The competitive order of the cars in the 2018 season might depend on the track and the tyres, believes Scuderia Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen.
Raikkonen’s comments come after the third race of the season – a season where we’ve seen two different pole-setters and two different race winners, most in different cars. Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver Lewis Hamilton set the first pole time of the year in the Australian Grand Prix, whilst the race was eventually won by Raikkonen’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Vettel then set pole and won in the Bahrain Grand Prix and set pole in the Chinese Grand Prix, though a strong strategy saw Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo take the win.
This three-race win drought for current Constructors’ champions Mercedes is the longest they’ve gone without a win since the final three races of the 2013 season, and the longest they’ve gone without a win in the hybrid era. The reason for this increasing competition, Raikkonen says, is that how competitive a team is might change race-by-race, and depending on which tyres a team is running.
“If you ask anybody, it’s a bit tricky to give you an answer,” Raikkonen said. “I think a lot of the end result [in China] depended on whether you had better tyres than others, when you could offset yourself to the others. Obviously, it’s a big part of the game, and it made a big difference, [as did] the safety car.
“Pure speed, with everybody on the same tyres in a race… it’s difficult, very difficult, to say. I think it’s nice like that, for everybody to watch, because nobody really knows.
“Everybody would love to know but nobody really [does] because it changes from race to race and such a small difference makes a big difference in the end result.
“You just have to wait and see. It might change from race to race, and who runs what tyres.“