Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen failed to start the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, handing Lewis Hamilton a further chance of extending his overall lead in the Formula One world championship.
The Finn, who had qualified second and was set to start on the front row alongside Mercedes’ pole-sitter Hamilton, reported a loss of power as he drove around the circuit on the way to the grid.
Ferrari wheeled his car into the garage and tried to fix the problem but Raikkonen, who took his first grand prix win at the Sepang circuit with McLaren in 2003, was forced to retire.
“I noticed it on the way to the grid, it came out of nowhere,” Raikkonen told reporters, adding that he did not yet know the cause of the problem.
“It’s disappointing for all of us but it’s nothing we can change.
“I’m pretty certain we would have had a very good car today but we’ll never know what would have happened so it’s a bit pointless to talk about it. It’s one of those things that comes from nowhere,” added the Finn.
The 37-year-old’s problem came after engine trouble prevented team mate Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton’s closest rival with six races remaining, from setting a time in qualifying on Saturday.
The German, who trails the Briton by 28 points in the overall standings, started in last place and Ferrari had hoped Raikkonen could challenge Hamilton’s Mercedes as Vettel fought his way up the order.
The Italian team could at least take some heart from Hamilton struggling for pace in the opening laps, with the triple champion losing the lead to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on the fourth lap.
Hamilton, who failed to finish in Malaysia last year due to an engine failure, also complained of a temporary loss of power from his car’s battery.
Vettel had moved up to fourth place with 10 laps to go.