Having started down in P13 after a difficult qualifying session on Friday, Kimi Raikkonen has every right to be delighted after finishing third in today’s Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit.
The Finn showed good pace which – combined with pitting under the safety car – saw him finish on the podium alongside Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. Raikkonen revealed that the plan was always to pit during a safety car period; something of an inevitability given Singapore’s reputation for stoppages.
“We had a plan and we knew that at what moment if the safety car comes out we try to go until the end, so I knew what will happen and luckily some of the teams couldn’t do it and they have to pit,” Raikkonen explained after qualifying.
The highlight of his race came during a battle with McLaren’s Jenson Button. Having been stuck behind the Briton for a number of laps, Raikkonen pulled off a stunning overtake around the outside of turn five to move up to P3 late on.
“I was kinda stuck behind Jenson for most of the race but then I tried to give him some pressure and keep him pushing. I noticed that he started running out of his tires, and I started getting closer and closer.
“Then I decided to try to pass him and I managed to get past because there were some people who stopped and moved onto fresh tires, they were catching very quickly but luckily once I got past I could push a bit more and keep the gap big enough.”
Raikkonen had struggled in qualifying due to a back injury, but he confirmed that it had not caused too many problems during the race today.
“I didn’t feel it too much during the race but obviously it’s not ideal. Yesterday it was really bad.”
The Finn is set to leave Lotus at the end of the season and return to Ferrari in 2014, with whom he claimed his solitary drivers’ title back in 2007.
Carlos Sainz Jr.
Teams: Scuderia Toro Rosso (1-16), Renault (17-20)
Car No.: 33
Best Finish: P4 (Singapore)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Championship Position: 9th
Carlos Sainz Jr. has always been compared to Max Verstappen given their relative rise and stint together at Toro Rosso, but the Spaniard began to forge his own impressive path through 2017, securing himself a works drive with Renault in the process.
Alongside the struggling Daniil Kvyat for much of the season, Sainz led Toro Rosso’s charge, scoring 48 of its 53 points with a string of impressive drives. His headline moment came in Singapore when he matched Verstappen’s best result in Toro Rosso colors by finishing fourth, capitalizing on the start-line crash and the wet weather with a strong display.
Sainz’s displays led to a call from Renault, who announced just two days before his star display in Singapore he would be joining up for 2018 on loan from Red Bull. However, the deal was accelerated after a deal was brokered to secure Jolyon Palmer’s departure, allowing Sainz to join up from the United States GP onwards.
Sainz made an immediate impression, completing a perfect race en route to seventh on debut for Renault to secure six points that would prove crucial in the final constructors’ championship standings as the French team beat Toro Rosso to P6 in the standings at the last race of the year.
Red Bull retains an option on Sainz’s future beyond 2018, making him a candidate for a seat with its senior team should Daniel Ricciardo opt to leave. Failing that, Renault could offer Sainz the platform he needs to continue his rapid rise in F1 and establish himself at the front of the pack for many years to come.
Season High: Finishing fourth in Singapore after dodging the start-line drama.
Season Low: Crashing out in his final Toro Rosso appearance on the first lap at Suzuka.