F1 Driver Review: Kimi Raikkonen

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After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship season, my colleague Chris Estrada and I are taking a look back on how each of the 23 Formula One drivers who took to the grid fared this past year.

Finishing fifth in the championship despite missing the final two races of 2013 was Kimi Raikkonen…

KIMI RAIKKONEN

No. 7 Lotus-Renault
2013 Stats: 5th Place, 1 Win, 8 Podiums, 10 Top-5s, 14 Top-10s, 41 Laps Led
Average Start: 8.4
Average Finish: 6.6
DNFs: 2

DiZinno says: F1 is better with Kimi involved, and the Australian Grand Prix victory to open the year just seemed like a refreshing tonic that could spice up the season. Sadly that was as good as it got and despite a number of runner-up finishes, the Lotus seemed just adrift of the Red Bull in the first half, then third or fourth best car in the second. The mounting frustrations set in regarding the team’s financial strife, and Romain Grosjean’s emergence in the other garage didn’t help things either. If 2012 was a season in overachieving for Raikkonen and Lotus, 2013 felt rather unfulfilled. Here’s to the “third time’s the charm” mantra for 2014 in his Ferrari return.

Estrada says: It started so perfectly, too. Raikkonen opened the season with a triumph in Australia and through the first half, he looked like a potential challenger to Vettel as Lotus’ E21 didn’t chew the Pirellis too much. But a DNF at Spa started what would be a disappointing second half of the year for him as he fought against multiple obstacles: A surging teammate in Romain Grosjean, his financial frustrations with the team, and a back injury he aggravated en route to the podium at Singapore. Eventually, his back could no longer be ignored and Raikkonen opted to leave Enstone early following a first-lap crash at Abu Dhabi. One hopes for his sake that he’ll be 100 percent going into a potentially tough match-up against Fernando Alonso at Ferrari.

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Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.