2016 F1 season driver rankings #11: Raikkonen

2016 F1 season review

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The 2016 season was undoubtedly Kimi Raikkonen’s best since returning to Ferrari in 2014. Yet he still wasn’t able to beat a team mate who was decidedly sub-par this year.

Kimi Raikkonen

Beat team mate in qualifying11/21
Beat team mate in race3/12
Races finished17/21
Laps spent ahead of team mate303/883

The surprising detail of Raikkonen’s campaign was that he did manage to beat Sebastian Vettel in one unlikely respect: he started in front of his team mate more often than not. This may tell us more about Vettel’s priorities but it does highlight the fact Raikkonen raised his game this year and was more comfortable in the SF16-H than his team mate.

Ferrari’s lack of sharpness on the pit wall and surprisingly poor reliability affected Raikkonen as much as it did Vettel. Raikkonen, however, was seldom leading when trouble struck: he headed the field for just seven laps all season compared to his team mate’s 82.

However the team clearly cost him better results in Montreal and Singapore (it’s hard to pick of these which was the greater strategy error), plus a fluffed pit stop at Austin. But Raikkonen can’t be exempt from criticism either.

In Monaco, where his weekend had already been spoiled by a gearbox penalty, he put the car in the barriers. He also crashed out in the rain in Brazil, though under the circumstances that accident probably could have happened to anyone not enjoying Red Bull or Mercedes levels of downforce.

A more regular theme of his season was a lack of sharpness in wheel-to-wheel combat. Max Verstappen in particularly exposed this ruthlessly and Raikkonen was clearly irked by his young rival after losing out to him in Austria, Hungary, Belgium and finally Malaysia, where the Red Bull driver just plain mugged him.

The level-headed Raikkonen was a useful foil to the hot-tempered Vettel in 2016. But when the chequered flag fell Vettel was almost always the one ahead.

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Over to you

Raikkonen bounced back from a fairly so-so start to the year to really make Vettel do some thinking. He was sometimes caught up in incidents which weren’t his fault, but was also prone to his own errors from time to time.

What’s your verdict on Kimi Raikkonen’s 2016 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

Add your views on the other drivers here:

The F1 Fanatic Driver Rankings are produced by referring to:

View race-by-race notes on Kimi Raikkonen

Australia – Shadowed Vettel, running the super-softs as long as he and the team dared in the first stint. But after the restart a fault caused an airbox fire and forced him out.

Bahrain – The gap between Raikkonen and his team mate ahead widened during qualifying but he claimed fourth on the grid which became third when Vettel’s car died. However a slow start dropped him to fifth and by the time he had DRS’d past the likes of Ricciardo and Massa, Rosberg was too far up the road to be caught.

China – As was also the case last year, Raikkonen seemed the more comfortable of the two Ferrari drivers. He even headed the times after his first run in Q3, but slipped up on his final run and was bumped down to third. But his race was wrecked when Vettel hit him at the first corner. Despite a damaged car, Raikkonen got back up into the top five, though his tyres went off several laps before the end of his final 19-lap stint on softs.

Russia – Said he didn’t “do any proper laps” on Friday as he grappled with the low-grip track. He was struggling most in the final sector, and an error there cost him a front row place to Bottas. He took second from the Williams driver at the start but lost it at the restart, and Hamilton relegated him another place. However he jumped ahead of Bottas for good in the pits and claimed his second podium finish of the year.

Spain – Beat Vettel to fifth in qualifying but struggled away from the line, losing three places immediately. Having re-taken Bottas before the Safety Car came out he got by Sainz when the race resumed. He was a few seconds behind the leading quartet in the middle of the race, but at the end hew drew close onto Verstappen’s tail. Try as he might, he couldn’t get close enough to attempt a pass.

Monaco – There’s nowhere worse to have a gearbox change penalty than Monaco so it was tough for Raikkonen to have to start 11th having been within two-tenths of Vettel. However his departure from the race was entirely his own fault and he was fortunate not to be penalised after dragging his battered Ferrari through the tunnel with its front wing hanging off.

Canada – Spent Friday chasing a balance but couldn’t find one and was a long way off Vettel’s pace in qualifying, complaining about understeer in turn ten. In the race he continued to struggle with tyre temperature. He was further compromised by Ferrari’s pit strategy, though that didn’t account for the majority of his huge deficit to Vettel.

Europe – Hampered by more reliability problems during practice but took fifth on the grid. In the race his pace compared well with Vettel’s considering his earlier pit stop, but he compromised himself by picking up an unnecessary penalty for crossing the pit entry line.

Austria – Out-qualified by a Force India and – astonishingly – a McLaren. He passed Hulkenberg immediately at the start and got by Button after a few laps as well. However he fell behind the Red Bulls when he pitted and although he managed to get past Ricciardo, Verstappen held him off until the end.

Britain – Dissatisfied with his car’s pace on Friday and only just made it into the top ten shoot-out after two mistakes in Q2. Despite that he beat Vettel for ‘best Ferrari’ honours, starting fifth. Perez jumped ahead of him by pitting during the Virtual Safety Car period, but Raikkonen easily took the place back later in the race.

Hungary – Did Raikkonen miss a place in Q3 solely because he was the first to set a time on a drying track? Vettel set his lap time 24 seconds after his team mate and was 1.3 seconds faster. But other drivers who had the benefit of setting their times after their team mate failed to beat them, such as Button, so track evolution doesn’t explain everything and Raikkonen could have made more of the chance he had. Starting outside the top ten meant he could spend the entire race on new tyres, and useful passes on Perez and Gutierrez early on allowed him to make the most of that strategy. But at the end of the race despite newer, softer tyres and DRS he was out-foxed by Verstappen – Raikkonen damaged his front wing trying to pass the Red Bull.

Germany – Seemed more comfortable in the Ferrari in practice and lined up fifth on the grid. However he had wheelspin at the start and fell behind Vettel, and a slow pit stop killed his chances of recovering fifth. His sixth place was never under threat, making this an unexciting race for him.

Belgium – A mistake on his first lap on Q3 cranked up the pressure for his final run but he produced an excellent lap with the exception of a small error at the final corner – one which he suspected cost him pole position. Pinched by his team mate and Verstappen at turn one, he collected front wing damage which would have ruined his race, but he was rescued by the red flag. From last he was soon on the tail of Verstappen who frustrated him once again, though Raikkonen was able to jump ahead by making his final pit stop with 20 laps to go. That was a big ask of his tyres and while he passed the fading Massa he couldn’t do anything about Alonso or Bottas.

Italy – After a “messy” (his word) second practice session he qualified alongside Vettel on row two, less than a tenth of a second between them. There was little to choose between them in the race either.

Singapore – A slight error in Q3 possibly kept him from beating Verstappen, but he looked the quicker of the two Ferraris before Vettel’s problems. He had good pace on the super-softs, stayed in touch with Hamilton, and was able to take advantage when the Mercedes driver went off. Ferrari’s subsequent strategic decision amount take taking a guaranteed fourth instead of a possible third, which was hard to fathom.

Japan – Complained of understeer on Friday but beat Vettel in qualifying by a few hundredths of a second. A gearbox change penalty wrecked his chances of a podium bid, however. He passed both the Force Indias, taking Perez with a little help from Palmer, but was jumped by Hamilton. He undercut Ricciardo at the beginning of the final stint which meant running a long final stint on hards.

Malaysia – Continued to show good pace compared to Vettel in the build-up to the race and only narrowly lost out in qualifying. His race was frustrated a handling imbalance caused by rubber debris in his rear wing, and the need to conserve his power unit. But he was also mugged by Verstappen at a restart and left the door wide open for Rosberg’s passing attempt, with left him with more damage to his rear floor.

United States – The Ferrari didn’t look capable of better than fifth, which Raikkonen delivered. Starting on the super-softs he gained a place from the soft-tyred Verstappen but was mugged by the Red Bull driver at turn 12 later on. His three-stop strategy would have put him in a strong position to take on Ricciardo had his final pit stop not gone awry.

Mexico – Complained of understeer on Friday and was the best part of half a second off Vettel but he qualified ahead despite an engine problem. In the race he was caught out by a lack of grip on the medium tyres, which he hadn’t run in practice having brought fewer sets than almost every other driver. He managed one of the race’s few passes against Hulkenberg, however.

Brazil – He confessed to a less-than-perfect start to his final lap in Q3 and was therefore surprised to take third. He was immediately passed by Verstappen at the start then was caught out by aquaplaning on the pit straight which caused a frightening crash.

Abu Dhabi – Didn’t look particularly comfortable with the car on Friday but recovered to take fourth on the grid. He picked off Ricciardo at the start and ran third, but despite having the advantage of the undercut against Rosberg he failed to jump the Mercedes. Ricciardo got him at the next round of stops, and after letting Vettel through he fell off the back of the leading pack.

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Author information

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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49 comments on “2016 F1 season driver rankings #11: Raikkonen”

  1. Kimi has been very rusty in wheel to wheel combat since he returned to F1 in 2012. Somehow, he has not managed to get back his mojo in that respect, I remember his hesitant moves in 2012, even if the whole field was shaken constantly by those fast degrading tyres, and the way positions were exchanged bordered the ridiculous. I agree with 11, nothing but average, but better than previous years (which doesn’t say much).

    1. @fer-no65 Rather than doubting his form since his return he is making me doubt his form before he left.

      In terms of qualities I would rate him around the same as Mark Webber. Without looking at actual results I would say they both beat DC with similar margins.

      Makes me wonder how good that Lotus of 2012 and 2013 must have been in the hands of someone like Alonso, Hamilton or Vettel. Probably WC material considering how close to the from they often were.

      1. @vvans
        Raikkonen from 2003 to 2007 was a noticeably better driver than Webber. I don’t know what happened to him after that. I am convinced that in 2008 someone kidnapped the real Kimi and replaced him with a convincing look-alike with half his talent.

        1. @kingshark 2003-2008 Webber was probably better than 2010-2013 Webber as well, but it didn’t show.

          The McLaren Kimi tho, was the best Kimi by far. Not even in 2007 he was on par with his past-self.

          1. Like 1993-1999 Barrichello showed much more promise than during his Ferrari years.

            Performing well with lesser equipment is rare, but even doing that some drivers disappoint on the big stage.

            Even in 2005, fight Alonso with that McLaren, its notorious unreliability took part of the pressure away from him.

            I think either Raikkonen is the most overrated driver or Massa is the most underrated, or perhaps a little bit of both.

      2. Raikkonen in his prime (03-07) was arguably the best driver on the grid, and you think he’s only as good as Webber? Nah.

    2. He had some good moves in 2012 against Schumacher in Brazil and Hulkenburg in Germany. I’d say he’s certainly gotten more cautious as he’s matured though.

  2. ColdFly F1 (@)
    9th December 2016, 14:21

    I expected the other Finn here; not sure if beating Massa was much more impressive than losing out to (and lately even levelling with) Vettel.
    But all in all not much between them over the whole season.

    I’m glad Raikkonen showed some real improvement – especially in quali – towards the end of 2016.

    1. I counted it 13-8 for Kimi, which one is correct?

  3. Made some mistakes you would expect from a retired driver, like that one in Monaco.

    But also had his share of bad lack with the starts of China and Belgium ruining his chances from the get go.

  4. I am sorry, but i have to do this.


      1. I know what I am doing @mashiat2

        1. Just leave me alone!

  5. I don’t think Bottas or Hulkenberg was better than Kimi this year. He almost defeated his 4x world champion teammate, who ruined his races twice.

  6. I questioned Ferrari’s decision to keep him on when they announced his extension mid-season, but I have to say his performances since then have vindicated them. He’s not setting the world alight, but as a number two who’s unlikely to ruffle Vettel’s feathers he’s at least keeping his head above water. Ferrari have more important things to worry about right now, like building a faster car and fixing their strategy team.

  7. I would have put him little higher, but the big question here is where Vettel is placed. I agree with Seb being little higher, mainly thanks to his peaks being higher this year than Kimi’s ones.

  8. Vettel led more laps than Raikkonen in the first half of the season because of his strong qualifying and starts. In the second half Vettel led more laps because of the weird Ferrari strategies. Raikkonen lost ground in the points in the latter half because of his grid penalty in Suzuka (where a second place finish was on the cards), wheel nut in Austin and also the strategies which helped Vettel get ahead of him whenever he was faster in qualifying. I’d probably have put him ahead of Bottas.

    1. True, whenever Raikkonen was ahead of Vettel, he was given a bad strategy, just look at Abu Dhabi, Raikkonen was ahead and in the end, Vettel was on the tail of the Mercedes. This happened many times this season.

      1. Tbh, I don’t think it’s fair to blame Ferrari in the case of Abu Dhabi because Ricciardo had the same stategy and Vettel’s turned out to be the better one rather unexpectedly.

  9. I wasn’t expecting much from these ratings, so I wasn’t dissapointed.

    Kimi was easily TOP-6 driver this season.

    1. Not sure about Top 6 @huhhii, but I agree that this does not feel right. Kimi did well and was more often hurt by strategy than that he was able to just drive his own race.

      1. @bascb I personally think that both RB drivers and Hamilton were better than Kimi, but after that it becomes tricky.
        Alonso? Sainz? Rosberg? I guess you could make a case for all of them to be placed ahead of Kimi, but personally I think Kimi beat them all. And Vettel? While it’s true Vettel suffered from reliability issues yet still scored more points than Kimi I think it was Kimi who suffered more from bad strategy-calls and unreliability during the season.

        1. Kimi also suffered from a certain German driving into him.

          1. @mrboerns That’s true. I can’t say Kimi was guilty of any of his 1st lap collisions. Vettel however… That’s different story. China easily, Belgium very likely as well.

        2. Alonso was definitely better. Sainz is hard to rate, because Kvyat was such a mess, but he did seem to do quite well. Rosberg stepped up his game and is the only one that I might place below Kimi.

    2. Really think his performance was better than 11th – unless Seb is 10th but that I doubt somehow…

    3. Only if you rank them by drivers’ championship order, in which case what’s the point?

    4. Agreed. I remember Keith had Kimi around 14th or 15th in the mid season rankings while he was sitting 3rd in the Drivers Standings! I get that he’s not the same driver he was 10 years ago, but he’s was nearly a match for Vettle.

  10. This is, of course, subjective, but I feel like Kimi was given considerably worse strategies than Vettel over the course of the year. I have no problem with Ferrari having a number one driver – I’m sure part of the reason they’ve kept Kimi on is that he’s so unfussy about his status within the team – but their strategies usually resulted in one or two other drivers besides Vettel getting ahead of him. He was impressive in qualifying pretty much all year.

    Still, eleventh place in these rankings is fair enough. I think I’d have placed him ahead of Hülkenberg but that’s about it.

  11. A(nother) frustrating season for Kimi. It seems that whenever he was on form, a technical problem, Ferrari’s trademark post-Schumacher poor strategy, or a driver error struck him. It just never did come together for him this year. If he can keep his qualifying speed up and get rid of the driver errors (and frankly, sometimes rather poor pace on Sundays), he should be a quite a solid contender next year.

    1. @kaiie, This is going to sound negative, but a contender for what exactly?
      He isn’t going to beat an in-form Hamilton, Ricciardo, Verstappen or even Vettel. Unfortunatly, he just isn’t the complete package neccesary to win the WDC.

      1. Unless Ferrari stop giving him subpar strategies and they produce a car good enough to fight for poles again, we will never now if Kimi has another WDC in him. Three of his four podiums this year were in races where Seb had a DNS or DNF, it would seem that the team can only give Kimi proper support when he is the only Ferrari on the track.

      2. He might have beaten Vettel this year but once again Ferrari’s dodgy strategy came to fore. As with the other three drivers seeming invincible to you, it should be obvious that their cars had a lot more downforce than the ferrari and they accepted the fact that it gave them much more confidence to push harder, and in the case of Ferrari the less said the better. Remember 2015, where was Ricciardo? Demotivated and frustrated. Where was Hamilton in 2013 in the 2nd fastest car? Never underestimate what a highly motivated driver can do. Whenever he has a winning car, Kimi seems to find an extra gear. And you need 100 % support from your team too, which unfortunately for Ferrari seems to be possible for only one driver.

        1. Most of the teams don’t admit but they have a number 1 driver who they think that have more chances. The gap betwen Vettel/Webber or Vettel/Raikonen is not so big as it seens to be. Raikonen in this case improved a lot when they changed his personnel, just like Rosberg. A driver dont win races alone, the car is 80% the driver 10% the team support 10%.

  12. Too low in my opinion. He should be top 6 for sure. No way Hulk or Bottas outperformed him. Saint was really sub par this year. Keith see no justification for this low ranking.

    It is probably your personal prejudice that’s at play here. Sorry not playing with a straight bat my friend

    1. Please inform us why your opinion is more valuable than Keith’s assessment which is based on notes from all Grand Prix and all drivers? Your comment is as baseless as it is insulting. At least try to argue why you think as you do.

      1. Keith is man enough to stand up for himself.

        On facts alone consider the DNF’s caused by Ferrari goof ups Also considertwo races where he lost out the starting grid positions due to factors like penalties and changed weather conditions. .In Baku was handed a needless penalty.

        I fail to see how HULk a perennial underachiever in F1 and Saint on this season’s performance qualify above in Keith’s rankings. I am entitled to disagree.

      2. Hulk being rated higher is laughable for one, similarly I don’t see Perez being rated higher either he had a few good drives but overall he wasn’t much quicker than Hulkenberg, Bottas wasn’t that impressive he should probably be rated ahead of Hulk and Perez because of the margin he beat Massa by but not ahead of Kimi, I will place Kimi at 7th-8th at least.

  13. A quite fair and complete review of Kimi’s year, but eleventh seems too low a position, he belongs in the top ten at least. With a Ferrari that was no longer the clear best second car in the field like in ’15 he scored 36 more points than last season, he improved his qualifying noticeably and narrowed the gap in performance and points with his team mate showing consistency and concentration.

    He had a strong year despite the SF16 poor reliability and Ferrari’s weird strategy calls that made him lose the chance to score even more points. Like other people pointed out, China and Spa were races where Kimi was fighting for a podium position at the start only to be sent to the back of the field by his team mate crashing into him in turn one. Strategy was another factor that played against him: extra pit stops in Austin or Mexico put him in the subpar strategy sending him behind his team mate who thus jumped ahead of him; Ferrari exposing him to an undercut in Singapore or Abu Dhabi that made him lose P3 after gaining that position on the track; etc.

    As for his wheel to wheel battles against Verstappen, given that Rosberg in Canada and Hamilton in Japan driving a Mercedes couldn’t get past the Dutch driver and Max’s defensive moves in the grey area of the rules would later end up in a clarifying of said rules, judging Kimi for said battles only tell one part of the story. As for Spa, considering that Kimi’s car got damage from both sides in the first corner incident and that his mechanics had to put out the flames that affected the floor before returning him to the track, it’s remarkable that Kimi still fought Max as hard as he did. On the other hand, Kimi overtaking Hamilton in Singapore or both Perez and Palmer in one move in the straight in Suzuka are some of the best examples of his performance in that area.

    I disagree with this 11th position, but it’s also true that Keith throughout the year in his driver ratings he usually gave Kimi credit where was due, especially in the second half of the season.

    1. Bro, your argument is absolutely on point. People still somehow believe that a veteran driver beating his younger quadruple champion team-mate is probably due to the latter underperforming. Kimi has done very well this season against Vettel. I’d like to see what happens next season if the high downforce cars comes towards Kimi more than Seb. What will Ferrari do then? Probably jeopardising race wins in order to secure Vettel a safe podium to keep him happy. Kimi needs to speak up against the team management, they can’t throw everything at one driver and expect a constructors title. This team might not win a single title with Vettel with how they function.

  14. Disagree with this placing 100%. Both in terms of the placing outside the top 10 and being behind Vettel. KR only finished behind Vettel because of bad luck and because of worse strategies the team has given him as compared to Vettel. And don’t forget: KR may have crashed in Brazil but Vettel did too. Lucky not to hit the wall. KR retired from great position in Austin thru no fault of his own. I agree, that KR lacks aggressiveness at this point in his career, both on track and off it (needed to push Ferrari to stop giving him worse strategies than Vettel). But he was the better, more composed, more consistent Ferrari driver, and not Vettel who just made a ton of mistakes and was over-driving all the time, traits already familiar from his woeful 2014.

    Sadly, this a common trait nowadays regarding Raikkonen. Journos will always find a way to diminish Kimi’s achievements and exaggerate his failings. Ben Anderson from Autosport, a known KR hater, also put Kimi outside of the top 10. At least Mark Hughes(Motorsport-magazine) and the Motorsport.com staff didn’t(though they did put Vettel above him in the ratings as well). Well, journos are welcome to have their opinion and KR is welcome to continue his career, which according to the same people should have ended this year if not last year. What’s that saying about the dogs barking?

    1. Maybe if his nationality was different and he was more outspoken ala the Hamster the journos would be rooting for Kimi. He has been undone by his team and Arrivabene expects us to believe Kimi trusts the management more

      Kimi is out to do the best he can and hope next year he can show the young guns what he is truly capable of.

    2. @montreal95

      Raikkonen had good luck compared to Vettel; he would finished over fifty points behind Vettel if the German had decent luck. Let’s not forget Vettel didn’t even start the race in Bahrain due to an engine failure, he was torpedoed by Kvyat in Russia, had a tyre failiure in Austria and couldn’t even qualifying due to a suspension issue in Singapore. He also had gearbox penalties in Russia, Austria and Britain aswell as tyre strategies that cost him wins in Australia, Spain and Canada with a podium in Monaco also being lost due to his pit stops. It’s 10-3 to Vettel in the races they both finished. Eleventh for Raikkonen seems fair enough.

      1. Kimi retired in Australia because his turbo caught fire and in Austin because of a loose wheel. He had gearbox penalties in Monaco (placing him in the middle of the pack in a wet race, not exactly the best place to start) and Japan where he qualified in P3. Ferrari through bad strategy made Kimi lose P3 in races like Singapore or Abu Dhabi after he had gained the position fighting on track, and in Mexico or Austin they sent him from P4 to P6/7 by giving him an extra stop than the drivers around him. Kimi’s car reliability was a bit better than Sebastian’s but not by much and with the strategy the team made bad choices for both of them. So Kimi definitely deserves a better place in the ranking, he scored as many points as the car/reliability/strategy allowed.

        Kimi overtook Hamilton in Singapore and Rosberg had to push him out of the way gaining a penalty in Malasia, both times in the fight for the podium; on the other hand, Seb chased after the Mercedes in Australia or Abu Dhabi but never got wheel to wheel like Kimi managed in all the season. Both Ferrari drivers did their best with the SF16 and Kimi’s inspiring performance should be acknowledged.

      2. @lolzerbob Sorry for the very late reply, didn’t have time these past few days. As Adhyra wrote, there were many instances where Kimi was hampered too and sometimes more than Vettel. Lots of things you wrote are debatable. Even if Vettel lost a victory in Australia, don’t forget that Kimi was right behind him when he retired because of tech troubles. How many points Kimi lost at Austin? How many points he lost by getting consistently worse strategies than Vettel? We can go race by race, but the main point is this: Is it justified to put Vettel P7 and Kimi P11? If they were P10/P11 I’d understand. But P7 vs P11 means effectively that SV was much better than KR in 2016. Which, given all that I, and Adhyra, wrote above, from KR>SV in qualy etc. I don’t believe is reasonable. But everyone’s entitled to their opinion obviously

  15. Hard to say who goes where… But Kimi improved a lot in comparison to previous years.

    Also everyone saying Kimi after 2007 is not as good as he once was, should consider he was driving more dodgy cars since. Ferraris especially 2013-2014 were poor. He seems to be close but not on same level as his star teammate.

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