By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Kimi Raikkonen’s hopes to challenge Mercedes and deliver Ferrari’s first win of the season have taken a hit as he will drop from third on the Japanese Grand Prix grid to eighth place as a result of an unscheduled gearbox change.
The 36-year-old Finn showed surprising pace in qualifying to take third place, bettering teammate Sebastian Vettel who ended up fourth but had a three-place grid penalty for causing a collision in Malaysia last weekend.
However, Ferrari had to change Raikkonen’s gearbox ahead of the race, which carries a five-place grid penalty.
“The gearbox of car number 07, driver Kimi Räikkönen, was replaced for a new one,” FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer said in a statement.
“The gearbox has been replaced with the approval of the FIA technical delegate following a written request from the team concerned (requested on 09 October 2016 at 09:04 hours), this being in accordance with Article 34.2 of the 2016 Formula One Sporting Regulations.
“The gearbox change was before the six consecutive Events expired. Therefore this is not in compliance with Article 23.6a of the 2016 Formula One Sporting Regulations and I am referring this matter to the stewards for their consideration.”
With penalties to both Ferrari drivers now served, the Red Bull Racing duo of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo will occupy row two on the grid.