Special delivery from Ferrari to Kimi Raikkonen

Good job Kimi Raikkonen was at home. Imagine the delivery driver having to leave his US Grand Prix-winning Ferrari SF71H with a neighbour.

The Iceman has been reunited with the car that is very likely to have provided him with his last-ever victory in Formula 1 and shared a couple of snaps of it via Instagram.

The car will provide a lasting reminder for Kimi in what was an incredibly long-awaited victory at the Circuit of The Americas in 2018. It was his first win since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix.

We cannot completely rule out Kimi uttering the same words as he did when he passed the checkered flag in Austin…”F*cking finally.”

But it just goes to show…once a Ferrari driver, always a Ferrari driver.

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Vasseur: Alfa Romeo must make better use of opportunities

Alfa Romeo principal Frederic Vasseur says that his team must do better to exploit any opportunities that arise on track during “chaotic’ races in 2020.

The team had its chances last season, only to see them slip away on several occasions leaving them stuck in eighth place in the final constructors championship standings.

“The season could have been completely different,” Vasseur told Motorsport.com. this week. “But that’s true for all ten teams.”

Kimi Raikkonen finished in the top ten in the opening four races of the year, including Baku where he was forced to start from pit lane due to the front wing of his C38 having to be changed under parc ferme conditions.

Antonio Giovinazzi didn’t pick up his maiden championship point until Austria. Both drivers subsequently missed out on points finishes in Germany when the team was hit by a double penalty for using banned driver aids at the start of the race.

“We missed two big opportunities,” Vasseur said. “One in Baku when Antonio had to start from the back and Kimi from the pit lane, then in Hockenheim where we were penalised.

“It would have been a completely different championship,” he pointed out, explaining that without these incidents Alfa could have been 16 points to the better heading into the summer break.

That in itself would have put them on an equal footing with Racing Point for seventh in the championship. Instead, they had to wait for Brazil for their breakthrough performance and best result of the season, with Raikkonen finishing fourth and Giovinazzi right behind in fifth.

“During the season we had three chaotic races: Baku, Hockenheim and Brazil,” Vasseur said, explaining that these had represented Alfa’s best chances of success in 2019 because of a high level of retirements.

“It makes no sense to lead the group if 100 per cent of the cars finish the race, because you score the points for seventh and eighth, or seventh and tenth,” he said. “But if you are the top of the group, and then you have crashes, then you can score 20 points!”

Having squandered those opportunities in the first two races, Alfa’s points haul from Brazil was indeed the single best for any of the ‘midfield’ teams all season long. Only Toro Rosso managed to go a single point better all year at Hockenheim, thanks in large part to Daniil Kvyat’s podium.

Despite everything, Vasseur felt that Alfa had done better last season than was generally appreciated by the fans and the media.

“Sometimes the results you are getting on track is not reflecting the performance or the pace,” he suggested. “On a performance basis I think we did a good job.

“What is important for me is that we closed the gap compared to the leaders drastically compared to last year,” he added.

“It’s a good step forward and we have to do the same [again this year]. We have to keep the same motivation, and so on.”

Alfa heads into the new season with an unchanged driver line-up, despite Vasseur’s admission that Giovinazzi had come close to losing his race seat with a last lap crash in the Belgian Grand Prix.

Robert Kubica has been added to the team’s line-up as reserve driver following his departure from Williams at the end of last season, but is unlikely to get any track time at Grand Prix weekends.

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F1i Team Reviews for 2019: Alfa Romeo

We continue our look at how each of the ten teams on the grid fared in 2019, including our thoughts as to how each of them may perform next season.

Alfa Romeo

The team picture

  • Constructors standing: P8, 57 points

Things had been looking up for Alfa Romeo in its previous guise as Sauber. After several seasons bumping along at the bottom and making up the numbers at the back of the grid, there was a real sense of optimism within the team at the end of 2018.

Rebranding as Alfa Romeo came with closer ties with Ferrari and the latest engine spec for 2020. They had to give up Charles Leclerc, but they got the veteran Kimi Raikkonen in his place to balance the rookie talents of Antonio Giovinazzi. It looked like a strong strategy for success in 2019.

In fact the progress has been minimal. While they scored nine points more than last year they still finished in the same place in the standings, and actually fell further behind those teams ahead. A large proportion of their points came from a single race (Brazil), and they lost out on a double top ten success in Germany due to penalties for using driver aids at the start.

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Alfa Romeo Racing with Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA) Alfa Romeo Racing on the drivers parade.

Head-to-head

  • Kimi Raikkonen: P12, 43 points
  • Antonio Giovinazzi: P17, 14 points

You’d expect the experienced Kimi Raikkonen to come out on top in any comparison of the Alfa Romeo drivers, and you’d be entirely correct. The Finn secured 43 (75%) of the team’s championship points. Along the way he beat Giovinazzi in qualifying on 13 occasions, and 14 times in final race classifications.

But that rather hides the underlying trend. Giovinazzi was essentially a rookie this season (despite two prior race outings with Sauber at the start of 2017 subbing for an unwell Pascal Wehrlein) and so it was obviously going to take him some time to get used to the car and to racing full time in F1.

Once he did, he was applying increasing pressure on the Finn in the second half of the season. After taking his maiden point in Hungary, he was in the top ten again in Italy and Singapore while Raikkonen was struggling. After Hungary he failed to score at all until Brazil, where he and Giovinazzi claimed their best results of the whole year in fourth and fifth respectively.

Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA) Alfa Romeo Racing C38.

Looking to the future

It’s looking harder and harder for Alfa Romeo to find a way off the plateau on which they currently find themselves. Nor can we see where the necessary inspiration is going to come from, with Frédéric Vasseur perhaps taking too much upon himself in a sparse management structure following the in-house promotion of chief aerodynamicist Jan Monchaux to the post of technical director.

Far from providing the team with fresh leadership and direction, the 40-year-old Raikkonen has appreciably waned over the course of the last 12 months. With 312 Grand Prix starts to his name, the Iceman is F1’s senior citizen. But hopefully won’t drive like one in 2020.

While he’s made solid progress over his first full season in F1, Giovinazzi is currently no Leclerc ready to assume the mantle of team leader. It was touch and go whether the team even kept him on for a second season. He’ll need to do much more to prove himself in 2020 now that he’s got some proper experience under his belt.

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Pressure no different for Kimi between Ferrari, Alfa

Kimi Raikkonen has said the pressure of driving for Alfa Romeo this season was exactly the same as when he drove for Ferrari.

Raikkonen’s second spell with Ferrari finished at the end of the 2019 campaign with the Scuderia opting for a more youthful approach by bringing Charles Leclerc in alongside Sebastian Vettel.

Raikkonen headed back to where it all began at Sauber, now Alfa Romeo, and finished P12 in the World Championship standings with 43 points.

But, as Raikkonen reflects on his first year away from the Ferrari spotlight again, he doesn’t think there is actually too much difference.

“I don’t think the pressure was any different,” Raikkonen said via Crash.Net.

“Obviously we want to do well and like I said, it’s a shame we’ve kind of fallen down as a team but as a driver, I think everyone puts a lot of pressure on themselves and in the end the work that we do over the race weekend is not really any different whichever team you’re in.

“The meetings are very similar between teams, the driving is there and the racing.”

What is different, though, is that Raikkonen has had fewer media commitments and less travel – just the way he likes it.

He added: “Outside of racing it has been less busy so that’s nice part of it plus obviously the team is very close to where I live so I don’t need to travel to different countries, in many ways it helps, I have a bit more time to stay with the family. It’s a nice thing.”

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Raikkonen stumped by Alfa performance drop in Abu Dhabi

Kimi Raikkonen says Alfa Romeo was two seconds slower than its midfield rivals in Abu Dhabi compared to Brazil, but the Finn had no clue why.

Alfa’s double top-five performance at Interlagos will remain a highlight of the Swiss outfit’s season, but conversely, Yas Marina will go down as a race to forget.

From qualifying, in which both Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi were eliminated in Q1, to the race, when the pair signed off with a lowly P13 and P16, Alfa’s chargers were never a force to be reckoned in the midfield.

“It hasn’t been an easy weekend,” said a puzzled Raikkonen.

“We seemed to struggle with the tyres, to make them work as they should, because in just two weeks our car [became] two seconds slower than the cars we were racing against, but that’s how it is.

“[In the race] it was a little bit better, but we still weren’t fast enough. I could see the other cars, but we weren’t close enough to fight for the points.”

Raikkonen pointed to tyre temperatures as perhaps the main culprit of the C38’s under-performance.

“Over just one lap, even the first couple of corners, we couldn’t get the temperature, but it was actually more difficult in the last sector because that’s where you need more grip. The first two sectors are mainly straight lines, so less problems.

“It was slightly better [in the race] but it wasn’t an easy car to drive.

“For sure we’re not where we wanted to be – we want to be where we were in the first part of the season, but for many different reasons we didn’t have the speed to stay up there.

“We actually lost speed, we fell down the order, but that’s how it is.”

Raikkonen will be on testing duty with Alfa on Tuesday for day 1 of Pirelli’s post-season tyre test at Yas Marina. And the Finn hopes the team can perhaps unravel the mystery of last weekend’s under-performance.

“We have the Monday off and then we’re back for testing and try to learn and try to improve for next year.

“It’s not possible to guess what we’re going to get but let’s see what we can do. Let’s learn from this year, this race and from this championship.”

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Raikkonen still in F1 at 40: 'I wouldn't have put any money on it'

Kimi Raikkonen is bewildered by the fact that he is still racing in F1 at the ripe old age of 40, something he didn’t imagine when he kicked off his career in Grand Prix racing almost 19 years ago.

Formula 1’s rejuvenation has been underway for several years now, with the likes of Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Lance Stroll or Lando Norris all gaining access to the grid as mere teenagers.

At the other end of the age spectrum, 40-year-old Raikkonen is now the sport’s senior citizen, a veteran of 312 Grands Prix who won 21 races and the world championship in 2007.

The Finn’s F1 title was perhaps part of his racing ambitions, as a dream, when he appeared on the grid in 2001 with Sauber.

But his career plan certainly didn’t include the prospect that he would still be racing at the pinnacle of motorsport almost two decades later.

“I don’t think I would have believed someone if they’d told me back then I would still be racing in F1 at the age of 40.” Raikkonen told Yahoo Sport.

“Obviously, at that time, it was all about simply trying to drive well and stay in F1. Nothing was guaranteed.

“Yes, I had a contract in 2001 for three years – two plus one – but it was such early days that the aim was to try to do well and see what happens, but even when I was 27 or 28 I wouldn’t have put any money on it.

“Obviously, I left for a couple of years (in 2010 and ’11), and if I hadn’t have done that then I wouldn’t be here today because I was pretty fed up, not with the racing, but with the politics and other nonsense.”

Through his no-nonsense and laconic approach to his affairs, and as a man of few words – to understate the obvious – Raikkonen is Formula 1’s least bothered driver among the elite.

Yet the Finn exudes a more relaxed demeanour in media sessions these days, while monosyllabic answers are perhaps less frequent.

While racing remains Raikkonen’s main business, it’s no longer the center of his life. That entitlement now belongs to his family, his wife Minttu and children Robin, 4 and Rianna, 2.

“Kids change life a lot in many ways,” admits the Alfa Romeo driver.

“Not all days are nice but that’s how life goes. In many ways, it’s much harder, but the purpose of life is a lot different.

“Of course, the racing takes up a lot of time, and in that way, it’s a big part but it’s only racing. It’s never been the most important thing in my life.”

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Raikkonen stunned he’s still in F1 at 40

Kimi Raikkonen says he wouldn’t have believed someone if they’d have told him when he started in F1 that he’d still be here at 40.

The Finn made his F1 debut back in 2001 at the Australian Grand Prix with Sauber, and 18 years on he’s racing with the team once again that now competes under the Alfa Romeo banner.

The 2007 World Champion is the oldest driver on the grid, while McLaren’s Lando Norris is at the other end of the spectrum – he was only 15 months old when Raikkonen made his F1 debut.

But if you had have told Raikkonen 18 years ago that in 2019 he would still be competing in F1, there’s no way he would have believed you.

“I don’t think I would have believed someone if they’d told me back then I would still be racing in F1 at the age of 40,” he told Yahoo! Sport.

“Obviously, at that time, it was all about simply trying to drive well and stay in F1. Nothing was guaranteed.

“Yes, I had a contract in 2001 for three years – two plus one – but it was such early days that the aim was to try to do well and see what happens, but even when I was 27 or 28 I wouldn’t have put any money on it.

“Obviously, I left for a couple of years (in 2010 and ’11), and if I hadn’t have done that then I wouldn’t be here today because I was pretty fed up, not with the racing, but with the politics and other nonsense.”

Raikkonen, a father of two, says that starting a family and having children has changed him as a person, but that racing has “never” been the most important thing in his life.

“It has changed things a lot,” said Raikkonen with regard to being a dad. “If I were still on my own then life would obviously be very different.

“Kids change life a lot in many ways. Not all days are nice but that’s how life goes. In many ways, it’s much harder, but the purpose of life is a lot different.

“Of course, the racing takes up a lot of time, and in that way, it’s a big part but it’s only racing. It’s never been the most important thing in my life.”

Raikkonen’s oldest child Robin, aged four, has started trying his hand at go-karts, and the Finn now understands why his parents were so concerned for his safety when he started his racing journey.

“Having kids you obviously worry much more, which is not a nice thing but it comes normally,” he admitted.

“Like our son is doing go-karts here and there, and I see a lot of things, I know where the danger is. Kids don’t think that way, they don’t care, but automatically you start to worry.

“I know now why mum or dad said at times they were worried about me. You understand these things you have heard before when previously you wondered what they were worried about. Generally, you see things differently.”

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Raikkonen says 11th or last makes ‘no difference’

As Kimi Raikkonen’s point-less run continued in Austin, the Finn says he takes no comfort from his P11 as 11th or last makes “no difference”.

Raikkonen began the United States Grand Prix from 17th on the grid after yet another disappointing qualifying session for Alfa Romeo.

He had an epic first lap, making up several positions, and it wasn’t long before he was running inside the top ten.

But as the race played out Raikkonen, despite being on a two-stopper, struggled with his tyres.

He lost places in the final stint, bringing his Alfa Romeo home in 11th place.

“If you take many previous races for sure I was strongest for a long time, but obviously when you finish 11th you get absolutely nothing so you [might] as well be last,” he said to Autosport.

“It makes no difference, so that’s why it’s disappointing.

“Sure, there was a lot of positive, but the end result is still the same.

“I had quite an OK first lap but didn’t have the speed to stay in the position.

“I managed to pass [Kevin] Magnussen but it just feels like we’re lacking general speed a bit so we have to use the tyres more than others to hold onto them.

“And then obviously we run out of tyres a bit earlier.

“And then it multiplies during the race and it costs us a bit.

“But we’re just lacking a little [of] speed generally.

“We were at least in a fight, but it’s still a bit disappointing to finish 11th.”

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‘F1 isn’t the best place to preach climate change’

Kimi Raikkonen reckons Formula 1 drivers should “all stay home and forget the racing” if the sport ever adopts a complete green attitude.

Lewis Hamilton recently brought the environmental message into the spotlight as the Mercedes driver told the world that he has gone vegan in order to do his bit to save the planet.

The Brit, who subsequently revealed he wants to be “carbon neutral” by the end of this year, has been praised by some for his message while others believe it is hypocritical.

Former World Champion Fernando Alonso highlighted that drivers take “200 planes a year” meaning they are doing anything but saving the planet.

And while Raikkonen says it is something everyone needs to be aware of, the Alfa Romeo driver reckons F1 is not the platform from which to preach.

“Obviously I think it involves everybody who lives on this planet,” he told RaceFans.net. “In the end we all try to do what we can.

“But honestly we are probably not in the best place to start making big stories out of it, because in the end we’re burning fuel for what? To be first, second?

“I mean, for sure we try to do our part always if and when it’s possible.

“But I think F1 is in probably not the strongest place to tell people that this is what we should do, because to really go that route we should all stay home and forget the racing.”

He added: “Like I said we all try to do our part but I think it’s a crazy subject in many ways to get into, especially on a race weekend.”

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Kimi: They’d still find time for media commitments

Kimi Raikkonen would welcome a change to a two-day race weekend but fears F1 bosses would still make his life miserable by finding ways to fit in media commitments.

Typhoon Hagibis meant last time out in Japan, Formula 1 had a two-day weekend with practice on the Friday and both qualifying and the grand prix on the Sunday.

Many of the drivers, including Raikkonen, welcomed the condensed weekend.

“It worked OK, but the day gets, obviously, a bit more hectic but it’s the same for everybody,” he told InsideRacing.

“If it comes to that it’s still better than not running at all.

“As long as there are no issues with the car it’s OK, obviously, if there’s a big issue, there’s limited time to fix it.”

With both qualifying and the race on the same day there are some concerns that drivers would take it easier in qualifying to avoid giving their teams the massive task of repairing their cars in just three and a bit hours for the race.

Raikkonen downplayed this, saying: “No, it makes no difference.”

However, there is one big difference that could come from a shorter weekend, fewer media commitments.

“Oh, there are always some, unfortunately, they always find a way,” said Raikkonen.

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