Former Williams tech boss Pat Symonds is at a loss to explain how Scuderia Ferrari allowed Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen to suffer the same mechanical failure as Sebastian Vettel in Malaysia. The German driver was barred from qualifying in Sepang by a sudden engine issue, only for his Scuderia team mate to suffer an identical breakdown the next day, on the grid, before the race even started!
Pat Symonds points to negligence in the Ferrari camp, insisting that the Italian squad should have double-checked the Finn’s car in the aftermath of Vettel’s demise. The end result was another double disaster which, right after Singapore’s catastrophic outcome and before another retirement in Japan, contributed to the virtual collapse of the team’s championship chances:
“When Vettel had the problem with the inlet manifold in qualifying in Malaysia you have to look at the other car and you have to say: ‘We’ve got to see if we’ve got that problem on the other car’. I might be wrong but it didn’t appear that happened and I do think Kimi’s problem was the same thing. If so, that’s completely unacceptable. I can imagine it to be true because I can imagine someone saying: ‘Oh, it can’t happen again, let’s not shout and scream.’ But what they should have said is: ‘I don’t care whose fault it is, let’s check and make sure everything is alright.'” – the former Chief Technical Officer at Williams Grand Prix Engineering said.
From the outside, a culture of fear appears to have taken hold at Ferrari. But Pat Symonds believes it’s useless to play the blame game, and advises the Scuderia to follow a methodology applied by the aircraft industry: “They don’t look for blame. They look at how to improve and people are very happy to report what they perceive to be a problem without any fear of being castigated for it. Reliability in a racing car must be treated in the same way; you need that kind of ‘black box’ thinking. You have got to be able to say: ‘I think there is a problem and I think we should do something about it.’ Even if you feel it is your fault, you should be able to react to it. You must be thorough.” – Pat Symonds concluded, as reported by the Italian media on Thursday.