An incredibly tight start as Kimi surged past Romain – the pair almost touching – before closing right up to the back of Pastor (Maldonado) heading into the first corner. With the pole sitter failing to defend against Fernando (Alonso), Kimi had no choice but to settle for P3 at the end of the first lap with no sign of a gap to follow the Spaniard through.
Romain had a solid start, but a lock up into turn one after being passed by his team-mate eventually saw him drop a further place to Nico (Rosberg) by the time the field crossed the start / finish line for the first time.
Romain was the first to dive into the pits, stopping in the box for another set of the yellow marked soft compound Pirelli tyres; a different strategy to the cars around him, which all made the switch to the hard tyres. A good job from the crew, with the Frenchman being followed tightly in by Michael (Schumacher) and emerging well in front.
Kimi followed his team-mate’s lead a lap later, again remaining on the soft tyres and making a good clean stop to remain in touch Pastor (Maldonado) in front.
Romain meanwhile had moved straight onto the back of Nico (Rosberg) following his stop, making a brave move to follow the German through past Bruno (Senna) into turn one, touching the Brazilian as he went by and losing a piece of front wing end plate in the process.
By lap 15 the reigning GP2 Champion was climbing all over the back of Nico (Rosberg), taking the German easily using the DRS into turn one and immediately marching away from the Mercedes, now up to P4.
Romain was first in for fresh rubber once again on lap 26, this time emerging sporting a set of hard tyres. Kimi followed suit on lap 27 for the same fresh set of boots. A quiet period of the race then ensued before the next round of stops; silver marked hard tyres again on laps 46 and 47 respectively for the Frenchman and Finn.
By lap 50 Kimi was absolutely flying; setting the fastest lap and closing on the leaders by more than a second per lap on fresher rubber, with his time being bettered the following lap by Romain who settled into a rather lonely P4.
The Finn continued to close as the laps fell away, taking time out of the front two drivers hand over fist, with the gap to Fernando (Alonso) down to only two seconds by the final lap. Unfortunately there just wasn’t enough time, with Kimi finishing less than a second behind the Ferrari as the team crossed the line to clinch P3 and P4.
A good points haul for Kimi, Romain and the E20 to see the team consolidate P3 in the Constructor’s World Championship, the Finn move up to P4 in the Driver’s World Championship, and the Frenchman leave Spain with P8 in the standings.
Pos--Driver-------Team-----------------------Time 1. Maldonado Williams-Renault 1h39:09.145 2. Alonso Ferrari + 3.195 3. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 3.884 4. Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 14.799 5. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1:14.641 6. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 1:17.576 7. Rosberg Mercedes + 1:27.919 8. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 1:28.100 9. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 1:25.200 10. Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap 11. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 1 lap 12. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap 13. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap 14. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap 15. Massa Ferrari + 1 lap 16. Kovalainen Caterham-Renault + 1 lap 17. Petrov Caterham-Renault + 1 lap 18. Glock Marussia-Cosworth + 2 laps 19. De la Rosa HRT-Cosworth + 3 laps Fastest lap: Grosjean, 1:26.250 World Championship standings, round 5: Drivers:--------------------Constructors: 1. Vettel 61 1. Red Bull-Renault 109 2. Alonso 61 2. McLaren-Mercedes 98 3. Hamilton 53 3. Lotus-Renault 84 4. Raikkonen 49 4. Ferrari 63 5. Webber 48 5. Williams-Renault 43 6. Button 45 6. Mercedes 43 7. Rosberg 41 7. Sauber-Ferrari 41 8. Grosjean 35 8. Force India-Mercedes 18 9. Maldonado 29 9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6 10. Perez 22 11. Kobayashi 19 12. Di Resta 15 13. Senna 14 14. Vergne 4 15. Hulkenberg 3 16. Schumacher 2 17. Massa 2 18. Ricciardo 2
Kimi Raikkonen – 3rd: “I am a bit disappointed because if we had done everything right in the first part of the race, we could have put ourselves in first place. There is no issue with the speed of the car, but it is so close between all the teams that if you have a small problem or a small issue it can cost you a lost. Our car can do it, but everything has to fall in the right place to be able to win. If you get the chance you should take it. Hopefully we can keep doing what we are doing now. We will see when we can win but so far it is a good step and the car feels strong everywhere. I had a very good start and had chance to overtake on the outside, but we did not have enough speed and I hit the limiter in fifth position. The first stint was okay, but I didn’t have the speed to stay with [the leaders]. It was a bit disappointing. We changed the tyres and it seemed to be pretty good, but we were too far away. We needed 10 more laps and we could have fought for the win.”
Kimi Räikkönen – 3rd: “I had a very good start and had a chance to overtake on the outside, but we did not have enough speed and I hit the limiter in fifth gear. I am a bit disappointed because if everything had gone right in the first part of the race, we could have won. There was no issue with the speed of the car, but it is so close between all the teams that if you have a small problem or a small issue it can cost so much. Our car can do it, but everything has to fall into the right place to be able to get on to the top step. My first stint was okay, but I didn’t have the speed to stay with the cars in front. We changed the tyres and it seemed to be pretty good, but we were too far away. At the end we needed a few more laps and we could have fought for the win. We’re not far away from it and so far we’ve made good steps forwards; the car feels strong everywhere.”
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: “It’s a very strong result and it’s a great reward for the team today. I think we can expect a stronger season than we had last year and we need to carry on scoring points as we have in the last two races. I’m sure a win could arrive at some point this season. After qualifying you build expectations, and we could have expected after the strong race pace we had in Bahrain that we could have done the same here, but it was not the case. A race incident at the start didn’t help Romain, but the pace of both drivers at the end of the race illustrated our potential. Finally, we must say congratulations to the Williams team for their win, and we hope no-one was seriously hurt in the post-race incident in their pits.”
Alan Permane, Director of Trackside Operations: “Third and fourth is a really good result for the team and it meant a big points haul here – more than any other team this weekend – which helps us to close up hugely on second place in the standings. Of course, it would have been nice to have done better, but the key to a strong championship campaign is consistency and if we can finish third and fourth in every race this season we’ll be very happy. We didn’t have the pace to win today, that much was clear after the first stints. We tried to push our stints out and be quick at the end. We were, and it nearly paid off.”
Video: press conference
BBC F1 Forum: Lotus and Kimi’s onboard start: