Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was left fuming following the European Grand Prix at the Baku circuit in Azerbaijan on Sunday after the Iceman was penalized for crossing the white line at the entrance to the pit-lane despite the fact that the Finn pointed out that he had not endangered any of his rivals.
At the time Raikkonen was battling with Ricciardo when the Australian entered the pits. Raikkonen put all four wheels over the white line and for this he was given a five second penalty added to his race time and not only that he was also handed two penalty points.
The Finn drove a fantastic race and had been faster than his team mate when the pair were running in second and third place respectively with the Finn in second when the team called him to allow the German to pass him. Raikkonen responded by informing the team that Vettel was not to hold him up.
Towards the end of the race however Raikkonen’s tyres began to drop off having made just one early stop allowing Force India’s Sergio Perez to claim third place by overtaking the Finn on the final lap of the race. Speaking following the Grand Prix Raikkonen said:
Overall I’m a bit disappointed of how difficult this weekend was, far from being fun all the time, but in the race the car was good and the speed was there. At one point I ran over the white line and got a 5 seconds penalty. From that moment I tried to keep the gap to Perez to maintain my position, but on a couple of occasions I ended up following two lapped cars and lost precious time. I’m fine with the fact of swapping position with Sebastian, because anyway I had the penalty, but in the moment I let him pass I lost 2.5 seconds in that lap and this did not help.In the end I could have for sure stayed in front of Perez but there was no reason to fight and maybe take some risks. Obviously my race could have been a different story today, but considering all that happened, the end the result is not too bad.
Sebastian Vettel started the race from third place and moved up to second which is where he finished the race after team mate Kimi Raikkonen moved aside to let the German take the position however the four time world champion was unable to close the gap to the charging Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and as a result finished the race over 16 seconds behind his countryman. Speaking following the race Vettel commented by saying:
We can be very proud of what we achieved today, both cars got points. We were very bad off and slow on Friday and initially we didn’t know why. We changed a lot in the car, made big steps forward, and we finished second today. I think the way things went on the track was fantastic, but we can’t be entirely happy. We lost a position with Kimi but he played nice team work, he was very kind to hand me the place. In the end it was a bit of a shame that we didn’t manage to finish second and third, but I think he was struggling quite a bit with his tires. It was not a fresh set. I had a good feeling with the tires, so I kept the first set a bit longer, even if after a couple of laps I wasn’t so confident. But later the tires did recover and from that point it was good again. The season is long and I think there’s a lot of stuff happening here, but especially back in Maranello. Our President is pushing very hard, but in a good way. He is willing to understand, help us and to push us, as well. Ambition is high but, moving forward step by step, I am sure we will do the right things for this year and for the future to make sure we give the others a very hard time. We didn’t have a wonderful start of the season, even though the car has been good, but I think most of the times we didn’t fully use our opportunities. However, today we did a great job. We will keep doing the optimum and keep enhancing our chances to be there at the end of the year, but surely we know we have to pick up our game and improve the car.
Following the second and fourth place finish in Azerbaijan Ferrari remain in second place in the championship 37 points clear of Red Bull Racing. Speaking following the race Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene commented by saying:
If we look at where we were on Friday, we can be happy with the step forward that has been made during the weekend. Today our race pace was good, albeit not quite as good as it should be. We saw a very good performance by both our drivers, so as our President says, we must work hard to provide them with a better car. As we had seen already in Canada, the engine seems to be our strength, while we still need to work on the other areas, because this car has proven to be very sensitive to set-up changes. I have no complaints for Kimi’s penalty: he was racing hard and overtook a lot of cars. When he realized he was being penalized, he then proved to be a very good team-mate to Seb. The gap to our main competitors is still there so we have to work hard to improve in the areas where we are still weak and keep focusing on this year, because there’s still a long way to go to the end of the season. Congratulations to Seb for a second place which, once again, shows what a talented driver he is.