Kimi Raikkonen enjoyed ‘intense’ race-long battle with the Renaults

Paul Ricard, France

French Grand Prix – Kimi Raikkonen said he enjoyed his scrap with the two Renaults throughout Sunday’s race, ending up P8 as he returned Alfa Romeo to the points.

After three calamitous weekends in a row with no points scored by the Alfa team, updates brought to Paul Ricard gave the squad hope that they could return to their early season form. While Kimi Raikkonen was knocked out of qualifying during Q2, Antonio Giovinazzi managed to make it through into Q3 and outqualified his experienced teammate for the first time.

However, with Raikkonen able to choose his starting tyres as a result of getting knocked out, he was able to go for an alternative strategy by picking the Hard tyre.

With the Hards proving to be a decent race tyre, Raikkonen was already looking good for a points finish by the time he pitted on Lap 31, taking on the Medium tyre. Having been ahead of Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault on track prior to the stop, he emerged still in front of the German and proceeded to fend off the pressure from behind as the pair caught up on the other Renault of Daniel Ricciardo and the struggling McLaren of Lando Norris.

Norris, slowed by a hydraulic issue, came under attack from Ricciardo on the final lap. Tripping over themselves, Raikkonen pounced to pass both as they exited the Mistral chicane to move up to P7. Ricciardo then managed to get back in front before Signes but went outside the track limits to do so. He was given a time penalty as a result, moving Raikkonen back into P7.

Raikkonen thus moves into P8 in the Driver’s Championship and single-handedly moves Alfa into P7 in the Constructor’s. With 19 points on the board, they are tied with Racing Point.

“I was a bit disappointed to miss out on Q3 yesterday, but we knew it would be much better to start on different tyres than the softs, and so it was.” said Raikkonen afterwards.

“I didn’t make the best start but luckily I didn’t lose too much on the straight and I could fight back in the next few corners. We were in a strong position after the start, on the hard tyres, but I had to hold back Hülkenberg the whole race. It was a great battle with the Renaults for most of the afternoon and in the end I was able to catch up with the cars in front. The last few laps were very intense and it was good fun. It’s really good that we could fight against other cars in the midfield and be up there. We had the speed and we got a good result in the end.”

Team boss Frederic Vasseur praised the Finn, saying: “It was very good to bring back the team into the points. All weekend, we have showed our fighting spirit and that we can compete with teams like Renault and McLaren. Kimi drove an excellent race, withstanding incredible pressure from Hülkenberg for most of the afternoon and making the most of his opportunities in the final laps to claim some important points.”

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Thomas Maher

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