Raikkonen: If the racing is better no one would care if we’re 10 seconds slower

2021 F1 season

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Kimi Raikkonen believes F1 must prioritise improving the quality of the racing over sustaining its record-breaking lap times.

New rules for the 2021 F1 season revealed yesterday will make cars around three second per lap slower, the FIA believes. Sebastian Vettel is concerned that will make F1 cars too slow.

But Raikkonen believes a rise in lap times is a price worth paying if the racing improves as a result.

“I don’t think three, four, five seconds makes any difference,” said the Alfa Romeo driver. “Like if you take qualifying, yes, we are fast. But you take the race we are probably five, six seconds with fuel and everything else.

“I think even if we are 10 seconds slower, for people to watch the races, if it’s more exciting nobody cares. Every year the times are slightly different.”

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Daniel Ricciardo backed Raikkonen’s view, saying he “doesn’t care” if the cars are three seconds slower in 2021.

“I don’t mind,” he said. “I think actually one of the most fun years I had in F1 was 2014. And the cars then were eight seconds slower or something than they are now.

“I was actually just in our meeting, there was the FOM coverage, [they] were filming the go karters. There’s some rental cars and there was two battling and I was getting excited just watching them. They’re going probably 30 miles an hour. But I think anything that is going to be close, I think that’s exciting.

“So I would rather have good racing than single file lap records. Then we might as well just do time trials for the rest of our career. So I’m okay with three seconds slower.”

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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...
Josh Holland
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25 comments on “Raikkonen: If the racing is better no one would care if we’re 10 seconds slower”

  1. Yup, this is why people love Kimi.

    1. Even Ric and Max are rocking the same boat. All are quite excited about new rules.

    2. I too agree with Kimi. When you’re watching a race you don’t have any context other than the other participants in that race, so whether this year’s cars are slower or faster than those of last season, ten years ago, or in the 1970s makes no difference. What matters is how the cars you’re watching race, not how other cars in other seasons raced.

      1. @drycrust – absolutely right Stephen, that observation has to be a candidate for comment of the day.

  2. I would. Ten seconds would be hugely noticeable, and more like F2, F3, Super Formula, etc. I also disagree with his claim that three-to-five seconds wouldn’t make a noticeable difference. One second, 1.5 seconds, I could live it, but more than that is quite a lot for F1’s standards, especially since 2017. Still, hopefully, the lap times would eventually start to go back towards the 2017-19 levels from the projected 3-3.5, at least closer if not fully matching.

    1. The prediction is now 3.5s a lap slower which is about the same as the cars were lapping in 2015-16.

      Nobody complained those were too slow.

      You won’t notice.

    2. @jerejj Yes you would clearly notice 10 seconds. But whether that is bad is another thing. We would effectively go back to the laptimes from the late nineties, and many would argue that was a pretty good era.

    3. I agree that even on tv 10s would likely be noticeable, and if you are able to observe the cars from close up at the tracks, you might also notice a bit over a second, but I woulndn’t mind them being slower at the start of 2021 if the racing was a lot closer; they’d probably have gotten back well over a second by the end of the year, and even more in 2022 already.

  3. Huge amounts of people have stopped watching F1 – better racing is what can get them back, not being a couple of seconds a lap faster.

    1. The racing aint worse now than in the past but the spectacle is. Slower and timid cars and a corporate atmosphere is exactly what turns people off.

      1. Not for the people I speak to who have stopped watching. They all say “It’s boring. They all follow each other around in a line and the same people win every week.”

        The things you highlight are the things that turn the remaining, hardcore fans off.

  4. “So I would rather have good racing than single file lap records. Then we might as well just do time trials for the rest of our career.”
    Perfect from Danny Ric. Nothing else to say.

  5. As usual, Kimi is right. Also, the perception of speed makes a huge difference: just look at IndyCar or Supercars, the way they are televised does not make the cars look slow, even though they are much slower than F1.

    1. They’re actually faster on ovals with low drag!

      1. They are alot faster.

  6. Yep,all good comments, (now for silly one :)
    What about Qualifying with the front wing on,Then take them off for the race…
    Would this just make the cars to unstable ? Too much extra balancing to do..
    No ones seems to want to overtake much during Q3.

    1. The cars would be undrivable

  7. After a few years they will be just as quick again

  8. I watched the 1996 Japanese GP a few weeks ago and the cars didn’t look that slow despite the fastest lap being 14 seconds slower than it was in 2019 (pole was around 12 seconds down). Slower, definitely, but not to the point where I felt like I was watching a GP3 race or some lower class.

    The fact the cars were so ‘twitchy’ and unstable compared to modern cars and the camera angles probably helped. But I do think they could probably go about 3-5 seconds slower and, as long as I didn’t watch the timing screen, it would be hard to tell the difference on a lot of tracks.

  9. IndyCar racing looks faster even though they’re slower. The racing is always better. With their large decrease in downforce for the current formula the cars are unstable at times and move so much they really require the drivers to drive, unlike when they had huge downforce during aero wars and the cars were glued to the track (like F1 now). No problem with F1 being slower, and no one will notice a few seconds slower lap times.

    F1 continues to copy IndyCar in lowering DF, cleaning up trailing air to improve overtaking, and reducing cost. Next they’ll have the Aeroscreen included on the 2021 car. Seems like F1 looks to IndyCar for inspiration in quite a few areas.

    1. I’m not sure if they’re copying IndyCar necessarily, but I agree that even though IndyCar is slower the racing is better and therefore I don’t care about the speed.

  10. While I agree with the sentiment, 2016 to 2017 was extremely noticable through the fast corners. 2017 was the first time the cars looked as quick as <2008

    So I hope they quickly get back to 2017 level by the 2nd or third year.

  11. Speed is irrelevant because TV directors (and FIA) don’t know how to convey speed in TV.
    if they were good professionals then speed would matter again as it should. Right now seeing an F1 car in TV seem like they are floating in nothingness. For these reasons i prefer to watch amateur videos.

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