Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen, Shanghai International Circuit, 2018

Analysis: How Ferrari’s Vettel-first strategy ruined Raikkonen’s race

2018 Chinese Grand Prix

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Formula One strategy is often likened to a game of chess. If that’s true then on Sunday Kimi Raikkonen was the pawn Ferrari sacrificed for king Sebastian Vettel.

That wasn’t obvious after the chequered flag fell and Raikkonen came in third place well ahead of his team mate. But had it not been for the mid-race Safety Car period, Raikkonen would have finished the race sixth, last of the ‘big three’ teams’ drivers’, having lined up on the front row. How did this happen?

What Ferrari had in mind for Raikkonen started to become clear on lap 17. Having slipped to fourth at the start, he was pursuing Max Verstappen.

On lap 16 Red Bull daringly pitted both their cars at once. This was a double blow for Raikkonen: he’d missed the chance to attack Verstappen by pitting before him, as the Red Bull driver now had the benefit of fresher tyres; and now Daniel Ricciardo in the other Red Bull behind him was closing on fresher tyres.

Lewis Hamilton was also under threat from Ricciardo and Mercedes wasted no time bringing him in. Ferrari left Raikkonen out and within a couple of laps Hamilton and Ricciardo had ‘gapped’ him – they were now close enough that Raikkonen would fall behind them when he pitted.

“Look at Kimi’s race,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner commented afterwards. “I didn’t understand that strategy.” But its purpose was becoming clear around the time Ricciardo got close enough to jump him.

But by then another crucial development had occured: Valtteri Bottas had pitted from second place and was putting Vettel under pressure from the lead. On lap 21 Vettel rejoined the track behind the Mercedes:

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By now Raikkonen was past the point of no return with his strategy: He was going to come out last of the front-runners. Under the circumstances the only use Ferrari had left for him was to try to delay Bottas and help Vettel catch up, or even pass.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Shanghai International Circuit, 2018
Raikkonen: “At one point it didn’t look good at all”
For six laps Raikkonen circulated at the head of the field losing one-and-a-half to two seconds per lap to his pursuers. But when Bottas caught him at the start of lap 27 the Mercedes easily got around him on the outside of turn two. With tyres that were as wrecked as his race, it’s hardly a surprise Raikkonen didn’t put up more of a fight.

Of course there’s nothing new about teams using one of their cars to compromise the race of a rival. In Spain last year Bottas performed a similar role to hold off Vettel, helping Hamilton to win.

The difference on that occasion was Mercedes didn’t compromise Bottas’s strategy in order to deploy him tactically to help Hamilton. Bottas was on course to finish third regardless (and was eventually stopped by engine failure.)

The Safety Car and the drama it triggered meant Raikkonen eventually finished third. “I’ll take what I got because at one point it didn’t look good at all,” he said afterwards. It’s likely that without the Safety Car he would have finished sixth, even worse than the fourth place he had fallen to at the start.

Ironically Vettel might not have come under threat from Bottas in the first place had he given Raikkonen more room into turn one at the start. By squeezing his team mate Vettel helped Bottas by and Verstappen also got a run on the Ferrari, leaving Raikkonen fourth. Ferrari’s Vettel-first strategy did the rest of the damage.

On more than one occasion last year Raikkonen could justifiably claim Ferrari had given him a less favourable strategy to help Vettel win. Now, just three races into 2018, Ferrari’s most recent world champion has become the team’s sacrificial pawn.

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Start, Shanghai International Circuit, 2018
Leaving Raikkonen a bit more room might have helped Vettel in the long run

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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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  • 88 comments on “Analysis: How Ferrari’s Vettel-first strategy ruined Raikkonen’s race”

    1. Vettel’s move at the first corner, while fair in a racing sense, was a very poor move on his part for the team, and a risky one given what happened the last time he did that, in Singapore.

      It was immediately clear what Ferrari were trying to do when Räikkönen stayed out, it made sense, but it would not have been necessary had Ferrari’s strategists not been asleep when Bottas came in

      1. I agree. He didn’t have to block Kimi that hard on the start. When he lost the lead to Bottas I thought “well you had this coming”.

        1. @afonic – I think Alonso’s move on Vettel was more appropriate karmic payback :-) Especially as it wasn’t investigated/penalized.

          1. Nevertheless strange in relation to the media storm about VER’s move earlier..
            Alonso stretched the rules by a mile….

            1. @seth-space even stranger the criticism of finger boy for defending the position at the start, the criticism of Ver’s move on Hamilton, while the Kimoa one is deemed as “ruthless”, and that’s the way to do it, had Vettel not moved over outside of the track and a collision would have been certain, just like Max and Hamilton.

            2. Happens all the time. Sainz did the same to ALO last year in Hungary. VET would have done the same to ALO.
              Perhaps payback for VET doing the same thing to ALO in Brazil 2 years ago.
              BTW, I believe it was Brundle claimed ALO did nothing wrong. Afterall, VET was damaged and should have let ALO through in the first place.
              I noticed Ferrari pit did not respond when Vettel whined about it.

            3. All da time you have to leave da space

            4. Nevertheless strange in relation to the media storm about VER’s move earlier..
              Alonso stretched the rules by a mile…. – Never seen you say something even remotely close about Max’ dozens of dubious moments. But wait, I forgot, sethje = dutch Max-fanboy.
              Btw, Alo’s move wasn’t even remotely controversial as Max’ was. Max basically took Vet out. And to add things up, it was already his second blunder of the race and so manyth this season. Tháts why there was a lot more going on about him than Alo.
              Alo, despite getting the worse of things bc of the SC, finished 7th, the maximum his car was able to do. Max on the other hand threw away a victory, big time, and can consider himself very lucky being classified 5th. That 10 sec penalty was a joke.

            5. One huge difference though. Alonso took the racing line. Verstappen did NOT, but he simply shoved Hamilton off track far away from the racing line (an offense for which penalties are usually handed out).

            6. Alonso and Vettel did not touch….therefore no incident to be investigated!

          2. @seth-space – agreed, it was an extremely aggressive – and unwarranted – move, seeing as how Alonso had the pace to catch Vettel.

            1. Vettels car was damaged so Alonso would not have caught him in a normal race.

        2. Same for me, I think Vettels chop across Kimi totally messed up Ferraris race, and Vettel is 100% to blame. Its about time Marchionne put his foot down with fingerboy or he should take a course in common sense!

      2. I agree @strontium @afonic . A competitor might not yield and they might bang wheels. A team-mate in another team (such as FI) might not yield either.

        It has been said and written that Kimi and Vettel are friends off-track. I don’t know about them, but I would not be happy if my friend chopped across me like that.

      3. @strontium Could it be Vettel feels being (very slightly) threatened by Kimi pace this year? Last year Kimi is no threat at all, but in all races we had in 2018 so far, Kimi is being far more closer to Vettel. The big gap in points is mostly because Vettel luck in Australia and Ferrari sacrificing Kimi in Bahrain (testing 2 stop performance although it failed because the incident) and China.

        I think Vettel must realize going into China that without his VSC luck in Australia and Kimi unsafe release incident in Bahrain, Kimi should be much closer to him in standings if not a bit ahead of him. We know Ferrari is ruthless to their second driver and 2008 proved that given right circumstance, even a defending WDC can be dropped into 2nd driver status that easily.

      4. I think it is easy to say in hindsight what might have happened had SV not squeezed Kimi so much at the start, but in reality all SV was trying to do was take the first corner and run away with the race. He couldn’t possibly have known that his move would put Kimi to fourth and hurt him (SV) later on in the race. I don’t know how a driver jumping off from the front of the grid at the start, can possibly plan what is going on behind him, all the while just trying to blast down to the first corner and own it and keep the car between the ditches at the same time. Trying to accommodate Kimi for second through the first corner could have just as easily seen SV in fourth after the first turn.

    2. It’s been like this for years, no news. It is sad though, because what’s the point of having a guy with quite a bit of talent playing second fiddle, and also paying him a hefty salary?

      1. @eljueta this is the big question. Ferrari has a long history of a clear difference between driver roles, something that I agree with being a Ferrari fan. But this is much more achievable if you have a second driver who’s not a WC and with a few hundredths of a second difference with your “king”.

        I don’t know what Kimi’s contract states, maybe he’s actually the second driver but in some situations, he may be faster than Seb and this always poses a problem at the beginning of the season.

        I’d like to add, anyway, that it’s also Kimi’s “fault” in a way; we all know what’s the hierarchy at Ferrari. If he decided to sign for another season he agreed with being sacrificable.

      2. Formula One strategy is often likened to a game of chess. If that’s true then on Sunday Kimi Raikkonen was the pawn Ferrari sacrificed for king Sebastian Vettel.

        Sure looked like it, however where’s last week’s article for Hamilton being the pawn for King Bottas at Bahrain. There’s been 4 occasions where Bottas was the pawn and 1 where Hamilton was the pawn, it wasn’t just Spain last year.
        Ferrari botched Vettel’s strategy and seemingly held on to what was left, desperately use Raikkonen for the team. It didn’t work out, it generally does not, particularly if you aren’t a mercedes, as they in race pace are still almost impossible to take on the straights.

        Ferrari’s only justification for leaving Raikkonen out, would be that, Kimi was the only car on a realistic 1 stopper anyway ideally Kimi would’ve pitted before getting caught by Bottas.

        1. That was my thought. If SC had not been deployed, could Kimi have done a one stopper, surely others would have had to stop.

        2. @peartree

          however where’s last week’s article for Hamilton being the pawn for King Bottas at Bahrain. There’s been 4 occasions where Bottas was the pawn and 1 where Hamilton was the pawn, it wasn’t just Spain last year.

          See the section from “Of course there’s nothing new…” to “…eventually stopped by engine failure.)”

    3. Ferrari form their strategy around a single driver. Using Räikkönen as a bludgeon might help Vettel in the fight against the Mercedes drivers, but it will likely make Ferrari lose the constructors’ championship as a result. It also makes them seem more desperate than they should have to be if they truly have the fastest car.

      These sort of strategies are also not the best marketing pitch if Ferrari want to attract talented drivers to the dream. I mean why would someone like Ricciardo, Verstappen or Hulkenberg join Ferrari just to be treated like Kimi?

    4. Kimi: “Bwoah.!! Obviously i am the number 2 driver in the team and i tried finishing behind Vettel. But obviously there was a safety car and obviously things didn’t go our way in the race.”

      Its sad that a former World Champion is being pushed to such lows.
      How about a swap between Ferrari and RBR ? Kimi can mentor Max.
      Vettel can say goodbye to his veto and welcome his teammate of Italian origin . Dare to dream !!

      1. @webtel I would love to see Ricciardo in red (is there anybody out there disliking this guy? Other than Max I mean), but in the only year spent with Seb he was faster; this may pose a problem.

        > Kimi can mentor Max

        Do you know that you need to speak to mentor someone, right? :)

        1. I don’t dislike Ricciardo, but I detest the shoey, so I’m not looking forward to his race wins ;)

          1. @maroonjack – I don’t watch the podium ceremony for the same reason. It’s charming in a way, but also disgusting :-) I don’t mind some one-hit wonder like Pastor having such a habit, but when a driver of Ricciardo’s caliber does it, it becomes once too often!

            That said, of all the drivers I’ve seen in the past 10 years or so, I think Daniel’s the only one with the pleasant personality, charm and likeability to pull such a thing off.

            1. @maroonjack @phylyp can I ask you where are you from (to see if this has some cultural basis)? It’s interesting to see such a disgust, I really don’t care and it’s funny to me more than disgusting. I would have no problem doing the same, not sure with another person’s shoe but probably neither.

            2. @m-bagattini – pretty sure it’s not cultural in my case. I’m Indian, and we traditionally revere the feet of elders and superiors (hence our tradition of touching their feet as a sign of respect). That said, I don’t give much by that tradition, and can say I’ve never touched anyone’s feet ever for those reasons.

              My reaction comes simply from this – having gone through my school years playing sports, I can testify to the phenomenal grossness of feet/socks/shoes after physical activity.

              So… yeah, that’s the reason why I have that visceral reaction to the shoey. But hey, like I said, Daniel’s such a nice guy that only he can pull this off!

          2. Indeed, the first time it was funny, the second time less so but it’s just disgusting to watch. Ik litteraly turned of the tv for a couple of minutes just not to see it.

            But i do think Ricciardo should take notice of this, Ferrari have almost Always worked with a clear number one and number two. And given the politics and Seb’s position in the team i think Ricciardo will be the sacreficial lamb if he puts on red overalls. And he not that kind of guy.

        2. is there anybody out there disliking this guy? Other than Max I mean)

          Max and Daniel are one of the best sriver pairings and even their working relation is above par. So where did that fantasy come from?

          1. @seth-space from the fact that I believe there’s a big mask on them. “Sore loser” is the definition given by Daniel to Max on track last year (yeah, yeah, heat of the moment). I simply don’t think that you can be an F1 driver (or any high-level driver) without being self-centered and egoist. It’s always easy to be friend when you’re fighting for the nth place, let’s see what happens if they are WC contenters.

          2. @seth-space Just like Rosberg and Hamilton were “best mates” before 2014.

            1. Of course it’s very possible that i will change.. But at the moment they seem “best friends ” So no indication for the strange remark by Matteo.
              And of course every driver is self centered and every driver (or other top sport) shout stupid things in the heat of the moment. Filled with Adrenalin and explosive in reactions..

            2. i = it

        3. @m-bagattini

          To be fair to Kimi, he has been relatively more outspoken this season.

          speculation:
          And wrt, Ferrari, Sebastian does have a Veto. Now what this means is anyone joining the team is certainly a no.2 driver and if Kimi decides to hang his boots this year, then maybe a chance for Perez (he’s driving a merc engine, but Perez is on his own and brings in loads of sponsorship money) or someone like Ro’moan’ Grosjean ? Giving the drive to a junior like Leclerc would be unwise imo…

    5. I just wonder if Seb left enough room for Kimi, Bottas might not have overtaken him and could have possibly prevented him from losing the race. Although, Ferrari’s way of using Kimi has been absolutely worse than Mercedes’ on Valterri.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        17th April 2018, 14:44

        @krichelle Excellent point about Vettel potentially costing himself the win there – not to mention that had Kimi had a good start, they could have run into each other as they did in Singapore. Not sure why Vettel would even care to cover Kimi since Kimi is his wingmate and is covering him but I suspect there was another reason and Kimi may have known what Vettel was going to do at the start of the race – it did look very clean for 2 drivers fighting for P1 and P2.

        In the unlikely event that Kimi was P1 and Vettel P2, we all know that Ferrari would have reversed that through strategy.

        It’s more likely that Vettel was covering Hamilton, not Kimi and was just adding support there by doubling the cars in case he managed to overtake 1 or they simply wanted to push Lewis back by allowing Max to pass Lewis.

        This seems more likely because the real threat to Ferrari and Vettel in their eyes is Lewis.

      2. @krichelle what lost him the race was his and Ferrari’s apathy when they should have pushed at the time of the pit-stops. Plus the incident with Max.

      3. @krichelle I fail to see how Mercedes giving Bottas bad treatment? In fact Mercedes probably the most fair team out there that stick to their rule of whoever in front get the preferred strategy. The problem is the other side of the garage is Hamilton who much more often being in front, but we see time and time again when Bottas (or Rosberg) is in front of Hamilton, they got the optimum strategy and Hamilton also plays the team game when he’s in back.

        1. That is exactly my point.

    6. digitalrurouni
      17th April 2018, 12:50

      I wonder if Kimi wasn’t Kimi then would this treatment of him continue? Meaning if he ever showed true grit or like a determination or raged or something. He’s just too cool and calm. Vettel throughout his career always needs everyone to rally around him as do a lot of other drivers too to bring out the best in him. I hate how Kimi gets treated. Taints my view of Vettel quite a bit as a result. Never been a huge Ferrari F1 team fan though.

      1. Even Schumi often let Irvine trough at the start and then politely ask the position back

      2. How about massa or Rubens playing 2nd? Or alesi, or whoever. Since the 80s (when i started watching it, cant say from before) its been that way.
        Kimi even played second for massa in 2008 or so. I was at interlagos too. Koba drove for Toyota and overtook button then. Barrichello was pole but only because he had less fuel than button, which showed when he pitted lap11 or so. I believe the championship was lost at the time anyway.

    7. I actually did some digging and I’m not so sure that Bottas situation in Spain last year wasn’t the same as Raikkonen’s this year. Raikkonen lost over 10 seconds within 6 laps here, meanwhile, Vettel caught Bottas within 8 laps of pitting with the same advantage per lap that Bottas had over Raikkonen this time around (so 1.5-2 seconds). Simple maths here tells us that Vettel was even further behind Bottas in Spain than Bottas was compared to Raikkonen in China. While i don’t really remember what strategy Mercedes had been planning to employ during the race, it was clear that they were going to use Bottas to slow down Vettel within a few laps of Vettel pitting. And they basically put all effort to win the race on Hamilton as Bottas was so far behind, the championship doesn’t exactly come into play at this point. Ferrari, as you mention, lost a significant advantage with Raikkonen the moment that the Red Bulls pitted, as that meant he couldn’t jump Verstappen in the pits, so in a worst case scenario, Raikkonen would end up sixth with a big gap to the top 5, best case scenario, he’d be 6th with a smaller gap to the top 5 so at that point it did make sense to use him to slow Bottas down. 10 seconds may sound like a big gap to play with here, but Mercedes used the same tactics when the gap was even bigger in Spain. More than the team focusing on Vettel as their number one driver (which i have no doubt is the case), in this race specifically Ferrari got their strategy wrong when they allowed Red Bull to undercut Raikkonen and the holding up tactics were a result of them already having lost out to RBR and Hamilton.

    8. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      17th April 2018, 12:56

      I can agree that the strategy heavily did affect him. But Ferrari looked better than Mercedes and he didn’t look at all impressive once Bottas had got him. He also got passed by Verstapen too. He did ick his ace up towards the end of the race and did catch Bottas. But he had the advantage of the gap closing and also had fresher tyres than Bottas. No doubt Ferrari made it worse than it could have been, but he didn’t look impressive either.

    9. jesus christ, that picture

    10. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      17th April 2018, 14:29

      I feel that Raikonnen has been fairly competitive this year – maybe not as good as Seb in 2 out of the 3 races but very close.

      Were it not for the SC their scores would have been as follows:
      Vettel 67-75 points (P1 or P2 in China)
      Raikonnen 23 points (P6 in China)

      He would have had 1/3 of Seb’s points – that’s up to a 52 point differential in 3 races. 52 in 3 races…

      I think the picture on the article doesn’t really capture Kimi’s situation:-)

      1. it seems Kimi can flash during the quali but looses interest and performance during the race. Not strange if you know you will be the sacrificial lamb.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          17th April 2018, 14:57

          @seth-space good point, I wonder what impact the strategy discussions have on Kimi. Obviously Vettel must dominate the discussions since he’s more talkative and speaks Italian. Does Kimi speak Italian?

          1. @freelittlebirds Does Vettel speak Italian? You mean those same 5 words or so he utters every time after he gets pole or a race win? I doubt that gets him very far.

            1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
              18th April 2018, 16:28

              @patrickl
              Don’t remind me – Grazie!!! Ragazzi!!!! Grande Lavoro!!!! Grandissimo!!! Forza Horizon!!!!

              I’m like punching my pillow everytime I hear him say that… I bought new ones with better absorption.

              All kidding aside, I think he’s fluent. I’d seen some documentary from his Toro Rosso days when he was at some house having dinner and he was speaking pretty well. I’m sure by now he’s fluent.

              But Raikonnen is a different story – I imagine he’s super fluent by now.

              I was watching the speech Zidane gave to Real Madrid in the half time against Juventus and he was speaking Spanish fluently which means that Real Madrid’s team (Bale, Modric, Casemiro, Ronaldo) must be fluent in Spanish.

              I assume to drive-e for Scuderia Ferra-aaa-ri you must-e toooo speak-e Italiano :-)

    11. After Ferrari saw how ineffective Raikkonen was at holding the fresh tyres of Bottas off I still can’t comprehend why they didn’t get him in like Red Bull did. He couldn’t have been any worse off and would likely have been at least 2nd.

      It was like they weren’t even bothered where he finished by that point.

      1. They are bothered, but first and foremost, Kimi knows that he’s not lighting up the scoreboards, and will sometimes be called to help*. To me last Sunday’s tactic was poor; holding up Valterri on a track as wide as China is useless. Another track maybe. In any case, it sure did not yield anything.

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        17th April 2018, 15:05

        @philipgb Yeah but it’s possible that Kimi didn’t want to play their game :-) What’s the best way to prevent this from happening again? By letting the other driver through after attempting to mount a defense.

        I think Lewis sort of did the same at Bahrain by defending but not really going bonkers on the defense. If you defend too well, you risk ending up as a defender (that happens all the time in football).

    12. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      17th April 2018, 14:52

      I think Kimi could win a race this season but either Vettel has to have secured the WDC before they’ll allow him to win or Vettel has to be completely out of contention for victory. Otherwise, I imagine Ferrari will use as many points as they can from Kimi to gain a point advantage over Lewis, especially the 7 points between P1 and P2.

      If they could take all of Kimi’s points and add them to Seb, I can’t see them hesitating for a split second.

      On the other hand with Mercedes, I do wonder if Toto would have pitted Lewis in China if he knew that it was the better strategy (they say their software thought that position was better) when it would have cost Valtteri the victory and allowed Lewis to win. Obviously he may have chosen Lewis over Daniel. But if Red Bull had stayed on the mediums, I doubt they would have done it – not because they like one driver more than the other but because they seem to be extremely fair – to a fault almost – when it comes to racing.

    13. It almost seems that Ferrari are more concerned with winning the Drivers’ Championship over the the Constructors Championship.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        17th April 2018, 15:07

        @yulocke yeah, I’m sure when someone says WCC, Maurizio says “the WC what? Si, the WC! That’s around the right in the hallway. Women’s on the left!”

        1. Even from a Driver Championship I would think they should have tried to keep Raikkonen in front of Hamilton during the pitstops, but obviously that didn’t happen.

    14. This is not the first year this has been called into question, and I think it is a trend that will only continue.

      The question for me is “what does Kimi think of it?” and that is an answer we likely will never get considering the amount of talking Kimi does not do.

      He won’t be blind, he will know if he is being treated as a blocker. If he chooses to stay at Ferrari knowing that then it is on his head. The fact he is still about I read as acceptance of this fact.
      I am a quite competitive person, and if I was being treated in that manner my resignation would have been on the bosses desk years ago. Even if it meant being in a car further down the field.

      1. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
        17th April 2018, 18:39

        @captainpie

        Even if it meant being in a car further down the field.

        That’s the problem. This seat is Kimi’s only opportunity. I can’t see any other team signing him.

        1. And also, this seat gives him a realistic chance to win after 5 years, something needs to happen to vettel, or he needs some luck early in the season, which doesn’t seem to happen, see australia.

          He wouldn’t have these issues at a midfield team, but surely he wouldn’t ever be in contention for a win, or even a podium.

          1. Also, it’s quite crazy that he never manages to win a race, I see lots of criticism towards schumacher era, but the various irvine, barrichello, massa won races while being number 2 at ferrari!

            1. @esploratore They won races where Schumacher was out of the race or well out of contention.

            2. Yes, I mean, why does this never happen to raikkonen? Surely he’s better than those, maybe equal to massa, even vettel has off days.

              Guess raikkonen is very unlucky.

      2. @captainpie I felt it was the weirdest when they kept him stuck behind Vettel in Hungary last year. He was tasked with acting as a buffer behind Vettel who had a steering issue. He kept insisting that he be allowed to overtake, but they wouldn’t let him. At some point he must have realized that he was just being used as a pawn to help Vettel’s campaign, but he didn’t act like that at all.

    15. @captainpie Heyyyyy don’t call Kimi docile >:O

      He doesn’t have that choice, you know, to sacrifice his current position at Ferrari for an inferior team to satisfy his pride. At best, he has another year left in the sport and if he wants to win a championship again, his best bet is to stick with Ferrari and keep on fighting to someday be able to prove that he can genuinely be a better WDC contender than Vettel, even with all the odds stacked against him (including poor treatment from his own team). It’s most probably not gonna happen, but I don’t think he has another choice at this point in his career.

      1. @neutronstar
        I don’t think he is docile, he is more like a Swan ;) Calm until provoked, then calm again when the threat is gone. Maybe I just don’t see him getting provoked enough at the moment.

        I get the argument that he is getting older and wants to be competitive and try to win before he finishes, but he has not mentioned retiring yet. Alonso took the route to try and win again with Mclaren, ok so it didn’t pan out so far and he was defacto #1 at Ferrari. But he wasn’t content to just sit and wait and went to be more proactive about it.
        When Kimi came back to F1 in Lotus I thought he was great, maybe more aggressive and more skilled than when he left. But the second he was in the Ferrari all that just disappeared.

    16. Yeah, his situation is not cool, but I’m afraid there was an unwritten part of his contract, he knew about it and accepted it, more exactly that he’ll have to play as a no.2… if he wanted Ferrari to offer him that contract. No other team would have offered RAI, especially after 2014, a top 3 car and a salary of (7+3)mil euro per year. Most teams wouldn’t have hired him anymore because of various reasons (age, slower and inconsistent than ever before, better offers on the market etc), so his options would have been to retire from F1 OR accept to race for a backmarker and a modest salary (1mil at max, more in case he brought sponsors to the team… but do not think he’s that kind of guy). I reckon that Ferrari preferred him because he lost “it” = not big problems for VET to dominate him, therefore less trouble for the team too. Otherwise, GRO or some other driver would have accepted their offer in no time and for a modest salary, but would have caused more trouble to VET and the team, situations a la Schumacher-Barrichello and Alonso-Massa. He’s hoping for better treatment and results, no doubt, but he still wants to stay and he knows very well Ferrari’s contract is overall by far the best thing that can happen to him anymore in F1. This no.2 situation is the “cost” he has to pay.

    17. They should have pitted Raikkonen earlier so he might have stayed in front of Ricciardo and Hamilton. But they let them pass which doesn’t seem logical at all. Especially if they consider Hamilton to be a contender for the championship.

    18. I have a slightly different take on this as I think there is a part of Ferrari’s strategy that should be questioned further and that what they did with Kimi is not as bad as it looked.

      Ferrari’s late response to the Red Bull pit stops was the real error (in hindsight and in my opinion). The undercut has always been powerful in China, and when the RB’s pitted on lap 16 they should have know it was the trigger for the Mercedes to pit also. By leaving their first stop to lap 20, which was always going to be for the leading Ferrari, they risked Vette’ls lead and condemned Kimi to return from the pits in sixth. They should have been more aggressive with Vettel to protect his lead (i.e. not wait for Bottas), or pitted Kimi immediately on lap 17. The fact they did neither was the real error and the part that should be under more scrutiny. I think only after this did they then choose to use Kimi in the way they did.

      I would also argue the strategy with Kimi was not as bad as it looked as by the time the top 5 had pitted on lap 21 he was condemned to sixth place regardless. Pitting him on lap 22 would have looked a lot better on the face of it but would have given him no options or advantage in any way. He simply would have followed the others to the end, albeit running a lot closer. Reversing his strategy to a long first and short final stint gave him a tire advantage, albeit one that was only useful in a ‘what if’ scenario such as a safety car, or if the medium tires fell off a cliff at the end. The fact this also allowed him to hold up Bottas a bit seemed to me to be just a bit of a bonus. In the end this strategy did work to his favour as things panned out.

      I think with Kimi it was more a case of ‘do the same as the others and follow them home’ or ‘do something different and hope for the best’.

    19. I’m not sure what else Ferrari were going to do? I mean Raikkonen was losing touch with Bottas/Vettel right from the get go and after Red Bull decided to double pit, Ferrari’s biggest mistake was leaving him out. They should have pit him right there and then but they didn’t, and within a handful of laps he’s looking at sixth at best. That was the flaw – they should have brought him in and they didn’t.

      At that point I can see why Ferrari left him out – bringing him in would give him sixth, but leaving him out to try and hold up Bottas still would get him sixth. Sure he could have passed the Red Bulls and Hamilton, but he also had that chance earlier but he failed to do it and that’s all on him.

      Having a pop at Ferrari for taking their eye off the ball and messing Raikkonen’s race, sure – but they did that to Vettel too by failing to spot what Mercedes were doing with Bottas, so Ferrari are 100% at fault for messing up both of their driver’s strategies and then compounding that by trying to fix it in the worst ways they could.

      1. @rocketpanda

        Ferrari’s biggest mistake was leaving him out

        I can’t remember watching a race where I’ve been so baffled by what the team were doing. It seemed insane not to bring him in when he was losing chunks of time each lap for no apparent purpose. I’d actually forgotten about it because of the ‘safety car shuffle’ but I still don’t get it. He was supposed to slowdown Bottas? How?! Bottas was always going to breeze past him. As Horner said, it makes no sense.

        And no, I don’t understand why Raikkonen accepts that treatment from Ferrari. He’s had enough pace this year to be challenging for the title. Is it really necessary to sacrifice him 100%, any race, for Vettel’s bid? Does it even make cynical sense?

        1. RAI challenge the title?! How can that be possible?! VET still has the edge although this car seems to fit more RAI’s racing style, Ferrari doesn’t have a dominant car, there’s HAM, VER, RIC and BOT… If you ask me I have doubts he’ll win a race this year too, Mercedes is already fav to win the WCC… really don’t see where RAI’s competitiveness might come from.

          1. @mg1982 He was better than Vettel in Australia and maybe as good in the race in Bahrain. So he’s competing at a similar level. But my point is that, say Vettel has a bunch of mechanical issues or the like, Ferrari get left with no competing driver. They didn’t do this in 2007 and 2008, and both Kimi and Massa helped each other win and almost win the titles. So why this utter devotion to Vettel from the third race? I think it’s a strategic mistake, that’s all, including its potential demotivation of Raikkonen.

    20. I don’t know if you were watching the race but he finished third. When the safety car came out he was catching Ricciardo whose tyres were old. As were Verstappen and Hamiltons… Weirdly in the race the likes of Magnussen and Alonso were being praised for staying out long, yet Raikkonen (Ferrari) was being criticised.

    21. At the end of the day vettels again qualified ahead of Kimi, and again got into turn 1 first, and again drove faster in the race. If Kimi was leading, there would have been a pack of cars on his tail.

    22. Didn’t really appreciate the Ferrari “team” pawn strategy in the days of Schumacher and don’t really favor it in the days of Vettel either. At times the seemingly best thought out pawn strategy comes back to bite the team.

      Stopped rooting for Ferrari during the Schumacher era due to boring, mind-numbing dominance (more of an underdog guy) and the constant use of their pawn strategy. I’ve come back to rooting for Ferrari (underdog) again vs. Mercedes the last couple of years. I still wish to see Mercedes challenged and possibly beaten. But, not by using a sacrificial pawn strategy, especially so early in a season. Kimi has driven quite well this season so far. The car is obviously more to his preference than in recent seasons. A few different turns of events and he could be leading in the points.

    23. As stated in the article Merc did the same with BOT in Spain last year, and BOT himself admitted that if Merc were facing the situation they would have done the exact same thing. If you think about it if VET came 1st and RAI came 6th Ferrari as constructors would have had 33 point; the same as VET coming 2nd and RAI coming 3rd. If you look at it this way the strategy actually makes sense, since they rather have the win (build greater cushion over HAM for WDC) than scoring the same number of points otherwise.

      Also to note, RAI was actually pretty quick at the end of the race. If the safety car didn’t happen things could’ve been very different. I think Ferrari’s missed opportunity was not pitting RAI in after both the Redbulls pitted since he had one set of fresh softs left (even though he pitted 3 laps earlier – the performance difference between the 2 compounds were massive).
      Think about it: BOT, SEB & HAM (he didn’t have any fresh softs left) on used mediums; RIC, VER & RAI on fresh softs. Craziness ensues. Although, I can’t complain about the race we had last week. Insane.

    24. I don’t understand why anyone would act surprised about Ferrari’s strategy. It has always been this way. With Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello, Felipe Massa, and now Kimi Raikkonen. It’s sad to see what has become of Kimi while at Ferrari. I remember how highly rated he was when he came back driving for Lotus, even winning races. Now…he’s just another sad Rubens Barrichello. Actually Kimi just seems angry and depressed all the time. He says he hasn’t retire because he still enjoys racing, but everything that comes from his mouth is either dismissive, negative, or useless (usually in an effort to be dismissive of a question). His brand has been so tarnished that now he is nearly unemployable by any other big team. But he can only blame himself for this.

      1. This treatment by Ferrari probably adds to the reason why he’s always never happy…

        The way his team treats him, I’d understand why he’s always moody, depressed, non-talkative and dislikes people…

    25. As frustrating as it is to see Kimi sacrified to block Bottas there is a logic. If all went to plan Vettel’s win would have gained him 7 pts and a psycological edge on Mercedes. Kimi falling from 4th to 6th costs him 4 pts.

      That’s a net gain of +3 in the WCC and Vettel extends his WDC lead. Plus there’s the chance Kimi’s fresher tires gains extra positions and pts.

      Is it right to treat Kimi this way? I leave that to you. Did it work? Not even close. However, IF that was Ferrari’s mindset there was a strong upside available.

      1. I would give Ferrari the benefit of the doubt if they had already demonstrated a long pattern of favouritism for one driver. They are not too concerned about how it looks, what the fans think, what FIA thinks, or how the #2 driver might feel. Wouldn’t you agree?

    26. What does Kimi expect from Ferrari? I didn’t think he’s strategy was surprising at all. Yeah its not cool but Ferrari will do what they have to do to win any race regardless of how they look

    27. Once they missed the chance to pit him early, I think their strategy was to bank on heavy degradation of tires in the seconds stint that would force all the early stoppers to pit again. In that situation, Kimi would likely have had track position or at least fresh tires to attack those that were trying to eek out on a one stop. Not a great situation, but once they missed their shot it was probably a better idea than settling for 5th.

    28. This here is the real pickle. Ferrari throw Kimi under the Mercedes train whenever it benefits Seb.

      Mercedes needs to respond. They wont be able to win a championship in their usual fashion without their usually fastest car.

      But that would taint Hamiltons so far honorable record. He even gave a position back last year etc,…

      Would you guys be happy with WCC and loosing WDC because your drivers didn’t enjoy throwing the other one under the bus?

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