2012 Malaysian Grand Prix: Five place grid penalty for Kimi Raikkonen
Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen has been handed a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox after the second practice session on day 1 of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend. As a result of this penalty, Raikkonen would be demoted five spots in the grid for Sunday’s race. This would certainly hamper Raikkonen’s chances of finishing on the podium at Sepang on Sunday.
2007 F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen, who is making a comeback to Formula 1 this season after a two year absence, finished seventh in the season opener at Melbourne. It was during this race that Raikkonen’s gearbox overheated when his car went off track for a while. However, Raikkonen managed to finish the race without any gearbox failure. The same gearbox was used by Lotus-Renault during the practice sessions at Sepang. Raikkonen’s times weren’t up to the mark. Moreover, the initial idea of using the same gearbox for the entire race distance was a huge risk to take. Hence, Lotus took the decision to change the gearbox after the second practice session despite being aware of the consequences.
Kimi Raikkonen had a dismal outing on Friday at Sepang. While his 7th position during Practice 1 might seem satisfactory, he was atleast a second slower than the fastest car in that session. During the second session, his timings went further downhill as he struggled with his car throughout. He finished a dismal 15th in the second session which prompted the team to take a look at the faulty gearbox.
After two disappointing practice sessions, Raikkonen said,
“It was probably not the best day. It was difficult to find the balance. We have some work to do on the set-up side. The long run was OK, but at the end the car was undriveable. We had some issues with the KERS too.”
The Lotus team tweeted:
A bit more work for Kimi’s crew this evening.An issue with Kimi’s gearbox so we’re changing it now.
— Lotus F1 Team (@Lotus_F1Team) March 23, 2012
Lotus F1 team have taken the shrewd decision of going for a new gearbox rather than using a structurally damaged older one and risking retirement during the race. With may tipping the Lotus to perform well at Sepang, can Raikkonen overcome this adversity and show his mettle on his second race since coming back? We will get the answer on Sunday.