There was no question that as he lined up in second place on the grid for the start of the F1 Chinese Grand Prix
on Sunday, Kimi Raikkonen
was eyeing up a Shanghai surprise of a win over polesitter Lewis Hamilton.
But that all went awry when the starting lights went out and Raikkonen's Lotus struggled to get away off the grid, allowing both of the Ferrari
driver behind him to get the jump on him and go into the first corner in front, demoting Raikkonen himself to fourth place.
Even so, the team was hoping that this would be a temporary setback easily overcome over the course of the rest of the race: "We had an interesting start with Kimi dropping back, but once we got onto the prime tyres things went pretty smoothly," pointed out Alan Permane, the team's trackside operations director.
Smoothly, that is, until Raikkonen came up on the back of Sergio Perez' McLaren
and duly tried to overtake the slower car through turn 5 on lap 16.
"After a bad start, the car was handling well," explained Raikkonen. "Overtaking Perez, I was next to him and he just pushed me on the kerb. I tried to avoid him and went on the grass and I hit him.
"I don't know if he could see me or how it happened, but there was no way for me to avoid it anymore as I was there next to him and ran out of road," he added. "It damaged the nose but luckily it didn't damage too much the handling, just a bit of understeer."
But Perez refuted the suggestion that the accident was his fault. "Basically Kimi outbraked himself and locked his tyres and hit me from behind," he said later. Race stewards investigating the incident decided that no action would be taken against either driver.
After the collision, Lotus decided to live with the damage to the aerodynamic components on Raikkonen's car and not lose time in the pits making a change, but it was not a cost-free decision.
"Kimi lost quite a bit of downforce with his front wing damage, otherwise he should have been able to challenge Fernando for the lead," suggested Pername. "We lost around 0.25 seconds per lap due to the damage to Kimi's car."