For Kimi Raikkonen, you pretty much get what you see and I think we will be seeing more of the same from him this year as last. He may not be as fast as he once was but he’s pretty close and car performance index is always a difficult parameter to see the real measure of any driver good or bad.
You won’t see Kimi make spectacular moves or be caught strangling a car for all it’s worth, but he will be a good measure of where the Ferrari car circa 2017 is and will not leave much on the table. He may be an expensive option for Ferrari as a number 2 driver but what he showed last year was that he was pretty close to Vettel’s speed and faster on occasion and not very prone to mistakes (which was why he very nearly pipped his team mate in the final standings).
This consistency and pace is why they have kept him and why Ferrari only have to look at themselves rather than the drivers for it’s success. If Ferrari can get it right Kimi can win some races but he must get the car on the front row to do so as mixing it up in traffic isn’t his strong point. Perhaps his measured approach is the element letting him down here but if you look back at some races from the past he was capable of it.
Perhaps if the Ferrari car can be in the hunt race after race it will bring that twinkle back in his eye, I’d sure love to see that. A couple of years ago I got to interview him and asked what he would change in the rules to bring back the true enjoyment of driving in F1, he said more grip and a tyre that you can push lap after lap and a lot more hp. While we may not have the power he may crave (although every year they get better and better) the rule changes that afford more overall grip and ability to push hard every lap instead of driving to a temperature parameter in the tyre may just be the ticket for the Finn.
I would sum up Seb’s 2016 season as opportunities lost. Initially the Ferrari car came out swinging haymakers at the Merc and should have won at least 1 of the first two races. The sad news of James Allison’s family crisis and his subsequent inability to really help in the development so early in the season seemed to coincide with a loss of momentum and slowly but surely the Red Bulls over took them in pace.
This placed them as the 3rd best team and I think this frustration started to show in Seb’s driving. He had such amazing success with Red Bull and I think he really wanted to come in and be the savior of the Scuderia but it just isn’t that easy given the rules structure and the fact that everybody has been only able to pick up the scraps that Mercedes have left behind.
We seem a long way away now from the slow-blinking Seb of the past but I think that skill is still there, to be in that kind of zone with car and driver comes along very rarely and may not come back again to him, at least not in the same way.
In 2017 he really needs to be able to keep his frustrations in check both verbally and internally and be able to clear his mind to the job at hand, you can’t effect what others do or don’t do on the track but you can change how that will effect what you are doing and your focus to the job at hand. The need to force the issue on some occasions especially at the starts led to some seriously lost points for Vettel, and perhaps a few listens of Kenny Rogers “The Gambler” could have set him right.
That being said it’s a new year and with the current rules a great opportunity to reset for the team and for Vettel. Will he be able to put all those impulses to bed? Probably not. Seb certainly had them even when he was at the height of his Red Bull days (just ask Mark Webber!) and just like Lewis, James Hunt and Tommy Byrne, what got us there is our whole persona and to lose it all could be a detriment to our overall competitiveness If he can just keep it in check, I think his season would be the better for it, and if Ferrari can get close to the Silver Arrows that path will be made all the easier, we all like to have at least a chance right?