Scuderia Ferrari Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen admitted that he could have taken the lead on the first lap but for a closing gap when challenging Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport pair Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Kimi managed second place, 1.5 seconds behind Austrian Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen, for Scuderia Ferrari ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel. The result marked the Finn’s second podium in as many races, having claimed third at the French Grand Prix last week.
He explained that he had to lift in order to avoid contact with the Mercedes cars going into Turn 1 and lost the momentum he’d created with a good launch. Kimi believed that the lift, partnered with running wide at Turns 1 and 3, cost him the lead of the race and a potential race victory. The Ferrari was also nudged wide by Max Verstappen at Turn 7 on the eventful opening lap – a racing incident that proved to be pivotal in deciding the race: “At the start I had a good getaway.” – Kimi said, as reported by the Italian media – “But I found myself between two cars and I had to lift off to avoid them squeezing me, while I hoped they would see me. I lost momentum, speed and the chance to challenge them in the first corner. It’s a pity, because without that, I think I could have been in the lead. The first lap was quite hectic, then the situation calmed down for a while.” – he added.
The 38-year-old admitted that Scuderia Ferrari were struggling with tyre performance at the start of a stint, despite track temperatures exceeding 40C, but the overall picture saw the team suffer less with rear blistering in comparison to the teams around them. Kimi – and Sebastian Vettel – managed to close the gap to Max Verstappen late in the race, but the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver had enough to maintain his lead.
The Finn said that, ultimately, the Maranello team’s attack came too late in the race in an otherwise “strong weekend” for the team. Both Mercedes cars succumbed to technical problems, meaning that Kimi Raikkonen moves ahead of Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo into third in the drivers’ standings and Ferrari assume the Constructors’ Championship lead by 10 points: “Tyre management played a big part today,” he noted. “It was hard to know when to go flat out and be on the safe side at the same time. The beginning of both stints was a bit tricky; we struggled a bit to get the grip and to make the tyres work, but then it got better and in the end we had very good tyre. We were obviously hoping to catch Max, but by then it was perhaps a bit too late. Today we had the speed, but there just weren’t enough laps left in the race. Of course we wanted to win, we tried very hard, giving our best, but it was not enough. The good thing is that, as a team, we did a solid job. It was a strong weekend.” – Scuderia Ferrari Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen concluded.