Friday’s second practice session for this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was red-flagged when Kimi Raikkonen’s car caught fire during the final 20 minutes. The Finn was forced to pull over with the rear of his Alfa Romeo engulfed in flames, seemingly caused by an engine problem.
Raikkonen was seen jumping out of the car and helping the marshals, who had rushed to the scene, to extinguish the blaze.
The message from his race engineer over team radio was: “Big fire, and get the hell out of there quick.”
The incident comes two weeks after Romain Grosjean’s horror crash during the Bahrain Grand Prix, when the Frenchman’s car slammed into the barriers at over 140mph and immediately went up in flames.
Raikkonen was 14th on the leaderboard at the time of Friday’s incident, three places ahead of team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi.
Valtteri Bottas was the quickest driver of the session, beating the returning Lewis Hamilton to top spot by two-tenths of a second.
The seven-time world champion had missed last week’s Sakhir Grand Prix after contracting coronavirus, but was cleared to return to the track earlier this week after providing a number of negative tests.
The Red Bull Racing pair of Max Verstappen and Alex Albon finished third and fourth respectively, ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Esteban Ocon of Renault.
Earlier this week Raikkonen spoke of his disappointment at the pandemic’s impact on this year’s campaign, with organisers being forced to conjure up a makeshift race calendar, which has often led to Grands Prix being held in blocks of three over consecutive weeks.
“It’s not been much fun to anybody,” he told F1’s Will Buxton. “Obviously I thnk nobody expected [the pandemic] in general life, so it’s far from fun for anybody but that’s how it is.
“I think everybody has to try and make the most out of it and at least we [have] done quite a few races.”
The Finn also reflected on his team’s performance this season, with Alfa Romeo unable to finish any higher than 8th in the constructor’s standings regardless of their efforts in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
“As the result comes, for sure it’s not what we wanted as a team but that’s how it turned out to be, and I think we knew quite early on that it wasn’t going to be an easy year but soon it’s over and hopefully we can improve for next year,” he added.