Kimi Raikkonen was left pleased with his third-place finish in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix after a Safety Car period saved his race, having initially been sacrificed to aid Ferrari Formula 1 teammate Sebastian Vettel’s victory bid.

Raikkonen narrowly missed out on pole position to Vettel on Saturday, qualifying second, but dropped to fourth on the opening lap behind Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

As Vettel lost the lead to Bottas during the pit stops, Ferrari decided to keep Raikkonen out in the hope he would back the Finn up towards his teammate, sacrificing his strategy in the process.

Raikkonen was powerless to stop Bottas from passing and looked set to finish sixth after pitting, only for a Safety Car to draw him close to the lead pack again, with a pass on Lewis Hamilton and incidents involving Verstappen and Vettel allowing him to finish third.

“I think we made a good start and then got, unfortunately, blocked a bit and passed in the first corners. I struggled a little bit following people in the beginning,” Raikkonen said.

“On my own I wasn’t too bad, but far from ideal at the start of the race and then obviously we stayed very long out. A little bit of luck with the safety car. I had good speed on the Mediums but in the end we would have needed the Soft tyres to really go for it.

“But I think I was kind of OK in the end, but once I got close I had much more speed than Valtteri but once you get close it’s so difficult to follow people, to get a good run you need much better tyres to get that proper run and you can kind of offset yourself.

“But I’ll take what I got, because at one point, it didn’t look good at all.”

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