Ferrari gamble puts Raikkonen near back of grid
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Kimi Raikkonen has had little to celebrate in this Formula One season and an unsuccessful gamble in qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday will likely extend his cheerless run.
With the Finnish driver in 14th place near the end of the first part of qualifying, Ferrari decided to keep Raikkonen on ice, hoping to save some tire wear, and betting that no one from the slower Caterham or Marussia teams would better him.
With six racers excluded after the initial qualifying stage, and Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado already out, Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, seemed assured of at least 16th place and a spot in the next qualifying stage.
Marussia’s Jules Bianchi, however, managed a surprising lap of 1 minute 26:728 seconds, leaving Raikkonen 0.064 seconds behind him in 17th place out of 22.
While saying they will avoid a similar gamble again, Raikkonen appeared his usual unruffled self.
“The mistake’s been made and it’s been a difficult year anyhow, so I don’t see the point of shouting around,” said Raikkonen, whose best results this season are a pair of seventh-place finishes.
Raikkonen said that a team as experienced as Ferrari could have prevented the error but he tried to put it behind him.
“I have full belief in Ferrari. I enjoyed a lot of success before with them,” he said. “We have to look for reasons, make decisions, and fix things.”
The Hungaroring is a dusty track with many turns offering few opportunities to pass.
“It’s not an easy place to have a good race when you’re behind,” Raikkonen said. “It will be a hard race, and we’ll try to make the best out of it.”
Raikkonen won at the Hungaroring in 2005, and has been runner-up five times, including the last two years.