Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen has called the Chinese Grand Prix “painful” after finishing third from the front row of the grid.

An extra long first stint for Raikkonen put him sixth after the pit stop. With fresh tyres and aided by contact ahead of him, Raikkonen managed to recover to third, but it was far from idea for the Ferrari, which looked dominant on Saturday.

“It was quite a painful race and not a very enjoyable one,” said Raikkonen.

“At the start, I had a good jump, but then I had to back off and this cost me a few places. After the pit stop the car was pretty fast and feeling good; at that point we were behind but I could see the other cars at the end of the straight.

“The safety car helped us. At the time we had fresh tyres. I would say it took us back in the race.”

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Raikkonen was able to close the gap to Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages of the race, eventually finishing 0.743s behind the Mercedes. He believes he had the faster car, but couldn’t run close enough to Bottas to make the pass.

“In the end, I had decent speed with the mediums against the guys that were on the same tyres, but getting close to them and trying to follow was really tricky,” he said.

“For sure, we were faster than Valtteri but when you get close it becomes more difficult. You lose so much grip in the process and lose so much downforce, especially in this kind of circuit. I just couldn’t get a run on him.

“Today, we take the third place, but obviously when you start from the first row it’s far from ideal. We’ll try to do better next time.”

Despite the disappointment, Raikkonen’s second podium of the season was enough to keep him fifth in the championship, though he is now 24 points behind team-mate Sebastian Vettel.