F1Punter

Formula 1: Against The Odds

Fastest Finn?

with one comment

Kimi Raikkonen started the weekend as the 9/4 second-favourite behind his teammate to set the fastest race lap in tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix.  After going quickest in the first practice session on Friday – half a second faster than Massa – he was slashed in to a best price of 17/10 favourite where he remained as he again topped the timesheets in Friday practice two and was just 0.006 seconds from doing so again on Saturday.

Following today’s qualifying session, the Finn is available at 5/2 at SportingOdds; the longest price he has been since the markets were formed. Without getting carried away with the practice sessions, where the public have little knowledge of the setups or fuel loads of the cars, this does strike me as a bit of an overreaction. Perhaps even more so with Kimi claiming traffic on both of his Q3 runs compromised his ultimate pace.

The fastest lap market is always one in which I expect Kimi Raikkonen to thrive.  As a driver, whilst he may not possess the ability to lap relentlessly in the way that Fernando Alonso can, he is clearly capable of throwing in a blindingly fast lap at any stage of a race. Seasoned Formula 1 observers will not be unfamiliar with the sight of Raikkonen, out of contention for the victory, posting the fastest race lap in the dying stages. This often appears an almost petulant gesture; as though he is demonstrating how fast he could have gone if [in his opinion] events had not conspired against him.

This view is backed up by the statistics. Raikkonen has set the fastest race lap in twenty separate grand prix – 18.7% of the races in which he has competed. This is particularly impressive given that all bar one of those have been achieved in a car other than a Ferrari, during a time period when the Italian marque has dominated through the speed traps. Indeed last season a Ferrari posted the fastest race lap on 9 of its 18 attempts.

To put this in the context of his nearest challengers; Fernando Alonso has recorded just seven fastest race laps in his career (7.8% of races started) and Felipe Massa just two (2.7%). Indeed many believe that his biggest rival in this market will be the outstanding rookie Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton, veteran of two races, topped the timesheets on Saturday before despatching his McLaren to the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s race. More pertinently, the Brit also recorded the fastest race lap last time out in Malaysia.

Raikkonen too has a fastest race lap under his belt this season – thanks to his efforts in Australia – and whilst I backed him to repeat the feat in Malaysia this article from FreshF1 may go some way to explaining his failure. A new engine here in Bahrain should hopefully remove that factor from the equation.

A further feature that will not have gone unnoticed by the Finn is that this is the second successive race that he has been out-qualified by his teammate. With many in the paddock predicting that a victory here would see him take precedent over Massa in Ferrari’s push for the championship, I cannot see him passing up the opportunity to prove again which of the two can wring the most speed from the car.

All of this leaves us with the fast-lapping Finn, in his fast-lapping Ferrari, armed with a new engine and with his teammate in his sights at the longest price he has been all weekend. It looks a bet to me.

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Written by f1punter

April 14, 2007 at 4:47 pm

One Response

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  1. You have to fancy Kimi’s chances tomorrow.
    The reason he is not on the front row is most likely because he is starting with more fuel, which will increase his chances of being great in the middle of the race.
    After the way he ran away with it in Melbourne, you have to wonder where the speed has gone, if anywhere. It was definitely the rev limiting that lost it for him in Malaysia.

    Nate

    April 14, 2007 at 6:11 pm


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