Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2018

Will Raikkonen lead the Ferrari charge? Five Bahrain talking points

2018 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Did Australia show Kimi Raikkonen is Ferrari’s lead driver at the beginning of 2018? And can Haas deliver this time? Five talking points for this weekend’s race.

Can Raikkonen assert himself at Ferrari?

Raikkonen out-qualified Sebastian Vettel in Melbourne and probably would have finished in front of him if it hadn’t been for the Virtual Safety Car. Vettel admitted he didn’t get as much out of the car as his team mate, who seems more at ease with the SF71H’s handling. How long can Raikkonen sustain this advantage?

If he is ahead again, he could be well-placed to end his five-year victory drought. Mercedes have been strong here in the past and took pole position for all of the last five Bahrain Grands Prix, but Ferrari turned the tables on them in the race last year.

Lewis Hamilton believes the red cars’ straight-line speed will make them a threat this weekend. Mercedes ran closer to the limit of cooling in Australia and in the heat of Bahrain may be forced to make bigger concessions to look after their power units.

Raikkonen gives little away out of the car but his anxiousness to convert his early-season advantage over Vettel was clear from a mid-race radio message punctuated with expletives in which he complained the team hadn’t kept him briefed on Vettel’s pace.

Will Red Bull show their real potential?

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Albert Park, 2018
Round one was frustrating for Verstappen
Melbourne gave little real insight into the true pace of Red Bull. As Christian Horner explained after the race both cars spent much of the afternoon in traffic.

Starting both cars on the harder super-soft tyres was arguably an error as it left them vulnerable on lap one, which proved Max Verstappen’s undoing. But Daniel Ricciardo’s pursuit of Raikkonen over the final laps gave them cause for cheer.

Can Bottas bounce back?

Last year Valtteri Bottas claimed his first career pole position in Bahrain, edging Hamilton out by two hundredths of a second. He badly needs a repeat of that kind of performance this weekend after his crash in qualifying two weeks ago.

The question hanging over Bottas is whether he has reversed the dip he entered in the second half of last year. Yes, he ended 2017 with two poles and a win, but how much of that was aided by Hamilton ‘phoning in’ his post-title performances? His Australian Grand Prix troubles invite the interpretation that he still isn’t operating at the level he needs to.

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Are Haas going to be even quicker?

Haas provided the surprise of Melbourne and were on course for a superb result before two shoddy pit stops wrecked their weekend.

Getting to the bottom of what went wrong in the pits is job one. The second question is whether they will be as quick again, and the signs are positive. Grosjean believes the car will perform better in warm conditions and suggested they could be in even stronger shape this weekend.

Liberty’s big plans

The big off-track story this weekend looks set to be Ross Brawn’s briefing to the teams on Friday, at which he will present his vision for the sport in 2021.

The future of the sport potentially hangs on how Brawn proposes to address F1’s myriad challenges. Read Dieter Rencken’s assessment of the state of play in his new column:

Are you going to the Bahrain Grand Prix?

If you’re heading to Bahrain for this weekend’s race, we want to hear from you.

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the Bahrain Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

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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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24 comments on “Will Raikkonen lead the Ferrari charge? Five Bahrain talking points”

  1. Can’t see how start on the super softs was an error.
    The way Verstappen started would cost him the position to Magnussen regardless of which tyre he was on.

    1. He had a great start but with softer tires he could have passed VET before the corner. Now VET pushed him to the right and MAG could pass on the outside.
      But.. what if… is always very tricky ;)

      1. Really ?!

        VET didn’t even defend his position against VER at the start, he just kept in his line. The Dutch kid had to conceed and MAG took his chance and overtook him.

        Simple as that.

        1. ILoveConspiracyTheories
          5th April 2018, 13:32

          Really ?! (or how Vettel would have put it, Seriously?!)

          If defending means crashing into the car next to you then Vettel indeed did not defend. In any other definition of defending, Vettel did very well in holding off Verstappen by going to the inside and also creating a gap to pass Kimi on that same inside as well. He had to move from his line otherwise he would have been passed by Verstappen in the same way as he now passed Kimi.

  2. He perhaps would have got a better getaway if he were using the same softer tyres as the people around him..?

    1. But the main problem was not the getaway, it was how he positioned himself.

  3. Vettel fan 17 (@)
    4th April 2018, 17:56

    I think Raikkonen could win here, he’s done well and looks good in the Ferrari.

    1. lol….

    2. Ferrari would never allow that.

      1. Be Hopeful that “Anybody” could win here. The added breaking zone into t1 may hinder Grosjean, Hammy might party too much, Seb might not smile so much, the rookies come into play … Should be more interesting than last year … and that is a short putt (golf term).

      2. Ofcourse they would. He just needs to be faster than Hamilton and Vettel and have the luck on his side.

    3. Raikkonen is the same Raikkonen as last year. Seb is the one behind, not comfortable in the car. It all depends on his statements end of Friday – if he says the gremlins are still there, then it’s Kimi’s chance!

      1. “Raikkonen is the same Raikkonen as last year. ”

        How can we say that? All drivers out there are trying their best to be better than their teammates.

        Where Kimi normally loses is in his qualifying. While Vettel starts from P2 or P3, Kimi only manages to start from P4 or even P5. If Vettel and Kimi were driving Mercedes, their points difference would have been smaller as the Merc cars are super fast in qualifying.

        So if Kimi can keep up his qualifying pace, it’s going to be good for him, but the chances are slim as we all know that Vettel is strong in qualifying. The bad news is Redbulls are closer than previous years, so the slightest error can throw the driver from P3 to P6 in qualifying.

    4. Doubt his own team will let him win. Unless Vettel is behind kimi with a car in between them. I see them Ferrari fighting tooth and to give Vettel the win.

  4. I would love to see Kimi winning again

  5. Raveendhana
    5th April 2018, 4:27

    Whatever Haas buys from Ferrari as a customer team will Ferrari allow has to win a championship one day? , And what after the 4th in constructors championship if they attain this year? Am not against the model of Hass buying everything from Ferrari as much as they can but what is the point?

    1. The point is Haas is a marketing exercise, Gene Haas wants to sell machine tools. It’s better for marketing if his cars are closer to the front of the pack. It’s easier to get to the front if you buy in all the non-listed parts from an established manufacturer.

      It also makes sense for Ferrari because selling parts to Haas generates income for them.

      1. Correct, who cares about championship, they need to be competitive enough to fill the news. And all that on a limited budget.

  6. Kimi will lead the Ferraris
    But Ferraris won’t win. They were the 3rd fastest team in Australia. It was just bizarre errors by the other 3 drivers (Daniel: penalty, Bottas: Crash, Max: Q3 mistake) and misfortune of Lewis which resulted in a 1-3 result. Given a normal race, I expect Ferrari to be 5-6 and they will engineer Seb to finish ahead of Kimi.

  7. If Ferrari is first and Kimi ahead of Vettel on pure pace. That would be an excellent news.

    Seb suggested Kimi can work around the cars defecits better and was faster because of it.

    But because of those defecits Ferrari is less competitive in general. They wont ne anywhere near Mercedes while loosing time in every corner.

  8. In an ideal world: the lead Ferrari car in the race should be given the best strategy. But historically, that has not been the case.

    1. FlatSix (@)
      5th April 2018, 13:37

      @pinakghosh Depends where you look, on track or in the standings.

      1. Or in the lead driver status.

  9. When has Raikkonen seemed faster than his teammate in Australia? Whenever it doesn’t matter in a race weekend as he always does. It’s like this was the first weekend people have seen Raikkonen be faster than his teammate on a friday… Raikkonen fans certainly blow things out of proportion and then get disappointed lol. I’d say it’s weird from F1 reporters though, but I think their messed up way of bringing the news to the audience and interpreting the data prevails as always.

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