VIDEO: Ferrari must be “flexible” tomorrow, says Alonso

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With high temperatures expected for tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix, everyone will be watching to see how the new Pirelli tires will hold up in the blistering heat. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso says those variables mean that his squad must be ready to change their plans on the fly during tomorrow’s event.

“The strategy will be very open, the tires are new for everyone and the high track temperature means we need to think of a strategy that can be modified at any moment,” Alonso said after qualifying fifth for tomorrow’s race. “The podium is always our target and I feel we can fight for it, even though we know it won’t be easy with such strong competition ahead of us.”

But while it’s still hard to predict how the new tires will fare, the Hungaroring’s notoriously difficult nature shall remain a constant throughout the Grand Prix. For Alonso, picking off positions during the rush down to the first corner will be important if he wants to have a puncher’s chance of cutting into Sebastian Vettel’s sizable championship lead this weekend.

“…We must look carefully at the start to try and make up a few places then and, on this front, the extra grip from being on the clean side should help,” Alonso said. “Here, it is hard to overtake in the race and so it’s even more important to try and make up ground immediately, particularly if we want to prevent Vettel from increasing his lead.”

F1 2017 driver review: Kimi Raikkonen

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Kimi Raikkonen

Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car No.: 7
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 7
Best Finish: P2 (Monaco, Hungary)
Pole Positions: 1
Fastest Laps: 2
Points: 205
Laps Led: 40
Championship Position: 4th

While this may have statistically been Kimi Raikkonen’s best campaign since his first year back in F1 in 2012, there is a good case for it being one of his most disappointing to date.

Raikkonen’s continued role at Ferrari has been questioned on a number of occasions, but the Finn looked capable of answering his critics heading into 2017 after impressing through pre-season testing as he appeared to get to grips well with the new-style cars.

But we soon grew accustomed to the same old story: flashes of potential, but otherwise an underwhelming, unsatisfactory campaign that saw Raikkonen be dwarfed by his teammate, Sebastian Vettel.

Raikkonen’s charge to his first pole position for over eight years in Monaco gave hope of a popular win, only for Ferrari to play its strategy in favor of title contender Vettel – why wouldn’t the team do so? – to leave him a disgruntled second.

While Vettel was able to impress at the majority of circuits, Raikkonen only looked strong at tracks that were unquestionably ‘Ferrari’ tracks, such as Hungary and Brazil. Like Vettel, Raikkonen should have racked up a good haul of points in Singapore, only for the start-line crash to sideline both Ferraris before they even reached Turn 1.

Again there is the question of ‘what could have been?’ in Malaysia had it not been for the spark plug issue on the grid, yet in Japan, Raikkonen was nowhere, finishing behind the Mercedes and Red Bulls.

Finishing just five points clear of Daniel Ricciardo despite having a much faster car for the best part of the season and the Red Bull driver’s own reliability issues sums up the disappointment of Raikkonen’s campaign.

He should have been an ally for Vettel in the title race by nicking points of Lewis Hamilton, much as Valtteri Bottas was doing for his Mercedes teammate. Instead, Raikkonen seemed to be tagging along for the best part of this season.

Season High: Pole in Monaco, his first since the 2008 French Grand Prix.

Season Low: Finishing a distant P4 at Spa – a circuit he made his own in the 2000s.