Raikkonen ‘not ambushed’ by Vettel’s Melbourne strategy

Kimi Raikkonen played down reports that he was upset by Ferrari’s strategic call in Melbourne, which had allowed his team mate Sebastian Vettel to win the Australian Grand Prix.

Raikkonen had been running in second place behind Lewis Hamilton in the early phase of the race. Raikkonen was the first of the leaders to pit, with Hamilton responding on the next lap.

Having lost ground to the pair in the opening stint, Vettel stayed out to assume the lead. A virtual safety car for an immobilised Haas allowed him to dive into the pits and come back out in front of both Hamilton and Raikkonen.

The sequence resulted in a tense radio exchange between Raikkonen and his race engineer Carlo Santi in which he appeared unaware of the team’s plan for Vettel. He sounded suspicious that his hopes of winning the race had been sacrificed in favour of his team mate.

“You tell me now?” he said at the time. “You first say to me that you are not in a hurry. Don’t f*** me up with this!”

But after the race the Finn declared that he had known from the start that the race might go in this direction.

“The only thing I was surprised because we were talking on the radio that they didn’t let me know what he was doing,” he said.

“Obviously we talked before the race,” he continued. “There were hundreds of options what we can do and that was his best option.

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“[He had] no threat from behind,” Raikkonen added. “He would obviously take a chance because he had nothing else to lose at that point, safe in third place so it would work out well.

“I wasn’t really surprised what they did,” he insisted again. “I was surprised that we didn’t – at one point – know exactly.”

“Obviously with the safety car it’s pure luck,” he said. “We didn’t have the most luck but what can you do. Luckily it was Seb that got the luck and it was our team at least.

“You want more, always, and you want to win,” he added. “[Third is] not ideal for me but it’s a decent start and it’s a long year.

“I’d rather take a third place than no point!” he said. “I’ll take it and we go.”

However, conspiracy theories abound that Ferrari deliberately pitted Raikkonen early in order to force Hamilton to cover him off.

It meant that when the Haas ground to a half a few minutes later, Vettel was in a position to overtake them both in a single bound.

“Poor Kimi,” former world champion Nico Rosberg told Speed Week. “He was used to help Sebastian.

“But Kimi wouldn’t have won anyway. So it’s completely understandable that Ferrari had to try it in that way.”

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