Da Autosprint n.38:
Kimi Raikkonen: Ferrari struggles in F1 rivals’ slipstream
Kimi Raikkonen says the Ferrari Formula 1 team is being compromised by its car’s weakness in the slipstream of rivals.
Raikkonen started seventh on the Singapore Grand Prix grid last weekend after a software glitch spoiled his final run in qualifying, but rose to fifth in the early part of the Marina Bay F1 race before getting jumped by Felipe Massa’s Williams during the first round of pitstops.
The Finn found it difficult to make progress from there and was stuck behind the sister Williams of fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas for most of the second part of the event, before slumping to eighth in the latter stages as the fresher-tyred cars of Jean-Eric Vergne and Sergio Perez overtook.
Raikkonen said the Ferrari tends to lose too much rear downforce in the wake of other cars, which compromises the F14 T’s ability to look after its tyres.
"Most of the race I was stuck behind the Williams, mainly Massa and then in the end Bottas," Raikkonen explained.
"I had a bit more speed than them but obviously you cannot get past.
"Running behind seems to affect us a lot. When you get close, you lose all the downforce and it just destroys your tyres.
"First of all you cannot get close enough to try to attack, then you lose your tyres.
"It’s very disappointing.
"In race conditions it’s very important to get clean runs.
"We’ve seen in the past that we have the speed, but when you get stuck behind somebody, the race is pretty much done."
Raikkonen said the prodigious straightline speed of the Williams cars had made his life even harder.
"It’s hard to overtake. I got close to them a few times but coming out of the corners you just lose grip," he added.
"If you don’t get the proper jump on them you cannot pass them on the straight.
"It’s a strong point of their car, and here where you only have two places to overtake, it’s very hard to get past."
Kimi Raikkonen: “A frustrating race”
Kimi Raikkonen: “Today’s race was really frustrating, because despite the fact we were quick, we weren’t able to finish where we wanted. My start was good, I moved up a few places and everything was working perfectly. After the first stop, I lost a place to Felipe and from then on, I found myself stuck behind a Williams for the entire race. Unfortunately, every time I managed to get close, I lost aero performance on the rear and on top of that, tyre degradation was very high. It’s a real shame I was never able to run my race, even if we already knew that straightline speed is our opponents’ strong point. I’m not happy with eighth place, but on the positive side, we have seen improvements this weekend. I’m sure that if, from now on, we don’t have problems, things will go better.”
Singapore GP: Hamilton takes F1 points lead as Rosberg retires
Lewis Hamilton claimed the lead of the Formula 1 world championship by dominating the Singapore Grand Prix, as Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg retired with technical problems.
Rosberg led Hamilton by 22 points coming into the 14th round of the 2014 F1 season, but now trails his rival by three after a disastrous race.
After Rosberg narrowly missed out on pole to Hamilton by just 0.007 seconds in qualifying, the expectation was for another close fight between the Mercedes duo.
But Rosberg’s problems began before the start, when his team discovered a glitch on the W05 and was forced to swap its steering wheel.
The German then had to start the race from the pitlane when he found he could not pull away from the grid for the formation lap unaided.
Hamilton sprinted into an immediate lead from pole, chased by Sebastian Vettel (who passed Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo into Turn 1) and Fernando Alonso.
The Ferrari briefly rose to second but Alonso outbraked himself into Turn 1, used the runoff area, and handed the place back to Vettel.
Rosberg made little progress during the first stint, failing even to pass Marcus Ericsson’s Caterham as he battled problems that were affecting his DRS, energy recovery systems and his gearbox, and eventually retired at his first pitstop on lap 13 – after another steering wheel change – when the car refused to re-engage first gear.
With his main rival removed from the race, Hamilton looked set for a comfortable win, but his superiority came under threat when the safety car was deployed for debris following the collapse of the front wing on Sergio Perez’s Force India, following a brush with Adrian Sutil’s Sauber, at the midway point of the race.
Mercedes decided not to pit Hamilton (yet to run the soft compound tyre) under the safety car, requiring him to stop again under racing conditions, so the 2008 world champion began hammering in fastest laps following the restart on lap 38 of 61, in order to open a big enough gap to the chasing pack to get in and out of the pits with his lead intact.
However, the chasing Red Bulls of Vettel and Ricciardo were attempting to make their first set of soft tyres last to the end of the race, easing the pressure on the leader.
Hamilton stretched out more than 25s over Vettel before making his final pitstop with nine of the scheduled laps to run, but this was not enough to keep him ahead.
Hamilton just fended off Ricciardo into Turn 3 as Vettel claimed the lead, but with far fresher tyres Hamilton easily retook the place and drove on to win by a comfortable 13.5s margin as the race ran past the two-hour limit with a lap of the scheduled 61 to run.
Having jumped Vettel at the first round of stops, Alonso conceded track position to both Red Bulls by pitting under the safety car.
The double world champion sat behind Ricciardo waiting for his rivals’ tyres to fall apart, but the Red Bulls held on to score their first double podium finish of the season, with Vettel bagging his best result of a difficult year in second spot.
Felipe Massa’s Williams repassed the fast-starting Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen for fifth at the first round of stops and raced on to a lonely finish, while Jean-Eric Vergne (twice penalised five seconds for exceeding track limits) scored a season’s best sixth after gambling on a third pitstop after the safety car and using his fresher soft tyres to pass a train of cars in the closing stages with some bold late-braking moves.
Perez recovered from his wing breakage to execute a similar strategy to Vergne and finish seventh as the tyres on the cars around him gave up the ghost towards the end.
Raikkonen paid dearly for his earlier loss of track position, and trailed home eighth despite pitting for fresh tyres under the safety car.
Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top 10, as the tyres on Valtteri Bottas’s Williams – which ran as high as sixth at one point – gave up on him. The Finn trailed home a pointless 11th.
McLaren’s Jenson Button also looked on course to score points, after a fine start and good strategy carried him from 11th on the grid to seventh, but the 2009 world champion’s car broke down seven laps from the finish.
RESULTS – 60 LAPS/TWO HOURS:
|2||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull/Renault||13.534s|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||14.273s|
|6||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso/Renault||56.801s|
|7||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||59.038s|
|9||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m01.661s|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m12.008s|
|17||Max Chilton||Marussia/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|-||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham/Renault||Not started|
Singapore GP: Software glitch caused Raikkonen’s qualifying issue
Ferrari has said a software problem was to blame for Kimi Raikkonen’s missed opportunity in Singapore Grand Prix qualifying.
The Finn looked set for one of his strongest performances of a difficult 2014 Formula 1 season as he topped Q1 in Singapore, but the car issue forced him to abandon Q3 after one run, leaving him seventh on the grid.
When asked by AUTOSPORT to describe the problem, Raikkonen replied: “I think it was some electronic thing, so when you tried to apply power it just cut off.
“Hopefully it is just a small thing, but it was big enough to destroy our qualifying in the end.”
Ferrari technical chief Pat Fry apologised to Raikkonen for the issue.
“We are sorry that he had a software problem on his final Q3 run, because he could definitely have got a better result,” said Fry.
Raikkonen said that the Q3 issue had not overshadowed the breakthrough he made with the Ferrari on Saturday.
“We’ve been struggling with the car a bit all weekend, but we kept changing it and we changed it for qualifying, which was good,” he said.
“It was one of the few times that we have changed it to something really good that I wanted.
“Unfortunately we had a problem, but there was a lot of potential today and it was nice to have a good feeling with the car.”
He also felt he had yet to show his full potential before the software glitch.
“I know I kept messing up the middle sector all the time and there was a lot of potential on the other sectors,” said Raikkonen.
“There was a good feeling with the car and I could put it where I wanted.
“It was feeling easier to drive, so it’s a shame what happened today, but that’s our sport.
“Sometimes you hope it would happen during a different weekend when you’re having difficult times.”
Singapore GP: Hamilton beats Rosberg to pole by 0.007s
Lewis Hamilton beat Formula 1 title rival Nico Rosberg to pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix by seven thousandths of a second.
Hamilton was only sixth fastest on his first run in the Q3 top 10 shootout but despite a lock-up at Turn 1 on his final lap, a particularly strong run through the middle part of the lap allowed him to pip Rosberg.
Red Bull locked out the second row, with Daniel Ricciardo third ahead of Sebastian Vettel, just half-a-tenth separating the two.
Fernando Alonso was fifth fastest, only a tenth behind the lead Red Bull, although Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was not able to do better than seventh after suffering a car problem on his second run.
Splitting the Ferraris was Felipe Massa, the Williams driver putting in an impressive lap to go fastest in Q3 on first-run times, but only able to make a tiny improvement on his second lap.
Valtteri Bottas was eighth in the second Williams, the Finn unable to improve on his second run.
Kevin Magnussen was ninth, only 0.569s off Hamilton’s pole position time, while Daniil Kvyat was slowest in Q3 after having only one set on super-soft rubber available for the final session.
Jenson Button and Jean-Eric Vergne were in the top 10 in Q2 on their first runs, but with both Williams drivers setting slow times after choosing to run used super-softs for their first run, were always in danger of missing the cut.
They were bumped down to 11th and 12th when Massa and Bottas improved on fresh rubber.
Button was able to improve on his second run, but a lock-up at the hairpin cost him time and he missed the cut by 23 thousandths of a second, ending up 11th.
Vergne was unable to improve on his second run, complaining about front-end grip and suffering a costly lock-up, meaning he qualified 11th.
Force India pairing Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez also both failed to improve on their second runs, ending up 13th and 15th respectively.
They were split by Esteban Gutierrez, showing a strong turn of pace in the upgraded Sauber.
Romain Grosjean was slowest of those who made it to Q2, complaining vociferously over the radio about an engine problem that cost him time.
Adrian Sutil came close to escaping Q1, but failed to relegate Perez into the dropzone with his final lap in the first segment of qualifying and ended up 17th.
Pastor Maldonado blamed a power unit problem on his final run for failing to reach Q2.
He was unable to fully recharge the battery, meaning he was lacking full power on his final lap, ending up 18th, behind Jules Bianchi.
The Frenchman put in a superb lap on his final effort to jump ahead of team-mate Max Chilton, who ended up 21st, with Caterham driver Kamui Kobayashi doing a good job to separate the pair.
Marcus Ericsson joined the session late after the Caterham team had to work flat out to solve an electrical problem that had struck in free practice, ending up last.
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m45.854s||0.173s|
|4||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull/Renault||1m45.902s||0.221s|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m47.362s||1.681s|
|12||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m46.989s||1.308s|
|13||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m47.308s||1.627s|
|15||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m47.575s||1.894s|
Singapore GP: Fernando Alonso and Ferrari back on top in practice
Fernando Alonso was quickest again for Ferrari in third practice for the 2014 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, edging Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo by 0.051 seconds.
Nico Rosberg was third fastest for Mercedes, 0.189s off Alonso’s time, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton sixth and 0.439s off the leader.
Most teams ran a typical Saturday programme of long runs on the harder of the two available tyre choices, followed by qualifying simulations on the softer one.
There was a flurry of rain at 1pm local time and it remained cloudy throughout the afternoon, with the ambient temperature steady at around 28C – 10C lower than Friday’s twilight session. Thus it was no surprise to hear drivers complaining of a lack of grip early on.
Ferrari appeared to be the fastest of Mercedes’ rivals based on AUTOSPORT’s analysis of raw pace on Friday, but it was Red Bull’s Ricciardo – whose average long-run pace on super-soft rubber was so impressive on day one – who was quickest early on with a five-lap run on softs.
Rosberg soon beat that benchmark by a full second, though, closely followed by Hamilton, who had a half-spin into Turn 5 that he attributed to an engine glitch.
Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel, who required an engine change during Friday, then split the Mercedes on their second runs.
Alonso waited until half the session had elapsed before setting out for a long run on softs – and, while his fastest laps were good enough to put him fifth at that point, he was a second off Rosberg’s long-run pace.
Rosberg was among the first to bolt on super-softs and run a qualifying simulation, setting a 1m47.488s lap that looked impressive until both Alonso and Ricciardo edged him out by over a tenth of a second. Rosberg exited his car and was observed in animated conversation with engineer Andrew Shovlin.
Jean Eric Vergne was again impressive on super-soft rubber in the final moments, logging a 1m47.693s lap in his Toro Rosso that was good for fourth place ahead of Vettel, who switched to super-softs very late in the session.
Williams – as usual – waited until Saturday to show its hand. On their long runs on soft tyres Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were sixth and seventh, splitting the Ferraris.
Massa reversed their order on super-soft rubber, three tenths faster than Bottas, and with Vergne’s arrival ahead they ended the session seventh and eighth, still faster than Kimi Raikkonen.
McLaren barely troubled the top 10 throughout, on both tyre choices, and both its drivers were outpointed on their qualifying simulations by Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg.
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m47.350s||0.051s||15|
|4||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m47.693s||0.394s||17|
|5||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull/Renault||1m47.711s||0.412s||17|
|11||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m48.450s||1.151s||11|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m48.637s||1.338s||18|
|15||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m49.078s||1.779s||15|
Kimi Raikkonen: “Room for improvement”
Kimi Raikkonen: “Overall this was a positive day, even if, as usual, there is room for improvement. In the first session we concentrated on looking at different set-up solutions and on my first set of Soft tyres I managed to do a good lap, then unfortunately some technical niggles prevented me from getting the most out of the second set. At the end of the session I had a problem with the brakes overheating, but the team managed to sort it out quickly and prepare the car for the second session. The changes we made to the set-up improved the handling of the car and with the Supersoft tyres there was plenty of grip.”