Last weekend in Portugal, Kimi Raikkonen enjoyed one of the best race starts of his career as he moved up a massive 10 places in just a single lap. James Allison, Technical Director in Mercedes, revealed the secret behind the Finn’s unbelievable start.
In the video posted by Mercedes AMG, James explained how Kimi managed to get such a grip while the others around him struggled to even keep their cars on the track.
“So you saw some very dramatic, really skillful impressive work from, let’s say, Kimi where he drove practically through the whole field,” he said.
As predicted by everyone, James acknowledged the fact the blinding start had everything to do with the tire temperature. The fact that Kimi was almost at the back of the grid and was on the Soft tires gave him a clear advantage over the others.
“As a result of having these small temperature differences, which then just feedback positively over the subsequent corner.
“Because he is getting more and more grip building up faster and faster than the people who are having to tip-toe. Because their tires are a bit colder and not benefitting from this positive feedback.”
Kimi gave a hard fight to hold on to P6. But as the Softs started to grain and the Mediums started to work, the Finn was eventually pushed further and further behind.
Kimi had quite a normal start to the race and even lost a place to his teammate going into Turn 1. But then came the unexpected from the Iceman.
By this time, it was quite evident that the Finn managed to fire up his tires well enough to go after the cars ahead. To justify the statement, by Turn 3, he was already up to P14 by making a move on several drivers by going around the outside.
Then he got an extremely clean exit out of Turn 4 as he jumped up to P12 ahead of both Sebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez, who was on the grass following a collision. Kimi used the other Racing Point’s slipstream and got up to P11 before Turn 5 even arrived.
Unsurprisingly, with a decent amount of grip, he managed yet another clean exit out of Turn 5 and got his move done on Renault’s Esteban Ocon around the outside of Turn 7 as the Frenchman was still fighting to keep his car intact.
As the track coasted downwards into Turn 9, Kimi made his move on the AlphaTauri of Daniil Kvyat, again on the outside. Then it was time to hunt down Daniel Ricciardo, and he made his move on the Australian look so easy.
Eventually, through the final sections of the track, Kimi caught the big fishes, Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon, and reached P6.
But in the end, Alfa Romeo did not have enough pace to help Kimi fight for a Top-10 finish. However, the entire garage would still have enjoyed every bit of Kimi’s action over the first 5 laps.
Overall, with the race in Portugal showing how important tire temperatures are for race starts, could the fans be able to witness similar kind of starts in Imola considering the temperatures are expected to be similar to Portugal?