Although the reigning Constructors’ champions leave Melbourne with another 1-2 finish, Ferrari looked like a genuine threat after Raikkonen and team-mate Sebastian Vettel rocketed past Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the start.
Ferrari’s strong pace did not fully translate into the final standings though. Vettel built a nice lead but ultimately fell foul of Maranello’s aggressive tyre strategy combined with the race neutrisation that followed a huge shunt between Fernando Alonso Esteban Gutierrez
“Like I already said after qualifying, I don’t think the time difference you saw on Saturday was real,” Raikkonen said. “Mercedes did an extra run compared to us and the conditions were pretty cold, so we struggled a bit with warming up the tyres. We already knew we should be OK after testing.
“People went crazy because of the lap time difference in qualifying. We had very odd circumstances and conditions, so today was more or less what we expected. Today was a more normal day with warmer conditions and the cars were running OK.”
“I think that speed wise we were pretty good but then there was the red flag...
“Obviously then we had an issue and that wasn’t very good, but that’s how it goes.”
Indeed, Raikkonen’s race came to an early end when the Finn was forced to pit on Lap 22 with flames coming out of his SF16-H’s airbox.
“The engine was still running OK but I lost power, so something else went wrong,” added the 2007 world champion.
Coming up next on the F1 calendar is the Bahrain Grand Prix, where the Finn enjoyed his best result of last year’s campaign with a second-place finish. Asked if he thought he could be even stronger there given his current package, the unflappable Raikkonen replied:
“We go to another race, we obviously have to work on certain things, improve and make sure we don’t have any issues. It’s a completely different circuit from [Melbourne], the conditions will be completely different too, but I don’t see why things should change an awful lot from here to there. Let’s wait and see what we can do.”