Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Sepang International Circuit, 2017

Raikkonen’s big chance to end his 91-race wait for a win

2017 Malaysian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Sebastian Vettel’s best chance of limiting the damage to his championship chances this weekend arguably rest in his team mate’s hands.

With Vettel doomed to start last following his power unit failure in qualifying, Kimi Raikkonen is Ferrari’s best chance of victory this weekend. And despite missing out on pole position he is still in good shape.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sepang International Circuit, 2017
Malaysian GP qualifying and final practice in pictures
Had it not been for a minor error at the final corner Raikkonen might have been the one starting from pole instead of Lewis Hamilton. The long, wide run to turn one should offer all involved plenty of room to avoid any Singapore-style gaffes. And the 683 metre stretch is going to make it hard for anyone to out-drag Hamilton’s Mercedes.

But from there on the race could turn in Raikkonen’s favour. With Vettel starting so far back he won’t have to worry about getting a second-rate strategy, as some felt he did in Monaco and Hungary. Ferrari want him up there, taking points off Hamilton.

Raikkonen’s race pace is almost invariably stronger than his one-lap pace. Hamilton and Mercedes did great work to conjure a great lap out of a misbehaving car in qualifying, but getting the best out of it for 56 consecutive laps is a different matter. And in this area Ferrari has tended to be a bit stronger than Mercedes, particularly in the hot conditions typical of Sepang.

The weather cannot betaken for granted, of course. And as Friday demonstrated, if we get another of those characteristic Sepang downpours it could play into Red Bull’s hands.

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Starting last is obviously a blow for Vettel. But even if the race stays dry he should be able to come away with sixth place at minimum, such is the pace advantage the top three teams have over the rest. One-stop strategies are likely to be the norm, but Vettel could wield his stockpile of untouched super-softs to aid his progress through the field.

In Singapore last year he was consigned to starting at the back due to technical problems in qualifying. On that occasion he climbed from 22nd to fifth on a circuit much less conducive to overtaking than Sepang, albeit aided by an early Safety Car.

He took the chequered flag one place behind Raikkonen. An intriguing question is what would Ferrari do under similar circumstances this weekend. If Raikkonen fails to finish ahead of Hamilton he championship chances will be over. So would Ferrari pre-empt that on the final lap by having their drivers swap positions?

That would be the most depressing possible outcome for Raikkonen. But a much better result is a realistic possibility.

Qualifying times in full

DriverCarQ1

Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’31.6051’30.977 (-0.628)1’30.076 (-0.901)
2Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’32.2591’30.926 (-1.333)1’30.121 (-0.805)
3Max VerstappenRed Bull1’31.9201’30.931 (-0.989)1’30.541 (-0.390)
4Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’32.4161’31.061 (-1.355)1’30.595 (-0.466)
5Valtteri BottasMercedes1’32.2541’30.803 (-1.451)1’30.758 (-0.045)
6Esteban OconForce India1’32.5271’31.651 (-0.876)1’31.478 (-0.173)
7Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1’32.8381’31.848 (-0.990)1’31.582 (-0.266)
8Nico HulkenbergRenault1’32.5861’31.778 (-0.808)1’31.607 (-0.171)
9Sergio PerezForce India1’32.7681’31.484 (-1.284)1’31.658 (+0.174)
10Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’33.0491’32.010 (-1.039)1’31.704 (-0.306)
11Felipe MassaWilliams1’32.2671’32.034 (-0.233)
12Jolyon PalmerRenault1’32.5761’32.100 (-0.476)
13Lance StrollWilliams1’33.0001’32.307 (-0.693)
14Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso1’32.6501’32.402 (-0.248)
15Pierre GaslyToro Rosso1’32.5471’32.558 (+0.011)
16Romain GrosjeanHaas1’33.308
17Kevin MagnussenHaas1’33.434
18Pascal WehrleinSauber1’33.483
19Marcus EricssonSauber1’33.970
20Sebastian VettelFerrari

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton23.416 (1)29.696 (2)36.905 (1)
Kimi Raikkonen23.421 (2)29.690 (1)37.010 (2)
Max Verstappen23.561 (4)29.817 (3)37.091 (5)
Daniel Ricciardo23.633 (7)29.853 (4)37.083 (4)
Valtteri Bottas23.577 (5)30.000 (5)37.081 (3)
Esteban Ocon23.583 (6)30.357 (11)37.538 (8)
Stoffel Vandoorne24.052 (15)30.099 (6)37.352 (6)
Nico Hulkenberg23.795 (8)30.126 (7)37.655 (11)
Sergio Perez23.551 (3)30.330 (9)37.432 (7)
Fernando Alonso23.984 (14)30.160 (8)37.560 (9)
Felipe Massa23.854 (10)30.341 (10)37.640 (10)
Jolyon Palmer23.839 (9)30.394 (12)37.733 (12)
Lance Stroll23.904 (12)30.408 (13)37.958 (15)
Carlos Sainz Jnr23.901 (11)30.462 (14)37.884 (14)
Pierre Gasly23.970 (13)30.603 (15)37.844 (13)
Romain Grosjean24.198 (16)30.867 (16)38.243 (17)
Kevin Magnussen24.205 (17)31.014 (18)38.215 (16)
Pascal Wehrlein24.245 (18)30.948 (17)38.290 (18)
Marcus Ericsson24.277 (19)31.146 (19)38.547 (19)
Sebastian Vettel24.374 (20)36.357 (20)48.073 (20)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes327.1 (203.3)
2Lance StrollWilliamsMercedes326.2 (202.7)-0.9
3Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes325.9 (202.5)-1.2
4Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes324.3 (201.5)-2.8
5Esteban OconForce IndiaMercedes324.1 (201.4)-3.0
6Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari323.8 (201.2)-3.3
7Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes323.6 (201.1)-3.5
8Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari322.0 (200.1)-5.1
9Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari320.8 (199.3)-6.3
10Nico HulkenbergRenaultRenault320.7 (199.3)-6.4
11Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG Heuer319.9 (198.8)-7.2
12Max VerstappenRed BullTAG Heuer319.6 (198.6)-7.5
13Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoRenault319.4 (198.5)-7.7
14Pierre GaslyToro RossoRenault318.4 (197.8)-8.7
15Jolyon PalmerRenaultRenault317.9 (197.5)-9.2
16Pascal WehrleinSauberFerrari316.0 (196.4)-11.1
17Stoffel VandoorneMcLarenHonda313.3 (194.7)-13.8
18Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda311.3 (193.4)-15.8
19Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari311.2 (193.4)-15.9
20Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari156.1 (97.0)-171.0

Drivers remaining tyres

DriverTeamMediumSoftSuper-soft
NewUsedNewUsedNewUsed
Lewis HamiltonMercedes101103
Valtteri BottasMercedes101103
Daniel RicciardoRed Bull101004
Max VerstappenRed Bull101112
Sebastian VettelFerrari101140
Kimi RaikkonenFerrari101112
Sergio PerezForce India101004
Esteban OconForce India101004
Felipe MassaWilliams101014
Lance StrollWilliams011014
Fernando AlonsoMcLaren011004
Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren011013
Daniil KvyatToro Rosso011014
Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso011014
Romain GrosjeanHaas011032
Kevin MagnussenHaas011032
Nico HulkenbergRenault101004
Jolyon PalmerRenault101014
Marcus EricssonSauber012013
Pascal WehrleinSauber012013

Over to you

Can Raikkonen deny Hamilton another victory? Where will Vettel finish from last on the grid?

Share your views on the Malaysian Grand Prix in the comments.

2017 Malaysian Grand Prix

Browse all 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix articles

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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23 comments on “Raikkonen’s big chance to end his 91-race wait for a win”

  1. One thing I’ve learned from being a Raikkonen fan these last few years is never to expect too much. I’ve had hopes shattered quite a few times. He does have as good a chance tomorrow as he’s had at any point since his Ferrari return, and there’s reason for Ferrari to give him the perfect strategy in that Vettel is out of the picture for victory.

    1. I wouldn’t want Ferrari’s best strategy, it reminds me of Shanghai and Monaco. Honestly I think Lewis lap had a lot of room for improvement, I don’t think that the Ferrari can keep up with the race pace and as SPA showcased, Ferrari can’t overtake a Mercedes not even with a good run. Raikkonen’s best chance was Monaco and Raikkonen ruined it, really good setup for qualifying very poor race pace. If Raikkonen can get past Lewis at the start I give him a 50% chance of doing it and 25% if Bottas manages to get 3rd at the start.

  2. That would be the most depressing possible outcome for Raikkonen.

    And therefore it’s more likely that it will happen. Just the Raikkonen rule these days.

    1. Seb is likely to gain much. He’ll get a great benefit with the installation of new piece all 5 PU components. Note the ICE is the evo one, early foresee debut in Japan. My bet Seb’ll find himself best than 5th and close to Kimi. At point the positions swap will be a great dilemma. I’d go for Kimi anyway, he deserve the victory chance and fairness from Team, he already helped Seb with the steel problem coverage.

  3. Something is wrong with the sector 3 times , isn’t there!

      1. Don’t apologies keith, things like that is normal to happened. After all we are just humans. keep up the good work!

  4. As much as I’d like a Raikkonen win (and I think it would also give F1 a much needed boost period), I genuinely think he’s forgotten how to win, but my fingers are crossed. Forza Kimi!

    1. Actually think vestappen has a much better chance of winning this from 3rd, than Raikkonen. I don’t think he has forgotten to win though. The start is going to be the most important thing. If Lewis get into the lead, he will just manage the pace. That car in clean air, even without knowing how they will manage their tyre, is beast.

  5. Like @sravan-pe & @baron said, I’ve felt let down often enough by Kimi underperforming – be it due to his driving, his machinery, strategy or pure bad luck. I’m not going to hold my breath for Kimi on the podium, let alone a victory.

  6. Kimi’s overdue for a win in his 2nd career at Ferrari. Ferrari owe him one after he’s playing the #2 role all year.

    1. Kimi has played #2 role because of Kimi and Kimi alone, it hasn’t been like Mercedes.

      1. ti hasn’t been like Mercedes

        Well that’s nonsense.

    2. Kimi is number 2 because he cant beat seb

  7. I’m guessing it’ll be an easy win for Hamilton. The problems in practice were again one of those imaginary issues that always seem to come up – like when we hear Hamilton reporting problems on his radio, yet he keeps on going – and he still wins.

    Räikkönen versus the Red Bulls is an interesting one to watch, as they should be able to split strategy to attack him. Although, of course, Verstappen is due to retire again, so it might not matter that much. Bottas should snatch a lonely fourth or fifth, while Vettel should grab a sixth easily.

    1. Although I am convinced the race pace of the Mercedes, including the one from Lewis, will be not so good as during qualifying, I also think Hamilton is the most likely winner, as we seen that the driver in clean air during the first lap is almost able to pull a (significant, for just one lap) gap and then manage. Of course that all depends how close the peloton (being Raikkonen or the Red Bulls) will stay to manage passing via a different strategy (undercut or running longer).
      So I think we have 60% chances of the championship being decided after this race (a win for Hamilton should allow him to comfortably keep the lead until the end).

    2. @kaiie It’s been like that since the new PU era. It’s almost as if Lewis has the need to portrait how hard and how good he’s been, like the McLaren SPA telemetry debacle. I think it’s the fear of being known as he made Vettel look like as a 4 times world champ for RB. I don’t think Ham has anything to be ashamed of, he has had 1 or 2 bad weekends per season for 4 seasons, that’s astonishing.

  8. An intriguing question is what would Ferrari do under similar circumstances this weekend. If Raikkonen fails to finish ahead of Hamilton he championship chances will be over. So would Ferrari pre-empt that on the final lap by having their drivers swap positions?

    Even more intriguing, if Raikkonen is behind Hamilton at the end, but several places ahead of Vettel, what will they do? Get him to lose positions until Vettel can get past him? It would be the cold-blooded Ferrari way of maximizing the points for their number 1 driver.

  9. Raikkonen chances of scoring a win tomorrow will depend on the fact that if he can make it to the 3rd corner without losing the place to Verstappen because if he falls behind him he will ruin his tyres while trying to overtake and Hamilton will run away with it.
    If he manages to keep his position after the 1st lap he’ll be in a good shape for the win given Ferrari’s strong race pace and his superior tyre management skills. That said, external factors like strategy, safety car, reliability and changeable conditions mean that anyone from Rai,Hamilton,VER and even Daniel could actually win the race. A podium for Vettel could be also possible.

  10. As I already said Thursday. Hamilton all the way. Accept it. Kimi is even showing more sessions in which he wastes getting a more optimal time. Kimi fans should let that fact rest and take comfort knowing he would’ve probably won Singapore. I think what we should watch out more for is the RB vs RB fight, if the cars stays alive, it will turn tense or even ugly.
    In the rain Kimi will have better chances but I think they’ll indeed decide to switch him if Vettel lines-up behind the RBs and then Kimi will not get a chance anyway. It looks like the FIs in particular could bring it to RB if they can’t out-drag or outsmart Kimi. Vettel will be there too but the pack will need a SC as the rain will not be a classic thunderstorm but rather a steady drizzle, so if you won’t see it around the start, it will probably come too late.

    Gasly is something to watch out for. But Vandoorne will be the true MVP. The Honda has no place in this field, so Alonso’s first start shenanigans will not get him that much, which means he’ll need to beat Vandoorne in pure race pace, maybe even in changeable conditions and finally we’ll see Alonso’s overstated on-track legend status starting to crumble. And Palmer will again show what I thought 2 years ago; a lot of truly unintelligent anonymous opinions on Maldonado maybe had nothing to do with his on-track qualities but more with him not having a particular flag near to his name.

    So only two things that can screw this boring race up: ”Oh noooo! Noooo! …….” or a ridiculous jump start of Verstappen in which Kimi doesn’t cut him off as he’ll need to cut Kimi off or just be out-dragged to the outside.

  11. Bwaah… I ll just crash on Verstappen…

  12. Dan and Max have different amount of tyres left which places Dan at a disadvantage.

    Max has an extra 2 sets of new tyres over Dan.

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