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Ferrari triumph divides drivers after team orders

Ferrari’s Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen drives during the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Monaco street circuit, on May 28, 2017 in Monaco © AFP / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC

MONTE CARLO, Monaco, May 28 – Kimi Raikkonen’s grim face told a story of its own on Sunday when he finished second behind Sebastian Vettel in Ferrari’s one-two triumph at the Monaco Grand Prix.

While the four-time champion German joyously celebrated the 45th win of his career – and Ferrari’s first in Monte Carlo for 16 years — in a torrent of joyous words, the taciturn Finn fended off questions about the use of team orders.

Raikkonen, 37, the 2007 world champion, resisted all invitations to condemn Ferrari, but made clear he was unhappy to be deprived of a possible victory.

As the 29-year-old Vettel beamed with pleasure on the victor’s podium, his team-mate looked as if it was the last place he wanted to be.

After starting from pole position, he led comfortably until he was surprisingly called in for an early pit-stop that handed the initiative to Vettel who romped to the scarlet scuderia’s first win since the halcyon days of seven-time champion German Michael Schumacher in 2001.

The instruction to pit was from Ferrari in a bid to ‘under-cut’ the chasing pack — a tactic not usually used in Monaco, where the later ‘over-cut’ tactic of waiting to match a rival is regarded as more successful.

But he stopped short of saying his disappointment was a result only of the team’s overall pit-stop strategy.

“I was called in… That’s about it,” he said in his first terse response.

Later, under pressure from a series of questions by reporters at a post-race news conference, he added: “Obviously, they had reasons for it, but it is not up to me to answer.

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“I can stop the car if I like as I am driving it, but we work as a team and if you don’t believe what you have been told, or how it works, it will get very complicated.

“Today, as a team, we wanted a one-two. It happened, but for myself, I could have done better.

“I haven’t seen the big picture… I only know that we came second.”

Vettel denied that the team had any kind of pre-race plan to ensure that he was prioritized for victory because he carried the team’s hopes of winning the drivers’ championship.

Winner Ferrari’s German driver Sebastian Vettel (right) celebrates on the podium next to second placed Ferrari’s Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen after the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Monaco street circuit, on May 28, 2017 in Monaco © AFP / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC

His win carried him 25 points clear of three-time champion Briton Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, who finished seventh after starting from 13th on the grid.

“We couldn’t plan much,” said Vettel. “The plan was to pull away, but Valtteri (Bottas, of Mercedes) had good pace.

“I saw that Valtteri pitted and Kimi responded. I still had a bit of a gap and nothing to lose, so I pushed as hard as possible and in two laps, I surprised myself to pull open a gap and then I came out (of the pits) in front.”

Raikkonen added: “The team got a one-two, which is great for the team, but the rest… Until we have meetings and we can see all the graphs, I don’t know.”

In another interview, he told reporters: “I’m trying to figure out something that is impossible to know right now, at least from my side.

“It obviously wasn’t ideal to end up behind a lapped car – that’s something that definitely doesn’t help. But the end result is what it is.”

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Vettel now has 129 points after six rounds of this year’s 20-race championship ahead of Hamilton on 104.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo finished third for Red Bull behind the two Ferraris, pushing Finn Valtteri Bottas down to fourth in his Mercedes.

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