It felt like Kimi Raikkonen had never left. Having missed the Dutch and Italian Grands Prix after a positive Covid-19 test, the Alfa Romeo driver returned in Russia and brought the team their first points in four races – but he wasn’t totally satisfied at Sochi.
Raikkonen started 13th in Russia despite his sixth Q1 elimination in seven races – that was thanks to grid penalties for Nicholas Latifi, Valtteri Bottas and Charles Leclerc – and made it up to P10 on the opening lap. Pitting early from mediums to hards, it seemed like the veteran would have to settle for 13th. That was, until the rain came and he picked up five positions on the intermediate compound to finish eighth at the line.
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Regardless, he said: “I’d much rather be a bit higher up… We had a good start and got some positions and then followed the Alpine [of Esteban Ocon] most of the race. I felt the car was behaving well, but we were a bit too slow to really make progress.
“And most of the race we were behind him and… I felt we had more speed but when the straight opened up, I had no chance to overtake him. Luckily we made the correct call, felt it was too wet already, and we were one of the early ones to come in to change tyres and it paid off in the end,” recalled Raikkonen.
Kimi Räikkönen: Alfa Romeo’s ‘right call’ to change tyres led to P8 finish in Sochi
That calculated change to inters came at Lap 47 for Raikkonen and saw him leapfrog the likes of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, Williams’ George Russell and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll for P8. Of course, with the change to inters came some masterful driving in wet conditions from Raikkonen. Did his rally experience help matters?
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“No, no not really,” he said. “For sure our tyres were not the best in the wet conditions but we pitted in the right moment and then we had some decent speed in the last couple of laps and managed to pass some cars. Not too bad,” concluded the Alfa Romeo driver.
With just seven races of his final Formula 1 campaign remaining, Raikkonen sits on six points and is 17th in the championship – with the Turkish Grand Prix up next.