Scuderia Ferrari Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen says that “small things” will determine whether the Maranello team will be able to continue to challenge Mercedes in the 2017 Formula One title fight during the second half of the championship, after a positive first half of the season.
German driver Sebastian Vettel led home the Italian outfit’s second one-two finish of the campaign at the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix to extend his advantage over his mai title rival Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ standings to 14 points, while Scuderia Ferrari was able to cut the gap to Mercedes in the constructors’ championship, closing to within 39 points of its title rivals ahead of the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix.
Momentum has swung back and forth between Ferrari and Mercedes throughout the season, adding an unpredictable and exciting edge to the close battle for supremacy. The Scuderia appeared to have an advantage in the early stages of 2017 as Mercedes struggled to get to grips with its inconsistent W08 car, particularly in keeping Pirellis fastest compound — the ultra-soft — at the optimum temperature to extract maximum performance. Mercedes’ tyre warm up issues, coupled with its longer wheelbase design, most notably affected the Silver Arrows on Lewis Hamilton’s side of the garage in Russia, before cropping up once more in Monaco, where Mercedes registered its worst two-car finish since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix. The reigning world champions went on to claim three victories in the next four races as it looked to have found an answer to its earlier troubles, but Scuderia Ferrari’s shorter and more nimble 2017 challenger fared better around the tight and twisty nature of the Hungaroring track, a circuit where Mercedes has enjoyed success during the last few years.
“It depends on which tyres we have, what weather conditions we are going to face, lots of things, small things that make a difference. Now we take the holiday and see what happens in Spa, but if you look at it now, it’s not going to be as easy for us there as it was in Hungary. We obviously try to improve and hope to be quick there too.” – Kimi Raikkonen explained, as reported by the Italian media.
Following his victory in Hungary, Sebastian Vettel said Ferrari have identified the weak areas of its 2017 car and have a good understanding of how to address them in order to maintain its title challenge in the remaining nine races. Although Ferrari managed its second front-row lockout of the year in Hungary, Kimi Raikkonen thinks that the Maranello team still has work to do on its qualifying performance if it is to remain in the championship hunt during the second part of the season: “For sure there are some circuits that suit us better. There are areas where we have to improve, especially in qualifying, where Mercedes has better horsepower, but it depends on many things. You cannot purely look at the layout of the circuit and say “this is going to be good for us” or “this is going to be good for them.” – the Finnish driver concluded.