Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2018

2018 F1 driver rankings #9: Raikkonen

2018 F1 season review

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Did Kimi Raikkonen raise his game in what turned out to be his final season at Ferrari, or was he simply cast in a better light by his team mate’s too-frequent errors?

Raikkonen was the quicker of the pair in the first race weekend of the year, where a fortuitously-timed Virtual Safety Car period handed Sebastian Vettel an unexpected win. But over the races which followed Vettel was the quicker of the pair, particularly in qualifying.

In Bahrain he suffered the first of four retirements to Vettel’s one, none of which Raikkonen deserved blame for. Another came in Spain due to a power unit problem, which moved him out of phase with the team’s planned programme of upgrades which Vettel continued to follow.

Whenever he out-scored Vettel it was usually because something had gone wrong for his team mate, such as Vettel’s penalty at the Red Bull Ring or collision with Valtteri Bottas at Paul Ricard. Unusually, Raikkonen had a run-in with the other Mercedes at Silverstone.

This uncharacteristic error aside, Raikkonen usually stayed out of trouble. At times that restraint was exploited by his rivals, as in Austria where he wasted a great start and was outmanouevred by the Mercedes pair and eventual winner Max Verstappen. However his defensive driving from Hamilton in Austin was superb, even allowing for the fact Hamilton had to be careful about fighting his title rival’s team mate.

Kimi Raikkonen

Beat team mate in qualifying4/21
Beat team mate in race8/16
Races finished17/21
Laps spent ahead of team mate412/1100
Qualifying margin+0.225s (adjusted)

In the second half of the season Vettel drove worse and Raikkonen looked even better. As well as the Austin win there was his pole position at Monza, aided by running in Vettel’s slipstream, which he might have translated into a win had Vettel’s first-lap spin not left him vulnerable to a Mercedes pincer movement.

It later turned out Raikkonen had been told before that race his services would not be required for 2019. Ferrari could end up missing him if Vettel doesn’t get his act together.

On a regular day when the sun shone and nothing unusual happened, Raikkonen could be expected to follow his team mate home, usually not that far behind. But his dependability made the difference in a poor season for Veettel. Had the car problems been shared more evenly between them, Raikkonen might have ended the year much less than 69 points behind.

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Over to you

Although not as quick as his teammate, he did actually score as many podiums as Vettel come the end of the season, so he must have been doing something right. Monza and Austin were terrific.

What’s your verdict on Kimi Raikkonen’s 2018 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

Add your views on the other drivers here:

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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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59 comments on “2018 F1 driver rankings #9: Raikkonen”

  1. We knew from the go that both Kimi and Valterri wouldn’t be able to have a fair shot at the title, prohibiting the Finns for 2018 was harsh.

    1. I’d like to know where this comes from. Please cite some sources. Thanks.

      1. who is it you think you see? I. Am. The. Source

        1. Bottas was given every chance, he just failed to seize it.

          Look at Bahrain. Here, Hamilton was being used as a “number 2 driver”. Hamilton was left out long, during the first stint, to be a rolling block. He stayed out longer than optimum to hold up Vettel, slow Vettel and to give Bottas a chance to attack at the end.

          Click around the 3mins 45 mark

          It was a chance for Bottas to assert some authority. Yet Bottas failed to convert that chance and he received a lot of criticism for it afterwards.

          He was given another chance in Germany. Merc gave Bottas the initial chance to attack and overtake Hamilton towards the end of the gp. Bottas was temporarily faster than LH on the restart after SV’s safety car and, with his fresher tyres tried to pass. He was given clear chance. But once LH got his older tyres to temperature he was pulling away again. And only then did Merc intervene. But Bottas had his chance, but couldn’t get the job done.

          Atter Germany, with Hamilton so far ahead in points, Merc did the sensible thing by putting all their eggs in Hamilton’s basket

          1. *Click around the 3mins 45 mark

            I posted a link, but it hasn’t appeared. Here are the details: Youtube DIm2cqy7

            Click around the 3mins 45 mark–Hamilton being left out long to slow Vettel, to aid Bottas

          1. @johnmilk I feel for you… a good joke… wasted.

          2. @karlynhuz *places and on chest” oh my heart

          3. @johnmilk @karlynhuz – LOL, came to appreciate the joke, and the follow-up post quite took the wind out of my sails.

          4. I even tried to mix breaking bad into the equation @phylyp but to no avail

          5. @johnmilk – yeah, I totally got the “knocking” reference, that’s what made me chuckle :-)

          6. A man of culture

        2. We knew from the go that both Kimi and Valterri wouldn’t be able to have a fair shot at the title

          You’re mixing fact with opinion. We didn’t ‘know’ then, it’s just what you ‘think’.

          1. Oh @john-h you’re making it worse

          2. @johnmilk Okey dokey. Am I missing sarcasm now, have I reached that age? Oh well. *sigh*.

          3. @john-h it was a joke because they enforced a rule for 2018 that forbid the shark fins. Fins Finns (Kimi, Bottas)

            Will try harder next time

          4. @johnmilk
            Ah, man. I’m old now :)

  2. As a Kimi fans, I’m fine with this. Kimi rank two place higher than Valtteri here can be considered extraordinary anyway.

    1. @ruliemaulana

      Its not only about who is placed lower than Kimi and also the 8 above him.
      We got two RBs, lewis, seb, checo, alo, gasly and leclerc. Very much interested to see how they stack up.

      1. My quess

        1. Lewis
        2. Verstappen
        3. Alonso
        4. Leclerc
        5. Vettel
        6. Ricciardo
        7. Checo
        8. Gasly

        1. Verstappen made too many mistakes, save another extraordinary result which prompts negative comments from the 90% of the users, I expect him to be further back.

  3. He should have won in Monza. He was clearly not that good at managing tyres. His strategy was not the correct one, but he did not drive a great race. I think Sebastian Vettel errors made him shine. Vettel would have probably won in Monza and Austin without his mistakes…

    1. I’d agree with that. You can’t really name a race where Raikkonen had a notable race, aside from Monza, where he didn’t win anyway (partly because he was exposed to the Mercedes squeeze when Vettel put himself out of contention). He drove a fast car reasonably fast some of the time and didn’t mess up. 9th sounds right.

    2. In Monza he just didn’t have the pace, which made him vulnerable to a potential Hamilton undercut. As a result, Ferrari pitted him first, after which Hamilton increased his pace and forced Räikkönen to take too much life out of his second set of tires. Bottas actually helped him to defend from Hamilton, as Räikkönen got DRS as well. Once Bottas pitted, Hamilton easily got passed.

  4. I don’t want to be that guy, but…

    Gasly in the top 8? Near the likes of Leclerc and Alonso?


    1. I have to say i don’t think anyone would put Alonso up here from what he’s shown this/ the past years. He just always gets the benefit of the doubt based on past glories imho.
      Kimi i think is rated slightly too harsh. Lost 4 pointshaules to bad luck, arguably was screwed by strategy here and there, raced the old engine for quite some time.
      Yet he got quite Close to Vettel anyways.

    2. @joeypropane Either Perez or Gasly will probably end up in top 7 and neither deserves to be that high up imo. I’ll like to see what Keith has to say about them.

      Perez was handed a defeat by Ocon in almost every metric possible except points and with Ocon in 10th, he should have been 9th at best. Gasly…well he was ranked 8th midseason and he at least had put in three impressive drives, but I don’t see what good he has done in the second half… if anything, he seemed to be slipping into Hartley’s clutches somewhat. I mean, he was still obviously better than Hartley, but the latter is hardly a good benchmark.

      Actually, I wouldn’t put be surprised if one of them ends up in the top 6, given the interesting nature of this list.

      1. @Aaditya It has become clear at this point that Keith is playing favorites and has lost all sense of realism and obviously couldn’t care less what his readers think.

        1. @angie, I think that whatever order Keith comes up with, somebody will complain…

    3. @Luke S I agree with your sentiment about Gasly. Up until now I have been OK with Keith’s driver rankings but to place the best No. 2 driver below Gasly? He is 3rd in the driver standings and wherever Vettel is placed Kimi should be 1 place behind him. An absolutely stellar performance by the oldest man on the grid and he winds up behind Gasly, Checo and Alonso. I have just lost all interest in Keith,s rankings and won’t bother reading any more of them

      1. wherever Vettel is placed Kimi should be 1 place behind him

        Average 0.2 deficit in qualifying is huge. I love Kimi but I really don’t see how he can be placed just one behind Vettel in this list. Kimi’s fantastic but he hasn’t been that great this year.

        1. @john-h
          Vettel had a trash season so 1place before Kimi who just was bad seems fit.

          1. @rethla

            Except Vettel didn’t have a trash season, he made some costly errors but it wasn’t trash. And if it was, then Kimi had a super-trash season then and they both should be miles down the list.

    4. @joeypropane

      Totally unacceptable.

    5. I reckon Gasly’s at number one. He was the best French rookie in an STR this year. Its the Top Trump.

    6. Gotta agree here, he was 12th for me.

  5. At times that restraint was exploited by his rivals, as in Austin where he wasted a great start and was outmanouevred by the Mercedes pair and eventual winner Max Verstappen.

    Surely this is supposed to be Austria not Austin, because unless I was hallucinating kimi did win in Austin.

  6. @keithcollantine In what way has qualifying margin been “adjusted”? Surely Spa has been left out from the calculations, but anything else? Suzuka? Kimi was clearly faster than Vettel there, but at least they both did their laptimes in similar conditions, so it definitely shouldn’t be left out.

  7. Kimi finally had the car set up the way he likes and got the points, podiums and win he deserved. He finished third is the championship. Is he faster then Vettel, no. Is he faster than Hamilton, no. But he did the best he could with the resources he had, didn’t bitch about it like Grosjean or Alonso would, and had a terrific season. 8th is VERY disingenuous IMO.

    While I’m glad we get to see him next year in the hopefully improving Sauber, part of me wishes he just bowed out now, having such a great year to go out on.

    1. @careypatrick If he isn’t as quick as his teammate, did he really get the most out of his resources? Think about it.

      1. I think he did, because I never expect him to be as quick as Vettel, with the exception of tracks he is historically good at, like Spa. He’s at the end of his career, and in equal cars, I think he is always going to be a quarter second slower in quali and maybe a half sec off per lap in the race. Now, Leclerc I expect to give Vettel a bit more of a challenge, so we will see. He is young and hungry. Kimi certainly did more this year than the last few, Vettel wiped the floor with him then.

        I still think at the end of the season the FIA should have a non-championship race where its random picked drivers in different cars, so we could see how certain drivers fare in other cars. Fantasy, I know, but it would be interesting.

      2. Are you forgetting raikkonen is 39? And that decline of a driver starts at 35 and gets worse at 40?

        All things considered raikkonen did the max he could and perhaps could’ve got another place in the ranking, but sounds fair generally; vettel was faster (good job, he’s at peak age), but made so many mistakes that if you consider all technical issues raikkonen had, there was very little between them, that’s inexcusable and in a fair ranking vettel would appear soon, if raikkonen is 9th, vettel should be like 7th.

  8. Yes, he did raise his game compared to the previous seasons since returning to Ferrari, but still, I think the change is better as CL has more to give to Ferrari in the long-term than KR has.

    1. @jerejj – and the freedom from Ferrari’s pressures/expectations might just be what Kimi needs to bring back his old spark.

  9. Seems fair. I never had the feeling that Kimi maximised the car’s potential or outperformed his teammate as those higher in the rankings did…

  10. With 12 podiums and a win, in my eyes, Kimi was still top5…
    My top10 is: HAM, VET, VER, HUL, RÄI, ALO, LEC, RIC, PER, BOT.

    1. So Raikkonen, a man who is outpaced in so many races by his teammate did a better job than Leclerc?Who is a rookie in a backmarker/mid-field car, who scored a whopping 39 points. Good joke mate.

    2. It hurts to see vettel and verstappen so far ahead, they NEED to be behind someone apart from each other and hamilton in a fair ranking, too many mistakes!

  11. No way should he be ranked higher than the Hulk. No way should he be ranked lower than Perez or Gasly

  12. I really don’t get how Ricciardo is higher than the likes of Räikkönen and Ocon. He was absolute garbage after Monaco and even the results before that mostly seemed good because his teammate was making a lot of mistakes.

    1. @retardedf1sh, on the other hand, the latter half of his season was heavily disrupted by the freakishly high failure rate of his car – do you think that Raikkonen or Ocon would have done better if faced with the same 40% retirement rate that Ricciardo had over those same races?

      Furthermore, it was confirmed that, as soon as Ricciardo announced his intention to leave Red Bull, the team began restricting his access to his data logs and also excluded him from attending some of the technical debriefing sessions, which was intended to limit the amount of information that Renault could gain from Ricciardo. Whilst you can understand why Red Bull would want to defend themselves, on the other hand it wasn’t exactly helping Ricciardo out.

    2. @retardedf1sh ,Ricciardo wasn’t garbage after Monaco but his car certainly was.

    3. Ricciardo showed his class at Mexico. With a more reliable car I have no doubts he would have finished ahead of Verstappen at the end of the year.

  13. The Skeptic (@)
    15th December 2018, 0:02

    Re: Kimi’s run in with Lewis at Silverstone: I like the way that he simply accepted responsibility, took the penalty, and got on with the race.

    If the cars could overtake more easily – he would have done much better.

    1. @theskeptic
      Yeh, sadly overtaking requires driver input.

    2. I agree, Kimi is one of the few class acts left on the grid who owns himself and his driving. He’s the fairest racer on the grid IMO.

      I also think Hamilton was a bit silly at that Silverstone incident not leaving more room and squeezing for the apex considering how close the two were. Not his fault per se, but Kimi’s move was fair and Lewis was the only one of the two in a position to stop it from happening.

  14. 9th seems harsh for a guy who finished the championship in 3rd and tied Vettel with podiums. I would’ve like to have seen him more competitive as well, but considering his age he had a very good year.

  15. Without 4 DNF’s not his fault he will be at Vettel level at least. So why is he worse?

    Edit: and do not forget he drove with a PU type 1 up to Spa.

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