Q: Congratulations Kimi, that performance must make you one of the heroes of the day?
KR: (Laughs) I don’t know about that, but today went pretty well. Yesterday we made some mistakes which cost us quite a bit so it could easily have been better. We had the safety car which I think actually hurt us a bit as well. I made a good start but then there was an accident in front of me at the first turn, so we lost a few places there as I had to almost stop and move onto the grass to avoid it. That made the race harder again as we had the speed, but a lot of traffic to get through.
When you look at all these things we could have finished in a much better position, so overall the weekend was far from ideal. The good thing is that the car was handling well and to come back to 7th was not a bad result. It at least means we came away with some points and made a big improvement from Saturday.
Q: How did it feel coming back to Formula 1 after two years away? Did you find it easy getting into the groove with a new car, new tyres and the DRS?
KR: To be honest it didn’t feel any different to when I last raced. There have been a few rule changes but the racing itself is very similar. The DRS is easier to use in the race than in practice or qualifying because there are only certain places you can activate it, whereas in the other sessions people will try to push the limits of how early they can use it which can easily lead to a mistake if you are too aggressive.
I wouldn’t say the cars themselves have changed that much. Obviously they are different to when I was last racing in 2009, but every year the teams must design a new car so it’s like starting over again each season. The tyres seem fine so far as well, so overall it’s all been a fairly smooth.
Q: You came on the radio asking the team about the blue flags; what happened there?
KR: Nothing at all really, I was just wondering what was going on as they kept showing me the flags but I knew the gap to the leader was nowhere near a whole lap! I assumed it was for the car behind that I’d just overtaken but it seemed to go on for a while, so I was trying to find out why they were still waving at me!
Q: Given your performance today and where Romain managed to qualify yesterday, how much potential do you feel the E20 has?
KR: Like I said throughout testing and yesterday as well, the car feels very good. Today I was mostly stuck in traffic so it didn’t show so much, and who knows what might have happened if we had a better grid slot, but there is a lot of speed in the car. We just need to avoid putting ourselves in a position like we were in after qualifying yesterday.
Q: With round 1 now done and dusted, what are your thoughts moving on to Malaysia?
KR: I’m happy to get the first race out of the way. We’ll be trying to improve our performance in Malaysia for sure. We don’t know how the car will behave there but it’s been good everywhere so far so hopefully it’ll be the same again. It’ll be hot and humid which is a challenge but we have a good car, so as long as we don’t make the same kind of mistakes again in qualifying I think we have a chance to fight for podiums. We’ll have to wait and see.
Kimi Raikkonen (7th): “It feels like I’ve never been away. Yesterday we made some mistakes which cost us quite badly so it could easily have been better in the race. I made a good start but then there was an accident in front of me at the first turn, so we lost a few places there as I had to almost stop and move onto the grass to avoid it. That made the race harder again as we had the speed, but a lot of traffic to get through. When you look at all these things we could have finished in a much better position. We had the safety car which I think actually hurt us a bit as well. Overall the weekend was far from ideal, but the car feels good and to come back to 7th means we at least come away with some points.”
Romain Grosjean (DNF): “I think we could have achieved a great result today. It’s frustrating as I really wanted to make the chequered flag and even the podium, but on the positive side the car is performing very well. I was keeping pace with the guys in front of me and everything was looking good. My start wasn’t great so we’ll need to have a look at the data. Then of course there was the collision with Pastor (Maldonado). From what I saw he braked far too late and hit my right front wheel which broke the steering and that was it; my race was over. The team deserved better because they have been working very hard, but by tomorrow morning it will all be a memory. We’ll move on to Malaysia now which is one of my favourite circuits and focus on getting a result there.”
James Allison, Lotus technical director: “Though we may have some disappointment from the race, when you look at the weekend overall we can be proud about how the car, team and our drivers have performed as it’s a much more satisfying story. Starting from P3 on the grid, we hoped for something better than P7. However, for Kimi to have converted his rather lowly grid position into a handful of points gives us some consolation. Most importantly, however, the car looks quick and we are optimistic of bringing home strong results with both cars in Malaysia.”
Eric Boullier, Lotus team principal: “We should be leaving Australia with mixed feelings, but actually we all have a little grin on our faces tonight. Yes, we had great expectations from Romain after his third position in qualifying, and seeing another car taking him out of the race early on was very disappointing. But on the other hand, the performance shown by the E20 this weekend makes us optimistic for the rest of the season. The team has produced a very solid car, responsive to set-up changes, and quick. It has been a tough winter, and I’d like to congratulate everybody at Enstone for their hard work which seems to have paid off. I’m proud to be part of a team that can take blows like we suffered in 2011 and still bounce back to show what we are made of. Kimi has been able to demonstrate that we have more than just single-lap pace; gaining 11 places in his first race after a two-year break is certainly a satisfying performance. We’re now all looking forward to Sepang, a completely different track, where we hope we’ll be able to put on another decent show. We think there’s definitely more to come from us.”
Classified: Pos--Driver-------Team-----------------------Time 1. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1h34:09.565 2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 2.100 3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 4.000 4. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 4.500 5. Alonso Ferrari + 21.500 6. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 36.700 7. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 38.000 8. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 39.400 9. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 39.500 10. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 39.700 11. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 39.800 12. Rosberg Mercedes + 57.600 13. Maldonado Williams-Renault + 1 lap 14. Glock Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap 15. Pic Marussia-Cosworth + 2 laps 16. Senna Williams-Renault + 4 laps Fastest lap: Button, 1:29.187 World Championship standings, round 1: Drivers----------------------Constructors: 1. Button 25 1. McLaren-Mercedes 40 2. Vettel 18 2. Red Bull-Renault 30 3. Hamilton 15 3. Sauber-Ferrari 12 4. Webber 12 4. Ferrari 10 5. Alonso 10 5. Lotus-Renault 6 6. Kobayashi 8 6. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 2 7. Raikkonen 6 7. Force India-Mercedes 1 8. Perez 4 9. Ricciardo 2 10. Di Resta 1
Kimi’s funny team radio about blue flags: