Ferrari strategy mistake leaves Raikkonen 17th on the grid

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Kimi Raikkonen has confirmed that the decision not to run again in the first part of qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix was taken by Ferrari, and that the team is at fault for his early elimination.

The Finn did not head out for a second run during the first session on Saturday afternoon, allowing Marussia’s Jules Bianchi to improve his time and make it through to Q2 at Raikkonen’s expense.

Raikkonen explained to the media on Saturday that the decision not to run again was the team’s alone, and that he even challenged the call when it was made.

“The plan was to go out,” Raikkonen said. “Obviously I struggled a bit with the harder tires this morning and yesterday afternoon to put a good lap in those. The car has been good on the softer tires.

“That was the plan and then the team said that ‘no, we are fine, we don’t need to go out’. I questioned it a few times, and they said there’s no need, and obviously we can see the end result.”

However, Raikkonen is not willing to dwell on it, saying that everyone makes mistakes, although he does not expect them to happen at Ferrari.

“Obviously not good for me, not good for the team, but the mistake has been made,” he said. “It has been a difficult year anyhow so I don’t really see a point to start shouting around.

“The mistake’s done, I’ve done mistakes in the past, I will make in the future, people make mistakes.

“But obviously there’s things that we have to change. As a team, in Formula 1, as Ferrari, we should not make this kind of things. We are not here first year, any of us, it’s not easy times.”

This appears to be a new low point in what has been a difficult year at Ferrari for Raikkonen. When the Finn joined the team at the beginning of the season, it was meant to be the beginning of a new, successful era for the team. Instead, both Raikkonen and teammate Fernando Alonso have struggled with the F14 T car, and quite what the future holds at Maranello is far from clear.

F1 2017 driver review: Sebastian Vettel

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Sebastian Vettel

Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car No.: 5
Races: 20
Wins: 5
Podiums (excluding wins): 8
Pole Positions: 4
Fastest Laps: 5
Points: 317
Laps Led: 286
Championship Position: 2nd

2017 was supposed to be the year Sebastian Vettel finally fulfilled his ambition of emulating Michael Schumacher by returning Ferrari to its championship-winning heyday.

Instead, it ended in disappointment and frustration – once again.

Ferrari arguably made a greater step across the change in technical regulations for 2017 than any other team, living up to its pre-season tag as favorite by winning the opening round in Australia in fashion.

Vettel and Ferrari led their respective championships following the Monaco Grand Prix as the German ended a 16-year win drought for the Prancing Horse in the principality, and even heading into the summer break, a shot at both championships was looking good.

However, cracks had started to appear. Vettel’s remarkable antics behind the safety car in Baku sparked controversy after driving into Hamilton, suggesting the tension of the title fight was beginning to take its toll on the German.

The final run of flyaways was where things really fell apart for Vettel, though. Singapore looked to be a slam-dunk win, only for a start-line crash also involving teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen to put 25 free points in Hamilton’s pocket.

Reliability woes then struck in Malaysia and Japan – two more races Vettel could realistically have won – to make it game over in the title race, with Hamilton wrapping things up in Mexico.

Vettel only finished the year 46 points back from Hamilton, proving the impact the three bad races in Asia had. Realistically, this was a title race that should have gone down to the wire in Abu Dhabi. Instead, Vettel remains a four-time champion, level with Hamilton, who had just one to his name back in 2013 when his rival secured his fourth.

Ferrari’s internal issues will come under the microscope over the off-season, and Vettel himself knows there is plenty to work on. Staying cool under pressure and not letting things boil over as in Baku is the most obvious area for improvement.

But there is reason for hope. If Ferrari can keep up with Mercedes and repeat its impressive step into 2017 through the upcoming off-season, we may well be treated to another Vettel/Hamilton scrap at the front of the field, perhaps settling once and for all who is the greatest driver of the post-Schumacher era.

Season High: A crucial win in Hungary despite battling with a broken steering column.

Season Low: Letting tensions flare in Baku and hitting Hamilton behind the safety car.