Scuderia Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen has described his race in Sunday’s Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix as “not the easiest or most enjoyable.”
From sixth on the grid at the Baku City Street Circuit, a poor getaway from Raikkonen, coupled with a good one for Esteban Ocon from seventh, led to the two drivers making contact at Turn 3 on the opening lap.
While Sahara Force India F1 Team’s Ocon was pitched into the wall, and retirement, Raikkonen carried on, pitting at the end of the first lap, for repairs and emerging in the pack, in 12th place.
Although Raikkonen was able to fight back and finish in second, this was mainly down to an error from team-mate Sebastian Vettel, and the two Aston Martin Red Bull Racing drivers eliminating each other from the race.
Speaking after his third podium finish of the season, Raikkonen said, “It was not the easiest or most enjoyable race.
“After the accident with Esteban on the first lap, I came in to change the nose and switch to Soft tyres. I don’t know if the car was damaged, but the overall feeling was ok.
“The tyres were not consistent, a bit on and off, and I was struggling to keep them warm and had some difficult moments, sometimes they felt good, and others more tricky.”
After his sole pit-stop, Raikkonen had secured a net sixth position finish at worst, as both the Red Bull’s had managed to emerge from their stops ahead of the 2007 world champion.
“I tried to stay out of trouble,” said Raikkonen, who took his 94th career F1 podium. “I was pushed when it felt right to do so and do my own race. I was expecting something to happen sooner or later as it is never too late.
“You need to be ready because you never know what can happen until the race is finished.”
Confident for the future
Until the race, Raikkonen had qualified on the front-row for every race so far in 2018, and taken two podiums in Australia and China, and apart from a mistake at Turn 16 on his final Q3 lap, could have taken pole position.
Although he didn’t take pole or the win, the 38-year-old is confident of Ferrari maintaining its challenge to the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team.
“We are pretty confident for the future, because we have the speed, and this is the main thing.
“We just need to minimise all the mistakes and issues to be up there (fighting) all the time.
“Today obviously feels better than yesterday, and it worked out pretty ok. I will happily take this second place, considering the tricky race we had.”
After the result, Raikkonen is in third place in the standings, 22 points behind new championship leader Lewis Hamilton, with Ferrari top of the constructors’ table with 114 points, four clear or Mercedes.