With significant upgrades on trial here in Korea this weekend, even a man of Kimi’s talents would be forgiven for taking time to get up to speed. Of course, normal rules don’t apply to the Iceman who – straight talking as always – tells us exactly what he makes of the time sheets in Friday practice…
Q: Kimi; how was your first experience of the Korea International Circuit today?
KR: The circuit is okay; it’s surprisingly bumpy in some parts and the layout is quite different from other places we race. There’s a mix of corners here so finding the right compromise on setup is tricky. Most of the turns are medium to high speed so it’s important to have a good balance through them but you need good speed through the whole lap and that’s quite hard to find.
Q :You ran the new Coandă exhaust today; how did it feel from behind the wheel?
KR: The car can feel completely different from place to place even if you don’t change anything at all, so I can’t really say if it felt so different or not as we’ve only used if for one day at one track. We have to look at the data to see how it’s working before deciding if we’re going to keep using it or not. The good thing is that there were no problems with it. We spent a bit of time in the garage in the first session but there was nothing stopping us running; just normal checks and things you have to try out with new parts which takes a bit of time.
Q: Both cars were hovering around the mid-pack on the time sheets today; how much do you read into that?
KR: We were about a second off the leaders today and there’s definitely room for improvement, but there’s no point reading into anything on a Friday. We’re usually around this sort of position on the first day and we always improve so let’s hope it’s the same tomorrow. To be honest, I don’t care about the lap times as long as we get a good understanding of the car so we can try to put everything together tomorrow; that’s what matters. If we can get it completely right then maybe we can be in the top five in qualifying. Let’s wait and see.
An afternoon of in-depth setup work on both cars saw Kimi and Romain rack up the laps to bring their E20s home in P10 / P11 respectively ; the pair continuing their learning experience of the Korea International Circuit as preparations for Sunday’s race continued.
Kimi Räikkönen, E20-05
Position : P10
Fastest Lap : 1:39.839
Laps Completed : 26
Key Moments :
00mins : One lap dash to settle the car in ; fresh soft tyres to start the session
15mins : Begins a brief opening run ; further analysis of upgrades on the agenda
23mins : Sends sparks flying from the floor of his E20 ; wide onto the kerbs through T15
42mins : Remains on softs for the next stint ; setup analysis underway
60mins : First outing on the super soft tyre ; moves into the top 10 with just a handful of laps
80mins : Last run of the afternoon
90mins : Chequered flag ; P10 for the Finn
- The updated Coanda style exhaust remained on Kimi’s car from the morning session as the team continued analysis and tweaking
- Both the red marked super soft and yellow marked soft tyre compound were utilised by each car
- A single minor interruption to proceedings came in the form of yellow flags after 40mins ; the Sauber of Sergio Perez stopping out on track
Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m38.832s 33 2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m38.864s + 0.032s 33 3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m39.160s + 0.328s 28 4. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m39.219s + 0.387s 29 5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m39.330s + 0.498s 31 6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m39.422s + 0.590s 30 7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m39.584s + 0.752s 36 8. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m39.717s + 0.885s 25 9. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m39.739s + 0.907s 33 10. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m39.839s + 1.007s 26 11. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m39.957s + 1.125s 28 12. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m40.089s + 1.257s 32 13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m40.112s + 1.280s 34 14. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m40.445s + 1.613s 28 15. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m40.745s + 1.913s 11 16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m40.789s + 1.957s 31 17. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m40.997s + 2.165s 32 18. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m41.200s + 2.368s 33 19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m41.602s + 2.770s 23 20. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m42.596s + 3.764s 28 21. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m43.067s + 4.235s 21 23. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m43.636s + 4.804s 22 22. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m43.869s + 5.037s 36 24. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m44.533s + 5.701s 24
Kimi Raikkonen – 10th: “The circuit is okay; it’s surprisingly bumpy in some parts but it’s quite different from other places we race. It’s difficult for me to say about the exhaust until I’ve sat down with the engineers and gone through the data. We’ll try to improve the car for tomorrow as it wasn’t very easy to drive and get a good lap today. Let’s see if we can get it completely right and maybe we can be in the top five in qualifying.”
Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director: “We ran the Coanda exhaust system on Kimi’s car for both sessions. Romain ran with the Singapore generation rear wing for evaluation at the start of FP1, swapping to the Japan spec rear wing for the remainder of the day. Pirelli’s soft compound tyre was used in the morning, the soft and super soft in the afternoon. The Coanda exhaust performed as expected aerodynamically. Heavy fuel balance and tyre degradation levels were both promising.”
James Allison, Lotus technical director: “We’re happy with how the new exhaust worked from a performance perspective and now need to assess if there are any potential reliability implications due to the hot exhaust gas running in different areas than usual. Early impressions are certainly good and we expect to retain it for the rest of the weekend with Kimi. Both drivers learnt the circuit very quickly. Romain complained of a little too much oversteer and with Kimi there’s still potential with the setup, especially as we learn more about the new exhaust. Both drivers reported that they were very happy with the balance of the car when on high fuel loads and degradation levels look manageable from the tyres so it’s been a productive first day.”
Race simulations and intensive analysis of the latest upgrade package for the E20 formed the order of the day here at the Korea International Circuit, as Kimi and Romain finished the first practice session of the weekend in P11 / P8 respectively.
Kimi Räikkönen, E20-05
Fastest Lap: 1:40.929
Laps Completed: 14
00mins: Install lap on soft tyres
01mins: Runs very deep into T4; first ever lap of the circuit and plenty of learning to do
40mins: Opening stint on soft tyres; analysis of new upgrades for the E20 the priority during a short first run
82mins: Second and final outing of the morning; improves to move just outside the top 10
90mins: Chequered flag; P11 for the Finn
- Kimi and Romain took to the Korea International Circuit for the very first time
- Warm, dry and bright conditions with a stiff cool breeze remained throughout the session
- An extremely dusty track caused frequent tyre lock-ups and wide lines throughout the field
- The yellow marked soft compound Pirelli tyre was used exclusively on both cars
- The team ran its new Coanda style exhaust system on Kimi’s car throughout the session; conducting extensive analysis of the new development
- Both drivers carried out practice pit stops to end their final runs
Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps 1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m39.148s 23 2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m39.450s + 0.302s 21 3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m39.575s + 0.427s 21 4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m39.854s + 0.706s 23 5. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m40.088s + 0.940s 21 6. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m40.221s + 1.073s 21 7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m40.396s + 1.248s 24 8. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m40.422s + 1.274s 22 9. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m40.440s + 1.292s 19 10. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m40.480s + 1.332s 21 11. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m40.929s + 1.781s 14 12. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m41.048s + 1.900s 25 13. Jules Bianchi Force India-Mercedes 1m41.140s + 1.992s 21 14. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m41.220s + 2.072s 19 15. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m41.514s + 2.366s 20 16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m41.596s + 2.448s 23 17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m42.021s + 2.873s 25 18. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m42.027s + 2.879s 23 19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m42.104s + 2.956s 24 20. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m42.175s + 3.027s 13 21. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m42.706s + 3.558s 22 22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m42.820s + 3.672s 19 23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m44.517s + 5.369s 23 24. Dani Clos HRT-Cosworth 1m45.735s + 6.587s 22
Lotus is set to keep its new Coanda-effect exhaust system on the car for the rest of the Korean Grand Prix.
The new package was initially trialled on Kimi Raikkonen’s car in Yeongam practice.
Lotus technical director James Allison underlined that the upgrade was far from optimised, but indicated it would stay on the car into the weekend.
“We’re reasonably happy with the way they are working,” he said.
“We are at the beginning of a relatively long road with them. It’s not straightforward to make them work from the start, but numbers we got are good so we are quite pleased.”
Asked if Lotus would keep the exhausts on for Saturday, Allison replied: “I think so, yeah. We haven’t decided yet but it looks like we will.”