Kimi Raikkonen bounced back from a dramatic flash fire in the Interlagos pitlane to secure vital points for Ferrari in the Brazilian GP as the Scuderia
retained hope of securing third in the constructors' championship.
Raikkonen made a storming start to the race to jump up to third at the first corner but then touched the rear of Mark Webber's Red Bull going into turn four and damaged the front wing on his F60.
Having recovered to the pits, Raikkonen then found himself involved in a dramatic fire when the McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen – who had pitted following a spin at turn two – pulled away from its pit box with the fuel hose still attached.
Raikkonen was covered with fuel from the McLaren hose which briefly caught fire, although the flames were quickly extinguished and the Finn was able to continue despite admitting that his eyes had been burning following the incident.
Running on a different strategy to many of the cars around him as a result of the early stop, Raikkonen was able to battle back up to sixth place although he admitted that he had hoped for more.
“What happened on the first lap ruined my race,” he said. “First I was hit at the first corner, then when trying to pass Webber, I was hit and lost the front wing. At the pit stop, I ended up with some drops of petrol in my eye, from the fuel line stuck on Kovalainen's car and then I was engulfed in flames and blinded: I was going to stop, but luckily the flames soon went out. Even now, my eyes are still burning, but I'm alright.
“After the restart, I could only try and use the strategy to move up the order and at least I brought home a few points. I am disappointed because today I'm sure we could have made it to the podium. There is one race to go: let's see what we can do in Abu Dhabi to get back that third place [from McLaren].”
McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh insisted Kovalainen was blameless for the pitlane incident, which occurred when the lollypop holding the car was lifted early, and promised that a full investigation into the incident would take place.
“Heikki would have scored points, had he not been delayed by a pitlane incident in which he was blameless, caused by human error,” he said. “Fortunately, no-one was hurt in the incident and we were quickly able to effect the back-up rig ahead of both drivers' second stops.
“Once we get all the video footage back to Woking, we'll perform a forensic investigation, in 'slow time', to establish exactly what happened. Until we've done that, it's impossible for us to comment on the incident with any precision.”