Kimi Raikkonen would not be drawn on whether Ferrari could bounce back from its Hungaroring frustration and take the fight to Red Bull for the honour of being second best to Mercedes at this weekend's German Grand Prix.
The Finn was involved in a heated scrap with Red Bull protégé Max Verstappen in Hungary before wing damage limited him to sixth spot, one position behind his young rival, while team-mate Sebastian Vettel took fourth, one place back from RBR's Daniel Ricciardo. While many in the paddock believe that Red Bull has now surpassed the Scuderia as the main challenger to Mercedes, Raikkonen wanted to wait and see the state of play as the Hockenheim weekend gets more serious.
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“We're more or less up there,” he said in his world-weary way, “There's some work to be done, but it's not too bad. There's not much to say about [the battle with Red Bull] after Friday, so let's see where we are tomorrow, after qualifying. It didn't look too bad. We always try to win, we want to be in front of everybody and we'll see tomorrow and Sunday where we stand. I think we will be okay. It wasn't too bad, we have some work to be done and I'm sure they know what but, from that side, it was normal.”
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Raikkonen ran a slightly different programme to Vettel throughout the day, and wound up three places and three-tenths behind the local favourite. Conditions were dry as the drivers got to grips with the Hockenheimring for the first time in two years, but with no meaningful data as the cars have evolved a lot in that time. Both Ferrari drivers used two sets of supersoft Pirellis in the morning, concentrating on set-up work while running different fuel levels., while Raikkonen also completed a long run on the softest compound in the afternoon, covering 45 laps with a best time of 1m 16.512s.
“We were happy this morning, but it wasn't too bad in the afternoon,” the Finn reported, “Obviously there's some work to be done, but we are there or thereabouts and now we need to work on a few things to improve for tomorrow. The supersoft is the softest tyre we have here, so it should always be the fastest, at least for one lap, but in terms of long runs, who knows? We know the warmer temperatures normally work better for us, but the temperatures is something we cannot change so let's see how it goes.
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