Malaysian GP: Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen cites bad timing for Q2 exit
Ferrari Formula 1 driver Kimi Raikkonen blamed his failure to reach the third Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying session on bad timing.
While his team-mate Sebastian Vettel headed the queue of cars out of the pitlane at the start of Q2 at Sepang as teams tried to pre-empt the expected heavy rain, Raikkonen was the fifth car out.
He took to the track behind Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson.
"I tried to overtake Ericsson because he was in front of me," said Raikkonen, who had been Mercedes’ closest rival in all three practice sessions.
"But at the last corner I couldn’t slow down because there were other people pushing me forward.
"We just got the timing wrong. That’s how it ended up."
With heavy rain preventing anybody from improving after their first laps, Raikkonen ended up qualifying in 11th position.
But he refused to blame his team for the traffic problem, although Ferrari chief Maurizio Arrivabene had suggested the Finn could have cleared Ericsson sooner.
"I don’t know if it helps to blame anyone," Raikkonen said.
"It’s easy to say afterwards that I should have been waiting behind Sebastian but the end result is this and whatever we will do now will not change it."
Vettel reached Q3 and went on to qualify second between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes.
Raikkonen added that the Ferrari was fast even though his feeling with it was not perfect.
"It’s not often that a car is completely perfect so there are always things we want to improve.
"It’s not the ideal feeling with the car, sliding a bit, but it’s part of being here in Malaysia.
"It’s very hot and I think you can see everybody has had issues.
"The lap time is good but the feeling could be better."
Malaysian GP: Lewis Hamilton resists Sebastian Vettel for wet pole
Lewis Hamilton beat Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari to pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix by less than a tenth of a second in a rain-affected Formula 1 qualifying session.
Hamilton’s first flying lap on intermediate tyres in Q3 proved enough to secure top spot, as Vettel split the reigning F1 world champion from his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg by qualifying second.
The two Mercedes drivers appeared to get in each other’s way in the crucial closing stages of the session, and Hamilton failed to improve on his final run while Rosberg’s final lap was only good enough for third.
Red Bull team-mates Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat were fourth and fifth, just ahead of the Toro Rosso of teenaged rookie Max Verstappen, who rounded out the top six.
The drivers who began the session on full wet tyres and had to switch to intermediates filled the remaining spots in the top 10.
Romain Grosjean’s Lotus split Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, who could only manage seventh and ninth fastest times respectively, while Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber rounded out the Q3 times.
A thunderstorm in the early stages of Q2 effectively reduced the second segment of qualifying to a single-lap shootout, and delayed the final session by half an hour.
The highest-profile casualty of the scramble for track position to get one dry lap in before the rain came was Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
The 2007 world champion was delayed at the final corner trying to pass Ericsson’s Sauber (the last car to make the cut in 10th) and by being passed by Hamilton’s Mercedes at Turn 1, and wound up only 11th fastest.
Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus, the Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez (who both ran on used medium tyres), and the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr – who impressively matched Vettel in setting the fourth fastest time in Q1 – were also eliminated.
Australian GP star Felipe Nasr failed to escape Q1, having struggled to get comfortable with his Sauber’s handling since taking his car back from Ferrari junior driver Raffaele Marciello after the first practice session on Friday.
The Brazilian qualified almost three tenths adrift of Perez and the same margin ahead of Jenson Button’s McLaren-Honda.
McLaren failed to get either of its cars out of Q1 for the second straight race, as Button and returning team-mate Fernando Alonso wound up 17th and 18th fastest.
Manor GP has at least completed track running this weekend, but failed to qualify within the 107 per cent cut-off in Q1.
Roberto Merhi set a time almost half a second too slow to make the cut-off (7.4s shy of the outright pace), while a fuel system problem discovered in morning practice confined his team-mate Will Stevens to the garage, so he failed to set a time.
However, Stevens registered a lap quick enough to make the cut in the second free practice session on Friday.
Previously the stewards have allowed cars to start the race in such circumstances, even if they haven’t posted a time in qualifying.
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m51.541s||1.707s|
|5||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1m51.950s||2.116s|
|6||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m51.980s||2.146s|
|13||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m43.022s||-|
|14||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m43.468s||-|
|15||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m43.700s||-|
Malaysian GP: Nico Rosberg beats Lewis Hamilton in final practice
Nico Rosberg beat Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the fastest time in final practice for Formula 1’s Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.
Last year’s title fight runner up Rosberg was quickest after the early runs on the hard-compound Pirelli tyres as Hamilton struggled with the brakes, locking up twice at Turn 9.
And in the final 10 minutes of the session, as drivers bolted on the medium tyres for their qualifying simulation runs, Rosberg improved by seven tenths to clock a 1m39.690s.
Hamilton complained that the "braking is all over the place" when he ran the hard tyres early in the session and when he fitted the mediums, his best time was 0.184s adrift of Rosberg.
The circuit was offering little grip in the 62C degree track temperatures, which combined with high-energy corners and heavy tyre degradation.
That caught a number of drivers out. Sergio Perez and Felipe Nasr were among the drivers to take trips off the road, there were countless severe lock-ups and Roberto Merhi spun at Turn 9 and just managed to keep the Manor out of the gravel.
The Ferraris proved to be Mercedes’ closest challengers, with Kimi Raikkonen setting the fastest first sector of all on his way to the third fastest time, 0.555s behind Rosberg, and Sebastian Vettel a few thousandths further back.
Felipe Massa had a couple of off-track excursions early in the session before clocking the fifth fastest time, 0.701s off the pace and a few thousandths quicker than Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas in sixth.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was among the first on track, the Australian managing 19 laps in total and ending the one-hour session seventh ahead of the two Toro Rossos of Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen.
Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson completed the top 10, just edging out the two Lotuses of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado.
Daniil Kvyat asked for set-up changes on his Red Bull midway through the session after telling the team it had made a "step back". He ended up 13th, ahead of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg.
Fernando Alonso was 2.3s off the pace, finishing in 15th ahead of the second Force India of Sergio Perez, Sauber’s Felipe Nasr and McLaren team-mate Jenson Button.
The Manors brought up the rear, with Merhi heading team-mate Will Stevens.
Merhi’s time of 1m46.647s was fractions inside 107 per cent – the margin required in Q1 to ensure qualification – which means both Manor drivers have achieved the feat this weekend.
PRACTICE THREE TIMES:
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m40.590s||0.900s||19|
|8||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m40.601s||0.911s||19|
|9||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m40.989s||1.299s||18|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1m41.775s||2.085s||14|
|14||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m41.804s||2.114s||15|
|16||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m42.099s||2.409s||14|
Sepang, 27th March 2015 – Kimi Raikkonen: “Today we did all we were supposed to do. In the morning the feeling with the car was better, in the afternoon was a bit more tricky, we had some handling issues and some problems with the wind and the heat, but the laptime were not so bad. Unluckily we had red flag when we went out with new softer tyres.The car is still not perfect, but I’m sure we can improve for tomorrow. We have some work to do on the set up to make everything easier, but we’ll do our best and we’ll see where we end up in qualifying”.
Raikkonen incontentabile: “Vettura non perfetta, possiamo migliorare”
27 marzo 2015 – Kimi Raikkonen gran protagonista nella prima giornata del Gran Premio di Malesia. Iceman tallona la Mercedes, soprattutto nel passo gara, ma nelle dichiarazioni non si fa prendere dall’entusiasmo.
Un venerdì così, Kimi Raikkonen l’anno scorso non l’aveva mai vissuto. Consistente nel passo gara, competitivo sul giro secco, nessun problema tecnico a rallentarne il programma di lavoro. Il tribolato 2014 sembra già lontano e la SF15-T forma con il finlandese una coppia davvero temibile anche per le velocissime Mercedes, oggi alle prese con qualche guaio di troppo che ne ha ostacolato le prove libere.
Iceman si è fermato a soli tre decimi da Hamilton nella simulazione di qualifica, ma ottenendo il suo tempo con gomma già rodata dopo aver trovato bandiera rossa durante la prima uscita. Nel passo gara è stato invece un metronomo, girando costantemente sul piede dell’1’45″ con le medie, un passo che solo Hamilton è parso in grado di riuscire a battere, seppur di poco.
Nonostante il quadro incoraggiante e il caldo torrido, il finlandese tiene fede al soprannome di Iceman e nelle dichiarazioni non si lascia andare a facile entusiasmi: “Oggi abbiamo completato tutto il lavoro previsto dal programma. Al mattino ho avuto un buon feeling con la vettura, mentre nel pomeriggio è stato un po’ più difficile, abbiamo avuto qualche problema di guidabilità ed altri, causati dal vento e dal caldo, ma il tempo sul giro non era male. Purtroppo quando siamo usciti con la mescola più morbida abbiamo avuto bandiera rossa. La vettura non è ancora perfetta, ma sono certo che per domani possiamo migliorare. Dobbiamo lavorare sul set up per cercare di rendere tutto più semplice, ma faremo del nostro meglio. Vedremo dove saremo in qualifica”.
Raikkonen ha completato in tutto 46 giri, di cui ben 29 nella sessione pomeridiana.
Malaysian GP: Lewis Hamilton tops practice two after early problem
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton bounced back from an engine problem that sidelined him for the morning session to top the times in second practice for Formula 1’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
The reigning world champion stopped on track on only his fifth lap in first practice following a failure on the power unit inlet system and missed the rest of the session.
But Mercedes fixed the problem and got Hamilton out 40 minutes into second practice at a scorching hot Sepang International Circuit.
The Briton’s initial flying lap on the hard-compound Pirelli tyres was good enough for sixth but his run was disrupted by telemetry problems.
He rejoined the fray with just over 20 minutes remaining and clocked the fastest lap of the day – a 1m39.790s on the mediums to finish 0.373 seconds clear of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Nico Rosberg led the way after the initial runs on the hards, but lost time in sectors two and three on his qualifying simulation and ended up third quickest, 0.428s adrift of team-mate Hamilton.
Drivers struggled for grip as track temperatures hovered around 60C, hotter than anything the teams encountered in the entire 2014 season.
Sebastian Vettel was caught out on his qualifying simulation, losing the rear end of the Ferrari on the approach to Turn 11.
The German kept the car out of the gravel but did not do another quick lap on the options, instead choosing to switch his attention to longer runs. He ended up seventh.
After spending the first half of the session in the garage, Daniil Kvyat eventually headed out on track and pumped in the fourth fastest time in the Red Bull, 0.556s off the pace.
However, there were frowns on the Red Bull pitwall with a few minutes remaining when the Russian reported an engine problem on team radio.
Valtteri Bottas was fifth quickest ahead of Williams team-mate Felipe Massa, whose team was given a suspended fine after the Brazilian ran a set of tyres outside the permitted window in practice one.
Teenager Max Verstappen was eighth quickest in the Toro Rosso, 1.4s adrift of Hamilton, with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo completing the top 10.
Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado was 11th, followed by Sauber’s Felipe Nasr in 12th and Force India’s Sergio Perez in 13th.
Carlos Sainz Jr could not repeat his good form for Toro Rosso from first practice, where he finished fifth quickest, as he ended up 14th, 1.1s slower than team-mate Verstappen while Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was 15th.
McLaren was able to get some good mileage, but Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button finished down in 16th and 17th respectively, 2.7s off the pace.
Alonso’s long-run was disrupted when he locked-up at the Turn 15 hairpin and skated off into the gravel before recovering to the pits with a flat-spot.
Romain Grosjean reported a loss of power and retreated to the pits, with Lotus ending the Frenchman’s session 30 minutes early to investigate the problem.
Grosjean was 18th quickest, after completing just seven laps, one place ahead of Manor’s Will Stevens.
The other Manor of Roberto Merhi finished last, having brought out the red flag with a little over 30 minutes of the session gone.
The Spaniard, who ended up 20th and last, looked like he was struggling for rear grip and spun at Turn 11, beaching the Manor in the gravel.
|4||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1m40.346s||0.556s||17|
|8||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m41.220s||1.430s||30|
|10||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m41.799s||2.009s||8|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m42.242s||2.452s||24|
|14||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m42.291s||2.501s||31|
|15||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m42.330s||2.540s||28|
Malaysian GP: Rosberg fastest in practice, problems for Hamilton
Nico Rosberg topped opening practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix, with Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton completing only four laps before stopping on track.
The German was fastest by a second during the first half-hour of the 90 minutes of running.
Rosberg then bolted on his second set of hard-compound Pirelli tyres and improved his time by 0.437s, although some strong sector times suggested that he could have been even quicker.
Hamilton was unable to complete a flying lap after aborting his first four-lap run and then grinding to a halt on his fifth lap at Turn 9.
Radio communications suggested that this was a precautionary measure because of concerns about damaging the engine, leading to the team telling Hamilton to shut the car down rather than bringing it back to the pits.
Hamilton’s absence meant that Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen was able to end the session second fastest, banging in a lap just 0.373s off Rosberg in the dying moments of the session.
Raikkonen had run well on his first set of hard rubber, although he did have a brief off at Turn 15, ending up as best of the rest.
He then set a time within nine tenths of Rosberg before his late improvement.
Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel had a troubled start to the day, failing to set a time on his first set of tyres, which can only be used during the first 30 minutes of the session.
But he returned to the track late and went third fastest, 0.861s down, momentarily snatching second from Raikkonen late in the session, seconds before the Finn improved again.
Romain Grosjean was fourth fastest for Lotus, although one of the stars of the session was Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr in fifth.
The Spaniard was second fastest in the first half-hour and that time proved to be good enough for fifth overall even though he was unable to make the expected improvement on his second set of tyres.
Daniel Ricciardo was sixth fastest ahead of Max Verstappen, with the lead Williams of Valtteri Bottas eighth fastest.
Bottas was returning after missing the Australian GP thanks to a back injury, although he had been warned that he may suffer some pain.
Daniil Kvyat was ninth fastest in the second Red Bull ahead of the lead Sauber of Marcus Ericsson.
Felipe Massa was 11th fastest, but the Brazilian should have set a quicker time.
On his first flier on his second set of rubber, he ran wide at Turn 11 and took a bite of the gravel, and while he subsequently improved it’s likely he would have been several places higher had he not made the error.
Pastor Maldonado was 12th, just ahead of Sauber debutant Raffaele Marciello, who had taken over Felipe Nasr’s car.
The returning Fernando Alonso was just behind in 14th place, the McLaren driver lapping 2.761s off the pace.
That put the McLaren ahead of the two Force Indias, with Jenson Button down in 17th, a couple of tenths slower than Alonso.
The Manor team made good on its promise to hit the track early in practice. Will Stevens left the pits in the second minute and team-mate Roberto Merhi completed his first lap after 13 minutes.
Although both managed to complete just a single installation lap during the first half-hour of the session, Stevens returned to the track on a second set of tyres and worked down to a best time of 1m46.686s to take 18th place.
Crucially, this was within 107 per cent of Rosberg’s pacesetting time, which is encouraging for Manor’s hopes of qualifying.
Merhi was unable to return to the circuit until the final 15 minutes after his first lap, but while he managed to set a lap of 1m47.683s on that brief run, that was just over half a second off the 107 per cent barrier.
|5||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m41.596s||1.472s||26|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m41.787s||1.663s||15|
|7||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m41.803s||1.679s||23|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1m42.055s||1.931s||18|
|15||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m42.893s||2.769s||13|
|16||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m43.054s||2.930s||15|
Raikkonen: “Working as one team”
Sepang, 26 March – Kimi Raikkonen didn’t have much to say in the press conference that marked the official start of the weekend in Sepang, home to the second Grand Prix of the season. But what he did say was packed with confidence.
“We are in a much better position than we were, say even at the end of last season, so in that way it’s a nice place to be but obviously we still have to improve quite a bit,” said the Finn when asked to assess the situation after the opening race. “We want to be in front and we still don’t have the speed exactly, at least in qualifying, to be there. However, in the race I think we are a bit stronger when compared to Mercedes. I think it will be a fun year, obviously not an ideal start of the year for me in Melbourne, after we got some damage from the start and had those issues in the pit stops, but these things can happen sometimes but at least we had pretty good speed. I’m sure we’re going to have strong races and good battles, but like I said we still have some work to do to be absolutely where we want to be but we have done a good job so far.”
Even if Kimi’s Melbourne race didn’t live up to expectations, the Finn felt very comfortable with the SF15-T and he explained this was down to a combination of two factors: the new car suits his driving style better and it is a big step forward in general compared to last year’s car. “It’s the whole package,” he maintained. “We improved the engine a lot but we improved the chassis itself a lot as well. You cannot just point to one area that has been improved from last year. Everybody is working as one team and things are going in the right direction and people are pushing and doing a good job. Like I said, it’s still early days. We still have to work hard and improve things but, from where we started, so far we have done a good job.”
Ferrari F1 boss says no need to panic over Mercedes’ advantage
Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene says there is no need to panic about the advantage Mercedes currently has in Formula 1.
Sebastian Vettel scored a podium on his Ferrari debut in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, while Kimi Raikkonen was on-course for at least fifth before a wheelnut problem.
It was a much improved performance from a team that was the fourth best on merit in 2014 and it led Arrivabene to suggest Ferrari should focus on Mercedes rather than looking over its shoulder to Williams and Red Bull.
However, the team made mistakes during qualifying, having believed it had a car capable of at P3 on the grid, while Raikkonen encountered problems during both his stops in the race.
And Vettel finished the Australian Grand Prix more than 30 seconds adrift of pace-setter Mercedes, which took a comfortable one-two with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
"It’s just a question of continuing like this with our technology, working and respecting our programme without panicking," said Arrivabene.
"We need to also keep the spirit of the team up.
"For the team I was happy, but as a team principal only half of me was happy because one car was stopped on the track and the other guys were on the podium.
"So for me we have done half the job."
Raikkonen said after the Australian GP that he believes Ferrari is much closer to Mercedes in race trim than it is on one-lap pace.
"The car is obviously not fast enough yet but I think the gap is much smaller in the race than qualifying," said the Finn.
"I believe in the race we can be up there and fight at the front."
Okay, thank you. Kimi, coming to you, obviously you had some problems in Australia towards the end of the race but the pace all weekend was good and you were close to your team-mate Vettel throughout, so it looks like it’s going to be a good in-house battle between the two of you. How do you see it?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Obviously we are in a much better position than we were say even at the end of last year so in that way it’s a nice place to be but obviously we still have to improve quite a bit. We want to be in front and we still don’t have the speed exactly, at least in qualifying, to be there. In the race I think we are a bit stronger compared to Mercedes. But I think it will be a fun year, obviously not an ideal start of the year and we got some damage from the start and had those issues in the pit stops but you know it can happen sometimes but at least we had pretty good speed. I’m sure we’re going to have strong races and good battles but like I said we still have some work to do to be absolutely where we want to be but we have done a good job so far.
Can you tell us what it is about the chassis and the way it handles in particular that makes it a better race car for you personally?
KR: I think it’s the whole package. It’s not just the engine we improved. Yes, we improved that a lot but we improved the chassis itself a lot as well. It’s the whole package, you cannot just point to one area that has been improved from last year, it’s the whole thing. I think how everybody works and it’s one team and things are going in the right direction and people are pushing and doing a good job. Like I said, it’s still early days. We still have to work hard and improve things but where we started, so far we have done a good job.
Q: (Dan Knutson – Speed Sport) Accidents can happen to experienced drivers, so Nico, and Kimi, do you every worry about having accidents? Has there been a time in your F1 career where you maybe thought ‘I don’t want to go out?’
NR: Yeah, of course sometimes I think about it and there is a certain element of fear when I’m driving sometimes but that, I think is natural, and holds me back sometimes to go too far beyond the limit. But it doesn’t make me slower in any way.
KR: I’ve had quite a few accidents in the past and last year one not so nice one. But it’s part of the game. If you make a mistake, you pay a price. It’s up to you. If you’re not prepared to take the risk or if you’re scared, I’m sure there’s plenty of guys that are willing to jump in a car and race. So, no, I think you… obviously it’s part of the thing but I think you have better chances to get hurt in normal traffic than on the race circuits.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, can you expect this circuit to give your car the same chance to have a good position , as you had at Melbourne?
KR: Well, I hope it’s better than Melbourne for me. Like I said, we had the speed and I think things are running smoothly, we just have to avoid mistakes. We had some bad luck at the start but the car’s been quick at every circuit we’ve been to so far so I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be here. I think it could be even better than it was at the last race. It’s a proper circuit and I think it will be good, fitting well at this circuit so we’ll just wait and see.
Terruzzi racconta: Kimi Räikkönen
Kimi Raikkonen divide. Amori senza mezze misure contro perplessità in circolazione da anni.
L’argomento è attuale e (sempre) scottante. Perché Kimi Raikkonen divide. Amori senza mezze misure contro perplessità in circolazione da anni. Lo dico subito, onde evitare inutili polemiche: penso si tratti di un talento eccelso. E, forse, qualche critica arriva proprio da questo assunto. Un ragazzo straordinariamente dotato, anche a detta di chi ha lavorato e lavora con lui. Il che ha prodotto e produce attese alte ma anche qualche delusione. Intanto stiamo parlando di un ragazzo sensibilissimo, altro che “Iceman”. Patisce e si emoziona, Kimi. Non mostra i propri sentimenti ma chi lo conosce non ha dubbi. La notazione è importante per leggere acuti e difficoltà, basti pensare al rapporto con la sua prima Ferrari, con Jean Todt molto portato a mettere sullo stesso piano Kimi e Massa; alla straordinaria reazione che ebbe dopo l’incidente proprio di Felipe in Ungheria nel 2009, quando l’intera squadra si strinse attorno a lui; al rendimento offerto con la Lotus in una condizione di bassa pressione e di massima attenzione da parte del team. Al contrario, la stagione scorsa, ad esempio, ha mostrato un pilota in imbarazzo, martellato sul piano psicologico da Alonso e quindi incapace di esprimersi liberamente in pista.
Sa entusiasmare. Ma arrivano anche giornate storte e buie. Il che, pensando proprio al talento di cui dispone, determina critiche più marcate.
Penso che Raikkonen possa essere quest’anno più veloce di Vettel. Ma deve applicare al suo fare un rendimento mentale, in primo luogo, costantemente smaltato. Per questo era importante il debutto australiano. Dove Kimi – trattandosi di un grande pilota e di un campione del mondo – ha girato forte in condizioni di “libertà” ma ha pagato subito nel rapporto con Sebastian. Quando poteva e forse doveva dare un immediato segno felice.
Conosco Kimi da molti anni. So benissimo quanto tolleri poco o niente noi tutti, giornalisti. Quanto sia allergico ai contatti fisici di ogni genere. Quanto poco gli importi dei tifosi, dell’autografo da firmare, eccetera eccetera. Credo piaccia a molti anche per questo. Anni fa, durante una intervista per Grand Prix gli domandai quale fosse il momento peggiore della stagione. Ero sicuro – matematicamente sicuro – che avrebbe risposto come rispose: “Questo”. Invece di tagliare domanda e risposta dall’intervista, mandai in onda il tutto, proprio per dare maggiore realismo e verità alla conversazione. Un gesto che si è rivelato un boomerang per me. Ogni volta che muovo un appunto, sembra che voglia vendicarmi di quella frase. E’ vero il contrario. Anche perché una intervista a Raikkonen produce ben poco altro. Non ha alcuna voglia di farle, le interviste, e risponde ai minimi termini. Il che lo rende simpatico persino a me – sinceramente – visto che evita di perdere e farci perdere tempo con banalità solite e trite.
Piuttosto mi pare più sereno oggi, lontano da quei momenti di “bambola” conseguenti a serate non proprio in linea con la vita di un atleta (fatti suoi anche questi, lo dico da bevitore gaudente), anche se tutto ciò non mi impedisce di considerare Raikkonen spesso deludente. Non in quanto personaggio. In quanto pilota di prima classe. Se trattiamo Kimi da fenomeno, come talvolta ha dimostrato di essere, allora il bilancio non quadra. Perché sono molti gli elementi che possono incidere sulla prestazione. Carattere, come detto, condizioni psicologiche, condizioni tecniche. Raikkonen non si adatta a qualunque macchina. E quando non si adatta il suo rendimento ne risente in maniera persino eccessiva.
Quindi, sempre considerando Kimi come un grande pilota, mi pare giusto segnalare quando da grande pilota non si comporta. Capisco il tifo. Non la difesa a oltranza, qualunque cosa accada o venga detta. Raikkonen è un originale, è sincero, è fortissimo. Ma è anche discontinuo, appare perduto talvolta. Il che abbassa la media, per così dire. Rispetto a chi riesce ad andar forte sempre e comunque. In questo senso, proprio ora, ha una occasione decisiva. Perché Vettel, che gli somiglia nei difetti – piccoli o grandi che siano – può essere battuto. A patto che non lo lasci scappare subito, che non gli lasci tutto il campo libero. Nelle relazioni personali, nelle zone centrali della scena. Altrimenti potrebbero arrivare altri patimenti. Troppi, considerando il bilancio del 2014. E questo costituisce (dovrebbe costituire) un timore e una ammissione soprattutto per chi lo ama.