Not even the heat of the desert could melt away ‘Ice Man’ Kimi Raikkonen’s charge as he split the Silver Arrows to finish 2nd in Bahrain.
Having qualified in 4th, Raikkonen got off to a dream start, and by the exit of turn 1 had swooped around the outside of Nico Rosberg to claim 3rd. By lap 4 Nico had regained his position – an overtake that would prompt Ferrari to switch to an alternative tyre strategy. With the top 3 having pitted for the faster soft compound tyre, Kimi then pitted to do a longer stint on the slower – yet more resilient – medium compound tyre.
With the majority of drivers opting to finish the race on the slower medium compound tyre, it was with 17 laps to go that Raikkonen pitted for the softer compound. Sitting in 3rd and with the gap to Rosberg in 2nd at 16 seconds, the Finn was setting the timing screens alight and had his eyes on the German. Driving faultlessly, the Ferrari had managed to catch the Silver Arrow with 2 laps remaining and despite not being within DRS range, was gifted 2nd place as Rosberg ran wide through the first turn – an error caused by a brake-by-wire fault in the Mercedes.
Eventually finishing just three seconds off the winner, Lewis Hamilton – who also suffered a brake-by-wire fault, Raikkonen’s second place marks his best result since the 2013 Korean Grand Prix and his first podium since returning to Ferrari. Who’d of thought it? Of all the places to end a 27 race podium drought Kimi goes and does it in the desert!
Characteristically calm and collected, during his podium interview Kimi went on to say:
“Obviously you are never happy when you finish second, but I think after a difficult start to the year, I am a bit pleased to get this result. We came through in the end very quickly but we ran out of laps. However, I think we have to be happy after where we qualified and after where we finished, but obviously we are looking for a bit better results too.”
Although Raikkonen originally questioned the team’s decision to adopt a different strategy, the Finn agreed that in the end, it was the right move:
“I think we did a very good job out of it (strategy) and the medium tyres worked very well for me in the second stint. It was quite easy to catch them and I was wondering if it was the right choice to go soft and obviously it was correct…I was able to catch Nico and pass him. I think we did more or less the maximum we were able to.”
As if finishing in 2nd wasn’t enough, Kimi Raikkonen also secured the fastest lap of the race ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel. With his career total now at a staggering 41, Raikkonen is tied second with Alain Prost on the all-time list, just 36 behind legend Michael Schumacher. Way to go Kimi!