| Source: lotusf1team.com |
After five races and four podiums, Kimi heads to Monaco a tantalising four points off the Drivers’ Championship lead. As our Iceman explains, the challenge of Monaco is quite different from that of the circuits seen so far this season.
Q: You must be feeling pretty good with your championship position and the performance of the car this season?
KR: Well, we’re not in first place so we can’t be too happy. For sure it’s not a nightmare, but we’ve still got a lot of races yet to come and anything can happen in Formula 1. Monaco is a different challenge, so we’ll have to see what happens there this year.
Q: Last year’s Monaco Grand Prix was not one of the team’s better outings, so you’ll be hoping for better this year?
KR: We certainly won’t make the mistakes we made last time. There were a few things we didn’t do right over the weekend and we suffered because of that. Sometimes that’s the way it goes, but the important thing is not to make the same mistakes again.
Q: How do you define the Monaco Grand Prix?
KR: It’s useless to put races in different categories, because all of them are as important as each other if you want to win a Championship. However, as a real special race there is nothing like Monaco; there is no better feeling than to get things going well there. To race in the streets of Monte Carlo is really different from everywhere else and it’s a challenge I look forward to every year. It is very, very difficult – almost impossible in fact – to have a clean weekend down there.
Q: You won in Monaco in 2005; how did that feel?
KR: I’ve only managed to get it right once before and you really experience the greatest feeling you can get by winning it. My win in 2005 ranks up there with my most memorable, so to win it again would be just as special.
Q: What’s the challenge behind the wheel?
KR: It’s such a narrow, twisty track; you have to be extra sharp and focused through every single metre. It gives such a good feeling; a fast lap around Monaco. Overtaking is almost impossible, so to really enjoy racing there you have to be in the front.
Q: What about the atmosphere?
KR: It’s an interesting place to go to, with a lot of fans and a lot of parties going on; or so I’m told
Q: What’s your approach to the weekend?
KR: We have to focus on qualifying. It’s a difficult place to race as it’s so narrow and – as I said before – passing is nearly impossible. I was stuck behind Rubens [Barrichello] in 2009 and we had KERS then, but you just couldn’t get past. We’ll have to see how the tyres perform and if there are any good strategies to be made, but the most important thing is to qualify well. It’s difficult to know how good the car will be in Monaco as you can’t simulate its characteristics; certainly not at any of the circuits we’ve visited so far this year anyway. We can say the E21’s been fast everywhere else so let’s hope it’s also fast there.
Q: With qualifying so important, is it a worry that this doesn’t seem to be one of the E21’s strongest areas?
KR: We’ll do the best we can, but of course everyone will be trying to be on the front row. It’s not impossible for us, but we won’t know how good we are until we get there. We know that tyre changes have to be made so there are opportunities if you run a different strategy to your rivals, but it’s certainly more difficult here than anywhere else.
Lotus is heading to the Monaco Grand Prix confident it has made the steps it needed to with its qualifying pace.
The narrow confines of the Monte Carlo street circuit always puts a premium on grid position, with Lotus an outfit that has sometimes struggled to extract single-lap performance from its car.
After a difficult Monaco last year, Lotus’ trackside operations director Alan Permane thinks the situation should be better this time around, although admits the outfit is not taking anything for granted.
“It’s no secret that this is an area we’ve been looking to improve and we haven’t done a bad job in this regard,” said Permane.
“We took a front row slot in China and – disregarding Mercedes – we were less than a tenth from the front runner in Spain.
“I wouldn’t go as far as to say our qualifying pace is perfect as it’s clear there are still gains to be made, but we’ve certainly made significant inroads into understanding how to get the most out of the tyres over a single lap, in addition to balancing setup for both qualifying and race pace.”
Lotus will be using a high-downforce specification rear wing, as well as an updated front wing and floor modifications in Monaco.
Permane added: “We’re confident in the upgrade package for this race and the car has worked well at every circuit so far this season, so there’s no reason it won’t be strong here.”
A set of desktops from the last Grand Prix at Barcelona, enjoy!
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| Source: autosport.com |
Lotus thinks it would be unfair if Pirelli makes changes to the tyres later this season just because some teams are struggling to make the rubber last.
After a number of outfits were forced to make four-stops during the Spanish Grand Prix due to the high degradation, Pirelli has conceded that it may have to tweak its tyres to limit a repeat in the future. Such changes could hamper the Lotus outfit, which appears perfectly suited to the high degrading rubber with its E21.
Kimi Raikkonen was able to execute a three-stop strategy at the Circuit de Catalunya to finish second and move to within four points of the lead of the world championship.
Well aware that there is a push from some quarters for Pirelli to make changes, Lotus team principal Eric Boullier has admitted tweaks could be a negative for the Enstone-based squad.
“I think it is not in some ways fair, but we have to deal with it like we always did,” he said. “Everyone has the same tyres.”
Boullier reckons that complaints about the tyres are being focused in the wrong area, and he feels that rival teams have simply not dealt with the situation very well.
“People need to get the right question,” he said. “The question is not the tyres: it is because we did something that allowed our car to [look after the tyres].
“It is the same for everybody. There was some slight change for here [to the hard compound] which was to please the most complaining team.
“But I don’t think Pirelli is going to change anything. They were asked to build tyres lasting 20 laps and they did it. So that is it.”
Pirelli says it will help bring back boring processions to Formula 1 if that is what teams and fans want.
In the wake of a fresh debate about the impact the tyres are having on the sport – and Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz claiming F1 “has nothing to do with racing anymore” – Pirelli has reiterated it is only doing what it has been asked to.
When Pirelli returned to F1 for the 2011 season, it was asked to spice up the show and deliver multiple stop races with high degrading rubber, just like the famous 2010 Canadian Grand Prix.
Paul Hembery, its motorsport boss, is aware his company is facing criticism for what is happening on track right now, but he has made it clear that those calling for a radical overhaul need to be sure about exactly what they are hoping for.
“What do you want?” he said. “We were asked to provide two to three stops and replicate Canada .
“I know some of you would like us to do a one stop race where tyres are not a factor, and you can go back to processional racing where the qualifying position is the end position, if that is what you want in racing.
“What do you want us to do? You tell us, we will do it.”
Hembery suggested that his company was baffled about why the tyre situation was being viewed as so extreme this year, when it has been no different ever since it returned to F1 in 2011.
“It is rather bizarre because we are only doing what we did in the last two years,” he said.
“We don’t understand why you [the media] are all so excited.
“It is a bit bizarre – unless you all want us to give tyres to Red Bull to help them win the championship, which appears to be the case.
“I think it is pretty clear. There is one team who will benefit from a change and that is them.”
Red Bull’s RB9 is widely believed to be the car that produces the most downforce in Formula 1 this year, but it cannot make use of all that peak performance because it puts the tyres under too much stress.
The nature of the challenge of looking after tyres means cars that are more mechanically sympathetic like the Lotus and Ferrari are better equipped when it comes to being consistent in the races.
Kravitz: ”Kimi’s middle stint was too good. Kimi’s middle stint was absolutely fantastic and that was the thing that got that position.”
Video: Ted’s notebook from Spain GP (1:40mins) + Grid Walk with Martin Brundle, talking to Pirelli manager Paul Hembery about Lotus (3:05mins)
| Source: fia.com |
PODIUM INTERVIEWS (Conducted by Eddie Jordan)
Q: Kimi, four points off the championship lead at this stage and you’re coming in under the radar so to speak, because nobody is really giving you enough credit for what you’re doing at the moment. How do you respond to that?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: I don’t mind. I’m here only to do as good races as we can and always you want to win and it’s disappointing to finish second but sometimes we have to take what we can get. Like I said, I don’t mind if people don’t notice us. We do our work, be happy what we do and obviously try to achieve in Enstone.
Q: Is the lack of attention possibly helping you?
KR: It makes no difference really to me. We know in the team, and all the sponsors, what we try to achieve and what we are doing and that’s the main thing.
Q: Kimi, we heard you say on the podium there you were disappointed you didn’t win. You had a different strategy to Fernando, doing one stop less than the Ferrari today. Was there a point at which you thought you might have an opportunity to challenge Fernando for the win today?
KR: Maybe half way through. Obviously, we were leading but when we were on old tyres and he had newer tyres, it’s too easy to overtake. There’s no point to really fight against [him] because you cannot hold him behind. I knew if I could somehow stay a bit more closer, even with old tyres, maybe I have some chance, even if I’m already behind and will be with old tyres in the end but you never know. But they were just too fast. He had a good start around the outside of me. I don’t think the end result really was decided there but we just did a different way of doing the race. It wasn’t a winning way today but… We’re never happy if we’re not winning. We’re only here to try to win. But we kind of caught up with Vettel few points and obviously Fernando caught me up [by] some points but we’re still in the hunt and we’ll keep ourselves there and hopefully in the future just try to win a bit more.
Q: Consistency is the key though, isn’t it? It’s the fourth time in five races you’ve stood on the podium, including that win in Australia and as you say you’ve got it down to just five points to Vettel. How do you feel about your championship situation and what comes from here?
KR: Obviously it’s better than before the race now. It will not be easy. We cannot fight against… it’s the same for everybody. Everybody wants to win it, but sometimes you have a bad day. You try to minimise those and make the most out of them and give yourself a chance to be up there and fight for wins. I think if you can do that often it will give a good chance in the end to fight for the championship. It’s only a five race-old season, so there’s an awful lot to be raced. We’ll see what happens. We’ll try to do well and see where we are in the end.
Q: [Paolo Ianieri – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Fernando, historically this has always been a track where it was pretty difficult to overtake but today we have seen that there were many manoeuvres. You made history because nobody every won starting fifth, so how do you feel about it? And also, to all of you, don’t you think it’s too much with these tyres having too many pitstops and there is too much confusion?
FA: I don’t know. I’m happy to win from whatever position to start. Here, I think this historically has been difficult to overtake and starting off the front row was hard for the race but now with this year’s degradation and this year’s tyres we see the races keep changing all the time. Whatever car keeps the tyre alive normally is on the podium at least – or winning the race. So, happy for this. If it’s too much confusion for the spectators? There is no doubt. I think it is impossible to follow one race now. Here it’s good because you have the tower and I think you follow the race on the tower with the numbers and you see who is first, who is second. But in some other circuits, if I’m sitting in the grandstand, without any information: radio, telephone or something, you only see cars passing.
Kimi, your thoughts on that?
KR: I don’t really think it’s any different to last year. Obviously I wasn’t there the year before but they had a lot of pitstops also. So that’s the way it is and it’s the same for everybody. For sure sometimes it’s a bit tricky, even for us, who is where and what is going on if you haven’t seen it as the guy in front, what’s going on. But that’s what Formula One is today. It might change, it might not.
Q: (Pierre Van Vliet – F1i.com) Kimi, in the early part of the race when you had your first pitstop, you came back with new soft tyres and you spent… you lost a few laps behind Vettel. Without that time lost do you think you could have been in front of Fernando on the last stint?
KR: It wasn’t a new, it was used from qualifying. So, I mean obviously I have to overtake and I took maybe a few laps more than I expected but I got past him and I really could pull away but in the end I really don’t think those were the decisions that were the deciding story of the race. I think we had the speed but we should have done it different. Maybe more pitstops, then you can push all the time – but I think this was our best way of doing the race. That’s what we planned and that’s what we did and I think we deserved to be second and not really winning today. It’s OK for the team, the guys did a good job and we go for the next race to try to do better and get the best out of it.
Q: (Leonid Novozhilov – F1Life) Kimi, what do you think about the pit stop strategy in Monaco?
KR: I have no idea. I know what we did here and yesterday. There’s a few weeks to go. We will see what happens, what tyres they bring and how everything plans out. I think it’s usually quite straightforward there. Usually, if you’re not in the front, you start behind somebody else and it’s really difficult to overtake. We will see.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, you have three successive second places and now you’ve managed to catch up Sebastian by six points; was this the most rewarding of these three races, and how do you see your chances to do better in Monaco?
KR: First of all, Monaco is a different place compared to this, so it’s a bit hard to say. Last year I wasn’t very good there. For sure, it should be a bit better but I’ve had some good races there – it’s a dangerous thing to say – but as Fernando said, I think Mercedes will unfortunately be pretty quick there and after that it’s difficult to overtake. The only difference that they have made against most of us is in the last sector where it’s tight so you can really expect, from what they did last year and what they did here, that they should be pretty fast there. We will see what happens there, but gaining the points on Sebastian was nice. If he would have lost more points and still be second it would have been even more annoying, but OK, you also want to win but we cannot still put ourselves in a better position for the championship so at least something good came out of it.
Q: (Jussi Jakala – YLE) Kimi, all top drivers are kind of supermen; did you have time to enjoy the battle that you had with Sebastian?
KR: Yeah, it didn’t last very long. It took a few laps. I maybe had a chance earlier but I didn’t think that I would take him at the end of the straight but actually they were very fast at the start of the straight so I couldn’t catch him there, so it took a bit longer than I expected but then it was quite nice, fair but quite tough fight, but it worked out OK.
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
After a hat-trick of second place finishes, Kimi moves to within four points of Sebastian Vettel at the head of the Drivers’ Championship; he’s not getting carried away just yet though…
Q: P2 for the third consecutive race; how are you feeling?
KR: Unfortunately it’s second place again so it’s not time to celebrate too much. The car felt good and we did pretty much all we could today, but we didn’t have the pace to challenge Fernando [Alonso]. I drove to the maximum and it’s good for the championship that Sebastian finished behind us. It’s nice to be on the podium for me and the team; let’s see what we can do in Monaco.
Q: You achieved your result with a three stop strategy today when many rivals opted for four; talk us through that decision?
KR: That’s the strategy we chose and it worked pretty well for us. Fernando did make four stops, but we didn’t think we could beat him whatever the strategy today as he has looked pretty quick all weekend.
Q: Did you enjoy your battle with Sebastian Vettel?
KR: Yes, but it didn’t last very long; just a few laps. I maybe had a chance to pass a bit earlier but I didn’t think I could take him at the end of the straight; they [Red Bull] were very fast coming on to the straight so I couldn’t catch him there. It took a bit longer than I expected but then it was a good battle – fair, but quite tough – and it worked out okay for us in the end.
Q: Some say your championship challenge is somewhat under the radar; is that a good thing?
KR: I don’t mind if people don’t notice us. We do our work, we’re happy in what we do and we obviously try to achieve the best for Enstone. I’m just here to race the best I can. You always want to win and it’s disappointing to finish second, but sometimes we have to take what we can get.
A strong drive to P2 puts Kimi just 4 points off Championship leader Sebastian Vettel, whilst bad luck sees Romain retire in the early stages at the Circuit de Catalunya…
Pos Driver Team 1. Alonso Ferrari 2. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 3. Massa Ferrari 4. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 5. Webber Red Bull-Renault 6. Rosberg Mercedes 7. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes 8. Button McLaren-Mercedes 9. Perez McLaren-Mercedes 10. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 11. Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 12. Hamilton Mercedes 13. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 14. Maldonado Williams-Renault 15. Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 16. Bottas Williams-Renault 17. Pic Caterham-Renault 18. Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 19. Chilton Marussia-Cosworth DNF Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari DNF van der Garde Caterham-Renault DNF Grosjean Lotus-Renault World Championship standings, round 5: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Vettel 89 1. Red Bull-Renault 131 2. Raikkonen 85 2. Ferrari 117 3. Alonso 72 3. Lotus-Renault 111 4. Hamilton 50 4. Mercedes 72 5. Massa 45 5. Force India-Mercedes 32 6. Webber 42 6. McLaren-Mercedes 29 7. Di Resta 26 7. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 8 8. Grosjean 26 8. Sauber-Ferrari 5 9. Rosberg 22 10. Button 17 11. Perez 12 12. Ricciardo 7 13. Sutil 6 14. Hulkenberg 5 15. Vergne 1
Video: SkySports interview
When asked if he thought that victory had been possible, Lotus driver Raikkonen replied: “Maybe halfway through, when we were leading, but we were on old tyres and [he had] newer tyres.
“It is too easy to overtake, so no point to really fight again because you cannot hold him behind.
“I knew if I could somehow stay a bit closer, maybe I had some chance, even if I am already behind them with old tyres. But in the end, they were just too fast.”
Raikkonen pointed to his poor opening lap, when he dropped a place to Alonso at Turn 3, as a moment that shaped his race.
“We didn’t have a good start, but I don’t think the end result was decided there. It wasn’t the win, and we are only happy with the win, but [in terms of the championship, with Sebastian] Vettel we are close and Fernando has caught me, but we are still in the hunt and hopefully we can try and win a bit more.”
Raikkonen is now just four points behind Vettel in the championship, and is looking forward to future battles as he aims to win his second world title.
“Sometimes you have bad days and make the most out of them and give yourself a chance to fight for wins,” he said.
“If you can do that often you will have a good chance in the end to fight for the championship. Only five races done… we will see what happens and see where we are at the end.”
Kimi Raikkonen – 2nd: “Unfortunately it’s second place again so it’s not time to celebrate too much. The car felt good and we did pretty much all we could today, but we didn’t have the pace to challenge Fernando [Alonso]. I drove to the maximum and it’s good for the championship that Sebastian finished behind us. It’s nice to be on the podium for me and the team; let’s see what we can do in Monaco.”
Romain Grosjean – DNF: “I made a poor start but after that I was on the pace and we know we’re able to produce good race strategies, so there was potential for a strong result today. The car was feeling pretty good until we had an issue with the rear suspension which meant I had to return to the pits and retire from the race, which is a great shame. It’s always disappointing for everyone when something like this happens but there’s no-one to blame; it’s just a part of motor racing.”
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: “We’re very happy with a podium. Losing out to Fernando in the first corner was a blow, and being held up behind first Lewis [Hamilton] then Sebastian certainly hampered our progress, but even so I don’t think we quite had the pace to take the win today. Unfortunately for Romain, and through no fault of his own, a rear suspension failure curtailed his race very early on. The cause of this has yet to be determined and we’ve completed many, many kilometres with this suspension configuration, so it’s difficult to pinpoint what might have occurred. We’ll be sending the parts back to Enstone to have a good look at what went wrong and avoid any recurrence.”
@f1zone Kimi: “But we gained points on Sebastian today so it’s good. But we need to finish higher up more.” @KimiFanPage Kimi: ”We choose to do that (three stops). It gave us second place. We gained points on Sebastian, something good came out of today.”
An overcast but dry start to the second day’s running at the Circuit de Catalunya saw Kimi and Romain take P2 / P4 respectively in the final practice session…
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m21.901s 13 2. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m21.907s + 0.006s 14 3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m22.044s + 0.143s 17 4. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m22.069s + 0.168s 13 5. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m22.229s + 0.328s 17 6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m22.254s + 0.353s 15 7. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m22.574s + 0.673s 11 8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m22.729s + 0.828s 17 9. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m22.740s + 0.839s 24 10. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m22.759s + 0.858s 15 11. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.839s + 0.938s 26 12. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m23.151s + 1.250s 13 13. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m23.371s + 1.470s 21 14. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m23.373s + 1.472s 13 15. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m23.385s + 1.484s 17 16. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m23.388s + 1.487s 18 17. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m23.660s + 1.759s 16 18. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m23.767s + 1.866s 17 19. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m24.775s + 2.874s 18 20. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m24.793s + 2.892s 16 21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m25.135s + 3.234s 17 22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m25.250s + 3.349s 18
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
Fourth fastest after the opening day’s action, Kimi gives us his view on a closely packed field here at the Circuit de Catalunya…
Q: How was your Friday in Barcelona?
KR: It was a pretty normal Friday. We tried some new things on the car, ran with some different tyres and we’ll have a look at all the data to see where we think we are. We finished the day not too far off the fastest time, so we can say that the day wasn’t a disaster, but for sure there are some things we have to improve with the car which is normal after the first day’s running.
Q: Times are pretty tight at the front of the pack today; should that make qualifying interesting tomorrow?
KR: I guess it’s going to be very close in qualifying too. We aren’t always especially fast in qualifying so we’ll have to see what we can do. We have to get everything right to fight for a good position and then we’ll see where we end up.
Q: How did you find the revised hard compound tyre?
KR: It’s okay.
Q: Does the car feel any different with the latest upgrades?
KR: It’s difficult to compare. We were here last time in the winter and the car has changed quite a lot since then. It feels okay on track; we’re looking at the data to see if the new parts are doing what they should, which is the normal way we do these things.
Q: Does the change of tyres to a harder allocation for this race make any difference to you?
KR: It makes no difference to me; they’re the same for everyone and we all try to get the most performance from them.
With a dry circuit now at their mercy, Friday afternoon at the Circuit de Catalunya meant a session of upgrade evaluation for Kimi and Romain. P4 / P18 was the result; here’s how it happened…
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m22.808s 34 2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m22.825s + 0.017s 35 3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m22.891s + 0.083s 36 4. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m23.030s + 0.222s 32 5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m23.110s + 0.302s 37 6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m23.140s + 0.332s 35 7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m23.398s + 0.590s 45 8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m23.840s + 1.032s 37 9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m24.058s + 1.250s 31 10. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m24.104s + 1.296s 25 11. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m24.175s + 1.367s 32 12. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.306s + 1.498s 35 13. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.854s + 2.046s 31 14. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m24.888s + 2.080s 38 15. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.167s + 2.359s 38 16. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m25.321s + 2.513s 32 17. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.441s + 2.633s 37 18. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m25.851s + 3.043s 35 19. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m25.963s + 3.155s 30 20. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m26.078s + 3.270s 31 21. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m26.930s + 4.122s 35 22. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m26.970s + 4.162s 25
Kimi Raikkonen – 8th/4th: “It was a pretty normal Friday. We tried some things on the car, ran with some different tyres and we’ll have a look at all the data to see where we think we are. We finished the day not too far off the fastest time, so we can say that the day wasn’t a disaster, but for sure there are some things we have to improve with the car which is normal after the first day’s running.”
Romain Grosjean – 4th/18th: “Today was okay. It may not look great on the timesheets, but we didn’t finish our lap on the medium tyres as I had to come back in. The circuit isn’t an easy one to understand in terms of tyre performance as there is a lot of degradation, and of course this morning the weather conditions made things a bit difficult. We completed a good number of laps to collect as much data as possible, so we’ll be working on the set-up this evening where we should be able to take some steps forwards.”
A cool, damp start to the weekend at the Circuit de Catalunya saw Kimi and Romain end the morning in P8 / P4 respectively; a somewhat mixed field the result of drying conditions out on track.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m25.252s 20 2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m25.455s + 0.203s 20 3. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m25.667s + 0.415s 25 4. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m26.042s + 0.790s 21 5. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m26.212s + 0.960s 24 6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m26.374s + 1.122s 19 7. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m26.456s + 1.204s 20 8. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m26.614s + 1.362s 21 9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m26.621s + 1.369s 21 10. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m26.755s + 1.503s 16 11. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m26.940s + 1.688s 26 12. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m27.061s + 1.809s 24 13. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m27.135s + 1.883s 6 14. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m27.250s + 1.998s 26 15. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m27.576s + 2.324s 24 16. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m28.600s + 3.348s 19 17. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m28.887s + 3.635s 14 18. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m29.177s + 3.925s 14 19. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m29.457s + 4.205s 11 20. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m29.473s + 4.221s 21 21. Rodolfo Gonzalez Marussia-Cosworth 1m30.314s + 5.062s 12 22. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes no time 6
Kimi Raikkonen says Lotus would be ‘stupid’ not to believe it is knuckling down for a world championship fight this year.
The Finn is just ten points adrift of points leader Sebastian Vettel after the first four races of the year, and its car has proved to be a step forward on last year’s challenger.
Although there is still a view that Red Bull has the out-and-out fastest car, Raikkonen says there is absolutely no reason for Lotus not to set its sights on glory at the end of the campaign.
“It would be stupid to say we are not going to fight for the championship,” he explained.
“The only reason why we are here is to try to win championships and races. Obviously we want to fight for it, but you only have to have a couple of bad races and you might be out of it completely.
“We’ll try to make the maximum out of every weekend and in the long run that’s key to the championship.”
Raikkonen said that Lotus was not concerned about any specific element of its package – with qualifying the most notable area it can do better – and was just focusing on trying to improve in all areas.
“We try to improve everything,” he said. “If we improve the car, we’ll automatically improve our qualifying. It all goes hand in hand.
“There’s no magic where you suddenly do one thing and you’re faster in qualifying. If we make the car faster we improve our pace in all conditions.
“You always want to do better. We still have some things that need looking after, and especially in Malaysia [where it rained] we had some issues that could have been better.
“Right now we’ve put ourselves in a pretty good position so let’s see if we can keep it going and improve.”
Kimi Raikkonen thinks Lotus has enough strength in depth to shrug off the loss of technical director James Allison. Raikkonen said only time would tell if the highly-rated Allison’s exit would harm Lotus, but that he suspected the team was well prepared.
“For me it doesn’t really make a difference. I cannot tell if it will make a difference in one week or in one year, or if it won’t make a difference at all.
“It’s not like it suddenly happened one day. People have discussed it and the team will have known it was coming for a while.
“So it’s not like we woke up it’s different to what it was when we went to sleep.
“I think there are a lot of strong people and we should be fine.”
He added that the Allison announcement had no bearing on his 2014 plans, as he was not spending any time considering whether to stay with Lotus or move on at present.
“My decision will be purely on what I think is best for me overall,” Raikkonen said.
“I have no idea what will happen and right now I’m not even putting much thought into it because we have only done four races and we have a long season to go.
“It’s a long time until next year. Everybody always talks about it, but I’m not in any hurry.”
“Not really,” he said when asked if he was worried. “We don’t know if it’s going to change anything, or what it’s going to change. Obviously there are people who will replace him already. We’ll see if it has any effect on what the future brings. I don’t really have any idea.”
Meanwhile Kimi refused to be drawn on what his plans for 2014 might be.
“My decision will be purely on what I think is the best overall for me, and we’ll see what happens in the future. I have no idea what will happen and right now I don’t put much thought into it because we only have done four races. There’s a long season to go and there’s a long time until next year. So now we put effort for this race and this season.”
Asked if he had a time frame he said: “I have to know before next year… You keep asking me the same question, I have nothing to tell, I don’t know. I purely put my effort for this race and this year, and when things happen, people will know. There’s nothing to tell and I don’t really put much thought about it. Everyone always talks about it, but I’m not in a hurry.”
He also refused to be drawn on whether the change to Pirelli’s hard tyre might affect Lotus.
“We’ll see on Sunday, I cannot predict anything. There’s no point to try to guess what will happen. We’ll get some idea tomorrow and we’ll see if it’s good or not good.”
Whenever he is asked a question, the infamously reticent Raikkonen looks rather put out, as if you have just trespassed on his spiritual retreat, so his response to the speculation is hardly a surprise. “You keep asking me the same question but I have nothing to tell. I don’t know,” he says with a shrug. “Right now I’m purely putting my effort into this race and this year and when things happen, people will know. I have no idea what will happen and right now I’m not putting much thought into it because we have only had four races.
“There’s a long season to go and there’s a long time until next year. I have no contract for next year. There is talk about this and that. In the end I will make the decision at the right time. Things change quickly in Formula One. There might be a few options. I want to get the things right for me and get the things right for myself. I’ve been long enough in Formula One to know how important it is to get things as I want.
“I never make a plan. When you are in Formula One there is a point in your life when you want to do other stuff. There is not much time to do anything else. Just normal life, normal things.”
This looks very much like the longest speech ever made by Raikkonen; in fact it is a sort of montage, a splicing together of his responses when inevitably asked questions about his future here this weekend.
The Finn, to put it mildly, does not like being interviewed. And it was largely understood to be the demands of media and sponsors that led him to leave F1 under something of a cloud in 2009. He appeared to have lost his hunger for the sport two years after his world championship success with Ferrari. However, he has another explanation. “I thought I drove very well in the Ferrari in 2009. The car was pretty shit. It was just a bad car, a bad year for making a really good result and fighting for the championship.”
But in a sport well known for its lack of connection between stars and supporters does he still dislike media work and indulging sponsors? “I’m doing an interview right now,” he says. “I’ve always said that I enjoy racing. That’s the only reason I’m here. Nothing has changed in me. But I know how it comes. It comes with other things.
“That’s the way it has always been in Formula One. You will never get the perfect thing without some other stuff coming with it. If you get what you want you always have to pay some price for it.”
Journalist: “Did you watch the last race?” Kimi Raikkonen: “I was in it…”
| Source: autosport.com |
Lotus has suffered a shock early-season loss with technical director James Allison electing to leave the outfit, AUTOSPORT has learned.
Allison, one of the most highly rated designers in the Formula 1 paddock, was viewed as a key asset for Lotus as it pushed to challenge Red Bull for title glory this year.
But just months after initial speculation that other outfits were trying to lure him away, high level sources at the outfit have revealed that Allison has handed in his notice at the Enstone-based team.
Although Lotus was unavailable for comment when contacted, it is understood that an official announcement confirming the news – and the appointment of Nick Chester as the team’s replacement technical director – is imminent.
It is not known where Allison is heading, but the most obvious destinations would be McLaren, Mercedes or Ferrari.
However, McLaren has ruled out the possibility, and Mercedes already has a wealth of technical directors. That leaves Ferrari – which has been on a recruitment drive over recent seasons – as clear favourite.
Sources suggest that Allison has signed a contract forbidding him from revealing his new employer until it makes the announcement.
If confirmed it could hurt the team’s chances of hanging onto Kimi Raikkonen in 2014 as he has a lot of respect for Allison
James Allison leaves Lotus F1, Kimi won’t be pleased. Key tech personnel changes as important as top driver moves,in many ways fewer of them
Team boss Eric Boullier said promoting Chester from his current role as engineering director would minimise the ripples caused by Allison’s exit.
“Nick is well known to everyone at Enstone having been with the team for over 12 years,” said Boullier.
“He is already directly involved with this and next year’s cars, ensuring a smooth transition which has been underway for some time.
“It’s an illustration of the strength and breadth of talent at Enstone that we can draw on personnel of the calibre of Nick and it’s something of an Enstone tradition for new technical directors to be promoted from within.
“He assumes his new position at a tremendously exciting time for the sport. The 2014 technical regulation changes present many challenges, while our current position of second place in both the constructors’ and drivers’ world championships mean we cannot lose sight of this year’s development battle.
“Nick really has his work cut out, but we know he is more than capable of handling the tasks ahead.”
Boullier also paid tribute to Allison’s contribution to the team.
“As a team and individually, we would all like to thank James Allison for his efforts during his three stints at Enstone and wish him all the best in his future endeavours,” he said.
Nick Chester, Technical Director, Lotus F1 Team: “I have worked at Enstone for over twelve years and am delighted to take on the role of Technical Director. I am grateful to the management at Enstone for the faith they have in promoting me to this position. I am very aware of our need to keep pushing development of this year’s E21 whilst developing next year’s car to a set of very different regulations. There are some exciting times ahead for Enstone and I’m honoured to be part of it.”
| Source: autosport.com |
Kimi Raikkonen will commit himself to a fresh contract at Lotus as long as the outfit continues to build on its strong start to the campaign, reckons team owner Gerard Lopez.
The Finn is a free agent at the end of the year, and his strong comeback to F1 has already seen him emerge as one of the key players in the 2014 driver market.
But despite speculation already linking him with other teams – including Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari – Lopez says he is ‘convinced’ that Raikkonen will remain where he is providing Lotus maintains it competitive form.
“Kimi is a fantastic guy,” Lopez said in an exclusive interview with AUTOSPORT. “The thing about Kimi is that he is very thankful we brought him back to where he is.
“And we are very thankful that he has brought the team to where it is now. So it fits nicely.
“To be honest with you, I am convinced, and I don’t say this lightly, that if Kimi gets what he wants from us in terms of performance and so on, we will see Kimi moving forward with us.
“He knows that; and he says that. He is not going to get what he gets with us here anywhere else. It doesn’t matter if the team has a blue car, a red car or a silver car.
“But this is also racing. So we have to make sure that he has a good competitive car. He has got one. As long as we can give that he will be with us.”
Raikkonen has won two races with Lotus since returning at the start of 2012, and is currently 10 points off leader Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ championship.
Lopez said he never had any doubts that Raikkonen would be able to produce such form after being lured back from rallying, even though there were many people sceptical about the choice because of the Finn’s relaxed public image.
“We must have had 11 choices [for 2012] – and I can tell you from the outside it was by far not the most obvious one. But to us, it was,” he said.
“Honestly there is a lot of pride in this team that we made that choice because we were 100 per cent convinced. It is one of those things where you look at people and say, ‘I told you so’.
“We were absolutely convinced that he had what he takes. I dealt with him, talked to him and knew what I was going to get myself in to.
“I knew I wasn’t getting someone who was going to shoot a commercial every week or whatever. That is not what we want. But a dedicated racer? That was a given.”
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
After taking his third podium finish of the year in Bahrain, our Iceman looks forward to racing closer to home with the start of the European season.
Q: Yourself and the team currently occupy P2 in both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships; are you pleased with how things are going?
KR: For sure it’s an okay start and we’re in a better position that this time last year, but there’s a long season ahead and it’s too early to say if we can fight for the Championships right to the end. It’s going to be hard to catch Sebastian [Vettel] if he keeps taking good results so we need to start taking more points from him, but you never know what can happen. We’ll keep pushing to improve the car and see where we end up.
Q: What’s required to bridge that gap to P1?
KR: Some more wins! To catch the leaders, we have to work twice as hard as they are. It’s no secret that we want more speed from the car in qualifying; it’s so tight up there at the front and we really need to be on the first two rows to fight for victories every time. It’s good to be able to start the European season where we are as this is when you see teams starting to push on with lots of new parts for the cars. It’s still early days, but to have scored strong points since the start of the year is obviously better than not having them. We need to keep scoring points in the same way; even if it’s a bad weekend for us, we need to keep finishing as well as we can. That’s how we will fight to the end of the season.
Q: How is the Circuit of Catalunya for you?
KR: I have won twice in Barcelona and I was on the podium there last year too, so I really look forward to going there again; hopefully to end the weekend with another good result. It’s a circuit where you have to get everything exactly right to be at the top. All the teams have tested many times at this circuit, so to get an advantage there is not very easy. The set-up is crucial as the track changes with the wind and temperature so there’s plenty of work for the engineers too.
Q: Is it good to be racing in Europe again?
KR: I really like racing in Europe. We don’t have to travel that far so all your energy is saved for the weekend itself. Traditionally the real season starts when coming back to Europe. For me, it’s great.
Q: The Circuit de Catalunya is the only circuit at which you’ve tested the E21 so far; does that help matters?
KR: That’s true, but you have to remember that was at the end of February and the beginning of March so conditions were very different compared to what we hope to see in May. It was very difficult to get the tyres working properly when we were last there, but it was the same for everybody. We all start from zero again in FP1.
Q: The team didn’t get so much mileage at Barcelona during testing, but reliability doesn’t seem to be so much of a concern now the season is underway?
KR: I didn’t have that many laps there in testing as there were problems with the car and I also missed a day as I was unwell. That said, me and the team know the track pretty well so I don’t think we’ll be too surprised about which way the track goes or what setup to use on the car. Even though I didn’t get a lot of mileage in pre-season, the main thing was I felt good in the car the whole time. Our car seems to be good at every circuit so far…
Q: You were quite reserved after the podium finish in Bahrain; were you happy with the result?
KR: You’re never really happy if you don’t win, but I suppose second place is as close as you can get. We could maybe have been a few places higher in in qualifying which would have made things easier, but I drove to the maximum and luckily we found the pace in the car that was missing in qualifying. Let’s hope I’m happier in Spain.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Kimi Raikkonen’s talk about needing to stop Sebastian Vettel’s charge already may sound a bit defeatist for a man just 10 points adrift of the top of the standings.
But a quick look back at the title standings last year shows that Raikkonen has good reason to understand the need to not let his German rival edge clear.
After the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix, Raikkonen was just 11 points behind Vettel in the standings, a gap that he never really got back under control again.
With an intense development race on the horizon, and little separating the frontrunners in pace terms, every point from now on is going to count.
And while there is only a seven points difference between winning and second, in championship terms a victory or defeat can turn into a ’14 pointer’ if they are against your main rival – and titles are often won by much less than that.
| Source: kimiraikkonen.com |
Step by step
The first part of the season is behind us. Our target was to improve from what we got in first four races of 2012, and, obviously, we have gain some better results, and, the most importantly, a few more points.
Winning and clinching podiums has given a good basis for this championship campaign. We have not had the fastest car, but it’s realiable and competitive, so no complaints so far.
The Bahrain weekend showed again, how crucial it is to get a top result in qualifying. We didn’t have the speed for one lap, my lap was not perfect and all in all, we dropped too many places behind the leaders.
The race itself was a matter of taking care of the tyres. I was already on Friday thinking of two stops, and, it prooved to be the fastest way for us in the race. It could have been a little bit easier with the Force India, but we played it safe and I stopped quite early.
There was no way to fight for the victory against Vettel. We got second and third place and, for sure, that was a great result for the team. Obviously, we have work to do to keep on fighting with the top guys, but so far, so good. I’m quite happy with that.
Now it’s time to move to European season, starting from Barcelona. This is so refreshing time of the year. I don’t like the long journeys, so it’s nice to be that much closer to the racing circuits from home. For Barcelona everybody will bring new parts to their cars. It’s going to be interesting to see, how it turns out to be there in Friday practice.
Pictures from Bahrain:
| Source: yallaf1.com |
There would be ‘no bullshit’ in the Red Bull pit garage if Sebastian Vettel was to be paired in the team with friend Kimi Raikkonen in 2014.
Amid speculation Red Bull is considering the Finn as a potential replacement for Mark Webber next year, world champion Vettel suggested he would be happy with that choice.
“I don’t care who my teammate is,” German Vettel told Sport Bild. ”If you want to win, you have to beat everyone.”
“But if Kimi was my teammate: fine! We have no problem with each other and we’re mature enough to deal with it even in a difficult situation.”
“I get along well with him,” Vettel, whose tetchy relationship with Webber fell to an all-time low with the recent ‘Multi-21′ affair, continued, still referring to Raikkonen.
“He’s just very honest. There’s no bullshit with him.”
Raikkonen has also spoken glowingly of Vettel, even though he has been careful to drop no hints about his plans beyond his Lotus contract.
“We trust each other in a duel to not do anything stupid,” said the Finn. “We’re both open and honest. If we were to crash, we would probably complain about each other, but that’s just normal.”
The man of few words talks. The reason why he is taking Vettel in his private jet, why he doesn’t extend his contract with Lotus at the moment and why a second world championship title wouldn’t make him happier…
Q: Mr. Räikkönen, the drummer of Guns Roses told us, that you had been drinking together. Is there a little rocker inside of you?
KR: ”In general, I like music, but not such music. The guys of guns ‘n’ roses are just cool. I don’t care if they’re famous musicians or not. I just like being together with such guys.”
Q: You were flying home from China together with Sebastian Vettel. From Munich on, in your private jet. Would you do so for every driver colleague?
KR: ”No, but not everyone lives near Zurich.”
Q: It says, Vettel has no more friends in the paddock. Is that true?
KR : ”It is basically difficult to have friends inside the Formula One, but we two are. We aren’t seeing each other as often as before because Seb moved a bit wider away, but I still would call him my friend in Formula One. I know him best of all.”
Q: He (Seb) is still being critized for ignoring team-orders in Malaysia. How would you have acted if the team told you to stay behind your slower teammate?
KR: ”Always you journalists with your would-if-questions! Team-orders are a part of Formula One. Sometimes you stick to it, sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Team-orders can be that your engineer tells you to do this or that, but you wanted to do it the other way round. Then I won’t listen to my engineer and do what I want.”
Q: Just like Vettel. Afterwards he told honestly what he’s thinking about his teammate. How did you like that?
KR: ”Seb has his opinion and he told it. He is honest and open. That’s a good thing, I like that.”
Q: How did Seb change because of his three titles?
KR: ”He didn’t change. Sure thing: He’s getting older and gets to know more about the sport. But apart from that, his personality didn’t change at all. He’s still a normal, funny and nice guy.”
Q: Now you two are fighting each other for race victories and the championship. Will you remain friends?
KR: ”Yes. We trust each other, that neither of us will do something stupid in a in fight. We’re honest and open. If it comes to a crash between us, we probably will be complaining about each other (laughs). But that should be it then. Everyone has an argument sometimes, it’s just normal.”
Q: In Bahrain, he beat you. Are you still winning against Seb in Badminton?
KR: ”We haven’t played for a long time. But the last time we did, approximately three years ago, Seb lost, that’s right.”
Q: Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez is assuming that you are staying with Lotus.
KR: ”It can be that he wants me to stay. In fact, I haven’t got a contract for next season yet. But things in Formula one can turn around fast. Honestly: I just don’t know what I will be doing next year yet. Ask me again in six months.”
Q: You told the Bild newspaper that you want to return to a top team. At RedBull Racing, Mark Webber’s spot will likely be available. And Dietrich Mateschitz wants you.
KR: ”I don’t know what you want from me! Here at Lotus, we are winning races. That’s enough. It doesn’t matter that we are spending less money than the other top teams here at Lotus as long as I am winning. But once again: I don’t know what happens next year. For now, I am trying to get the maximum out of the season. Then I will make the right decision for me. I am not wasting my thoughts on the future. And I’m not worried about finding a seat. I can live without Formula One, too.”
Q: Then why are you sitting here with us and doing an interview?
KR: ”Because Formula One is motorsport on the highest level. And according to that, there will always be days like this, when I have to do a lot of boring interviews.”
Q: Currently, you’re 2nd in the championship. Are you able to win the title against Sebastian Vettel?
KR: ”It’s true: At the moment we’re doing pretty well pretty often. But that doesn’t guarantee the championship. The second place in Bahrain was good, but it doesn’t help when Seb keeps winning all of the time. We have to find something else.”
Q: What would a second World Championship title mean to you?
KR: ”A second title would be nice, but it wouldn’t make me happier. The most important thing is to be satisfied with yourself.”
Q: What is so special about your right foot that your tires last longer?
KR: ”It isn’t just my foot. It’s a combination of the driver and the car. My Lotus is gentle with the tyres and that makes it easier for me.”
Q: It seems that you’re happier at Lotus than that Ferrari or Mclaren.
KR: ”No you can’t say that. A team from Italy is complete different to one from England. I had a good time everywhere.”
Q: You aren’t showing that at all. Are you going to laugh in the basement? (German proverb, I don’t know how to translate it properly. It means, that you won’t show your humoristic side to all people)
KR: ”I don’t show the real me in Formula One. Most of the people are behaving differently at work and in private.”
Q: While listening to your team radio, one could get the opinion that you aren’t getting along well with your engineer…..
KR: ”Yes, but you can only listen to a small piece of it. Of course, we have different opinions at some times. It seems that i’m yelling at him all the time, but that comes with the loudness. Inside the car it’s terribly loud.”
Q: You are a big James Hunt Fan. Are you going to watch the new movie about him and Niki Lauda?
KR: ”Yes, I will. In these times, Formula One was just pure racing. Motorsport how it should be. Not so much talking about it. I like that.”
Last year Kimi Räikkönen came 3rd in the WDC-serie and Lotus came 4th in the WC-serie. Immediately after that Lopez said that the goal is to do even better in 2013.
Lopez leaned on Lotus-premise’s wall in his laidback style shining with satisfaction after Bahrain GP.
“I’m now even happier than I was a year ago here when the endresult was exactly the same. We have now proved that we have a strong car for every track. I strongly believe that we can renew these positions in the future also with performances of the same level,” Lopez smiled to Turun Sanomat.
“Kimi is – as usual – a fantastic racing driver in every race and for Romain Grosjean the 3rd position was an even bigger victory.”
“Kimi also had a difficult weekend. I rank him really high also in the sense of how he always bounces back in races after difficulties. Kimi is an unbelievable driver, he is equally good every weekend and it’s guaranteed that he is in stitch in every race – despite his starting positions,” Lopez praised.
What kind of chances do Räikkönen and Lotus have in challenging Vettel and Red Bull for the championship?
“I believe they are good. It’s up to us to give Kimi the best chances. As long as the car is the way he wants every weekend his chances to drive for victory are good.”
“We all know that in order for Kimi to win Vettel he needs races where he can score more points than him. It’s a tough challenge but we are up for it and hopefully we get help from above in the form of hot weathers, since they suit our car so well,” Lopez said.
Kimi speaks up in drivers’ meeting about Perez
| Source: Heikki Kulta’s Blog from Bahrain |
Lotus-team’s radio traffic in Bahrain GP was very two-folded. You could hear blabbering in the radio all the time from car number 8, whereas they could have played the song ‘Sound of silence’ in car number 7′s radio.
Romain Grosjean was extremely nervous in the cockpit. The endresult rewarded the man’s spectacular battle – and hopefully brings back some patience in his mind.
Kimi Räikkönen’s performance compensated once again for everything that has been said. When they put new tires in Kimi’s car, Kimi snapped after getting back to the track that it’s sliding a bit – and banged at once the fastest lap so far in the race.
The weekend as a whole was just as difficult for Räikkönen as China was. Now the car wasn’t damaged but the quali-speed disappeared and on the racing day he got an annoying allergic reaction which fortunately didn’t disturb his actual race performance.
Räikkönen clashed with Sergio Perez in China. It bugged the Finn so much that Räikkönen talked for the first time during his whole F1-career in Bahrain’s driver-meeting .
Räikkönen asked Charlie Whiting if a penalty would be handed for the crash. Based upon what I heard, three drivers were of the opinion that Perez should be penalized, but the rest were silent. Whiting replied that the jury did the right thing in China when they didn’t hand out penalties for that incident.
That’s that then – and I’m sure that the silence will continue in the following races also. Räikkönen can now focus on what he does best – drive for the championship with his killing consistency, which so far has produced 21 races with scored points in a row and four podiums from the last seven races.
| Source: autosport.com |
Lotus believes that unlocking a better understanding of Pirelli’s medium compound tyre is key to helping Kimi Raikkonen deliver the grid positions he needs to win more races and maintain his title shot.
The Finn is just 10 points adrift of leader Sebastian Vettel in the 2013 Formula 1 standings, but his chances of building on his Australian Grand Prix victory have been compromised by not starting near enough to the front of the grid.
The only race where he has been able to produce a front row performance was in China, and his race chances there were badly hit by a slow getaway.
Lotus team principal Eric Boullier thinks his team’s situation is different to the difficulties it faced with the tyres at times last year, as the qualifying issues this season are more specifically related to one type of tyre.
“It is more a balance issue when we go to the medium tyre,” Boullier told AUTOSPORT.
“In China, that problem did not help our drivers deliver, and the car was difficult to drive.
“So we need to maybe pay more attention to what the medium tyres are doing and know better how to handle them in both cool conditions and hot.”
The medium compound was the qualifying tyre of choice in both Malaysia and Bahrain, whereas the super-soft was best in Australia and the soft in China.
Boullier believes the fact that Lotus made progress with its general qualifying issues last year – and delivered on the soft tyre in China – gives him cause for optimism over its medium compound troubles.
“We know we can do it,” he said. “It is just a matter of doing it regularly.
“We are definitely in a stronger position than last year. We have built up from 2012, plus we have some stability with the drivers.
“So it is clear we can be stronger than last year.”
Pirelli has used all of its four compounds in the first four races of the year, but it is clear that Kimi Raikkonen has performed better at the events where the medium tyre has not been crucial to qualifying.
| Source: yallaf1.com |
In the end he finished second, but Kimi Raikkonen was almost not well enough to start Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
Finnish sources MTV3 and Turun Sanomat report that the Lotus driver was late for the pre-race driver parade because he was suffering from an allergic reaction.
“He gets it 3 or 4 times a year,” the 2007 world champion’s trainer Mark Arnall admitted.
“We have no idea where it came from just before the race, but it affects mainly his skin, and not so much his eyes.”
Arnall said Raikkonen was treated with antihistamines.
Lotus engineer Alan Permane said: “Considering he (Raikkonen) was suffering before he started the race, it was a very impressive performance indeed.”
| Source: lotusf1team.com |
Four races, three podiums and some classy drives for the Iceman so far in 2013. As always though, he’s wanting more…
Q: After a difficult day yesterday, are you satisfied with today’s result?
KR: You’re never really happy if you don’t win, but I suppose second place is as close as you can get. We could maybe have been a few places higher in in qualifying which would have made things easier, but I drove to the maximum and luckily we found the pace in the car that was missing yesterday. We didn’t have the speed to challenge Sebastian [Vettel] today, but we did have the pace to get both cars on the podium so I’m happy for the team.
Q: After a tough start, did you believe this result was on the cards?
KR: I got off the line ok but then got a bit caught in the traffic so it wasn’t an easy start for sure. After the first stop I thought we had a good chance to make the podium, but we were on a different strategy to most of the others so it was difficult to tell where we were. In the end it worked out pretty well.
Q: There seemed to be a bit of contention over your first stop…
KR: We stopped pretty early the first time and you don’t want to run a set of tyres too long as you then have to look after them a bit more and they start to get more tricky with every lap. It was a bit of a change from our initial plan but that’s pretty normal and I wasn’t worried; our tyre wear was never a problem and they still felt fine at the end.
Q: Yourself and the team currently occupy P2 in both Championships; are you pleased with how things are going?
KR: For sure it’s an ok start and we’re in a better position that this time last year, but there’s a long season ahead and it’s too early to say if we can fight for the Championship right to the end. It’s going to be hard to catch Sebastian [Vettel] if he keeps taking good results so we need to start taking more points from him, but you never know what can happen. We’ll keep pushing to improve the car and see where we end up.