Did Kimi Räikkö­nen re­ally man­age to get on terms with Seb Vet­tel last sea­son?

Not if you look closely, ar­gues BBC Sport F1’s An­drew Ben­son.

F1 Racing - - BERNIE END OF AN ERA -

The graph shows Vet­tel’s qual­i­fy­ing gap to Räikkö­nen when they have com­peted in the same qual­i­fy­ing seg­ment. Nega­tive val­ues are quicker; pos­i­tive val­ues show Vet­tel is slower than his team-mate

Let’s not get too car­ried away with Kimi Räikkö­nen out­qual­i­fy­ing Se­bas­tian Vet­tel eight times in the last ten races of 2016, and in each of the last five. Af­ter all, from those ten races, Räikkö­nen fin­ished ahead in just two – and they were as a re­sult of Vet­tel start­ing at the back in Sin­ga­pore and crash­ing out in Malaysia.

The roots of Vet­tel’s rel­a­tive drop-off lie in car be­hav­iour and psy­chol­ogy. They sound sep­a­rate, but are in fact re­lated.

Vet­tel re­quires a par­tic­u­lar kind of car to de­liver his best – or his “tricks”, as Red Bull’s Hel­mut Marko used to de­scribe them. He likes to ro­tate the car early into the cor­ner, and get on the power early as well. Key to this is a se­cure rear end in which he can be con­fi­dent. Last year’s Ferrari lacked this, but what it did have was a bet­ter front end than be­fore – just what Räikkö­nen needs to be fast. Vet­tel fell into the same trap in 2014, his fi­nal year at Red Bull, against Daniel Ric­cia­rdo. He tried to make the car do things it would not do, over­drove and, as a re­sult, made mis­takes.

The pres­sure to do this, rather than ac­cept its lim­i­ta­tions and drive ac­cord­ingly, came be­cause of Ferrari’s slip in form, and ris­ing ten­sion within the team. Vet­tel, as­sum­ing the role of team leader, took this on and tried to make amends. It got him into trou­ble on the track, while off track he was ad­mon­ished by his team for get­ting too in­volved in non-driv­ing-re­lated mat­ters.

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