Scuderia Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen landed on the podium for a third time in the 2018 Formula One World Championship, taking a second-place finish behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton at Round 4 at Azerbaijan. His teammate, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, narrowly missed out on a podium spot, finishing fourth and letting the drivers’ championship lead pass to Hamilton. Ferrari is now ahead of Mercedes-AMG in the manufacturers’ championship.
Vettel started from pole position and led the race up until he pitted for fresh Pirelli Soft tires, handing the lead to Mercedes-AMG driver Valtteri Bottas. Some laps later, Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo collided with teammate Max Verstappen, and the Safety Car was sent out. Under caution, both Mercedes drivers pitted for fresh tires, Bottas for his first new set of the race, while Vettel did the same. With Bottas again in the lead and only four laps to go, Vettel would have precious few chances to make a play from second place.
The German driver attempted to make a pass at Turn 1, diving down the inside, but his wheels locked up going into the corner, costing him time in recovery that allowed both Hamilton and Räikkönen to pass. It wasn’t long after that Bottas, still in the lead, hit debris that gave him a puncture, forcing him to retire, while Sergio Perez of Force India managed to squeak by Vettel and nab third.
“Without the lock up and braking at the same point, I think I would have made the corner and it would have turned out to be a good move,” Vettel said after the race. “Obviously it is easy to say not it was not the right move and it didn’t work. I had to try, I tried and it didn’t work.”
More important than any of that, he says, is that Ferrari now has the right car to bring the fight to Mercedes.
“The most important thing is that we have a good car and we have a car that we can work with in qualifying,” he said. “If we can put at the front we have good pace for the race.
“I am not worried at all as it is quite different to last year in qualifying where most of the year we weren’t competitive enough.”