Kimi stands up for Hamilton

World champion defends his ailing rival

Kimi Raikkonen has come out in defence of Lewis Hamilton after the Brit was heavily criticised in the wake of the Bahrain GP.

A huge crash on Friday afternoon put Hamilton on the back foot for the remainder of the weekend and it showed in Sunday's grand prix.

Losing the aerodynamic bridge on his nosecone early in the race, Hamilton crashed into the back of Fernando Alonso's Renault a lap later. That sent him to the pits for the repairs, dropping him well down the order.

And his fight back was not what many had come to expect from the 23-year-old. He struggled to overtake slower cars and was even seen waving his fist undeservedly at another driver when frustration got the better of him.


His performance in Bahrain, which was his second poor race weekend this season, led to some condemnation of the McLaren driver.

"At the moment Lewis has absolutely not impressed me. I thought he would get better this year, but he has got worse. He is in pretty bad shape," said triple World Champion Niki Lauda.

However, Hamilton's main title rival, Raikkonen, has spoken out in his defense, saying it is the car and not the driver that is the problem.

"Lewis did not make many mistakes last year. This year they are not in as strong a position with the car," Raikkonen told the Daily Mirror.

"Maybe it makes it more difficult when you do not have such a good package and you try to push more and more - especially during a race when your weekend has not been as good."


As for his own season Raikkonen is delighted to have the early lead in the Drivers' standings. The Finn took control of the championship in Bahrain two weeks ago, grabbing a three-point lead over BMW's Nick Heidfeld.

"After three races, I am leading the championship and after three races last year I wasn't, so I am very happy," said Raikkonen.

"Last year was tough for me. I was in a new team and you had to expect a learning curve. The first year was difficult as it takes time to get used to people.

"It is now much easier as they know what I want and I know what they want. Everything is very smooth and everything is improving.

"So far it has been very good. I go into every race expecting to win, but any one of six drivers from the three teams (Ferrari, McLaren and BMW) can do well. We are pretty fast at the moment, but let's see what happens."