Kimi Raikkonen says giving Ferrari Formula 1 team-mate Sebastian Vettel a tow in Belgian Grand Prix qualifying was his own idea, not a team strategy.
Kimi Raikkonen has reacted angrily to the suggestion that Ferrari told him to give Sebastian Vettel a tow in qualifying for the the Belgian Grand Prix.
Raikkonen ruined his Q3 session by making a mistake and will line up from P4 on the grid in Sunday’s race as a result.
Raikkonen had looked the stronger of the Ferrari drivers in practice, as he headed Vettel in all three sessions and after the first runs in the final qualifying segment.
But Raikkonen made a mistake during his last attempt in the pole shootout and aborted his lap, instead giving a tow to his team-mate.
Vettel ended up on the front row alongside the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and half a second up on Raikkonen, who was demoted to fourth by Valtteri Bottas.
“Don’t try to make a funny, stupid story,” said Raikkonen when quizzed assisting Vettel.
“I had a mistake, I was coming back. If I can help our team, I will do it.
“It cost me nothing because I was coming in the pitlane.
“I knew he was behind me, so I sped up and tried to help him on the straight. It’s as simple as that.”
While Vettel said his car felt significantly better on the final Q3 run, he also conceded the tow from Raikkonen helped.
“I had a little bit of a light front end, especially through sector two with the medium-speed, high-speed corners,” Vettel said.
“I was lacking a little bit of response, but on the last lap the car was more alive. Immediately I could feel it turning into Turn 1 [La Source].
“Also I admit I was a bit lucky with Kimi, who had to abort the lap, and he gave me a very, very nice tow – which I think made it a bit more comfortable with Valtteri.”
Vettel agreed it was not part of a team plan.
“He obviously wanted to finish that lap but when he did the mistake, and because of where we were positioned, I guess he saw a red car in the mirrors and thought ‘I would hand him a tow’, which was quite nice and obviously quite useful for me,” he said.
“It wasn’t planned. I saw some other teams playing around with tows, previously in qualifying, but usually it is one of those things that you can’t plan, so you tend to stay away from it.
“I think it was very spontaneous.”
Though Hamilton was 0.262 seconds clear in qualifying, Vettel believes Ferrari can challenge Mercedes in race trim.
Asked about the long-run pace, he said: “So far it has been looking pretty good, so I hope we can keep it up.
“The car on one lap, I thought all weekend it’s a bit trickier to get it all together. Consecutive laps, high fuel, I felt really good, so let’s see what we can do with strategy tomorrow as well.
“For sure Mercedes will be quick, but we don’t have to hide. We’re on the front row for a reason, we have the speed, and we should have it as well in the race.”