Marco Andretti’s fourth leads Sonoma ‘best of the rest’

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The rest of the top 10, beyond the podium in Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, was overshadowed in the aftermath of the post-race drama. But here are a few notes on IndyCar finishers P4-10:

  • Fourth-placed Marco Andretti picked up his third top-five in the last 10 races and improved from 11th on the grid. There have been days this year where his pace was enough to win but a result went begging; in this case, it was a quiet, methodical march to the front as the top finishing Andretti Autosport entry.
  • Simon Pagenaud in fifth told me post-race the tire degradation wasn’t nearly as bad as he or the HP Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports team was expecting. Surprisingly it is only the third top-five finish of the season for him.
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay’s race was screwed from the moment he didn’t pit on the third caution of Lap 17. He pitted for the first time on the fourth caution, and that cost him track position that he spent all day recovering from, ultimately ending in sixth.
  • Points leader Helio Castroneves started fifth, finished seventh, and still gained 8 points on Scott Dixon when all was said and done. Another maximized points day for the Brazilian in search of his elusive first title.
  • James Hinchcliffe made it three Andretti cars in the top 10 in eighth after a good, but not great weekend in the No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet.
  • Needed top-10s for Simona de Silvestro in ninth and Sebastien Bourdais in 10th. Both have struggled for results of late. This is Simona’s second top-10 in the last 11 races and Bourdais’ third of the season, besides his pair of podiums in Toronto.

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.