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GP Week : Issue 180
Fernando Alonso retired from the Malaysian Grand Prix after a gamble on front wing damage went very wrong. Kimi Raikkonen made a similar gamble in Shanghai on Sunday, and wound up adding a second-place trophy to his airport baggage allowance. The Lotus driver damaged his wing in an incident with McLaren’s Sergio Perez, who appeared to be doing his best to force the 2007 world champion off the road. “I got the better run out of Turn 3 and was on the outside on that little kink through to corner four,” the Finnish racer said in the post-race press conference. “I thought that he would leave me enough space but he just pushed me off the circuit. I tried to avoid him but there was first grass and then the kerb and then the kerb saved me, I got grip but I couldn’t slow down and I hit him at the rear. I don’t know if he didn’t see me or what happened, but there was no way for me to avoid him any more because I was there next to it and I ran out of road.” Given that the missing bits of bodywork did not appear to be having a negative effect on their driver’s pace or grip, the brains on the Lotus pit wall elected to adjust Raikkonen’s front wing in the pit stops, rather than change it. “We were lucky in some ways because no structural parts were touched – just aerodynamic ones,” Lotus team principal Eric Boullier revealed after the race. “It's clear that he lost a little bit of balance on the car so he had to adjust a little bit his driving to not destroy the front tyres, but it's difficult to quantify how much.” After the race, Raikkonen revealed that he was impressed by the durability of the E21 – despite the damage, his handling was consistent and he was one of the winners of what became a four-way battle for the Shanghai podium. “There’s no way to tell or not how much the front wing damage affected the whole race but obviously the car is not designed like that so it’s not going to help,” Raikkonen said. “But I cannot tell you if it’s a tenth or half a second per lap. I was surprised how good the car was, even with quite a lot of damage. It was unfortunate, but I think we also have to be a bit lucky not to lose more. Hopefully next race we can have a normal race and be up there again fighting for a win. “I wanted to change [my front wing] and wasn’t sure if they changed it because... I think they looked at the wing at the first pit stop, but they probably thought that it would take too long or – I don’t know really. I haven’t talked to them yet. Also, the reason why they probably didn’t change it was that the car was reasonably OK, I could still overtake people.” WINGING IT – sometimes it works F1 >>> CHINA 12 GPWEEK.com // 12 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: