Written by Dev Ty.
Lost chances, raw pace, podium finishes and some hidden aces
He didn’t conjure a single win in 2016! So that already sounds drab and maybe, dull to most. But then, neither did his team Ferrari. In a season where thankfully Nico Rosberg toppled Lewis to emerge right on top giving fans and critics something refreshingly new albeit in the same pecking order called Mercedes, Kimi Raikkonen’s 2016 Ferrari season can be judged in myriad ways.
Kimi endured a tough season. It wouldn’t be incorrect to state he emerged unsullied. But at the same time, he made the most of the given circumstances and roared, even if with an understated grunt, in his massively impressive tacit style. And in the process of collecting 4 useful podium finishes, including two stellar drives at Bahrain and Spain.
In the end of 2016
There weren’t victories, but were clear indications on 4 occasions. And siding with conjecture, if only for pure love of Kimi reveals that two clear missed opportunities were the fall outs at Bahrain, where Kimi’s smolderingly quick pace, seeing him one tenths of a second behind Hamilton almost saw the Finn edge out the Briton. It wasn’t to be. Then, in Spain, Raikkonen, who finished P2 yet again, missed the win, thanks to indifferent pit strategies and Mercedes’ overpowering pace.
But given Merc’s dominant form this season, yet another year where they reigned and deservingly so, Raikkonen didn’t deteriorate. He didn’t bleed dry tears. He didn’t dissipate under pressure. Truth be told, Kimi, etched on 186 at the end on P6 suggested a strong improvement in form, pace performance and most importantly, qualifying.
Nico’s delight, Hamilton’s fury, Max’s rise and Kimi’s resurgence
Sebastian Vettel, the famous 4 time world champion made infamous by his failure to take Ferrari where he could have, rather should have, was, by no means of imagination Ferrari’s top driver. Despite him finishing P4, above Max and teammate Kimi, Vettel, Abu Dhabi kept aside was a frail shadow of himself.
Beaten fair and square by a vastly improved Kimi, whose staying put at the Scuderia even for 2017 saw a sudden, visible rise in the Finn’s qualifying form, was enough to exasperate the German. This doesn’t mean that Kimi’s ‘closest friend’ didn’t show glimpse of his mettle at Abu Dhabi’s electrifying Yas Marina, a track where Ferrari’s last world champ exulted, ‘leave me alone, I know what am doing’.
But let’s focus on Kimi’s intricacies and passionate resolve in 2016, leaving cold calling alone
At the end of the season, trumped by the Wiesbaden-born mercurial Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen’s tally reads 186 points. Too bad? Not really is it? P6! That hurts? Yes, perhaps because before entering Austin, Raikkonen was etched and perhaps fated to finish P4. But who said Ferrari crew have been awarded for their faint and vague revered pit strategies? They’ve failed Raikkonen evidently on more occasions than the laconic Finn would have liked! It’s just that they don’t learn and Kimi doesn’t word it out. Gladly, the events in 2016 didn’t mirror the complete lack of efforts rallied to push Kimi’s struggling 2014 menacing disaster. At least, there were failures, there weren’t scathing and apparent ignorance on his crews’ part this year.
A season compromised by Ferrari?
One would hope that the tumultuous season, many who call it a disaster for Ferrari, now over, Maurizio would be sleeping well. But wouldn’t he be traumatized a bit by Kimi’s Austin failure, which should actually be accorded to his pit crew’s wile antics and not the driver?
Would Maurizio Arrevabene forgive the rains of Brazil? Has Raikkonen himself made peace with the fact that instead of holding on to P3, where, from the beginning he had seemed comfortable, ended up into the advertising board of Heineken? Even if the scenario rhymes, the viewers and world-wide Ferrari fans didn’t appreciate the sight.
Confrontations with Max
If Austin fiasco for Kimi was forgiven by fans and Brazil’s wet overhaul overlooked, the season’s most polarized confrontation with Max Verstappen and his Red Bull at Hungaroring was adrenaline inspiring stuff, truth be told.
Raikkonen, despite a gritty P5 at Hungary, having begun P14, was adjudged the driver of the race within minutes of Hamilton clinching Hungary. The corner 2 clash with the Dutchman was what they say daredevilry, not only on the part of an aggressive ‘Mad Max’ but precise albeit ostentatious defending by Kimi, who went down fighting in the end for P4, but not bowing out at any stage.
Comparisons with 2015 vis-a-vis 2016 for Raikkonen
Cool, calm and perhaps weighing understated appeal over mindlessness and staid measure over hapless aggression, Raikkonen, a man of few words and once, a direct promoter of video game Angry Birds (picture Lotus 2013 car), has gone from strength to strength in his Ferrari stint, the second of his career.
Even though there hasn’t been a victory, it has always seemed that one is around the corner. If 2015’s Kimi, the one who finished P4 was improving, then 2016’s Kimi, also the one trailing Seb for the second year in a row, closed a huge gap.
That he was trailing the Heppenheim-born champion by a whopping 128 points, managing mere 150 in 2015 clearly hurt. Despite Raikkonen doing his characteristic sizzle on speed then. But in 2016, he came vastly close to Seb, closing the gap from his German teammate, who he trailed this year by mere 26 points. Sebastian at P4 with 212 would feel slightly helped by Raikkonen’s dramatic Austin failure (race retirement) and Brazil’s accident on an incredibly wet Interlagos.
Some lost chances
Bolstered by strong podium finishes, first in Bahrain’s night safari (P2)and then Austria’s Spielberg circuit( P3), Raikkonen continued his good form clinching some incredible highs through a fluent P2 at Spain, a race that clearly belonged to Max. He would finally exchange pleasantries with Vladimir Putin at P3 at Sochi, the last fans saw their hero on the podium.
But amidst the cheer and euphoria, a distant possibility of emerging somewhere at the top was clinched by clearly one of the finest driver’s of 2016, Sergio Perez, who overtook Kimi on the final lap at Baku. Raikkonen poised for a firm and commanding P3 had to settle for a somewhat indifferent P4. His dismal failures thanks to the inexplicable Ferrari error at Austin didn’t help his cause.
Thankfully, Kimi soldiered on, marshalling his SF16H on pure will and staid elegance to mace salt in the face of his critics who had questioned his ‘attitude and seriousness’ for qualifying. Out-pacing Sebastian, for some, a faster driver, Kimi outscored the Deutscher 11-to-10 in 2016, a statistic burgeoned by Kimi’s will to exult his authority on Fridays, regardless of the outcome on Sundays. What helps additionally is that in Hungary, the ‘Iceman’ set his 43rd overall fastest lap, and his only one for the year that clearly belonged to Nico, according to Kimi, the ‘better and deserving man in Mercedes’.
But while fans would have certainly hoped that Raikkonen could’ve have edged out Max at Hungary and Spain and not have succumbed to the complete loss of traction at Brazil, there were clear positives as numbers indicate above.
The usual grins, the irate and risen brows and the laughing at the face of adversities, Kimi was the charming self in 2016. Thank heavens he didn’t lose out on brownie points unlike Vettel’s diatribe on Charlie in Austin’s complex saga. At times, struggling with rear tyres and running on depleted car handling, faltered by poor racing strategies, Kimi was once again the stoic albeit elegant looking dude on zooming wheels. The sharply dressed man in red, wearing cool weathers on his sleeve gave usual monosyllabic answers and proved frustration isn’t a word in his dictionary, even though he may have marked a book-mark on the phrase that says ‘Max’.
But for next year, we have to hope that the victories come. They should. Everyone like’s a smiling Kimi, the red assassin. Regardless of cast, color, creed, everyone agrees, he’s still got the speed. Let’s just leave him alone. He knows what he is doing.
In the three years of participating in Zoom Charity Auction, we have seen that aside from his main job of driving cars really damn fast Kimi Raikkonen has quite an interesting flair with photography; his snaps speak more than the eye initially shows! (Previous entries: 2015, 2014, 2012).
Here is the Iceman’s entry for 2016’s auction – as an avid fan of ice-hockey and regularly watching his native teams compete, he photographed a cute ice-hockey mascot which his mechanics assembled onto his F1 car’s antenna. Go Finland!
Other F1 drivers entries for this year:
About Zoom Charity
Bernie Ecclestone, Formula 1’s drivers and its team principals have joined forces to showcase their photography skills in the 2016 Zoom charity auction.
Now in its fourth year, the event is held in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and is joined by an engineering services firm as its new title partner as Zoom is now powered by Princevalle.
Throughout a memorable 2015 season, the stars of F1 were each asked to take a photograph, which gives a window into their high-octane lives. All of the photographs have been signed by the participants and will be auctioned by Coys (www.coys.co.uk) during an exclusive gala evening at London’s InterContinental Park Lane on Friday 5th February. It will be followed by an online auction on the Coys website of a selection of the signed photos which anyone worldwide can bid for.
Zoom is the only auction of signed photos taken by the stars of any sport. It gives fans a glimpse behind the scenes at the track and reveals how F1’s superstars enjoy themselves away from it. The photos are like personal postcards from the sport’s biggest names and they come from all over the globe.
Scuderia Ferrari’s home race was very exciting right from the start. Kimi Raikkonen had a difficult getaway and dropped down to the back, after which he fought his way up the order to fifth place at the flag. Sebastian Vettel moved into second at the start and managed to stay there right to the finish, behind the winner, Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes. Third was Felipe Massa for Williams. [via ferrarif1.com]
|6||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||53|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||52|
|8||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||52|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||52|
|11||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||52|
|12||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||52|
— Ky (@FiftyBuckss) September 6, 2015
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 6, 2015
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 6, 2015
From ferrarif1.com – Kimi: “I don’t know exactly what happened at the start. As far as I know I did everything correctly, but the car went into the antistall and did not move at all. I still don’t have the right explanation about what happened, but it’s a really bad thing that cost us a lot today. If you start from second place and after a few seconds you’re in last position it’s not easy to see the positive side of the race: we wasted a big opportunity to fight at the front. The car has been working well all weekend and also in the race the behavior was good. We made the best out of it and in the end I managed to come up fifth. Obviously I’m a bit disappointed, as we were hoping for a better result in our home race in front of all our fans, but if we think that after the first hundred metres we were last it was still a good result. Overall we had a pretty good speed all weekend so in a way we have to be happy for what we have done because here we were expecting more difficulties. Today I was positively surprised that we could get through some cars that are very fast on the straights, this shows that we are doing the right things, pushing the car in the right direction and improving in all areas”.
From crash.net – Kimi: “It went into anti-stall when I let the first clutch go. As far as I understood, I did the correct thing but, obviously, we can see there was a problem with the second clutch in the way that it was not in the correct place. I’m pretty sure I put everything correct as always, but I don’t know exactly. Whatever it was, it triggered the anti-stall and, obviously, after a few seconds, I was in last place. As far as what I do always, I did the same thing, so I cannot explain why. There are only a few small chances as to why it could be but, whatever the reason is, we have to make sure that we understand it correctly 100 per cent and make sure, if we have to make changes, that we do the right things. We did the best that we could. I’m obviously quite disappointed, but the race was okay. I finished fifth but, when you start in second place and you end up in last place at the first corner, it’s not ideal. It’s a bit disappointing but you have to learn on those [things] and hopefully make a better result. I think the car has been pretty good all weekend. In hindsight, it was a bit tricky in the end on the first set [of tyres]. Obviously, I had to take care of them a bit in the beginning and it didn’t help having to fight with people but, once we changed to the second set, the car was very good and I was able to catch up and pass people. In a way, I think we had a good car but, unfortunately, we compromised our race a lot on the start. We did the best we could after that – it’s a bit disappointing, but not the first time unfortunately that this has happened on a race weekend. I’m sure we’re doing the right things, but we keep having issues and compromising our race big time. We’ll keep trying and I’m sure things will get better soon.”
From ferrarif1.com – Maurizio Arrivabene: “This time I see the glass half full. Sebastian’s race to second place was unbelievable. His contribution to the team so far has been outstanding. As for Kimi, he had a great qualifying yesterday, then maybe he messed up a bit at the start of the race. But afterwards he was able to pass a lot of cars on the track with a fantastic race. Ideally, we would have hoped for two good starts, but we’re happy anyway with this weekend. We came here investing a few tokens on our Power Unit and we’re satisfied with our gain, also in terms of reliability. In the forthcoming races, the gap to our main competitors will depend much on the kind of track. We will keep on working with humility and determination to the end of the season, trying to jump on every opportunity”.
Raikkonen radio “Do you know what happened at the start because before you say anything, i was in the right position with the switch” #F1
— Connor (@cmckinleyF1) September 6, 2015
Kimi explains the problem starts: “I’ve done the normal things as far as I know, the anti-stall came in and you saw what happened”
— Raikkonen Indonesia (@KimsterIndo) September 6, 2015
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