God damned second place – again!
Winning means everything to me. Obviously, I hate losing, but it¹s not that meaningless to finish a Grand Prix in a second place. Right now it means good points every time.
Well, finishing second three times in a row, doesn¹t feel that great, but if there is a different winner, you gain the most points with a series of second spots, as well.
This is a very tight championship. We have been able to start with pretty good results in the first five races, so it¹s not that bad situation to carry on to the summer season.
We had high hopes for Spanish Grand Prix. We did our very best, but all in all, I have to say, we didn¹t deserve more than finishing second.
Obviously, the Mercedes cars seem to be too fast for everybody else in qualifying. While they got the front row, the rest of the pack was competing for the second row places. We got P4. It was not that brilliant to start from the dirtier side of the track, but we survived and start climbing higher again like in the last few races.
I was leading the race in the midway, and for a short while, I thought we could challenge Fernando Alonso for the victory, but it was not to be this time.
We settled down taking the second place, so we got a podium again and that was enough to catch the championship leader Sebastian Vettel by some points. That was the main target for Barcelona, and that was achieved in a deserved way.
After Spain I chilled out with the friends, watched the icehockey championships on TV and, most of all, focussed on the the huge challenges of Monaco.
Dal pregara Sky del 12/05/2013:
Da Autosprint n.19 del 14/05/2013
Da Sky, Race Anatomy post GP Spagna:
Kimi Räikkönen Happy to Sneak Under the Radar
After a hat-trick of second place finishes, Kimi moves to within four points of Sebastian Vettel at the head of the Drivers’ Championship; he’s not getting carried away just yet though…
P2 for the third consecutive race; how are you feeling?
Unfortunately it’s second place again so it’s not time to celebrate too much. The car felt good and we did pretty much all we could today, but we didn’t have the pace to challenge Fernando [Alonso]. I drove to the maximum and it’s good for the championship that Sebastian finished behind us. It’s nice to be on the podium for me and the team; let’s see what we can do in Monaco.
You achieved your result with a three stop strategy today when many rivals opted for four; talk us through that decision?
That’s the strategy we chose and it worked pretty well for us. Fernando did make four stops, but we didn’t think we could beat him whatever the strategy today as he has looked pretty quick all weekend.
Did you enjoy your battle with Sebastian Vettel?
Yes, but it didn’t last very long; just a few laps. I maybe had a chance to pass a bit earlier but I didn’t think I could take him at the end of the straight; they [Red Bull] were very fast coming on to the straight so I couldn’t catch him there. It took a bit longer than I expected but then it was a good battle – fair, but quite tough – and it worked out okay for us in the end.
Some say your championship challenge is somewhat under the radar; is that a good thing?
I don’t mind if people don’t notice us. We do our work, we’re happy in what we do and we obviously try to achieve the best for Enstone. I’m just here to race the best i can. You always want to win and it’s disappointing to finish second, but sometimes we have to take what we can get.
Kimi, four points off the championship lead at this stage and you’re coming in under the radar so to speak, because nobody is really giving you enough credit for what you’re doing at the moment. How do you respond to that?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: I don’t mind. I’m here only to do as good races as we can and always you want to win and it’s disappointing to finish second but sometimes we have to take what we can get. Like I said, I don’t mind if people don’t notice us. We do our work, be happy what we do and obviously try to achieve in Enstone.
Is the lack of attention possibly helping you?
KR: It makes no difference really to me. We know in the team, and all the sponsors, what we try to achieve and what we are doing and that’s the main thing.
Kimi, we heard you say on the podium there you were disappointed you didn’t win. You had a different strategy to Fernando, doing one stop less than the Ferrari today. Was there a point at which you thought you might have an opportunity to challenge Fernando for the win today?
KR: Maybe half way through. Obviously, we were leading but when we were on old tyres and he had newer tyres, it’s too easy to overtake. There’s no point to really fight against [him] because you cannot hold him behind. I knew if I could somehow stay a bit more closer, even with old tyres, maybe I have some chance, even if I’m already behind and will be with old tyres in the end but you never know. But they were just too fast. He had a good start around the outside of me. I don’t think the end result really was decided there but we just did a different way of doing the race. It wasn’t a winning way today but… We’re never happy if we’re not winning. We’re only here to try to win. But we kind of caught up with Vettel few points and obviously Fernando caught me up [by] some points but we’re still in the hunt and we’ll keep ourselves there and hopefully in the future just try to win a bit more.
Consistency is the key though, isn’t it? It’s the fourth time in five races you’ve stood on the podium, including that win in Australia and as you say you’ve got it down to just five points to Vettel. How do you feel about your championship situation and what comes from here?
KR: Obviously it’s better than before the race now. It will not be easy. We cannot fight against… it’s the same for everybody. Everybody wants to win it, but sometimes you have a bad day. You try to minimise those and make the most out of them and give yourself a chance to be up there and fight for wins. I think if you can do that often it will give a good chance in the end to fight for the championship. It’s only a five race-old season, so there’s an awful lot to be raced. We’ll see what happens. We’ll try to do well and see where we are in the end.
Kimi, your thoughts on that?
KR: I don’t really think it’s any different to last year. Obviously I wasn’t there the year before but they had a lot of pitstops also. So that’s the way it is and it’s the same for everybody. For sure sometimes it’s a bit tricky, even for us, who is where and what is going on if you haven’t seen it as the guy in front, what’s going on. But that’s what Formula One is today. It might change, it might not.
Q: (Pierre Van Vliet – F1i.com) Kimi, in the early part of the race when you had your first pitstop, you came back with new soft tyres and you spent… you lost a few laps behind Vettel. Without that time lost do you think you could have been in front of Fernando on the last stint?
KR: It wasn’t a new, it was used from qualifying. So, I mean obviously I have to overtake and I took maybe a few laps more than I expected but I got past him and I really could pull away but in the end I really don’t think those were the decisions that were the deciding story of the race. I think we had the speed but we should have done it different. Maybe more pitstops, then you can push all the time – but I think this was our best way of doing the race. That’s what we planned and that’s what we did and I think we deserved to be second and not really winning today. It’s OK for the team, the guys did a good job and we go for the next race to try to do better and get the best out of it.
Q: (Leonid Novozhilov – F1Life) Kimi, what do you think about the pit stop strategy in Monaco?
KR: I have no idea. I know what we did here and yesterday. There’s a few weeks to go. We will see what happens, what tyres they bring and how everything plans out. I think it’s usually quite straightforward there. Usually, if you’re not in the front, you start behind somebody else and it’s really difficult to overtake. We will see.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, you have three successive second places and now you’ve managed to catch up Sebastian by six points; was this the most rewarding of these three races, and how do you see your chances to do better in Monaco?
KR: First of all, Monaco is a different place compared to this, so it’s a bit hard to say. Last year I wasn’t very good there. For sure, it should be a bit better but I’ve had some good races there – it’s a dangerous thing to say – but as Fernando said, I think Mercedes will unfortunately be pretty quick there and after that it’s difficult to overtake. The only difference that they have made against most of us is in the last sector where it’s tight so you can really expect, from what they did last year and what they did here, that they should be pretty fast there. We will see what happens there, but gaining the points on Sebastian was nice. If he would have lost more points and still be second it would have been even more annoying, but OK, you also want to win but we cannot still put ourselves in a better position for the championship so at least something good came out of it.
Q: (Jussi Jakala – YLE) Kimi, all top drivers are kind of supermen; did you have time to enjoy the battle that you had with Sebastian?
KR: Yeah, it didn’t last very long. It took a few laps. I maybe had a chance earlier but I didn’t think that I would take him at the end of the straight but actually they were very fast at the start of the straight so I couldn’t catch him there, so it took a bit longer than I expected but then it was quite nice, fair but quite tough fight, but it worked out OK.
Spanish GP: Fernando Alonso takes commanding home win for Ferrari
Fernando Alonso sent the Spanish Grand Prix into ecstasy as the Ferrari driver and home hero charged to his first Barcelona victory since 2006.
Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus emerged as Alonso’s main rival, while Sebastian Vettel and the front-row-starting Mercedes faded in the race.
Felipe Massa moved in the opposite direction, recovering from a penalised ninth on the grid to take the final podium spot.
In a race full of tyre conservation, Alonso’s approach from the outset was to charge.
While Vettel split the Mercedes into Turn 1, Alonso accelerated around the outside of both Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton at Turn 3 to move into third.
Rosberg clung on at the front of the field through the first pitstops.
By the time they were done, Alonso was his main rival, having pitted one lap ahead of Vettel and jumped the Red Bull.
Rosberg’s plunge down the order began on lap 12, when Alonso passed him into Turn 1, and Vettel and Raikkonen further demoted him before the lap was complete.
Once in front, Alonso began to pull away.
Despite running longer, Vettel turned out to be on the same four-stop strategy as Alonso, but unable to match the Ferrari’s sheer pace.
Raikkonen, however, could pull off a three-stop. He lost time behind Vettel in the middle of the, then raised his pace after overtaking the Red Bull on lap 33.
Lotus had a potential edge going into the closing stages, with Raikkonen a few seconds ahead of Alonso at a point when both had a single stop to go.
But on his fresher tyres, Alonso stormed up behind Raikkonen at a rate of two seconds per lap, breezed past the Lotus then vanished into the distance, swiftly building a 12-second advantage.
Raikkonen was left to keep half an eye on Massa, who had been rapid all afternoon and got a green light from Ferrari to try to catch the Lotus. Tyre wear stymied this and forced Massa to back off again, but third was still safe.
Vettel’s attempts to run longer on tyres ultimately cost him so much pace that he fell behind the earlier-pitting Massa.
The world champion had to settle for fourth, followed by his team-mate Mark Webber.
Mercedes’ fade ended with Rosberg pulling off a three-stop in sixth and his despondent team-mate Hamilton right out of the points in a lapped 12th, having gone into freefall following his first stop.
Paul di Resta’s Force India chased Rosberg home.
McLaren ended up eighth and ninth. Jenson Button had tumbled to 17th in the opening laps, but nursed his tyres through three stops and emerged ahead of his early-charging, but four-stopping, team-mate Sergio Perez.
Daniel Ricciardo fended off Esteban Gutierrez to give Toro Rosso the final point.
It was still a breakthrough day for Gutierrez, as a long first stint meant Sauber’s rookie managed to lead a Formula 1 race for the first time.
Last year’s Barcelona winner Pastor Maldonado struggled home 14th, recovering from a pitlane speeding penalty to get there.
Romain Grosjean was an early retirement with skewed right rear suspension on his Lotus.
Two pitlane incidents attracted stewards’ attention.
Caterham could face sanctions after Giedo van der Garde lost a wheel on his out-lap, while Nico Hulkenberg had an unsafe release penalty following a pitlane clash with Jean-Eric Vergne, prior to which both had been points contenders.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS Classified: Pos Driver Team 1. Alonso Ferrari 2. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 3. Massa Ferrari 4. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 5. Webber Red Bull-Renault 6. Rosberg Mercedes 7. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes 8. Button McLaren-Mercedes 9. Perez McLaren-Mercedes 10. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 11. Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 12. Hamilton Mercedes 13. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 14. Maldonado Williams-Renault 15. Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 16. Bottas Williams-Renault 17. Pic Caterham-Renault 18. Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 19. Chilton Marussia-Cosworth DNF Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari DNF van der Garde Caterham-Renault DNF Grosjean Lotus-Renault World Championship standings, round 5: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Vettel 89 1. Red Bull-Renault 131 2. Raikkonen 85 2. Ferrari 117 3. Alonso 72 3. Lotus-Renault 111 4. Hamilton 50 4. Mercedes 72 5. Massa 45 5. Force India-Mercedes 32 6. Webber 42 6. McLaren-Mercedes 29 7. Di Resta 26 7. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 8 8. Grosjean 26 8. Sauber-Ferrari 5 9. Rosberg 22 10. Button 17 11. Perez 12 12. Ricciardo 7 13. Sutil 6 14. Hulkenberg 5 15. Vergne 1
Kimi Räikkönen Confident in Race Pace at Barcelona
Did qualifying live up to your expectations?
It was not too bad; better than last race for sure. It’s very close here and we could have been P1 or P10 in that final session, so P4 is not too bad. Of course, unless you’re on pole you want to be further up the order, but tomorrow’s when really matters.
How’s the car feeling?
It’s been pretty okay over the weekend. Today in qualifying was a bit more windy than we saw this morning, which made the final sector a little more tricky. We didn’t have the pace get on the front row, but we should have a pretty good car in the race.
What do you expect from tyre strategy?
I don’t know what the others are doing but we’re still working out what our plan will be. A lot depends on how the tyres are working in the race and that’s part of the job for the guys on the pit wall tomorrow. I don’t expect that we’ll do anything massively different from anyone else; maybe we’ll stop at a different time, maybe we’ll stop at the same time, who knows…
What are your chances in the race starting from P4?
You can’t really say on Saturday what will happen; you just have to make a good start and then see what you can do. We’ve got two fast Mercedes ahead of us and we’ll have to see how strong they are over a full distance. I’m sure the Ferrari and Red Bull will be competitive, so like any race we’ll just do our best and see where we end up.
Kimi Raikkonen Q&A: We’ll see an interesting race tomorrow
Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen has been there or thereabouts near the top of the timesheets all weekend in Barcelona, but he ended qualifying on the second row of the grid in fourth position. After climbing out of the car the Finn spoke to reporters about his Saturday performance and his prospects for the race tomorrow…
Q: Kimi, you’ll start from P4 tomorrow – one of your best qualifying result so far this season. What do you make of that? Q: After the morning session had you hoped for a spot on the first row of the grid? Q: Did you have had any idea before qualifying where you would fit in? Q: A penalty points system for drivers has been spoken about recently. Sebastian Vettel clearly said in the FIA press conference that he is not in favour of it. What is your opinion? Q: Do you expect Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso will be in close combat tomorrow? Alonso sure wants to put on a show in front of his home crowd… Q: Do you think that you can do one stop less than the others or will it be an equal playing field?
Kimi Raikkonen: Well, I have to make a good start and then I take it from there. What else do you expect I do? Mercedes have not been as strong in the races as they have been in qualifying so everything seems possible.
KR: It’s been pretty good all weekend long, but unfortunately during qualifying it was a bit more windy than it was in the morning session and that made it a bit more tricky in Sector 3. For sure we didn’t have the speed of Mercedes, but we have seen that before so I am open for anything in the race.
KR: After I made it into Q3 it could have been P1 or P10. Everything is pretty tight, so I am satisfied where I am as it was the best qualifying result in quite a while.
KR: Why should I make a comment over something that is not finalized yet? Nothing has been decided and I am sure there will be changes made to the proposal. We always had penalties when a driver did something wrong – now they are looking at a new catalogue for handling misbehaviour. The best way to avoid being confronted with any penalties? Do nothing wrong, don’t break the rules – then you’re fine!
KR: How would I know what’s on Alonso’s agenda! Go and ask him.
KR: We will sit down and discuss our strategy this evening. And you would have to tie me to a stake to get a word out of me! All I can say is that we will see a very interesting race tomorrow and that is what fans want to see.
Q: Kimi, you’ll start from P4 tomorrow – one of your best qualifying result so far this season. What do you make of that?
Q: After the morning session had you hoped for a spot on the first row of the grid?
Q: Did you have had any idea before qualifying where you would fit in?
Q: A penalty points system for drivers has been spoken about recently. Sebastian Vettel clearly said in the FIA press conference that he is not in favour of it. What is your opinion?
Q: Do you expect Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso will be in close combat tomorrow? Alonso sure wants to put on a show in front of his home crowd…
Q: Do you think that you can do one stop less than the others or will it be an equal playing field?
Spanish GP: Nico Rosberg leads Lewis Hamilton in Mercedes front row
Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton secured an all-Mercedes front row in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Rosberg repeated his Bahrain pole in a brilliant Q3 performance in which he delivered two laps good enough for the top spot.
His initial 1m20.8s benchmark proved unbeatable, but Rosberg still improved to a 1m20.718s with his last run just to be certain.
Hamilton had to settle for second, 0.254 seconds adrift.
Formula 1 championship leader Sebastian Vettel was third for Red Bull, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus and Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.
Alonso’s team-mate Felipe Massa mounted a strong challenge for pole only to lose time in sector three and end up sixth.
He will also have to see the stewards after the session having seemingly impeded Mark Webber’s Red Bull in Q2.
The Australian subsequently qualified eighth, behind Romain Grosjean’s Lotus.
Hamilton had earlier starred in a thrilling end to Q2, throwing in a last-gasp lap that jumped him from a worrying 13th to a comfortable first, six tenths clear of the pack.
Sergio Perez also produced an eleventh-hour surge in Q2, getting up to seventh and then qualifying ninth. His McLaren team-mate Jenson Button could not match that – six tenths slower, he will start only 14th.
Toro Rosso had looked promising in practice and both Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne had a realistic shot at Q3, holding top-10 spots late on before being narrowly squeezed out.
They will share row six, ahead of Adrian Sutil, who could not join team-mate Paul di Resta in the pole session. The Scot took 10th.
Going into the final seconds of Q2, both Saubers had made it into Q3. But in the subsequent flurry of improvements, Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez tumbled down to row eight. The Mexican could yet face sanctions for blocking Raikkonen in Q1.
Last year’s winner Williams’s plight deepened, despite its upgrades, as neither car got beyond Q1.
Twelve months on from his pole and win, Pastor Maldonado was only 18th – and accused of blocking by Button – while Valtteri Bottas was just one place ahead.
The back of the grid battle stepped up a gear with a very close tussle between Caterham and Marussia.
Giedo van der Garde finally emerged on top for Caterham, edging out Marussia’s Jules Bianchi by just 0.052s.
Max Chilton and Charles Pic were a few tenths behind having also had a sniff of ‘class pole’.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m20.718s 2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m20.972s + 0.254s 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m21.054s + 0.336s 4. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m21.177s + 0.459s 5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m21.218s + 0.500s 6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m21.219s + 0.501s 7. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m21.308s + 0.590s 8. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m21.570s + 0.852s 9. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m22.069s + 1.351s 10. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m22.233s + 1.515s Q2 cut-off time: 1m22.019s Gap ** 11. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m22.127s + 1.126s 12. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m22.166s + 1.165s 13. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m22.346s + 1.345s 14. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m23.166s + 2.165s 15. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m22.389s + 1.388s 16. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m22.793s + 1.792s Q1 cut-off time: 1m23.218s Gap * 17. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m23.260s + 1.532s 18. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m23.318s + 1.590s 19. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m24.661s + 2.933s 20. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m24.713s + 2.985s 21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m24.996s + 3.268s 22. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m25.070s + 3.342s
Spanish GP: Felipe Massa fastest for Ferrari in final practice
Felipe Massa put Ferrari back on top in the final practice session at Barcelona ahead of Spanish Grand Prix qualifying.
The Brazilian edged out Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus by just 0.006 seconds in a very tight end to the hour.
By the time the medium-tyre qualifying simulations were completed, just 0.353s covered the Ferraris, Lotuses and Red Bulls.
As had been the case on Friday, local hero Fernando Alonso spent plenty of time at the head of the order in the #3 Ferrari.
Early quick times from the Mercedes, Sebastian Vettel and the Lotus pair were deposed when Alonso set a 1m23.006s after 24 minutes.
The lap was far from perfect, but it was enough to edge a few fractions in front of Romain Grosjean and Raikkonen.
Alonso’s time was the quickest of the hard-tyre runs, and when the qualifying simulations on mediums began, he was first to raise the bar with a 1m22.254s.
Raikkonen then hinted that Lotus might have the one-lap pace to be a qualifying factor as he beat Alonso’s time by 0.347s 10 minutes from the end.
The only man able to beat this was Massa, who slipped in a 1m21.901s to secure the top spot.
Mark Webber ended up as Red Bull’s lead runner in third, followed by Grosjean and Vettel.
Alonso was eventually pushed down to sixth.
The Force Indias of Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil took seventh and eighth.
Mercedes worked hard on long runs, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg completing more laps than anyone else.
They ended up ninth and 11th, split by another impressive run from Toro Rosso as Jean-Eric Vergne made the top 10.
McLaren continued to struggle. Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were only 12th and 14th in the heavily revised car.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m21.901s 13 2. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m21.907s + 0.006s 14 3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m22.044s + 0.143s 17 4. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m22.069s + 0.168s 13 5. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m22.229s + 0.328s 17 6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m22.254s + 0.353s 15 7. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m22.574s + 0.673s 11 8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m22.729s + 0.828s 17 9. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m22.740s + 0.839s 24 10. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m22.759s + 0.858s 15 11. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.839s + 0.938s 26 12. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m23.151s + 1.250s 13 13. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m23.371s + 1.470s 21 14. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m23.373s + 1.472s 13 15. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m23.385s + 1.484s 17 16. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m23.388s + 1.487s 18 17. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m23.660s + 1.759s 16 18. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m23.767s + 1.866s 17 19. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m24.775s + 2.874s 18 20. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m24.793s + 2.892s 16 21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m25.135s + 3.234s 17 22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m25.250s + 3.349s 1
Kimi Räikkönen Predicts Close Qualifying Session in Barcelona
How was your Friday in Barcelona?
It was a pretty normal Friday. We tried some new things on the car, ran with some different tyres and we’ll have a look at all the data to see where we think we are. We finished the day not too far off the fastest time, so we can say that the day wasn’t a disaster, but for sure there are some things we have to improve with the car which is normal after the first day’s running.
Times are pretty tight at the front of the pack today; should that make qualifying interesting tomorrow?
I guess it’s going to be very close in qualifying too. We aren’t always especially fast in qualifying so we’ll have to see what we can do. We have to get everything right to fight for a good position and then we’ll see where we end up.
How did you find the revised hard compound tyre?
Does the car feel any different with the latest upgrades?
It’s difficult to compare. We were here last time in the winter and the car has changed quite a lot since then. It feels okay on track; we’re looking at the data to see if the new parts are doing what they should, which is the normal way we do these things.
Does the change of tyres to a harder allocation for this race make any difference to you?
It makes no difference to me; they’re the same for everyone and we all try to get the most performance from them.
Spanish GP: Vettel edges out Alonso in second Friday practice
Sebastian Vettel narrowly edged out home favourite Fernando Alonso to set the fastest time in second free practice for the Spanish Grand Prix.
Just 0.083 seconds covered the top three at Barcelona, as Alonso’s Ferrari split the Red Bulls of Vettel and Mark Webber.
After an early all-Mercedes battle for the top spot, it was Alonso and the Red Bulls that dominated the lead order through the low-fuel runs.
Webber kicked off the dice with a 1m23.112s after 22 minutes, but was deposed by Alonso on a 1m23.030s five minutes later.
When they switched to the softer medium tyres shortly afterwards, Webber reclaimed first place by 0.2s over Alonso, before Vettel jumped ahead of them both.
Alonso’s retaliation managed to get him back in front of Webber, but Vettel remained just out of reach.
Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus and Felipe Massa’s Ferrari completed the top five.
Lewis Hamilton spun his Mercedes at Turn 11 during the early runs, swiftly rejoining without problems and ultimately taking sixth ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Tyre wear was again high and there was a scare at Force India when Paul di Resta’s left rear delaminated on the main straight, forcing the Scot to park on the grass. He was still 10th quickest, two places behind team-mate Adrian Sutil.
Jean-Eric Vergne split them, in a strong performance for Toro Rosso, which also had Daniel Ricciardo in 11th.
McLaren was only 12th and 13th with Jenson Button and Sergio Perez as it began to evaluate its major upgrade package, including a new front wing.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m22.808s 34 2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m22.825s + 0.017s 35 3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m22.891s + 0.083s 36 4. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m23.030s + 0.222s 32 5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m23.110s + 0.302s 37 6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m23.140s + 0.332s 35 7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m23.398s + 0.590s 45 8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m23.840s + 1.032s 37 9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m24.058s + 1.250s 31 10. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m24.104s + 1.296s 25 11. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m24.175s + 1.367s 32 12. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.306s + 1.498s 35 13. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.854s + 2.046s 31 14. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m24.888s + 2.080s 38 15. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.167s + 2.359s 38 16. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m25.321s + 2.513s 32 17. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.441s + 2.633s 37 18. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m25.851s + 3.043s 35 19. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m25.963s + 3.155s 30 20. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m26.078s + 3.270s 31 21. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m26.930s + 4.122s 35 22. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m26.970s + 4.162s 25
Spanish GP: Fernando Alonso leads damp first practice
Fernando Alonso grabbed the fastest time in a Ferrari one-two as wet weather frustrated the Formula 1 field’s attempts to get an early understanding of the Spanish Grand Prix upgrade packages in opening practice at Barcelona.
It was only coming into the final quarter of an hour that slicks were viable, and even then there were sufficient slippery patches to limit the relevance of the laps that drivers managed.
But with so many developments to try, teams were less reticent about coming out early than is often the case in wet sessions.
The Spanish crowd therefore had a decent amount of track activity to enjoy all morning, and would also have appreciated seeing home hero Alonso on top of the times for much of the session.
Alonso spent a while as the fastest man during the wet running, though he tumbled down the order as conditions improved.
Going into the closing seconds, his Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa was the latest to burst to the top of a constantly fluctuating timing screen as everyone got up to speed on slicks.
But Alonso finished the morning with a flourish, setting a 1m25.252s lap to beat his team-mate by 0.203 seconds.
Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne had starred by being the first man to get slicks to work, and he remained consistently up front for the rest of the session, ending up third.
Romain Grosjean had an early spin into the hairpin at the end of the back straight, before finishing the session fourth for Lotus.
Adrian Sutil’s Force India, Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes and Valtteri Bottas’s Williams were next up in an inevitably shuffled order, with Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg and Paul di Resta completing the top 10.
Jenson Button was the only driver not to attempt a flying lap, though he did six exploratory tours in the updated McLaren.
Red Bull also hung back when the track dried, with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber at the foot of the top 20.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m25.252s 20
2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m25.455s + 0.203s 20
3. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m25.667s + 0.415s 25
4. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m26.042s + 0.790s 21
5. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m26.212s + 0.960s 24
6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m26.374s + 1.122s 19
7. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m26.456s + 1.204s 20
8. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m26.614s + 1.362s 21
9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m26.621s + 1.369s 21
10. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m26.755s + 1.503s 16
11. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m26.940s + 1.688s 26
12. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m27.061s + 1.809s 24
13. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m27.135s + 1.883s 6
14. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m27.250s + 1.998s 26
15. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m27.576s + 2.324s 24
16. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m28.373s + 3.121s 14
17. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m28.600s + 3.348s 19
18. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m28.887s + 3.635s 14
19. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m29.457s + 4.205s 11
20. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m29.473s + 4.221s 21
21. Rodolfo Gonzalez Marussia-Cosworth 1m30.314s + 5.062s 13
22. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes no time 6
Kimi Raikkonen says ruling out title would be ‘stupid’
Kimi Raikkonen says Lotus would be ‘stupid’ not to believe it is knuckling down for a world championship fight this year.
The Finn is just ten points adrift of points leader Sebastian Vettel after the first four races of the year, and its car has proved to be a step forward on last year’s challenger.
Although there is still a view that Red Bull has the out-and-out fastest car, Raikkonen says there is absolutely no reason for Lotus not to set its sights on glory at the end of the campaign.
"It would be stupid to say we are not going to fight for the championship," he explained.
"The only reason why we are here is to try to win championships and races. Obviously we want to fight for it, but you only have to have a couple of bad races and you might be out of it completely.
"We’ll try to make the maximum out of every weekend and in the long run that’s key to the championship."
Raikkonen said that Lotus was not concerned about any specific element of its package – with qualifying the most notable area it can do better – and was just focusing on trying to improve in all areas.
"We try to improve everything," he said. "If we improve the car, we’ll automatically improve our qualifying. It all goes hand in hand.
"There’s no magic where you suddenly do one thing and you’re faster in qualifying. If we make the car faster we improve our pace in all conditions.
"You always want to do better. We still have some things that need looking after, and especially in Malaysia [where it rained] we had some issues that could have been better.
"Right now we’ve put ourselves in a pretty good position so let’s see if we can keep it going and improve."
Raikkonen reveals artistic talents
Kimi Raikkonen proved that driving is not his only talent on Thursday, when he tried his hand at spray painting as part of a Lotus team sponsor event in Barcelona. True, Raikkonen’s work may not yet make the Tate Modern, but for an amateur his skills were surprisingly impressive.
As part of the inaugural ‘burn yard live’, the Finn helped to ‘re-livery’ a Lotus race car under the guidance of world-renowned street artist, M-City. It was the first of a series of such workshops designed to bring together leading innovators from the worlds of youth art, music and sport.
“It looks cool,” proclaimed Raikkonen of his work. “And it fits perfectly with the team’s philosophy of being that extra bit creative. Would I like to race a car designed like this? To be honest, the livery or the colour is the least of my concerns. It has to be fast – that is all that matters.”
The location for Raikkonen’s master class was the regenerated Astilleros shipyards on the shores of Barcelona’s Mediterranean coast. But his artistic education will not stop there – future burn yard live events are planned for locations including Hungary, Korea and Brazil, with the former champion getting a lesson in a new field at each.
Kimi Raikkonen shrugs off James Allison’s exit from Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen thinks Lotus has enough strength in depth to shrug off the loss of technical director James Allison.
AUTOSPORT revealed on Wednesday that Allison would be leaving the team, with Lotus later confirming that current engineering director Nick Chester would be promoted in his place.
Raikkonen said only time would tell if the highly-rated Allison’s exit would harm Lotus, but that he suspected the team was well prepared.
"For me it doesn’t really make a difference," he told reporters in the Barcelona paddock.
"I cannot tell if it will make a difference in one week or in one year, or if it won’t make a difference at all.
"It’s not like it suddenly happened one day. People have discussed it and the team will have known it was coming for a while.
"So it’s not like we woke up it’s different to what it was when we went to sleep.
"I think there are a lot of strong people and we should be fine."
He added that the Allison announcement had no bearing on his 2014 plans, as he was not spending any time considering whether to stay with Lotus or move on at present.
"My decision will be purely on what I think is best for me overall," Raikkonen said.
"I have no idea what will happen and right now I’m not even putting much thought into it because we have only done four races and we have a long season to go.
"It’s a long time until next year.
"Everybody always talks about it, but I’m not in any hurry."
After taking his third podium finish of the year in Bahrain, our Iceman looks forward to racing closer to home with the start of the European season
Yourself and the team currently occupy P2 in both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships; are you pleased with how things are going?
For sure it’s an okay start and we’re in a better position that this time last year, but there’s a long season ahead and it’s too early to say if we can fight for the Championships right to the end. It’s going to be hard to catch Sebastian [Vettel] if he keeps taking good results so we need to start taking more points from him, but you never know what can happen. We’ll keep pushing to improve the car and see where we end up.
What’s required to bridge that gap to P1?
Some more wins! To catch the leaders, we have to work twice as hard as they are. It’s no secret that we want more speed from the car in qualifying; it’s so tight up there at the front and we really need to be on the first two rows to fight for victories every time. It’s good to be able to start the European season where we are as this is when you see teams starting to push on with lots of new parts for the cars. It’s still early days, but to have scored strong points since the start of the year is obviously better than not having them. We need to keep scoring points in the same way; even if it’s a bad weekend for us, we need to keep finishing as well as we can. That’s how we will fight to the end of the season.
How is the Circuit of Catalunya for you?
I have won twice in Barcelona and I was on the podium there last year too, so I really look forward to going there again; hopefully to end the weekend with another good result. It’s a circuit where you have to get everything exactly right to be at the top. All the teams have tested many times at this circuit, so to get an advantage there is not very easy. The set-up is crucial as the track changes with the wind and temperature so there’s plenty of work for the engineers too.
Is it good to be racing in Europe again?
I really like racing in Europe. We don’t have to travel that far so all your energy is saved for the weekend itself. Traditionally the real season starts when coming back to Europe. For me, it’s great.
The Circuit de Catalunya is the only circuit at which you’ve tested the E21 so far; does that help matters?
That’s true, but you have to remember that was at the end of February and the beginning of March so conditions were very different compared to what we hope to see in May. It was very difficult to get the tyres working properly when we were last there, but it was the same for everybody. We all start from zero again in FP1.
The team didn’t get so much mileage at Barcelona during testing, but reliability doesn’t seem to be so much of a concern now the season is underway?
I didn’t have that many laps there in testing as there were problems with the car and I also missed a day as I was unwell. That said, me and the team know the track pretty well so I don’t think we’ll be too surprised about which way the track goes or what setup to use on the car. Even though I didn’t get a lot of mileage in pre-season, the main thing was I felt good in the car the whole time. Our car seems to be good at every circuit so far…
You were quite reserved after the podium finish in Bahrain; were you happy with the result?
You’re never really happy if you don’t win, but I suppose second place is as close as you can get. We could maybe have been a few places higher in in qualifying which would have made things easier, but I drove to the maximum and luckily we found the pace in the car that was missing in qualifying. Let’s hope I’m happier in Spain.
You can’t always get what you want!
It’s always good to finish the Grand Prix weekend in the podium. Up there you see how much people have enjoyed the race, you see your team having fun – and you sum up for yourself, how good was your own race.
As a team, for the first time, we got more points than anybody else. Obviously, it cannot be much better than that! But as a team, we also felt, that there could have been even more points to get from this race, as well.
Everybody knew before coming to Barcelona, it was going to be very tight again between so many teams, and it would end up being down to tyre strategy to gain a bit of advantage, if possible. Our car has been good and strong everywhere, but the hotter is the track temperature, the better it is for E20.
For the starters, obviously, it was ideal weather for us. The sun made it feel like summer – and the track temperature was exactly, what ’our doctor ordered’ it to be!
We did our usual Friday programme, the long runs were giving promising data, and the tyre was working as we expected it to work. No problems, with that at all.
The qualifying was ok. We had too much some set-up issues before starting the Q1, but in the final run for the day, the car was at it’s best. Actually so good, that it surprised me in one corner. We lost some time and were out of the first row. But, all in all, it was a solid qualifying result to go for it in the race.
Obviously, the weather was not doing us any favors, while the real good sunshine from previous days was fading for the race start, and the so important track temperature came down accordingly, too. We went along with our tactics. The start was ok, but I could not improve more than one place.
With a hotter temperature, maybe, the second stint would have been our stint, but in this time, it was the stint, where we lost our way to higher positions. The soft solution was not the optimal solution this time. After second stint the gap to the leaders was just a bit too much to catch up in the end.
Well, we tried our best. With the hard tyre working better, we got close again – and a few laps more to go, we could have won. But it’s waste of energy to think, what could have happened. We got P3, 15 points and gained 3 places in the championship. As a racing driver I cannot be 100% happy, if I not winning after being so close, knowing the potential of the car, and being the fastest of top 3 drivers at the end of race. But You cannot always get what You want!
Kimi Raikkonen says victory in the Spanish Grand Prix was possible
Kimi Raikkonen is confident that he will break through for a grand prix win for Lotus in 2012, after finishing on the podium at the last two races.
After following Sebastian Vettel home in Bahrain, Raikkonen was amongst the frontrunners again in Spain, eventually finishing third behind Pastor Maldonado and Fernando Alonso.
While he was slightly disappointed with the result, the 2007 world champion said that he is now confident that the car is capable of winning races this year.
"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," he said.
"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."
Raikkonen added that if the Spanish Grand Prix had been 10 laps longer, he would have been capable of fighting Maldonado for the win.
"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," he said.
"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, third today. You were a lot of people’s favourite going into this grand prix. Do you think you and the team made all the right choices this afternoon?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: We have to look. I’m a bit disappointed. I expected us to be a bit stronger in the race, especially at the beginning. At the end we were very good, but it was too late. We were not fast enough and quick enough to race and that’s why we couldn’t fight for a win. But we showed in the end that we have to speed but we just have to look at what we did. Maybe we took the wrong choice in the first pit stop. In the end, like I said we were not fast enough in the beginning and that cost us the race, so I was not so disappointed during the race because I saw that I couldn’t follow them at the beginning. But at the end when you catch them up almost 20 seconds then you get a bit of a disappointed feeling afterwards, when you just needed a few laps to be even able to fight for the first place. That’s racing and at least I scored some good points and we’re going in the right direction.
Kimi, it’s the second podium for you in a row. Do you feel a win is around the corner?
KR: Yeah, twice already. Unfortunately you’re not always going to get there. If you get the chance, you should take it because it’s not every race that you will be able to fight for that position or even try it. Hopefully we can keep doing what we’re doing now and at a certain point I’m sure that things will go exactly right and we can. But so far it’s been a good step and the car has been strong everywhere. The next race is a bit different – Monaco – it’s hard to say how it goes there. The team has done a good job and we have still work to do, things to improve. But so far it’s going in a good way and I’m happy with it. OK, we’re not 100% happy with it because we are not winning but that’s a very normal thing and I’m happy for the team.
Kimi, tell us about the start, because that pretty much established your race.
KR: Yeah, I had a pretty good start, nothing to complain about. I thought I would get the chance to overtake outside both of the first two but I didn’t have enough speed in a straight line – I actually hit the limiter I think in fifth gear which kind of stopped my acceleration a bit but after that I didn’t have the speed to hang on and hound them. I was pulling away from the guys behind me but I couldn’t stay. The first stint was pretty OK but the second, I chose the soft tyre and I didn’t have the speed to keep up with them. I’m a bit disappointed but I just tried to fight and then we changed the tyres and it seemed to turn out to be pretty good but we were just too far away. We need, like, ten more laps and then I think we could have been fighting for the win.
Absolute charge at the end, your tyres were OK?
KR: Yes, it was OK. I had two new sets of Prime but unfortunately I didn’t have more sets of Prime anyhow to put in the first pitstop. The car was very good but just a bit too late for me. We fall off too much in the last stint to be able to fight for the win. But one more lap we could probably could have got Fernando – but it’s easy to say after.
And what did you tell the Finnish viewers just now?
KR: It’s Mothers’ Day in Finland.
So Happy Mothers’ Day?
KR: Yeah. I had nothing else to say to Finnish viewers.
Q: (Leonid Novozhilov – F1 Life) Kimi, second place in Bahrain, third place in Spain; is this the maximum for you or can you win?
KR: The fact is the reason why I’m disappointed is because in the end if we have done everything right, we could have put ourselves into first place. The car has been fast enough but we’ve been doing small things not correctly and I’ve done some mistakes on my side but if everything was 100 percent OK we could have won. There’s no issue with the speed of the car, but it’s so close between all the teams and drivers that if you have a small problem or a small issue during the weekend then it’s going to cost you a lot. If you’re three tenths behind then you’re suddenly not in the last qualifying. As you give yourself the chance to be fighting at the front, I think our car can do it but everything has to fall in the right place to be able to win.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Fernando and Kimi, did you believe that Pastor could be your main rival today, and if not, how big a surprise is it?
FA: Yeah, I think so. We saw in general that during the weekend that Williams was good. Lewis was maybe the favourite for this race after the pace we saw from Ferrari on Friday and the pole position by half a second yesterday. With Lewis’s penalty, Pastor was the strongest at the front so no surprises.
KR: Williams have been quite fast for two races in certain points and I think, as we’ve said before, it’s very difficult to say who is really the quickest overall because at one race one team is there and then suddenly they are tenth in the next race, so it’s bit of an odd situation where we are this year, but it gives a lot of chances for all the teams who have the speed and when the tyres are working for them they are much better than the others. The tyres seem to be the key thing. If you get them working well you seem to be fast. Sometimes you just drop out of the window a little bit and you have a hard time.
Kimi Räikkönen – “I’m sure we can make that last step”
Kimi, P3 for you today and with a few more laps it could have been even better; how are you feeling after the race?
To be honest, I’m a bit disappointed. I expected us to be a bit stronger in the race, especially at the beginning. We weren’t fast enough in the first stints and that’s why we couldn’t fight for the win. We showed at the end that we have the speed but it was too late. Maybe we made the wrong choice in the first pit stop, but like I said we weren’t quick enough at the start and that cost us the race. I probably wouldn’t have been disappointed with P3 at the beginning of the race because I couldn’t follow the guys in front, but having caught them up by almost twenty seconds towards the end we come away feeling a bit disappointed as we just needed a few more laps to possibly even fight for first place. Anyway, that’s racing and at least I scored some good points for the team and we’re going in the right direction.
Tell us about the start; it seemed that pretty much set the tone for your race…
I had a pretty good start, nothing to complain about. I thought I had a chance to overtake the top two around the outside, but I didn’t have enough speed in a straight line – I actually hit the limiter I think in fifth gear which stopped my acceleration a bit – and because of that I couldn’t quite hang on and hound them. I was pulling away from the guys behind me but I couldn’t stay in touch with the leaders. The first stint was pretty well, but for the second I chose the soft tyre and on that compound I didn’t have the speed to keep up with the guys in front. I’m a bit disappointed, but we fought hard and when we changed to the hard tyres the car was really, really good but by that time we were just too far away. Maybe with about five or ten more laps I think we could have been fighting for the win.
Were you surprised at the pace of Pastor (Maldonado) and the Williams today?
Williams have been quick at different stages in most of the last few races, and as I’ve said before, it’s very difficult to say who has the quickest package overall at the moment. At one race a team can be right up there, and then suddenly they are tenth in the next race, so it’s bit of an odd situation this year. It’s good for the sport, as it gives a lot of teams the chance; anyone who has good speed and when can get the tyres working for them have a chance to win. The tyres seem to be the key thing; if you can get them working well you will be fast.
Two podiums in a row for you now; do you feel a win is around the corner?
Twice now we’ve come close and I’m sure we can make that last step. Unfortunately you’re not always going to be able to challenge for the win, and if you get the chance you have to take it because it’s not every race that you will have the opportunity to go for it. Hopefully we can keep doing what we’re doing now and eventually I’m sure things will go exactly right and we’ll be up there. So far we’ve made good progress and the car has been strong everywhere. The next race is a bit different – Monaco – and it’s hard to say how we’ll go there. The team has done a good job, but we still have work to do and things to improve. So far the season is going well; obviously we’re not 100% happy because we’re not winning just yet, but that’s normal and I’m pleased the team want to push even further.
Pastor Maldonado takes shock Spanish Grand Prix win for Williams
Pastor Maldonado scored his maiden Formula 1 win and ended a Williams victory drought dating back to the end of the 2004 season as the Venezuelan defeated local hero Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari in an absorbing Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona’s Catalunya track.
The Williams and Ferrari were absolutely together going into the final laps, but the superbly composed Maldonado was able to edge away and secure victory, leaving Alonso to fend off Kimi Raikkonen’s flying Lotus for second.
Alonso had taken the lead at the start by beating Maldonado into the first corner, and then inched into a three-second lead during the first stint, as they pulled clear of the rest of the field.
But the combination of a stunning out-lap by Maldonado and Alonso getting stuck behind Charles Pic’s Marussia on his in-lap saw the Williams leapfrog the Ferrari at the second pitstops, and then storm away for a few laps until 7s clear.
Alonso then started coming back at Maldonado, getting the gap down to 4.2s before the Williams had a slightly slow final pitstop with a left-rear issue. A few laps behind Raikkonen, who was running much further before his final pitstop, meant the leaders were absolutely nose to tail going into the closing laps as both tried to keep their tyres intact.
For a while it looked inevitable that Maldonado would succumb to Alonso’s pressure, but it was the Ferrari that started to lose pace in the final stages, and the lead gap began to increase again – allowing Maldonado to take a very unexpected victory by 3.1 seconds.
Raikkonen’s fresher tyres allowed him to gain on the leaders at a ferocious rate as the race neared its end, but he ran out of time to catch Alonso, finishing six tenths of a second adrift.
Romain Grosjean finished fourth in the other Lotus, with Kamui Kobayashi pulling off some characteristically bold passes on the way to fifth for Sauber.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel produced a late charge to take sixth after losing ground with a drive-through penalty for failing to heed yellow flags and requiring a new front wing at his final pitstop.
Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes and both McLarens fell victim to Vettel’s surge up the order, with Rosberg then fending off last-place starter Lewis Hamilton for seventh as the Briton managed to make a two-stop strategy work against expectations. His team-mate Jenson Button struggled for pace all day and finished ninth.
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg resisted huge pressure from Mark Webber, who lost ground on lap one and needed an out-of-sequence pitstop for a new front wing.
Behind the Toro Rossos and the second Force India of Paul di Resta, Felipe Massa had another bad race for Ferrari. Penalised for a yellow flag infringement, he finished only 15th.
Retirements included Michael Schumacher and Bruno Senna, who tangled at Turn 1 when the fresh-tyre-shod Mercedes ran into the back of the yet-to-pit Williams, and Sergio Perez. The Sauber picked up a puncture while trying to attack the Lotus pair at the first corner, and later parked just after a messy pitstop.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The Spanish Grand Prix Catalunya, Turkey; 66 laps; 307.104km; Weather: Sunny. Classified: 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
Kimi Räikkönen – “We had a chance to do better”
Kimi, how was qualifying today?
For the team the qualifying result is probably the best of the season so far but we had a chance to do better; I made a mistake in turn nine so we lost a few tenths there. I think we had a chance to be in the top three but we’ve been fighting with the set-up quite a bit today. We change the car for qualifying and actually it was the correct call in the end; it was just a few small mistakes which cost us some time on my Q3 lap.
What do you think are your prospects for the race?
We’ll see how it goes. The car has usually been better on Sunday than it has been on Saturday, so if that’s the case tomorrow we’ll be pretty happy. Hopefully we get a reasonable start and we can be up the right end and go for it. I think we’ve got a good car and that’s the main thing.
What are your thoughts on the tyre performance for the race?
On Friday’s long runs we looked okay in terms of tyre degradation, but the race is going to be different again as everyone has a better idea of their cars and the track has changed since Friday. Usually our car is better in the race than in qualifying.
Are you happy with the car setup now?
We struggled a little bit with the setup all weekend but for qualifying we changed the car and we went back to the baseline where it was okay. In qualifying it was good, especially in the last corner and without my mistake we could have been in the top three. I think it should be a bit better in the race.
Do you have any concerns about the weather?
I’m happy to race in the dry and I’m happy to race in the wet. Our car is good in the hot conditions and I don’t think it’s going to be freezing cold tomorrow. As long as it’s a reasonable temperature we should go fine.
Lewis Hamilton storms to Spanish Grand Prix pole position
Lewis Hamilton and McLaren took pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix by a commanding margin over shock front row man Pastor Maldonado’s Williams.
In a session full of surprises, Hamilton was half a second quicker than Maldonado, who had been rapid in final practice, topped Q2, and then held provisional pole for a while.
Hamilton was the only frontrunner to do two runs in Q3, and his initial benchmark stood until first local hero Fernando Alonso in the much improved Ferrari, then the incredible Maldonado beat him.
But there was still more to come from Hamilton, who produced a 1m21.707s to give McLaren its 150th Formula 1 pole. The Briton then stopped on track on his slowing-down lap.
Just behind Maldonado, Alonso held second ahead of Lotus team-mates Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen, who again proved extremely competitive.
Both Saubers made it into Q3, with Sergio Perez going on to take sixth, but Kamui Kobayashi consigned to 10th as his car expired on the way back to the pits at the end of Q2.
Nico Rosberg was seventh after just one early run in Q3, while both Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) and Rosberg’s Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher chose to save tyres and not doing any flying laps in Q3, so qualified eighth and ninth.
The presence of the underdogs in the top 10 inevitably meant some big names were squeezed out in Q2, and it was Jenson Button – who had been uncomfortable with the McLaren’s handling all day – and Mark Webber who found themselves on the wrong side of the cut-off. The McLaren and Red Bull will share row six, double Catalunya polesitter Webber having been sat in the pits at the end of the session as others improved and pushed him backwards.
It was a bad day for Felipe Massa as well, the Ferrari driver registering his worst grid position so far in this already-disappointing season as he qualified behind the Force Indias and Toro Rossos in 17th.
While Maldonado stormed towards the front, his Williams team-mate Bruno Senna pushed too hard in his efforts to keep up – spinning into the gravel at the end of Q1 and ensuring an instant exit.
Vitaly Petrov outqualified Caterham team-mate Heikki Kovalainen for the first time as the back-of-the-grid teams lined up in the usual order. Charles Pic was quicker than fellow Marussia man Timo Glock, and HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan will needs stewards’ permission to race as apparent mechanical issues left him a long way from the 107 per cent margin.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m21.707s
2. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m22.285s + 0.578
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m22.302s + 0.595
4. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m22.424s + 0.717
5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m22.487s + 0.780
6. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m22.533s + 0.826
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m23.005s + 1.298
8. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault No time
9. Michael Schumacher Mercedes No time
10. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari No time
Q2 cut-off time: 1m22.904s Gap ** 11. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m22.944s + 0.839 12. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m22.977s + 0.872 13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m23.125s + 1.020 14. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m23.177s + 1.072 15. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m23.265s + 1.160 16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m23.442s + 1.337 17. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m23.444s + 1.339 Q1 cut-off time: 1m24.362s Gap * 18. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m24.981s + 2.398 19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m25.277s + 2.694 20. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m25.507s + 2.924 21. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m26.582s + 3.999 22. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.032s + 4.449 23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m27.555s + 4.972 24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m31.122s + 8.539
Sebastian Vettel fastest in final Spanish Grand Prix practice
Sebastian Vettel denied Pastor Maldonado a shock timesheet-topping performance in the final seconds of the third practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona.
Most of the hour had seen a variety of surprise underdog names taking turns on top, before reigning champions Vettel and Red Bull re-established the expecting order with the German’s final lap.
It was Sauber’s Sergio Perez who led the way for most of the morning, setting the quickest time of the first half hour on the harder tyres, then being swiftly usurped by first Nico Rosberg, then Jean-Eric Vergne as the Mercedes and Toro Rosso tried softs.
Once Perez was on softs too, he was swiftly back in front, lapping in 1m23.742s.
That held until the final two minutes, when his team-mate Kamui Kobayashi jumped to the top, followed by Red Bull’s Mark Webber.
But before this pair could get to the pits, they were being usurped as Maldonado came through to put his Williams on top with a 1m23.336s.
The Venezuelan would not stay there, as with seconds left on the clock, Vettel edged him out by 0.168 seconds.
Maldonado, Kobayashi, Webber and Perez found themselves pushed back to second through fifth places, ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, Vergne, and fastest McLaren driver Jenson Button. The sister McLaren of Lewis Hamilton looked poised to grab first place on the Briton’s soft tyre run, only to encounter heavy traffic in the middle of the chicane, leaving Hamilton an unrepresentative 16th.
Romain Grosjean did not complete any flying laps after a fuel pressure issue stranded his Lotus at Turn 10 early on, while Timo Glock was the other man to park trackside following an apparent issue at the final chicane in the closing minutes. The German stopped his Marussia just past the pit exit.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m23.168 13 2. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m23.336s + 0.168 19 3. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m23.350s + 0.182 19 4. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m23.578s + 0.410 16 5. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m23.742s + 0.574 22 6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m23.807s + 0.639 15 7. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m23.833s + 0.665 14 8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m23.909s + 0.741 13 9. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m23.936s + 0.768 16 10. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m24.070s + 0.902 23 11. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m24.179s + 1.011 16 12. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m24.323s + 1.155 17 13. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m24.331s + 1.163 15 14. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m24.409s + 1.241 18 15. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m24.599s + 1.431 15 16. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.778s + 1.610 15 17. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m24.825s + 1.657 17 18. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m25.911s + 2.743 20 19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m26.587s + 3.419 20 20. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.469s + 4.301 18 21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.689s + 4.521 16 22. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m28.207s + 5.039 24 23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m28.373s + 5.205 13 24. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault no time 2
Kimi Räikkönen – “Today went very smoothly for us”
What are your feelings from today?
The pace from the car was okay; it certainly wasn’t a bad Friday for us. I think we can go faster over a single lap but I made a mistake on my first lap with the fresh soft tyres. Overall not too bad at all.
As always this season there has been a lot of talk about the tyres; how are the two compounds feeling here?
Both feel good. Of course, it’s so hot here that it’s easy to get the tyres to work and we seem to be able to keep them working quite well too. Our aim today was mainly to try to see how the car is with both the short and longer runs and we achieved this. We’re still looking over the data but it’s looking good so far.
Is the team approaching the weekend any differently after the result in Bahrain?
We’ve been doing the same thing at every race, we just need to have the whole race weekend go as well as it did in Bahrain and we’ll be happy. Nothing has changed in our approach to the weekend, we’re just going to do the same things as before and see if we can achieve another good result.
How important is tomorrow’s qualifying session?
Of course it helps if you’re on the front row here, but it’s not as important as it used to be. The rules are different and the tyres are different so it’s easier to overtake; even here in Barcelona. It’s certainly not going to destroy your race if you don’t start on the front row.
Can you and the team repeat the Bahrain level of performance this weekend?
It’s difficult to say if we can repeat our Bahrain performance. We were quick here in testing, but you can’t really compare that; all teams have progressed quite a lot since then. For sure, our car is better than in testing, but so are other teams’ cars too. Today went very smoothly for us – better than some other Grand Prix Fridays so far this season – so hopefully we’re in a good position. In Bahrain we didn’t have it so easy on Friday, but everything came together for the race. We’ll see tomorrow where we are with qualifying and then on Sunday where we are in the race.
Kimi Raikkonen confident about Lotus’s Spanish Grand Prix chances after best Friday practice of season so far
Kimi Raikkonen sees no reason why his Lotus team should not be fighting at the front in the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend.
The Finn, who finished in second position in the previous race in Bahrain, was fifth in Friday’s free practice at Barcelona.
Although Raikkonen was half a second off the pace set by Jenson Button, the Lotus driver suggested his team was stronger than on previous Fridays this year.
"We’ve been fast everywhere else so far and there’s nothing to suggest we won’t be fast here again," said Raikkonen.
"Our car is better now than the winter, and it feels that this Friday was a bit more easier than the others, so we are maybe ahead than where we were at other races. In Bahrain we didn’t have so easy a Friday, so we will see tomorrow."
The Finn posted his fastest time of the day on the second lap on his soft tyres after making a mistake on the opening one, where the rubber was at its best.
"I did my lap on the second lap because I went wide on the first sector so I mean it was not a very good lap from myself," he said. "There are more things that we have to improve but Button was a bit ahead of everybody. For sure we had the chance to have a good car."
Raikkonen said the strong result in Bahrain has not meant a change of approach for Lotus, and says the team will face the weekend with the same frame of mind as before.
"We do the same thing every race. We just need to do the whole race weekend as well as we can. We haven’t changed anything and I haven’t experienced any change because we had a good race. We didn’t have a bad atmosphere before, so we are doing the same thing before and things are going normally."
Jenson Button quickest in Spanish Grand Prix practice two
Jenson Button overcame understeer issues with his McLaren to post the quickest time of the day in second practice for the Spanish Grand Prix.
The McLaren driver used Pirelli’s soft tyres to set a best time of 1m23.399s – enough to beat world champion Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull by 0.164 seconds.
Nico Rosberg put Mercedes in third position, with Button’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton in fourth and Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen completing the top five, albeit over half a second off the pace.
Raikkonen’s team-mate Romain Grosjean was sixth ahead of Mark Webber in the second Red Bull, with Michael Schumacher, Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Hulkenberg completing the top 10.
This morning’s pacesetter Fernando Alonso had to settle for 14th position in the Ferrari.
With the track temperatures rising to 43 degrees Celsius, Sergio Perez was the early pacesetter for Sauber with a lap of 1m25.532s, but the Mexican was demoted around eight minutes into the session, when Vettel stopped the clock at 1m25.000s.
Schumacher was the first man to lap in the 1m24s in the afternoon session just moments later, the German jumping to the top with a 1m24.859s, still some four tenths of a second off Alonso’s best from the morning.
The Spaniard returned to first position at the 18-minute mark with a lap that was still around three tenths off his best, but 0.120s faster than Schumacher. Jean-Eric Vergne relegated the local hero to second three minutes later with a fastest lap just 0.006s better than Alonso’s.
A few minutes later, Vettel flew to the top of the times in his first run on Pirelli’s softs, the world champion’s 1m23.563s the best time of the weekend until that point. Sauber’s Kobayashi moved into second position, albeit over six tenths off Vettel’s best, by also running with the softer compound.
Hamilton first and Webber later also completed runs on the soft tyres to move to second and third behind Vettel.
With 35 minutes gone it was Button’s turn to go out with softs, and the Briton made good use of them to spring to the top of the times with a 1m23.399 despite having complained of severe understeer earlier on.
Alonso went out on softs with some 41 minutes to go, but the Spaniard aborted his first flying lap after a first split that was slower than his rivals. He completed the lap in the next attempt, but was only 13th quickest.
Webber was the protagonist of the first incident of the session when he went off the track at Turn 4, the Australian leaving a lot of stones on the circuit as he made his way back to the asphalt.
Webber’s move was mirrored by Perez later on, the Sauber driver also having a trip across the gravel at the same corner.
As teams worked on longer runs, the times at the top stayed mostly unchanged for the last 30 minutes of the session.
HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan, whose car was driven by Dani Clos in the opening session, failed to set a time in the afternoon, the Indian stopping on track with a problem. He had spent nearly an hour in the garage waiting for his mechanics to solve an electrical issue.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m23.399 38 2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m23.563s + 0.164 38 3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m23.771s + 0.372 41 4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m23.909s + 0.510 32 5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m23.918s + 0.519 32 6. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m23.964s + 0.565 37 7. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m24.065s + 0.666 34 8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m24.080s + 0.681 36 9. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m24.214s + 0.815 41 10. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m24.365s + 0.966 22 11. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m24.418s + 1.019 35 12. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m24.422s + 1.023 32 13. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m24.468s + 1.069 40 14. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m24.600s + 1.201 33 15. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m24.688s + 1.289 30 16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m24.733s + 1.334 34 17. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m24.769s + 1.370 37 18. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m25.047s + 1.648 42 19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m26.296s + 2.897 36 20. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m26.740s + 3.341 35 21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.314s + 3.915 27 22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.664s + 4.265 30 23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m28.235s + 4.836 26 24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth no time 2
Fernando Alonso puts Ferrari on top in opening practice for the Spanish Grand Prix
Fernando Alonso gave the upgraded Ferrari an encouraging grand prix weekend debut as he went fastest in the first Friday practice session at Barcelona.
Although the home favourite did not go for a flying lap until over an hour into the morning, Alonso was immediately quick when he finished his data-gathering runs – knocking Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull off the top spot with a 1m24.754s lap 21 minutes from the end of the session.
Alonso then improved again on his next run and lapped in 1m24.430s, giving him a 0.378-second cushion over Vettel, who remained second to the finish.
Before Alonso started setting the pace, Vettel had enjoyed a 15-minute spell at the head of the order, having usurped long-time first-place man Kamui Kobayashi. The Sauber stayed near the front, though, holding third place at the end of the session.
McLaren’s practice activities included evaluating its new nose and checking sight lines with a bar across the top of the chassis. Jenson Button was fourth quickest, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton eighth.
Williams test driver Valtteri Bottas spent a while in second before ending up fifth in Bruno Senna’s regular car. Michael Schumacher and Romain Grosjean were next up in the best Mercedes and Lotus respectively, with the latter’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg completing the top 10 behind Hamilton.
Bottas was one of four reserve drivers in action during the morning. Jules Bianchi was 18th in Paul di Resta’s Force India, and there were debuts for Caterham’s Alexander Rossi and HRT’s Dani Clos, who were 21st and 24th respectively. Clos’ car developed a problem near the end but he was able to crawl back into the pitlane before coming to a halt at the end of the pit entry.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m24.430 20 2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m24.808s + 0.378 18 3. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m24.912s + 0.482 28 4. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.996s + 0.566 24 5. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m25.120s + 0.690 24 6. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m25.187s + 0.757 15 7. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m25.217s + 0.787 16 8. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.252s + 0.822 20 9. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m25.285s + 0.855 29 10. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m25.339s + 0.909 24 11. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m25.367s + 0.937 22 12. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m25.433s + 1.003 21 13. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m25.539s + 1.109 23 14. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m25.607s + 1.177 20 15. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.918s + 1.488 19 16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m26.226s + 1.796 24 17. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m26.297s + 1.867 18 18. Jules Bianchi Force India-Mercedes 1m26.630s + 2.200 21 19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m27.475s + 3.045 20 20. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m28.267s + 3.837 21 21. Alexander Rossi Caterham-Renault 1m28.448s + 4.018 25 22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m28.633s + 4.203 22 23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m29.107s + 4.677 19 24. Dani Clos HRT-Cosworth 1m31.618s + 7.188 19
The Narrowest of Margins – Spanish Grand Prix, Free Practice 1
A relatively low-key session for Lotus F1 Team provided the first opportunity to see how the teams shaped up in Spain, and a chance to build on the data gathered during winter testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.
As usual, Kimi and Romain departed the garage early in the session to complete their install laps. A series of short and medium runs with a range of setup tweaks followed as the team sought to analyse the E20’s performance with a range of new parts available.
One such upgrade was clear for all to see, as Kimi dived into the pits for a front wing change during a mid-session run, with the Finn running for the first time since the last race in Bahrain. Clearly keen to get some mileage under his belt, the 2007 World Champion completed the most laps of any driver during the session.
Romain’s running was largely consumed by work on the ride height of his car, as the Frenchman looked to build on a strong showing at the Mugello test last week. A host of changes throughout the session restricted him to a handful of laps, but the reigning GP2 Champion nonetheless demonstrated his pace and was clearly pushing to the limit, with a few sideways moments to keep the pit wall on the edge of their seats.
As the chequered flag dropped on a tightly run session, Kimi finished the morning in P9 with a fastest time of 1:25.285 from 29 laps, while Romain’s best effort of 1:25.217 from 16 laps saw him lie in P7, edging his team mate by mere fractions of a second.
Kimi, you were plainly a little frustrated that you could have won at Bahrain but didn’t. Is that a true appraisal of your feelings about Bahrain?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Yeah, I think once you get so close, you’re not happy with second. If you’re 20 seconds behind then it doesn’t really matter but we had a chance but at least for the team it was a good weekend.
Q: You’re a two-time winner here, both from pole position. Do you think a win is possible here? You’ve said you team will be winners at some stage.
KR: Well, the rules are different, so you don’t have to be on pole now to win. We’ll try. I don’t know how it will go. It’s very difficult to say before the weekend starts. The teams are very close. So if everything goes smoothly then we can be up there. But small difficulties in some areas and you’re suddenly much further back. We try to do everything right and then see what happens.
Q: You didn’t test at Mugello as apparently the team hadn’t brought major modification, but for this race have you at least brought modifications that will at least see you maintain where you were at the opening rounds?
KR: We should have some new parts and we’ll see what happens.
Q: (Alan Baldwin – Reuters) Leaving aside whether or not it’s a home race for you guys, how much of a difference does it actually make for you to be back in Europe again? Kimi, you don’t actually like the travelling very much out of Europe, do you?
KR: Yeah but I I arrived in China on the Thursday morning, so arriving for a European race on the Thursday morning is no different really.
Obviously, this is the most interesting time of the season. It’s a pleasure for the drivers and the teams, as we’ve been back at home for some time, and now the next couple of races will be not that far away to go to.
This is great. It’s easy to get to the circuit, have fun during the Grand Prix weekend, and come back home in such a short time.
For me the Spanish Grand Prix is a kind of checking-point of the season. All the teams know the Catalunya Circuit very well. This is the only race track we been testing with the new cars and now with the upgrades on board we can start evalutiating things to the data gathered during the preseason testing.
All the eyes are now on Barcelona. It will be tighter than ever before, while so many teams and drivers have been so close all the year long so far. I guess, for the spectators it must be as exciting as it is for us.
Hopefully this time our team will have a weekend with all the things getting sorted out quickly. Up till now we have not done any favours to ourselves in that side. We’ve been close, but close is not enough in this sport to gain poles and victories.
The Enstone boys have been working very hard with the car. It’s been one of the best cars I have had in the beginning of all the seasons in which I raced. The very encouraging thing is to keep hearing whispers the best is still to come from the car.
But you never know beforehand. There is no reason to promise anything right now. Like I said, it’s so bloody tight and close. With a smallest mistake you’ll be out of the Top 10. It’s like long jump. You have be able to leap hitting the board exactly right by millimeter to get everything out of all your competitiveness.
Twice I have had a perfect weekend in Barcelona. I’ve won both times from the pole. Obviously, I rank them to the best races I have ever had. The circuit is very challenging. It’s changing so quickly from the morning to the afternoon and the vary in the temperature is such an important factor to the set-up compromises being right.
My own approach is always to keep pushing 100 percent. It’s the same like the whole team. Our aim is to get the maximum result possible for every Grand Prix. Let’s wait and see how it goes in Barcelona.
Räikkönen sets sights on victory after strong start to the season for Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen says his sights are firmly set on victory now, on the back of the strong start to the season that his Lotus team has delivered.
After challenging Sebastian Vettel hard for the win in Bahrain a fortnight ago, Raikkonen sees no reason why his outfit cannot secure a place on the top step of the podium if it gets its act together.
"The car feels good everywhere we’ve been so far," said Raikkonen, in a team preview issued on Friday.
"I am here to race and I race to win. That is the target for me and the team. We want to win grands prix. We have a good car and we saw in Bahrain it is good enough to win. That’s the target."
Raikkonen is under no illusions how close things are at the front of the grid, but he is sure Lotus can build on its double podium finish from Bahrain.
Reflecting on the positives from the Sakhir weekend, Raikkonen said: "I never had any doubts in myself and it is clear we have a good car so in some ways the podium could have come sooner.
"We had the car already in the first three races to be up there, but we made some small mistakes and it cost us a lot. I would have been much happier if we had managed to get the victory, but nevertheless it’s a good result and the team deserved it for all their hard work. We have been good in every race so far, so hopefully we will be regular visitors to the podium this season."
He added: "I expect Lotus to be very competitive at Barcelona. It’s going to be very, very close between the top teams. This is the only circuit where the teams have already tested with the new cars, and the set up is crucial as the track changes with the wind and temperature. All the teams have updates for the first European race, which makes it even more interesting and even tighter at the top."
Raikkonen also reckons his absence from last week’s Mugello test will not hamper him at all in terms of extracting the most from the Lotus car.
"We didn’t have any major new parts to test and we don’t race at Mugello so I was not crying when it was decided that I wouldn’t test," he said. "I know the track well but there was no need for me to drive. I am here to race and that is what I will do in Barcelona".
Kimi Räikkönen on the Spanish GP: “Hopefully We Will Be Regular Visitors to the Podium This Season”
It took you four races into your comeback before you achieved a podium – were you surprised at this?
I never had any doubts in myself and it is clear we have a good car so in some ways the podium could have come sooner. We had the car already in the first three races to be up there, but we made some small mistakes and it cost us a lot. I would have been much happier if we had managed to get the victory, but nevertheless it’s a good result and the team deserved it for all their hard work. We have been good in every race so far, so hopefully we will be regular visitors to the podium this season.
Are you frustrated not to have taken the win?
I chose the wrong side to make it past Sebastian (Vettel). I didn’t make it past and after that, I pretty much knew that was it. Of course, I wanted to win. I would have been much happier with myself after the race.
You did not attend the Mugello test – is this an issue for you?
We didn’t have any major new parts to test and we don’t race at Mugello so I was not crying when it was decided that I wouldn’t test. I know the track well but there was no need for me to drive. I am here to race and that is what I will do in Barcelona.
You must have completed a lot of laps of the Circuit de Catalunya over the years; what are your thoughts of the track?
I have tested there very many times. It’s a challenging circuit – great fun with a good car, but not that great with a not so good car. Usually a car going well in Barcelona, goes well everywhere. We had a good car there for the second pre-season test even if the car wasn’t quite together for the first one.The car has improved and I feel more comfortable in it.
What are your thoughts on the Pirelli tyres and the strategies needed for the best results?
No matter what the tyres you always have to make a strategy to suit them best. The tyres are fine for me. For the strategy I work with my engineers and we make the best choices we can. Sometimes we get it right, like in Bahrain. Sometimes we get very close, like in Shanghai. After the race in China and after the qualifying in Bahrain, people probably started thinking that we are idiots and cannot do anything right. But we showed in the race why we did what we did. It was close already in China and this time our strategy paid back very nicely for us. It’s all part of racing and the same for everyone.
Are you looking forward to racing in Europe again?
I really like racing in Europe. We don’t have to travel too far and all the energy is saved for the weekend itself. Traditionally the real season starts while coming back to Europe. For me it’s just great.
What do you think can be achieved in the Spanish Grand Prix?
I expect Lotus to be very competitive at Barcelona. It’s going to be very, very close between the top teams. This is the only circuit where the teams have already tested with the new cars, and the set up is crucial as the track changes with the wind and temperature. All the teams have updates for the first European race, which makes it even more interesting and even tighter at the top.
You have some good memories of the Spanish Grand Prix?
Yes, I have won there twice, and there’s nothing better than winning in any Grand Prix. Those two wins are my only podiums in the event.
Four races completed; what do you want to achieve from the next four?
Let’s see what happens. As I’ve said, the car feels good everywhere we’ve been so far. I am here to race and I race to win. That is the target for me and the team. We want to win Grands Prix. We have a good car and we saw in Bahrain it is good enough to win. That’s the target.