Barcelona Day 6: Why did Raikkonen crash?
[See image gallery at www.grandprix247.com] Ferrari are not saying much beyond their pit garage at Circuit de Catalunya, allowing their new car to do the talking on track instead as they enter the new season with what appears to be a very strong package – the only blight on their six days of testing being Kimi Raikkonen’s crash on Wednesday.
The Reds have been among the top three on all six days, and twice ending the day top of the timing screens. In addition the Ferrari SF70H has run like clockwork, not missing a beat and showing bullet proof reliability – and they have yet to venture out on Pirelli Super Soft or Ultra Soft tyres.
Sebastian Vettel and Raikkonen have racked up 636 laps during the first half dozen days in Spain, only bettered by Mercedes. The power unit has been in the car since the first day and is expected to remain bolted to the car until the last day.
So what happened on day six?
Raikkonen only managed 53 laps on the day, comparatively low for the Reds, not aided by a hydraulic issue that cost them 90 minutes of track time.
Then, during the afternoon stint, the veteran Finn lost the rear-end of the SF70H through Turn 3, skidded over the gravel and ended up in the wall with damage to the front left of the car.
Raikkonen had just left the pits with a set of Medium tyres, when suddenly he lost the backend at around 240 km/h through the fast Curva Renault.
Eye witnesses at the scene said that the Ferrari appeared to snap out of control without warning. No oversteer or gradual loss of the rear, just a sudden loss of control as the front end swapped sides with the back of the car.
This comes as no surprise as both Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton have observed that when the back loses grip, the loss of control is sudden.
Ricciardo said recently, “If the rear tyres lose grip, trying to catch it is almost impossible.”
Thus it can be concluded that Raikkonen was probably pushing a tad too hard, the rear lost grip and the rest is history. No big deal.
Ferrari reported the mishap on Twitter:
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) March 8, 2017
The incident is unlikely to perturb Ferrari as they continue to gobble up the mileage and develop the car for the season opener in Melbourne at the end of the month.
And Mercedes are wary and impressed by how Ferrari appear to have taken a significant step forward during the past winter.
Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have suggested that Ferrari are the team to beat, with team chairman Niki Lauda echoing the sentiments.
The F1 legend told Auto Motor und Sport, “Ferrari looks the fastest. The car is like a board. Our Mercedes is a little tighter in the corners.”
“They’re going through their test program as we’ve done in recent years. Ferrari is on top of my list,” added Lauda.
Is Ferrari going to seriously challenge Mercedes for the title this year? Should Mercedes be worried? Or is this another false dawn for the reds? Share your thoughts…