Kimi Raikkonen was at a loss to explain why his hopes of a points’ finish in the opening round of the 2020 F1 World Championship went awry after suffering a bizarre incident that result in his right-front wheel coming off entirely.

On a trying weekend for the Alfa Romeo team, Raikkonen was out-qualified by less experienced team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi, but was running ahead of him at the time of the retirement on lap 55 of 71.

By that stage both Alfa Romeos were running inside the points, albeit mostly as a result of a high attrition rate than outright speed, before the Alfa Romeo expired by pinging its wheel from its tethers to embark on a high-speed excursion before collecting the barrier and coming to a halt.

“Obviousl,y it was a bit surprising, because we’d been some three laps behind the Safety Car, it was all normal and, suddenly, on the re-start the wheel came off. It was not ideal, of course, and I was pretty surprised.

“[The wheel] was OK for two laps or more, when we were behind the Safety Car but as we started to speed up, on the second from last corner I first thought I had got too close to the car in front and was losing downforce but then, suddenly, the wheel came off. I have no idea why that happened, and why it took that long to come off.

Reflecting on the weekend as a whole, Raikkonen feels Alfa Romeo were more competitive in race trim than over a single lap, but otherwise has work to do, much like its parent company Ferrari.

“I think we were a bit more competitive in the race than Saturday but, as I said, we were a bit unlucky with the Safety Car after our first stop but, in the end, we were still in a good position to score points, with the new tyres, but on the res-start we lost the wheel and that was it. I was not expecting it and it wasn’t the first weekend we wanted.

 

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