Kimi Raikkonen says damage sustained in his opening-lap clash with Max Verstappen effectively ended his charge with an unbalanced Ferrari car which saw him fade to an underwhelming fifth place at the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Finn had been attacking Verstappen on the first lap when the Red Bull driver locked up and ran wide at the final chicane before cutting over the exit kerb which sent him into the side of Raikkonen.

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Verstappen was slapped with a five-second time penalty for the incident while Raikkonen endured the rest of the race with a damage left sidepod which he felt restrained his pace which duly saw him drop behind the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo and finish down in fifth.

Raikkonen feels it’s ‘impossible to say’ what his true pace would have been at Suzuka in the fight against the leading Mercedes and Red Bulls and Verstappen deserved the penalty for the incident.

“My car got damaged pretty badly and it was I that got the worst out of it. What can you do?” Raikkonen said. “I tried to go outside and leave him as much room as possible. He came from off the track, over the grassy kerb part, so maybe he couldn’t turn more or just ended up there.

“I lost quite a bit of downforce and there isn’t much more you can do after that, unfortunately. It’s quite a sensitive area where we got hit so after that it was pretty difficult.

“The car felt okay on the way to the grid but I know that we lost a lot of downforce, but without being able to do really any laps with a normal car, it’s impossible to say.”

Verstappen was involved in two high-profile clashes with Ferrari at the Suzuka race, the second with Sebastian Vettel on Lap 8 which saw the German driver spin off with Verstappen recovering to take third place despite his penalty for his incident with Raikkonen.

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