The 2014 Formula One World Championship is still young, but former champ Kimi Raikkonen is losing the battle with teammate and two-time champ Fernando Alonso at Ferrari.
Raikkonen, the last driver to give the Scuderia a world title in 2007, collected six points at the season-opener in Australia but last weekend in Malaysia, a first-lap run-in with McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen contributed to a 12th place finish out of the points.
Magnussen’s car clipped the right-rear tire of Raikkonen in Turn 2, which led to a puncture that forced the Finn into the pits and effectively ruined his race.
Meanwhile, Alonso earned 12 points for his fourth-place finish at Sepang, giving him 24 points on the year and putting him third in the driver’s championship.
“Hard to say how things might have gone without that problem, because our rivals were very quick, but maybe I could have finished close to Fernando,” said Raikkonen, who noted that the Magnussen incident also damaged the floor of his Ferrari F14 T, which in turn had a negative effect on his car’s downforce.
“It was a really unlucky day, but overall we managed to improve our performance and now we must concentrate on the positive aspects of this weekend and work to improve starting already next week in Bahrain.”
The F14 T continues to do relatively well in regards to reliability, but as Alonso himself noted, its performance remains lacking compared to the front-running Mercedes squad and the Renault-powered Red Bulls, who appear to have overcome their very difficult winter.
And while Ferrari has had a decent amount of success at the championship’s next stop in Bahrain (four wins in nine starts), their current situation isn’t likely to improve in the desert considering that we’re already just four days away from the start of the weekend.
Thus, it would appear that both Raikkonen and Alonso have another race ahead where the priority is simply to grab as many points as they can – and then hope that a legitimate step up in performance is in the cards for the Chinese Grand Prix later in April.