Kimi Raikkonen is predicting a tight battle for victory at the Italian Grand Prix – and concedes that his Lotus team does not appear to be the fastest.
McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari were impressive during Friday practice and, although Raikkonen’s long-run form looked strong, he is under no impressions about the task he is facing over the rest of the Monza weekend.
“We are not the fastest for sure,” said Raikkonen, when asked by AUTOSPORT if he was worried by the early pace of McLaren.
“We didn’t expect to be fastest; and I think after the last race it was a bit tricky. It wasn’t too bad a Friday, but it will be very difficult to be at the top in qualifying.
“We have to do the best we can though, so I think it will be close. There are not many corners, so there will not be a big difference between cars; it will be very tight here I think, but we will see in qualifying tomorrow.”
The battle for pole position could be further complicated by the fact that the quicker medium compound tyre appears to be delivering its best performance on the second lap.
That makes tactics for qualifying hard because of the need to deploy KERS on the run to the start of the lap for a straightline speed boost – which drivers cannot do on consecutive laps.
“It is not easy to make the first lap work,” Raikkonen said. “If you do one lap you cannot really do the fastest lap because you cannot have KERS to get the benefit on the main straight; and if you mess it up on first lap you have to do one lap and stop using KERS, which is a bit tricky.”