Former Formula 1 designer Gary Andersen believes that Kimi Raikkonen was simply not quick enough when it mattered during the Monaco Grand Prix, but at the same time questions why Ferrari made the Finn pit so early in the race.
Raikkonen led the race early on from pole position, with Vettel keeping him in sight. On lap 34, after Red Bull pitted Max Verstappen and Mercedes boxed Valtteri Bottas, Ferrari called in Raikkonen. This gave Vettel clear air, he seized the opportunity to set a flurry of very fast laps and by the time he pitted on lap 39 he emerged ahead of his teammate, where he remained to claim victory and Raikkonen forced to settle for second place.
Andersen, now a pundit, wrote in his post race analysis, “To put it bluntly, Raikkonen just wasn’t quick enough when he had to be to win the race. By regulation you have to do at least one pitstop. The Ferrari call might have been a bit too reactive, or too early, but it was for the right reasons because Kimi had given away his potential undercut cushion by losing time prior to the stops.”
“All sorts of conspiracy theories came out of that strategy call, but when released from being behind Raikkonen it was Vettel who earned the win. He hammered in fastest lap after fastest lap on his used ultra-soft tyres, while Kimi didn’t, or couldn’t, make use of his fresh super-soft tyres. Vettel did enough over those few laps to remain in the lead after his own pitstop, and that was Monaco 2017 done and dusted,” added the former Jordan design guru.
He does however question the wisdom of Ferrari pitting Raikkonen as early as they did, “At a circuit like Monaco, where track position is everything and the Pirelli tyres could go the full race distance without any problems, why would any team call its driver in early?”
“Monaco is a race where, if you don’t have to stop you shouldn’t, or at the very least you shouldn’t stop early. Track position is everything, and on many occasions drivers have won in Monaco in slower cars by just not making mistakes. The current regulations of having to use two compounds of tyre make it just a bit more difficult, so strategy calls can make or break a good result.”
“For me, the best strategy would have been to run as late as possible, hoping that a virtual safety car or a real safety car would appear for you could to make use of to reduce your pitstop time loss.”
“The lap times were just getting faster as the race went on, so you didn’t have to be a brain surgeon to work out that it was highly unlikely the undercut was going to work. I, for one, wouldn’t have been the first one into the pits in that race,” a move that has ignited a furious debate among media and F1 fans.
Big Question: Did Ferrari deliberately pit Kimi early to allow Sebastian to leap-frog him without having to make a team orders call?