After a mixed day for the team in China, Kimi remains philosophical about the weekend ahead at the Shanghai International Circuit, and looks forward to the all-important event on Sunday – race day.
Q: Kimi, it seemed like the car was not quite how you wanted it today; can you tell us a bit more?
KR: It’s not often you have a perfect car on Friday and there are certain things we need to improve which is perfectly normal. It doesn’t really matter if you are first or last in testing because that’s exactly what it is; testing. We’ve been trying a few upgrades and some different set-ups to see how the car behaves which was the main purpose of today, so I wouldn’t read too much into it.
Q: How would you summarise the two sessions?
KR: We managed to put in a good number of laps, not so much this morning but this afternoon. Of course, we’d ideally like to be nearer the front but like I said it’s just testing. The changing conditions held us back a bit in FP1 and unfortunately we lost a bit of time making set-up changes in FP2, but towards the end we decided to stick with what we were running which gave us some good track time. We have a lot of work to do for sure, but it’s been the same at each race weekend this season so it’s not unexpected.
Q: Do you think the weather today has had a real impact on the set-up of the car? A few drivers were complaining of the front tyres fading quickly…
KR: Maybe, but the weather is the same for everyone – if it rains it rains, if it’s dry it’s dry. There were a few cold days during testing and we had no problems there. It’s just a matter of finding the best setup. The tyres felt ok, but we didn’t do any particularly long stints so it’s hard to tell.
Q: How did you find the upgrade package for the car?
KR: The conditions in FP1 made it hard to see where we are with the new upgrades which was a bit of a setback. When you make a few changes to the car it’s not as easy to go out and push straight away like other teams are able to, but this will improve over the weekend. The car didn’t feel too different from where we’ve been at previous circuits, but obviously the lap times are not as competitive yet. We’ll be looking at the data overnight and hopefully we can find some more speed tomorrow.
Q: As you’ve said it would be nice to sit further up the order even at this early stage in proceedings; what are your ambitions for this weekend?
KR: If you just go by the lap times and nothing else then we haven’t looked so fast today, but the race is where it really counts. For sure we have some work to do and changes to make, but this is normal. For the race I think we need to be aiming at improving on the results we’ve had so far, as we’ve been strong all year but not managed to get the points we deserved.
After a somewhat frustrating start to the day, returning from lunch to find a dry track was a welcome surprise as the drivers settled back in to the cockpits of their E20s. Both Kimi and Romain departed the garage at almost exactly 14:00 with a busy programme now on the agenda after limited running during the morning session.
Romain opted for a short first run on the medium compound tyre, completing 4 laps before returning to base. Kimi chose a different strategy, with two stints of 4 and 3 laps sandwiching a pit stop simulation with front wing change.
With the lap times tumbling, it soon became clear that the team were placing an emphasis on race pace rather than single lap speed as Kimi and Romain parked up having set the 17th and 21st fastest times respectively.
Romain’s second run kicked off with around an hour left to run, the Frenchman using a scrubbed set of medium compound tyres and again focusing on race setup. His reactions were called into play once more to recover from a big moment on the entry to turn 8 – despite taking to the grass there was no damage to the car and Romain went on to complete his 4 lap run.
No sooner had Romain returned to the pits than Kimi made his way back out onto the circuit for a short run of just 2 laps on a fresh set of medium compound tyres. The next stint for both drivers came almost immediately afterwards, with each sporting the soft compound tyre for the first time and producing almost identical lap times.
After a raft of setup changes, particularly for Kimi, subsequent runs saw the drivers once again trading times in very close unison as the session drew to a close. Kimi ended the day in P13 with a best time of 1:37.836 from 30 laps, with Romain close behind in P15 after setting a fastest time of 1:37.972 from 26 laps.
Once again with new parts being tested and race setup the priority, the true pace of the E20 here in China has yet to be demonstrated. All eyes now turn to Saturday’s action…
Kimi Raikkonen – 13th: “It’s not often that you have a perfect car on Friday and there are certain things we have to improve. To be honest, it doesn’t matter if you are the slowest car on Friday if you are fast for the rest of the weekend. We now just need to look at the information and change the usual things on the car to improve it. We’re aiming for better results than what we’ve achieved from the last two weekends. For sure, we have some work to do on the car. We tried some different things with the set-up today so we have some information to look at, and we know there are certain areas where we have to improve.”
James Allison, Technical Director: “We spent today trying to make the E20 good for the race and tomorrow we’ll look at ultimate qualifying pace. The morning session was damp and drizzly, and the afternoon was a bit cold. We’re not certain that today will be representative of the race conditions we’ll see. We didn’t find a balance that either driver was happy with today, but we experienced a similar Friday scenario in Albert Park and Sepang and managed to get the cars sorted for Saturday.”
Pos--Driver---------------Team-------------------Time---------------Laps 1. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m35.973 32 2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m36.145s + 0.172 29 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m36.160s + 0.187 26 4. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m36.433s + 0.460 23 5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m36.617s + 0.644 30 6. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m36.711s + 0.738 27 7. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m36.956s + 0.983 28 8. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m36.966s + 0.993 30 9. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m37.191s + 1.218 30 10. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m37.316s + 1.343 32 11. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m37.417s + 1.444 22 12. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m37.616s + 1.643 33 13. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m37.836s + 1.863 30 14. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m37.930s + 1.957 31 15. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m37.972s + 1.999 25 16. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m38.176s + 2.203 34 17. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m38.293s + 2.320 30 18. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m38.783s + 2.810 37 19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m38.990s + 3.017 36 20. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m39.346s + 3.373 19 21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m39.651s + 3.678 15 22. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m40.343s + 4.370 24 23. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m40.753s + 4.780 30 24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m41.125s + 5.162 26
The first session of the weekend here in China proved to be a frustrating affair, as intermittent drizzle limited useful running time for the team at the Shanghai International Circuit.