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Saturday in China: “My best qualifying for the team”

| Source: lotusf1team.com | full press conference |

 

He may have clinched his best qualifying result since the 2009 Monaco Grand Prix, but when your name is Kimi Räikkönen only the best will do…

Q: Clear skies above and a clear track ahead; you must be pleased with the result today?

KR: This is my best qualifying for the team which is good, but of course you always want to be on pole. I don’t think it was better than expected; the car hasn’t changed much from the first two races, but then the weather meant we didn’t get the most from it. For sure there are still a few things we can improve, but the speed is there.

Q: How is the car feeling?

KR: It’s been quite a tricky weekend so far and we’ve had a few small issues with setup, but it’s always difficult to get things exactly how you want them and the car has worked well when it matters. I’ve sometimes been happy with the car and sometimes not so much; in the end we ran with a similar setup to the one that worked best in Malaysia. It felt good in qualifying so hopefully it will be the same tomorrow.

Q: Looking back on qualifying, there seem to be a mix of strategies across the grid; are you confident the team has picked the right one?

KR: We’ll be running through the strategy tonight to see what will be the best plan. The tyres will of course be the question mark. A lot of people are complaining about them but I don’t think they’ve changed so much from last year and it’s the same for everybody. Some people are starting on the primes but I don’t really care what the others do; we chose the strategy we think will work best. Hopefully we can keep managing the degradation well like we have so far this season and have a good race tomorrow.

Q: Do you think victory is within reach tomorrow?

KR: We’re starting from a good position, but is it going to be enough to push for first place tomorrow? It’s difficult to say. This year it seems things can change from one day to the next. Sometimes it can go your way and sometimes it doesn’t, so we just have to do our best tomorrow and hopefully we’ll have the speed to challenge for the win.

Post-qualifying press conference

Kimi, you held pole briefly but you were just pipped by Lewis.

KR: I think the gap is quite big still and we don’t have that speed right now. So, second is not bad, I think it’s the best that I’ve been with the team ever. Not too bad, but of course you’d rather be in first place but I guess we don’t have the speed. I think we are missing downforce in the middle sector a bit, but we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.

Q: Kimi, updates on the car – how much have they worked?

KR: Erm… We have very small update. The car, I would say, is almost the same as it was in the last races, or the last race. It seems to be working OK. We have some issues with some stuff but bit similar story than in Malaysia but we choose to take than chance now and we know that car works the way how we want to run it but it’s not easy to keep it on that order or in that setup all the time. It’s been a pretty tricky weekend to get things exactly right. It’s very sensitive but we’re happy to be where we are now so hopefully it helps us in the race a bit.

Q: You said yesterday the car wasn’t quite so good on the mediums: good on the soft but not quite so good on the mediums. Is it better now?

KR: I don’t know really. We only used the soft once in qualifying and the car wasn’t the same this morning as it is now so it’s a bit of a question mark because the things that I’ve just told, that we have to play around a bit with the car. I think it should be… went pretty OK yesterday so should be OK. I don’t know if it’s good enough to fight for a win but at least today we put ourselves in a pretty OK position.

Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Two drivers out of the top ten start with a different strategy tomorrow, they start on the harder tyre. Is that a concern for you, did you think about the same strategy? And why didn’t you do it?

LH: I’ve got really great strategists, I just trust them, if they make a decision we still stick by it. I think everyone, no matter what strategy you’re on, everyone’s going to struggle on the option tyre, whether it’s high or low fuel.

KR: Obviously we believe that our choice is the best, that’s why we do it. If we would have thought that starting with primes and qualifying with the primes would have been the better choice we probably would have done it.

Q: (Luis Fernando Ramos – Racing Magazine) To all of you: we have a kind of racing now which is all about managing and controlling your pace, whereas if you go back to 2008 with different aerodynamics and refuelling, it was a sprint all the time. Which type of racing was more challenging and which type of racing did you enjoy more?

LH: It’s quite easy: it’s more challenging now with the tyres that we have. For sure it’s much tougher for all of us, but it was definitely more enjoyable previously, I would say.

KR: It is what it is, really. We have to get our best out of it. Years go by and rules change. It’s not easy to get things right, last year and this year, but it’s the same for everybody and it makes a big challenge but it’s also part of F1.

Q: Which did you enjoy more?

KR: It makes no difference, because this is what we have and you’d better like it or do something else.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, considering the history of your car, which is able to look after the tyres, do you think that a better first run than your competitors will help you significantly during the race?

KR: Like I said a little bit earlier, it’s a big question mark because we were pretty happy yesterday but the car is not exactly the same as it was then. For sure, we had some issues with the front tyres yesterday but that should be pretty easy to change. Every day seems to be a bit different, so I don’t know if it’s going to be OK or not. Usually we’ve been pretty OK, apart from the last race when we had some issues. Hopefully it turns out to be good tomorrow but I think it will be very close and whoever gets things exactly right might make enough of a difference to win.

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