Rally experience made no difference to Raikkonen

Date published: September 27 2021 - Jamie Woodhouse

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo, leads an Aston Martin and a Ferrari. Russia, September 2021.

Kimi Raikkonen is no stranger to rallying, but those skills did not come in to play at all despite late rain at the Russian Grand Prix.

After two races out of action following a positive Covid test, Raikkonen was back at Sochi and made a quick impact, recording only his second points finish of the season with a P8.

It was a result helped greatly by the early decision to fit intermediate tyres as the rain began to fall, but until making it back to the pits, drivers had to be extremely cautious if they wanted to stay on the track with worn dry tyres.

Raikkonen was able to do that, and with the green-walled inters fitted then went on a charge in the midfield to take P8 – both his and Alfa Romeo’s highest finish of the year so far.

After the race, Raikkonen was asked if his mind clicked back into his rallying days on the slippery surface, but this was not the case.

“No not really, I think for sure our car is usually not the best in the wet conditions,” he responded.

“But luckily we pitted in the right moment, and then we had decent speed actually in the last couple of laps and I managed to pass some cars.”

Raikkonen added that he would have liked to have finished even higher up the order, with his Alfa Romeo “behaving well”, but the team were ultimately “a bit too slow to really make progress” in the early stages.

“Then luckily we made the right call, I felt that it was too wet already and we were one of the early ones to come in to change tyres, and it paid off in the end,” he continued.

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Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur said he went into the race with “quiet optimism”, and so was delighted to see Raikkonen emerge from the Russian Grand Prix with four points.

”The race ended up being very exciting and we head home with a good haul of points,” Vasseur said.

“Despite a difficult Saturday, we entered the race with some quiet optimism as we knew we would be in a position to fight. Kimi had a good start to jump to P10, while Antonio [Giovinazzi] was hit and had to recover from the back.

“He was in a few good fights and made some nice overtaking moves – all the more so as he had no radio.

 

“Kimi was able to stay with [Esteban] Ocon for most of the race, just outside the points, and when the rain came we made the right call to stop for inters.

“He was able to make up ground and cross the line in P8, four good points for the team. It’s a good result, a reward for the job we have done so far and a confidence boost ahead of the next race in Turkey, in two weeks.”

 

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