Questions will be asked of Kimi Raikkonen’s performance in Hungary, but whatever the method, the result couldn’t have been better for the reigning world champion.
It was as if Raikkonen, renowned for his typically laissez-faire approach to racing, foresaw the problems that would hit his title rivals before the race had even begun; the Finn adhering to the principle of least effort throughout the weekend, coming alive only when it mattered in the dying laps of Sunday’s race.
Ironically it was precisely that approach that saw him walk away from Budapest with more points than his title rivals all in all a pretty decent result for the Finn. You wonder if Massa had similarly taken it easy for most of the race whether he could have avoided his engine woes.
That said, there will be quiet concerns about Raikkonen’s inconsistent pace in qualifying and the race. As soon as the Ferrari driver sensed an opportunity to capitalise on the misfortune of his chief title rivals, he was instantly quicker than Massa and set the fastest lap of the race as he hunted down Timo Glock for second place.
In fairness to Kimi, he spent vast chunks of the race tucked up behind the gearbox of Fernando Alonso, but even so, he seemed to lack the same fight and urgency that came to the fore the moment he knew of Hamilton’s puncture. But even he admitted that he left it too late to find his way.
“It was tough for me because, when you spend a long time behind a slower car it becomes frustrating and boring,” said the Ferrari driver afterwards. “When I was finally able to push, the car was behaving very well, but by then it was too late.”
“It’s true that I’m the one who has won the most points out of the top three in the classification, which shows this championship is really unpredictable, with ups and downs for everyone.”
“It was a disappointing weekend for me but, at least I managed to come away with a decent result.”
Had Raikkonen demonstrated the same pace that he showed at the end of the race on Saturday, who knows where he might have finished. As Team Principal Stefano Domenicali as good as acknowledged: “Kimi’s race was compromised by his poor qualifying result yesterday. When you start further back it’s hard to climb up the order.”
“He was stuck behind Alonso for much of the race, but when he finally had a clear track ahead of him, he showed all his and the F2008’s potential.”
Kimi himself is under no allusions that he now needs to get on level terms with Massa in qualifying. He will not be able to rely on others’ bad luck forever, and if he is to defend his championship crown, starting from the third row on the grid for the remaining races is simply not an option.
“We must try and fix the problems we have in qualifying to start at the front, so as to exploit the potential of the car. If we can do that, then we can get back to fighting for the win.”