By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Kimi Raikkonen saw his solid qualifying effort of third evaporate just one corner into Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.
The Finn got a decent start, moving to the inside of eventual race winner Nico Rosberg for second entering Turn 1 before pushing up the track and opening the inside lane. It was then that Scuderia Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel went in for an overtaking maneuver on Raikkonen, but at the same time Daniil Kvyatt was making the similar move on Vettel, pushing him to the middle lane.
Moments later Vettel made contact with Raikkonen, sending the 2007 F1 champion off the track and with SF16-T in need of repairs.
The team replaced the nose on Raikkonen’s car and put the Finn on an off-sequence strategy following a brief early safety car period.
Raikkonen rebounded to finish a remarkable fifth, but the Finn acknowledged the day was “not ideal”.
“Obviously I was hit and that is an unfortunate thing, it was not ideal for the race,” said Raikkonen.
Vettel, who ended up finishing 2nd, apologized over the radio immediately after the incident and constantly after the race, even briefly catching up with Raikkonen prior to the podium ceremony to express his apologies.
“Obviously he [Vettel] said ‘sorry’ but that doesn’t change what happened,” added Raikkonen.
“I’m sure he didn’t try to do it on purpose but it was not ideal for me or for the team. Unfortunately I paid the price for it.
“I lost the front wing and also got a puncture, so but we managed to get back to the pits and start from there. My race was pretty much done at that point.
“I just tried to make the best out of it,” he continued. “It was a bad day but we still made something out of it.
“I was stuck a bit, at the beginning, and then managed to start going again. The car felt quite tricky to start with – I don’t know if it was for something damaged or whatever reasons – but in the end it started to work a bit better.
“Unfortunately what happened at the beginning penalized us, but you try to pass as many people as you can,” the Finn mentioned in passing Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton in the closing laps.
“I’m happy we could pass him,” said Raikkonen. “I’m happy to get past all the guys that we, in the end, managed to pass. It is not just because it’s him [Hamilton] or Mercedes, it still gives us the same amount of points passing him or somebody else. At least we managed to pass him and the other cars.”
After passing Hamilton, Raikkonen made quick work of Felipe Massa before settling into fifth, running out of laps before having the chance to challenge Daniel Ricciardo for fourth.
“I managed to do a pretty okay race, not ideal, but after what happened in the beginning I guess we couldn’t really do much more. It was quite a messy race, in many ways, but this is how it goes sometimes,” added Raikkonen.
“At least we got some points out of it. But I’m sure in many ways it could have been better. I guess fifth is better than nothing but it is obviously not what we were looking for. But that is part of racing.”