What’s with Kimi Raikkonen? Granted, he’s dour at the best of times but, while standing on the podium at yesterday’s European Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain, he looked like somebody had peed in his cornflakes.
|VICTOR R. CAIVANO/AP|
|What's bothering Kimi Raikkonen, far right?|
He’d driven a great race to finish third behind winner Rubens Barrichello and Lewis Hamilton but his body language and angry expression signaled serious unhappiness.
Is he browned off that Ferrari has apparently stopped development work on this year’s car? (See an opinion on this that I posted below yesterday afternoon – "Raikkonen comment suggests Ferrari has quit trying.")
Or is it something else?
Such as the imminent announcement that Fernando Alonso will drive for Ferrari in 2010, that three drivers into two cars won’t go and guess who’s going to be on the outside looking in?
Or was it just such a hot day (48 degrees Celsius on the track, 31 everywhere else) that he couldn’t wait to get back to his air-conditioned yacht and out of that parka they call a firesuit?
Who knows? One thing about the Kimster, he’s always got us guessing.
Here are some other observations from yesterday’s race:
– The footsteps F1 points leader Jenson Button is hearing these days are coming not from the boys at Red Bull Renault (who had a terrible day yesterday) but from his own teammate on the Brawn-Mercedes team, Rubens Barrichello.
Button, who still holds a commanding 72 points to 54 advantage over second-place Barrichello, has not raced well since the British Grand Prix in June. After winning six of the first seven Grands Prix, he’s tailed off dramatically in the last four. He finished seventh yesterday.
Yesterday’s effort was – in the words of BBC commentator Martin Brundle – "typically Button," in that he was slow off the line at the start and then overcompensated by trying a banzai move to pass that saw him overshoot his braking point and go wide at a corner, losing even more time.
Although Barrichello won yesterday’s race, he hasn’t done significantly better in the last four races than Button – a 10th at the last race in Hungary, and a sixth and a third in the two races before that.
But the victory yesterday will give him momentum heading into next weekend’s Grand Prix of Belgium at Spa and if he trounces Button again it will give team owner Ross Brawn a big headache: will he switch the team’s attention from team leader Button to concentrate more on second-banana Barrichello, or will he stay with the status quo?
You can bet that the guy keeping his eye very closely on that will be Barrichello himself. Twice previously this season – after the Spanish and German races – he yelled long and loud when he felt the team had sabotaged his chances of winning in favour of Button.
– Nothing like a little job insecurity to light a fire under a driver’s backside, eh?
Heikki Kovalainen has not had a good year at McLaren-Mercedes and last week it was suggested that he’d better ramp up his performance or else he could find himself on the unemployment line.
So Kovalainen went out and set second fastest qualifying time behind teammate Lewis Hamilton and went on to finish fourth in the race. He was passed twice, but both times he was in the pits.
– BBC play-by-play man Jonathan Legard compared the Valencia circuit to both Montreal and Monaco. Well, there’s the water, I guess, but other than that the circuit appeared to be laid out in a very industrial part of Valencia (you could see ocean-going freighters, transport trucks and construction cranes), which is definitely not the case in either of the two other cities.
Having said that, I’ve warmed to Legard. I initially wondered who could ever replace Murray Walker, and then I got to thoroughly enjoy James Allan. Legard seemed to get off to a slow start but he’s knowledgeable and cool under fire and I now quite like him.
– It’s too bad that TSN chose to go to commercial when Hamilton made his pit stop. The botched tire change cost him the race. But you can’t have everything. . .