Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Yas Marina, 2013

Can Raikkonen ‘do a Vettel’ after penalty?

2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix pre-race analysisPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Yas Marina, 2013Kimi Raikkonen faces a long haul through the field in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after being excluded from qualifying following a technical infringement.

It’s a repeat of the scenario Sebastian Vettel faced at this race last year, when he started from the pit lane after stopping at the end of qualifying with too little fuel left in the car.

Vettel managed to fight his way back to third place, thanks in part to the Safety Car appearing twice during the race. Can Raikkonen do the same?

He has previous form for this kind of fightback. He scored a great win at Suzuka in 2005 from 17th on the grid. The year after that in Bahrain he finished on the podium after lining up 22nd – his current starting position on Sunday’s grid.

Strategy

Lotus may well choose to go down the same route Red Bull opted for last year. With Vettel doomed to start last on the grid they elected to take his car out of parc ferme (and therefore start from the pit lane), which meant they could make deeper changes to his set-up to help him make progress through the field.

A glance at Raikkonen’s low speed trap figures (below) indicate he could benefit from reducing the rear wing and increasing his gear ratios to aid overtaking.

But he is already well-equipped for making this kind of recovery drive. Friday practice showed the Lotus had excellent pace over a long stint on the soft tyres. That will give the Lotus pit wall the strategic flexibility to help Raikkonen recover.

Given the constructors’ championship situation, their best scenario would be for Raikkonen to catch and pass the Ferraris, while hoping Romain Grosjean can take the fight to the Mercedes drivers. Grosjean’s comeback drive from 17th to the podium last weekend is further evidence of what’s possible with this car even from a poor starting position and without the benefit of a Safety Car.

For most drivers Pirelli expect a one-stop strategy to be the preferred approach, as was the case last year.

The top nine drivers on the grid plus Raikkonen will start the race on their used soft tyres from Q3, unless Lotus decide to take Raikkonen out of parc ferme and start him from the pit lane.

The start

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2013Two Red Bulls at the front of the grid is hardly an unusual sight. But it is uncommon to see Mark Webber ahead of Vettel.

It’s only happened once this year, at Suzuka, where the pair started so poorly Grosjean passed them both and Lewis Hamilton was on his way past them when he suffered damage.

Webber has had two chances to beat his team mate running different strategies in the last two races, and each time Vettel has come out on top. But he won’t be expecting any gifts from his team mate just because the championship has been decided.

The short run to the first corner at Yas Marina offers little chance for drivers to change positions, and the turn five/six chicane is often the scene of incidents. Keep an eye out for drivers saving KERS for the two long straights in the middle of the lap.

Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Mark Webber Red Bull 1’41.568 1’40.575 (-0.993) 1’39.957 (-0.618)
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’41.683 1’40.781 (-0.902) 1’40.075 (-0.706)
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’41.420 1’40.473 (-0.947) 1’40.419 (-0.054)
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’40.693 1’40.477 (-0.216) 1’40.501 (+0.024)
5 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1’41.276 1’40.971 (-0.305) 1’40.542 (-0.429)
6 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1’41.631 1’40.931 (-0.700) 1’40.576 (-0.355)
7 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1’41.447 1’40.948 (-0.499) 1’40.997 (+0.049)
8 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’41.254 1’40.989 (-0.265) 1’41.015 (+0.026)
9 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’41.687 1’40.812 (-0.875) 1’41.068 (+0.256)
10 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1’41.884 1’40.852 (-1.032) 1’41.111 (+0.259)
11 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’41.397 1’41.093 (-0.304)
12 Paul di Resta Force India 1’41.676 1’41.133 (-0.543)
13 Jenson Button McLaren 1’41.817 1’41.200 (-0.617)
14 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1’41.692 1’41.279 (-0.413)
15 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1’41.365 1’41.395 (+0.030)
16 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1’41.862 1’41.447 (-0.415)
17 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1’41.999
18 Adrian Sutil Force India 1’42.051
19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1’43.252
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1’43.398
21 Charles Pic Caterham 1’43.528
22 Max Chilton Marussia 1’44.198

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Mark Webber 17.675 (1) 42.339 (1) 39.943 (6)
Sebastian Vettel 17.787 (3) 42.354 (2) 39.822 (2)
Nico Rosberg 17.880 (7) 42.641 (7) 39.804 (1)
Lewis Hamilton 17.729 (2) 42.401 (3) 39.909 (3)
Kimi Raikkonen 17.927 (12) 42.605 (5) 39.926 (5)
Nico Hulkenberg 17.863 (6) 42.520 (4) 40.193 (7)
Romain Grosjean 18.097 (17) 42.742 (11) 39.922 (4)
Felipe Massa 17.833 (5) 42.624 (6) 40.496 (13)
Sergio Perez 17.811 (4) 42.675 (8) 40.323 (9)
Daniel Ricciardo 17.891 (10) 42.711 (10) 40.250 (8)
Fernando Alonso 17.880 (7) 42.772 (12) 40.422 (12)
Paul di Resta 17.954 (15) 42.708 (9) 40.383 (11)
Jenson Button 17.886 (9) 42.779 (13) 40.535 (14)
Jean-Eric Vergne 17.949 (13) 42.827 (15) 40.337 (10)
Pastor Maldonado 17.950 (14) 42.827 (15) 40.535 (14)
Valtteri Bottas 17.910 (11) 42.901 (17) 40.628 (16)
Esteban Gutierrez 18.188 (19) 42.808 (14) 41.002 (18)
Adrian Sutil 18.096 (16) 42.992 (18) 40.963 (17)
Giedo van der Garde 18.241 (20) 43.491 (19) 41.307 (19)
Jules Bianchi 18.243 (21) 43.742 (21) 41.413 (20)
Charles Pic 18.123 (18) 43.682 (20) 41.639 (21)
Max Chilton 18.372 (22) 44.018 (22) 41.808 (22)

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Felipe Massa Ferrari 319.9 (198.8)
2 Jenson Button McLaren 318.0 (197.6) -1.9
3 Sergio Perez McLaren 318.0 (197.6) -1.9
4 Valtteri Bottas Williams 317.8 (197.5) -2.1
5 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 317.6 (197.3) -2.3
6 Pastor Maldonado Williams 317.4 (197.2) -2.5
7 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 317.1 (197.0) -2.8
8 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 316.9 (196.9) -3.0
9 Paul di Resta Force India 316.7 (196.8) -3.2
10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 316.5 (196.7) -3.4
11 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 316.3 (196.5) -3.6
12 Mark Webber Red Bull 315.6 (196.1) -4.3
13 Adrian Sutil Force India 315.4 (196.0) -4.5
14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 315.1 (195.8) -4.8
15 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 314.6 (195.5) -5.3
16 Jules Bianchi Marussia 312.5 (194.2) -7.4
17 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 311.5 (193.6) -8.4
18 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 311.2 (193.4) -8.7
19 Charles Pic Caterham 310.9 (193.2) -9.0
20 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 309.5 (192.3) -10.4
21 Romain Grosjean Lotus 309.4 (192.3) -10.5
22 Max Chilton Marussia 304.9 (189.5) -15.0

Over to you

Where do you think Raikkonen will finish following his penalty? And who will prevail in the battle of the Red Bulls?

Share your views on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the comments.

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Images ?? Lotus/LAT, Red Bull/Getty