on the tail of the sister Ferrari, Raikkonen seemed to let problems drag him down.

And as the season wore on Vettel increasingly had his team mate handled. While it’s fair to say Raikkonen could have won in Hungary had his team mate’s car failed instead of his, when Vettel romped to victory in Singapore Raikkonen was over three-quarters of a second slower in qualifying.

His margin of defeat to Vettel was little better than it has been when he was partnered with Fernando Alonso 12 months ago. It’s doubtful any other driver has faced tougher competition within his own team over the past two seasons, but this year Raikkonen seldom looked like a former champion – let alone a future one.

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View race-by-race notes on Kimi Raikkonen

Australia – Narrowly out-qualified by Vettel, Raikkonen was squeezed by his team mate in the first corner, then hit from behind by Sainz. That knocked the car into anti-stall mode and dropped him back to eighth. He later passed Sainz but a slow first pit stop dropped him further back, and more problems at the second stop forced him out. A luckless start to 2015, but there was much comfort to be drawn from his and the team’s promising performance.

Malaysia – Missed the cut for Q3 after getting stuck behind Ericsson – “he was there trying to do his job”, Raikkonen conceded – and his weekend got worse when the race started. Nasr tagged the back of his Ferrari, puncturing a tyre, and after it was replaced Raikkonen had fallen to 18th place. The Safety Car played into his hands, however, and a three-stop strategy allowed him to spend more time on medium tyres so he could make up places. His recovery to a comfortable fourth underlined Ferrari’s pace.

China – Failed to beat the Williams in qualifying after complaining of balance problems during his final run. Leapt into fourth at the start with an aggressive move on Bottas into Turn Three and spent the first two stints behind Vettel. Had an opportunity to challenge for the podium with fresher tyres in the last stint, but the late Safety Car robbed him of a chance to challenge.

Bahrain – Despite being out-qualified by his team mate again it was Raikkonen who took the fight to Mercedes in the race by running an alternative strategy, saving his soft tyres for the final stint. He was catching the Mercedes at over a second per lap in the closing stages, and he was poised to strike at Rosberg when the Mercedes’ braking problem handed him second place.

Spain – Mystified by his car’s handling on Friday and repeatedly complained about a lack of grip during the afternoon session. For Saturday the decision was taken for Raikkonen not to use all of the team’s newest parts, and having been compromised further by an unusual problem with a tyre warmer he could only manage seventh on the grid. A combative first lap got him past both the Toro Rossos, but the extra step needed to get him ahead of Bottas wasn’t there – he spent the last ten laps pressuring the Williams driver.

Monaco – Hit the barrier in practice, then had another sub-par qualifying session and lined up sixth behind the two Red Bulls. He jumped Ricciardo at the pit stops but was passed by the Red bull after the restart – a move he took serious exception to.

Canada – With Vettel sidelined, Ferrari needed Raikkonen to deliver in qualifying and this time he did, netting a useful third. However a spin after his pit stop allowed Bottas to jump him for third place, and after aggressively spinning his tyres up he had to pit for a new set. Fortunately no one else was close enough to take advantage. He pitted for a fresh set of tyres but couldn’t catch the Williams – afterwards Maurizio Arrivabene suggested Raikkonen was managing some other problem at this stage.

Austria – Wasn’t able to do a long run on the super-soft tyres on Friday after locking up and damaging them. Dropped out in Q1, blaming the team for not getting him out in time to do three flying laps, though his team mate didn’t need that many to get the job done. Crashed out on the first lap of the race, taking Alonso with him, and couldn’t explain why afterwards. Not his best weekend.

Britain – Looked quick from the word go in practice and deserved to line up in front of Vettel. He was passed by Hulkenberg at the start, but pit strategy got him back ahead. But it all went wrong when the rain arrived and Vettel shot past him. Raikkonen made the call for intermediates but sooner regretted it as the track started to dry, ruining his tyres. He spun, made another stop for fresh rubber and was lapped before finishing eighth.

Hungary – The Hungarian Grand Prix was a depressing litany of misfortune for Raikkonen. First his front wing failed on Friday, then a water leak sidelined him on Saturday. The latter kept him from doing a run on the soft tyres ahead of qualifying, and he ended up fifth on the grid. He followed Vettel through at the start, passing Rosberg for second in turn two, and though he didn’t have his team mate’s pace he was on for a solid second place when his MGU-K packed up. Even then a points finish might have been possible had the Safety Car not wiped out the buffer he’d built over his pursuers.

Belgium – Earned his second reprimand of the season after backing off on the racing line to perform a constant-speed aero test while Grosjean was close behind. In qualifying a power unit problem in Q2 left him 14th, which became 16th after a gearbox change penalty. He rose to seventh at the flag in unobtrusive fashion, fending off a late attack from Verstappen.

Italy – Followed up his best qualifying position in over two years with one of his worst starts. Nonetheless having fallen to the back of the field he climbed back up to fifth at the flag, thanks in part to a very long first stint on soft tyres.

Singapore – Said he was pleased to qualify as high as third – over three-quarters of a second off his team mate – having failed to find the same way with his Ferrari that Vettel had. When Vettel was ran at his true pace in the race, Raikkonen’s deficit was exposed, which explains his “mixed feelings” over taking his second podium finish of 2015.

Japan – Singapore apart, Raikkonen has been closer to Vettel in qualifying in recent races and it continued in Japan, where he was just a tenth of a second off. He had a straightforward race, needing only to jump ahead of the Williams of Bottas, which he did.

Russia – Found it more difficult than others to heat his tyres up on the gripless track, but despite Mercedes impairing Ferrari’s tyre warm-up with a very slow formation lap he got away beautifully and moved up two places to third. He couldn’t stay there however – first Bottas got by and then Vettel, Raikkonen wisely opting to let the latter past after cutting turn two. Ricciardo’s demise moved him up to fourth, but a rash move on Bottas on the last lap fully warranted the penalty he received.

United States – Started further back than Vettel but after two laps there was just one car separating them. This was Verstappen, who Raikkonen complained about on the radio. He stayed out a lap longer than the Toro Rosso before switching to softs, but spun into a barrier one lap after pitting. Although he managed to drag his car back onto the track, a damaged brake duct forced him out.

Mexico – His problems began during final practice, which was disrupted by a power unit problem. Although quick work by his mechanics got him onto the track in time for Q1, a brake problem ended his running in Q2, and subsequent penalties relegated him to 19th. From there he worked his way past the slower cars and was on course for a solid points finish when Bottas appeared in his mirrors with fresh tyres. Raikkonen cannot have been unaware Bottas was alongside him at turn five, so exactly where he thought the Williams would go when he turned in is unclear.

Brazil – Had a high-speed spin during practice but recovered to start alongside his team mate, thanks to the penalty given to Bottas. Had to switch engines before the race, taking an older unit to avoid a penalty, but with the team still optimising the settings on the new unit after the race had started he slipped back. Stuck to a two-stopper, letting Vettel by at one stage.

Abu Dhabi – Had a clean and straightforward weekend. Quicker than Vettel in Q1, he secured third on the grid and had a fairly lonely run to third in the race as well, delayed only by a brief problem at his final pit stop.

Over to you

What’s your verdict on Kimi Raikkonen’s 2015 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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58 comments on “2015 F1 driver rankings #16: Kimi Raikkonen”

  1. My favourite driver, but time to retire.

    1. Agree. He’s one of the coolest drivers ever (get it?) but yeah, he needs to go before he damages his reputation even more. I can see him doing a Loeb and racing anything with wheels and an engine, just like his ’10-’11 stint. That would be awesome.

    2. I still hope.

  2. So sad to see him so low… I just hope he will establishes himself much better in next season. It depends I think on better tyres (for him). When they were changed (during 2013 season) he somewhat lost his speed…

    1. He needs the 2005 Michelin tyres to return. Tyres that were so good that they could easily heat up over one lap (around any circuit), while lasting the entire race distance the next day.

      1. @kingshark, to be blunt, even with those tyres back, I suspect that Kimi still would not return to the peak of his abilities. Motorsport magazine has suggested that the problem is quite heavily rooted in fundamentally flawed set up skills, and this is not a new issue either – set up issues have been a persistent problem for Kimi since at least 2008 (he admitted to Turun Sanomat in early 2009 that he effectively lost interest and gave up on the championship in 2008 since he could not work out how to set his car up as effectively as Massa could).

      2. @kingshark, I believe foremost he needs more grip. His results seem to nicely correlated with the amount of grip.

        1. I think most cars performance correlates with the amount of grip :)

  3. By far his greatest achievement this year was the remarkable feat of holding onto his Ferrari seat.

    1. Hahahah… True that. I’m a fan of Kimi, but after his last couple of seasons, it’s an achievement to still drive for a top team

  4. he simply can not adapt these new formula. racing was a lot easier for him in 2000s. as his early supporter, I realistically can not see him flourish once again, as the formula is getting further from his liking – yet he is still there.

  5. hot take alert….

  6. Have read stories of how the new engine affected Kimi more than anyone, because in the naturally aspirated engine era he was the master of throttle control. Might make sense.

  7. I like how “clearly blameless” Bottas is.

    1. Well that’s because be was….

      1. Ah, you see, your mistake is believing solid evidence and reasoned judgement; if you ignored everything you didn’t like, you too would see Raikkonen was innocent, for He is the Untouchable :)

    2. Exactly.

      1. (I’m agreeing with Mrahealpia btw)

        1. ColdFly F1 (@)
          9th December 2015, 18:47

          meaning you like it as well? @johannes

    3. At the Russian GP it was plainly Raikkonen’s fault. He wasn’t on the racing line when he approached the corner, he was inside the racing line, he had too much speed going into the corner, so even without the collision he’d have run off the track, he braked late, locked up his tyres, approached Botta’s car in a blind spot so Bottas wouldn’t have known he had to take avoiding action. Then, after the collision, Raikkonen, as one would expect with being inside the braking line and having too much speed, went off the track and would’ve gained an advantage from doing so but for the fact the car behind him overtook him.
      This clearly was an example of “below average” for Kimi’s driving. While he subsequently did say he wouldn’t change anything if he was to do this race again, I can’t see anything about this incident that makes it anything other than one he’d prefer to forget.

  8. Never, ever read anything into testing or non-competitive sessions. Raikkonen’s 2015 campaign has been proof of that.

    Kimi looked awesome in pre-season testing – he not only looked like Ferrari’s main man, but he looked like the only driver remotely capable of taking the challenge to Mercedes. Come Friday at Melbourne, and the trend continued: Raikkonen was the man with the speed on the long-runs. Come Q3 Kimi would underperform, line up 5th, before seemingly being denied a chance of showing his true pace only by a poor start and a wheel improperly attached. But the season was yet young; there were plenty more opportunities for Raikkonen show his vicious race pace.

    But, perhaps apparent from Bahrain, it never materialized. Kimi continued to dominate his teammate and the rest of the field in the FP2 race runs, only to underperform in competitive sessions. With Ricciardo, Bottas, Grosjean, Hulkenberg and now Perez all demonstrating that they are ready for a front running car, I fail to see why we need to wait another year to see if the “old Kimi” can make a comeback.

  9. A bit harsh but I am going to be like Kimi and not give too much of a reaction to it.

    Next season might be his last and he will want to finish on a high. Hope that happens.

  10. I’m pretty sure there is some serious speed in Kimi left. He’s just not really in this kind of Formula One. I’m also quite sure he’d be more happy driving an Audi LMP1. With all these nonsense rules around superlicense and starting ages perhaps it is time the FIA boot drivers over the age of 35 too.

  11. If drivers rangking were heavily base on team mate battle result. Hamilton would be nowhere near best three…

    1. he would be if both of the drivers are close to the top (like the Red Bull guys were pretty tight, or the FI drivers this year)

      1. if both of the drivers are close to the top

        Exactly. Rosberg were no better than last year when was rank #5.

        1. I think Rosberg was better this year. He certainly was close enough behind Hamilton for most of the time, and this year reliability has not helped him (it cost him more than Hamilton).

          And even beating the driver who is the 5th best on the grid is still quite a difference from beating a driver who did not even get a shot at 10th best.

    2. And Raikkonen will be pulling Vettel down with him….

  12. Agree that Raikkonen is rated so low, but I do feel that there is a lot more going on behind closed doors at Ferrari than we know. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that since 2010, Ferrari have had a well-performing driver paired with an under-performing driver. Massa was consistently terrible, then he went to Williams and proved he is as quick as Bottas, who many see as potential WDC material. Raikkonen is a World Champion, in 2012-2013 he proved he was still an excellent driver, but at Ferrari he’s terrible again.

    So yeah, Ferrari are (imo) clearly favouring one driver over the other, which is a shame. But even taking that into account, Raikkonen’s little feud with Bottas is still pretty inexcusable, and the way he lost control in Austria and Canada made him look like an amateur.

    1. Kimi was already letting it show towards his last few races for Lotus. It just seems the motivation to go full out is not there to me @andae23

      1. @bascb I’m not convinced, he already had that Ferrari contract in the bag, I think he was just fed up with Lotus to be honest.

        1. I think he did already have that contract in the bag at the time @andae23. But off course he was fed up with Lotus (rather understandlingly so too). Still, the motivation that pushed him on before then has slipped away and we have not seen it back since then.

          1. @bascb Haha I think you read my first sentence without the comma ;)

            I’m not convinced — he already had that Ferrari contract in the bag…

            But yeah, still waiting for that early 2013 form to come back.

        2. I would put his poor form at the end of 2013 due to the longer Lotus introduced mid-season, coupled with the new tyres. Raikkonen loved the early 2013 tyres and the Lotus with the pointy front-end, this changed after the mid-season.

          1. @paeschli, the thing is, the change in wheelbase was initially trialled because Lotus thought it would be more beneficial for Kimi. Furthermore, Kimi only used the long wheelbase car in three races – the Korean, Japanese and Indian GP’s – before reverting back to the original configuration, and in one of those races (Korea) he ended up securing a podium, suggesting that perhaps it didn’t hurt his performance too badly.

            As for the change in tyre construction, did that really hurt him that much either? The changes began to kick in around the Hungarian GP (where Kimi secured 2nd place), where we had the hybrid construction technique.

            The Belgian GP is hard to read given the rainstorms in qualifying and Kimi’s early retirement due to brake issues and the Italian GP was one where Lotus expected to struggle anyway, but he then secured podium finishes in Singapore and Korea (3rd and 2nd respectively), whilst 5th in the Japanese GP was still a relatively respectable result.

            As for the final two races, the Indian GP was a somewhat poor race (7th place): Abu Dhabi is a big unknown considering that he qualified fairly well (5th place) but was disqualified on technical grounds before taking himself out in a clash with van der Garde.

            Looking at his performances, I don’t think that the changes in tyre construction did have that much of an impact – I suspect the bigger issue for him was the fact that Lotus shifted their resources away from Kimi and towards Grosjean when it became apparent that Kimi was heading to Ferrari.

    2. @andae23 I think it’s Bottas whom we have to re-evaluate. For a driver to be a “potential WDC material” we could safely say he should be considerably better than an over-the-hill Massa and Maldonado, and he was neither.

      1. @guilherme In my opinion, Massa is a lot better than people give him credit for. I’m convinced he’s still a good driver, and in the last two seasons Bottas has had the slight upper hand. 2013 is a bit fading in my memory, but I think he did a much better job against Maldonado than the statistics showed, including that 3rd place in qualifying at the Canadian GP.

        1. All nice and greAt, but he is not light years better than Massa… Only a tiny bit.

    3. @andrae23
      There is no favouritism going on. Ferrari treat their drivers equally. It’s not their fault that Alonso and Vettel are so much more talented than Massa and Raikkonen.

      1. @kingshark I think there must be, it simply cannot be a coincidence that Ferrari’s drivers are always the furthest apart these last six seasons. Especially off the back of 2007 and 2008.

        1. @andae23
          Ferrari’s drivers were evenly matched from 2007 to 2009, because the talent and ability was the same. The drivers have been far apart since 2010 because one driver (Alonso, Vettel) was simply far more talented and skilled than the other (Massa, Raikkonen). There is nothing more to the gap, just talent and speed.

          This cry about driver inequality as soon as one convincingly beats the other is pretty ridiculous, IMO.

  13. Kimi. A shame really. He got me excited when he was driving for Lotus, but at Ferrari he seems more like the disappointment he was in 2009 than anything close to on form for most of the year.

    I do hope he picks up next year, it would be a huge shame to see a lacklustre Kimi in a solid Ferrari taking down a possible chance of a tight fight at the top end.

  14. Alright I’ll be that guy. Doesn’t he need to lose some weight? He seems really unfit compared to other drivers and it has to be affecting him in the cockpit.

    Also 36 years old with a kid and still hasn’t lightened up. Still won’t do track walks and then complains bitterly on the radio when things don’t work for him. I can’t imagine he inspires a lot of care and affection from the Italian gents working on his car.

    You were great Kimi but whatever you once had, it’s gone.

    1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      9th December 2015, 18:35

      @spawinte agree. There is a interview he gave this year with an Italian driver (I dont remember the name right now) and he tells him in Monaco why Seb walks the track while Kimi uses a scooter. Kimi admits it’s tiring! He should get fitter.

    2. Has he always been like that (not doing track walks and such)? I wasn’t following F1 in 2003 and 2005 …

    3. Doesn’t look to me that has too much overweight that would affect his driving.

    4. Kimi seems to wear differently shaped overalls and has a different build than guys like Seb. It’s nothing like seeing Juan Pablo Montoya and his competitors, for instance.

    5. Maybe all that partying has caught up with him.

  15. As a lifelong Kimi-fan, I really hoped he would retire at the end of this season. I think his performance this season was even worse than last season, and I can’t think of any reason why he would do any better next season. Maybe Kimi and Ferrari just weren’t made for each other (apart from 2007).

    Btw, I really like this new format of driver rankings were every driver gets their own article @keithcollantine

  16. Raikkonen makes me cringe so much.

    Also, I can’t help but get the feeling that Ferrari has to change the overly conservative game with their drivers. When was the last time two Ferrari drivers were in the top 10-12 in Keith’s rankings?

    From the Pirelli era onwards:
    2011: ALO 2 MAS 14
    2012: ALO 1 MAS 14
    2013: ALO 2 MAS 15
    2014: ALO 2 RAI 15
    2015: VET (Top 3? Arguably 1??) RAI 16

    A wider generational: If this were a grid, you’d have someone on the front row, and his teammate on the fringes of Q1/Q2. Have a go at explaining to someone observing only these stats as to how Ferrari doesn’t have a clear 1-2 driver policy today.

    This is larger than any other team with a reasonable shot at the championship. (RBR/Merc/Williams/McLaren)

    Mercedes has had Lewis and Nico (in?)famously very evenly matched. Sebastian’s ‘shoddy’ 2014 was a 7 to Riccardo’s F1F title. Massa made the top 10 last year. McLaren booted Perez for an 11 compared with an 8 for Jenson.

    May sound really obvious/commonplace, but nonetheless startling. With RBR/Merc/Williams/McLaren much more evenly matched in terms of drivers, Ferrari has GOT to do something.

    Boot Raikkonen, just maybe?

    1. *generalisation, oops

      PS: I loved doing the re-reading for this. Thank you once again for F1F, @keithcollantine!

  17. Geez…. I think he was way better than 16th… But.. Vote is a vote.

    Nasar, Hulk, McLaren boys, even Williams boys have hardly showed more then Raikonen.

    He was a remarkably great #2… Way better than Ferrari #2 usually are…

    His only downside is incredibly strong Vettel who IMO is #1 this year.

    Kimi is lacking something.. I hope he gets it soon.

  18. Remember guys this is Keith’s opinion. No need to get all emotional.

  19. With all due respect guys, but I think you may have missed the pertinent question: *Why* did Ferrari hire Räikkönen and not a younger and hungrier driver in place of Massa? We now know they were grooming the late Jules Bianchi for 2016 (or possibly 2017), so why Räikkönen of all people?

    F1 cars are designed and built the preceding season which means that the engineering input comes mainly from the driver duo at the time. If it wasn’t clear before, the F14T should remove all doubts that the Alonso-Massa partnership was not great on technical/engineering nous. Ferrari needed an experienced driver with great feedback for their engineering team as opposed to technical feed back on race weekends for the race engineers. This is why Ferrari hired Räikkönen and what his job has been in 2014 and 2015. Basically, he has been their test driver as the rules on testing makes the driver so designated little more than a glorified wii player.

    Next year we shall see whether or not the old dog still has it in him. Hopefully.

  20. Poor Kimi is well passed his use-by-date.

  21. Think Massa partnering Schumacher and then a few years later Alonso, is the only person who can claim tougher set of team mates than Kimi. Maybe Rosberg…

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