Analysis: Raikkonen set to become Vettel’s number two after Malaysia

2017 Singapore Grand Prix

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The only piece of good news for Sebastian Vettel after his first-lap retirement in Singapore was this: At least he took his team mate out with him.

Kimi Raikkonen’s third no-score of the season means he is now 125 points behind the championship leader. It’s therefore highly likely he will be mathematically out of contention after the next race.

Singapore Grand Prix in pictures
Raikkonen’s chances of winning the title this year are already unrealistically slim. But if he doesn’t out-score Lewis Hamilton by at least one point in Malaysia they will become zero.

The end of Raikkonen’s title chances will make him a more useful ally in Vettel’s fight against Mercedes. Raikkonen confirmed in Azerbaijan he will help Vettel’s cause “when I don’t have a chance mathematically any more to fight for the championship”.

Arguably he’s already proved useful on at least two occasions this year: he was eased aside in Monaco to help Vettel win and provided a valuable buffer to Hamilton in Hungary while Vettel grappled with wonky steering. But he has been allowed to fight his own race up to a point. But once his title hopes are over Ferrari will be able to plan the tactics for their number two driver around how he can best help their only remaining title contender.

Mercedes are not yet in a position to do the same with Bottas. His deficit to Hamilton is less than half what Raikkonen’s is, so it could be several races yet before they are ready to.

This is not to say Bottas hasn’t been useful to Hamilton’s championship chances. Raikkonen has only finished in front of Hamilton, depriving him of valuable points, on three occasions. Bottas has done the same to Vettel twice as many times. And the effect has been even greater at Mercedes: Raikkonen has taken eight points off Hamilton whereas Bottas has deprived Vettel of 25 – more than three times as many. But the fact Bottas has been more competitive than Raikkonen means he has also taken points off Hamilton too.

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Raikkonen’s usefulness to Vettel will increase once his title hopes are over. Ferrari have no qualms about exploiting their number two driver to the fullest when only one of their drivers has a chance to win the title. This is the team which once deliberately incurred a gearbox penalty on one of its cars to move the other one into a better grid position.

Singapore was Ferrari’s best chance to score another one-two finish before the end of the season. Vettel should have gone to Malaysia back in the lead of the drivers’ championship.

Will having Raikkonen as his wing-man be the boost Vettel needs to overcome Mercedes’ expected performance advantage over the remaining rounds?

In Spa Ferrari opportunistically tried to use Raikkonen to delay Hamilton after the Mercedes driver had pitted. Once his title hopes are over they may push this further, planning Raikkonen’s entire strategies around how to delay Hamilton and help Vettel. And of course in any situations where Raikkonen finds himself running ahead of Vettel he can expected a swift instruction to move aside.

The championship battle has moved into a new phase. Vettel is now the hunter instead of the hunted. But after Malaysia there is likely to be more than one car on track with the expressed goal of trying to win the title for him.

2017 Singapore Grand Prix

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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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    101 comments on “Analysis: Raikkonen set to become Vettel’s number two after Malaysia”

    1. Pfft. Just ask Sauber to go all “blue flag” on Hamilton every time they pass. It’s likely to happen many times per race. :P

      1. An interesting position for Mercedes-backed Pascal Wehrlein in his Ferrari-powered car!

        1. Sundar Srinivas Harish
          20th September 2017, 15:34

          The red car, or the silver car?

          1. Decisions, decisions.

            1. Can’t wait to see Vet challenge by a team mate of high quality again re Ves/Ric ect

    2. And there I was thinking Raikkonen has been a number two since 2014.

      1. “Raikkonen has been a number two (💩)” I see what you did there

        1. +1. Ferrari showed their hand in Monaco.

          1. I don’t think Ferrari’s hand was ever hidden. Let’s be honest, Vettel was always going to the number one. It has been said before, and sometimes the truth hurts, but Vettel is bettel, er, better.

      2. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

      3. It’s your impression, really. Let’s be honest, ALO and VET dominated RAI enough not to need his services. At least not even close to really name him ”NO.2”, as if he signed some sort of contract where it was decided to keep it behind VET. Actually, looking at the way he behaved after Monaco, towards VET too, I think it’s quite some proof nobody from Ferrari told him he’s a NO.2 and VET has the “right” to win them all.

        1. RAI may have known all along he was No 2. to VET but just never expressed it publicly. If he was truly allowed to race for the first position at Ferrari he would’ve acted much differently.

          Then again, this is RAI we’re talking about. No one really knows what goes on in his head or why he does the things he does – love the guy!

          1. If Ferrari pays VET 50mil for a season and RAI 7mil it should be no wonder who they favour…

        2. @mg1982: We will never know what Ferrari has told Kimi, but that’s relatively irrelevant. Teams don’t necessarily have to tell their number 2 that he is number 2. If they do and he agrees (think Massa/Barrichello) it helps, for sure, but they can still make him a number 2 without telling him, by doing things like what they did in Monaco.

          The fact that Alonso and Vettel have (mostly) dominated Kimi doesn’t mean they don’t/didn’t “need his services”. The only time the number 1 driver doesn’t need the services of the number 2 is when the number 1 has already won the WDC, and none of them have with Kimi as a teammate. Alonso certainly needed and abundantly used Massa’s services even when he had twice as many points. And Vettel certainly needs and is already using Kimi’s services, whether Kimi agrees or not.

          1. I’m pretty sure barrichello had it written down into his contract as well.

            1. It really sounds as if Barrichello could have won some titles, but it was the team (+ Schumacher) who robbed him of that glory. Fact is, there weren’t so many moments as some want us to believe when BAR did help Michael, not to mention that many of those “helping occasions” proved to be really unnecessary in the end, Schumacher winning the champ by a big enough points gap that he could have even dropped 1-2 wins. So, it’s not like M.Schumacher won any of his titles thanks to Barrichello’s help. It was a big drama in 2002 Austria, yeah, but Schumacher gave back that win in USA. So, he wasn’t such a bad guy as he seems to be to some. Anyway, that kind of thing today seems quite natural to do. If we use the same logic, then if HAM wins the 2017 champ, it’s going to be thanks to Bottas (for letting HAM in front 3 times already), no? Will be ridiculous to say BOT made HAM champ.

      4. More like 2008. Raikkonen has been sub-par ever since he won the title. Annoying really, he used to be something special.

    3. Maybe undue cynicism, but I expect Ferrari to enter into some dubious territory over the final 6 races. There is an absolute ton at stake for them this year when they have – or had – a real chance finally to win the title. That includes what they use Raikkonen for.

      1. Ferrari need their Spec 4 engine to produce a clear step forward; otherwise all the risking will do them in.

        1. Mercedes has the special oil burning permit from fia which is something nobody else has. That makes it very difficult for ferrari to challenge merc on engine performance so ferrari’s main chance is in the aero and using the tires better than mercedes.

          Basically mercedes can burn 1.2 litres/100km where others can burn 0.9litres/100km. Fia is a joke.

          1. Basically mercedes can burn 1.2 litres/100km where others can burn 0.9litres/100km. Fia is a joke.

            Same rules apply to everyone, Ferrari could have had a 1.2L allowance as well if they wanted and they chose to give it up. Also you really thing that 0.3l per 100km is really going to make a massive difference. that is 3ml per km

            1. It’s probably the overboost option during quali and overtaking. A good quali is half the work and a ovetake with extra power or a short fast run to escape from the undercut are weapons only Merc has and nobody else at the moment.

      2. Hardly believe RAI will accept the job of taking HAM out of the race. Hope it’s just our “dirty minds” and something like this won’t cross Ferrari’s “mind”.

        1. Despite there being many myths surrounding Raikkonen, one of the truest things that can be said of him is that he is a very clean driver. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t made contact with other drivers after rash moves (ask Bottas), but he is generally very fair in wheel to wheel combat.

          1. +1 Yes that is absolutely true,

            I’ve seen many of his battles and he gives a good respect and space to the other car.

            I’ve also seen dive bombers attack him, but he just somehow manages to avoid a collision and overtake them on the next corner.

          2. I don’t disagree with that assessment of Raikkonen at all. However I do think there will be extreme pressure on him to be as aggressive as possible if he’s ahead of Hamilton and the latter is trying to pass.

            Vettel probably needs to Hamilton DNFs, or low points scores, to have a real chance of winning this year – bar Ferrari suddenly out-driving them on the remaining circuits. At the same time, there are 2 or 3 circuits where Ferrari could start ahead. That gives a window of opportunity to block Hamilton aggressively in those races.

        2. If he does that Bottas will take Seb out.

          1. This isn’t the F1 of 20 years ago. I think Crashgate Singapore and Spygate changed the landscape forever, these are big multinational conglomerates not feisty garagistas and the PR fallout would be unimaginable.

          2. “Bottas will take Seb out”. Grow up for goodness sake, this isn’t a computer game!

        3. I don’t know about taking Ham out, but judging by the way both Ferraris started the race, they seemed keen to take Max out of the race.

          Of all the races/starts/crashes this season I expected this one to be followed with a frame by frame analysis, yet neither Channel 4 or SKY did this. Instead, that initial first impression on the cause of the crash is the only impression we are left with.

          With no analysis, we are left to conclude it was just another racing incident. This very lax view of events leaves the way open for more of the same.

          That dramatic photo showing RAI and VETTEL colliding, also show’s RAI’s right rear damaged in the moments prior. Yet there is no commentary on the cause of that rear wheel damage. On what part of Max’s car did RAI first make contact with?

          The tire smoke from Max’s car shows he was decelerating to avoid the wost of that ‘pincer’ by the Ferraris, as they both took the same attitude to ‘manage’ the space of their opponents.

          After the initial RAI and Vettel collision, there was a view from inside RAI’s cockpit which showed him turning into Max, which eventually took MAX and Alonso out. Optimising the carnage. Which leaves me to wonder at the way the Ferrari drivers prepare. Anyone familiar with their history will know of the lengths those early drivers took to win at all cost.

          Is this the future of F1, ‘whatever it takes’?

          I am not left wondering if Bottas would be asked to fulfill a similar role as Rikkonen.

          1. Wow, stop with the conspiracy theories. Ask yourself this: What interest or motives for Ferrari to end Max race, more so at “whatever it takes”? They sacrificing Vettel WDC chance and their WCC chance for what? Not to mention why they want to burn the bridge to a future F1 star driver?

            Also why Raikkonen “steering” into Max direction? It’s called opposite lock. You did that so the car is not spinning out of control which create more dangerous situation, like bouncing to the wall like a pinball and spraying a lot more debris while at it.

            1. Indeed. I cannot believe Kimi intended to hit Verstappen.
              It is just a pity that he did not react when Seb came in from the right. On Kimi’s onboard you can see Vettel come charging left and with Verstappen in between there was never going to be enough space if Kimi did not steer away. Sadly he did not register the danger.

              So he never wanted to hit Verstappen at first and certainly did not want to hit him twice.
              Unless of course it was all set up. Ferrari wants Max but he denied the “offer you can’t refuse”.
              If you want a conspiracy theory better make it a good one ;)

          2. Thanks for sharing your insights. There’s an overall lack of thorough analysis. Even here many people explain things to match what they want to believe. I’ve looked at many replays and there was clearly room for both Ferrari drivers to avoid contact.

          3. jesus, vettle swept over to cut max off, he didnt know raikonen was on the other side of max and that max had nowhere to go, he expected to be able to squeeze max aside.

            he messed up, end of story.

          4. “…the cause of that rear wheel damage”

            Obviously it was the second shooter, explosives placed there in advance by FEMA in order to bring about a new world order, and aliens.

            “…smoke from Max’s car”


          5. F1latam showered its viewers with all angles of the “incident”. When the squeezing starts, Max is going straight,
            Vettel is shutting him down and Rai is preventing him from moving left so he decelerates while his front wheels are trapped between the right front and right rear wheels of Rai.

            Rai with his combined forward speed and the deceleration of Max hits the left front of Max with his right rear
            and breaks the ferrari’s suspension. He then proceeds to careen into Vettel’s intercooler sidelining him, before
            drifting towards the right, entraining Max with him to their fateful encounter with the hapless Alonso.

            From this suspensions encounter, one has to note that the fusible point of the Ferrari’s suspension is weaker than the RedBulls, because Max doesn’t seem to have been harmed by this first encounter. It is the second impact with RAI that does it when his right front wheel hits Alonso and the piano.

      3. @david-br

        I think they’ll use Kimi with only one objective on every race weekend – To ruin Hamilton’s race. I wouldn’t be surprised if they get Kimi involved in a lap 1 ‘racing incident’ to take out Lewis.

    4. There is a huge amount at stake for Ferrari this year. This represents the first clear-cut opportunity for a title since 2012, when Alonso battled the terrible F2012 to within points of the Championship. Their last victory was in 2007… to put that into context, only 5 drivers from that season remain in the sport (Raikkonen, Hamilton, Alonso, Massa and Vettel). A title is badly needed.

      That said, I don’t think many would argue against the idea that on paper at least, the remaining tracks generally favour Mercedes and Hamilton. I think that even without the Singapore set back, this was going to be an uphill task for Vettel and Ferrari. Now it’s going to be truly difficult without a retirement or two for Hamilton (which isn’t impossible… see Malaysia 2016…).

      How Raikkonen is deployed will be one of the most interesting (and potentially controversial) stories of the remainder of the season.

    5. Doesn’t really matter anymore now. VET messed up his title chances on his own. What’s the use of having RAI helping him gain points if there’re chances he’ll throw them out of the window in the next corner? Yeah, RAI is in the team mostly for the no.2 support, but so far this season wasn’t really the case… apart HUN a little bit. Seeing how irritated RAI was after Monaco and the tension between him and VET after the race, one could tell that RAI was free to race VET and he really thought he could win Monaco after starting from PP and leading the 1st part of the race. Anyway, unfortunately RAI is the weakest drive overall from the top 4, so I’m afraid there’re not many chances RAI will be in a position to help VET, but not as many times as VET needs to recover the points deficit for sure. If you ask me, in most remaining races, it’ll still be VET vs HAM vs BOT… while RAI will be somewhere in 4th or worse.

      1. In Hungary Raikkonen also didn’t understand that Ferrari was holding him back on purpose. The fact that Raikkonen thought he was allowed to race doesn’t mean he actually was. Or at least Ferrari was clearly using him as a #2 and not helping him to get maximum results for himself.

        1. @patrickl I think he’s piling the fastest laps this year – he has 7 so far. At this rate, he’s expected to have 9-10 this season.

          9 will put him up there with Hakkinen and beat his own record of 8 from 2015
          10 will tie the record with Kimi and Schumacher
          11 will give him the total record (not the percentage)


          1. True, but the point was that he doesn’t actively go for fastest laps. He will get a fastest lap just after a pit stop or something, but it’s not like he tries to hammer down a quick lap in the last five laps or so when fuel is low.

            Guess Vettel is also going for the WDC so this year he can’t take the risk of setting a flap at the end either. So then Hamilton gets them.

            Indeed it’s funny how Raikkonen has so many of those too. Somehow he does set a lot of fastest laps while he doesn’t seem to get the race done fastest :) But then he set most of those in another era (no refuelling). These days often drivers who switch to new tyres at the end of the race will get the fastest lap.

            It’s like Prost vs Senna. Prost would usually get the fastest lap while Senna would win the race. Always thought that was strange.

            1. Sometimes fastest lap is the Consolation prize for the losing driver!

    6. The only piece of good news for Sebastian Vettel after his first-lap retirement in Singapore was this: At least he took his team mate out with him.

      Unlikely to be viewed as such by him or anyone; in fact, the only bit of good news appears to be that his engine survived unscathed and, going into the remaining 6 races, it might help avoid penalties. His new engine 4 should debut in Malaysia, while Mercedes may have to go more conservative (albeit still with their 1.2 ltr oil burning limit, compared to Ferrari’s 0.9) to preserve the life of theirs for the remainder of the season.

      1. His new engine 4 should debut in Malaysia

        He’s already on his last turbo though right?

      2. Have Mercedes ever used that 4th engine? Or did they just fit it in in Spa for practice on Friday and then go back to the spec 3 engine?

        I know Ted said they used the spec 2 engines at Singapore and even Horner said post-race that Merc are in a better situation with their engine allotment.

    7. And with an ever wider points gap Verstappen is now officially Ricciardo’s biatch ;)

      1. Because the coveted 4th place in the WDC is worth the contractual headache isn’t it. 😂

    8. Crom- I think Keith was making that comment a bit ‘tongue in cheek’ there mate.

      Nice graphs too- I was hoping my share portfolio looked more like Hamilton’s but its looking more like Max’s at best!!

      As all drivers evolve & mature I am sure many see changes in all of them over the years. Lewis has mellowed somewhat (less annoying and egotistical maybe), Kimi had kids, still hates all in F1 except the driving (Webber was the same) but grown a pretty good sense of humour and my fav Dan Ric…….. well farts in press conferences :) :) (Poor Bottas- he didn’t know how to respond).

      One thing Vettel still seems to hang on to is that ‘spoilt brat’ tag. Mark Webber sums it up well in his book- Seb has a great family & upbringing but cant seem to loose well. He has a great sense of humour, sharp witted, very intelligent but cant admit a mistake. Turkey in ………. 2010(??), Multi-21 Sepang, Baku this year and now Singapore & there would be a few more.

      I get why he/they stay strong but sometimes its easier to say you buggared up and keep some respect & dignity.
      Personally I was hoping for Seb to get Lewis this year and he still can but he has some work to do- but there is still that kid in him from the early days he needs to let go- if Max got ahead no big deal, chase him down or take points for 2nd or 3rd.

      1. @evilhomer

        I think Keith was making that comment a bit ‘tongue in cheek’ there mate.

        It did occur to me :P
        As the Joker might ask, “Why so serious?!”
        Guess we need to take a leaf out of Ricciardo’s book and smile more :D

    9. I’m not sure how Raikonnen can help Vettel. I expect Lewis to at least win 3 out of the remaining races.

      Raikonnen could have helped Ferrari in the fight for the WCC but they are now over 100 points behind. Had the Ferrari not faltered this weekend, that gap could have been half. A DNF and some bad luck for Mercedes could have put Ferrari back in contention again for the WCC title.

      Also another thing to keep in mind, is that there are 6 races remaining and if Lewis continues to win he can improve over his existing highest win streak of 5. Nico has a streak of 7 and that’s the only stat I believe he has over Lewis and what makes that even more painful for Lewis is that 3 or 4 of those wins were gifts to Nico along with a championship – so Lewis is probably not happy with that at all. So I can see Lewis really wanting to win the next few races to at least reach Nico and perhaps challenge Vettel for the 9 in the processing of getting last year’s championship back.

      Bottomline, the thing that can help Vettel at this point the most is not Raikonnen or Vettel or Ferrari – it’s the 3 silver arrows. They have been Lewis’s biggest ally but also his toughest opponent on track. Where a driver can cost him 6 points, Mercedes can easily cost him 100 points in a few races with Lewis having to drive for his life after that in every race.

      On the other hand, seeing Lewis fight so hard to overcome the odds has been great. It’s like watching Ronaldo score 5 goals against Bayern, 3 against Atletico and 2 against Juventus (3 incredible teams with the world’s best goal keepers) to win the Champions League.

      1. @freelittlebirds Well put.

        Wonder if Hamilton actually cares for stats like that. I think he just loves to win and especially to become WDC, but he doesn’t go for a fastest lap attempt at the end of the race like Vettel often does. Hamilton seems unwilling to sacrifice his chances of that race win or to put undue strain on the engine for something so trivial as a fastest lap.

      2. @freelittlebirds What odds have Lewis had to overcome?

        1. @ sward28: +1

      3. On the other hand, seeing Lewis fight so hard to overcome the odds has been great.


      4. 2017 Season

        Wins: Mercedes 9/14
        Poles: Mercedes 10/14
        Fastest Laps: Mercedes 7/14

        Other than Singapore, where a massive start crash gave him the opportunity, Lewis has not won a race from anywhere else other than pole position. His only ounce of bad luck this year came from the head rest in Azerbaijan. The low starting position in Monaco was on his and the team’s own accord. They should not have been in that position when Vandoorne crashed.

        His team has won the last three drivers and constructors championships, and were once again the outright favourites for 2017.

        Please explain how he has beaten the odds?

        Lewis spins to the media that his car is not as good as the Ferrari because he wants you to think that. He’s the only one of the big boys who hasn’t been seen to drag a bad car up the order. The only car that comes to mind in this category might be the 2009 McLaren. Even the 2013 Mercedes was the second best car on the grid.

        I searched for it but couldn’t find it, however there was an interview done with Lewis in 2013 (or thereabouts) and he mentioned that he was worried about his legacy. He only had one championship at the time while Vettel was three going on four. He said that as time goes on, as we are at almost 70 years of Formula 1, that one championship would eventually mean nothing. The more championships that take place the less valuable only winning one becomes. So of course this guy looks at stats. You think a man of his ego wouldn’t?

        I don’t deny Lewis is good, he is one of the all-time greats. He is without a doubt the best qualifier I have ever seen. Including Senna. Which is a scorching hot take in it’s own right. However, to say he has fought so hard to overcome the odds is just trolling at best.

        1. @sward28 you seem angry at Lewis for whatever reason. I do think he deserves everything he gets since he works for it and your condescending tone will not change that. It’s not just the headrest that has been unlucky for him too. He also incurred a gearbox penalty in Austria and was unlucky with the yellow flags in Monaco no matter how you try to spin it.
          I don’t know why you put so much stock in fastest laps, a metric that doesn’t mean anything really. You only have to look at Perez who has scored one in Monaco but no one in their right mind would say Force India was the fastest car that day. As for the distribution of wins and poles between Ferrari and Mercedes, well you only have to look at the drivers. Mercedes have the superior pair hence why they have more wins.
          Mercedes have the superior qualifier hence why they have more poles. In China Vettel could have won he had the pace. In Russia he fluffed his lines and let Bottas through. In Spain Vettel’s qualifying lap was up on Hamilton by a huge amount in the 1st and 2nd sector but he lost all that time due to a mistake in the final sector. He also had an open goal to score pole and win in Austria but again he let Bottas in by .042. In Spa he had a tremendous chance to win after the safety car on faster tyres but once again he underwhelmed.
          There have been plenty of opportunities for Ferrari to score more poles and wins but their drivers lacked the quality at key moments. I can’t help but feel that if Fernando was in one of the Ferraris the deficit to Mercedes would not be as big as 28 points if at all.

          1. I forgot to mention the mother of all slip-ups at the last race. That’s another win gone begging

          2. The pot calling the kettle black much…you want to say I’m angry at Lewis? One only has to look back through your posting history to see how much you love Vettel…

            1. @sward28 what? my posting history will tell you that I am supporting Hamilton over Vettel or is that somehow disagreeable to you? I don’t post disparaging remarks about him or other drivers but I will criticise then when warranted.

          3. @ blackmamba: not cool what you’ve done. I’ve noticed that if somebody says his opinion and elaborates, some of the guys who don’t agree start an attack on the person, saying they’re angry, shout at the monitor etc.

        2. @sward28

          I was talking about 2014 and 2016. He had to come back a bazillion times and Mercedes wasn’t really helping – there were fires, cars spinning, headrests coming loose, new parts being ordered every 5 laps, some guy wearing the same uniform running into him every chance he had, tales of magical gloves.

          But even this year, as you pointed out Lewis is fighting for the championship with 7 (8 if you include the headrest) victories and 8 poles. If Ferrari hadn’t taken each other out, I’m sure he’d still be fighting.

          Amazingly, the only championship he didn’t have to fight for was in 2015 – he’s been fighting in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017.

        3. @ sward28: +1

          1. @freelittlebirds

            he’s been fighting in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017.

            That’s is my point though. 2009 and 2013 were the only times he didn’t have a car capable of fighting for the championship. Even 2013, despite it munching their tires all the time, the Mercedes car at the end of the year was second best. You are not necessarily “beating the odds” if you always have a chance.

            Ok, 2014 and 2016, he had a fair share of problems but so did Rosberg in ’14. While Lewis absolutely thrashed Nico in ’15. Even, if you want to say that he had more gremlins than Nico or Mercedes were doing it on purpose (which is a load of ___), you can’t shy away from the fact that it was a one car championship for all three of those years. It was literally just him and Nico.

            I guess I have a hard time saying someone has beaten in the odds, when they have had something handed to them on a gold plate every year.

            1. @sward28 None of that is true.

              First of all – the fight at the top is going to be lonely assuming there’s a fight to begin with. Like tennis, the finals will usually consist of the top 2 players like Nadal and Federer. Should we eliminate them in Round 1 so that other players have a chance to win or should the other players get better?

              Lewis wasn’t handed anything – he was handed Fernando Alonso as a teammate in his rookie year. His career could have been destroyed but as we saw Fernando’s career was nearly destroyed instead. If anything, Lewis had to endure 5 painful years at McLaren after 2007.

              As for his switch to Mercedes – when he switched everyone expected Lewis to be fighting Williams and Force India at Mercedes. It’d be like Vettel leaving Red Bull and joining Renault instead of Ferrari. How many championships has Hulkenberg been handed so far? 5-6? :-)

              People forget but when Lewis joined Mercedes, Nico had outscored (and crushed) Michael Schumacher for 3 consecutive years. It’d be like Vettel joining Renault with Verstappen as a teammate who was beating Senna for 3 years in a row. It was the most ballsy move ever made in any sport.

              You could say that the Red Bull is a championship car this year – Ricciardo has been outqualified consistently by his teammate but he’s on the podium all the time. If he was 0.5 seconds faster in qualifying and 0.5-1 seconds faster in the race, he could have been up there with Vettel and Lewis and possibly leading the championship at some points. So the question becomes is it the car that’s a championship car or the driver that can turn it into a championship car?

              If your life depended on it and you had to pick a driver to save your life, even 99% of Lewis’ detractors probably would pick Lewis to save them :-)

    10. At least he took his team mate out with him. – Nice piece of journalism.

      1. yep, you’re right. And everybody is blaming Seb Vettel for the crash, but I don’t quite agree.

        Ok , Seb veered to the left beyond the advisable. He left space enough for another car but hardly for two and he couldn’t see Kimi was there also. So the blame in partly his. Say, 40%

        But it was Kimi who hit Max, he had enough momentum to complete the takeover but turned right a bit too early. So I believe Kimi is at least as guilty as Seb. Say, 50%

        And Max… there is little he could do once he was inside the Ferrari sandwich. Kimi turned into him and Max could not avoid the crash, having Seb so close by his right side. But he could have backed up a bit earlier and avoid being sandwiched. Say, 10%.

        1. I don’t think there’s any way that Max can be blamed, not even 10%, for this incident. After looking at the footage from all the angles provided by Formula 1 on YouTube I am convinced that Vettel and Raikkonen are to blame (let’s make the argument that it’s 25%/75% blame, respectively.)

          Vettel was just far enough ahead of Max (I will argue that this is as a result of Max backing off a bit) to try to cut in front of him, if Kimi was not on the other side of Max at all I would wager that Seb would have clipped the front of Max’s wing resulting in a broken end plate and potentially a tire puncture for Seb. For this I would give Vettel 25% of the blame.

          Kimi made a fantastic start, maybe the perfect start in those conditions, he had the inside position and the benefit of time until the first corner (by this I mean his move on Max was too early, it could have played out being two drivers going into the corner instead of three by Max losing the drag race.) Kimi also had the benefit of being the driver from “behind” (having started 4th) and having more visibility of the situation and the position of the cars in front, unlike Vettel who was likely unaware of Kimi coming up quickly on the inside. Raikkonen started the domino effect by making contact with Max, this is obvious from watching the footage, you can even see from onboard Max’s car that moments before he was hit by Kimi he was steering away from Kimi’s car, that gives us an indication of how much Kimi was squeezing Max into Seb. What is interesting however (after watching Kimi’s onboard) is just how little steering input Kimi was making before the impact with Max, it’s not like he deliberately swerved into him (a la Seb on Lewis) he merely drifted over into Max’s line, presumable somehow expecting Max to disappear. It should come as no surprise to Kimi that Max wasn’t going to simply lift, and why should he lift when Kimi’s car is still accelerating past him and is likely to get by without him lifting? (Not to mention the danger of being hit from behind when lifting at the start of the race going into turn one.) I see this as Kimi being overly aggressive in his overtake when in hindsight his overtake of Max was guaranteed given Kimi’s fantastic start off the line. The overtake, in my opinion, which Kimi was going for was that of Seb into turn one, unfortunately we didn’t get to see how that would have played out. I give Kimi 75% of the blame in this incident.

          The two Ferrari drivers were aggressive on their overtakes which resulted in them taking each other and Max out before turn one. I found Ferrari’s interpretation, in their Tweet, rather amusing though given their stance on the crash is completely opposite of mine.

          1. Yet if VER lifts and lets Kimi through the whole shebang probably doesn’t happen and the race plays out to its natural conclusion

            This is how RIC has managed to accumilate double the points this year. VER just seems to miss being able to understand if “the juice is worth the squeeze” in critcal moments and costs himself big time.

            Given how fast the lad is in the wet he should have backed his speed to overtake rather than push his luck any further. VET knew he had to get in front at 1st corner to have any cahnce against him, but a fast starting Kimi got in the way of the plan.

            1. Yet if VER lifts and lets Kimi through the whole shebang probably doesn’t happen and the race plays out to its natural conclusion

              How can anyone apply that logic though?

              If Vettel had not swung across the track and just let VER through the whole shebang probably doesn’t happen and the race plays out to its natural conclusion.

    11. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
      20th September 2017, 14:17

      I don’t think either Raikkonen or Bottas are going to play a big part in the remaining championship, because they’ve both been too slow of late. Bottas proved very useful in the first half, when he was even out-pacing Hamilton on occasion, but he’s been very poor for several races now. As for Raikkonen, Ferrari has given him #2 pit stop strategies for most of the year (to little effect, barring Monaco), but he’s proved of minimal worth as an obstacle.

      Red Bull has Ricciardo contracted until the end of 2018 (the same as Bottas), at which point it will also lose Renault engines. This is the guy Mercedes ought to be picking up (Ferrari too, but I doubt Vettel would accept that), he’s good enough to win championships on his own but (at least in my opinion) is a fraction off Hamilton’s pace, and therefore can be tolerated by Lewis. He’s also a team player.

      Verstappen has no place in either Ferrari or Mercedes unless one of those teams ruthlessly dispenses with its current #1 driver. I can’t see that happening at Mercedes, but it might be on the cards at Ferrari (look how it dealt with Alonso!), especially if Vettel fails to win the title in 2018 (I assume he’s lost this year’s) with a competitive car. Ferrari has marked Baku and Singapore in its little black book, he can’t afford to keep messing up when someone of Verstappen’s talent will shortly be available.

    12. At this point I think Ferrari should be as concerned about Bottas snatching second in the WDC from Vettel as in trying to boost Vettel back into first. A couple wins by Bottas could peg Vettel back to third.

      1. I don’t think anybody at Ferrari cares about 2nd or 3rd.

    13. Why does Ferrari choose to play obstruction, rather than playing on equal terms.

      It is time Ferrari was brought down to earth with the rest of the field, that gets unfair rewards from the races. Just because they have been there the longest, does not mean they should get more.

      They are not proving their worthiness, and need to join the lower ranks with regard to rules and funding. They are like the bully, that has a tantrum, when he doesn’t get his own way.

      1. Too bad Mercedes, Red Bull, Williams and McLaren also get ‘compensation’ for competing in F1. Not as much as Ferrari that’s true but still.

    14. Has Raikkonen been anything more than number 2 this year, though?

      I’m a sometime fan of his driving, when he’s fast – not so often these days – it’s a pleasure to watch, and I like his nonchalant style. but really, what other world champion would have so little expected of him? Where is the surprise or shock that, yet again, he’s not really competing for the championship? None at all. It really does underline that he won in 2007 only because of the fall out at McLaren.

      The real question is whether he’ll be motivated to help or just do his own thing. Which he really seemed to be doing already at Singapore…

    15. Ive said from the start when it was apparent the Ferrari was a match for the Merc (depending on circuit)

      that this would come down to DNFs

      so Vettels been the first to stumble

      well Ham now has one hand on the trophy

      so unless Ham has a DNF (hes on 19 straight finishes his equal longest streak)

      he just needs to finish all the races now and hes WDC

      1. The Mercedes has clearly been the faster car since the start of the season. Yes, sometimes the gap is smaller and on Monaco, Hungary and Singapore the Ferrari was fastest but overall the Merc is clearly better. If not for Hamilton’s inconsistency before the summer break this championship would have been as good as done already.

    16. One thing for sure, Mercedes can’t afford to give their ‘B’ driver any kind of advantage over their ‘A’ driver, not this season.

      1. Well Hamilton did give the position back to Bottas in Hungary. Even with a high risk of Verstappen passing him.

        1. I am not sure that the risk was high. But it was the right thing to do – and it’d he wins the WDC it will be more legitimate (IMNSHO) as a result.

    17. I don’t think it’s really likely to be all that helpful. Raikkonen has only managed to finish ahead of Hamilton three times so far this season, and in all those cases it was where Hamilton had problems and would have been beaten anyway.

      Actually, here’s something pretty stark – Hamilton hasn’t finished third at all this season; he’s either won the race, come second (to Vettel exclusively!), or had issues which have kept him of the podium. On any given clean day, Hamilton has won the race. And actually as we’ve gone deeper into the season and Mercedes have sorted their issues and developed the car, Hamilton’s results have only gotten stronger.

      Realistically, it takes a top driver on a very clean day to finish ahead of Hamilton in a Mercedes. And that driver simply isn’t Raikkonen. He’s by far the weakest driver out of the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers, and on any given day is likely to finish off the podium – Of the drivers in the top three teams, only Verstappen has fewer podium finishes (one, compared to Rai’s 4), and his car has only finished seven races compared to Raikkonen’s 11 finishes.

      What I’m getting at is that Raikkonen simply isn’t going to be a factor, whether he’s a designated number two or otherwise. He has only finished ahead of Vettel once so far this season, and is unlikely to suddenly buck the trend. Ferrari’s best hopes were to maximise the results early on in the season and hope that they had enough of a points buffer to cope with a resurgent Mercedes later in the year. They never really manageed to do this, and Raikkonen has dropped the ball in particular – of the seven times where Vettel beat Hamilton (take this to mean a race where a Ferrari could beat a Mercedes) only three times has Raikkonen also managed to finish ahead of Hamilton. In over half the times where Vettel beats Hamilton, Raikkonen finishes behind both of them. That’s a poor record for a number two driver, and I really don’t understand why Ferrari are so happy to keep extending his contract. If they want someone who is going to help win championships, Raikkonen is dead weight.

      1. There is only one logical explanation for Raikkonen’s contract renewal and that’s to keep Vettel happy. That supports the fact that Vettel ask for a #2 that won’t get in his way.

        1. Nonsense. Here’s another logical explanation: the quality of Raikkonen’s technical feedback and ability to contribute towards development of the car.

      2. Exactly. We expect RAI to improve his game since 2014, when he rejoined Ferrari. Never happened tho. 99% chances it won’t happen anymore ever… no need to elaborate why’s that. There’re many factors, but the age is worth mentioning because sooner or later it gets every driver.

    18. 2017 reminds me of 2017, whereby 7 different drivers won the first 7 races. Then Seb and Red Bull started to dominate and the
      rest is history. It’s look like Ham and Merc will take both championships.

      1. It seems like Red Bull has become quite competitive too though and wasn’t Vettel getting an upgraded engine? There are plenty of races to come where the circuit doesn’t suit the Merc characteristics while it does favour those of Ferrari or Red Bull.

      2. 2017 reminds me of 2017

        The similarities are uncanny I’ll give you that!

    19. It would never do for Kim to get more points in a race than baby Vettel. This demonstrates how truly talented Seb is: he made sure to take out his teammate. :)

      1. Only he didn’t as Raikkonen was the one doing the taking out.

    20. ..a more useful ally in Vettel’s fight against Mercedes.

      The irony after just costing him the championship. (after likely costing Ferrari the constructors as well)

      1. Costing him the championship how?

        By advising Vettel to get into trouble by driving into Hamilton in Baku under the safety car then bumping wheels just for fun, an action that would have earned any other driver a race ban?

        By making a great start last Sunday and keeping to his own line until Vettel chose to defend from Verstappen like there was no tomorrow in a legal but risky move considering his championship bid?

        Raikkonen has been nothing but a team player all season long, obeying whatever strategy Ferrari threw at thim (like staying out on track to his own disadvantage in China and Austria to try to disrupt Mercedes’ strategy only to get himself dubbed a ‘laggard’ by his boss), swallowing his frustration in public in Monaco after getting a brilliant pole, and shielding his team mate in Hungary until the finish line. And we’re talking about a driver who never got the first evolution of the engine (Spec 2) that his team mate had the benefit of using to win in Montecarlo, for example, yet never raised the issue before the cameras to defend his performance.

        If Ferrari and Vettel are out of the championship (and the game is still not over), they certainly have played their own part in this mess. It’s easy to point fingers at Kimi, but if the team didn’t want him he wouldn’t be driving a red car and he doesn’t dictate the driver management or strategy calls, so you are looking at the wrong guy. Only Ferrari can afford the luxury of using his last Champion as a ‘second driver’, this is the result of that policy.

    21. My hero cheated, so can I.

    22. “Vettel is now the hunter instead of the hunted.”

      Not to hear Hamilton tell it. He denied to Will Buxton that he is the hunted and says he’s always the hunter no matter how far in front he is. I guess driving an inferior car makes him feel that way.

    23. #2 from the start. Nothing changed for kimi for years now.

      Correctly Keith observed that now is the time when Kimi is really out of the battle.

      If there wasnt a clear 1-2 policy now they need to have it.

    24. I think Kimi’s fate was decided after the 3rd race.
      VET collected 1st-2nd-1st in the first three races
      RAI collected 4th-5th-4th in the first three races
      I think Ferrari realised that they couldn’t compete for the WCC and started aiming at the WDC, that requires an unbalanced distribution of points between the two drivers, hence the strategy calls in favour of VET.
      Their choice makes sense so far as RAI would never have VET points at this point of the championship with reversed strategies.

    25. Carlos Furtado das Neves
      21st September 2017, 20:00

      Kimi “Wing Man” Raikonnen, perhaps is more apropriate…

    26. SevenFiftySeven
      24th September 2017, 9:24

      How can people call that incident Vettel’s fault is beyond me. It was an unfortunate racing accident with 3 cars finding themselves in the same spot. The lead car (Vettel) moved over left a tad to make sure car 2 (Verstappen) wouldn’t have the angle and momentum to take the lead in the following corner. It’s called defending your lead, which is quite common. Vettel couldn’t have seen Raikonnen was already on the far left. You don’t start your race contingent on the possibility of the guy from 4th (or 6th, 8th, 12th) to be alongside you. You make maximum use of your well earned pole and chose your line to defend against the car you can see, which is what Vettel did against Verstappen. Had Raikonnen not been there, there wouldn’t have been an accident.

      The collision happened between Raikonnen and Verstappen, which made Raikonnen spin and hit Vettel. Vettel didn’t start the collision. Just because Verstappen said Vettel should have done this, that doesn’t change a thing, nor should this be allowed to cloud anyone’s judgment about who is to blame. Verstappen started that race fully aware and expecting to go hard in hopes of Vettel yielding at the first presented opportunity. Vettel isn’t a rookie to be unaware about such a possibility, that also with Verstappen. Vettel didn’t yeild to Verstappen (remember again, he didn’t know Raikonnen was on his far left also). Had Vettel seen Raikonnen, he would have adjusted. When Vettel moved left, he did that against Verstappen to tell him that he wasn’t going to be taken advantage off. The rest of what happened was just unfortunate.

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