Kimi Raikkonen – Can He Save His Ferrari Comeback?
After carefully constructing a reputation as one of the most reliable drivers on the Formula One grid, Kimi Raikkonen’s form has completely deserted him since his return to Ferrari this year.
The Finn has failed to finish a single race in the top six in 2014, owing to teething troubles upon his comeback with the Italian team. But while he has at times looked like a unicyclist on ice, his teammate, Fernando Alonso, has fared better.
The two former world champions seemingly formed a driving dream team when it was announced that they would be paired together for the current campaign.
So far, the duo have scrambled together one podium finish between them, and Ferrari currently sit third in the Constructors’ standings, just ahead of Williams and Force India.
Two weeks ago, both drivers were caught out in Q1 during a wet qualifying at Silverstone – starting from 18th, Raikkonen then had a big crash on the opening lap when he lost control down the Wellington Straight.
The eye-watering shunt that the 34-year-old experienced in Northamptonshire could yet prove to be a turning point in his season. And if he wants to prolong his Formula One career further, something has to change.
It has been announced that Raikkonen will retire at the culmination of his current contract with Ferrari, but it is unknown how long that will be just yet. With performances – and results – continuing as they are, this could be the last season we see him in the paddock.
If we look back to his comeback campaigns with Lotus, following a sabbatical from the sport, it is clear to see that he can elevate the performance provided by a more average car.
The 2007 World Champion won Grands Prix in each of his two years under the tutelage of Eric Boullier. A record-breaking run of 27 consecutive points finishes highlighted just how consistent the Scandinavian driver was.
This year has been very different though. Perhaps it is the fact that he is playing second fiddle to Alonso, but Raikkonen hasn’t had the presence he has possessed in recent years.
He now seems vulnerable out on track, more likely to be overtaken by midfield teams.
But there is still hope for him at the back-end of his career. He will hope that he can improve on his current Championship standing of 12th, and that could be achieved over the next two race weekends.
Podiums were achieved in both Germany and Hungary on his last two respective visits there – a maiden top three finish since returning to Ferrari could return the confidence and assurance that we are so used to seeing him drive with.
After racing around the Hungaroring, there is the summer break to come, time which can be invested in preparing for the second half of the season.
With the right attitude – which hasn’t always been possessed by the one-time World Champion – the wreckage of this season can still be salvaged throughout the final 10 rounds of the year.