Kimi Raikkonen’s retirement from this afternoon’s European Grand Prix will cause his supporters to lament his misfortune once again.
But others might be wondering if there is a grain of truth in the rumours that the Finn is much harder on his machinery than his rivals.
Raikkonen’s bid for the championship in 2005 while driving for McLaren was badly hurt by unreliability. But on at least one occasion there was the suggestion that Raikkonen had as much himself to blame as the car.
The Finn held a commanding lead in the San Marino Grand Prix that year when, after only nine laps, the CV joint failed on his MP4/20.
It emerged later that McLaren had warned Raikkonen not to use the Imola kerbs too aggressively, but that advice had not been heeded. Team mate Wurz brought the car home third.
Germany has been particularly cruel to Raikkonen – engine failure while leading at the Nurburgring in 2003, wing failure while chasing Michael Schumacher at the Hockenheimring in 2004, and that infamous suspension collapse while leading on the final lap at the Nurburgring in 2005.
But there’s no ignoring the fact that latter failure was also caused by his driving, repeatedly locking the front right wheel, creating a large flat spot the vibrations from which prompted the collapse.
Having switched to Ferrari this year Raikkonen has had two race-ending mechanical failures at Spain and today at the Nurburgring. Plenty has been written about the Finn’s disinterest in debriefings and testing, and it doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to suppose that his ‘arrive and drive’ attitude means his mechanical sympathy isn’t as good as it could be?
There could be another explanation: Ferrari have, of course, removed Nigel Stepney from his position at the team, and he was widely credited with having improved Ferrari’s production and quality control processes, improving their reliability.
So perhaps Raikkonen is instead a victim of timing and fortune?
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