Raikkonen to continue with Ferrari in 2017

Ferrari have confirmed that Kimi Raikkonen will continue to drive for the team in 2017.

There was speculation that the Finn and 2007 world champion could lose his seat, a threat that had loomed in 2014 and 2015 but with a smaller driver market the Scuderia opted to leave their lineup unchanged.

Ferrari were thought to be looking into hiring Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen or Carlos Sainz but all three were recently confirmed in their seats.

A statement issued on behalf of team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said: “Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has renewed its technical and racing agreement with Kimi Raikkonen.”

“The driver line-up for the 2017 racing season will still consist of the Finnish driver and Sebastian Vettel.”

Raikkonen rejoined the team in 2014 following a three-year stint between 2007 and 2009 during which he won the world championship in his first season with the team. He has taken four of the team’s nine podium finish so far this year and is tied with Vettel on 96 points.

Sunday’s race will be Raikkonen’s 100th as a Ferrari driver. His most recent victory for them was at Spa-Francorchamps in 2009.

Raikkonen handed penalty points over pit violation

Kimi Raikkonen has been given two penalty points on his licence for failing to obey the rules regarding the pit lane entrance during the European Grand Prix.

Prior to the race drivers were told they must enter the pits if they put all four wheels to the left of the pit lane entry line, to reduce the risk of collisions at the pit lane entrance. However Raikkonen cut the line while racing Daniel Ricciardo.

Raikkonen was given a five-second time penalty during the race, which did not change his finishing position. He was also given two penalty points on his licence, giving him a total of five.

Mercedes and Ferrari fight at the top in Spain

Nico Rosberg put Mercedes on top in the second practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix but the silver cars were only fractionally quicker than the Ferraris.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016As track temperatures rose by more than 10C to over 40C in the afternoon, Rosberg set a 1’23.922 on soft tyres put himself on top of the times. This was just 0.029s faster than Sebastian Vettel managed on the same rubber this morning, and Kimi Raikkonen in the other Ferrari got within a quarter of a second of Rosberg in the afternoon.

Raikkonen then suffered a brief setback as the team called him into the pits to have a fuel pressure problem investigated. It delayed him only briefly, however, and he was soon back on the track to continue his running.
Lewis Hamilton ended the session seven-tenths of a second down on Rosberg after catching Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber at the end of a slightly scruffy lap.

Behind the usual top four Carlos Sainz Jnr led a tight pack of seven cars separated by half a second. They included Fernando Alonso, in a strong seventh for McLaren, and the two Red Bulls, Daniel Ricciardo a tenth of a second up on Max Verstappen as he had been in the first session.

However the second Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat was over a second off Sainz in 15th place despite both having run the soft tyre.

Ferrari dominate second practice in China

Ferrari served notice of their potential in the second practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix by out-pacing both Mercedes drivers.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Shanghai International Circuit, 2016

Kimi Raikkonen led the way, being the only driver to lap the Shanghai International Circuit in less than 97 seconds. Raikkonen gave his super-soft tyres a more vigorous preparation before beginning his flying lap and posted the fastest times in the first two sectors before they began to lose their grip.

That put him one-tenth of a second ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who had given his tyres a more gentle treatment and posted a faster final sector time, despite running wide at the turn 14 hairpin.

At the end of the session Vettel attacked the pit lane entrance hard, locking up heavily in his attempt to make the left-hander, wrecking his front-left tyre in the process.

Ferrari relegated the two Mercedes drivers to third and fourth place, Nico Rosberg two-tenths of a second faster than Hamilton. The world champion, who spun twice in the morning session, locked up and headed off the track at turn 14 while doing his race simulation run at the end of the session.

Daniel Ricciardo was ‘best of the rest’ in fifth place with a slender gap to Max Verstappen. Both Toro Rossos appeared in the top ten but Daniil Kvyat’s lap was compromised which left him down in 13th.

Both Force Indias also reached the top ten but the fastest Williams was only tenth – Valtteri Bottas ending the session 1.8s off the pace of Mercedes.

Raikkonen sets fastest test time of 2016

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016Kimi Raikkonen bettered his team mates best time from last week to set the overall fastest time of 2016 pre-season testing.

The Ferrari driver went out early on in the session to test the new halo head protection system before returning to the track without it.

Raikkonen topped the times with the ultrasoft tyres but the Williams of Felipe Massa was within half a second of the Finn on soft tyres.

A mammoth day of mileage saw almost all the teams cover well north of 100 laps. Haas, which only managed a single installation lap yesterday reached 77, but Romain Grosjean caused all three of the day’s red flags due to stoppages.

Once again Mercedes split the running between its two drivers but Verstappen did one more lap than the pair of them in his STR11.

One more day of testing remains before the season opening Australian Grand Prix in two weeks time.