Was Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya quite as close as the result seemed to suggest, with Kimi Raikkonen finishing 3.2s ahead of his team-mate Felipe Massa, who in turn led Lewis Hamilton home by 0.9s as the Englishman beat Robert Kubica to the line by 1.5s? Not according to Raikkonen.
The Finn said he was in cruise mode as he headed for the chequered flag, and that he could have gone faster had he needed to. That news will not be welcomed by either McLaren Mercedes or BMW Sauber, neither of whom appear to have made quite the progress against Ferrari that they had hoped to after introducing new technical packages specifically for this race. Their fastest laps were still two-to-four-tenths of a second slower than Ferrari’s.
Hamilton sought to put the most positive spin on his third place. “The Ferraris were extremely quick and we had a feeling they were a little bit lighter,” he said. “They have a slight edge at the moment, and again looked after their rear tyres a bit better than we did. But I’m really happy with the balance of our car and was able to maintain quite a good balance and pace.
“It’s amazing how close all the cars are, it’s impressive that all the teams are so close. Every time I looked in the mirrors, Robert (Kubica) was always in the same place, pushing hard after me.
“We did a good job today, but there are areas where we definitely need to improve, but it’s comforting to know that we are relatively close to Ferrari.”
Massa appeared to share Hamilton’s belief that the two teams are not that far apart.
“We did our homework and brought two Ferraris home in front and that’s very important for the championship,” the Brazilian said. “The car looks (to be going) more in the right direction, so let’s keep working and improving, as our competitors were close in qualifying and the race. We must work like crazy in the factory to improve the car in all areas.”
Raikkonen poured some cold water on his rivals’ optimism, however, when he said: “For sure we could have run a bit faster, but (there is) no point to push when you don't need to. It was closer than we expected, but we had the speed all weekend."
Ferrari have won the last two races at Istanbul Park, scene of the Turkish Grand Prix which is the next destination on F1’s world tour. "I think our car should be quite strong there and it is a great circuit,” the world champion added. “I am looking forward to going there and doing the best we can. We had a great weekend here and we try and repeat it in Turkey, but whatever it brings, we need points and anything we get is always a bonus."
Last weekend the F1 teams agreed to the introduction of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) as planned next year, following attempts to delay the new technology for another season.
Team principal Ross Brawn said that his Honda team were opposed to any delay on KERS, which was proposed by FIA president Max Mosley as a means of ensuring that F1 had a greener image and was more relevant to roadcars, because they believe that the technology will be of great benefit to the cars they make for the man in the street.
"It's important for Honda and some of the other manufacturers because it's one of the technologies that has a nice link back into the roadcar technology," he said.