Kimi Raikkonen hits out at Ferrari F1 2017 title chance sceptics
Kimi Raikkonen believes it is wrong to assume Ferrari will struggle against Formula 1 championship rival Mercedes in the upcoming grands prix.
Ferrari had been expected to achieve a strong result in Singapore last weekend as the tight and twisty street Marina Bay circuit suited its car.
But polesitter Sebastian Vettel, his Ferrari team-mate Raikkonen and Max Verstappen collided on the run to Turn 1, taking all three out of the race.
Lewis Hamilton won the race with Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas third, allowing Hamilton to extend his lead over Vettel to 28 points while Mercedes moved 102 clear of Ferrari.
The upcoming races in Malaysia and Japan are expected to suit Mercedes, but Raikkonen believes Ferrari can be in the mix.
"You [the media] assume that it’s difficult. We don’t," he said.
"We go there, it’s another race, another weekend, and we go there full of fight and we’ll do our best."
Vettel was still optimistic about his and Ferrari’s chances, as the championship enters its final six races.
"It’s a pity we couldn’t show our pace [in Singapore]; but we have other races ahead of us and I am sure there will be more opportunities for us," he said.
Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene insisted Ferrari "will be back".
"That was very disappointing and it was definitely not the result we were expecting," said Arrivabene.
"But it doesn’t mean that the battle is all over, just that it has become more difficult.
"We proved that we have an excellent car and two great drivers.
"We guarantee that we will be fighting right to the final corner of the very last grand prix of the year."
Hamilton denies Mercedes favourite everywhere now
Hamilton is expecting a close battle in the deciding races, and is adamant there are still tracks where Mercedes will not be favourite.
Though he said his team "should be OK" in the next event at Sepang and that "we’ll be fine" at Austin in October, he reckons at least three other tracks are more open.
"Then we have Japan, high downforce circuit; could be close, Red Bulls are very very strong at that circuit," said Hamilton.
"It won’t definitely be our strongest circuit.
"I think Brazil would be a place where these guys [Red Bull] will be particularly strong and Ferrari will be particularly strong.
"Honestly, I think it’s going to be very close in the next races.
"It’s hard to predict, [Brazil] particularly and maybe when you go to Mexico.
"You’ve put your maximum downforce on but because it’s so high there’s little drag and maybe the cars that have a little bit more downforce might just have the edge on us.
"But it’s all hearsay."
At the start I had a very good jump, then I got hit; that was the end of our race. I don’t think I could have really done anything differently to avoid it, apart from doing a bad start and not being there. It’s a pity, one of those things you pay a big price for. Whatever the cause or the issue, it doesn’t change the end result unfortunately. We go to the next races ready to fight and do our best.
Kimi Raikkonen: Red Bull’s Friday Singapore GP pace was misleading
Kimi Raikkonen says it is "pointless" to study Friday Formula 1 lap times as "it’s so easy to make somebody look good", after Ferrari overhauled Red Bull in Singapore qualifying.
Daniel Ricciardo lapped seven tenths clear of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes in Friday practice at Marina Bay, while Raikkonen was nearly two seconds adrift in the best of the Ferraris.
But Raikkonen’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel closed to within a tenth of the pace set by Max Verstappen in final practice on Saturday, before beating the Red Bulls to pole by more than three tenths in qualifying.
Raikkonen would likely have joined Vettel on the front row without a mistake on his final Q3 lap, and suggested Vettel’s result indicates how misleading Friday practice form can be in F1.
"It all seemed to change for qualifying, but we have seen that in other weekends," Raikkonen said.
"Some teams can be quick very early in the weekend and then everyone closes up and bunches up a bit.
"Different fuel loads, or runs, it’s so easy to make somebody look good.
"It’s a bit pointless to look at the Friday times and say ‘this team will be ahead of others’.
"More often than not, everyone bunches up. The top three teams are usually closer to each other.
"Since yesterday, we – well at least myself – was nowhere near to the Red Bull; today, without some mistakes, we could have [both] been ahead of them."
Raikkonen said Ferrari was struggling to improve the car without making it worse in other aspects as it battled to turn things around after a difficult Friday.
He said he did not feel comfortable with his Ferrari’s handling as he ended up fourth, two tenths adrift of Ricciardo’s Red Bull.
"It’s been a difficult weekend, all the way through," Raikkonen added. "Qualifying was the best that it has been so far but it still definitely didn’t feel easy.
"It just didn’t feel like I would expect. I was fighting and trying to get a good lap, but [it was] easy to make mistakes and easy to lose lap time.
"It’s a tricky circuit, a lot of corners, a lot of places where it is easy to make a mistake. You take it to the limit, sometimes you get away with it, sometimes not.
"OK, it is never going to be easy anywhere, but you expect things to be making sense.
"It’s fighting with different issues, and improving one but creating another one. It’s small things.
"I’d take the fourth place because if you look until before qualifying, it could have been awfully more worse."
Raikkonen: Not a lot made sense for Ferrari in Singapore GP practice
Kimi Raikkonen said "not a lot of things made sense" for Ferrari as the Formula 1 team struggled for pace in Friday practice for the Singapore Grand Prix.
Ahead of the weekend, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said Singapore’s Marina Bay street circuit would favour rivals Ferrari and Red Bull.
Red Bull lived up to that billing, with Daniel Ricciardo leading the way in both practice sessions, but Ferrari struggled and Raikkonen was the fastest of its two drivers in FP2 in ninth, 1.983 seconds off the pace.
Team-mate Sebastian Vettel was 11th, although the German failed to complete a representative low-fuel lap.
"Overall, it was a difficult day and not a lot of things made sense," said Raikkonen. "There is a lot to work on.
"It’s not exactly where we expected it to start but we work forward.
"I’m sure we can improve. It’s not the first time and it’s only Friday."
Vettel struggled to find a good balance in either of the 90-minute sessions and ruined his second attempt at a low-fuel lap in FP2 on ultra-soft tyres when he clipped the wall on the exit of Turn 10.
"It was not ideal, I didn’t mean to go off," he said.
"I was very lucky I could continue.
"It was a tricky session for us. The balance wasn’t quite there. But I think it’s in the car.
"I’m not yet happy, missing a bit the balance, then you miss a bit the confidence."
Vettel admitted Ferrari mades a few changes to the car that did not work and was hopeful the team could turn things around in time for Saturday’s qualifying session.
"We tried a couple of things," he said.
"I’m not sure they are the right things to do. Now we see what we can do tomorrow.
"It’s not the first Friday we’ve struggled. I’m pretty sure we’ll be close tomorrow.
"It’s clear both of us weren’t that happy today and we need to improve but I’m sure we have enough time to look at it and find a solution."
For the whole race I kept struggling with the balance of the car. It never felt like it should have done. On some laps it was getting better, but most of the time we were lacking the grip and the pace. It was not an easy weekend, we were fighting in all conditions, in the dry and even more in the wet. This is something that we have to fix for these kinds of circuit. I’m disappointed as the result is not what we wanted. For sure if you take the pure layout of the track it’s not an easy one for us, which is unfortunate at our home grand prix. I would be surprised if it’s the same story at the next race, because on paper the race in Singapore should be better for us. Now we have to go there and do our best.
Italian Grand Prix – “Not where we wanted to be”
Kimi’s comments follow similar lines: “Today in wet conditions it felt quite tricky all the time. We struggled to get the tires working, in most places we had no grip and it was very slippery. It was difficult to go through the corners and be able to push and go fast. The starting position is not ideal but we’ll start in a bit better position thanks to penalties for the other cars. Now we have to wait and see how the weather will turn out. I’m sure that in the dry conditions it will be a lot different, our car should be working quite well”.
Raikkonen, who was well off Vettel’s pace in Q1 and Q2, but ended up just under a tenth quicker in the final segment, said: "We are not fast enough. From my car, I don’t know about the other car, but I struggle a lot with the grip.
"Either we didn’t make the tyres work, or whatever it is, it’s very slippery.
"Especially with the low downforce, you cannot put enough force in the tyres and it’s a never-ending story then."
Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen also feels that the potential of the SF70H hasn’t been fully exploited yet: “It was not an easy day: for whatever reason, it was difficult to drive and put the car where I wanted. I was looking for a better balance overall. For sure we have some work to do for tomorrow, but that’s a normal story on Friday. It’s difficult to say something about the performance; it’s only the first free practice, lap times don’t mean much and we don’t know what other people are doing. If we can get the car more to our liking, then we can improve and be faster”.