Tag Archives: Kimi Raikkonen

2012 half-way driver rankings: 7th – 3rd

This is the third of 4 posts, ranking each driver so far in 2012.

After eliminating Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button in the previous post, we are now down to the top 7 drivers in the field (in my opinion). Without any more delay, here is the 7th placed driver:

7th: Nico Rosberg

Previous ranking: 4th out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “Nico has cleanly and consistently been taking points finishes by the truckload.”

After his impressive performances in 2011, Rosberg has again delivered this year, with a first win. However, a faltering Mercedes may crush his charge for more success this year.

However, the gap between him and Michael Schumacher is reducing, with the 43-year-old regaining traction with every race. While he has more points, this is mostly down to Schumacher’s horriffic reliability. Oddly enough, Rosberg has only beaten him in a race once this year, largely due to the same reason.

In qualifying, the two are very close in terms of Q2 and Q3 appearances, but Nico has often pipped him in terms of actual qualifying position. However, it is clear in most races that Rosberg cannot hold onto his position, losing out to most of his rivals by the first stops, and never being able to fight back.

Much of this is down to the Mercedes car, whose strengths have been surpassed by other teams, and whose weaknesses are truly crippling Rosberg’s talents. In short, while he may have won a race this time, it’s the same old story for Rosberg – a great driver held back by an unpredictable car.

6th: Romain Grosjean

Previous ranking: N/A

Review from previous ranking: N/A

After being dropped at the end of 2009, Romain Grosjean is back, and has hugely impressed me with his remarkable pace and raw talent.

The start of the season saw many unforced errors – he collided with Pastor Maldonado in Australia, then took out Michael Schumacher in Malaysia. However, he has been on fire since then, taking his first fastest lap only two races later, and two excellent podiums.

His fight back to the front in Britain was similarly impressive, and he qualified second on the grid for Hungary. There is no doubt that this young driver is a future Grand Prix winner – it would be a travesty if he didn’t.

Unlike Rosberg, his Lotus car isn’t half as tempermental as the Mercedes, which means that he has no excuses to up at the front every race. However, like his teammate Raikkonen, he has let a possible win slip through his hands, failing to capitalise in Hungary when he had the fastest car on track.

Is this excusable? Yes, but not for much longer. Grosjean is already consistently out-qualifying his teammate, and only needs to improve his very poor starts (-26 total so far) to lead races. After that, we will see if he is world champion material.

5th: Kimi Raikkonen

Previous ranking: N/A

Review from previous ranking: N/A

The Iceman is back, and is as fearsome as ever. Without even as much as a sound, Raikkonen has sneaked his way into the battle for the world championship, and is at the forefront of Lotus’ charge for its first win.

So far, I would liken his performances so that in 2003 – very calm and collected, and nothing dramatic. That time, he came within a few points of the title, and in 2007 won that championship in the same manner. He has accumulated 5 podium finishes out of 11 races so far, and even without a win is within 50 points of the lead in the championship.

He has committed a few faults along the way – a mistake in Australian qualifying leaving him 17th, and miscalculcating his tyre’s lifespan in China, meaning he lost 10 positions in a single lap. However, overall he has been hugely impressive, and I am tipping him as the dark horse for the 2012 title.

4th: Sebastian Vettel

Previous ranking: 2nd out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “The absolute perfect team/car set-up cannot last forever, and when it slips away, Vettel’s talent will be severely tested.”

The start of 2012 saw this test, and it certainly has brought interesting results. Vettel may have performed very well, but his attitude has been revealed as tempermental to say the least.

Given the circumstances, a win in Bahrain was impressive, and Vettel has been at the front of the field since. He has been willing to run risky strategies in China and Canada, and has done well compared to teammate Mark Webber. He has out-qualified the Aussie 6 times, and spends the vast majority of the races ahead of the other Red Bull.

An alternator failure in Valencia has been the only fault outside of his control, where a certain win was ripped out of his hands. Still, his race finishes have been very consistent, with 3 podiums and only 2 finishes outside the top 5.

However, what is most interesting about his season so far is his unnecessary attraction to incident and controversy. In Malaysia, Sebastian caused a needless clash with Narain Karthikeyan, then called the HRT driver a “cucumber” afterwards, which is as ridiculous as it is funny. After his retirement in Valencia, both he and the team slammed the decision to call out the safety car (which may have caused the car failure), rather than simply admit defeat. After being penalised in Germany, he branded the penalty as “stupid” and claimed his move was “fine”.

It is this  arrogance that bothers me – Vettel is still completely sheltered by his team, who feel the need to protect and defend him at every possible opportunity. He still has to develop as a driver, and I feel he can’t do that while he’s in the same team as Helmut Marko. Having said that, Germany aside, his racecraft has been championship material, and he is well in contention for a third title.

3rd: Mark Webber

Previous ranking: 8th out of 28

Review from previous ranking: “Webber has been completely annihilated by Sebastian Vettel in every single sector this year [...] he struggled massively at starts [...]  his racecraft was hit-and-miss as well.”

Mark Webber has overcome his massive problems from 2011, but has more obstacles to overcome before he will ever win a title.

On the face of it, Webber’s having his best season yet. After a consistent string of 4th places, while his enemies faltered, followed up by two excellent victories, has slammed him into the championship battle. He has cured his terrible starts (average 0 places lost/gained on lap 1), and has overcome his struggles on the Pirelli tyres.

He is finally holding up against his teammate – out-qualifying him 5 times, and being able to race side-by-side on track for a change. His pass on Vettel in Malaysia proved that he has not fallen behind like in 2011.

However, his problem this year is his starting positions on the grid. Webber has already been knocked out of Q1 once, and Q2 twice. Even when he gets through to Q3, he very rarely goes any higher than 4th. It is this poor qualifying form that holds him back in the races.

Once he starts up far enough, he can thrash his opponents – holding back 5 drivers in Monaco until the chequered flag proved that. But it still doesn’t occur enough, and this may well be Mark’s achilles heel if the running gets tough later in 2012.

Perez penalised for impeding Raikkonen and Alonso

Sergio Perez will drop 5 places on the grid for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix.

The Sauber driver was found to have impeded both Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso during Q2. He finished the session 12th, but will now drop down to 17th position for the race.

The stewards stated that the penalty was imposed “due to the driver being involved in two similar offences in the same session.” After the incident with Raikkonen, the Lotus driver complained to his team over the pit radio.

Perez is the fourth driver to suffer a grid penalty this weekend. The other three are Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean, all for unscheduled gearbox changes to their cars.

 

Bahrain GP analysis: No winners in farce of a weekend

Weeks and weeks before the Bahrain Grand Prix, we were already aware that a race should never have taken place in the troubled region. Aside from the blatant political motive, it was clear that the sport had put its personnel in danger. I’d like to say that we’ll never have to deal with such a farce again, but that’s wishful thinking.

Politics and profit win over sport

F1 has disgraced itself by allowing itself to be manipulated - and the FIA's to blame

F1 has disgraced itself by allowing itself to be manipulated - and the FIA's to blame

There are many to blame over what Formula 1 was forced to go through, but one organisation should have put a stop to it: the FIA.

Bernie Ecclestone is well known for putting profit first – I’m surprised that people expected him to act differently this weekend. Perhaps he was misinformed over the Bahrain situation, or maybe he took a calculated risk. Either way, he should not have been the one to make the final call over the event.

The FIA’s primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of all participants, and it was clear that they failed to do that. To add insult to injury, they allowed the race organisers to use the sport as a political tool – running the UniF1ed slogan throughout the weekend.

FIA Statue Article 1 states that “The FIA shall refrain from manifesting racial, political or religious discrimination in the course of its activites and from taking any action in this respect”. One of the sport’s most primary objectives has been made a mockery of, all in the name of profit.

The profiteers from this race, of course, are the Al Khalifa royal family. Having invested in and organised the race, they also stand to gain the most from the race, and they made absolutely sure they got their money’s worth this time. By doing so, though, they have disgraced what should be a pure sporting event.

This kind of farce has happened before – see F1 racing in South Africa in the 80s for more details – but it doesn’t hide the fact that last weekend was never about the racing.

Lotus finally deliver on promises

After three disappointing races, Lotus have finally shown their hand – and may well be the fifth team to win a race this year.

Kimi Raikkonen was able to challenge for the win on Sunday, but slipped away after the final stop. Regardless, it shows excellent progress from Melbourne, and Grosjean’s first ever podium proves that he’s up to the task as well.

Team principal Eric Boullier stated that Romain could even become world champion if he continues to improve, and I don’t doubt him. From qualifying in Australia, Grosjean was already proving that he could take on Raikkonen.

It’s not outrageous to suggest that Lotus could still be in contention in Spain in a few weeks time. If they do take the chequered flag first, then 5 different teams will have won one of the first 5 races, and that could set us up for a magnificent title battle.

Barcelona testing day 4: Raikkonen ends testing on top

Raikkonen finished testing on top

Raikkonen finished testing on top

The final day of pre-season testing concluded today, with Kimi Raikkonen finishing testing the way he started it – on top of the timesheets.

The Lotus driver set a 1:22.030 in the morning, followed by Fernando Alonso. Bruno Senna finally showed a glimpse of Williams’ potential pace in 3rd.

The entire field was within 1.5 seconds of the leader, as most teams opted to set low-fuel runs in the morning. The afternoon running saw most teams switch to race simulations.

Kamui Kobayashi and Vitaly Petrov caused today’s two red flags, both drivers stopping out on track during the day.

Sebastian Vettel spent the entire day at the bottom of the timesheets, as Red Bull continued to do setup changes. His running in the morning was delayed by a problem with the pre-existing setup, and not the new package installed yesterday. Similar to yesterday, the car was covered in mechanics and umbrellas as it entered the pits.

The only team with the ability to do any more running is HRT, who want to test out their car tomorrow at a filming day. Marussia, who also have not turned a wheel this year, will not be able to test until Melbourne, as they still have not passed the FIA crash tests.

Times from Barcelona day 4:

1.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus E20          1:22.030   121 Laps
2.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari F2012      1:22.250   115 Laps    +0.220
3.  Bruno Senna           Williams FW34      1:22.296   53  Laps    +0.266
4.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India VJM05  1:22.312   101 Laps    +0.282
5.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber C31         1:22.386   72  Laps    +0.356
6.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren MP4-27     1:22.430   115 Laps    +0.400
7.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham CT01      1:22.795   101 Laps    +0.765
8.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes W03       1:22.939   100 Laps    +0.909
9.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams FW34      1:23.347   48  Laps    +1.317
10. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso STR7    1:23.393   100 Laps    +1.363
11. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull RB8       1:23.608   23  Laps    +1.578

What excites you about the 2012 season?

With Christmas and the New Year out of the way, our focus is turning more and more to the imminent return of Formula 1.

Fans have plenty to be excited about this year, particularly the return of a certain world champion. Before we get stuck into the testing season next month, I want to know what interests you this year. Here are a few examples…

The clash of 6 champions

Can Raikkonen upset the order in 2012?

Can Raikkonen upset the order in 2012?

The return of Kimi Raikkonen means that, barring disaster, there will be 6 world champions at the starting grid in Melbourne. As far as I know, this is completely unprecedented in F1 history, as former/current world champions now make up a quarter of the entire grid.

These six drivers will be seated in vastly different cars, and not all of them will deliver as expected. Raikkonen’s move to Renault is particularly noteworthy, as it is still unclear what type of approach the team have taken to their 2012 car.

As well as this, Michael Schumacher is still well in the mix, and a powerful Mercedes car could propel him back to the podium. We still have the established champions – Vettel, Hamilton, Button and Alonso – to take everyone else on.

The return of the US Grand Prix

The Circuit of the Americas may well get finished

The Circuit of the Americas may well get finished

The Circuit of the Americas has had a difficult birth, fraught with controversy and arguments, resolved only weeks ago. Still, it appears that the track is on schedule to be on the 2012 calendar.

From the get-go, it became clear that this track would be a fan favourite. The layout incorporates corner elements from Turkey, Silverstone, and a small bit of Interlagos is in there too.

There is fantastic incline around the track, and many of the corners are fast and flowing. More importantly to Bernie Ecclestone, this track is F1′s latest hope to crack into the American market, which has been rather cold to the sport since the Indy 2005 fiasco.

Exciting new rookies

Can Pic survive longer than Di Grassi and D'Ambrosio did?

Can Pic survive longer than Di Grassi and D'Ambrosio did?

After Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi were booted out of Toro Rosso, it became clear that we were to see an influx of new rookies. Their latest two drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, are an exciting pairing to say the least.

Ricciardo impressed last year in a HRT – quite the feat in itself – and Vergne has performed well in testing in the past. We also have Charles Pic, the third driver in 3 years to partner Timo Glock at Virgin. Whether he can perform better than Lucas di Grassi or Jerome D’Ambrosio still remains to be seen.

As well as this, Romain Grosjean has finally been given the opportunity to return to F1. It’s debatable whether he’s actually a rookie, but it’s certain that 7 races in 2009 was not enough for the Frenchman to prove his potential. I am quite a fan of Grosjean, and am hugely looking forward to see how he performs against teammate Raikkonen.

Siginificant French drivers – finally

Can Grosjean cause a major upset and beat his teammate?

Can Grosjean cause a major upset and beat his teammate?

Neither Grosjean or Sebastien Bourdais could retain their seats in 2009, and with the imminent exit of Renault as a constructor this year, it appeared as if the French had completely abandoned F1.

However, with the arrival of Grosjean (again), Charles Pic and Jean-Eric Vergne, the French F1 fans have reason to celebrate. The last successful French F1 drivers were Jean Alesi and Olivier Panis, who took his one and only win back in 1996.

I’m not suggesting that these three drivers could win a race in 2012 (though I’m not completely ruling Grosjean out), but there is fantastic potential here for future seasons.

The end of exhaust/diffuser debates

Exhaust-blown diffusers are finally buried for good

Exhaust-blown diffusers are finally buried for good

The FIA have finally stamped down on “off-throttle blown diffusers”, as the layout of the exhaust has been restricted so as to not generate downforce over any area of the car.

Exhaust-blown diffusers were an excellent idea, generating plenty of downforce with minimal drag. However, as the technology evolved into the “off-throttle” format, it became more and more irritating to watch the teams scuffle over the regulations.

This ruling should hopefully end the 3-year debate on exhausts, diffusers and the like, which began in 2009 with double-decker diffusers being introduced by Brawn, Toyota and Williams.

Can Lotus/Caterham hit the midfield?

Another year, another promise from the team  now known as Caterham, as they drive to reach the back of the midfield.

While they have made good progress over the last 2 years, many fans are wearing thin with watching the 3 “new” teams languishing at the back, and it’s time that one of them makes a stand and changes the running order.

I won’t comment on Jarno Trulli, but I feel that Heikki Kovalainen is the most promising chance to pull the team out of the bottom 3. Whether it happens any time soon remains to be seen.

The return of the Bahrain Grand Prix

Just kidding.

Over to you…

I can’t cover all the exciting prospects of the 2012 season, but those above should do fine.

But back to the original question: What excites you about the onset of the 2012 season? Have a say in the poll below, and you can add your own answer if you wish:

Raikkonen confirmed at Renault in surprise move

Raikkonen will return to F1 after a 2-year absence

Raikkonen will return to F1 after a 2-year absence

Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen will return to Formula 1 next year.

The Finn will be driving with the Renault – soon to become Lotus – team, and it is currently uncertain who he will be driving alongside.

He left the sport after a disappointing couple of years after winning his first title in 2007. However, he said today that he couldn’t resist moving back to the sport after a year in the WRC:

"I’m delighted to be coming back to Formula 1 after a two-year break, and I’m 
grateful to Lotus Renault GP for offering me this opportunity.

My time in the World Rally Championship has been a useful stage in my career 
as a driver, but I can’t deny the fact that my hunger for F1 has recently become 
overwhelming.

It was an easy choice to return with Lotus Renault GP as I have been impressed by 
the scope of the team’s ambition. Now I’m looking forward to playing an important 
role in pushing the team to the very front of the grid."

This means that for the first time in the history of the sport, 6 world champions will be on the grid next March.

Regarding the second seat at the team, that’ where things get more complicated. Vitaly Petrov still has a contract with Renault, but team principal Eric Boullier still has not ruled out Robert Kubica’s return to the team, provided he is fit and ready.

As well as this, Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean are pushing for race seats, both drivers having driven for Renault in the past – Senna for the second half of 2011, and Grosjean for the second half of 2009.

 

Red Bull eyeing up Webber replacement?

Less than 3 days after Mark Webber sensationally ignored team orders at the British Grand Prix, rumours are abound that Red Bull is looking for a replacement for the Aussie.

Lagging 80 points behind world champion Sebastian Vettel, and clearly not gelling with the team’s bias towards Seb, Webber has made his feelings clear in the last few days:

"I am not fine with it [team orders]. No. That's the answer to that. If Fernando 
retires on the last lap we are battling for the victory so I was fine until the 
end. Of course I ignored the team as I want to try and get another place."

However, the Red Bull team appear to disagree with Webber’s view. Helmut Marko, well known as giving little attention to anyone but Vettel, has hinted at replacing Mark:

"We have other options but I don’t want to talk about them now."

In recent days, it has emerged that the team are in secret talks with Kimi Raikkonen, 2007 F1 world champion and current WRC driver. These reports were first made by German newspaper Bild, and they claim this leak comes from a source “at the highest level”.

Raikkonen himself has recently said to a journalist: “I have never said that my Formula 1 career is over.”

Raikkonen confirms move to NASCAR

Raikkonen will alternate between NASCAR and WRC

Raikkonen will alternate between NASCAR and WRC

After days of speculation, 2007 F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen has confirmed that he is to move to NASCAR in May.

Previous reports have stated that Raikkonen was to field his own squad in the NASCAR Truck Series, but he has since said that he will be driving for Kyle Busch in Charlottle on May 20.

He will continue to drive in the World Rally Championship, and will only drive for Busch in a limited number of races.

Raikkonen will get the first taste of his new machinery next week at Gresham Motorsports Park.

Busch has stated:

"We are honoured that Kimi Raikkonen, a former Formula 1 world drivers' champion and 
proven winner, has chosen to start his career in NASCAR with Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Adding one of the most talented drivers in the world is a continuation of building a 
team of proven winners and champions at KBM. I look forward to assisting in Kimi's 
transition to NASCAR as both an owner and team-mate."

 

Kimi Raikkonen considering career after father’s death

Kimi Raikkonen's career is in doubt

Kimi Raikkonen's career is in doubt

Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 F1 world champion, has closed talks about his plans for the 2011 season after the death of his father Matti.

The major Finnish newspaper Iltalehti reports that the 31 year old, who was considering to switch teams for the next world rally championship, is even expected to call time on his racing career.

Raikkonen was very close with his father, who was a road builder and supported Kimi’s careers from an early age, and died suddenly at the age of 56, two days before Christmas.

“Since the death of Matti Raikkonen, all the plans of Kimi Raikkonen are on ice,” confirmed the Finn’s rally co- driver Kaj Lindstrom.

He added:

"Let's hope he stays in rallying. The chances of success are much better in 
the second year than the first, because you don't have to be learning all 
sorts of things all of the time."

Raikkonen moved to the WRC after disappointing 2008 and 2009 campaigns with Ferrari, after winning the 2007 title. He raced with the Citroen Junior Team this year, and was rumoured to be moving to either Monster World Rally Team or Mini for 2011.

Earlier in the year, he was in negotiations with Renault regarding taking Vitaly Petrov’s seat for 2011, but his wage demands were reported to be far too high for the team’s liking.

Belgium 2009 flashback: Fisichella uses the force

Before everyone’s favourite race of the year, the focus was yet again on Jenson Button, whose lead of the championship had slipped to only 18 points. He hadn’t scored a podium since Turkey, and was being pressurised more and more from Barrichello, Webber and Vettel. Oddly enough, only one former winner of the Belgian Grand Prix was racing here in 2009, a certain Kimi Raikkonen.

Throughout Friday and Saturday practice, there wasn’t much out of the ordinary, apart from Mark Webber suffering Red Bull’s third engine failure in a week. With absolutely no warning, the established backmarker, Force India, slammed themselves into pole position with Giancarlo Fisichella. Their low-downforce package had suddenly emerged as a contender in Spa-Francorchamps’s sweeping track, and now the formbook was on its head for the best race of the year.

Only one predictable event happened, and that was Luca Badoer, who crashed in Q1, bringing out the yellow flags at the end of the session and ruining other drivers’ laps. Jenson Button suffered awful form in Q2, and ended up 14th. Meanwhile, Jarno Trulli and Nick Heidfeld got Toyota and BMW Sauber into the top three.

Raikkonen uses the run-off area to gain several places

Raikkonen uses the run-off area to gain several places

As the race began, Rubens Barrichello destroyed his race within seconds, as he almost stalled his car – again. This left him at the back, and stuck behind the backmarkers. Kimi Raikkonen showed he had absolutely no intention of using the conventional track, as he sailed around the run-off area at La Source, questionably gaining several positions in the process. Adrian Sutil, who was sluggish in qualifying and was 11th, took off part of his front wing in a tangle.

Worse was to come at the Les Combes corner. Raikkonen, who had just swiftly disposed of Robert Kubica in 2nd, ran slightly wide, and the BMW Sauber driver clipped his front wing against the Ferrari. Further back, rookie Romain Grosjean hit the back of Jenson Button, who spun 180 degrees and collided with Grosjean again. Lewis Hamilton backed off, and was hit by another rookie, Jaime Alguersuari, who had lost control after a seperate crash. All four cars were eliminated on the spot, and the safety car was deployed, as cars were streamed all over Les Combes.

Hamilton and Alguersuari crash at Les Combes

Hamilton and Alguersuari crash at Les Combes

After Lap 4, the safety car pitted, and Fisichella was faced with a problem. His strategy was to get away cleanly at the start, and within the first lap get far away enough from Raikkonen to avoid his KERS system. However, the safety car restart had bunched up the field, and now Kimi was within striking range to launch a move within the next lap. Giancarlo tried his best, but at the restart Raikkonen was right behind him as they approached Eau Rouge, and easily got past using his KERS on the straight.

Further back, Rubens Barrichello was recovering from his disastrous start. He out-braked Badoer with no difficulty to get into 13th position. Adrian Sutil invented a new overtaking spot, as he sailed past Luca by using the run-off area at Pouhon. The Ferrari driver was again completely off the pace, and was a second a lap slower later on.

Toyota had got themselves in a good position for the Belgian GP, with Trulli and Glock 2nd and 7th on the grid. But, a mistake with the fuel rig at Glock’s pit stop, combined with a heavy fuel load, dropped him well down the order, while Trulli retired after the first set of stops. Yet again, Toyota had thrown away a good result.

Up at the front, Raikkonen couldn’t get away from Fisichella, who was stuck to the back of the Ferrari’s gearbox. The only thing keeping him behind was Kimi’s KERS system, which disabled the Force India’s better straight-line speed. They both pitted at the same time on Lap 14, and seemed to take on the same amount of fuel. Kimi stayed on the harder tyre, while Fisi switched to softs.

More pit-lane drama occurred, after Mark Webber was released straight into the path of Nick Heidfeld, who swerved to within centimetres of the pit lane wall to avoid a collision. He was swiftly issued a drive-through penalty, and dropped to 9th. Before he served the penalty, Barrichello (who hadn’t made his stop) made a brave dive around the outside at Blanchimont. Meanwhile, after suffering wheel damage on the first lap, Fernando Alonso was forced to retire after his first stop.

On Lap 31, Raikkonen and Fisichella pitted for the second time. No positions were changed between the two, but Sebastian Vettel leap-frogged Robert Kubica 4 laps later. He actually began to catch Kimi and Fisi, but he was so far back he decided to turn down his engine revs to secure 3rd.

Raikkonen held off Fisichella until the very end

Raikkonen held off Fisichella until the very end

With the top 3 settled, as long as Kimi held Giancarlo back with his KERS, the focus moved to the points-scorers. The BMW’s of Kubica and Heidfeld were 4th and 5th, while Kovalainen’s 6th place was being challenged by Barrichello. He could have got past, until Rubens’ engine began spewing oil and smoke in the last few laps. He coaxed his car to the chequered flag, and impressively held off Nico Rosberg to the finish.

With all of this settled, the undisputed king of Spa, Kimi Raikkonen crossed the line first, but not without being chased all the way to the flag by Fisichella. In hindsight, more fuel at his first stop could well have given Giancarlo the win, but Force India’s first points and podium was enough to celebrate for one day. After Rubens Barrichello pitted after the finish, his engine cover soon caught fire, with all of the boiling oil.

Rubens Barrichello's engine cover catches fire in the pit lane

Rubens Barrichello's engine cover catches fire in the pit lane

Adrian Sutil must have been disappointed out of the points, but Luca Badoer was even more concerned. With Ferrari fans mocking him with banners and flags after his dismal drive in Valencia, his last-position finish sealed his fate, and he was surely going to be replaced for Ferrari’s home race at Monza, otherwise he would have been murdered by the Tifosi. Rumours instantly floated around that Fisichella was being asked to fill in for Badoer for the rest of the season.

Fisichella, Raikkonen and Vettel celebrate on the podium

Fisichella, Raikkonen and Vettel celebrate on the podium

So after a race in which the formbook was thrown out the window, attention soon moved to the Italian Grand Prix. But, throughout the paddock, rumours began to surface that fired Renault driver, Nelson Piquet Jr, had one more thing to say…

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