Alfa Romeo handed €5,000 fine for Raikkonen wheel incident
Hearts were in mouths at the penultimate Safety Car restart in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix, as the front-right wheel of Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo C39 fell off the car, bouncing down the track before coming to a stop – with the stewards later handing out a €5,000 fine to the team for failing to affix the wheel properly during Raikkonen's pit stop.
The Finn had pitted under the Safety Car, brought out after the retirement of Williams’ George Russell, on Lap 51 of 71. But a cross-threaded wheel nut led to the wheel not being fitted correctly, meaning that when Raikkonen got back up to racing speed at the restart four laps later, the wheel parted company with the car.
The onboard from Sebastian Vettel's car behind then showed the wheel bouncing worryingly in front of the Ferrari, before rolling into the Turn 10 run-off, as Raikkonen pulled his three-wheeled car up on the start-finish straight.
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The stewards later fined Alfa Romeo for a breach of Article 28.13 c) of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations, writing: “Having examined photos of the damaged wheel and the axle shaft it is evident that the wheel nut of the [right-hand side] front wheel got cross threaded during the wheel change which was not identified by the wheel gun operator. As a consequence the right [front] wheel went off when the car was back in the race.”
Raikkonen had been running 12th when the wheel came lose – and speaking immediately after his retirement, felt that he’d missed an opportunity to take some solid points, on a day when team mate Antonio Giovinazzi scored two for finishing ninth.
“I think we were in a good position with the new tyres,” said Raikkonen, “but then for some reason we lost the right front tyre at the restart. I have no idea why. It’s a shame. For sure we could have scored some points – but that’s how it is.”