Interlagos, 11 November – Kimi Raikkonen stood on the podium after coming third in the Brazilian Grand Prix. For Seb Vettel it was a case of damage limitation, after a sensor problem meant his SF71H was proving difficult to drive. It was a tricky Sunday with different conditions to those experienced up until the end of qualifying. But at least, with one race still to go, the Scuderia has had more podium finishes than it did in 2017.
RACE REVIEW – Sun or rain? That’s the eternal question at Interlagos. In fact, before the start, it was hot with track temperature exceeding 40 degrees. A daring and well planned strategy had seen the two Ferraris qualify on the Option tyre, the Soft, which is more durable than the Supersoft. Seb was second on the grid and Kimi fourth.
Getting off the line, the harder tyre didn’t give any advantage and Seb found himself slightly blocked by Hamilton and let Bottas by. Kimi was fending off Verstappen, but the Dutchman forced his way by at the start of the second lap, going on to snatch third place too. Seb locked up under braking and Kimi made the most of it.
After ten laps, the tyre choice began to pay off, as could be seen in the all-Finnish duel between Bottas and Raikkonen. Valtteri was doing a good job of defending and the Scuderia went for a strategic move: in the pits the tyres were ready, but the driver went by without stopping. However, his fellow countryman did pit, followed next time round by Hamilton.
On lap 28, Sebastian pitted, the crew pulling off the stop in a record time, under two seconds. Kimi stayed out for a further four laps, before also coming down pit lane, when the mechanics again did a brilliant job, so that he emerged right behind Seb, who was chasing Bottas.
The number 5 car had picked up a sensor problem even before the start and so the two drivers swapped places, with Kimi immediately setting a race fastest lap as he set his sights on Bottas. With 30 laps to go, there were two duels: Kimi versus Bottas, while Seb was doing all in his power to fend off Ricciardo.
There was drama on lap 44, when Ocon, a lap down, tried to unlap himself from Verstappen going into the Senna corner, spinning both he and the Dutchman around. Meanwhile, Kimi got ahead of the Mercedes to make it into the podium zone, while Ricciardo won a great battle with Sebastian who, in order to deal with the driveability problem, decided to switch to a two stop strategy, fitting a set of Supersofts, which soon saw him retake sixth place.
Out in front, the top four were separated by just five seconds. Kimi gave his all and made it to the podium, while Seb did what he could and came home sixth. There are no world titles left to fight for this year, but we are ready to give it our best shot as usual in the final race of the season.
Kimi Raikkonen: “It was a nice exciting race. We had good battles throughout and the car was working well during the whole race. The speed was there and we had no particular issues. The first set of tires was very good at the start and I was really happy, but then I destroyed them a little bit trying to pass the Mercedes. Once we changed the tires the car was absolutely fine; we kind of knew that once we pitted we could have gone past them. After that the behaviour of the car was still very good, but at that point we were a bit too late, as it had taken too long for us to get there. As for the strategy, we did what we thought was the best for us. We can always debate many things, but today we made the best of it. Obviously it is not the greatest of results, but I don’t think we could have got more; we did not make any mistakes and fought hard. As for the Constructors’ Championship we knew that it would have been difficult; we did our best, but unfortunately it was not enough. The best team won this year, that’s how it goes.”