Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Monza, 2018

Raikkonen is “allowed” to win, but will he end his five-year drought?

2018 Italian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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The rain didn’t fall on qualifying, despite the chance of precipitation being rated at 60% as the session began.

But that didn’t mean a clear path to pole position for Sebastian Vettel. Lewis Hamilton was a genuine threat. And then, in the final seconds of qualifying, came the shock few saw coming: Kimi Raikkonen stuck his Ferrari SF71-H on pole.

If nothing else, this was a masterstroke in timing by Raikkonen.

The changing of the guard at Ferrari made necessary by the sad loss of Sergio Marchionne has placed Louis Carey Camilleri in charge of the scuderia. Camilleri joined the team at the track for the first time yesterday, spoke about how Raikkonen was still under consideration for the seat – which some have previously insisted will belong to Charles Leclerc next year – then looked on as Sauber’s young hotshot went out in Q1 and Raikkonen delivered.

This is the first time in over a year Raikkonen has qualified on pole position. It’s been more than five long years since he last won a race. Can he finally do it?

Or, perhaps more importantly, will he be allowed to? There are eight races left, 200 points up for grabs, and Vettel is 68 points closer to the championship lead than Raikkonen is. When Jean Todt called the shots during Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher era this wouldn’t have been a question for them.

But in the post-qualifying press conference Vettel gave a rather different assessment. “Is Kimi allowed to win? Well, if he’s starting from pole, I guess he’s allowed to win. It’s a long race. Obviously he wants to win, I want to win. Hopefully one of us will win.”

Of course what is said and what gets done are two very different things. Raikkonen may get a word in his ear during the race, or someone may have pointed out to him that a contract is more likely to appear if he starts playing the dutiful number two.

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Whatever happens, with Ferrari occupying the front row of the grid it is going to take something special for anyone not in a red car to be in the lead at the end of lap one. The best Hamilton can realistically hope for is splitting the two Ferraris at the start. He’ll be able to count on a good tow, but the run to the tight turn one is very narrow, and his options are likely to be limited.

The same applies when it comes to strategy. The front runners are all starting on super-softs and are all likely to make a single stop for soft tyres to get to the end of the race. Unless Sunday turns out to be warmer than expected, and blistering becomes a factor, this is likely to be one of the more straightforward races. And if that does happen, Mercedes is the team which has been more blister-prone.

Further back there should be more interest, not least because there are several drivers out of position. Daniel Ricciardo has to haul his way up from the back of the field, so expect some of his trademark daredevil late-braking. Sergio Perez has also left himself with a lot to do.

Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll conspicuously over-performed in qualifying, but can they convert their top 10 starting positions into points finishes? Both are going to find it difficult. Stroll at least has the benefit of a Mercedes power unit and as Williams have had some of the quickest pit stops this year he might just be able to cling on.

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Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1

Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’20.722 1’19.846 (-0.876) 1’19.119 (-0.727)
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’20.542 1’19.629 (-0.913) 1’19.280 (-0.349)
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’20.810 1’19.798 (-1.012) 1’19.294 (-0.504)
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1’21.381 1’20.427 (-0.954) 1’19.656 (-0.771)
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1’21.381 1’20.333 (-1.048) 1’20.615 (+0.282)
6 Romain Grosjean Haas 1’21.887 1’21.239 (-0.648) 1’20.936 (-0.303)
7 Carlos Sainz Jnr Renault 1’21.732 1’21.552 (-0.180) 1’21.041 (-0.511)
8 Esteban Ocon Force India 1’21.570 1’21.315 (-0.255) 1’21.099 (-0.216)
9 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1’21.834 1’21.667 (-0.167) 1’21.350 (-0.317)
10 Lance Stroll Williams 1’21.838 1’21.494 (-0.344) 1’21.627 (+0.133)
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1’21.783 1’21.669 (-0.114)
12 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 1’21.813 1’21.732 (-0.081)
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1’21.850 1’22.568 (+0.718)
14 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1’21.280
15 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1’21.801
16 Sergio Perez Force India 1’21.888
17 Charles Leclerc Sauber 1’21.889
18 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1’21.934
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1’22.048
20 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1’22.085

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Kimi Raikkonen 26.519 (2) 26.594 (4) 26.006 (1)
Sebastian Vettel 26.604 (3) 26.548 (3) 26.128 (2)
Lewis Hamilton 26.479 (1) 26.540 (2) 26.190 (3)
Valtteri Bottas 26.803 (4) 26.520 (1) 26.306 (4)
Max Verstappen 26.858 (5) 26.854 (5) 26.609 (5)
Romain Grosjean 26.996 (8) 27.304 (11) 26.636 (6)
Carlos Sainz Jnr 26.939 (7) 27.085 (6) 26.951 (9)
Esteban Ocon 26.868 (6) 27.302 (10) 26.886 (7)
Pierre Gasly 27.097 (9) 27.241 (9) 27.012 (11)
Lance Stroll 27.119 (10) 27.231 (8) 27.131 (19)
Kevin Magnussen 27.267 (15) 27.382 (13) 26.988 (10)
Sergey Sirotkin 27.193 (11) 27.369 (12) 27.090 (14)
Fernando Alonso 27.203 (13) 27.589 (19) 27.058 (12)
Daniel Ricciardo 27.194 (12) 27.152 (7) 26.934 (8)
Nico Hulkenberg 27.271 (16) 27.416 (15) 27.114 (18)
Sergio Perez 27.215 (14) 27.479 (17) 27.096 (15)
Charles Leclerc 27.399 (19) 27.407 (14) 27.083 (13)
Brendon Hartley 27.344 (18) 27.478 (16) 27.112 (17)
Marcus Ericsson 27.425 (20) 27.514 (18) 27.109 (16)
Stoffel Vandoorne 27.313 (17) 27.597 (20) 27.131 (19)

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Engine Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 346.4 (215.2)
2 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 344.8 (214.2) -1.6
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 343.8 (213.6) -2.6
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Mercedes 343.1 (213.2) -3.3
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 342.7 (212.9) -3.7
6 Carlos Sainz Jnr Renault Renault 341.7 (212.3) -4.7
7 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari 341.5 (212.2) -4.9
8 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso Honda 340.1 (211.3) -6.3
9 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 338.7 (210.5) -7.7
10 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 338.0 (210.0) -8.4
11 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 337.7 (209.8) -8.7
12 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 337.6 (209.8) -8.8
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 336.8 (209.3) -9.6
14 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso Honda 336.7 (209.2) -9.7
15 Nico Hulkenberg Renault Renault 334.8 (208.0) -11.6
16 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG Heuer 334.5 (207.8) -11.9
17 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 333.7 (207.4) -12.7
18 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG Heuer 332.2 (206.4) -14.2
19 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 332.0 (206.3) -14.4
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 331.5 (206.0) -14.9

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Over to you

Will it be a Ferrari win at home, or can Mercedes pull off something unexpected to disappointed the tifosi? And which team will emerge ‘best of the rest’?

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

2018 Italian Grand Prix

Browse all 2018 Italian 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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39 comments on “Raikkonen is “allowed” to win, but will he end his five-year drought?”

  1. Michael Brown (@)
    2nd September 2018, 0:20

    I wonder if there will be a Russia 2017 start where the slipstreams from both Ferraris helped Bottas take the lead.
    Vettel has also been getting great starts lately and he has the inside line here. Should be very exciting for turn 1.

    1. If anyone gets a bad start they’ll certainly be swamped. Praying it doesn’t happen to Kimi.

      Assuming fairly even starts, it’s possible that Vettel could get into the lead, although given it’s a lot narrower than Russia it would be tough (but not impossible) for Hamilton.

      Hoping nobody at the front gets desperate though, there’s potential for a big crash

      1. That is why Sebastian stated that because of Kimi being on pole, he will be extra cautious on the race start.
        Kimi is only repeating that he is driving always in the same way.
        Seb will do his best since he is enough mature and trying not to be overwhelmed with emotions.
        Good luck to both of them!!

  2. Expected the Ferrari powered cars to be higher on the speed trap, especially with all this praise directed to their PU

    It is a tough call for tomorrow, I expect Mercedes will pit Bottas very soon in order to trigger some sort of reaction from Ferrari.

    And on the contrary to what is said above if Hamilton has a good start he might jump the two Ferraris, Vettel is already on the dirty side and Kimi hasn’t been know for having the best first lap. Hamilton’s chances are being played down in my opinion, he also has a better topspeed this weekend, so he ahould be fine and there is a realistic possibility he might win.

    Ferrari’s strategies are also given too much attention, Mercedes is been doing the same or worse and thr uproar isn’t as ferocious. Toto Wolff even said that team orders are a realistic possibility from now on.

    1. @johnmilk they probably increase the downforce (and drag) and aim for roughly the same top speed to minimize lap time instead of making a blitz at the speed camera.

      They will still be faster on the straight since more power and more dowforce provide better traction and they reach the top speed quicker. Plus they can carry more speed in corners.

      1. I’m talking about the all 6 cars, Mercedes engines seem to be deploying more power.

  3. I’m really hoping Kimi can win this one. It would be a good ticket to one more season in F1 for him should he want it. He’s been a GREAT #2 this year and a team player. The man who just turned the fastest lap in F1 history deserves more… But…should he choose to retire? What a way to go out! Good luck “Ice Man”.

    Ferrari Team Radio: “Kimi, your on pole!!!”
    Kimi: “Thank you”

  4. I just don’t see Raikkonen winning unless Vettel is out of contention at the end. We all know Ferrari is ruthless with team orders and with Seb trailing Hamilton in the standings, it’s hard to imagine Ferrari letting Kimi race for the win, especially if both of them are fighting near the front. Whether it’s through a direct team order, intentionally botched strategy calls, unclear communication over the radio, or some other shenanigans, I very much doubt it’ll happen.

    I apologize for the pessimism, but with the way the season has gone for Kimi (hell, his entire second tenure with Ferrari), seeing him win would be the biggest surprise of the year for me.

    1. I don’t see it as pessimism. It’s common sense.

      How he got there is another conversation, full of speculation (and if he gets a new contract, we might get a better look at this next year). But Kimi is well adrift in the standings. Now is time to throw full weight behind the championship contenders, both at Ferrari and Mercedes.

    2. I expect Ferrari to hold back from deploying team orders this race since it is their home race. If there is a switch of positions I reckon it will be through overcutting it undercutting from Seb. Let us not exclude the potential better pace by Vettel.

  5. I don’t think anyone actually thinks that Ferrari will let Kimi win. It’s not their M.O.

    1. Same thing applies to Mercedes, BOT winning ONLY when HAM was like 3rd or worse. BOT never won a race while HAM was 2nd.

      1. @mg1982 Um…Abu Dhabi 2017?

        1. You’re right, my bad, but still doesn’t count because the WDC was secured by HAM already.

        2. Doesn’t count since the championship had already been sealed.

          1. Don’t forget bahrain 2018, bottas 2nd, hamilton 3rd, no team order, they just let bottas attack vettel since only he could have.

      2. You have no evidence for your claims!
        Rosberg won many times from Lewis. And apart from Abu Dhabi 2017, Hungary 2017 is also instructive on the Mercedes MO. Lewis gave Valteri his position back even though he was behind in the championship at the time.
        Valteri won 3 times last year. There is nothing that’s happened this year to suggest that he wouldn’t have won when he had opportunity. Bad luck has been his problem.
        So, comparing the Mercedes MO and Ferrari’s is apples and oranges IMO

  6. I think Kimi will win more than one race out of the final eight in 2018. Ferrari are strong, the car is to Kimi’s liking and Vettel will need to be perfect in all race weekends to keep anyone else, especially Kimi now, from winning.

    1. @bull mello It’s nice to dream, but at some point you will wake up!

    2. He deserves 1 and I hope he gets it, should’ve got this one really, but more than 1 is absolutely unrealistic.

  7. Can anyone remember the starts of the last few Grands Prix here? How big of a disadvantage is starting on the dirty side, if any? (I know the pit straight was resurfaced recently, and Ferrari came here during the week on a filming day, no doubt to have a look at it).

  8. Vettel is unimpressed with what Ferrari did, and will be burning hot at the start. We’ll see if Kimi’s ice keep cold or melt with that heat.

    I highly expect two Ferrari’s will crash into each other. Bottas is not even close to Lewis, an easy win for Lewis and “huge boos” awaiting us.

    1. Agreed I expect Vettel to get a blistering start. I am also interested to see what Max and Grosjean can do in the start.

  9. I’m pretty sure Ferrari will let RAI win it, but only if RAI will be at least as fast as VET. If VET keeps RAI within easy reach – 1-2sec max – and proves to be faster than that, then I’m pretty sure they won’t interfere and VET will manage the undercut. Like Monaco 2017. Actually it’ll be dumb from Ferrari’s part to not let a faster VET make the undercut since he’s the title contender, he’s behind in the standings and 7 points is a lot (to lose or gain).

    1. So, if you ask me, it’s pretty much only up to RAI to win or lose this race.

      1. @mg1982
        So it’s up to italian national TV (RAdiotelevisione Italiana) ;)

    2. Do you think, If the start positions had been the reverse at Monaco 2017, that Ferrari would allow Kimi to do the overcut on Seb? Really?

      1. No. Didn’t say that or even implied it. That’s because it was impossible. Simply because RAI was slower than VET in the 1st stint, so if RAI would have been behind, VET would have drove into distance. As soon as RAI was pitted, VET started to set a new fastest lap with every passing lap. Big chances VET would passed him, but it was Monaco…. almost impossible to overtake.

  10. Kimi needs to have a good start and build a gap in the early laps. If not he has to help his teammate against Hamilton.
    Hopefully Kimi can make it happen in the race, as he deserves a win this season.

    Then we can hear more of such emotions:

  11. Ferrari didn’t allow Kimi the potential to win races or finish ahead of Vettel much earlier in the season when one could say the season was open to both drivers. Now that the season is nearing it’s end, and the drivers are separated by the equivalent of two and a half race wins, we now expect Ferrari to start favouring Kimi. I very much doubt that.
    Except the new management of the team have some sympathy for him.

    1. Ferrari didn’t allow Kimi the potential to win races or finish ahead of Vettel much earlier in the season when one could say the season was open to both drivers

      Not true. Do not know what potential are you talking about. He’s very unlucky too, but he messed up a lot of times. For example in Austria, what was that potential Ferrari stopped?!?!?!

      1. Ferrari have organised their strategy in such a way that Kimi has been unable to win races. He is often put on a strategy to protect Vettel from the Mercedes drivers.
        Ferrari rarely need to use team orders because they’ve already used strategy manipulations.

        1. Ah, come on man, let it go. It’s not like that. Whatever strategy Ferrari come up with for RAI, he never delivers. You always find something wrong with his strategy, doesn’t matter if he’s pitted first or last. In Austria RAI started ahead of VET, kept it ahead, but lost a position to VER. Obviously did not make the best out that situation, so he underperformed. Nothing to do with Ferrari, just that he’s not fast and consistent to have a real chance against the likes of HAM, VET, VER. ALO too pretty much trashed him in 2013 and 2014. He failed to make an impression against Massa too. Most part of the drivers from the current grid won’t have any problem getting the best of out of him. If he (still) was that good, be sure Ferrari would have kept betting on him… and not on ALO and then VET. He had his chance at Ferrari to show how good he is and kinda blew it. The 2007 champ was won because McLaren messed up and not because RAI came up with some impressive performances.

      2. Yes, austria was a great chance to win for raikkonen, which unfortunately he blew himself, he had a great start, then dared too much on hamilton, now ofc hindsight, how could he have known that hamilton, on a 33 no dnf streak would dnf that race, or that bottas would and hamilton would be left out on a losing strategy and that he could have just defended 2nd place at that time?

        But had he done so, verstappen wouldn’t have got past and would’ve won, the pace was there that race.

  12. I predict a first lap incident between the first 3 drivers. Kimi is known for first lap incidents. Vettel is known to be uncompromising, impulsive, and also to make mistakes. Lewis is now known to be too careful with those who are not his teammates.

    I predict he will either be hit by one of the Ferrari drivers, or pushed out wide before dropping down the pack.

    Any takers?

    1. It would certainly spice things up. As a Ferrari fan though I wouldn’t like to see them retire in their home race.

  13. If Seb passes Kimi at the start then it’s game over for Kimi. If they get away as they start and Seb stays at all close to Kimi then I would bet my bottom dollar that they will manufacture a pass by Seb. Possibly alluding to Kimi beforehand that his contract is in the post ;-)

    The really interesting scenario would be if Lewis gets past Seb at the start with Kimi out front. I think only then would Kimi be given every chance to win if this status continued and the gaps opened up.

    1. Yes, would’ve been a more likely scenario, and it almost happened: hamilton overtook vettel, had they not made contact it’d have been rai, ham, vet, bot, and then rai wouldn’t have been 1 vs 2 and would’ve had more chance.

  14. I would not mind at all Kimi winning this weekend, however, at this stage it would not make sense for him to take points away from Seb. Forgetting the politics in the team, or Kimi not winning in a while, or what Mercedes would do etc etc, the main task here for Ferrari is a clean start and no contact between their two drivers. Seb must finish ahead of LH at a minimum, and ideally needs the 25 points with a win, and unless Kimi is just that strong, or Seb just too weak, there’s no way Kimi should just have free reign to race like he is in the fight. Unfortunately. But it comes down to the math with this many (relatively few) races to go. If this pole for Kimi happened earlier in the season, have at it in turn one boys. At this point under the current circumstances? Kimi must not give Seb a hard time.

Comments are closed.