Kimi Raikkonen’s collision with Haas Formula 1 driver Nikita Mazepin in the pitlane ahead of the standing restart in the Hungarian Grand Prix was the consequence of a problem with Alfa Romeo’s traffic light system.
Raikkonen started 13th, matching his best grid position of the year after his best performance in a conventional qualifying session of 2021, and was ninth at the red flag. He was among the 14 out of 15 remaining cars that pitted at the end of the safety car lap ahead of the standing restart.
But when he pulled out of his pitbox, his left-rear hit the right-front of the Haas of Nikita Mazepin, which was heading towards the Haas pit box ahead of Alfa Romeo’s slot in the pitlane.
Nikita Mazepin joins the list of DNFs after colliding with Kimi Raikkonen in the pit lane 💥#HungarianGP 🇭🇺 #F1 pic.twitter.com/7lEWIhycuf
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 1, 2021
“During his pitstop when everyone was coming in at the same time, we had a problem with our traffic system and he left when Mazepin was coming in unfortunately,” said Alfa Romeo head of trackside engineering Xevi Pujolar.
“It just showed green-red-green and then he thought it was green, but actually it stayed red, so the system didn’t work properly.”
Pujolar wouldn’t be drawn on the exact cause of the problem but the onboard footage clearly shows Alfa’s pit lights acting as he described. Having been on red during the change to slicks, the lights changed to green, at which point Raikkonen went.
They then flicked back to red, then to green again and back to red – with both lights momentarily on simultaneously. Raikkonen correctly launched at the first green light, leading to the clash with Mazepin that put the Haas out of the race and earned him a 10-second penalty.
It’s likely that the unusually crowded pitlane created the circumstances for the problem, although the behaviour of the lights was unusual and the team has resolved to analyse the problem to prevent a repeat.
“They released me, obviously there was another car coming and that was it,” said Raikkonen.
“When the light goes green, we go. We don’t look, so I don’t know what happened.
“It’s a shame, we were in a good position – I think we were eighth at that point and I knew straight away that we were going to get penalised.
“The race was done at that point. We should have been smarter there.”
Raikkonen ran eighth after the incident but he was called into the pits at the end of lap 15 as the team committed to what was effectively a two-stop race (disregarding the initial change to slicks).
Having served the 10s penalty, Raikkonen’s pitstop lasted almost a further 8s thanks to inspections of the wheel that had made contact with the Haas. The team discovered no damage and Raikkonen rejoined in last place.
Raikkonen finished 11th on the road, which will become 10th if Sebastian Vettel’s exclusion stands. But although that would give Alfa Romeo an extra point, main rival Williams would gain an extra four thanks to Nicholas Latifi and George Russell moving up a place each to seventh and eighth respectively.
Team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi finished last having been hit with a 10-second stop/go penalty for speeding when he entered the pits to change to slicks, meaning penalties cost both Alfa Romeo drivers points.
This leaves Alfa Romeo either four or seven points behind Williams in the battle for eighth in the constructors’ championship, subject to Aston Martin’s appeal.