Analysis: Raikkonen Offers Hope for the Future

Kimi Raikkonen did more to revive Formula One's spirits last weekend than anyone in this most one-sided of seasons.

Analysis: Raikkonen Offers Hope for the Future

Kimi Raikkonen did more to revive Formula One's spirits last weekend than anyone in this most one-sided of seasons.

Just as Ferrari's Michael Schumacher finally put the Championship out of its long drawn-out misery by winning his seventh title at Spa, Raikkonen stepped up to provide hope for the future.

The sport has seen plenty of false dawns over the last few years and the Finn's victory at Spa could prove to be another one, but his performance and Belgium's welcome return to the calendar offered reasons to be cheerful.

McLaren were back, ending their biggest slump of the last two decades to emerge as winners for the first time since March last year, and so too was real racing.

Schumacher's record-equalling run of seven wins in a row came to an end and Sunday was also the first time this year that the German had taken the chequered flag in anything other than first place.

Had it happened in Hungary, the closest circuit in character to Monaco where Schumacher retired after colliding in the tunnel with Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya's Williams while behind the safety car, people might have seen it as just another aberration.

But Spa is special for Schumacher. He made his debut and took his first victory at the circuit that remains his favourite. If he can lose there, even if he was driving a more conservative race than usual, then his rivals - and specifically McLaren - have to be in with a real chance of winning the remaining four Grands Prix of the year.

Foregone Conclusion

"We finally got what we deserved," said Raikkonen after an incident-packed race that more than made up for the dull procession in Hungary two weeks earlier that sealed the constructors' title for Ferrari.

"Hopefully, we can keep it up this year and challenge for the title next year...I think the rest of the races should be pretty good for us."

Formula One desperately needs that after a season in which the only real suspense has been to see who finishes second on Sunday afternoon. Schumacher's seventh Championship had been so much of a foregone conclusion for so long that when he finally won it there was little to get worked up about.

The second question from reporters in the post-race news conference at Spa was about the Olympic Games, which pretty much summed up the amount of excitement generated by the title 'battle'. Monza and Suzuka are not so different to Spa and now at least people can dare to suggest, without being laughed out of town, that Schumacher might not win there.

"It's not a one-off," McLaren boss Ron Dennis told Autosport magazine this week. "We should have won at Hockenheim, we were very competitive at Silverstone. In Hungary we chose the wrong tyre and paid the price.

"In the circumstances, we can be cautiously optimistic about the remaining races because those circuits do play to the strengths of our car."

Spa also laid bare a few other beliefs.

One, expounded by the Daily Express's Grand Prix correspondent Bob Mckenzie who had offered to run naked around Silverstone were he proven wrong, was that McLaren would not win a race this season.

Dennis savoured his revenge.

"He had better get training," he told reporters. "To make it easier for him, we will prepare everything that is normally open for us at any Silverstone test, including a rescue helicopter and a full complement of marshals.

"However, we will allow him one concession. He can wear a pair of trainers."

Raikkonen did not want to miss the show either.

"I definitely will go and hopefully it is raining heavily, so it will be even more fun," he said.

shares
comments
Gumball 3000 targets new team

Previous article

Gumball 3000 targets new team

Next article

Schu suffers massive crash

Schu suffers massive crash
Load comments
How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Plus

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

Formula 1
Oct 15, 2021
The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages Plus

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages

OPINION: After Lewis Hamilton responded to reports labelling him 'furious' with Mercedes following his heated exchanges over team radio during the Russian Grand Prix, it provided a snapshot on how Formula 1 broadcasting radio snippets can both illuminate and misrepresent the true situation

Formula 1
Oct 14, 2021
Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers Plus

Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers

OPINION: Valtteri Bottas is credited with pole position for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, despite being beaten in qualifying. This is another example of Formula 1 and the FIA scoring an own goal by forgetting what makes motorsport magic, with the Istanbul race winner also a victim of this in the championship’s recent history

Formula 1
Oct 13, 2021
Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a day that the number two Mercedes enjoyed a rare day in the sun, the Turkish Grand Prix produced several standout drives - not least from a driver who has hit a purple patch of late

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for shock Turkish GP glory Plus

The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for shock Turkish GP glory

Starting 11th after his engine change grid penalty, Lewis Hamilton faced a tough task to repeat his Turkish Grand Prix heroics of 2020 - despite making strong early progress in the wet. Instead, his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas broke through for a first win of the year to mitigate Max Verstappen re-taking the points lead

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form Plus

How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form

A Formula 1 pitstop is a rapid-fire blend of high technology and human performance. PAT SYMONDS describes how the science of margin gains makes stops so quick

Formula 1
Oct 10, 2021
Why Mercedes' Istanbul edge is both stronger and weaker than it seems Plus

Why Mercedes' Istanbul edge is both stronger and weaker than it seems

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton dominated the opening day of action for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, on the Istanbul circuit’s much improved track surface. But the Black Arrows squad’s position isn’t quite what it seems. Here’s why

Formula 1
Oct 8, 2021
The rise and fall of Lotus as an F1 superpower Plus

The rise and fall of Lotus as an F1 superpower

On 8 October 1961, Innes Ireland claimed victory at the United States Grand Prix to herald the true arrival of a new Formula 1 giant. While Team Lotus endured plenty of highs and lows until the team folded over three decades later, Colin Chapman's squad made F1 history and helped shape the championship

Formula 1
Oct 8, 2021