Ferrari hopes in tatters after tyre blunder

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Fuji Speedway, 2007 | Ferrari MediaFerrari harpooned their own drivers’ championship hopes with a major mistake at the start of today’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Following an instruction to all teams from the race stewards that they must start the race on full wet weather tyres, both the Ferraris began the race on intermediate rubber.

But even without the stewards’ order, surely full wet tyres was the only realistic option given the conditions?

Faced with heavy rain at the Japanese Grand Prix the stewards took the unusual step of ordering teams to use the full ‘extreme’ wet weather for the start of the race.

Renault’s Pat Symonds revealed the instruction was given unusually late – at 12.15 local time, a quarter of an hour after teams must set their fuel levels (on cars that qualified outside the top ten).

But Ferrari claimed sporting director Stefano Domenicali received the message even later – at 13.37.

Teams were warned they would be black-flagged if they did not start the race on full wet tyres. Ferrari were spared disqualification when they informed the steward had given them the message too late.

All the same, its somewhat surprising that Ferrari chose to start the race on intermediate tyres given how wet the track was.

It’s likely that they were expecting the race would not be started until the track had begun to dry – which is a tactic Ferrari have exploited before. But this time the rain stayed heavy and the track never dried.

Their drivers fell to the back of the field after the mistake and recovered to finish third (Raikkonen) and sixth (Massa). But Massa’s championship hopes are over and Raikkonen is now 17 points adrift with 20 available.

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