Scuderia Ferrari Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen has taken a five-place grid penalty following repairs to his car after a crash in FP3 which sees the 2007 Formula One world champion start a frustrating P11 which he fears will mean a struggle to reach the front-runners at Suzuka on Sunday.
The Maranello team has endured a tricky last three races, with Kimi Raikkonen in particular suffering a lap one DNF in Singapore and a front row DNS in Malaysia despite generally strong qualifying performances. Relegated to the fifth row to start in Suzuka Raikkonen says grid penalties are costly for a mistake in free practice: “It was my mistake and I paid quite a hefty price for it with the penalty and, obviously, with a far from ideal preparation for qualifying. But that’s how it goes.” – the Finnish driver explained at the end of the qualifying session ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.
Compared to two strong qualifying performances in Singapore and Malaysia, even without the penalty, Kimi Raikkonen only achieved P6, which he blamed on uncertainty around the tyres, as well as his own mistakes. Compromised running meant that he lacked confidence in the car, “The first run was far from ideal and in the second I wasn’t really sure how much grip there would be, because I didn’t have a great feeling in the first run. But it’s a bit tricky after the mistake that I did then obviously not really knowing where we should be.”
Kimi Raikkonen said the wet FP2 plus damp FP3 and qualifying meant that it will be difficult to prepare for tomorrow’s race which is expected to be run in dry conditions, especially at a track with such high tyre degradation in fast corners: “I think the biggest issue was the very limited running we had because of the issue this morning. In places like this where everything has got to be right for you to go fast, especially in the first sector, you pay a big price. Obviously it’s not an ideal starting position but we should have a good car so we’ll see what happens.” – Kimi Raikkonen concluded, as reported by the Italian media on Saturday.