Safety Car, Hockenheimring, 2018

Raikkonen stands by decision to pit during Safety Car

2018 German Grand Prix

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Kimi Raikkonen believes he did the right thing by sacrificing the lead of the German Grand Prix to pit for fresh tyres during the Safety Car period.

The Ferrari driver came into the pits after discussing with his team on the radio whether he should stay out. He eventually decided to come in, replacing his worn soft tyres with a fresh set of ultra-softs.

The pit stop dropped him to third place behind the Mercedes drivers, where he finished. After the race he denied it had cost him an opportunity to win.

“It’s always easy to say afterwards but honestly we don’t know what would happen if we’d stayed out,” he said. “I’m 100 percent sure that the ultras worked better plus I had very used tyres at that point already.

“I can’t give an answer if it would have been just fine or a complete disaster, that’s always an unknown and you try to weigh up the differences and hope that the new tyres will give you some grip to come back.”

Lewis Hamilton, who was on fresher tyres than Raikkonen when the Safety Car came out, won the race after choosing not to pit.

“Obviously we knew that the Mercedes will be on one of the aged tyres but they seemed to be the right decision in those conditions. So I don’t have an answer, I don’t think anybody would have an answer what the end result if we stayed out or not. Who knows. That’s how it goes.”

Raikkonen wasn’t able to pass the Mercedes drivers at the restart despite having fresher tyres than race leader Hamilton.

“They were very strong,” he said. “All the stories that we are so quick on the straight, it wasn’t really the case after the restart.”

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Keith Collantine
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26 comments on “Raikkonen stands by decision to pit during Safety Car”

  1. Vettel fan 17 (@)
    23rd July 2018, 12:35

    Why didn’t they pit him imeediantly though? He would have passed Bott as since his pit stop was shambolic and then he would have had a chance of passing Hamilton and winning

    1. Neil (@neilosjames)
      23rd July 2018, 12:42

      I scrolled down to post pretty much the same thing.

      The only theory I have is that the team only had 10 seconds or so to make the call, and they might have been focused on Vettel’s crash and didn’t act quickly enough to call in Raikkonen. Hope we get to read some team radio.

      1. Agreed. Seb had crashed 10 seconds before I’m sure all eyes on the Ferrari pit wall were on the crash and Kimi was forgotten about until it was too late to box.

    2. @vettelfan17 I think RAI lost his best few years back, I don’t think he would have been able to resist a charging HAM.

      1. If Raikkonen had stayed out he would have been on the oldest tyres of the top 4 by some margin, making it next to impossible to hold off 3 cars on new or nearly new ultra softs.

      2. That’s the mystery: was HAM really that fast after the SC or was BOT just taking it slowly since he was told to hold position. We’ll never know, and I say it’s 50/50. After being told to hold position, pretty sure BOT reduced his pace as there was nothing to gain anymore + also to save his car. RAI and VER managed to keep it close to BOT until the end, so obviously BOT wasn’t the benchmark regarding the pace between these 3. RAI and VER had more pace but BOT slowed them down for sure.

        1. digitalrurouni
          23rd July 2018, 16:34

          I think after being told to hold station he was additionally told to probably defend against Raikonnen and let the gap to Hamilton be as large as possible just in case the penalty was applied for the incident with the pit lane entry. He played a very very good rear gunner. yes Mercedes definitely applied team orders and I usually don’t like team orders. However I still think the blatant use of Raikonnen to get Vettel a good result has been seen way more often than Mercedes using Bottas to make Hamiton look good.

          I also think Kimi paid Ferrari back in kind as a result in this race because he didn’t let Vettel pass until Jock Clear had to get on the radio and instruct Kimi as such. That was also poor management on Ferrari’s part cause their drivers were on 2 different strategies. I would normally think that was very unsportsmanlike of Kimi to do that but having seen how many times he has been screwed by Vettel and Ferrari I can’t really blame him.

          1. If they were on different strategies, then why all the fuss by RAI? Then, there’s always the option to leave the team and find another team who won’t that. But, thing is that’s not the case anymore in F1, he knows all teams now use that kind of “tactics” whenever the chance of getting a “best ever” place appears. So, at Ferrari, RAI has by far the best car and salary he can still get in F1, that’s why he doesn’t leave. Plus, the unlucky card ALO pulled with McLaren probably makes every driver at the front think twice before leaving their current team. Anyway, RAI’s attitude wasn’t very fair, VET/Ferrari didn’t give him hard time in France and Austria.

        2. Iskandar Mazlan
          24th July 2018, 1:38

          LH put in 2 fastest laps after that ..

    3. @vettelfan17 Perhaps they didn’t call Raikkonen in because Ferrari had the same issue Mercedes had? ie not being ready for a stop with the drivers so close to the pit entry.

      1. Vettel fan 17 (@)
        23rd July 2018, 14:59

        Still, they still would have been third, and if their pit stop was slightly faster he could have been ahead, so it would be worth the risk

      2. One thing that also has some influence in this decisions is probably where in the pitlane each team is. Mercedes and Ferrari are the two first boxes as soon as you come into the pitlane, which I guess has some advantages that I can’t think of now, but puts them at a clear disadvantage in situations like this. Had the Merc pit been at the end of the pitlane, the team would’ve probably been 100% prepared waiting for Bottas instead of fumbling around with tyres and blankets with the driver already waiting.

  2. His tires were old and it is very likely Hamilton would have passed him with ease. My POV there really wasn’t a choice, because if he stayed out they don’t know how many cars would have passed him the final 10 laps. If it had been more than 2 cars who passed, then the popular opinion today would be he should of changed tires.

    1. @blueruck, I agree that the decision to pit him seems fairly clear cut – Kimi’s times were starting to worsen before the rain hit, suggesting that he was starting to hit a phase where tyre wear outweighed the benefits of the reduction in fuel load, and he was losing time to both Mercedes drivers as a result of that.

      From the times that all of the other drivers who’d switched onto the ultras were doing, it was a fairly clear cut decision to switch to those tyres instead of leaving Kimi on a set of quite heavily worn tyres. He might have had track position that way, but would almost certainly have lost out on the restart to the rest of the top three given they’d have all been on better tyres – putting him on the ultras ensured that he’d at least keep ahead of Verstappen, and perhaps ahead of the top midfield runners as well.

  3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    23rd July 2018, 14:03

    Actually, Raikonnen would have been passed by Hamilton, Bottas, and Verstappen. He gained a spot and kept his podium by pitting and avoided a triple Ferrari pass at the end of the race which is not the way Ferrari wanted to end the race after Vettel crashed. Also being passed by 3 cars is dangerous as he could have defended a bit too hard or lost grip at part of the track or gone wide.

    There was no way he was going to hold off the cars on new Ultras while he was running on old softs. I think the difference could have been a few 1:19-1:20 laps vs 1:15 laps.

  4. Why would he even need to defend this decision? It was crystal clear he needed to make that stop. Perhaps it would have been better to have taken it one lap earlier, but seeing how Mercedes struggled for Bottas and that Raikkonen was ahead of Bottas, I doubt Ferrari could have pulled that off.

    The bigger issue is why Ferrari ruined his race making him stop on lap 14 when the other (top) drivers stopped 10 to 15 laps later.

    1. Please enlighten us how come they ruined his race.

    2. I could be wrong but I think Bottas had passed Räikkönen at that point, when Räikkönen went wide trying to lap some cars

    3. That was a poor decision by Ferrari.

  5. The decision was correct. However the decision was too late. He should have followed Bottas in immediately.

    I don’t buy that Ferrari were too engrossed in Vettel’s accident as they have enough staff and a chief engineer for each driver.

    1. Agree 100%. Had he pitted directly after Bottas he’d finished second. Ferrari reacted too slowly.

  6. The track was drying and we saw how far Hamilton’s first tyres made it without a stop, at a competitive pace too.

    That said, Räikkönen had changed tyres very early in the race, especially compared with both Mercedes

  7. He did fine – stable race, no mistakes, crashes, whatsoever. Take under consideration the fact that he had 2 DNFs this season due to mechanical/pitstop issues , he is doing pretty well so far both in constructros and championships points. we will never know team tactics. I despise Vettel starts recently , blocking Kimi just as well as competition, making life hard on team mate. I bet he will stay in 2019, and will win a race this year.

  8. It wouldn’t have made any difference: no way he could have kept Hamilton behind him, yet alone Bottas (on fresher tires).

    Sad to say it, but Kimi’s age showed yesterday.

  9. Not sure if I missed something or don’t fully understand the rules, but when kimi pitted, wasn’t the SC train pretty much formed? How did he manage to keep 3rd when he came out? The channel 4 highlights in UK also said at the time his stop will drop him right out of the points, yet when the action was picked up he was 3rd?

    1. I believe that he didn’t lose out because several drivers behind him had previously pitted for intermediates and were then forced to switch back onto slicks – both Haas drivers, Hulkenberg, Verstappen and so on – and the time they lost doing that meant that Kimi didn’t end up losing that much.

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