Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen both had major incidents during the third and final practice session for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.
After completing a soft tyre installation run over six laps, Valtteri Bottas crashed during his first hot lap on the supersoft tyres. The incident occurred on the exit of Turn 13, better known as ‘Spoon Curve.’
On-board cameras showed Bottas’ car understeering during the first part of the corner, and consequently the Finn lost control when he ran wide on to a damp section of astroturf when exiting the corner.
His car veered into the outside wall and grazed it lightly, damaging the right rear tyre and removing parts of the front wing.
“You try to use all the track available,” Bottas told Sky Italia directly after the incident. Luckily his car was still mostly intact, which meant Bottas could return it to the pit lane. However, the session was red-flagged due to the debris.
Although the car visually looked to be a quick fix, Mercedes later confirmed on Twitter that Bottas would not reappear in the session because the entire right rear corner of his car would have to be replaced.
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) October 7, 2017
The implication is that his car will be ready for qualifying, but this cannot be guaranteed. Unsurprisingly, Bottas did admit that the crash was his “mistake.”
His incident, however, was only one headline from the session as Kimi Raikkonen would also go on to crash, this time at Turn 9, better known as ‘Degner 2.’ The incident occurred just minutes after the session was restarted following Valtteri Bottas’ incident.
On-board cameras showed Kimi Raikkonen losing the rear of the car when entering the Spoon corner and the subsequent correction forced the Ferrari driver to run into the gravel on the outside of the corner.
Unfortunately, the run off area at Degner 2 is rather minimal because of a hill, and this meant Raikkonen had no where left to go other than the wall.
His front left tyre took the majority of the impact and the force did snap the suspension and steering column. Unlike Bottas’ crash, Raikkonen’s car could not get back to the pit lane.
The session was red flagged.
Earlier in the session, Raikkonen’s team mate, Sebastian Vettel, ran wide at the exact same corner. Although he also took to the gravel run off area, Vettel was able to miss the wall.
Currently, Ferrari have not confirmed if Kimi Raikkonen’s car will be fixed before qualifying. Because the marshals recovered the car, Ferrari’s mechanics will only be able to begin their work at the end of Free Practice 3.
This leaves them with just two hours to fix any damage before qualifying, which will begin at 3pm local time.