Kimi Raikkonen admits that he came all to close to finishing outside the points for the third time on the trot this year after a broken exhaust dashed his chances of victory in Magny-Cours.
The Finnish ace who relinquished the lead of the French Grand Prix to Felipe Massa when a broken exhaust intervened in his race half-way through reckons that good design and strong bodywork prevented the problem becoming terminal, enabling him to walk away with a solid points-haul and his championship hopes in tact.
The right rear exhaust pipe unleashed itself from the F2008 just before half distance leaving Raikkonen with significantly less grunt on the straights as Massa homed in on the Ferrari at over a second a lap.
There were fears that the remains of the pipe, which was starting to shred the surrounding bodywork, would cause further damage to the suspension and chassis, as had been the case for Michael Schumacher in the Monaco Grand Prix in 2000. Thankfully, Raikkonen had built up enough of an advantage to take it easy in the remainder of the race and despite fears of stopping in the dying laps, the problem failed to materialise into retirement.
“After a few laps, the situation seemed better, but towards the end of the race, I ran the risk of stopping,” explained Raikkonen. “Luckily, I had built up quite a good lead in the first part thanks to a car that was really very competitive.”
“The F2008 is definitely very strong because usually, when you have this sort of problem, retirement is almost inevitable.”
Raikkonen arrived in France on the back of two torrid races in Monaco and Canada, a collision with Adrian Sutil and Lewis Hamilton’s pit-lane blunder respectively sending him crashing out of the points. While the Ferrari ace admits he is disappointed not to have taken top honours in France, he accepts that the outlook could have been far worse heading to Silverstone, a race he dominated last year.
“Obviously I am a bit disappointed because I had hoped to win,” mulled Raikkonen. “This sort of thing can happen in racing and I have to try and look on the bright side: eight points are still a good amount and the one-two finish is a great result for the team.”
“There is still a long way to go in the championship and I am in a better position than I was at this stage last year: let’s see what I can do in the next part of the series.”