Il viso di Kimi Raikkonen sul podio di Monte Carlo valeva più di qualsiasi parola. Il finlandese è stato annichilito dalla vittoria del ‘cannibale’ Sebastian Vettel, e ora dovrà cercare di non subire il contraccolpo psicologico di una sconfitta che potrebbe lasciargli pesanti strascichi.
La differenza tra un campione e un campionissimo sta nel canino. Vettel ha sentito l’odore del sangue e ha azzannato, senza pietà, come un moderno vampiro di rosso vestito. Raikkonen, d’altronde, ha il profilo perfetto del ‘buono’, l’ingenua preda designata del cannibale. Un’esitazione di troppo nell’avvicinarsi ai doppiati Button e Wehrlein ha fatto brillare gli occhi a Seb, che come un avvoltoio ha iniziato a braccarlo, prima di affondare il colpo grazie a una strategia rivelatasi perfetta. Per lui.
Il campionissimo, il cannibale, accentra su di sé tutte le attenzioni della propria squadra, come una primadonna carica di fascino. E volente o nolente, è sempre al posto giusto nel momento giusto. Le gomme son sempre quelle giuste, le strategie sempre le migliori a disposizione. A Monaco per Vettel tutti i tasselli del puzzle sono andati al posto giusto, per Kimi dal giro 34 si è invece frantumato tutto in mille pezzi. Sin dal rientro in pista, nuovamente dietro a Button e Wehrlein.
E l’Iceman si è sciolto, vagando lentamente e svogliatamente per tutta la seconda parte di gara. Scendendo dalla vettura non ha tradito mezzo sorriso, picconato nell’animo dalla vittoria del suo compagno di box. Sebastian non ha avuto pietà, come non la ebbe in passato con Webber, come Alonso con Massa, e ancor prima di lui Schumacher con i vari Barrichello e Irvine.
Il cannibale sorride, ti fa i complimenti pubblici, non lesina le pacche sulle spalle. Ma poi abbassa la visiera e ti azzanna, avversario tra gli avversari, appena tenti di rubargli la vittoria. Fanno tenerezza i ‘buoni’: i Kimi, i Massa, i Barrichello. Ma sono i ‘cattivi’ che si prendono le copertine, le coppe, che autografano l’albo d’oro.
Sabato la pole di Raikkonen profumava di romanticismo e di eroismo. Domenica sera il rischio è quello di vedere il finlandese trascinarsi stancamente verso fine stagione, verso il ritiro. Il mondo alla rovescia in ventiquattro ore. La psicologia di un pilota va trattata con cura. Il viso allucinato di Kimi sul podio potrebbe essere il punto di non ritorno di una carriera, come già accaduto a Rubens in Austria nel 2002, a Massa ad Hockenheim nel 2010, a Webber nel ‘Multi 21’ a Sepang nel 2013.
Nel ‘caso Raikkonen’ a Monaco 2017 non c’è però un ordine di scuderia. Ma un cannibale che ha messo a segno il delitto perfetto. Da solo?
Kimi Raikkonen says his second place in Monaco doesn’t count a lot
Kimi Raikkonen says his second place in the Monaco Grand Prix "doesn’t count a lot" after he lost out to Ferrari Formula 1 team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
The Finn led the opening stint of the race after taking his first pole position since 2008, but he fell behind Vettel during the pitstops, with the German coming in five laps later and rejoining just ahead.
From there, Vettel drove away from Raikkonen with ease, taking Ferrari’s first win in the principality since Michael Schumacher’s triumph in 2001.
When asked how he felt about the race after looking downbeat on the podium, Raikkonen said: "I don’t know. Obviously it didn’t work out very well for me.
"Other than that…not much I can say about it.
"It’s still second place, but it doesn’t count a lot in my books at least.
"It doesn’t feel awfully good – that is how it goes sometimes. One of those days we should have had a bit more."
Amid suggestions his race strategy was chosen in a way that would benefit Vettel’s title hopes, when asked why he pitted when he did, Raikkonen added: "I was called in. That is about it.
"Obviously they had reasons for it, but it is not up to me to answer.
"I can stop the car if I like [in the pits] as I am driving it, but we work as a team and if you don’t believe what you have been told or how it works it will get very complicated.
"Today as a team we wanted a one-two, it happened, but for myself, I could have done a bit better.
"I haven’t seen the big picture, I only know that we came second.
"The team got a one-two, which is great for the team, but the rest – until we have meetings and we can see all the graphs I don’t know."
Vettel, who now leads Lewis Hamilton by 25 points in the championship, said the different strategies for the Ferrari drivers was not part of a pre-race plan.
"We couldn’t plan much – the plan was to pull away but Valtteri [Bottas, in third] had good pace," he said.
"I saw Valtteri pitted and Kimi responded, I still had a bit of a gap and nothing to lose so I pushed as hard as possible and in two laps I surprised myself to pull a gap and come out in front.
"The car was really good and I pushed everything I could, so I knew if there was a chance [to jump Raikkonen] that was it."
Q: Congrats. Kimi, I think it’s fair to say the whole F1 community would have been very happy as well to see you get that win today. What are your thoughts? You lost it during the pit stops of course, what are you thoughts on that?
Kimi Raikkonen: It’s hard to say really. Obviously it’s still second place, but it doesn’t feel awful good but this is how it goes sometimes and we go for the next race and try to do better but it’s one of those days that you wish you get a bit more.
Q: I know how it feels. It is not a good feeling. But great result anyways.
Q: Kimi, coming to you, obviously you lost the race in the pit stops. The normal wisdom in Monaco is that when you’re leading you’re not the first one to make a move. But just before you made your stop we heard a radio message exchange with your engineer in which you were asking about pitting. So to be clear, were you asking for the stop or did they call it?
KR: No, I was called in and that’s about it.
Q: How do you feel about the first one to move?
KR: I don’t know, obviously it didn’t work out very well for me. But apart from that, I have no idea. I mean… that’s about as much as I can say about it right now. I got the bad end of the story today. I mean it’s still second place but obviously it doesn’t count a lot in my books at least.
Q: (Viktor Bognar – Magyarszo) Kimi, do you think it would have been possible to cover Sebastian if you are stopping later?
KR: I don’t know. Obviously, this is what we got today. The end results. And obviously for the team it’s a great result. Who knows? This is really the end, we can say ‘if’ as much as we want but it doesn’t change anything.
Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Kimi, when you pitted you came out behind some traffic and Bottas was also behind Sainz at the time. Have you had an explanation as to why they pitted you at that point?
KR: I don’t know. Obviously, I have just finished the race. I have no idea. Obviously they have reasons for whatever we did do. It doesn’t matter here or any other race. It’s not up to me to answer that.
Q: (Ben Anderson – Autosport) Kimi, in the first stint, you seemed to have really strong pace in the early part and then from about lap 20 your pace dropped off quite substantially. Was there an explanation for that? Were you struggling with something in the car?
KR: Not really. I think the worst place was when we had lapped cars and got stuck behind them on quite a few laps but apart from that the car was behaving well. Not really having any issues. I think we had to take it a little bit easier here and there but nothing to complain really. The most lap time we lost behind the lapped traffic but that’s about it.
Q: (Peter Farkas – Auto Motor) To Kimi and Sebastian, obviously now it seems that Mercedes is sometimes very quick but at other tracks they have serious problems. Of course it’s early in the championship but do you think this consistency of the Ferrari car can really win you the championship this year?
SV: I don’t know.
KR: It’s quite an early part of the year so we’ll see. It’s very hard to know what happens in the future but we will keep trying and try to make the best out of every weekend and just do what we can do. We cannot control what the others will do but no, I’m sure everybody will have some difficult weekends during the year. We will try to minimise those. When you have a hard time, try to make the best out of it.
Q: (Silvia Arias – Parabrisas) Kimi, talking about lapping cars, do you think the blue flag for Button came out a little bit too… not at the right moment? The blue flag which signals to let you past immediately?
KR: I don’t know. There are obviously rules and I’m pretty sure I was – I don’t know if it was one second or one and a half seconds but I was pretty close in the hairpin and I was told that I have to be longer inside their time, so it was not enough to be once, it was something that I’d never hard before but anyhow that’s what happened and it cost a bit but that’s how it is.
Q: (Stuart Codling – F1 Racing) Kimi, given that your team will have known that when you pitted you would emerge in the vicinity of traffic, with those two slower cars ahead, do you feel that you could have gone quicker in those laps, before your pit stop, had you known this?
KR: I don’t know. We tried to figure out something that is impossible to know right now, at least from my side. No, obviously it wasn’t ideal to end up behind a lapped car and obviously it is something that definitely doesn’t help but the end result is what it is but we have to see. We just finished the race and I only know what happened and that’s it. Obviously I got second place but yeah, for the team good but not for myself, not so great.
Q: (Marco Giachi – Paddock) Kimi, as a driver, could you reject the instructions? From a technical point of view, did you have enough information to decide by yourself or are you 100 percent in the hands of the engineers?
KR: Obviously I can stop the car if I want! I’m driving it. We have a team, we work as a team and if you start… if you don’t believe what you’ve been told or how we work then it will get very complicated sometimes because we always try to work as best as we can and today, as a team, we won it one-two, that happened, but as for myself it could have been better, but like I said, we just finished the race and who knows? We will talk about it and I guess there are some reasons for everything that happens in life but we will see. As a driver, I can obviously do what I want but that’s not how we work as a team. Simple as that.
Q: (Ben Anderson – Autosport) Kimi, when you look back at a race, do you feel that you were just unlucky with traffic and the way things fell or do you think Ferrari’s strategy just cost you the victory?
KR: I don’t know. Like I said, I haven’t seen… I only know what happened when I was in the car but I haven’t seen the bigger picture. I only know that we came second, Seb won, the team got one-two, obviously great for the team, but the rest… Until we have our meeting then obviously you can see all the graphs, I don’t know.
Sebastian Vettel wins 2017 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel clinched victory in the Monaco Grand Prix as Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton finished down in seventh.
Pole-sitter Kimi Raikkonen led the opening part of the race, but Vettel stayed out five laps longer before his pitstop, and rejoined ahead of his team-mate.
Raikkonen could not respond with Vettel stretching his lead before the safety car was called into action when Jenson Button collided with Pascal Wehrlein at Portier, pitching the Sauber onto its side against the barrier.
But once the race got back under way, Vettel was able to build a gap and crossed the line 3.1 seconds clear of his team-mate to secure Ferrari’s first win in Monaco since 2001.
Daniel Ricciardo, who survived hitting the wall at Sainte Devote after the race restart, also ran a long first stint, enabling him to jump the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and the other Red Bull of Max Verstappen to take third.
Hamilton, who started 14th, was the last driver to pit, switching from ultra-softs to super-softs and rejoining seventh.
The three-time world champion pressured Carlos Sainz Jr in the closing stages, but could not find a way past, which means he leaves Monaco 25 points adrift of Vettel in the drivers’ standings.
Raikkonen made a brilliant getaway to lead away from pole, with Vettel fending off a half-hearted attack from Bottas to retain second.
The Finn built a gap of around 2.1s, but Vettel began closing that down and was within a second before Raikkonen was called into the pits.
Vettel pumped in a series of quick laps ahead of his stop and rejoined around a second clear of his team-mate, with Raikkonen seemingly giving up on the win from there.
Verstappen was furious when he found out Ricciardo had jumped him, labelling the situation a disaster, and though he pressured Bottas for much of the second stint, he couldn’t find a way past.
With 18 laps to go, Button, who was filling in at McLaren while Fernando Alonso competes at the Indianapolis 500, tried an ambitious pass on Wehrlein into Portier.
The two, who had run nose-to-tail for the entire race, made contact, with Wehlein’s Sauber pitched onto its side against the barrier, while Button pulled over at the exit of the tunnel with the front-left corner of the car heavily-damaged.
Wehrlein climbed out of the car, once it was righted onto its wheels, and was able to walk away unaided but went to the medical centre for precautionary checks.
It was a frustrating day for Sauber, with Marcus Ericsson carrying too much speed into Sainte Devote and hitting the wall when trying to pass the safety car to unlap himself.
Romain Grosjean finished eighth in the leading Haas, ahead of Felipe Massa with Kevin Magnussen completing the top 10.
Stoffel Vandoorne was set to finish 10th and score McLaren’s first point of the season but he slid off at Sainte Devote when Sergio Perez attacked down the inside.
Perez, who had his race compromised when he was forced to pit early with a damaged front wing, then tried a bold pass on Daniil Kvyat at Rascasse for ninth.
The pair made contact, with Kvyat retiring and Perez pitting for another front wing, bringing to an end his 15-race point-scoring streak.
Jolyon Palmer was the sole finishing Renault in 11th with his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg retiring with a gearbox problem when running 10th.
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||78||3.745s|
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||78||6.199s|
|6||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||78||12.038s|
|12||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||78||23.725s|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||78||49.089s|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||71||Collision|
|–||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren/Honda||66||Spun off|
|–||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||63||Spun off|
La pole di Kimi e il silenzio degli innocenti
Forse è meglio lo scriva tre volte di seguito.
Kimi in pole a Montecarlo.
Kimi in pole a Montecarlo.
Kimi in pole a Montecarlo.
Giusto ieri, venerdì, battibeccavo affettuosamente su Radio 24 con Ivan Capelli, pronto a sostenere che la Ferrari ha bisogno accanto a Vettel di un partner più competitivo di Raikkonen.
Ah, sì? E comunque Ivan è un amico, vale come simbolo di un esercito (spero in rotta) di detrattori in servizio permanente effettivo del Santo Bevitore.
Ma poi mi fermo qui, perchè diceva il Poeta che del doman non v’è certezza e in certe occasioni conviene godere muti.
Il silenzio degli innocenti.
Quindi, parlerò d’altro.
Ferrari stellare. Bravo Arrivabene, bravo Binotto, brava l’intera squadra.
Del resto, era dal 2008 che non c’era una prima fila tutta Rossa a Monaco.
Finì a schifio la domenica.
I punti si prendono la domenica (Schumi dixit).
Hamilton è stato sfortunato causa Vandoorne ma la pole mai l’avrebbe fatta e in fondo era giusto, non poteva eguagliare le 65 partenze al palo di Ayrton proprio nel Principato. Vediamo cosa riesce a combinare in rimonta.
Gara tutta da definire, Mi ricordo sgradevolmente di Sochi, eh. Bottas non va piano, sgrattaando sgrattando abbiamo da ferraristi una grande attenzione, ma chi se ne frega.
Vettel sa cosa fare.
Io so che volti guardare questo sabato e che parole ascoltare o andare a leggere.
Il tempo è galantuomo, per chi è in buona fede.
FIA post-qualifying press conference – Monaco
Drivers: 1 – Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), 2 – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), 3 – Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes).
Q: Kimi, what a fantastic job, your second pole here in Monaco but perhaps more importantly, you first pole since France 2008, which is 128 races ago – it established a new record for the gap between pole position. Clearly there’s plenty of life still within you yet. How excited are you to be starting on pole in Monaco, and where did it come from today, this performance?
Kimi Raikkonen: Obviously it’s the best place to start for tomorrow, but it doesn’t guarantee anything for tomorrow. Nevertheless I’ll happily take it. It’s been all weekend quite OK. We’ve been struggling a little bit in certain places and we’ve been working and trying to figure it out and in qualifying it was better, by no means perfect, but it’s never going to be perfect. It was good enough and I was very happy with the car in there. If you look you can always go a bit faster here and there but that’s normal, it’s a never-ending story like that. We had a good timing when we went out. I felt good, so I was able to push and it was quite a nice straightforward qualifying. So happy for myself, happy for the team. Obviously we have two cars in the front tomorrow so let’s try to make the best out of it.
Q: (Pete Farkas – Auto Motor) It was quite interesting to see that during free practices Sebastian seemed to be a bit more confident on track than Kimi, but throughout qualifying it was the other way round. Has something changed – maybe it was because of the conditions, maybe the very high track temperatures – or maybe it was nothing in particular?
KR: No, I don’t think so. I think it’s the very fine details that make a difference here. If you have just a little bit of an off feeling with the tyres or something like that in one place, it limits you to go fast and obviously in those low-speed corners you can lose a lot of time for basically nothing. It’s tricky to put the good laps together. You try to kind of, in the practice, take it a bit easier, not to destroy the car, because then you are going to lose a lot. Then you push and hopefully you get it right. But I think it’s such small differences. It’s nothing to do with conditions or anything else, it’s just whoever gets the best feeling and being able to push.
Q: (Louis Dekker – nos.nl) For all the drivers, can you say if the circuit, with these new cars, is easier or more difficult?
KR: I don’t think it’s any easier. We end up going faster but then the same difficulties are there to go fast. It’s always tricky here, like it is in any place, especially here because you have to get very close to the kerbs and the walls and everything and there’s no chance to make mistakes. I think the resurface has improved a lot the circuit. It’s less bumpy, so it makes it a bit more nicer – but I don’t feel it’s any easier because the cars are faster and how more downforce. Everything happens a bit faster.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) To Kimi. Kimi in spite of being the sixth round of the Championship there is an important difference in points between you and Sebastian. In the case you and Sebastian are fighting the first bend after the start, how will you react?
KR: No different to any other point this year, last year. We know what we are doing, we are racing for the team and y’know, we have certain rules and respect against each other. We are allowed to fight but obviously, we have to do it as clean as we can and not take each other out.
Q: (Ottavio Daviddi – Tuttosport) To the Ferrari drivers. You are in the first row, I think that the first corner will be very important. I would like to know if it is necessary to discuss about Ste. Devote between you with doors closed tonight, or not?
I think Kimi’s half-answered this already…
Q: And Kimi, you will presumably have a briefing before the race in which it will…
KR:… I don’t know why people expect that it is something different tomorrow than it’s been the last two years. Nothing has changed. Just try to make a stupid story out of nothing.
Q: (Luigi Perna – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi, this pole position, during the last nine years, it’s important for you to have done it in such a selective track as Monte Carlo?
KR: No, I would have happily taken any other place also but it just happens. We’ve been close a few times lately but it’s something we haven’t really got in the last race. But if you take any circuit, here it’s the most important to be in front but it doesn’t automatically give you a win or a good result. There are so many things that can happen in a race that are nothing to do with you. You might be doing and the team might be doing a perfect job but actually there are absolutely other things which might destroy the whole race so it’s going to be a long difficult race but we have two cars in the best possible positions so that’s the main thing.
Raikkonen happy, but pole ‘guarantees nothing’
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen says he will be taking nothing for granted in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, despite admitting his delight at being on pole for the first time in almost a decade.
Raikkonen looked imperious throughout Saturday’s Monte Carlo qualifying, finishing less than a tenth of a second ahead of team mate Sebastian Vettel who will join him on the front row.
“Obviously it’s the best place to start for tomorrow but it doesn’t guarantee anything for tomorrow,” said the Finn, who won the famous street race for McLaren back in 2005.
“Nevertheless I’ll happily take it, and it’s been quite okay all weekend. We’ve been struggling a little bit in certain places and have been working to try and figure it out.
“Qualifying was better – it wasn’t perfect, but it’s never going to be perfect. It was good enough and I was very happy with the car.
“You can always go a bit faster here and there – it’s normally a never-ending story like that – but things went well. We had good timing with when we went out and I felt good, so I was able to push and it was a quite nice, straightforward qualifying.”
Team boss Maurizio Arrivabene was quick to praise the efforts of Raikkonen, who took the title with Ferrari in 2007 – but who has not won a race for them since Belgium 2009.
“I’m really happy for him because he deserves it – the champion is coming out sometimes,” said Arrivabene. “It’s a pity for Sebastian that he made a little mistake in Turn 5, but having two cars up there is good.”
The qualifying result means Ferrari’s second front-row lockout of the year, the last one being in Russia where they were then beaten to victory by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.
“I’m happy we find the pace now, but we have to remember the last one in Sochi, be careful and think about tomorrow,” added Arrivabene.
With the prospect of a 21st career victory firmly on the cards, Raikkonen concluded: “Happy for myself, happy for the team and obviously we have two cars on the front tomorrow so we’ll try to make the best of it.”
Raikkonen takes Monaco Grand Prix F1 pole, Hamilton goes out in Q2
Kimi Raikkonen claimed his first Formula 1 pole position since 2008 in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, as Lewis Hamilton failed to make the top-10 shootout.
Raikkonen’s Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel had set the pace in Thursday practice, and in final practice on Saturday morning in Monte Carlo, but Raikkonen moved ahead in Q2 and stayed there, eventually claiming the top spot by just 0.043 seconds as Vettel just fell short in Q3.
Valtteri Bottas was third in the best of the Mercedes, just 0.002s behind Vettel, while team-mate Hamilton was forced to watch from the sidelines.
Hamilton struggled for speed throughout Q1 and Q2, and almost crashed twice after losing the rear end of his Mercedes at Massenet and Casino Square.
The triple world champion was down in 14th place in Q2, as Ferrari set the pace, but looked on a lap good enough to make Q3 before Stoffel Vandoorne crashed his McLaren-Honda at the Swimming Pool.
That forced Hamilton to abandon his lap and means he will start the Monaco street race mired in the midfield.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fourth in Hamilton’s absence, well clear of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo behind.
A late improvement from Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr in Q3 lifted him to a season’s best sixth, ahead of Sergio Perez’s Force India and Romain Grosjean’s Haas.
Jenson Button qualified ninth on his return to F1 in place of Fernando Alonso, but Button’s McLaren-Honda will drop to the back of the grid thanks to a 15-place penalty for engine component changes ahead of final practice.
Button’s team-mate Vandoorne rounded out the top 10, though he failed to participate in Q3 after that Q2 crash.
He will drop three places on account of a penalty for clashing with Felipe Massa at the previous race in Spain.
Vandoorne’s shunt also prevented the second Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat from improving at the end of Q2, so one of the stars of Thursday practice wound up only 11th fastest in qualifying.
Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault was 12th, ahead of Kevin Magnussen’s Haas (which wasn’t affected by the yellow flags), Hamilton and the Williams of Massa, who also hadn’t set a representative time before having to abort his final flying lap thanks to the Vandoorne incident.
A last gasp effort from Grosjean knocked Esteban Ocon out in Q1.
Grosjean spun at Mirabeau in the early stages of that session, but ultimately did enough to progress.
Force India repaired Ocon’s car following his morning practice crash in time to complete the final 10 minutes of Q1, and Ocon looked safely through to Q2 until Grosjean’s late show.
Ocon missed the cut by 0.202s but was well clear of the second Renault of Jolyon Palmer, who complained of too much understeer as he struggled to the 17th fastest time.
Lance Stroll’s Williams was almost two tenths slower in 18th, the Canadian having to cut short his run thanks to a hydraulic leak.
He ended up ahead of only Sauber pairing Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson, who clouted the barrier at the Nouvelle chicane on his final Q1 lap and had to pull off into the escape road with a broken left-rear wheel.
PROVISIONAL STARTING GRID:
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m12.496s||0.318s|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m12.998s||0.820s|
|6||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m13.162s||0.984s|
|7||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m13.329s||1.151s|
|9||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m13.516s||1.338s|
|15||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m14.101s||–|
Monaco Grand Prix: Vettel leads Ferrari one-two in final practice
Ferrari Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel was quickest again in the Saturday morning practice session of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.
The four-time F1 champion ended the hour-long session 0.345 seconds clear of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in a Ferrari one-two.
Just like both of Thursday’s practice sessions, the ultra-soft-dominated practice three provided another fastest-ever lap of the Monte Carlo track, Vettel’s 1m12.395s a three-tenth improvement on his own previous record.
After an initial flood of installation laps in the opening minutes, Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was first of the frontrunners to kick off a proper run, the Finn quickly establishing himself at the top of the timesheets.
But compatriot Raikkonen’s first effort dethroned Bottas immediately, the Ferrari man posting a 1m13.568s as Bottas himself then came up 0.053s short.
Despite causing a brief yellow flag as he stopped just short of the barriers at Antony Noghes, Raikkonen lowered the session benchmark further with his next proper effort – a 1m13.379s.
Lewis Hamilton briefly returned Mercedes to the top spot, but was relegated behind the two Ferraris in no time, Vettel now edging ahead of Raikkonen via a 1m12.890s lap.
The other Mercedes of Bottas was shuffled down even further at the conclusion of his first run, with the Red Bull of Max Verstappen and the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat splitting the two Silver Arrows.
As the session passed its halfway point, Verstappen broke up Ferrari’s one-two at the top of the timing screens, lapping 0.050s off Vettel 12 laps into his ultra-soft stint.
But Ferrari was soon back in formation at the front, Vettel finally beating Thursday’s best lap with a 1m12.558s effort a few seconds after Raikkonen had overtaken him and Verstappen.
Vettel then went even quicker, stringing together three purple sectors for a 1m12.395s – and going just 0.003s slower with his next flying lap.
By that point, Mercedes now had its first sub-1m13s lap of Monaco courtesy of Bottas, who emerged as best of the rest behind the Ferraris heading into the final few minutes.
But the running in what had been a largely incident-free session was then disrupted when Esteban Ocon hit the guardrail on the entry to the Swimming Pool section, damaging his Force India’s right-front suspension and going nose-first into the barriers.
This triggered a virtual safety car as the Force India was removed from the track, leaving less than four minutes for those seeking to do a last-gasp qualifying run.
Improvements were few and far between in the hectic final minutes, leaving Ferrari with a comfortable one-two out front.
Bottas took third ahead of Verstappen and Hamilton, with Daniel Ricciardo in sixth after a suspected brake failure at the chequered flag left him stranded at the escape road at Sainte Devote.
Toro Rosso maintained its strong form from Thursday, Carlos Sainz Jr leading team-mate Kvyat in seventh.
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, who had drawn the ire of Ocon for holding him up in the final sector, was ninth, while McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne made up the top 10.
PRACTICE THREE RESULTS:
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m12.940s||0.545s||27|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m13.392s||0.997s||24|
|7||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m13.400s||1.005s||27|
|8||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m13.563s||1.168s||23|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m13.936s||1.541s||23|
|13||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m14.072s||1.677s||21|
[…] Raikkonen was encouraged by his pace on Thursday, particularly on longer runs.
"It was getting better and better," said the Finn.
"In the long runs, the car was feeling good, so I have a good feeling.
"In the shorter runs, we have to improve a little bit.
"We did some changes and it always got better – so that’s the main thing.
"We had two smooth sessions, doing our normal work."
Vettel echoed Raikkonen’s confidence on Ferrari’s race pace but believed there was a lot to do between now and final practice and qualifying on Saturday.
"It’s always tricky to judge because you don’t get so many clear laps with a lot of traffic, but it seemed OK," he said.
"I think we can still do, and have to do, something to the car to be more competitive overall and in the race.
"But I think Kimi and I were quite happy with the long run."