Scuderia Ferrari Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen was relieved finish a chaotic Azerbajian Grand Prix after the 2007 Formula 1 world champion had “too many close calls” in Baku. Kimi collided with Force India’s Esteban Ocon on the opening lap but recovered to finish second behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during a hectic race which saw two Safety Car periods, a collision between Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, and Valtteri Bottas retire from the lead of the race with a late puncture.
The Finn, who moves up to third place in the drivers’ world championship standings, said he was happy to ride his luck throughout the race. Caught out by the strong winds on race day, Kimi nearly crashed on his way to the grid, while he revealed he also survived a hit with the Baku City Circuit walls at full speed in the closing stages.
“On the first lap after the re-start, coming to the last part of the straight, I hit the inside wall at full speed, so I was pretty lucky that the front wheel didn’t go. I was expecting it to go faster but I was lucky. It wasn’t the easiest of races or most enjoyable. On many moments I nearly put it in the wall. Even on the way to the grid I was pretty certain that it’s in the wall already but I managed to get it away from it. Too many close calls. The feeling was there but not consistently. I thought, OK, I just try to go as fast as I can and a little bit safer. The Red Bulls, looking at what they were doing earlier in the race it was pretty certain something will happen later on when they get close to each other. Everything changed after that and once put the other tyres on and again it felt OK and it all played into our hands. Very definitely a better day than yesterday but second is not what you want. Looking where we were earlier, you take it and we go from there. We know we have the speed. We just have to put things together, and I’m sure it will come.” – Kimi Raikkonen explained.
Speaking about his first-lap tangle with Ocon at Turn 3, the Finn believes the Force India driver simply failed to see just how far alongside Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari was as both drivers turned in to take the corner: “I was on the inside going into that corner, I don’t know if he didn’t see me but there was obviously contact and he came worse out of it. I thought for sure he was going to know I was there because I was easily next to him. I think he probably didn’t see me. It’s pretty difficult sometimes to see. So obviously he just turned in and I was there. It wasn’t ideal the start for me but I didn’t get worse off from that, so I was lucky in that way.” – the Finnish driver concluded.