Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Austrian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spielberg, Austria
Let’s go there immediately. Address the elephant in the room so to speak. There is no denying that watching Kimi race this year has pretty much been abysmal. With the exception of Monaco, until fate played its cruel twist. So what is wrong? Kimi was the cream of the crop just a few months ago. Did he forget how to drive over the winter and suddenly became useless?

Some critics say so. But the idea falls on its own stupidity. Of course Kimi has not forgotten how to throw an F1 car around a track. The idea is both silly and idiotic. But it’s like an expert craftman suddenly being handed left-handed tools when he is right-handed. His work will suffer. And when the level of competition is very high, even the smallest disadvantages will show. He can eventually adapt but it will never be 100% as good.

And this is the case in hand. Kimi has been given a tool that absolutely does not sit with him. How often have we heard or seen interviews and press releases saying that they are bringing modifications. They are trying “new” things, updates and so on. So far it has not fixed the inherent characteristics of the car that does not suit a natural instinctive talent like Kimi. Even though it is slightly better:

So why does it work for Fernando? Is he just a better driver? He is a very good driver but speedwise he cannot quite match the speed that Kimi possesses on equal terms. (edit: I see that this sentence upsets some people. But Alonso have said himself that he isn’t the quickest driver in the world. But that he has many other strengths. And I can only agree with that. But I stick to my statement. I have made a small change in the wording to make it sound less bombastic, though.)
However, Alonso has had the car (And the team) built around him for 5 seasons straight now. No wonder the car feels better in his hands. He doesnt mind a weak frontend. It’s how he drives. It’s a simpler and more predictive way of attacking corners. But ultimately not as effective as a very sharp front end and a rear that can be used to turn the car out of corners. But it demands a more delicate setup. And a very skilled driver to wrestle an optimal laptime out of it. In this day and age, the former style of driving is proving the one to have. But it certainly isn’t the fastest.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Austrian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spielberg, Austria

“Oh, but Fernando is so much better at adapting to a bad car.” Is he now? How short is your memory? The last time Ferrari had a real dog was in 2009. Kimi struggled a lot with that car the first half of the season. He was down on points to Massa. But when Massa was taken out by a spring to his head, Ferrari suddenly had to start paying full attention to Kimis demands. Something that had not happened since 2007, maybe early 2008.

Immediately Kimi looked like a different driver. But was he? Had he “woken up”? Of course not, you mongrels! He finally had a car under him that he could trust and a frontend that behaved to his liking. The car was still crap and seriously lacked downforce but it got him podiums. Compared to before, where he often struggled just getting points. The Ferrari engineers even said that they simply didn’t understand how Kimi could set the times he did with that car.

Ferrari had stopped developing the car before the 2009 summer break. Only some minor track dependant updates came along. But he still managed to rack up more points than anyone in the second half of the season. Maybe Hamilton just managed to squeeze by in points collecting. But that was only due to the rest of the competition developing their cars while Ferrari were busy preparing Fernandos new car for 2010. And Kimi was driving a stricken underdeveloped car. But he drove it like a boss.

Kimi_eau rougeLet me give you an example. Badoer was maybe not the best choice for stepping into a shitbox. But even though he was ridiculed back then, it also shows how incredibly difficult it is to suddenly adjust to new equipment. But I will give you a better example. Late August 2009, Fisichella almost won the Belgian GP in a Force India. Which was quite sensational back then. And he would have won it – if it wasn’t for Kimi Raikkonen driving a crappy Ferrari with KERS. At Spa.

So Fisichella is certainly no slouch behind the wheel. But the poor guy jumps at the chance and gets put in the Ferrari the very next race in Monza. It was horrible to watch. I know because I was there. There Kimi was; fighting at the front for a podium. If you didn’t know any better, you would think he was a championship contender. And half a minute down the road comes Fisichella, struggling, fighting with the car. Yes, its red and its a Ferrari but was it worth it for Fisi? I saw Italians shaking their heads and throwing their hands up in the air, lamenting his driving. Which people do now with Kimi.

Was Fisichella suddenly crap? Lost his talent in a fortnight? Umm, no. He got into a car that definitely was no picnic. And it wasn’t built for him. He tried all he could to make it fit his needs. But to no avail. He had 5 races in the car and it practically only got worse. Oh well. He has a career with Ferrari now and he just won the Le Mans so I guess he is alright. But it really was a trainwreck seeing him in the F60.

kimi_fire_av512Edit: Actually, I also want to highlight his race in Brazil 2009. It might be even more impressive than Spa that year. He was set for another fight at the front but gets a puncture and a broken frontwing from contact with Webber on lap 1. He gets into the pits, has a longer stop due to wing change, goes out the box, gets fuel in his eyes from Kovalainens fuel hose, gets set on fire, keeps on driving:
From the very back of the field he fights and claws his way up to 6th place with fuel burning in his eyes for the rest of the race. Something he only complained about when the race was over. No one. And I mean no one could have done the same in that car.

Vettel_2887711bYou can also look at Vettel this year. He is one of the best qualifiers that F1 has seen. And yet, his new teammate is beating him in qualifying. And in races too. Again – of course Vettel has not lost his talent! “Now, hold on there a minute”, you say. “Vettel has been in Red Bull since 2009 and he should have his car built around him like Alonso and be just fine”. Well, theoretically yes. But things are not always that black and white in F1. He clearly has some serious problems adapting to this car and perhaps even more – the new formula. The lack of downforce is really hurting him and the more they try to work around the problem the more accentuated it seems to get.

So is Kimis problem the new formula this year then? Hard to say. Maybe. The new rules could certainly be part of the problem. But mostly it is the car that is killing off all his attributes. Kimi is smooth in his driving and great at saving tires. That skill is impossible to display when the car is sliding around on the track. His tires get spent just as fast or faster than the others. His raw high speed corner entrys? Impossible to do when you cannot trust the frontend. Manipulating the rearend? Forget it.

From his quotes to the press it seems that when one end of the car is okay, the other becomes unstable for him. And vice versa. As he elaborates in this article as well. It also mentions the brake-by-wire problems that have been pestering him too:

And one mustn’t ignore the blatant favorism that Ferrari is giving Alonso. Look at Spain. Pit stop favoring. Extra power for Alonso in qualifying. And how the pitstop calls for Kimi time and again are horrible. There is a room full of engineers with screens full of data and they cannot figure out that Kimi will lose 4 places if they do not pit him immediately! No, lets keep him out for a few more laps. Genius… Things like this makes me a conspiracy theorist and I usually loathe those. So Kimi has to deal with this in addition to fighting the car.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Austrian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spielberg, Austria

“But F1 champions should be able to adapt”. Yes. They should. But the fact is that this new formula clearly suits some drivers more than others. And they are the lucky ones because they have much less adapting to do. Look at Nico Rosberg beating Hamilton. Hamilton is close but many thought he would wipe the floor with the German. That has not happened yet. Rosberg is just one of those drivers that this years regulations just sit better with. Just like Alonso. Ricciardo. And it looks like Magnussen too.

I personally think it’s a shame that the need for raw speed is gone. F1 is being regulated to death. And the drivers that flourish are not the balls-out Gilles Villeneuve types that we all love to see pushing a Formula 1 car to the limit and sometimes beyond. I’m completely convinced that Senna would absolutely hate this new formula and he wouldn’t be quiet about it either. But alas, this is what we have now. And it is not set to change for a while. One can always hope of course. Meanwhile we can only lament that it filters out the true greats. The seat of their pants drivers. Like Kimi Raikkonen. Whose ability to be lightning quick out of the box is legendary.

The speed is still there. But he has a ball and chain around his ankle, hiding, hampering his ferociousness. The ball is the F14T and the chain the current regulations. Will Ferrari fix it eventually? Sadly, I don’t think so. They will soon focus everything on next years car. The question is – will Alonso be in it. Will Kimi?

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Austrian Grand Prix - Race Day - Spielberg, Austria

The Austrian GP review? Oh, right. Not gonna do that. Sorry folks. But I will say that the Williams were really impressive. Bottas looks like a coming star. I do think the track favored them a bit. Great track btw. But in spite of the gloomyness above, I am actually really looking forward to Monza. The Williams cars have some serious straightline speed. And I can’t wait to see what topspeeds they will achieve. 360 kph+ would be cool! That being said, it is going to be sad to see Nico being in front of Hamilton all season, just to lose it all in the final doublepoints race. You heard it here first.

Finally, take some comfort in these very mature words uttered by Kimi after qualifying in Austria:

Austria MTV3 Interview
I have always said that the problems won’t get fixed quickly and bigger problems take more time to fix but I believe we will sort the problems. About the difference to Alonso, of course it would be nicer to have it the other way around. But at the moment I do not stress about it, as my main goal is to get this team on top and fight for wins and then it will matter more… At the moment when we are fighting for positions 5-10, I do not worry about it much, of course you always try your best. I have lots of experience so I know how to ask what I want“.

(Translated by Vesuvius @ Autosport Forum)


Images ©  Photo4, Moy/XPB Images
Do not hesitate to contact me if you need any of these photos taken down for any reason.

Everything pretty much turned to shit after you left Ferrari, Mr. Todt. Can you come back. You can bring old Léon.

Everything pretty much turned to shit after you left Ferrari, Mr. Todt. Can you come back?                                              You can bring old Léon.

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  1. Zeljka says:

    Great explanation of Kimi’s problems. This is how it is, hopefully Ferrari will listen to Kimi and make a car for next year to suit him, if not great, at least better.

    • Kris Sharp says:

      There’s not a single solid fact in that article. Just defending Kimi blindly. How is that any different than any other forum rant?

      • Soren says:

        Not a single fact? Okay. Whatever rocks your boat, man.

      • thinktank says:

        So, I assume you are a typical spectator of F1. You don’t care about the background.
        Please, enlighten us about the truth behind the performance of RAI in red team.

  2. Chris D says:

    GREAT article, very interesting. Loved reading it, thanks for writing it.

  3. icegirljenni says:

    I agree whole heartedly with your point of view about the raw talent has gone in F1. That’s why even monkey can sit in the car and win.

    This year regulations already suit the Mercedes engine better and then with the whole other rules. Vettel is the biggest victim and I feel like strangled those who said Ricciardo performed better than him. I mean look at the car since Aus GP. Problem, problem and problem.. just like Kimi too. These 2 never been given a proper racing car. In this case Ric is lucky but Alonso is not lucky. I have my fair share of opinions about Ferrari and their favoritism. I believe everyone knows what’s going on. I already said last year, joined Ferrari is a bad idea. They have no winning car at least few years more + Alonso’s influences.

    Now if Vettel is smart he should know more than anyone RBR is the best team to stays. He should gives the team more time yo fix the prob. As for Kimi… I just feel bad that he is there at Ferrari. I don’t know what to expect anymore 😐😐

  4. Narendra says:

    Loved the write-up ! Just loved it !

    Also sort of ‘consoled’ me after the wave of anti-kimi comments iv been reading all over the place. The Alonso fans are at their toxic best not to mention people like Jacques Villeneuve who want Kimi to ‘go home’.
    Amazing debut followed by 2003,2005 & ofcourse 2007. An emphatic return to the sport in 2012 and zipping all the loud-mouths who doubted Kimi’s competitiveness & ofcourse a mostly competitive 2013. After following him for a decade and a half its disheartening to see whats happening this year especially since we know Kimi is in no way inferior to Alonso the way the world is making it out to be.
    If there is anything that soothed me , its this write-up from you. Amazing and thanks !

  5. bueuf1 says:

    “The F14t demands a more delicate setup and a very skilled driver to wrestle an optimal laptime out of it”
    You say it all.

    • Soren says:

      No. You misquote me. I didn’t say that the F14T demands a more delicate setup. I said that “a” car with a strong frontend and a rear that can be manipulated demands a skilled driver to get the most out of it. And often a delicate setup.

  6. I don´t think you get the point of whats happening at Ferrari at all. For instance you say that a weak front end doesn´t suit Kimi´s style of driving, and it´s better for Alonso.

    In Spain we are lucky to hear P.M. de la Rosa comments about the car, and he said that at Austria the problem Ferrari had, was oversteer; they tried a different aproach in order to try an get rid of the understter the F14 suffers and the result was a quite heavy oversteer. De la Rosa also said that that situation was (happily for Ferrari) no problem for Fernando who is well known to be able to drive a car with oversteer problems at full atack during a whole race distance. Schumacher is another driver well known to have that kind of skill BTW.

    So at the end of the day, what we are seeing is that Fernando seems to be able to drive fast a car with no front end, and also a car with ovesrteer problems, and kimi is nowhere with either, he needs a car that suits his style.

    Under my point of view you can tell good drivers from great ones when things go wrong, and this season we are being able to see how this principle is working. Every driver can be blazing fast with a car that has lots of traction, downforce and mechanical grip, but only a few can do the same with dog cars.

    • Soren says:

      First of all, that is bullshit. There is no driver in the world that can go full attack with a car with oversteer problems. Lol. That is plain laughable no matter if Alonsos old partner in crime, de la Rosa, said that. If there is full attack then there may be some minor issues, Kimi does fine with those too. But not an inherent oversteer setup problem.

      Second, yes only a few can be fast with dog cars. Alonso is good at that no doubt. And his aggressive driving style overcomes the harder tires this year as well. He doesnt have to work for that one. But Kimi has done the same with many a dog car. 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2009 as the most infamous year. But as an example, 2004 was horrid for McLaren. The car was so bad that a journalist, I forget his name, bet Ron Dennis that he would run Silverstone naked if the McLaren won a race that year. And lo and behold, it did in the hands of Kimi. That would be equivalent of Alonso winning this year in the F14T. That would be quite a feat. And dont forget that the 2004 Ferrari was perhaps even more superior than the Mercs this year.
      Also – Kimi has been ridden with brake-by-wire problems as well. Something this article highlights. Among other things:
      Basically – it is not as simple as you make it out to be.

  7. maria sakkali says:

    hi soren
    i wanted to send a comment many times before but i couldn’t decide it, so i said today why not and here are my thoughts. Your analysis is very good but the bottom line here is that this season has ended before it begun. After a few years noone will remember Kimi’s struggles or Alonso’s superiority , they will simply say that in 2014 Rosberg or Hamilton won the title because this is what stays from a season. I love Kimi and i want him to win a title not coming second , third or tenth . If he doesn’t have a car to win a championship who cares if he comes second or last. Of course this could hurt his future in f1 and maybe reduce the years he has still to race but this is something normal considering his age. We Kimi fans must realise that a new era has come in f1 with young drivers coming forward thirsty for success and with older drivers, like Kimi and Alonso slowly leaving the sport . I would very much like him to win another title because he deserves it but i don’t know if he has time left to do it.I hope Ferrari will keep him for a couple years , afterall they owe it to him after the way they treated him , because i cannot see him going to another team . Concluding my thoughts i say that we must stay calm , don’t get carried away with the rivalry between Kimi and Alonso because they both suck along with their car, and pray for this season to end soon.

    PS; For all Alonso fans watch AYRTON SENNA driving in 92 and 93 and then say your boy can drive an iferior car and bring results.

    Thanks for your time and space .

  8. vVivek says:

    I think this is Kimi’s final year in F1 sadly. Even if he doesn’t retire by himself, I find it hard to see why Ferrari would keep him for next year. They seem barely concerned this year itself what with the constant pit stop timing issues and the sub par engineer for his car. My guess is, they bring on another driver, either The Hulk or Bianchi
    Back at the end of 2006, I honestly thought Ferrari and Kimi would go on and deliver titles year on year. It was the best move. Now, its pretty obvious Kimi should have never joined Ferrari. I wouldn’t say they’ve destroyed him but he’s not winning another title any time soon.
    This year has just been depressing as you said. I hoped it wouldn’t turn out like this but it unfortunately has.

    • Soren says:

      Thanks for that. I personally think Kimi will do 1 more year of F1. That being said, I would not even mind him leaving after this year. But I would also rather see him go to McLaren than stay in the red camp. But they may have their hearts set on Fernando. I think the best thing for both Ferrari and Kimi is to see Alonso leave. Ferrari needs to stop seeing him as some kind of saviour that he clearly isnt. He is not their next Schumacher. And they need to let him go to move on. And it would end the political sucking up to Alonso to keep him in their stall, that is hurting Kimi big time.

      Worst case for all – Alonso and Kimi stay where they are. Second worst, Alonso leaves Ferrari and Kimi gets free of the desperate Alonso catering by Ferrari but stays in the red camp. Second best, Kimi leaves F1 and goes being awesome somewhere else. Who cares about his “legacy”? We all know what he can do. And he is a Champ. Best scenario, Kimi goes back to McLaren and drives the wheels of it with a Honda engine in the back. Not too likely, but hey. This is F1.

  9. Laffen says:

    Thanks for the splendid analysis. The analogues are right on, and obvious to all of us having followed the sport for some decades. Some people rightly point out that a new generation is going to dominate. Well, that is the wheel of time. But one should not forget that the right tools make half the job done, as in any situation in life. You mention the 2004 Ferrari superiority. This year we see MB has cracked it, like Brawn did 2009. I love Button, but we all know he wouldn`t have won in Kimis Ferrari anno 2009. So this is the name of the game. Luckily a great natural talent can compensate a lot, and that is why I still love the sport, becaus from time to time I get to experience “a Spa 2009” and suchlike stuff. But what we do not have to accept is obvious and strategically concequent maginalization of Kimi within his team. It should be spoken out loud in any setting.

    Thanks again, Soren, for brilliant work. I cannot help agreeing 100% with your prediciton:

    “That being said, it is going to be sad to see Nico being in front of Hamilton all season, just to lose it all in the final doublepoints race. You heard it here first.”

    • Soren says:

      Thanks man. The F14T would be an ok car if the setup problems could be resolved. Except for the lack of power of course. We see that by looking at Fernando. But oh well. What does it matter. The season is decided now anyways. Kimi has a goal of bringing Ferrari to the top again. I cannot help admire that. Even though I am very doubtful it can be done in the current environment.

  10. Chris D says:

    Personally, I would love it if Ferrari NEVER win another Driver’s World Championship. NEVER EVER. Because after all:

  11. Eric Stratten says:

    As a long time Kimi fan, it’s painful to watch his struggles with the F14T. The sad thing is that until or unless his given a car with a planted front end then the season will deliver more of the same. The only ray of hope is that James Allison will have a much bigger design influence on next season’s car, so if Kimi is still at Ferrari next season then we might just see the story play out a little differently. Here’s hoping.

  12. Thanos says:

    Spot on! The thing is, why people don’t get this? The guy is still the fastest driver in F1! On equal terms he will destroy Alonso. Of course this will make Ferrari seem ridiculous. (regarding their decision in 2010), and many others too. It was obvious in Spain and even more in a track where drivers matter, Monaco. Some believed that in 2007 the fastest car was the McLaren, Kimi won both Alonso and Hamilton that year in a remarkable fashion. In Spa the same year the guy not only outperformed them, they simply didn’t existed. This year Pirelli chose to bring one of the toughest compounds ever because the teams would have enough problems already, with the new regulations. It’s not only the car that doesn’t suit Kimi, (it is built around Alonso actually) , it’s the changes in general and a team that shows it can’t handle two drivers equally. Before Kimi joins Ferrari in 2007 he drove an older model earlier, Ferrari wanted Kimi to adapt fast. This season instead, with all the changes Ferrari sent Alonso to work to the factory for a month, for the new car. And to those who say that Ferrari won’t keep Kimi or Kimi is struggling etc., have this in mind:
    Ferrari knows why Kimi has these issues. What they are willing to do about it remains to be seen.
    As Kimi said, people talk without knowing what is happening.

  13. Pierce says:

    Your bias shines through loud and clear. Then to claim that the new formula kills the need for “raw speed”. You give no evidence for any claims other than Spa 2009, but everyone knows that race favored Force India and Ferrari for their very efficient cars that just couldn’t produce the raw down force at other tracks. Both teams did well in Monza too, but Fisichella was tryibg to race a brand new car he had no experience in, it was also his first KERS experience. All in all, highly biased tripe.

    • Soren says:

      Wrong. I give plenty more evidence than Spa 2009. I state that Kimi racked up regular podiums after Hungary. His race in Brazil was probably even more impressive than Spa that year. He was set for another fight at the front but gets a puncture and a broken frontwing from contact with Webber on lap 1. He gets into the pits, has a longer stop, goes out the box, gets fuel in his eyes from Kovalainen, gets set on fire, keeps on driving. From the back of the grid he claws his way up to 6th place with fuel burning in his eyes for the rest of the race. No one. And I mean no one could have done the same. Let alone in that car.

      And Fisichella had 5 races in that car. And his results only got worse for every race. It only takes a couple of hours in the simulator to get the KERS down.

  14. Marybeth says:

    Raikkonen’s spins in the Canadian GP related to engine settings http://www.
    By Ben Anderson Thursday, June 19th 2014, 16:50 GMT
    The spins that Kimi Raikkonen suffered during the Canadian GP weekend were the result of issues related to the engine settings on his Ferrari Formula 1 car, AUTOSPORT has learned. The Finn suffered two spins exiting the hairpin during the event, once in the second free practice session on Friday and again in the later stages of Sunday’s race. The 2007 world champion said after the race that he had received a “sudden kick” from the engine at that corner, and Ferrari confirmed to AUTOSPORT in the build-up to this weekend’s Austrian GP that “issues related to engine settings” were to blame for Raikkonen’s rotations. The Finn said the team had probably not worked hard enough after the first spin to rectify the issue, but is confident of no repeat issues at the Red Bull Ring. “The same happened in practice exactly and I spun exactly the same way,” Raikkonen said when asked by AUTOSPORT to explain why he spun in Canada. “It’s just many things came together and it can happen. “We know now that now and we probably knew after practice, but really didn’t put enough thoughts into it to make sure it will not happen again. “I’m sure now we’ve made a lot of changes that it should not happen anymore.” Raikkonen is also hopeful the layout of the Red Bull Ring, which returns to the F1 calendar after a 10-year absence, will better suit the F14 T than Montreal. “I think this should be better than Canada,” Raikkonen added. “[But] it’s not an awful lot different to Canada, which has long straights and chicanes; here is long straights [too], three high-speed corners and that’s about it. “Bahrain and Canada are the most difficult places for us right now. “Hopefully we find out it’s pretty good here, but it’s just guessing. “We’ll see how it goes tomorrow and get the first idea.”

    6/7/14 Kimi loses practice time on weekends… & his practice day in Barcelona, a gearbox I believe it was.In Bahrain Kimi & FA raced neck & neck all race and finished 9& 10.FA then tested Kimi’s car in Bahrain, which was suppose to have been Kimi’s practice days, & then Kimi’s car would not run during the first China practice. It would certainly take the wind out of your sails to not have time to work on your set-up.Kimi got all three practices in Barcelona & qualified in front of FA. It might have helped his confidence in the pit wall to be called in first when he was ahead in the race & if strategy is changed mid-race, that Kimi will be consulted on what he wants to do, also. Kimi asked who made the call & has lost a practice every race since.A gearbox in Monaco cost him his Friday afternoon practice; a bad ‘power unit’ in Montreal cost him his first practice. If you can’t practice you can’t get your set-up right. No more hits from Magnussen or Chilton, etc. might help also. One wonders why FA doesn’t have any glitches taking away his practices…? Is it fixed so that Kimi cannot race FA…?PeopIe were looking forward to seeing a Kimi & FA team battle & are disappointed that there isn’t one.Yes, there is.You just can’t see it because the machinations are all being done below what we can obviously see.I believe that for all Kimi has had thrown at him this year he is doing GREAT. MW

    • Soren says:

      Great stuff, Marybeth. You summarized another part of Kimis problems this season. And they are certainly also a big reason for his struggles and lack of points. Thanks for that.

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