With his contract expiring, Finnish veteran Kimi Raikkonen has struggled at the wheel of the new red car, which in the hands of teammate Vettel has won two of the three races so far.
“I’ve spoken to Ferrari engineer Jock Clear and he said Kimi wants a car that is very sensitive to the first move made on the steering wheel,” former F1 driver Mika Salo told the Finnish broadcaster C More.
“Late last year, the car was the way Kimi wanted it and he beat Vettel on a regular basis,” he added.
But Mattia Binotto, Ferrari’s technical boss, played down that sort of simplistic analysis.
“I would not say so,” he is quoted as saying. “The car is good both in aerodynamics and engine, and both of our drivers are world champions.
“I am sure that very soon, Kimi will be able to do a good result,” Binotto added.
Championship leader Vettel also backed Raikkonen to bounce back this year.
“I don’t know,” said the German. “In the tests we were equally strong so generally I don’t have an answer and I don’t know what his problems have been.”
I’m pretty happy with SF70H now – Kimi
In 2017 F1 – Kimi has yet to secure pole position and the podium, but the Finn thinks he will be in the fusion for race victories again once some fine-tuning has been done.
“To be honest, it takes way too long,” Raikkonen said. “You know, we’re supposed to get it right straight away, and obviously we haven’t.
“A lot of reasons but it didn’t help last race [China], not driving the first day. At least when you’re going through some issues, you want to get track time.”
“I’m pretty happy with the car now,” Finn added. “I feel that we are doing the absolutely right things. And in the race [on Sunday] I felt the car was very good, but I made a mess in the first lap, putting ourselves in a difficult position.”
“It’s just the small things now, in the big picture we are pretty much where we want to be – it’s just that we need to fine-tune a few things. I don’t think it’s the big things but obviously, it has cost us. [It’s] taking too long, but nobody to complain [to], it’s my job.
“Overall, yes, we are much happier with the things, but I cannot be very happy with the result even this weekend. It’s all big picture – when you look, it’s been disappointing.”