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Selasa, 28 Juli 2009

Raikkonen 'unaware' of penalty threat


Kimi Raikkonen has admitted that he knew nothing of the possibility that he could lose his second podium finish of the 2009 F1 season, having finished second to Lewis Hamilton in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Finn, running a lone Ferrari following team-mate Felipe Massa's shocking qualifying accident, said that his start had played a large part in being able to challenge for a top three spot, but remained blissfully unaware that the stewards were investigating two separate incidents that could have put his result in jeopardy.

Having appeared to bump wheels with Hamilton as he charged through from seventh on the grid, Raikkonen then got momentarily out-of-shape on the exit of turn one as he was squeezed by Red Bull's Mark Webber. The twitch resulted in him making contact with the second Red Bull car of Sebastian Vettel, causing the German to check up - and, it is claimed, eventually retire from the race with suspension damage.

Unlike Webber's German Grand Prix incident, where the Australian was forced to take a drive-thru' penalty for his contact with Rubens Barrichello on the run to turn one at the Nurburgring, Raikkonen's incident was flagged up as being investigated at the end of the race, meaning that the Finn would have received, at most, a 25-second time penalty for his aggression. Had it been applied, the punishment would have dropped the Ferrari to sixth place but, in the end, the stewards decided that there was no case to answer.

"I haven't even noticed if I touched somebody," Raikkonen insisted, when asked about the start, "I was in between, I think, Mark and somebody else, but I don't know what is going on. That is the first time [I was aware of an investigation], but I didn't feel any touching or anything, so I cannot comment."

The 2007 world champion also had a close call with Webber in the pits, after Red Bull appeared to release the Australian into the path of the Ferrari. Raikkonen allowed his rival just enough room to avoid a collision and, again, no action was taken by the stewards.

"I took a little bit more space on the left hand side, so I was pretty sure that they would tell him that I was coming," the Finn admitted, "I don't know how close it was, but I saw him and I gave him all the space that I could."

Webber confessed that he hadn't been aware of the Ferrari as he pulled away, and was grateful not to have lost another podium finish as a result of contact.

"We had a little bit of confusion in the stop," he revealed, "To be honest, I was thinking about the guys and the fuel rig. You're so focused on making sure that everything is safe, releasing yourself and then, when I did get released, I knew I had to give Kimi room and he got me. Then we did the ice skating in the first few corners on the [new] tyres. Thank God tyre blankets are in next year because it would be a joke if they weren't!"

Webber's problems at the first round of stops were enough to give Raikkonen the upper hand for the rest of the race, even though his own second stop was far from perfect.

"The start definitely helped," he acknowledged, "We knew, before the race, that we needed to gain some places at the start to be able to fight for the podium. I was only fourth after the first few corners, behind Lewis. Then he overtook Mark and I could follow Mark and we went in at the same time for the first pit-stop. I don't know if he had some issues or not, but I got past him and, after that, I was just driving my own race, trying to catch Lewis.

"I thought I had the speed for that at one point, but suddenly he started to go the same speed - and then a little bit faster. The gap more or less stayed the same the whole time, and then I had some issues on the last pit-stop.

"We needed to do a manual pull-away and it went on to anti-stall, so it was a bit confusing, but I just took it easy because I knew that we had enough time from behind. We were not in a hurry, so it took much longer than it should. It's always a bit difficult if you cannot make a normal proper pit-stop with a proper start."

Like Hamilton, Raikkonen admitted that he had not expected to be a contender for victory at the Hungaroring, but was happy to accept the podium finish.

"We knew that it would be difficult to challenge for the win right now, and we were probably closer than we expected, even with not such an easy weekend for the team," he conceded, "We had some issues in a few places,and they have been there almost the whole weekend, so we were a bit limited by what we could do. We still had good speed, but I think we could have had better speed.

"You are never going to be happy unless you're in first place, but we have got some good results so, hopefully, we can keep going like this. It is something positive at least this weekend for the team."

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