Alonso quiet in fourth, Raikkonen reprimanded

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The Monaco Grand Prix was expected to be a difficult weekend for Ferrari given the pace of the F14 T car, but the team will be disappointed with just one points score after Kimi Raikkonen was denied a possible podium finish.

Raikkonen started alongside teammate Fernando Alonso on the third row of the grid, but made a great start to get ahead of the Spaniard and Daniel Ricciardo off the line. The Finn then moved into third place when Sebastian Vettel retired from the race, and he remained ahead of Ricciardo after pitting.

However, Raikkonen returned to the pits just a few laps later after making contact with a Marussia he was lapping, and dropped down to last place. He fought his way through the order and up into the points, but an opportunistic move on Kevin Magnussen saw both drivers go into the wall at the Loews hairpin.

Raikkonen managed to continue, but had to pit for repairs, and on a fresh set of tires set the fastest lap of the race en route to 12th place. However, the FIA stewards have given him a reprimand for causing the incident with the McLaren driver.

Fernando Alonso had an unusually quiet race, coming home in fourth place. Nevertheless, this result ensures that he remains in third place in the drivers’ championship, and he will be hoping that Ferrari can get on top of the problems with the F14 T in Canada so he can challenge the Red Bulls.

In fact, the result that would have raised the biggest smile on president Luca di Montezemolo’s face is that of Marussia’s Jules Bianchi. The Frenchman finished the race in ninth place, scoring both his own and Marussia’s first ever points in Formula 1.

Bianchi is a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, and this result will undoubtedly put him in good stead for a seat with the team in the future.

At Maranello, though, changes need to be made. 2014 seems to be all about damage limitation, and it will take something out of the ordinary for either Alonso or Raikkonen to take to the top step of the podium this season.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”