Opinion: Was Raikkonen short-changed by Ferrari at Spa?
After the race, social media had been abuzz with unfair treatment being meted out to Iceman by the Italian team. .Are the arguments valid? Let's find out
A Victim of Qualifying Gamble
Everything was going well for Kimi Raikkonen from Friday FP1, until Q2. As black clouds loomed over Les Combes at the end of Q2, teams sent out the drivers, even before the lights turned green, expecting there would be time for doing a single slick-tyred run.
Some of the cars were fueled just for that run; prominent among them were both the Red-bulls and Ferrari of Kimi; Mercedes did not have such quandary, as Bottas was to start from the back of the grid.
Hamilton and Vettel were fueled assuming, rain would stay. With low fuel on board, the pole position was there for Kimi’s taking (almost).
But the rain denied it; it started pouring even before the pit exit opened; that means all cars except the two brave Force India returned straight back to the pits to take on intermediates. So when Kimi completed his first timed lap on intermediates, only 4 minutes 4 seconds were remaining on the clock, which wasn’t enough to do an in-lap for fueling, an out-lap and a final timed lap.
Could Ferrari have waited further before running Kimi for a solitary run, or should Ferrari have fueled, when he had come for intermediates? On Ferrari’s part, their intentions were good (on fueling), but on track, the rub of the green wasn't on their side, last Saturday.
Ferrari still misses the cool heads of Ross Brawn and Jean Todt, aren't they?
Did Ferrari jeopardize Kimi’s safety?
When you are out of position on the grid, the probability of getting caught on opening lap skirmishes is high. Kimi knew it; in his own words "Here, unfortunately, often the first corner isn’t very clean because of the layout of the circuit, so the further back you start, the bigger risk that something goes wrong"
Sunday was no different; Kimi starting from the sixth position – it’s not an ideal position. It’s a known fact that mid-field runners attempt some ambitious moves.
The repercussions of Hulkenberg’s lockup was such that, Alonso’s car had tapped Ricciardo’s rear, inflicting collateral damage, and when he negotiated rounded the La Source, he found Gasly to on the right, and subsequent evasive action, resulted in Ric’s front wing endplate puncturing Kimi’s right-rear tyre.
Although Raikkonen was able to limp back to the pits, struggling through the 7-km long track, it was clearly visible that the right-rear was totally delaminated even before halfway through the lap. Unfortunately, the race engineer couldn't assess the damage in its entirety, even as Kimi was complaining of no rear wing and danger of spinning out.
But he was sent out with minor wing tweakings and a fresh set of medium tyres. He dived into pits couple of laps later, and the attempt to fix the opened DRS was not successful. As the team diagnosing his car, it was apparent that the floor had too much damage for Kimi to continue.
Now on social media, on multiple platforms, there were arguments that Ferrari did not care for the Iceman’s safety. Ferrari, on its part, tried to double sure that his car was beyond fixing, as it hoped that Kimi can still come home with some valuable points.
As far as the radio communication between Raikkonen and his race engineer Carlo Santi goes, English is not his forte; his natural accent is grumpy, melancholic at times. For the listeners, it has given us a feeling as if there was utter distrust between the engineer and the driver.
Kimi pivotal for both Driver’s and Constructor championship
Yes, Vettel undoubtedly is Ferrari’s lead driver and it’s well-documented. But not to the extent that Kimi was utterly neglected, as it has been made out, since Sunday. On Saturday, during Q3, there was utter chaos, when Raikkonen and Vettel pitted for intermediates.
Vettel’s car wasn't even lifted on jacks, as the car was getting pushed into the garage. By fueling light on the Q3 run, Ferrari took a gamble on Raikkonen for pole.
Ferrari does know that the Iceman is key for Vettel to win the Championship and for Ferrari to win the constructor championship. Why would they treat him shabbily, when he's able to rake in podium finishes continuously?