Brought to you by TJ13 contributor, Fortis
After out qualifying his team-mate for only the second time in nine races this year, Kimi Raikkonen was also having the better race at the 2015 British GP. Then the fateful call was made on lap 38 to pit for intermediate tires.
There had been some drops of rain since the end of lap 35, but at this time Nico Rosberg was hunting down and passing the Williams cars on his used hard tyres with ease.
The ‘Iceman’ quickly realised the call to change to the wet tyre was a disaster. Kimi trundled around the 5.89 km long circuit on tyres unable to cope with the high speed corners and when the rain came properly, the intermediates were already finished.
Kimi had to stop again on lap 47 for a fresh set of intermediate tyres and finished the race in 8th position, less than a second ahead of the Russian Red Bull driver.
Meanwhile the other Ferrari driver had taken his the one window of opportunity to outwit the Williams pair – who had trounced the Maranello red cars throughout the race – and sneaked through for a podium 3rd place finish.
Sky F1 UK revealed during the race, that Kimi blamed the call to pit early for the intermediate tyres on the team. “This one is on you,” he apparently said.
In stark contrast, Lewis Hamilton was credited with the decision by the Mercedes camp in making the perfect call to stop for his intermediate tyres on lap 43.
(The fact that Nico Rosberg had over the course of just two laps cut the gap to Lewis by almost 6 seconds and the German was now breathing down the world champions neck – we must concede may have had played a small part in Hamilton’s decision).
Arrivabene is full of praise for the timing of his other drivers’ call to change for intermediate tyres. Vettel stopped on the same lap as Hamilton, though he was over 30 seconds behind the race leader and may have taken some inspiration from one of the big screens showing Lewis’ changing his tyres.
The Italian team boss says, “I feel happy because once again, Seb made the perfect call to come into the pits, and then drove superbly to open the gap to the Williams cars.”
“Also, I am pleased with a very good race strategy. We need to stay humble and not brag ourselves, because today third place came courtesy of a great drive by Seb and a great strategy – but we also need a great car.
However, Arrivabene also confirms that the decision to pit Raikkonen too early was made by Kimi.
“The strategy guys do a wonderful job, but when it rains, it’s the driver who has the final call to the pits. In the case of Kimi, whose strategy was identical to Seb’s, he thought it better to come in. If it had rained harder, maybe he could have won the race.”
Kimi admits: “It changed quite a lot from lap to lap. One lap it was very slippery and then it came back to turns six and seven and it got quite slippery for me and it looked like it was raining more and more,” said the Finn.
“Obviously I decided to come in [to the pits], I thought it would keep raining, but was four laps too early. It was the wrong choice, but at least we tried.”
When asked if his slick tyres had gone off after he was overtaken by Vettel, he replied: “The tyres were OK, but there was a moment in [turns] seven-eight on that lap and it’s very difficult to know where the slippery [bits are going to be], I got a bit of rain on the visor.
“So I lost a bit of speed on the back straight and he got past me, but I decided to come in and pit anyhow on that lap.”
Maruzio Arrivabene is repeatedly asked race after race about Kimi’s future in the Ferrari tea. He repeated his position again: “I always said that the future of Kimi is in the hands of Kimi. I don’t want to talk anymore about Kimi because we have 10 races to go. At the right time, we will communicate to Kimi what we are going to do – and that’s it,” the Ferrari team principal declared.
“But I want to get rid of all of this [speculation]. We have two drivers; Kimi knows what he has to do and knows that his future is in hands. That’s it.
“Think to be Kimi for a second. Everybody starts to talk about him since Bahrain and then you have to jump in the car and drive at 300-something kph. Is it a good mood? No, so I want Kimi to stay calm and to do his job.”
With recent reports that Ferrari have offered Williams in the region of €5m for the services of their highly rated Finnish driver, Valterri Bottas, surely Raikkonen cannot afford to have another ‘bad’ weekend for the remainder of the season.