Kimi Raikkonen has had his fair share of stick so far this season, but it’s what he does on slicks that earns him brownie points at Ferrari.
Raikkonen’s drive from 14th to 6th earned him the ‘driver of the day’ plaudits, his coolness on the hot kerbs of the Hungaroring saw him optimize a brilliant strategy call from Ferrari. There’s a big difference between being forced to drive slowly and driving within yourself with a purpose, and Kimi definitely falls into the latter.
The Finn showed a balance between tyre preservation and attacking race-craft as he worked his way up the field. He started on the softs and was one of two drivers to follow with two stints on the super-soft compound. Raikkonen made his tyres last longer than Pirelli’s pre-race predictions.
On a newly surfaced track that didn’t have any rubber laid down after the downpours in qualifying, Kimi defied the odds and could have even challenged Vettel in 4th if Verstappen hadn’t pulled the double-movement defensive actions. Verstappen will find himself unpopular with his fellow drivers if he doesn’t drop the juvenile defense tactics. They belong in lower Formula’s.
“Today my car was really good and behaving well, we had the speed, but obviously this is not the easiest place to overtake. Unfortunately, after yesterday’s qualifying, today we were not in a position that would allow us to get the result we deserved, and this is the most disappointing thing. Regarding the battle with Max, it’s not for me to decide but I think that his maneuvers are questionable.
The first time he started to move on the right and I went left, but he moved back there too, so I had to try and get out of it because I was hitting him hard on the rear and I lost my front wing, which didn’t make it easier to attack again. Then later, every time I managed to make a move and I was committed to somewhere he decided to turn afterwards, and at that point I had nowhere to go. It’s not my job to determine if he was correct or not, but I have seen people being penalized for much less. Today we did our maximum, I’m disappointed because I couldn’t get past Verstappen and go catch the rest.”
– Kimi Raikkonen
Hockenheim could see a closer fight between Ferrari and Red Bull given that the German track is a a bit more conventional. Raikkonen’s consistency this season sees him ahead of Vettel in the driver standings. The hierarchy at Scuderia could really be shaken up if he keeps it up.