Italian Grand Prix 2018
In all probability, there could have only been one between the two outcomes at Monza’s all-important qualifying on Saturday.
There were high hopes of seeing a gold of a performance from the Silver Arrows, and to that end, it did look certain when Hamilton, in the final moments of qualifying set the fastest-lap.
At this finite moment, Mercedes’ fans would’ve been overjoyed and Ferrari’s hearts would’ve sunk.
For a fraction of a second, it was clear, Lewis was on the pole.
The other probability, that of Monza being painted all red by the Ferrari’s, the likelihood of which seemed more certain, saw Kimi Raikkonen, not Sebastian Vettel stun hundreds and thousands of those in attendance.
Coming out of nowhere and blasting a sensational 1:19:119, Kimi Raikkonen produced the fastest-ever lap witnessed in the history of Formula 1. This meant that he broke the long-standing record held by former Williams-Toyota driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, who set the fastest-lap record way back in 2004.
Just last week, there were expectations from Kimi to lap it up at Spa-Francorchamps, where despite being the quickest in the second qualifying run, he would endure some complications that hurt his qualifying result.
But, at Monza, there was but one ruler.
The driver wore a red cape of sorts, so to speak.
In proving just why he’s called the Iceman of Formula 1, Raikkonen, amid the resouding rumours of 2018 possibly being his final season in the sport, proved a damp squip for those who undermined him.
Is another Ferrari deal in the pipeline- you couldn’t be blamed for thinking.
And whether you were a besotted fan stunned by the ‘Iceman’s’ craft or divided over Raikkonen’s abilities, there was just one sentiment that reverberated over Monza, a perennial favourite among many fans.
Could there have been a better way for Kimi to prove he was still as good as he’s often touted to be?
In clinching his maiden pole for 2018, his first since Monaco 2017, Raikkonen corrected some wrongs.
As the oldest driver on the grid and someone, who in the past, has been labelled ‘laggard’, by none other than the late Ferrari boss, Sergio Marchionne, Raikkonen, a man of few words, did have a lot riding on him.
Despite bagging a sensational 8 podiums this year, resulting including imperious runs at Silverstone, Hockenheim, Spielberg and La Castellet, there were questions raised over Kimi’s own qualifying form.
To that end, it had honestly been lacklustre, the Finn failing to put his car right at the front of the grid.
Who knew that Monza would correct a lot many woes?
As Kimi put his Ferrari right on top at Monza, the home race for the Scuderia, he not only beat Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
But he also out-paced his own teammate, Sebastian Vettel, who, in this business-end of the current championship has been hailed for producing some phenomenal drives, an example of which one saw at Spa, just the last weekend.
In so doing, Raikkonen helped assuage some of Ferrari’s damp form at its own race track, wherein the last that the Scuderia managed won came courtesy a special win by Alonso, in 2010.
It had been 8 long years since the Scuderia managed to breathe into the clean air of Monza from the top of qualifying. Raikkonen, as Arrivabene would note, should be thanked for correcting a major statistical blip.
But that said, in his own words, Raikkonen, phlegmatic as ever, appeared to throw caution to the winds.
In saying, “The job is only half done,” the intent to win seems to be there in Raikkonen’s measured words and stance, the Finn appearing rather cool or should it be said, sedate despite a flying lap.
Ferrari locks front row
As it’s all to play for at Monza, Ferrari has locked out the front row. This means trailing Raikkonen would be current number two on the standings, Vettel who will begin just ahead of the title-leader, Lewis Hamilton.
That said, bring on the five lights. There’s much to happen over the course of the 53 laps. Whether Kimi goes on to convert his eighteenth pole into his twenty-first win is a matter of time and something that rests in the lap of the imminent future.
But what doesn’t however, is that this Kimster isn’t ‘Finnished yet.!
Some vital numbers that matter at Monza:
Should Vettel win, it will be his fourth win at Monza, tying him with Lewis
Should Lewis win, it will be his fifth win, the most for a driver ever at Monza, tied with Schumacher
Should Raikkonen win, he will collect his first-ever win at Monza
Noted drivers who haven’t yet finished on the podium at Monza:
Daniel Ricciardo (RBR)
Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)
Max Verstappen (RBR)