Kimi clinched his first podium in only his fourth race since returning to Formula 1 this season at the Bahrain Grand Prix this afternoon. Despite the result however and in typical fashion, the Finn was left thinking about the victory that might have been.
Q: Kimi, your first podium of the season here in Bahrain today; you must be delighted?
KR: I am very happy. At last, we made the podium after a few missed opportunities. We had the car already in the first three races to be up there, but we made some small mistakes and it cost us a lot. Of course I wanted to win today, and I would have been much happier if we had managed to get the victory, but nevertheless it’s a good result and the team deserved it for all their hard work. Hopefully we can put ourselves in this position more often.
Q: How close were you to taking the win?
KR: We weren’t far away from the win at all. I had one chance, but my move on Sebastian (Vettel) did not quite work. That was my only opportunity but I couldn’t take it as I chose the wrong side. Then, my tyres dropped off and that was it. I pretty much knew that was my only shot. Hopefully we can put ourselves in this position more often to have a chance. We have to work hard and improve certain areas of the car and I’m sure we can be up there more often and try to get the win.
Q: Did you have any problems during the race?
KR: We gave ourselves a chance at least and it’s a bit disappointing that we didn’t manage to win, but I made a small mistake at the beginning and lost one place to Felipe (Massa). I had to re-overtake him and that took a little time. Then, I could pass the people quite easily but ultimately it still look too long and as a result we couldn’t win the race.
Q: Is this result a relief after a difficult Chinese Grand Prix last week?
KR: After the last race, when we tried hard and then we failed, I think people probably thought we were a bit stupid. They must have thought the same after yesterday, but our decision turned out to be right one. The team deserves what we achieved here. We have been working hard in the background and I have not been 100 per cent happy with how the weekends have gone so far, but we finally got a proper result for the team so it is an important step.
Q: Did you lose time when trying to overtake Romain early in the race?
KR: Maybe, but there are no team orders and we know the rules – I tried to get past as quickly as I could, but it is difficult with two similar cars. It’s always easy to say what we should have done afterwards, but in the end we were not fast enough to win, so we had to take second.
Sebastian Vettel delivered his first victory of the 2012 Formula 1 season in the Bahrain Grand Prix, and moved into the championship lead in the process – but only after resisting a stern challenge from the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen.
Kimi Räikkönen, E20-03
- Grid: P11
- Race: P2
- Best Lap: 1:37.116
Romain Grosjean, E20-04
- Grid: P7
- Race: P3
- Best Lap: 1:36.928
The heat of the desert was broken only by a smattering of rain drops as the teams lined up on the grid for the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix. The pair of E20s began the race on the yellow marked soft compound tyres, a fresh set for Kimi after his unorthodox qualifying strategy and a scrubbed set for Romain.
As the green lights went out, both drivers got off to a flying start. Romain moved to the outside of the slow starting Rosberg, moving up to P4 by the end of the first few corners. Kimi also jumped 3 places to P8, quickly taking yet another position through the middle sector with a brilliant move to hold off Rosberg whilst making a move past Massa and up to P7.
The Finn would then be re-passed by the Brazilian at the first turn on lap 3, as the Ferrari man used his KERS to pull down the inside. A tight battle then ensued through the following few bends, as Kimi eventually got squeezed out and had to concede the place.
By lap 4, Romain had moved up to the podium places by pulling off a fine pass on Webber down the straight, and the proceeded to hunt down Hamilton in P2, closing the gap by almost half a second in that same lap. Kimi meanwhile continued his tussle with Massa, passing his former team-mate on lap 5 and setting off after Button in P6.
The flying Frenchman was in fantastic form in the early stages, surging past Hamilton with a DRS-assisted pass on the pit straight on lap 7 to take P2. Kimi then used the same method to oust Button from P6 just a short distance behind. Quickly pulling away from the Brit, the Finn was quickly onto the back of Alonso and pulled another pass at the same place a lap later to move into P5.
Romain pulled in for his first pit stop of the day on lap 10, opting for a set of the white marked medium compound tyres and re-joining well in front of closest rival Hamilton who had suffered from a slow stop. Kimi followed suit on lap 11, and emerged sporting another set of the soft compound. Both drivers easily maintained their places during the stops, with Kimi moving in front of Hamilton.
On lap 13, Webber became the Finn’s next victim as he sliced up the inside into the left-handed turn 11 to take P4 from the Australian. Romain meanwhile was closing in on Di Resta at between 1-2 seconds per lap, the Scot having yet to stop. Passing through the final turn, the Frenchman regained his rightful P2 position.
On lap 15 Kimi set the fastest time of the day so far, as both drivers continued their impressive charge around the 5.4km circuit. By this stage, Romain occupied P2 with his team-mate close behind in P3.
The field then settled down for a few laps, with both Lotus F1 Team drivers holding station in podium positions; keeping a steady distance behind leader Vettel and edging clear of Webber in P4. By lap 22, the extra pace of Kimi’s soft tyres started to tell, as he closed down on the back of his team-mate (running the slower medium compound), passing the Frenchman on lap 24 using the familiar DRS overtake technique down the pit straight.
No sooner had he got into clean air, than the Finn dived into the pits for his first stint of the day using the medium tyres. Romain followed one lap later on lap 25, taking on another set of the same compound.
Despite now running the theoretically slower white marked tyres, Kimi immediately punched in another fastest lap of the race; closing the gap to Vettel (sporting the soft compound) down to just over 2 seconds. By lap 34 the Finn was within the 1 second DRS zone, and unsettling the German with dummy moves through lap 35.
On the following lap, Kimi made a move down the inside into the first corner, but Vettel defended well as the pair went wheel to wheel and remained in their respective positions. With all the dicing going on ahead Romain had started to close the gap in P3, with less than 10 seconds now covering the trio.
The leading pair dived in for their final stops on lap 40, both electing for a set of medium compound tyres. It was the Red Bull driver who maintained the lead, with Kimi in hot pursuit as they charged out of the pit lane. Romain followed a lap later for the same rubber, and immediately started to pull further in front of closest challenger Webber over the subsequent laps.
With 10 laps to go Romain was running a lonely race in P3, while Kimi maintained the gap to Vettel. As the laps ticked away, the tension in the garage was unbearable until the drivers finally crossed the line; the first podium for the team since Malaysia last year, and the first double podium in over 5 years.
Classified: Pos--Driver-------Team-----------------------------Time 1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h35:10.990 2. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 3.300 3. Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 10.100 4. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 38.700 5. Rosberg Mercedes + 55.400 6. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 57.500 7. Alonso Ferrari + 57.800 8. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 58.900 9. Massa Ferrari + 1:04.900 10. Schumacher Mercedes + 1:11.400 11. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 1:12.700 12. Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes + 1:16.500 13. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:30.300 14. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1:33.700 15. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap 16. Petrov Caterham-Renault + 1 lap 17. Kovalainen Caterham-Renault + 1 lap 18. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 1 lap 19. Glock Marussia-Cosworth + 2 laps 20. De la Rosa HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps 21. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps 22. Senna Williams-Renault + 3 laps Fastest lap: Vettel, 1:36.379 World Championship standings, round 4: Drivers:--------------------Constructors: 1. Vettel 53 1. Red Bull-Renault 101 2. Hamilton 49 2. McLaren-Mercedes 92 3. Webber 48 3. Lotus-Renault 57 4. Button 43 4. Ferrari 45 5. Alonso 43 5. Mercedes 37 6. Rosberg 35 6. Sauber-Ferrari 31 7. Raikkonen 34 7. Williams-Renault 18 8. Grosjean 23 8. Force India-Mercedes 17 9. Perez 22 9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6 10. Di Resta 15 11. Senna 14 12. Kobayashi 9 13. Vergne 4 14. Maldonado 4 15. Hulkenberg 2 16. Schumacher 2 17. Massa 2 18. Ricciardo 2
“Of course I wanted to win and would have been much happier in myself if I had won but nevertheless the team deserved what they got and hopefully we can put ourselves in this position more often,. We had the car already in the first three races to be up there but we made some small mistakes and it cost us too much. Today wasn’t far away. I really should have made it but I didn’t so, like I said hopefully we can put ourselves in this position more often to have a chance. But we have to work hard and improve certain areas of the car and I’m sure we can be up there more often and try to get the win.
“We got one try on Sebastian but I couldn’t use it because I chose the wrong side and then my tyres dropped off and that was it. I pretty much knew that was my only chance. We gave ourselves a chance at least and it’s a bit disappointing that we didn’t manage to do it, but I made a small mistake at the beginning, lost one place to a Ferrari and I had to re-overtake him and that took a little time. I could pass the people quite easily but if you look in the end it still look too long and we couldn’t win the race.
“After the last race when we tried hard and then we failed, I think people probably thought we were a bit stupid, but even after yesterday what we did, but it turned out to be right decision. I think the team deserves what we achieved now, we have been working hard in the background and I have not been 100 per cent happy with how the weekends had been gone so far, but we finally got some proper results for the team so it is an important step.”
“Yeah, but there are no team orders, we know the rules – I tried to get past as quickly as I can, but it is always easy with two similar cars so. It’s always easy afterwards to say we should have done that but in the end we were not fast enough to win so we had to take second.”
Kimi Räikkönen – 2nd: “It’s a great result for the team and we deserve it as everyone has been working very hard. To be honest, I’m slightly disappointed we didn’t take the win because we had the pace. I only had one chance to overtake Sebastian (Vettel) and unfortunately I chose the wrong side to try and get past. If I hadn’t made a small mistake at the start and allowed Felipe (Massa) to get through then maybe it would have been a different story, as we spent quite a lot of time fighting with him. At the end of the day, it’s good to have both cars on the podium, especially after last race which didn’t go to plan, but I honestly think we could have taken the victory today.”
Romain Grosjean – 3rd: “It’s a great feeling to get my first podium, and I’m really proud of the whole team for doing an incredible job today. We’ve known all season how quick the car can be, but with such a tight field any small mistakes can make a huge difference. Today I think we got everything right, and we’ve finally been able to prove how competitive we are. Last week I was aiming for my first points, this week I was hoping for top five, but here we are on the podium so who knows where we can go from here! We can be very happy with what we’ve achieved today; hopefully we can now head to the Mugello test and find that last bit of to push us right to the top.”
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: “It was a great team performance today and I’m delighted for everyone, both here in the paddock and back at Enstone. The first three races were very frustrating, as we knew we were capable of a result like this. Until now, small details have hindered our performance, so it’s almost a relief to finally show what we are capable of. We took a bit of a gamble on strategy and I’m pleased to say it paid off. Both drivers put in a fantastic performance, and to have two cars not just on the podium but so closely matched all through the race demonstrates what a strong line-up we have. I’m immensely proud of what we’ve achieved today.”
Alan Permane, Director of Trackside Operations: “We’ve been saying over the last few races that podium finishes were on their way and today we’ve proved that. To come from eleventh to score a strong second, challenging for the win was an awesome performance from Kimi and shows that the E20 is a superb race car. For Romain to match Kimi’s pace and finish just seven seconds behind him despite having fewer new tyres is a comparably impressive performance. Our race strategy calls today were not as tricky as we’ve seen in other races. We knew we had to make three stops and it became clear as the race went on that our main question was could we beat Sebastian (Vettel)? We gave it a good go. It wasn’t a perfect performance this weekend – we weren’t happy with our performance on the soft tyres in qualifying – but it’s clear we have a car which has the pace to win races. ”