Archive for March 24, 2012

Post-qualifying interview with Kimi

Source: |

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Australian event probably wasn’t the welcome back to the sport Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen would have wanted. But after starting down in 17th and eventually finishing in seventh, Raikkonen made the best of a bad situation and left with a well-deserved haul of six points. In comparison, the Malaysian weekend is already looking a lot better, even though a five-place gearbox penalty will see him drop down from fifth on the grid to tenth. Raikkonen discusses the Melbourne race and looks ahead to Sunday in Sepang…

Q: Kimi, is racing again in Formula One as much fun as you had hoped?
Kimi Raikkonen:
It is all the same as before. It hasn’t changed. But the car is good and that always makes it a bit nicer. If you are in 15th place, then that of course is never nice. Okay, in terms of the paddock, I really didn’t expect it to be any different from when I left, but the team is nice so I feel very comfortable.

Q: So things haven’t really changed. You initially left for a reason so can you stomach those reasons now?
I like the racing. And if you do so then it is inevitable you must accept the rest. Sometimes you discover that on your second try.

Q: How would you sum up your first race? Was it business as usual or did you have to warm up first?
I made a mistake in qualifying so I put myself in a very bad position, but at least in the race we got something out of it. I took it quite easy as I didn’t want to get overly excited and throw it away. As for this weekend we’ve got a five-place penalty which means I will start from P10 tomorrow. But I’m used to penalties; I’ve got so many during my career! (laughs)

Q: Was it painful seeing your team mate, Romain Grosjean, start from P3 in Melbourne?
No – we knew that we botched it and that we never gave ourselves a real chance. But that’s racing. Sometimes you are fastest and sometimes you are slower in qualifying. But it’s the race where you get the points.

Q: So were you angry about botching it up?
We did it ourselves so we are the ones to be blamed. So what’s the point in crying over spilt milk now? I have been long enough in the business to know about the ups and downs of racing. It’s not the first time that I had to stop after Q1 – it is what it is.

Q: Today went better though…
It was of course much nicer. The car felt really good. So maybe I am a bit disappointed as I very well could have ended up in P3 – or even on pole position. But I made a small mistake and there you go. And then with the penalty, of course that costs us even more. But sure it is day and night compared to Melbourne. Here the race should give us a very real chance. P5 would have been easier as P10 already means you have a ‘crowd’ in front. But after the first three corners I should be fine.

Q: You said that you missed the direct competition with other drivers when you were rallying. But there wasn’t too much direct competition in Melbourne…
Ha! If I had been further at front the competition would have been much less. But again, the race went nice and smoothly.

Q: There have been rumours that your nickname could change from ‘ice man’ to ‘nice man’. How do you like that?
It’s all just a rumour. It is the media who make up these kinds of things in the first place. It’s all rubbish!

Q: How do you feel seeing your former team Ferrari struggling so much?
I don’t care. We try to beat all the teams and they are just one of them. If they do poorly it is bad for them but as we are ahead of them I could not care less. And if they become better than us then it’s a sign that we have to improve.

Q: What is your strategy for the race?
I will try to get through the first corners without any accidents and then go on from there. There is not a plan or manual of what to do in the first lap. As I said at the beginning, the car feels good and there should be some options for me tomorrow.


Malaysian Grand Prix – Qualifying Results, Quotes, Photos

Source: |

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After a solid showing in Free Practice 3 earlier today, spirits were high in the Lotus F1 Team garage as the drivers rolled out of the garage to begin their first qualifying runs under the blistering Malaysian sun.

Qualifying 1 got off to the best possible start as both drivers put themselves firmly in the frame to progress to the next session with strong early laps. Despite sitting in P6 and P7 respectively with just a handful of minutes remaining, Kimi and Romain sat poised in the garage ready for another run to cement their places in the top 17. As it turned out neither required an additional stint, dropping only as far as P8 and P9 as the chequered flag was waved.

The second session followed a similar pattern for Kimi. The moment the green flag was flown he fired his E20 down the pit lane and put in a scorching lap to occupy top spot, where he would remain until the end of the session without having to set another time. Romain’s approach was more measured, waiting to see how the track evolved before completing an equally short stint (3 laps) to end the session in P6.

With both cars safely through to the pole position shootout, the excitement in the team garage was palpable as the drivers went for two runs apiece in an attempt to plant their E20s as high up the order as possible. Kimi ended the session in P5, setting an identical time to Mark Webber in P4. With his effort just 0.2s shy of the pole lap, the Finn believed he could have grabbed top spot without a small slide in turn 9. Romain adopted the same strategy as his team mate, ending the day in an impressive P7 to seal his second top 10 starting berth in as many races.

SkySports Live – KR: “It was ok, a bit of a shame we’re only going to be 10th tomorrow but the car is working well. A small mistake in a few corners cost us a few tenths but we had the speed today to have the perfect lap to be in the front… We’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

Pos--Driver---------------Team-----------------Time -----------Gap 
 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m36.219s
 2.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m36.368s   + 0.149
 3.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             1m36.391s   + 0.172
 4.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m36.461s   + 0.242
 5.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m36.461s   + 0.242
 6.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m36.634s   + 0.415
 7.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m36.658s   + 0.439
 8.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m36.664s   + 0.445
 9.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m37.566s   + 1.347
10.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       1m37.698s   + 1.479
Q2 cut-off time: 1m37.477s Gap ** 
11.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m37.589s   + 0.874
12.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m37.731s   + 1.016
13.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault     1m37.841s   + 1.126
14.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m37.877s   + 1.162
15.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m37.883s   + 1.168
16.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes 1m37.890s   + 1.175
17.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       1m38.069s   + 1.354
Q1 cut-off time: 1m38.437s Gap * 
18.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m39.077s   + 1.905
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault     1m39.306s   + 2.134
20.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault     1m39.567s   + 2.395
21.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth    1m40.903s   + 3.731
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth    1m41.250s   + 4.078
23.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth         1m42.914s   + 5.742
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth         1m43.655s   + 6.483

Lotus Team Quotes:

Kimi Räikkönen – 10th*: “The car was working well today. Unfortunately, I made a couple of mistakes on my fastest lap which probably cost a couple of tenths. Without that, we were in with a shout for pole today. I got a little bit sideways at the exit of turn nine and we lost some time, but that’s how it goes sometimes. We had some issues with KERS yesterday, but there was no repeat today; the car worked exactly as it should and it felt good. It’s a shame we have a penalty on the grid but the car works well. Today was definitely a positive day. Tomorrow we start from tenth and will try to improve from there.”

Alan Permane, Director of Trackside Operations:

Q. Two drivers in the top ten. That’s a bit more like it…
AP: “Obviously we’re happy from today’s performance, but as ever in Formula 1 we always want more. Kimi felt he made a mistake in a couple of corners, and with a perfect lap he could have certainly done better, but overall to have the fifth and seventh fastest cars in qualifying was encouraging.”

Q. What can we expect from the race tomorrow?
AP: “Looking at all the data, we should expect a strong race. We have a good handle on the tyres in these conditions. We have good set-ups which both drivers feel very happy with. Weather permitting, we should expect to have both cars in the points tomorrow.”

Q. We changed Kimi’s gearbox. Are there any concerns going into the race?
AP: “None at all. We saw high temperatures on Kimi’s gearbox in Australia after the cooler was blocked by grass and debris. It completed most of the race like this. We checked both gearboxes thoroughly and there were no concerns with Romain’s gearbox. Kimi has a new ‘box on his car – for which we receive a five place grid penalty – but this was necessary.”

Q. Sepang is notorious for its variable weather. How do you plan a race strategy for this?
AP: “We plan for a dry race and the fastest strategy possible given our grid positions. We monitor the weather reports and satellite information as well as looking at the skies in the build-up to the race, and we have a plan in case it rains. It’s almost impossible to make a concrete wet race strategy in advance as there are so many variables involved. It’s a time when all of us on the pit wall really have to earn our salaries with our strategy calls. It’s a time for cool heads and calm decisions.”

Kimi: car pace strong enough for front-row

Asked by AUTOSPORT if he could have been one of the two fastest drivers in qualifying, the winner of this event in 2003 replied: “Yeah for sure. It’s [his time] a tenth away from the top three and for sure we lost that easily.

“I got out of shape in two places and lost maybe a tenth or two, and on a perfect lap for sure it could have been two tenths faster, but it’s not often that you get everything right like that so…”

The Finn also revealed that he was happier with his car after overnight changes to the floor and repairs to his KERS, which hadn’t functioned properly during Friday’s practice.

“It worked today, so I mean it didn’t work yesterday, we had some issues with KERS and all sorts of things,” he explained. “Now it is normal and it’s fine. I don’t think in Melbourne… it didn’t feel something [right]. We ran the same floor, and then we changed the floor yesterday because we had some issues and suddenly it’s like it was in testing.”

The 2007 world champion was quick on race pace on his return to F1 at Melbourne last week, where he finished seventh, and though he hopes to be able to achieve a similar speed on Sunday, he was cautious about predicting a podium place.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll tell you tomorrow. I mean the cars in front of us, they are fast, but I think we were pretty good in the race in Melbourne in the long runs. Yesterday I had a good speed in the long runs so we will see.

“It depends, a lot can happen in the first two corners, if you can get through clean and with no problems. That’s why it would have been nicer to start closer to the front.

“Yesterday in my long run the car was pretty good, even though we didn’t have KERS and the car probably wasn’t perfect overall. But then the soft I don’t know.

“If it is the same like yesterday I think we have a pretty good car.”

Malaysian Grand Prix – Final Practice Results

Source: |

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lotus F1 Team rounded off the weekend’s final practice session with a strong performance this afternoon in Malaysia as the countdown to qualifying begins. A damp start at the Sepang International circuit quickly cleared, as the shower which preceded Free Practice 3 blew over to reveal beaming sunshine and draining humidity. Nonetheless, with a significant number of wet patches around the track the team opted to send both drivers out on their install laps on the intermediate tyres.

With the standard pre-run checks complete, both Kimi and Romain remained in the garage until a combination of other cars and the sun created enough of a dry line to bolt on a set of slicks.

This they did, promptly emerging from the garage at the halfway stage on matching sets of hard compound Pirelli tyres. Romain immediately shot to the top of the time sheets, closely followed by Kimi in second as the field slowly began to venture further towards the limits of grip on the still drying circuit.

With fast times cropping up here there and everywhere, it became a challenge just to keep up with the running order as the session entered its final stages. After a practice box stop and pull away for the pair, Kimi and Romain were sent out with minutes left on the clock on the medium compound tyre.

Strong runs to end the session saw both drivers sit in the top 5 as the chequered glad dropped. Having racked up 13 laps apiece, Kimi slotted into P4 with a best time 1:37.356, with Romain fractionally behind in P5 having set a 1:37.382.

 1. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1m36.877             16
 2. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1m37.320s  + 0.443   15
 3. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1m37.338s  + 0.461   12
 4. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1m37.356s  + 0.479   13
 5. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1m37.382s  + 0.505   13
 6. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1m37.404s  + 0.527   12
 7. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1m37.455s  + 0.578   13
 8. Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1m37.663s  + 0.786   15
 9. Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1m37.776s  + 0.899    8
10. Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1m37.977s  + 1.100   17
11. Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault      1m38.091s  + 1.214   20
12. Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1m38.178s  + 1.301   15
13. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1m38.246s  + 1.369   17
14. Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1m38.285s  + 1.408   16
15. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m38.423s  + 1.546   13
16. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m38.640s  + 1.763   11
17. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1m38.794s  + 1.917   18
18. Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1m39.20$s  + 2.332   16
19. Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1m39.704s  + 2.827   15
20. Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1m40.189s  + 3.312   14
21. Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1m41.901s  + 5.024   14
22. Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1m42.007s  + 5.130   14
23. Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1m42.464s  + 5.587   14
24. Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1m43.378s  + 6.501   17

Other news:

On Friday night, the Lotus F1 Team hospitality unit here at the Sepang International Circuit was the victim of a fire, causing the team to abandon ship for the rest of the weekend and seek refuge elsewhere in the paddock.