Behind Raikkonen’s struggles in first Grand Prix
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Mar 2014   |  4:54 pm GMT  |  232 comments

It wasn’t a great weekend in Melbourne for Ferrari and particularly for new recruit Kimi Raikkonen, who trailed his team mate Alonso all weekend and ended up seventh in the race, 25 seconds behind the Spaniard.

Raikkonen had a number of problems, with team boss Stefano Domenicali admitting on Sunday night,”We have to give Kimi a car that is better suited to his style.”

Today the Finn has identified difficulties with the new brake-by-wire system, an electronic system on the rear brakes, which compensates for instability when the energy is harvested from the rear axle under braking, as one of the main culprits,

“I’ve been in this game for quite a while now,” Raikkonen told the website, “And I can say this is definitely not the first time that I’ve gone through a difficult first race weekend. We identified some general problems which we have to tackle in Maranello and there are other aspects linked to the set-up on my car to do with the brake-by-wire system. Getting this device working correctly is definitely something that contributes to the general feeling from the car, because it has a great effect on corner entry. Having said that, the F14 T improved right through Friday and Saturday and not getting into Q3 was not down to the competitiveness of the car.”

Raikkonen also suffered more than his team mate from the front left tyre graining which hit most cars in the second stint.

Ferrari’s engineering number two Pat Fry added,”On both cars we suffered problems of an electrical nature, especially Kimi’s; he was not able to extract all the power.” This can be confirmed by looking at the speed trap times; Raikkonen was 8th overall with 298.4km/h, however Alonso was 4th on 304.5km/h, ahead of race winner Nico Rosberg.

A story emerging in Germany in the last few days has suggested that the Ferrari engine is somewhat heavier than the opposition and the indications from Melbourne were that it isn’t quite as efficient in terms of fuel consumption. If so they were fortunate that the race was one racing lap shorter than planned due to the aborted start and then the cars also saved fuel behind the safety car for three laps.

“I would have liked to have started the season with a podium or a win, but this is what we have at the moment and we shouldn’t kid ourselves that it’s its going to be a quick fix to put everything right,” Alonso said to the Spanish media after the race. “We have to improve the performance because I wasn’t able to pass Hulkenberg on the straight with DRS, even though we had more pace.”

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I understand that this discussion is long and boring but I’d like to say this; I regard Alonso as one of the best drivers on the grid, able to make something out of nothing and Australia was one of his great drives, however this does not mean Kimi is bad. Granted, he was poor in that race, however we as fans have very little information on the state of his car, maybe the setup was awful, maybe the brake by wire is faulty ect. we all know Kimi is a good driver, better than the Vettels, Alonsos and Hamiltons of this world is hard to say, but one weekend does not damage his reputation in my eyes.


@Yago – Fact- Kimis car had several issues – not just electrical- either by the team or Kimis own design. Fernando had one issue- rest of your posturing is irrelevant isnt it..

As Kimi even suggested it may take a while before they are resolved- only then will we know his true pace. So I stand by what I said- he did a tremendous job in a car that was very poor- the same would be said for anyone driving an ill handling ,underpowered car finishing 7th from 11th and passing cars on track whether its Max Chilton or Nico Roseberg or even Fernando Alonso himself. Lets just hope for all fans sake we see the team sort them out sooner rather than later so we can see a real fight at the front.


Let’s see what happens!

For what we have seen in Melbourne, at the next race both Mercedes may not finish the race and the RBR may not get in the points, once they begin using the fuel flow sensor as the others teams do following FIA rules.


I just don’t rate him.

Quick when he can put it together, but that’s rare. His qualifying record is abysmal. Much like Alonso doesn’t like the pressure of having to put it all together at the death in Q3.

Unprofessional in his approach, rude to the media and fans, not a team player let alone a team leader, basically in it only for the money, zero charisma (sorry — mumbling and being rude just means you are socially stunted)

Ferrari must be masochists. Dumping Schumacher in 2006 (Schumacher would have won 2007 and 2008 convincingly), signing up Kimi for $50m a year only for him to be beaten by Massa, letting Alonso rubbish the car for season after season, resigning an uncompetitive Massa year after year just to placate Alonso’s fragile ego. And after that they still decide the solution is throwing $20m a season at the oldest and most unprofessional driver on the grid

Kimi could never win a championship despite all those seasons driving a Newey engineered McLaren. Kimi instead had to rely on Hamilton gifting the last two races of 2007 to his rivals. Also, had to rely on Massa moving over for Kimi and gifting him the lead in that final race of 2007.

Beaten handily by Grosjean in the second half of last year.

Massa ended his first foray at Ferrari.

If Ferrari had any sense they would have signed up Hulkenberg last year.


Kimi competed in 2003 for WDC in a B-spec car and lost by 2 points. He lost in 2005 due to reliability issues. He is amongst the top-15 drivers of all time according to various statistics. If you think he is bad, then nothing good can be said about the rest of the grid (except one or two).

Fernando "150%" Alonso

Reliability issues like Nurburgring? When he could not settle for second place, and bag the points? At that time i was not an Alo fan, and i consider it very stupid what Kimi did. That counts as a car failure? Statisticly yes, but in my opinion it was a driver error!


You are wrong on so many fronts, that I do not even start trying to explain you why.

Alan from Toronto, Canada

@German Samurai: Please remember that Michael didn’t win the WDC for Ferrari in both 2005 and 2006, so I can’t see how he could have convincingly won the WDC in both 2007 and 2008. Also, before you rubbish Kimi please try recall how he transformed the Lotus into a race-winning car in 2012 and 2013.

And get your fact straight first: like what James said Michael had decided to retire, not get dumped by Ferrari.


In 2005 the Ferrari package wasn’t capable of winning races and 2006 he dominated the last half of the season. Renault had an illegal mass damper in the first half of the season.

His drive at the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix especially was one of the finest of his career. All the elements and variables of the race conspired against him that day and he still won. Japan he was cruising to victory before his engine blew up. Then in Brazil got a puncture in the opening lap and still managed to finish 4th.

Schumacher dominated Massa in 2006. Raikkonen was only slightly better than Massa in 2007. Massa also had worse reliability than Raikkonen which slightly skewed the 16 point points difference between the two (10 points for a win then). Massa had to gift the final race to Raikkonen too, which further exaggerated the difference). Massa was faster than Raikkonen in 2008 and 2009 up until the Hungary accident.

Considering that Schumacher dominated Massa, I conclude that Schumacher would have easily won both championships since Kimi only had a slight edge on Massa in 2007 and Massa was faster than Kimi in 2008.

In 2003 the McLaren was a great car. If Schumacher had the equivalent of the McLaren that year (or Williams) and Kimi or Montoya had the Ferrari, then Schumacher would have won the championship. In my opinion.

2005 he drove better than Alonso in my opinion. He did make errors such as badly flat spotting his tyres at the German Grand Prix (ultimately tyre burst) and in his final qualifying lap for the Brazilian Grand Prix he made a bad lock up in the first corner. Both contributed to him not winning the championship in addition to having a car more fragile that the Renault.


Schumacher retired in 2006. He wasn’t dumped. He was pushed into making a decision, when he wasn’t sure whether and how long to commit, but there is no way he was “dumped”


It’s only my opinion but I think Schumacher was ultimately pushed out of Ferrari for Raikkonen. I think Schumacher’s mind was made up for him. Only my opinion. Everyone went along with Schumacher saying the time to leave was right in order for him not to lose face. Only my opinion. Could be wrong…or not.

Ferrari seemed head over heels in love with Raikkonen throwing $50 million a season at him to move to Ferrari. Only my opinion.


I would like to add one more point. Not sure if other’s have mentioned this before.

As of right now, Alonso has Kimi’s old crew even Andrea Stella!

Could this be a contributing factor as in we know how good Kimi was with a car that the team refused to develop as they were concentrating on the next season at the second half of the 2009 season. Could it be, that crew and that group of engineers can help him better, since they’ve worked before?


A long time ago during his McLaren years Kimi said, “This sport changes all the time. You have to adapt to these changes and if you can’t, you should probably not be in this sport anymore”

So I guess he knows what he knows what to do! 😛

Last time around Chris Dyer and him worked together in getting the Ferrari to his liking. I guess he has to go back to that mode again. Sit down with Allison. And get to work. I am sure he will.

Michael Spitale

Oddly though for all his trouble he would have finished right behind Alonso even though he started 6 places behind if not for the safety car. In the States they went away during the safety car and when it came back on Kimi was 8th instead of 6th.

With that said, Kimi clearly needs to get more comfortable in the car and pick up at least 2 to 3 tenths on Alonso to make it close.


I thought seeing KR being hit by KK at the start. Wonder if it explains anything.


If ferrari engine is too heavy surely they are dead in water as design changes are not permitted unless reliability, that true?


Wow, if all the “speculation” about Ferrari’s problems are true, I’m amazed they can even keep up with the safety car, never mind get a car in the top 5. I mean, with a heavier engine, weaker aero, thirstier engine, less than half ERS power, poor traction, poor brakes, shouldn’t they just be competing between themselves and Sauber at the back with Marussia? /sarcasm


From a safety standpoint, wouldn’t not being able to tell if your rear brakes are biting properly (due to the absence of hydraulic feedback) be a bit of a red flag? These guys are arguably the best drivers in the world and even they are having issues getting comfortable with the system.


James, sorry, this is off-topic. Do you have anything to say following Mateschitz’s (in Jerez) and now Honer’s comments about Renault? I just can’t believe what sort of bad looser they are. They win 8 titles with Renault and then on the first occasion they shoot them down. So incredible! Just can’t believe it!


bit offtopic,

Yesterday in a an article about turbocharged cars I have seen a picture of current Ferrari next to a picture of McLaren MP4/2.

unbelievable how terrible this year’s cars look!

if you were looking in 1987 at the McLaren MP4/2 you simply had to be in awe, now what are? disgusted, or we don’t care?

It’s funny how hard the sport tries to lose all of it’s appeal, and can’t really get why we fans keep following it…


Nice one. Well spotted. 🙂


James i cannot understand all these excuses that were thrown simply to defend kimi from poor weekend, Ferrari stated they had issues with both car in the race and the car in general is simply dismal. Yet Alonso has once again out-performed the team and team-mate

Here also Ferrari have more problems with the pace of car in general yet they state they need to provide a car which is suited to kimi’s driving style, Given the rule changes in 2014. it is the pilots who need to adjust and adapt to the new style? Alonso did this on race weekend whereas kimi failed?


They have different driving styles Alonso likes understeer Kimi oversteer, besides Alonso is with Ferrari for three years in a row etc. etc. Give Kimi some time he has a knew team and car every two years, new race engineer, too.


It would be more accurate to say: Alonso can handle understeer better than Kimi. But Alonso can handle anything, that’s the reality.


Neither Alonso likes understeer nor Kimi likes oversteer. Those are cliches, and are wrong.

In the case of Alonso, it comes from the years at Renault, in the way he drove to get the maximum of that car. People misunderstood the situation, thinking he likes understeer, when he was just compensating. There are some articles from people with knowledge about this. He actually is amazing at dealing with loose rear ends.

In the case of Kimi, he needs a strong front end, that’s true, but that does not necessarily mean oversteer. The difference with Alonso is that Alonso can make a light front end work, whereas Kimi can’t. Remember Felipe had troubles with Ferraris front end particularly in 2010 also.

Fernando "150%" Alonso

Please man, give some links to those articles. I read somwhere here, on JAonF1 a interesting comment from autoumn about Alo driving style, and how a lot of people think he prefers cars with understeer. I’m not able to find it now :-S


Well peter

yes kimi needs time to adapt himself to drive F14T which i do not disagree, Yet given the rule changes for 2014 every pilot needs to be flexible and have to adjust thier driving style as per the new formulae. This evens out the competiton and 2014 is new territory for all the 22 pilots not just kimi

My point is Alonso have certainly changed his driving style compared to 2013 and got the result in a difficult F 14 T, whereas kimi failed to adapt to the new regulations rather than the car better. This clearly reflected the performance differential between the two in albert park

Alonso is versatile and a fable

Adrian Newey Jnr

At least he’s:

1. getting paid and

2. he’s not driving a Lotus!


Please read below on Toni Vilander`s take on Kimi`s issues and different driving styles compared to Alonso:

MTV Sport’s F1 expert Toni Vilander [24 Hours of Le Mans winner and a close friend of Kimi’s] explains the setup problems Ferrari is having with Kimi Raikkonen.

The car’s tendency to push has been causing problems for Raikkonen.

“They’re looking for better settings for the front end. They’re trying to improve the turning of the car and the issues with the locking up of the inside wheel. Kimi is having problems with braking and the fact that the car pushes quite heavily. The front end is weak and Kimi’s isn’t able to get a proper feel of it.”

Teammate Fernando Alonso’s setup is completely different.

“Kimi’s use of the steering wheel and the timing of the braking and the gear change are different. Kimi changes gear fairly late and he keeps a slight pressure on the brake all the way to the middle of a curve. This requires a responsive steering and an inside wheel that doesn’t lock up.”

“Fernando turns fast and rough. For him it’s ok that the car pushes and you’ll be able to force the car inside a curve”, Vilander compares the different driving styles.


To me, this year will all be about the rate of development. And one must believe that Ferrari are favorably placed here (finally) after years of wind tunnel work not co-relating with the results on the track.

With James Allison for the last couple of years, we have seen the Lotus improving during the year (as long as the funds keep flowing). You can expect the funds to flow at Ferrari too.

Of course if Ferrari do not get it right this year, I feel there will be personnel changes right at the top. James Allison holds the key to Ferrari development this year and the fortunes of SD for next year.


My question is, how come Ferrari, with all those resources, fail for yet another year to produce a winning car?

They haven’t managed to do so for a decade now…

Jose Sanchez kowalsky

James that picture of kimi you used, do not be mean. The fact that the Ferrari sound like a lawn mower, doesn’t mean its one.




We are reading way to much way to early…. Give F1 till Spain to really sort itself out…. it is but natural that all are at sea given the massive overhaul in technological front in 2014… The saving grace for Kimi is that atleast he and the team has managed to identify the problems and know exactly which direction to work in…. Unlike Sebastian Vettel and Redbull who are scratching their head going WTF.


Is this new “brake by wire” system that “…compensates for instability when the energy is harvested from the rear axle under braking..” be seen as a form of traction control? Any thoughts?

Also the car would be expected to be suited to ALO driving style since ALO would have spent a lot more time in the simulator and assisting with the development in the car last year than RAI. RAI was only allowed to start working at Ferrari at the start of December and by that point a lot of design work would have already been put in place. It will take a lot of time for the development of the car to come towards RAI.


It’s undoubtedly a driver aid, not really traction control. However, computers are controlling how much battery/motor assistance there is out of corners, and that is traction control of a sort.



It is interesting that nobody has stressed that issue apart from Jason.

“Also the car would be expected to be suited to ALO driving style since ALO would have spent a lot more time in the simulator and assisting with the development in the car last year than RAI.”

Please notice that Ferrari had the same issues with the graining last year. Furthermore MAS was struggling more with it than ALO (due to different driving styles), which leads to the conclusion:

1. The Ferrari engineers aren’t able to learn from previous seasons (less likely).

2. ALO driving style is not appropriate for creating winning car. That will explain not winning WDC and WCC by Ferrari since 2007.

I am interesting to hear your opinion.


Oh God… Your conclusion 2 is amazing. Poor Alonso, even from outside the team he had influence on Ferrari’s car development… And it gets even worse now, because it’s Alonsos’s fault that Kimi is not given a winning car. If only Ferrari have had a driver with good development skills… Poor Alonso?? Poor Ferrari!! With such a driver it is impossible for any engineer to make a winning car! No fault on the engineers no… the fault is on the driver…

Seriously guys, stop thinking so much, your brains are going to collapse! It is funny to read some conclusions though…


These are very good points -I definitely think there is an issue with how Fernando develops or sets up a car. Sure the team has to build a decent one to start with , but it never seems to go forward as much as the other teams and drivers and the point of Massa- I was thinking the same – especially Monaco last year where both cars were behaving badly at places where most dont !!


@ elie

You can have the resentment against our legend Alonso as and when ever you like yet you can stomach the fact Alonso wiped the floor with kimi on race weekend 1

You will continue to see the same pattern and brace yourself to post more comments in favour of kimi and against Alonso

Kimi simply could not deal with it and kimi himself confessed the fact despite the issues he could have performed a bit better, so stop the excuses like steering wheel, understeer, car-setup, car is tripe and issues with car, Alonso favoured by ferrari

I repeat this Alonso is fable and inscribed all around the globe for the special talents and skills which he possess

Fernando "150%" Alonso

I hope you’r joking! quote: “ALO driving style is not appropriate for creating winning car.” What about renault ’05 and ’06 and the ’07 McLaren? Give this guy almoust the fastest car, not the fastest, look at the 2012 championship, and he will win it for you!


Traction control only affects acceleration, brake-by-wire only affects deceleration.

I suppose it could be used to create a kind of ABS (which I’m pretty sure would be illegal) but what F1 team would ever do that?


F1 teams deliberately cheating? Surely not! Oh, hang on a minute………..court case pending…..

Scuderia McLaren

It’s just race 1.

Raikkonen historically always seems to take a small while to get the car into a zone where he is comfortable with the steering and braking feed back.

I think 2-3 races he’ll be sorting it out.

Fact is Raikkonen is a Points harvester. When he’s not comfortable, he still gets good pts. When he is comfortable, he’s a winner without peer. fact is it’s points that count at the end of the day, that’s the talent Ferrari want.

Based on that, he’s not as far behind his teammate as say Hamilton for example. Yes I know LH beat Rosberg to pole etc. But Raikkonen has an extraordinary ability to 1) avoid first corner incidents, 2) keep an undrivable car on the island and still bring home good pts 3) win when he’s comfortable and 4) make unusual strategies work.

All those factors, this year in particular, will make raikkonen’s pts tally keep moving forward. We all saw what happened in 2013 when Alonso got frazzled or in 2011 when Hamilton lost his marbles somewhere.


If Kimi can overtake 3 cars & finish 7th in an underpowered ill handling/ braking Ferrari . Just imagine what he can do in a decent car.

He also suffered the double stack in the pits otherwise he would have been right on Alonso tail at the end of the race – from 11th. Because he could not pass the Mclaren TR with the problems he had.


Good old Elie. That’s a fair few positives that you have taken out of your favourite drivers race weekend. You ask “what could he do in a decent car?”. Good question? Can he avoid spinning off on his in lap? Can he get into Q3? Can he avoid costly lock ups under breaking? Can his fans admit his mistakes cost him and not the car? Or are Ferrari are sabotaging Kimi too!!!


Yes , yes, yes , no & no


His stacking cost him 2-3sec at most but he was well over 20sec behind even with the safety car, Raikkonen needs to up his game or he could get embarrased by Alonso.


…did you somehow forget about the 2 cars that jumped him in the pits and did also forget what happens when you follow those cars


But we know what he can do, he is a world champion.


Then imagine what Alonso will do in a decent car if he was 4th in an underpowered ill handling/braking Ferrari without electric enine at the start.


Elie seriously, I sometimes don’t know if we are watching the same sport.

First, Raikkonen was miles away from Alonso’s pace, no way he would have finished on “Alonso tail”.

Second, if Kimi did a great job in an “underpowered ill handling/braking Ferrari”, what words would you use to describe Alonso’s performance? I think you wouldn’t find the words in the dictionary then…

Both drivers have the same problems under braking, if you look at Alonso’s driving closely you will find out he is having difficulties too. It is not like Kimi’s Ferrari is ill handling while Alonso’s is not. The thing is Alonso can cope with it much better than Kimi does. However, with enough time I expect Kimi to catch up and be a bit closer.


Both Fry & Domenicali both said they had many more issues with Kimis car than they did with Fernando.To his credit Fernando qualified 5 but he did not have to pass anyone on track. Nor did he get stuck behind Vergne because of the double stack – so he had absolutely no chance of being on Fernandos pace- of that you are right!


Your arguments are meaningless. If you were an Alonso fan you would say:

Alonso (by his own words) was loosing near 1.5 sec a lap behind Hulkenberg. Multiply that by the number of laps he was behind, and remove from the equation the safety car period (which did a reset on the differences), and the difference between Alonso and Kimi would have been 20 sec bigger…

Notice the previous is not the reality, because Kimi did have traffic also and had to wait for Alonso in the pits. Plus he had electrical problems during a more extended period of time. The previous would be a biased view, similar as yours but on the other side.

Fact: independently on the electrical problems and traffic, In Melbourne Kimi was way off Alonso pace. If you don’t see it, you are blind.

But of course, this could change in Malaysia. I am just unbiasedly analyzing the relative performance of the two in Australia, and notice I am not making any judgement on who is a better driver or who I like more. This are just the numbers.

Fernando "150%" Alonso

Right on Alonso tail? Naaa, maybe on Rosberg’s tail 😉

kenneth chapman

all weekend raikonnen did not look comfortable and his driving was,IMO, extremely ragged by comparison.

i also seem to think that raikonnens style does not entirely suit these new cars quite as well as others. whilst they appear to be quite ‘skittish’ it apparently needs a smooth hand and a different style to get the best out of them, at the moment.

i must say though, i have never been a raikonnen fan and i have always believed that his reputation has been overblown. his WDC was hardly a ringing endorsement of domination.

whilst some of his rally experience will help him muscle the car at times he will need to adapt if he is to be successful. then again i might just be blowing smoke….

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