Scuderia Ferrari has been handed a €5,000 fine by the FIA Stewards for its unsafe release of Kimi Räikkönen following the Finn’s third pit stop at the United States Grand Prix.
The 2007 World Champion was locked in a battle for fourth position with teammate Sebastian Vettel before making his final visit to the pits on Lap 39, however he ground to a halt just metres past the pit exit when it emerged that he had a cross-threaded wheel nut on his right rear wheel.
“The green light came on and, of course, once the green light came on I went,” Räikkönen explained to the media after the race.
“We obviously have to look into it. I noticed afterwards that there were some sparks coming out and I asked if it was all OK [over the radio] and was told it was something with the wheel gun. It wasn’t [feeling] 100 per cent how it should be, so we had to stop. We have to investigate and understand [what happened], so hopefully we can change whatever needs to be changed for the future.”
While Vettel went on to finish in fourth place and Ferrari’s gap to Red Bull Racing in its Constructors’ Championship fight for second place stretched to 53 points, Räikkönen was puzzled at the team’s loss of pace compared to its form shown in Japan just a fortnight ago.
“Obviously we’ve seen a lot of differences from circuit to circuit and from different conditions,” he explained.
“Here the first sector looks very similar to Japan’s first sector, so it must be the conditions, why suddenly weren’t as close as we were two weeks ago. I can’t really answer that, I don’t think we know why it’s been so much different between different circuits and different races.
“Obviously if we would know it would be an awful lost easier to fix it, but the car balance has been quite good but we just need more grip to go faster. We know roughly where we’re losing to Mercedes and Red Bull but to be able to do that is just pure grip, that’s all.”
Räikkönen ran a mix of Super Soft and Soft tyre compounds over the course of his race until retiring, and complained that he couldn’t get to grip with the Soft Pirelli compound in race conditions.
“[On] Friday we ran with both and it felt pretty similar but today, for whatever reason, it was far from the same,” he continued.
“I couldn’t really get the grip with the Softs, even with a new set of tyres, I never really had the grip I had with the Super Soft [tyres]. Then when we went back to the Super Softs for the third stint, it was back to normal and the car was actually pretty OK.
“It was a bit surprising as I expected quite a bit more from that compound, but sometimes it’s like that. Obviously that didn’t help [matters] but the end result doesn’t change.”
Image via Scuderia Ferrari