Singapore GP: Sebastian Vettel fastest in second practice
Sebastian Vettel beat Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber to the fastest time in Friday’s second Singapore Grand Prix practice session after a mighty battle between the duo.
Championship leader Vettel and Webber swapped the top spot repeatedly on the soft-compound tyres early on. Webber won that battle, with a time of 1m46.157s giving him a 0.251-second advantage over the German, who had just usurped his original mark.
Vettel blew that pace away when he moved onto supersofts and lapped in 1m44.249s.
Webber’s response was compromised by a firm clout of the wall near the end of the lap, leaving him 0.604s down in the end.
Third-placed Nico Rosberg, who pipped Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 0.110s, was a second off Vettel’s pace.
Steering and brake issues again limited Romain Grosjean’s mileage, but did not stop him putting his Lotus fifth – just 0.043s behind Hamilton – during what little running he managed.
That placed him ahead of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button in the top Ferrari and McLaren respectively, and Kimi Raikkonen in the second Lotus.
Adrian Sutil and Sergio Perez completed the top 10.
Bar minor brushes such as Webber’s, everyone managed to stay away from the barriers with the exception of Pastor Maldonado, whose Williams required a new front wing.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m44.249s 34 2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m44.853s +0.604s 30 3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m45.258s +1.009s 34 4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m45.368s +1.119s 33 5. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m45.411s +1.162s 18 6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m45.691s +1.442s 32 7. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m45.754s +1.505s 30 8. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m45.778s +1.529s 32 9. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m46.002s +1.753s 27 10. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m46.025s +1.776s 31 11. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m46.406s +2.157s 34 12. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m46.429s +2.180s 33 13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m46.606s +2.357s 33 14. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m46.808s +2.559s 36 15. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m46.870s +2.621s 33 16. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m47.287s +3.038s 29 17. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m47.434s +3.185s 33 18. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m47.761s +3.512s 25 19. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m49.434s +5.185s 34 20. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m49.526s +5.277s 34 21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m49.619s +5.370s 33 22. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m49.731s +5.482s 30
Singapore GP: Lewis Hamilton leads opening practice
Lewis Hamilton ended first practice for the Singapore Grand Prix atop the order in his Mercedes.
The Briton led the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel in a tentative session that took a long time to get going as even backmarkers waited for track conditions to improve.
The majority of order changes at the front took place around the halfway point.
In a busy few minutes, the early pacesetting Williams duo and McLaren’s Sergio Perez were usurped as the Red Bulls and Mercedes took control.
Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Webber swapped the top spot several times before Hamilton’s 1m47.055s secured practice one honours.
Webber was 0.365 seconds slower in second, with Vettel half a second further back but achieving his best time near the end of a long run.
Rosberg completed the top four ahead of Lotus team-mates Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. The latter’s running was limited by a steering problem.
Fernando Alonso was the fastest Ferrari in seventh.
Perez fell back to eighth, six places ahead of McLaren team-mate Jenson Button,
Felipe Massa was also outside the top 10 in the second Ferrari in 12th as Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne and Sauber’s improving rookie Esteban Gutierrez claimed ninth and 10th, with Pastor Maldonado’s Williams 11th.
The 22 race drivers took part in the session, with no one standing aside for a reserve as teams preferred to maximise their lead racers’ track time on the tricky Marina Bay street track.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m47.055s 20 2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m47.420s +0.365s 20 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m47.885s +0.830s 19 4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m48.239s +1.184s 23 5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m48.354s +1.299s 18 6. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m48.355s +1.300s 12 7. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m48.362s +1.307s 21 8. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m49.267s +2.212s 20 9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m49.348s +2.293s 23 10. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m49.355s +2.300s 21 11. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m49.481s +2.426s 20 12. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m49.493s +2.438s 16 13. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m49.510s +2.455s 21 14. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m49.608s +2.553s 20 15. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m49.887s +2.832s 18 16. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m50.092s +3.037s 20 17. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m50.222s +3.167s 17 18. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m50.757s +3.702s 16 19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m52.359s +5.304s 16 20. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m52.673s +5.618s 15 21. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m52.920s +5.865s 24 22. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m53.647s +6.592s 23
How Kimi Raikkonen’s seemingly unlikely return to Ferrari came to fruition
Sky F1’s Mark Hughes on how Luca di Montezemelo had to be convinced and what the deal means for Fernando Alonso’s position at Ferrari.
Coming into the Monza weekend many were adamant that the Raikkonen/Ferrari deal had already been done. It had not. The terms had been agreed IF Kimi decided to join.
But his preferred option was to get from Lotus the guarantees he sought for 2014 – which were financial and technical. He needed some solid evidence that the money was going to be there to compete at a high level and certain technical assurances.
He was unable to get those assurances in time and, with the window of opportunity at Ferrari threatening to close later in the week, it was only at the end of the weekend that Raikkonen gave Ferrari the nod. That’s the way it was described by Kimi’s manager Steve Robertson and that tallies absolutely with what Ferrari was saying coming into the weekend.
Ferrari’s open admission for the first time that it was pursuing Raikkonen was a new element to the story as the circus gathered at Monza. For that admission to be made implied that Luca di Montezemelo had been persuaded to the logic of the recruitment of Kimi.
One year ago he absolutely refused to countenance such a development. Back then, the management below di Montezemelo was already absolutely convinced that Raikkonen – a non-political driver with a great turn of speed, a points-harvesting machine – was the ideal partner to Fernando Alonso. In terms of helping the team to a constructors’ championship, his consistent speed would surely be invaluable.
But there was one big, seemingly insurmountable problem, they said. Their boss, Luca di Montezemelo. Kimi had not been very respectful of him when the time came to leave and that was causing an impasse.
Subsequent to his being paid out of his contract one year early in order to make way for Fernando Alonso at the end of 2009, Raikkonen expressed his belief that it had all been to do with Ferrari’s desire to get the Spanish bank Santander on board.
But that was only partly true; there were a couple of additional contributory factors, the more important of which was that Raikkonen’s passiveness was not galvanising the team in the way it believed was necessary. It has historically operated best with a strong team leader – John Surtees, Niki Lauda, Michael Schumacher. Ferrari felt that Alonso had already exhibited the traits it needed.
So Alonso – and Santander – were welcomed on board, while Kimi was paid to go away. Dismissing Felipe Massa – recovering from serious injury – would have been a brutal sacrifice and besides his lesser status made for an easier team-mate ‘sell’ to Alonso as to why he should join than Raikkonen would have been.
But it’s a delicate balancing act between leading the team and criticising it and of late Alonso’s frustrated comments have been perceived by Ferrari as divisive. The relationship between them has definitely deteriorated. Meanwhile, Massa’s form after improving late last year and into 2013, then fell back to inconsistency.
It became obvious that a more consistently strong team mate was needed. In late July the rumours about Raikkonen again surfaced – and a Ferrari spokesman said at the time that, ‘It would be almost impossible to imagine’ though stopped short of an outright denial. Somewhere between then and the Monza weekend Montezemelo was convinced of the logic of Raikkonen’s recruitment, a process perhaps aided by the boss’ irritation at Alonso’s public criticism.
Alonso’s preference was for Massa to stay, but clearly Ferrari was no longer in the mood to cater to Fernando’s every demand. It made Raikkonen an offer – and all that remained was for Lotus not to be able to give the assurances he was seeking for next year and the return of Kimi, and one of the most fascinating driver line-ups of all time, was complete.
– It’s good this way. I’m really happy that we got things cleared up. It’s better to be in a big team due to next year’s radical regulation changes – like we have seen during the years, Räikkönen assures TS.
Steve Robertson emphasizes that Räikkönen made one of all time’s comebacks when he returned with Lotus.
– I never asked Kimi to return. It was he who wanted to come back. I never said it to him, but I thought he was too young to quit in 2009. I was surprised when he contacted me and told he wanted to return. I thought it could be difficult, especially since Michael Schumacher was at the same time in trouble after his comeback.
– We managed to get him into good positions and then Kimi made a completely fantastic comeback, which now leads back to Ferrari, Robertson said.
Whitmarsh predicts Alonso’s explosion
F1 | Turun Sanomat 08:28
Martin Whitmarsh has worked with both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen.
Turun Sanomat asked Whitmarsh directly if he believes that these two could work well together in Ferrari.
– I don’t see this duo as a match. Kimi doesn’t care who is in the other car, but Fernando won’t like the fact that it’s Kimi. That’s my summary to your question, Whitmarsh replied.
Then is it a completely impossible equation?
– Drivers don’t have to love each other and these two drivers are very "slash and burn" -top drivers. In some things they can be an incredibly strong team when thinking of their driving skills, but it will become a very challenging situation for the team itself.
– This setting doesn’t affect Kimi at all, but I predict that it affects Fernando very deeply, Whitmarsh said.
Never say never
Kolumnit | Turun Sanomat 08:05
And around we go…. but who would had believed, that after year 2009 Kimi Räikkönen and Luca di Montezemolo would shake hands upon a new contract.
’’Never say never’’ is something Steve Robertson has told me over and over again when chatting about next year’s options, since at first I refused to believe in the Ferrari-rumours.
As far as I understand, Red Bull started to procrastinate their driver choice and would had made their decision at the end of the season. Räikkönen didn’t stay put waiting for that.
Fernando Alonso has tried to bring the title to Maranello for his 4th year. Räikkönen again comes to the team as their latest champion.
Maybe this made di Montezemolo react in this way. He knows what a 21-years long remorse trip á la Canossa from year 1979 to year 2000 without a title feels like. Now he has walked that path for almost a one-third.
Räikkönen beats Alonso at least when it comes to patience. Alonso started to show signs of frustration in July and he didn’t hide his critisism towards the team from the media.
Hence many believe that calling back Räikkönen to Ferrari is a certain disciplinary action for the Spanish star. Alonso has to learn the hard way that no driver is bigger than the team. The real boss is still Enzo Ferrari in some way, who’s guideline di Montezemolo still follows to the letter.
Next year Alonso’s and Räikkönen’s mutual battle starts from a clean table – equally.
Fire and Ice
The Iceman and Alonso. Formula One’s most taciturn Finn, paired with one of the paddock’s most eloquent talents. A passionate and fiery Latin temperament coupled with one of the most laid-back men in motorsport history.
Ferrari are either total geniuses or completely mad (geni or scemi, maybe…), and we’ll have to wait until mid-2014 to work out which is which.
On the side of geni comes the good sense of having two of the sport’s fastest drivers on the same team. Pace should mean points, and points most definitely mean prizes. Both Raikkonen and Alonso are top-tier drivers capable of squeezing every last drop of performance from a car, both men are capable of delivering championships, and both men are entirely logical targets for the Scuderia. A winning team needs winning drivers, after all.
And on the side of scemi comes every version you’ve ever heard of Luca di Montzemolo’s comment that he didn’t want to put two roosters in a henhouse. Partnering Alonso with Lewis Hamilton at McLaren went down about as well as a suicidal lead balloon wearing concrete boots. Several seasons have elapsed since then, but there’s no real indication that the Spanish racer has become any better at dealing with a competitive teammate.
Quite the opposite, really: on those rare occasions when Felipe Massa out-performs Alonso in qualifying, the atmosphere in the Ferrari motorhome is several shades past awkward and into walking on eggshells mode. Luckily for the team, who then have to work in an atmosphere most kindly described as strained, Massa hasn’t been beating his teammate into a cocked hat.
But Kimi could prove to be a real problem when it comes to internal harmony. He’s quick, he has no interest in mind games, and he just wants to race. Sometimes he’ll be faster than Fernando, and sometimes he won’t. But on those occasions where Fernando is faster than Kimi, the only message emanating from the Iceman’s cockpit will be a four-letter version of ‘leave me alone, I know what I’m doing’.
There is a growing discontent at Maranello with Alonso, who has had to be reminded on more than one occasion that Ferrari is bigger than any of its drivers.
While racing drivers are trained to put themselves first in the cockpit, Ferrari drivers – be they champions or not – must always think first of the Scuderia, of the men and women proudly wearing red overalls in Maranello, and of the unwavering support of the tifosi. The holy trinity of prancing horse, devoted worker, and passionate fan will endure far longer than any one driver. Michael Schumacher understood this intuitively, but Alonso is still learning.
With Kimi getting his head down and concentrating on the racing, Alonso will need to work hard to restrain any negative outpouring of emotion he might feel towards the car. While the Spanish racer’s frustration has often been justified, any complaint will stand in stark contrast to Kimi’s indecipherable mumbles.
In victory, and in positivity, Ferrari adore Alonso’s passion. But the flipside of a passionate nature is that it also rears its head in the tough times. Faced with Kimi as a teammate, Alonso will do well to live by that adage so beloved of grandmothers around the world: if you don’t have anything nice to say, better to not say anything.
Monaco GP: Nico Rosberg wins wild race for Mercedes
Nico Rosberg finally secured Mercedes’ first Formula 1 win of the 2013 season as he maintained the lead throughout a Monaco Grand Prix interrupted by two safety cars and a red flag.
Mercedes was unable to repeat its qualifying one-two, as Lewis Hamilton fell to fourth behind the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.
Rosberg held his lead at the start and was able to maintain an advantage of around two seconds for the majority of the race, whether in tyre conservation mode or showing his true pace.
Hamilton lost ground when the safety car came out amid the first scheduled pitstops.
Felipe Massa repeated his qualifying crash at Sainte Devote, prompting the interruption and sending the Ferrari driver to hospital for checks.
As all those yet to pit immediately dived in to do so, Hamilton had to queue behind team-mate Rosberg and emerged behind the two Red Bulls.
Hamilton then spent the rest of the race mounting attack after attack on Webber for third, getting alongside through Rascasse at one point but never making it ahead.
Rosberg was not rattled by a mid-race stoppage, caused when contact between Max Chilton’s Marussia and Pastor Maldonado’s Williams sent the latter flying violently into the Tabac barriers.
Maldonado was unhurt in the incident, for which the stewards punished Chilton with a drive-through penalty.
While Rosberg cruised to victory ahead of the Vettel-Webber-Hamilton train, which only spread out in the final moments, the rest of the pack engaged in some spectacular and wild racing.
Force India’s Adrian Sutil pulled off brave passes on Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso into Loews.
He then benefited when contact between Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez at the chicane late on left the Lotus with a puncture and caused damage that would ultimately force Perez to park.
Button came through to sixth, having earlier had a spat with his McLaren team-mate Perez when the Mexican cut the chicane to hold him off.
Perez was ordered to let Button past, but overtook him cleanly at the same spot later on.
He then had another chicane incident with Alonso, and this time it was the Ferrari asked to move aside having cut the corner.
Raikkonen was next on Perez’s list, but on that occasion the chicane move ended in contact.
Alonso lost out to Button in the traffic jam behind Perez’s wounded car and finished a subdued seventh.
Jean-Eric Vergne chased the Ferrari home in eighth.
Paul di Resta converted 17th on the grid to ninth place, thanks to pitting as early as lap nine and making his tyres last to the end.
Raikkonen’s recovery drive ultimately earned him a point, as he overtook Nico Hulkenberg’s Sauber on the final lap.
The other major incident came when Romain Grosjean ploughed into the back of Daniel Ricciardo at the chicane, causing the final safety car.
Jules Bianchi also crashed, slewing into the Sainte Devote barriers, having earlier sustained damage on debris from the Chilton/Maldonado crash.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The Monaco Grand Prix Monte Carlo, Monaco; 78 laps; 260.520km; Weather: . Classified: Pos Driver Team 1. Rosberg Mercedes 2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 3. Webber Red Bull-Renault 4. Hamilton Mercedes 5. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 6. Button McLaren-Mercedes 7. Alonso Ferrari 8. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 9. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes 10. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 11. Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 12. Bottas Williams-Renault 13. Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 14. Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 15. van der Garde Caterham-Renault DNF. Perez McLaren-Mercedes DNF. Grosjean Lotus-Renault DNF. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari DNF. Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth DNF. Maldonado Williams-Renault DNF. Massa Ferrari DNF. Pic Caterham-Renault World Championship standings, round 6: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Vettel 107 1. Red Bull-Renault 164 2. Raikkonen 86 2. Ferrari 123 3. Alonso 78 3. Lotus-Renault 112 4. Hamilton 62 4. Mercedes 109 5. Webber 57 5. Force India-Mercedes 44 6. Rosberg 47 6. McLaren-Mercedes 37 7. Massa 45 7. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 12 8. Di Resta 28 8. Sauber-Ferrari 5 9. Grosjean 26 10. Button 25 11. Sutil 16 12. Perez 12 13. Ricciardo 7 14. Hulkenberg 5 15. Vergne 5 Da Autosport.com
Kimi Räikkönen Happy to Sneak Under the Radar
After a hat-trick of second place finishes, Kimi moves to within four points of Sebastian Vettel at the head of the Drivers’ Championship; he’s not getting carried away just yet though…
P2 for the third consecutive race; how are you feeling?
Unfortunately it’s second place again so it’s not time to celebrate too much. The car felt good and we did pretty much all we could today, but we didn’t have the pace to challenge Fernando [Alonso]. I drove to the maximum and it’s good for the championship that Sebastian finished behind us. It’s nice to be on the podium for me and the team; let’s see what we can do in Monaco.
You achieved your result with a three stop strategy today when many rivals opted for four; talk us through that decision?
That’s the strategy we chose and it worked pretty well for us. Fernando did make four stops, but we didn’t think we could beat him whatever the strategy today as he has looked pretty quick all weekend.
Did you enjoy your battle with Sebastian Vettel?
Yes, but it didn’t last very long; just a few laps. I maybe had a chance to pass a bit earlier but I didn’t think I could take him at the end of the straight; they [Red Bull] were very fast coming on to the straight so I couldn’t catch him there. It took a bit longer than I expected but then it was a good battle – fair, but quite tough – and it worked out okay for us in the end.
Some say your championship challenge is somewhat under the radar; is that a good thing?
I don’t mind if people don’t notice us. We do our work, we’re happy in what we do and we obviously try to achieve the best for Enstone. I’m just here to race the best i can. You always want to win and it’s disappointing to finish second, but sometimes we have to take what we can get.
Bahrain GP: Vettel leaves action behind and wins for Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel breezed to his second victory of the 2013 Formula 1 season in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The world champion thrust his Red Bull to the front amid spectacular early dicing, then left the action behind.
In a repeat of the 2012 Sakhir podium, Lotus duo Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean made it through the field to second and third, the latter denying Paul di Resta a maiden F1 podium with just six laps to go.
Vettel was in a hurry to hit the front from the outset.
He forced polesitter Nico Rosberg to defend heavily off the line, and although Fernando Alonso managed to get his Ferrari between them around the outside, Vettel surged back into second with a bold move at Turn 5.
Vettel then pounced on Rosberg’s Mercedes into Turn 4 on lap two, only to run wide. Next time around he made the move stick, and thereafter inched away towards an ever-more certain victory.
Alonso was soon up to second but his DRS flap jammed open. He made an emergency pitstop to fix it, but the problem reoccurred. By lap nine, he was 19th, had made two pitstops and knew he would be without DRS all afternoon.
With Alonso out of contention, the best of the rest battle became a contest between di Resta and Raikkonen, both two-stopping compared to most frontrunners’ three.
Di Resta looked to be best-placed until his final stop, when Raikkonen vaulted him having stopped sooner.
Force India remained on course for third for a while, but Grosjean was looming. The three-stopping Frenchman saved his medium tyres for the final stint and was able to hunt down and pass di Resta, who had to settle for fourth.
The rest of the top 10 featured wild racing all afternoon, with an abundance of side by side and wheel to wheel action as different strategies unfolded and different cars found pace at different junctures.
Lewis Hamilton crept forward after a low-key start and finally grabbed fifth.
Sergio Perez produced by far his most combative performance for McLaren yet. He was embroiled in a long dice with team-mate Jenson Button and the fading Rosberg, which featured contact between the McLarens and anxious radio messages on more than one occasion.
Despite losing a front wing endplate against his team-mate’s car, Perez finished sixth, joining Hamilton in passing Mark Webber on the final lap.
Webber had been a podium threat for a spell, before falling back on his final set of tyres.
Alonso fought through to eighth despite his lack of DRS, with Rosberg and Button forced to four-stop and ending up ninth and 10th.
Felipe Massa suffered two right rear punctures and was only 15th. He had also made contact with Adrian Sutil on lap one, causing a puncture for the Force India driver, who made it back up to 13th.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The Bahrain Grand Prix Bahrain, Bahrain; 57 laps; 308.405km; Weather: Dry. Classified: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 2. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 3. Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 4. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 5. Hamilton Mercedes + 6. Perez McLaren-Mercedes + 7. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 8. Alonso Ferrari + 9. Rosberg Mercedes + 10. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 11. Maldonado Williams-Renault + 12. Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari + 13. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 14. Bottas Williams-Renault + 15. Massa Ferrari + 16. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 17. Pic Caterham-Renault + 18. Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari + 19. Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth + 20. Chilton Marussia-Cosworth + 21. van der Garde Caterham-Renault + Not classified/retirements: Driver Team On lap
Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 16 World Championship standings, round 4: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Vettel 77 1. Red Bull-Renault 109 2. Raikkonen 67 2. Lotus-Renault 93 3. Hamilton 50 3. Ferrari 77 4. Alonso 47 4. Mercedes 64 5. Webber 32 5. Force India-Mercedes 26 6. Massa 30 6. McLaren-Mercedes 23 7. Grosjean 26 7. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 7 8. Di Resta 20 8. Sauber-Ferrari 5 9. Rosberg 14 10. Button 13 11. Perez 10 12. Ricciardo 6 13. Sutil 6 14. Hulkenberg 5 15. Vergne 1
Exclusive Q&A with Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen
He’s already won one race this season, lies second in the drivers’ table and – according to Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso – is currently driving better than anyone else on the grid. But what does Kimi Raikkonen make of the start to his second year with Lotus? We caught up with the straight-talking Finn – eighth on the grid for Sunday’s Bahrain race – to get his take on his 2013 campaign to date…
Q: You seem to be the ‘all-weather’ man this year: whatever the conditions, whatever the tyres, in the end a podium is almost certain. Are you the ideal driver right now?
Kimi Raikkonen: Ha, I wish I was. Clearly you have to look at the conditions and cope with them – even though our car is not the best right now, we are able to adapt to situations pretty well. And, of course, I am always trying my best to deliver a good result.
Q: It looks like you are almost unaffected by whatever is going on around you. You may not always have the best qualifying – just like today – but most pundits have you on their shortlist of potential winners for the race…
KR: Ah, look back at Malaysia. There I had some issues with the car, so no race is a walk in the park for me as you suggest. (laughs) That’s how it goes. But for sure I always try to maximize the yield of points.
Q: There were high expectations today that you would go out in the last two minutes of qualifying and show everybody the way. But you ended up in P9 – and will start from P8 due to Lewis Hamilton’s gearbox penalty. Was there no more to come?
KR: No, we haven’t got the speed for one lap. Hopefully the race will show a different picture.
Q: Is that what your team principal Eric Boullier calls your finishing qualities?
KR: Could be. One lap is one thing, but to do 57 laps and stay at the top of your game is quite another.
Q: That must make you a much sought-after man. There has been talk that Red Bull could imagine you joining them next year…
KR: I have no contract for next year – that much is true. But further than that, I don’t want to discuss the matter. I want to do well this season and everything else will fall into place.
Q: What would convince you to stay at Lotus? What would make you move on? And do you want to stay in F1 racing in the first place?
KR: I haven’t thought about all that yet – I feel good here. But yes, there are many things that are undecided and there is still a long way to go this season, so let’s see how things unfold. We will see pretty significant changes when teams switch to their 2014 car development – and then it will be interesting to see what is going on.
Q: Would you be a better team mate for Sebastian Vettel than Mark Webber? Could it be that friendship is overrated in this matter?
KR: I don’t know. These are not the things that I think about right now.
Q: Would you like to have a more challenging team mate? Or is there something in being the de facto number-one driver?
KR: Look, sometimes he (Romain Grosjean) has a difficult weekend and sometimes I do. In the end it does not matter for me as I don’t really need somebody who is pushing me. I do my own thing.
Q: You were a surprising third in last year’s championship. Now you are an arguably even more surprising second in the standings. Are you surprised yourself – or is this in line with your personal expectations?
KR: Sure, it’s interesting to beat your own benchmark. The only plan I have in my head regarding that is doing better – as to how much better, let’s see. I am pretty relaxed about all these self-appointed point counters and soothsayers. Just let’s wait and see.
Q: Money makes the world go round and that includes development and development speed. Could that correlation make you nervous this season?
KR: True, we have less money than some of the other teams, but I am not sure if that will really hurt us or not. Last year we were able to do pretty well, so why not this again season?
Q: Malaysia was a bit of a drop in form for you. Why did it happen there and could it be symptomatic of conditions like that – ie higher temperatures compared those in Melbourne and Shanghai?
KR: Nothing to do with conditions. We had some issues with the car, that’s all. Conditions are overrated.
Q: What’s the best part of your car?
KR: I would say that we are more or less okay everywhere. We don’t have really bad points anywhere, but also not really good points. The car works okay.
Q: So let’s try this: what’s the best part of your life right now?
KR: I have a lot good things to do and I don’t complain. My life is okay.
Q: Can you comprehend all the lamenting about the tyres? You seem to be pretty unimpressed…
KR: We cannot change them right now so you better get used to it. Lamenting over things never helps.
Q: Last year here you were on the podium. What is likelihood of a repeat tomorrow?
KR: We are lacking a bit of pace, but in a long race with strategy involved anything can happen. Sure the starting position is not ideal.
Q: Strategy will again play a major role. Will we see daredevils trying to run a two stopper, or will three stops be the way to go?
KR: I think three stops will do it.
Q: So you will be running on three stops?
KR: I don’t know yet…
Bahrain GP: Nico Rosberg takes surprise pole for Mercedes
Nico Rosberg claimed a shock pole position for Mercedes in Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying at Sakhir.
Mercedes had not looked like an outright frontrunner during practice, but Rosberg set a banker 1m32.4s lap at the start of Q3 and it proved impossible to beat.
Sebastian Vettel got closest for Red Bull with a 1m32.584s, just ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.
Rosberg then made his pole absolutely certain, improving to 1m32.330s to clinch the top spot by over 0.2 seconds.
His team-mate Lewis Hamilton was 0.4s slower in fourth place. He will lose five places for having a gearbox change prior to the session.
Fifth position will also change post-session. Mark Webber took the spot for Red Bull, but faces a three-place penalty for his collision with Jean-Eric Vergne in China.
Ferrari put Felipe Massa on hard tyres for Q3 and he took sixth place, followed by the Force Indias of Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil. The latter only just made it into Q3 with a late charge.
Friday pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen was only ninth in his Lotus.
McLaren was ecstatic to see Jenson Button reach Q3 against expectations with a last-gasp lap. The Briton chose not to do a flying lap in the pole shootout.
The late Q2 improvements lik pushed Romain Grosjean’s Lotus down to 11th. The Frenchman was back in the pits at the end of the segment and his first lap had not been good enough.
The two Williams set exactly equal 1m34.425s laps in Q1, but Valtteri Bottas had got there first, so he made it to Q2 – where he took 15th – while Pastor Maldonado was left in 17th.
Esteban Gutierrez’s troubles continued as he only managed 18th in qualifying, which will become last when his five-place penalty for crashing into Sutil in China is applied.
There was a change in form at the back. Driving the upgraded Caterham, Charles Pic got his team ahead of Marussia for the first time in 2013, as he beat Jules Bianchi by a full 0.9s.
Giedo van der Garde, in the older-spec Caterham, also outqualified a Marussia, pushing Max Chilton down to 22nd.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m32.330s 2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m32.584s + 0.254s 3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m32.667s + 0.337s 4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m32.762s + 0.432s 5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m33.078s + 0.748s 6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m33.207s + 0.877s 7. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m33.235s + 0.905s 8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m33.246s + 0.916s 9. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m33.327s + 0.997s 10. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes Q2 cut-off time: 1m33.702s Gap ** 11. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m33.762s + 1.016s 12. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m33.914s + 1.168s 13. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m33.974s + 1.228s 14. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m33.976s + 1.230s 15. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m34.105s + 1.359s 16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m34.284s + 1.538s Q1 cut-off time: 1m34.425s Gap * 17. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m34.425s + 1.547s 18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m34.730s + 1.852s 19. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m35.283s + 2.405s 20. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m36.178s + 3.300s 21. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m36.304s + 3.426s 22. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m36.476s + 3.598s 107% time: 1m39.379s * Gap to quickest in Q1 ** Gap to quickest in Q2
Bahrain GP: Fernando Alonso beats Sebastian Vettel in final practice
Fernando Alonso put Ferrari back on top in the final free practice session ahead of Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying.
The Chinese GP winner produced a 1m33.247s lap on the softer medium tyres seven minutes from the end, and it proved unbeatable.
Earlier in the session Alonso had spun wildly out of Turn 2 while on a hard tyre run. He stopped just short of the gravel trap and was able to continue.
Sebastian Vettel looked best-placed to depose Alonso at the end, as everyone else fell shot on their medium runs.
The world champion’s Red Bull had been on top for most of the session, and waited until the final seconds before heading out on medium Pirellis.
Vettel came across traffic halfway round his lap, prompting an angry gesture at Charles Pic. But even before he encountered the Caterham, Vettel’s sector times were already shy of Alonso’s.
Running very wide over the rough Turn 12 kerbs then stymied Vettel’s next lap and he failed to improve on the 1m33.348s he had set on mediums, 0.101 seconds off Alonso’s pace.
Mark Webber completed the top three in the second Red Bull.
Lotus duo Kimi Raikkonen and early pacesetter Romain Grosjean were fourth and sixth, sandwiching Lewis Hamilton.
The Mercedes had a dramatic end to its session when Hamilton suffered an apparent left rear tyre failure on his slowing-down lap. The car sustained suspension damage in the incident, but Hamilton was able to nurse it back to the pits.
Mercedes is now having to carry out a left-rear corner change before qualifying. It is unsure what caused the initial tyre problem.
Force India stayed with the frontrunners as Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta took seventh and eighth, followed by Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes and Nico Hulkenberg’s Sauber.
Felipe Massa, fastest on Friday morning, was only 11th for Ferrari, ahead of the McLarens.
At the back, Marussia’s Max Chilton had to sit out the latter part of the morning due to a KERS problem.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m33.247s 12 2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m33.348s + 0.101s 15 3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m33.380s + 0.133s 19 4. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m33.446s + 0.199s 21 5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m33.455s + 0.208s 19 6. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m33.464s + 0.217s 19 7. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m33.596s + 0.349s 17 8. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m33.700s + 0.453s 15 9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m33.764s + 0.517s 19 10. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m33.922s + 0.675s 17 11. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m33.949s + 0.702s 20 12. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m34.117s + 0.870s 17 13. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m34.282s + 1.035s 18 14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m34.577s + 1.330s 16 15. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m34.611s + 1.364s 17 16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m34.678s + 1.431s 16 17. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m34.833s + 1.586s 17 18. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m35.816s + 2.569s 16 19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m36.731s + 3.484s 17 20. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m36.939s + 3.692s 16 21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m37.630s + 4.383s 7 22. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m39.592s + 6.345s 28