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F1 2016 Driver Review: Kimi Raikkonen

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Kimi Raikkonen

Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car No.: 7
Races: 21
Podiums: 4
Best Finish: 2nd (Bahrain, Spain)
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 186
Laps Led: 7
Championship Position: 6th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Coming off the back of two tough years with Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen enjoyed an upturn in fortunes through 2016. He appeared more at ease with the SF16-H than its predecessors, allowing him to even push the Mercedes drivers close in Bahrain, finishing second.

Raikkonen came within a second of his first Ferrari win for eight years in Spain, only to be left frustrated by Max Verstappen through the second half of the race, and he returned to the podium in Austria, capitalizing on the clash between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.

But through the second half of the year, Raikkonen was disappointing. Sure, Ferrari lost ground to Red Bull in the pecking order and was firmly the third-best team, yet Kimi still struggled to match teammate Sebastian Vettel through the races (he did win the qualifying head-to-head 11-10, though).

We’ve not quite rediscovered ‘old Kimi’, but the Finn proved through 2016 that he remains a competitive, talented and quick racer. Given the right tools, he could really push Vettel close.

Is there another chapter to be written in Raikkonen’s lengthy F1 career in 2017? Bwoah, maybe!

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Kimi Raikkonen is F1’s most senior driver in terms of age – 37 – if not race starts after his two-year hiatus in 2010 and 2011, and was back to his best form in recent years this year with Ferrari.

Raikkonen struggled with Ferrari’s 2014 chassis, notably in the front end, but found the 2016 chassis happier to his liking. Beating Sebastian Vettel head-to-head in qualifying this year, 11-10, was no small achievement. He also increased his points total and podium finishes this year from 150 and three to 186 and four this year, although dropped in points from fourth to sixth because of Red Bull’s improvements.

Only in Spain did he really look like winning but Raikkonen did put up his usual great efforts in the Middle East, going well at both Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. He also didn’t back down in his season-long spat with Max Verstappen, and provided a bit of a rivalry for us to talk about this season.

F1 Preview: 2018 Australian Grand Prix

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Save for two occasions, in 2006, and 2010, the Australian Grand Prix has served as the season-opening event for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 1996, and this weekend’s event will be the 21st time that the city of Melbourne has kicked off the Formula 1 campaign.

The 2018 season is the fifth one of the current hybrid power unit era, the second season of the current aero regulations, and the second under Liberty Media’s guidance.

Last year saw titans Mercedes AMG Petronas and Scuderia Ferrari duel for supremacy for most of the season before Mercedes distanced Ferrari late in the season to take the constructor’s title and the driver’s title, with Lewis Hamilton, who is now tied with Sebastian Vettel on four world championships apiece.

Four drivers on the grid have Formula 1 world championships to their name: Hamilton, Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, and Fernando Alonso. Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley also has a world championship to his name as a two-time titlist in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

So, what can viewers expect from the 2018 curtain-raiser in Australia? A handful of things to watch are below?

2018 Australian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Does Anyone Have Anything for Mercedes?

Only on one day during pre-season testing did a Mercedes driver lead the way – Lewis Hamilton was fastest on the final day of Week 1 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

However, all indications were that was by design, with the team focusing the majority of the second week, if not the entire second week, on long runs with their W09 EQ Power+ chassis.

Such a decision is an ominous one, in that it indicates the team is very comfortable with the amount of speed in the car and did not see a need, or desire, to show their hand during testing.

With that in mind, the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas may yet again have the best and fastest cars, and the team looks poised to potentially make it five constructor’s and driver’s championships in a row.

Ferrari and Red Bull Look to End Mercedes Reign

The biggest threats to Mercedes are undoubtedly Ferrari and Red Bull, the only other teams to win in 2017.

And both teams displayed a lot of pace during testing, particularly in the “one-lap speed” category. Ricciardo set a lap record around the Catalunya circuit during the second week, only for Vettel to supplant that mark later in the week. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen led the way during the final day of testing.

It is unknown how that pace will translate over the course of a race distance. Mercedes appeared to have an edge on both Ferrari and Red Bull over long runs and race simulations, but there is also a theory that neither Ferrari nor Red Bull had their true long-run form on display.

Still, if a team is going to knock off Mercedes, it will likely be either Ferrari or Red Bull.

McLaren on the Rebound?

Put simply, the previous three seasons for McLaren F1 Team were a bit of a disaster. Their partnership with Honda yielded point totals of 27 (2015), 76 (2016), and 30 (2017) in a three-year venture that was defined by poor reliability and underwhelming power.

The relationship hit a boiling point last year and both entities parted ways ahead of the 2018 season, with McLaren signing a new power unit deal with Renault.

Testing went better than in previous years, though the team continued to battle reliability problems. However, all issues appeared to be minor, needling issues rather than more significant, foundational problems, as the other Renault teams (Red Bull and Renault Sport F1 Team) had solid runs with few reliability issues.

The car does appear to have speed in it, so if the reliability problems are behind them, McLaren could be in for a rebound season.

Stuck in the Midfield Again

Formula 1’s battle amongst the midfield is set to be as fierce as ever as a host of a several teams have a chance at being “best of the rest.”

Sahara Force India has been the frontrunner from the the midfield teams each of the last two years, finishing fourth in the constructor’s title in both 2016 and 2017, though if the steady conflict between drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez continues through 2018, it could hamper their efforts significantly.

Renault Sport F1 Team and Haas F1 Team look to improve on their 2017 form, while Toro Rosso is in a new partnership with Honda power units…and has experienced a surprisingly smooth pre-season as Honda’s 2018 platform looks significantly better, with the team enjoying a solid run of testing with few, if any, reliability problems.

Williams Martini Racing and Alfa Romeo Sauber appear to be at the back of the pack entering the season, but both could battle for points finishes if those ahead of them falter.