Kimi Raikkonen says he doesn’t understand why the recent run of major Ferrari mechanical problems keep occurring before races rather than in practice and qualifying.

After Sebastian Vettel was forced to retire in the opening laps of the Japanese Grand Prix due to a faulty spark plug on his engine that was detected on his sighting lap to the grid, which prompted Ferrari panic on the starting grid to fix the issue, it marked a repeat of the fate Raikkonen suffered last weekend in Malaysia when he was forced into a DNS due to an engine fault.

While Ferrari has suffered four engine problems in total over the past two race weekends, two have struck immediately before races which the Finnish driver has described as ‘weird’ as the problems hadn’t surfaced throughout the whole of the 2017 campaign.

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“It’s far from ideal but also a bit weird because in the last race Seb had an issue on Saturday, before qualifying, but now it’s been twice that the cars have been running fine in qualifying and then on Sundays when we go out we find some issues,” Raikkonen said. “Obviously it’s not something we expected, it comes out of nothing, so we have to see why this is happening and fix it.

“It’s one of those things that suddenly hits you at a moment where there isn’t an awful lot you can do.”

Raikkonen repeated his faith in Ferrari’s pace to be able to challenge Mercedes and Red Bull despite finishing fifth in Suzuka having started a lowly 10th after a grid penalty for a gearbox change that was caused by his crash in FP3.

“I think we have pretty good speed normally, but when you don’t finish the races it’s no use,” he said. “We have to fix them and find out why we’ve had these issues lately. We have to go every weekend by starting from zero and do the best that we can avoiding the issues and the mistakes.”