Raikkonen suspects last pit stop wasn’t necessary


After finishing second in the German Grand Prix Kimi Raikkonen was left wondering if he could have won the race by not pitting with 11 laps to go.

The Lotus driver took the lead on lap 41 of 60 when Sebastian Vettel made a final stop for fresh tires. But the Lotus had good tire life and Raikkonen wondered if he could have got to the end of the race without a further stop.

“After the Safety Car we were pretty OK and the cars, three of us, had similar speed and it’s very difficult to overtake anybody,” he said. “I could run longer and we had a think about it, if we can try to run until the end.”

“But we had a massive problem with the radio. I could hear them but they could only hear me between two corners. So I’m wondering if we should have done it, take a gamble and try to go to the end because the tires were pretty OK, my speed was pretty OK so it was hard to know what happens in the next ten laps.”

Despite the radio problems Lotus were able to hear Raikkonen tell them the tires were in reasonable condition. But they chose to make another stop:

“We had good speed,” said Raikkonen. “Obviously I got some help from Romain [Grosjean] to get past but that was… we would have had a big fight, anyhow. I could have probably passed him in a normal situation but obviously it would have cost me a lot of time.

“And as a team we try to win and I caught up with Seb [Vettel] but… everybody was behind each other but we are too close on speeds and it’s so difficult to overtake then. We tried everything that we had and failed to win but I think for the team we did a good race and got both cars on the podium, so as a team we’re happy but obviously I lost some more points to Seb in the championship.”

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.