Formula One: Lewis Hamilton has won the Chinese GP with Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo finishing fourth.
F1 VETERAN Kimi Raikkonen ran into some team problems at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, claiming Ferrari could have done “much more” to avoid his disappointing finish.
The 37-year-old wrangled with his team for an early pit stop to change tyres but wasn’t given a stop until the 39th lap, far later than any of the drivers ahead of him.
Raikkonen finished more than 40 seconds behind teammate Sebastian Vettel, who placed second, to cross the line behind Daniel Ricciardo to take fifth.
“I think we should have got much more than what we got but that’s easy to say afterwards,” Raikkonen said after the lacklustre finish.
“We stopped too late for new tyres and after that it was pretty much race over. Yes, I caught up with the Red Bulls in the end but it was too late. I think the car was behaving pretty nicely on fresh tyres, but the fronts just went away after two laps.
“For sure we have some work to be done with set-up so we can be happier all the time, but the speed was not too bad. But it was not a great result.”
“Obviously I had the feeling we should stop. I felt a long time before that we would need to stop at some point, so I’d rather do it earlier rather than later, to get out of the traffic I had in front of me. But that didn’t happen and my feeling grew stronger.
“It took a while, but the reasons behind it I don’t know right now. We need to look. Like I said, it’s easy to look back and say we should have done a better job out of it. Hopefully next time.”
Raikkonen, who is known for an occasional rant over the team radio, was complaining of a loss of power in his Ferrari as he languished in fourth place behind Ricciardo.
“What the hell is happening out of turn 12?” he complained. “I’ve got no power out of there.”
The Finn opened up on his struggle with taking certain corners throughout the race after crossing the finish line.
“I struggled a bit to get through turn three,” he said. “It pretty much led to the only place we could pass them, I couldn’t get the traction or couldn’t get the car to turn around there. They were quite strong in the back straight. I was probably expecting to be able to get at them easier than it was. They had good speed there and I was also struggling on the exit of turn 12 in the first part of the race. I couldn’t go early on the power.”
Raikkonen, while obviously shattered at the result, is confident his Ferrari will blast ahead in the next Grand Prix in Bahrain next week.
“Just small things, but the effect could be quite big. It’s a disappointing race, but I still scored points and hopefully in the next race we can put things as we want and then, for sure, it should be easier to fight at the front,” he said.
With Lewis Hamilton and Vettel starting side-by-side on the front row at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, the stage was set for a wheel-to-wheel duel between long-dominant Mercedes and a newly competitive Ferrari.
A chaotic start to the race on a wet track, however, scuttled the highly anticipated showdown as Hamilton coasted to victory for his fifth title in Shanghai and first of the new Formula One season.
Starting from pole position, Hamilton led from beginning to end to capture the race in 1 hour, 37 minutes, 36.158 seconds and pull even with Vettel atop the driver’s standings with 43 points.
Two weeks after beating Hamilton at the season-opening Australian GP, Vettel had to settle for second place this time, finishing 6.2 seconds behind his rival. With both teams showing equal pace at the top, there will likely be plenty of other opportunities for close races this season.
“I’m fighting up against a four-time world champion (and) he is at his best and he is phenomenally quick. And Ferrari are at their best in years,” Hamilton said. “And we’re at our best as a team and I feel like I’m at my best.
“The ultimate fighter always wants to go up against the best battle you can have. Because then when you come out on top, it’s so much more satisfying.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen drove a masterful race through traffic to move up from 16th position on the starting grid to third place, fighting off a spirited challenge from teammate Ricciardo on the final lap.
Ricciardo finished fourth, followed by Ferrari’s Raikkonen and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in sixth.
— with AP