Raikkonen: I’ll take third as it didn’t look good

Kimi Raikkonen says he’ll take third place in China, after all at one staged it looked as if he would finish down in sixth.

It was a mixed Sunday afternoon in Shanghai for Raikkonen as he was running fourth on the opening lap after being passed by Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen, then he was first after the rest of the top six pitted, and then he was sixth having run long in the first stint.

And it looked as if that is where the Finn would finish.

Raikkonen, though, benefitted from a Safety Car that bunched up the field and led to Max Verstappen colliding with Sebastian Vettel and Raikkonen taking advantage.

Running third, he closed up on Bottas but wasn’t able to launch an attack as the chequered flag fell.

“I think we made a good start and then got blocked a bit and passed in the first corner,” Raikkonen said of his race.

“I struggled a little bit following people but on my own it wasn’t too bad.

“It was far from ideal the start.

“We stayed out very long but had a bit of luck with the Safety Car.

“I had good speed on the mediums but in the end we needed the soft tyres to really go for it.

“I was okay at the end but got close but once you get close it is so difficult to follow people.

“To get a good run you need much better tyres to get that proper run.

“I’ll take what I got because at one point it didn’t look good at all.”

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FIA post-race press conference from China

Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen discuss an epic Chinese Grand Prix.


(Conducted by Martin Brundle) 

Q: Daniel – what an absolute star. What a race! Your sixth victory, but is that the sweetest one?

Daniel Ricciardo: I don’t know what it is, I don’t seem to win boring races, they’re all pretty fun. That was unexpected. Put ourselves 24 hours ago and I thought we’d maybe be starting at the back of the grid. Firstly, thanks to the boys yesterday. I thanked them after qualifying but today is the real reward for that work. So thank you to everyone at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, the mechanics worked their butts off, so…

Q: And the team had their brain in gear didn’t they, under the safety car, getting you in the pit lane. Double stacked the car twice, so the pit crew were on it as well?

DR: It was hectic. I heard ‘safety car’ in Turn 14, and they said ‘we’re going to double stop, come, come, in the box’. It happened very quickly but very decisive moves, winning moves also from the team, so thanks a lot. Yeah, fat lip and all I got the win.

Q: Just take us through one of the great overtakes – maybe on Lewis? That came out of nowhere down to the Turn 14 hairpin.

DR: Yeah, sometimes you’ve just got to lick the stamp and send it. So, there we go. I enjoyed it very much.

Q: You still made the apex somehow, extraordinary?

DR: Yeah, obviously we had the soft tyre so I knew I could get a little bit more out of the braking than them. A lot of the time you get one chance to try so I made the most of every opportunity.

Q: You were a little closer to Valtteri when you passed him than you are now, but Valtteri, kind of bittersweet. Your 100th start but the safety car didn’t play into your hands and left you on some slightly older tyres and struggling a little bit.

Valtteri Bottas: Yeah, you know, the race was going pretty well for us and we were looking strong all the way, until the guys, during the safety car, stopped and we were in trouble then with Daniel and nearly with Kimi in the end. It is disappointing. We were giving everything we had and it kind of felt like we deserved victory… but not today.

Q: Without the safety car, do you think you had enough grip and pace to keep Sebastian behind you and take victory?

VB: It felt like everything was under control so far. I had no major drop-off in the end, so I think we could have done it, but this is racing, these things happen.

Q: Kimi, wow, it looked like you were a bit out of position. It looked like you were struggling a bit. They kept you out a long time before the pit stop. Then the safety car played into your hands and you had great speed and you got yourself back onto the podium.

Kimi Raikkonen: Yeah, I think we made a good start and then got, unfortunately, blocked a bit and passed in the first corners. I struggled a little bit following people in the beginning. On my own I wasn’t too bad, but far from ideal at the start of the race and then obviously we stayed very long out. A little bit of luck with the safety car. I had good speed on the mediums but in the end we would have needed the soft tyres to really go for it. But I think I was kind of OK in the end, but once I got close I had much more speed than Valtteri but once you get close it’s so difficult to follow people, to get a good run you need much better tyres to get that proper run and you can kind of offset yourself. But I’ll take what I got, because at one point it didn’t look good at all.

Q: Daniel, I just want to go through the other overtake, when you passed Valtteri into Turn 6, because that looked a little bit touch and go.

DR: It was close. I think it was hard but fair. I saw him defend, so I wanted to go shallower, but then he came a bit more… I thought about pulling out. No, I’m just kidding! I knew there would always be enough room and the tyres had pretty good grip, so worst case I went wide and I’d have another crack somewhere else.


Q: Daniel, many congratulations. In winter testing, if someone had said to you “Red Bull will win a race this year before Mercedes,” what would have been your reaction?

DR: Good job. Yeah, pretty cool. Holy Testicle Tuesday! I don’t know. I’m sitting here, reciting everything in my head what just happened. Yeah, awesome. Even after yesterday. I’ve only got six, it’s not a whole lot but the wins seem to come under always some circumstances. Baku, and this one now where we really thought we were going to start the race at the back. We didn’t think we were going to get out in qualifying and, just over 24 hours later, now to be here, it’s… this sport’s crazy. A week ago I was with my head down after two laps on Sunday. Yeah, frustrated at the sport, frustrated at all the variables that are involved in the sport. Sometimes I question why I chose this sport because there’s so many other things out of your control and it does get you down a lot – but then when you have a day like this it’s worth fifty of those bad ones.

Q: Valtteri, coming on to you. A lot was made yesterday after qualifying about the team having set the cars up for the warmer temperatures that we had today in the grand prix. How was the balance of the car?

VB: I think the balance was OK. Like actually it felt OK yesterday, we were just not quite quick enough with the ultrasoft, so yeah, today we only used soft and medium and I think on the soft it was next to nothing, the difference to Ferrari. We were as competitive as them. I think with the medium it was pretty much the same case. So, for sure, starting the race from the second row makes it more difficult. It’s a shame what happened in the end because we really took the opportunities in the beginning of the race start, during the pitstop. After the pitstop everything was going fine. And then with the Safety Car we just got a little bit unlucky – but that happens sometimes. It’s difficult to accept that quickly, after the race – but that’s F1.

Q: Talk us through the undercut. Were you surprised to come out ahead of Vettel?

VB: No. We knew that it is possible with this kind of gap, if you get everything perfect, coming in, in the box, into the pitlane and all that. If you can switch on the tyres quickly, it’s possible. That’s why we stopped at this point. It was perfect timing from the team. I think it felt it was my quickest stop I’ve had with the team. So, everything just went really well. Good out-lap. So, we knew it was possible.

Q: Kimi, can we get your thoughts on the pecking order now. Because Ferrari were so quick in qualifying yesterday, yet here you are in third place.

KR: It’s very hard to say. I think if you ask anybody, it’s a bit tricky to give you an answer. I think today a lot of the end results depended on whether you had better tyres than others, when you could offset yourself to the others. Obviously, it’s part of the game. A big part of the game. And here it made a big difference. And the safety car playing in there. So, like pure speed, with everybody on the same tyres… it’s difficult, very difficult to say in a race. I think it’s nice like that, for everybody to watch, because nobody really knows, everybody would love to know, nobody really has because it changes from race to race. And such a small difference makes a big difference in the end results. I think you just have to wait and see. I think it might change from race to race and who runs what tyres.


Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Daniel, you’ve pulled off a lot of spectacular overtakes already in your Formula One career, not just to win races. Where does the overtake on Valtteri today rank and can you just talk us through what was going on in the car and going on in your head at the beginning of that process, through the overtake and afterwards? 

DR: Yeah. Opportunity be knocking! That’s what I would say. I could tell that obviously we had the advantage coming in at the safety car and having those softs. Yeah, I sensed the opportunity. Initially it was ‘OK, maybe now we can fight for the podium’ and at the rate that we were going through the field, and I could feel the tyres were holding on well, then it was obviously fully set on the win. Yeah, I don’t know. Obviously I had pace over all the guys that I got ahead of but you still don’t want to sit behind for too long. I saw Valtteri defend but I was kind of committed already from turn three that I was going to try. It was cool, it was close but I would say close but fair and it’s cool when you go wheel-to-wheel and I think it’s fun for drivers and it’s good TV so I enjoyed it. It makes it a bit sweeter than just maybe cruising past on the straight so that was a lot of fun.

Q: And Valtteri can we just have your take on that overtaking manoeuvre?

VB: Well, yeah. I was defending, obviously I saw him very close in turns one, two, three. He got a decent exit as well. He was closing lap after lap with pretty big gains. Yeah, from my side there was not much to do. I tried to defend but ultimately, with the better tyres, he could really brake quite a lot later and got inside. Like he said, it was all fair and like this. I think it was just a matter of time, with the pace he was going.

Q: (Keren Wang – Top Driver) Daniel, why didn’t you share your shoey with Valtteri and Kimi?

DR: To be honest, actually I don’t know if I’ve ever offered it to Kimi but to be honest I sprayed most of the champagne so I didn’t have that much more and obviously I saw my number one mechanic Genty (Chris Gent) and he was the priority at the time. There wasn’t enough to go round today unfortunately. Hopefully there’s plenty more opportunities.

Q: Kimi, would you accept a shoey?

KR: Lucky for us…

DR: Maybe next time. It’s a privilege.

Q: (Keren Wang – Top Driver) Daniel, you kept your cool throughout the race. What was in your mind when you saw that Max had made a mistake and you overtook him?

DR: I could see it coming a few corners before. Obviously I saw he was close to Lewis out of ‘three’. I wasn’t close enough to be involved at that moment so yeah, I was just watching, I guess and obviously if there is some contact, I’ve got to then position myself and try and be prepared. Yeah, then I saw he was trying on the outside of ‘seven’ and I could see them both drift wide and I could see that one car was probably not going to make it, so the difficult thing was then when Max went off track I wasn’t sure if he was going to slide back across, hold the line, so that was quite tricky initially, but then I could see he was coming on with quite a bit of speed so then it was quite easy in my mind to cut across the inside to let him go. But yeah, even those things, they happen so fast and you’re still in the heat of the battle so it’s quite hard to always pick the right move. Fortunately I didn’t really lose any time with that and yeah, it was pretty close, so I don’t know what the viewers thought but it seemed like it was a pretty close battle.

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Raikkonen: Qualifying ‘wasn’t good enough’

Kimi Raikkonen bemoaned missing out on pole for a second straight race weekend but is happy with Ferrari's work so far this season.

Raikkonen was on provisional pole position in China, just like Bahrain last weekend, but left the door very slightly ajar for Sebastian Vettel to steal top spot from him by a mere 0.087 seconds.

"It was OK but not good enough," Raikkonen said. "It's not exactly what I wanted. We go tomorrow and see what we can do.

"We will try to improve. We need to stay out of any issues and see what it brings.

"But we have been learning more about the car and getting more out of it.

"This track is slightly different than the others [so far], but if the car works somewhere then it should work everywhere.

"We have been consistent and been happy with things. Still bits to improve here and there but we're good here, for sure."


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China post-qualifying press conference

Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas react as Ferrari dominate qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

(conducted by Davide Valsecchi)

Q: Sebastian, what a lap, it was just amazing. And then the last sector, how good it was, it was something unbelievable. 

Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, I was happy with the whole lap, not just the last sector. The car was really amazing. It just kept getting better, so really happy. I knew that on the first lap I had some mistakes. I lost the rear at Turn 3 at the exit of the low-speed, and then 6 again, so I was a bit beaten up, but then I knew that if I got a tidy lap and I have a little bit of margin then I could push.

Q: Do you ever check the reaction of the fans? They love it!

SV: Yeah, really good. Also in the hairpin, in Turn 14, just under braking, outside, I see the people going crazy. It’s really nice.

Q: Kimi, you were on pole just until the last sector of Sebastian Vettel. You have to be proud of your quali? I know it must be disappointing but your drive was excellent today. 
Kimi Raikkonen: It was OK, but not good enough. It’s not exactly what I wanted, so, yeah, we go tomorrow and see what we can do.

Q: About tomorrow: what do you think you can do? 

KR: Well, we try to improve. Obviously it’s going to be a long race. We need to stay out of issues and go from there and see what it brings.

Q: Valtteri, how was your quali? It seemed that you were struggling a bit but then just at the end you could improve. What do you think, how was your Mercedes today? 

Valtteri Bottas: I think for us it was quite straightforward honestly, as a qualifying, run by run understanding the tyres, getting them to work better. But we never could achieve similar grip levels to Ferrari today.

Q: Let me check it out, tomorrow, first row, Turn 1, how is it going to be? 

SV: I don’t know. We find out tomorrow. Looks like on Kimi’s side there’s more rubber, so I need a good start!


Q: Sebastian, just talk us through that session and how you built up to that incredible time of 1:31.095? 

SV: Yeah, it was indeed a crazy session – the car was unbelievable and it just got better. I think right from the first lap in the first of part of qualifying, in Q1, I was really happy and in the end we didn’t have to do much on the car. I didn’t have to fight so much finding the last fine tunings. I was very happy with the settings I had from the beginning. Usually you change quite a lot, you change your mind… it was tricky, because also the wind was changing, sometimes more, sometimes less, and a bit gusty as well. Trying to look around the lap to see where the flags are, trying to get a reference. The last lap in Q3 I knew I could step it up. I knew I had a bit more in me, because on the first run I had two moments, out of Turn 3, accelerating I was probably a bit keen. The same out of Turn 6, I lost the rear twice, so I lost a bit of momentum in those places. So I knew that I had a little bit more and obviously in the last lap I got it all together and very happy that when I crossed the line I was looking up to see the screen and I saw something green, which is usually good, and little bit of purple. Really pleased; it was a tight session but I think again a great result for the team.

Q: Your car seems to be getting stronger by the race. Are you surprised by the gap to Mercedes this weekend?

SV: Yes, we are. I think the first three races have been a bit different now. The tracks are quite different to each other and to have that much of a gap is a bit of a surprise. But I think it’s also a track where you just need to get in and find that sweet spot and if you are a little bit out then easily you drop a little bit of time, so I wouldn’t be surprised tomorrow if that gap disappears and it will be a very tight race. Obviously, I wouldn’t mind if it stays there but I think it will be a tight race amongst the top three teams, and a long, tough race, but obviously it’s good to start from the front.

Q: Kimi, coming on to you, you’ve been hooked up all weekend. Very, very close to your team-mate. Just talk us through the session from your point of view.

KR: I think it was pretty straightforward. Not much really happened. Obviously after the morning it was a bit unknown where I was going to be with the wind and everything. I was pretty OK. Not much to say that was wrong. For sure there are things that we can improve always – but that’s a never-ending story. It was close. How close I don’t even know but close enough to make a difference, a few corners here and there. So, yeah, not ideal but tomorrow is another day. We’ll see what happens.

Q: You say tomorrow’s the day. You’re going to be starting the race on the soft tyre, as are the top four drivers. Was that a straightforward decision – or were you tempted to start on the ultrasoft? 

KR: It was quite an easy decision, at least in the minds. If you cannot be fast enough… that we only find out in qualifying always but I think it was quite straightforward decision. We’ll see how it plays out tomorrow. It’s a bit unknown tomorrow.

Q: Valtteri, just talking about that gap to Ferrari. Sebastian has already told us that he’s surprised at the size of the gap. Are you?

VB: Yeah, we are. We thought coming into today that we would be fighting for the pole position but it was definitely out of reach today, there was nothing in the lap that we could have gained that much. I think there’s a little bit in terms of getting the tyres absolutely perfect for the lap – but it’s not half a second. You could feel it if it would be that big. So, I think they have a really strong car. We can see it, especially in long corners, Turn One-Two, they make some good gains to us and obviously not without any speed difference on the straights, they can keep the gains they make in the corners – so we definitely have work to do but yeah, tomorrow is a different day. Again, a long race ahead and like we saw last weekend it probably will be close. Hopefully we can make it up tomorrow what we lost today.

Q: Can we elaborate a bit more about tomorrow. Do you think you’re going to have a more competitive race car than you had today?

VB: hmmm… it’s difficult to say. We expected to go into today, that we would be fighting for the pole. From our numbers, it’s going to be very close between us and Ferrari – but as they were quicker today, we don’t know. But we will for sure try with everything we can. Obviously, we start on similar tyres so there’s not going to be massive differences with the strategies but yeah, we need to try and take the opportunities.


Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Question for Kimi. Kimi, the first two sectors of your final lap were the fastest in the session so far, what happened in the final sector?

KR: Nothing really. I lost some time but… I don’t know why. It wasn’t like I did some big mistake but yeah, need to see, I don’t know right now.

Q: (Christian Menath – Motorsport-Magazin.com) Question for the two Ferrari drivers. It’s always a balance between race pace and qualifying pace. Now, as you’ve seen the gap to the Mercedes, do you feel you’ve sacrificed race pace a bit too much for qualifying pace?

SV: No. No, I think we try to look at both, obviously, and tomorrow the forecast is quite different so I think we kept that in mind. Obviously we see how it works tomorrow but the answer is still no.

Kimi, anything to add?

KR: I honestly don’t know how you could sacrifice something today to be better tomorrow. We have nothing that you could change like that. I never… as long as I remember, there has never been a case like that. You have somehow different setups for two days. It’s what you have. If it’s fast in qualifying it’s fast in the race, if it works.

Q: (Yiyi Duan – Titan Sport) Kimi, very good qualifying lap but still not good enough so what details do you think can be improved if you want to overtake your teammate, if it’s possible, in tomorrow’s race?

KR: Well, obviously first of all we need to make sure that we run a troublefree race. Obviously that’s the first point and then we have to see how it pans out, obviously, so it’s a long race. We know what we’re going to do between ourselves so there’s nothing… I think the start will be a big part of it and who knows? We will see how it pans out and what it brings but we need to make the best out of it.

Q: (Keren Wang – Top Driver) Valtteri, you mentioned that you were struggling to find the grip level that you had yesterday. Was it because of the low temperature, does that mean that your car is less competitive under low temperature conditions?

VB: Well, I think the grip levels came up, for sure, from yesterday so in a way it was better but I think I said, I just struggled to find as much grip as Kimi and Seb. I said maybe some part of it can be from the tyres but I think some of it must come from the car. I don’t know if yesterday… it’s (tomorrow) going to be quite different to today, definitely warmer, a few degrees warmer with the air and definitely on the track; with the sun it’s a question mark. But we don’t think we are less competitive on a cold track. I thought we struggled a bit in Bahrain with the heat! For sure, we always need to understand everything better but for sure we need to make the car better as well.

Q: (Christian Menath – Motorsport-Magazin.com) Seb, you had some problems yesterday; I don’t think the balance was alright and on the long run the lap times dropped a bit. Why did it go so much better today? Did you change something dramatic in the car or what happened?

SV: We made some small changes but I think it was already pretty OK yesterday afternoon. I think in the long run I was catching traffic and (on) the other one it started to rain so I think for everyone it was a bit compromised, the amount of laps that you got. Yeah, I think overall I was happier today. Obviously it helps a little bit to focus on one lap as well, if you get the P3 session right you get the better feeling for the car so between practice and qualifying we didn’t do hardly anything. I think the overnight changes that we did, they were working and they made the car a little bit better. I was a little bit happier with the front end overall. I hope we can carry that momentum and feeling, obviously, into the race tomorrow.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Valtteri, are we seeing a recurrence of Mercedes’s struggles on the softest compound Pirellis from last year? And in those scenarios why do you think you are able to get more out of the car than Lewis?

VB: I think we saw in the races before that in general we’ve been a bit better with the harder compounds. That is something that we’re still working on, to get more out of the softer compounds and I think Ferrari is doing something better on that so yes, for that. I think the gap between me and Lewis was really small, it’s been quite small all weekend so it’s about fine details. I haven’t seen the lap so it’s difficult to say, really, why I was ahead but yeah, it’s been close between us all season so far so that’s how it is.

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Raikkonen rejects Arrivabene’s ‘strange’ praise

Kimi Raikkonen has said he has found it a "bit strange" to be complimented on his fitness levels by Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene.

The Ferrari team principal has been quoted in China hailing the Finn's physical shape after enjoying a good start to the season.

"I'm pretty pleased with Kimi's performance," Arrivabene said.

"He's in good physical condition now, which is very important for him. He drives well, he's in very good shape and focused on his work."

But when Raikkonen learned about his boss' comments, he was left feeling a bit puzzled.

"How do people measure fitness? By looking?" Raikkonen asked.

"In my opinion it's a pretty questionable way to go about measuring fitness.

"I have not done too many fitness tests, or especially ones that the team knows about. The comments are a bit strange. I've never had any problem with my condition."

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Raikkonen: Ferrari pit-stops ‘are questionable’

Kimi Raikkonen has said "a lot of things are questionable" about Ferrari's pit-stop procedure and that it is something the team need to "improve" on.

Ferrari were fined 50,000 Euros for their second unsafe release of Raikkonen's at the Bahrain Grand Prix, which resulted in him retiring from the race and breaking the leg of Ferrari mechanic Francesco Cigarini in the process.

And Raikkonen has said a review is needed into how Ferrari go about their business in the pit lane, as he will always, always go once the light is green.

“I think a lot of things are questionable,” Raikkonen said.

“We are always trying to gain on everything, but unfortunately it was far from ideal, and the end result was one of our guys got hurt, but my only job is to follow the lights and go when it’s green.

“Even if it goes green for, I don’t know, one second, I’m gone already, there’s nothing that you can do to turn back to red.

“There are probably a lot of things that could’ve been done differently, but this is what happened, and we paid the price for it.

“I don’t know if it’s unlucky.

"I don’t think it’s anything to do with the luck, really, to be honest. Maybe at the safety car you can argue it’s unlucky, but it happens, and it can happen to you.

“I don’t think it’s anything to do with luck; it’s purely things that we have to improve on. It’s disappointing obviously to have that early in the season such a bad result."

As for Ferrari's chances in China, Raikkonen did not have any definitive answer given that it is yet another race which is vastly different from the likes of Australia and Bahrain.

He added: "It’s a bit hard to say exactly where we’re going to be [in China], because to be honest the first two races are quite different from each other and this is again not necessarily the most normal circuit, so let’s see.

"It’s hard to imagine it’s going to be a lot different than it has been in the last races, so it will be pretty interesting.”

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Cigarini recovering in hospital after surgery

Kimi Raikkonen’s mechanic Francesco Cigarini says the surgery for the double leg break he suffered in Bahrain went “OK”.

Cigarini, an experienced member of Raikkonen’s pit crew, was hit during a botched pit stop in Sunday night’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

As Raikkonen pulled away from his pit box, given the green light to do so, Cigarini and another mechanic were still busy changing his rear left tyre with Cigarini standing in front of the wheel.

He was hit by the Finn with footage showing his leg breaking.

He was taken to the track’s medical centre before going to hospital where he underwent surgery on the shinbone and fibula fracture.

“Surgery OK,” Cigarini wrote on Instagram.

“I have to thank all the people worried about me.

“Nothing else, just a big thanks.


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