After kerb hopping and grass tracking his way through the first lap, Kimi took the Silverstone circuit in his stride to set the fastest lap of the race and claim a solid fifth place on a day where – given a bit more luck – the Finn’s pace could have yielded an even stronger result…
Q: Kimi, a frantic first lap there today; talk us through it from your perspective
KR: The start was ok, but the first few corners were very tight. I had to run over the kerb at turn four to avoid the cars in front and then I got pushed a bit wide so we dropped one place to Sebastian [Vettel] which didn’t help. Pastor [Maldonado] got past as well at one point, so if we had just kept the same place in the first lap it could have been better. It wasn’t the best start but that’s racing; sometimes you take a risk to go for a move and if it doesn’t pay off so you lose more than you expect.
Q: You recovered well though to move back through the field…
KR: We came back well and the car was very fast. Unfortunately we spent quite a lot of time stuck behind slower cars so we couldn’t show our full pace until we were in clear air. We were close to Felipe [Massa] at the end, but we just didn’t have enough laps left.
Q: Fastest lap of the race today; you looked very comfortable in the car…
KR: I was really pleased with the car. It’s been feeling good all weekend and we’re definitely getting closer to finding the full speed from it. We were really quick on the hard tyres, especially at the end. It’s just a shame we didn’t have the space on track to use it for the whole race.
Q: Given the pace of the E20, are you happy with fifth?
KR: Without the issues at the start and with a few more laps I think we could have got at least one more position. At the end of the day fifth and sixth is a good result for the team and it keeps us right up there in the Constructors’ standings which is a big positive.
Q: Does this performance give you confidence going into the next race?
KR: The car has the potential to get good results; we just need to piece together a whole weekend at our best. Qualifying can still improve, but our main strength against the other teams is in the race and that’s where it counts.
A ding-dong battle between the two Lotus F1 Team drivers over who would claim the fastest lap of the British Grand Prix was just the back story to an eventful race, which saw both E20s place well inside the top ten to claim a good haul of points for the team on the home soil of Silverstone.
Idyllic weather to start the afternoon in Silverstone after the distinctly damp conditions of the weekend previously came as a pleasant surprise as the cars lined up on the grid; both E20s sporting matching sets of yellow marked soft compound Pirelli tyres.
A relatively slow start for the pair; each defending into the first sequence of corners but maintaining position before frantic activity ensued shortly afterwards. Battling with Sebastian Vettel in front, Kimi mounted the kerbs and subsequently lost a position to Pastor Maldonado, while Romain brushed up against Paul Di Resta at the same corner, damaging his front wing in the process.
The following lap the Frenchman was forced to dive into the pits for a new front wing; switching to the silver marked hard compound Pirelli tyres at the same time before emerging to set the fastest lap of the race a few laps later on the fresh rubber. Kimi meanwhile had passed Pastor Maldonado, moving up to sixth.
Lap twelve saw a collision between Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado; the former retiring and the latter limping to the pits, thus promoting Romain a further two positions. Two laps later, Kimi pulled in for his first tyre change, following his team-mate in changing to the faster hard compound rubber.
By the time the order had shaken out after the first round of stops, Kimi found himself back up to his starting position – sixth – while Romain’s early change to the prime tyres combined with some nifty overtaking saw the Frenchman move from the back of the field to eighth.
Just two tours later – lap twenty four – and Kimi had gained another place courtesy of a smart pass on Michael Schumacher. Finally released from behind the German, the Finn consistently set blistering times through the mid-point of the race, claiming the fastest lap in the process.
Having pitted for fresh hard tyres on lap twenty seven, Romain then pipped his team-mate once again to claim the fastest lap; the Frenchman flying at this stage of the race, closing on Lewis Hamilton and pulling off spectacular moves on Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button into the complex on consecutive laps while remaining embroiled in an intense battle with the McLaren.
Just five laps later, Romain pulled off a smooth move on the Brit; using DRS to move up another place and back behind his team-mate, who meanwhile had reclaimed the fastest time of the race having pitted for fresh hard rubber on the same lap.
Not to be outdone, the reigning GP2 Series Champion swung the pendulum back in his favour; setting quickest times on three out the next four laps and closing rapidly on the sister E20 ahead.
As the race drew to its conclusion, the gap between the pair see-sawed as each traded fastest laps with the other. It was the 2007 World Champion who eventually came out on top, posting two scorching times in the final few laps to claim a strong fifth place and the fastest lap of the race – almost catching Felipe Massa for fourth in the dying moments – while his team-mate clinched an impressive sixth and the second fastest time having dropped to the back of the field at the start.
Pos--Driver--------Team-----------------------Time 1. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1h25:11.288 2. Alonso Ferrari + 3.060 3. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 4.836 4. Massa Ferrari + 9.519 5. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 10.314 6. Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 17.101 7. Schumacher Mercedes + 29.153 8. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 36.400 9. Senna Williams-Renault + 43.300 10. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 44.400 11. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 45.300 12. Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes + 47.800 13. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 51.200 14. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 53.300 15. Rosberg Mercedes + 57.300 16. Maldonado Williams-Renault + 1 lap 17. Kovalainen Caterham-Renault + 1 lap 18. Glock Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap 19. Pic Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap 20. De la Rosa HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps 21. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps Fastest lap: Raikkonen, 1:34.661 Not classified/retirements: Driver-------Team---------------------On lap Perez Sauber-Ferrari 14 Di Resta Force India-Mercedes 3 Petrov Caterham-Renault 1 World Championship standings, round 9: Drivers:---------------------Constructors: 1. Alonso 129 1. Red Bull-Renault 216 2. Webber 116 2. Ferrari 152 3. Vettel 100 3. Lotus-Renault 144 4. Hamilton 92 4. McLaren-Mercedes 142 5. Raikkonen 83 5. Mercedes 98 6. Rosberg 75 6. Sauber-Ferrari 60 7. Grosjean 61 7. Williams-Renault 47 8. Button 50 8. Force India-Mercedes 44 9. Perez 39 9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6 10. Maldonado 29 11. Di Resta 27 12. Schumacher 23 13. Massa 23 14. Kobayashi 21 15. Senna 18 16. Hulkenberg 17 17. Vergne 4 18. Ricciardo 2
Kimi Raikkonen – 5th: “I had a pretty okay first few corners but I had to avoid the cars in front and drove over the kerb on the inside of the turn, then I lost a place and was pushed wide. If I had stayed in front of Sebastian [Vettel] at the start it would have been pretty good seeing where he finished, but after that Pastor [Maldonado] also got past me. I fought back and our car was strong, especially on the harder tyres. If I’d had a better start I could have finished much better; but that’s racing and sometimes you pay a bigger price than you expect from the first lap.”
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: “It was a difficult weekend where weather conditions made for something of a lottery in qualifying, but once again we have had a good race. If we want to do better, we have to improve our starting positions. Romain had a battle to come back from an early stop to replace his front wing; he was very fast and very strong from then on. Kimi had a very good race too. As a team, we had good strategies, our car was fast and consistent and fifth and sixth position yield good points. Once again our car was strong on a different circuit and in a variety of conditions. We’re still missing something to get the final piece of the jigsaw, but it’s a nice frustration to have.”
James Allison, Technical Director: “We saw really strong drives from both Kimi and Romain. We didn’t have the best grid positions but both drivers made up places in the race. The E20 delivered performance that was the equal of any car today, and it’s encouraging that even with our less than promising starting positions, we’ve held on to third position in the Constructors’ Championship. I think we’ll only be stronger in the second half of the season and when everything falls into place in qualifying and the race we’ll truly be a force to be reckoned with.”