Kimi Raikkonen believes he could have battled Sebastian Vettel for the final podium spot if the Chinese Grand Prix had not been interrupted by a late safety car.
Raikkonen, starting sixth, passed the two Williams team-mates of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas on the opening lap of the race in Shanghai.
The Finn shadowed Vettel throughout the race, and was closing on his team-mate in the later stages, before the race was neutralised by the safety car following Max Verstappen’s engine failure on the start-finish straight.
“Considering that my position on the starting grid today was not ideal, fourth place is a good result,” Raikkonen said.
“My start was ok, I had quite a good jump off the line, and at the first corner I decided to go inside and at the end of the corner I was in the right place and managed to take the Williams under braking – my car is really good at that – and managed to pass them.
“The car was quite good today; the first set of tyres was a bit tricky, but I think it was the same for everybody, and then the next two sets were ok.
“Towards the end of the race I was catching up, I knew I had the speed and I thought I still had good tyres. I could still have had a chance to try and fight for podium but the safety car came in and we know we cannot change that.
The 2007 champion believes that with a perfect weekend he can return to the podium for the first time since 2013.
“Today we got close to the podium, from the next race on we have to have a better weekend, doing everything right in qualifying, and we’ll do our best,” he explained.
“As a team we scored the maximum today, we know we are behind Mercedes, but we have to be happy with the result.
“From tomorrow on we have to make another step to be able to challenge them every weekend; we’ll keep working hard as we have done since last year. We trust the way the team is working: now we have to be patient”.
This article first appeared on Richland F1 – Image courtesy of Scuderia Ferrari.