When Romain Grosjean made a small mistake in the penultimate corner late in the Korean Grand Prix, teammate Kimi Raikkonen pounced like the opportunistic tiger he is to snatch second position from his grasp.
Fair enough, you may say. Raikkonen has always been a racer and a great passer, and a leopard never changes its spots—or a tiger its stripes.
But it was clear from the radio exchanges between Grosjean and his trackside operations director Alan Permane that the Frenchman felt aggrieved that he was not allowed his place back. He had been running a strong second until the late safety-car period and was still clearly the faster Lotus but for his mistake.
What’s more, earlier in the season the situation had been reversed with Grosjean having been ordered to let the faster Raikkonen pass in Britain and Germany.
"He was annoyed – and justifiably," Permane told Autosport. "We have let Kimi past him a couple of times this year, and those have been with good reason when we have had a shot of overtaking.”
"We did it at the Nurburgring where we thought Kimi had a shot of beating [Sebastian] Vettel, and we did it at Silverstone midway through the race when Kimi was much quicker. But there wasn't a realistic chance of beating Vettel today and that is why they were racing to the end. Romain was probably frustrated with himself, and that is why I put a little message out at the end to calm him down.”
In Germany and Britain, Raikkonen was still very much in with a shout of cutting his points deficit to Vettel in the fight for the championship. Now, 105 points adrift, his chances are over.
It’s also clear that Raikkonen is the undoubted team leader at Lotus. He has been the quicker and more consistent driver. Plus he is the elder statesman with one world title already under his belt and commands respect.
Were Lotus right to tell Romain Grosjean to keep racing for position?
It may well have caused even more of a ruckus from Raikkonen had he been ordered to let Grosjean pass again after his overtake.
With only five races remaining on the calendar and Vettel romping away with the title, racing really should be racing at this stage of the season.
And behind the runaway train that is the German’s Red Bull, I would be very surprised if any fans would not at least want to see some interesting scraps behind to liven up their Sunday afternoons.