Raikkonen's race handicapped by 'pretty bad damage'

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari SF71H. 07.10.2018.
© XPB 

Kimi Raikkonen said that it was impossible to tell if he would have been able to challenge the Mercedes drivers in the Japanese Grand Prix, because his car had been too badly damaged at the start.

Raikkonen made contact with Max Verstappen as the Red Bull returned to the track after running off at the chicane on the opening laps. It was a hefty impact that compromised the SF71H's performance for the rest of the afternoon.

"After the contact with Max I saw some parts flying off my car; it was damaged pretty badly," he explained afterwards.

“I lost quite a bit of downforce and there isn’t much more you can do after that, unfortunately. It’s quite a sensitive area where we got hit so after that it was pretty difficult.

"Obviously, this affected negatively the rest of my race. What happened is unfortunate and after that it was pretty difficult to drive on.

"How much it got damaged on the left hand side, it's far from ideal," he added. "It was I that got the worst out of it. What can you do?"

Raikkonen had no doubt that the blame for the incident rested entirely with Verstappen, who was handed a five second penalty by the race stewards.

“I tried to go outside and leave him as much room as possible," Raikkonen explained. "He came from off the track, over the grassy kerb part, so maybe he couldn’t turn more or just ended up there."

Raikkonen had started the race in fourth place but finished one place back in fifth after being jumped by Verstappen's team mate Daniel Ricciardo during the pit stops.

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari on the grid.

It suggested that the Ferrari might not have had the race pace to beat Red Bull at Suzuka. But whether that's a true reflection of the car's late season performance or just an indication of the damage sustained at the start is a tricky question.

"Without being able to do really any laps with a normal car, it’s impossible to say," he said. "We had improved the car over the weekend, it was getting better and better, but unfortunately this is what we have got today.

"It’s been a difficult and poor weekend overall," he admitted. "The result is not ideal. Now we need to look deeply on everything and hopefully we’ll come back at the next race on a more normal situation where we’ll be able to fight."

At leat it meant that when it comes to analysing what Ferrari had to do in future to avoid the same outcome as Suzuka, Raikkonen had a simple answer: "We'll deal with that - no more crashes!"

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