Singapore GP: Sebastian Vettel fastest in second practice
Sebastian Vettel beat Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber to the fastest time in Friday’s second Singapore Grand Prix practice session after a mighty battle between the duo.
Championship leader Vettel and Webber swapped the top spot repeatedly on the soft-compound tyres early on. Webber won that battle, with a time of 1m46.157s giving him a 0.251-second advantage over the German, who had just usurped his original mark.
Vettel blew that pace away when he moved onto supersofts and lapped in 1m44.249s.
Webber’s response was compromised by a firm clout of the wall near the end of the lap, leaving him 0.604s down in the end.
Third-placed Nico Rosberg, who pipped Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 0.110s, was a second off Vettel’s pace.
Steering and brake issues again limited Romain Grosjean’s mileage, but did not stop him putting his Lotus fifth – just 0.043s behind Hamilton – during what little running he managed.
That placed him ahead of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button in the top Ferrari and McLaren respectively, and Kimi Raikkonen in the second Lotus.
Adrian Sutil and Sergio Perez completed the top 10.
Bar minor brushes such as Webber’s, everyone managed to stay away from the barriers with the exception of Pastor Maldonado, whose Williams required a new front wing.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m44.249s 34 2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m44.853s +0.604s 30 3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m45.258s +1.009s 34 4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m45.368s +1.119s 33 5. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m45.411s +1.162s 18 6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m45.691s +1.442s 32 7. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m45.754s +1.505s 30 8. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m45.778s +1.529s 32 9. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m46.002s +1.753s 27 10. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m46.025s +1.776s 31 11. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m46.406s +2.157s 34 12. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m46.429s +2.180s 33 13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m46.606s +2.357s 33 14. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m46.808s +2.559s 36 15. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m46.870s +2.621s 33 16. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m47.287s +3.038s 29 17. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m47.434s +3.185s 33 18. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m47.761s +3.512s 25 19. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m49.434s +5.185s 34 20. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m49.526s +5.277s 34 21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m49.619s +5.370s 33 22. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m49.731s +5.482s 30
Singapore GP: Lewis Hamilton leads opening practice
Lewis Hamilton ended first practice for the Singapore Grand Prix atop the order in his Mercedes.
The Briton led the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel in a tentative session that took a long time to get going as even backmarkers waited for track conditions to improve.
The majority of order changes at the front took place around the halfway point.
In a busy few minutes, the early pacesetting Williams duo and McLaren’s Sergio Perez were usurped as the Red Bulls and Mercedes took control.
Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Webber swapped the top spot several times before Hamilton’s 1m47.055s secured practice one honours.
Webber was 0.365 seconds slower in second, with Vettel half a second further back but achieving his best time near the end of a long run.
Rosberg completed the top four ahead of Lotus team-mates Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. The latter’s running was limited by a steering problem.
Fernando Alonso was the fastest Ferrari in seventh.
Perez fell back to eighth, six places ahead of McLaren team-mate Jenson Button,
Felipe Massa was also outside the top 10 in the second Ferrari in 12th as Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne and Sauber’s improving rookie Esteban Gutierrez claimed ninth and 10th, with Pastor Maldonado’s Williams 11th.
The 22 race drivers took part in the session, with no one standing aside for a reserve as teams preferred to maximise their lead racers’ track time on the tricky Marina Bay street track.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m47.055s 20 2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m47.420s +0.365s 20 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m47.885s +0.830s 19 4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m48.239s +1.184s 23 5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m48.354s +1.299s 18 6. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m48.355s +1.300s 12 7. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m48.362s +1.307s 21 8. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m49.267s +2.212s 20 9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m49.348s +2.293s 23 10. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m49.355s +2.300s 21 11. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m49.481s +2.426s 20 12. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m49.493s +2.438s 16 13. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m49.510s +2.455s 21 14. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m49.608s +2.553s 20 15. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m49.887s +2.832s 18 16. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m50.092s +3.037s 20 17. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m50.222s +3.167s 17 18. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m50.757s +3.702s 16 19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m52.359s +5.304s 16 20. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m52.673s +5.618s 15 21. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m52.920s +5.865s 24 22. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m53.647s +6.592s 23
How Kimi Raikkonen’s seemingly unlikely return to Ferrari came to fruition
Sky F1’s Mark Hughes on how Luca di Montezemelo had to be convinced and what the deal means for Fernando Alonso’s position at Ferrari.
Coming into the Monza weekend many were adamant that the Raikkonen/Ferrari deal had already been done. It had not. The terms had been agreed IF Kimi decided to join.
But his preferred option was to get from Lotus the guarantees he sought for 2014 – which were financial and technical. He needed some solid evidence that the money was going to be there to compete at a high level and certain technical assurances.
He was unable to get those assurances in time and, with the window of opportunity at Ferrari threatening to close later in the week, it was only at the end of the weekend that Raikkonen gave Ferrari the nod. That’s the way it was described by Kimi’s manager Steve Robertson and that tallies absolutely with what Ferrari was saying coming into the weekend.
Ferrari’s open admission for the first time that it was pursuing Raikkonen was a new element to the story as the circus gathered at Monza. For that admission to be made implied that Luca di Montezemelo had been persuaded to the logic of the recruitment of Kimi.
One year ago he absolutely refused to countenance such a development. Back then, the management below di Montezemelo was already absolutely convinced that Raikkonen – a non-political driver with a great turn of speed, a points-harvesting machine – was the ideal partner to Fernando Alonso. In terms of helping the team to a constructors’ championship, his consistent speed would surely be invaluable.
But there was one big, seemingly insurmountable problem, they said. Their boss, Luca di Montezemelo. Kimi had not been very respectful of him when the time came to leave and that was causing an impasse.
Subsequent to his being paid out of his contract one year early in order to make way for Fernando Alonso at the end of 2009, Raikkonen expressed his belief that it had all been to do with Ferrari’s desire to get the Spanish bank Santander on board.
But that was only partly true; there were a couple of additional contributory factors, the more important of which was that Raikkonen’s passiveness was not galvanising the team in the way it believed was necessary. It has historically operated best with a strong team leader – John Surtees, Niki Lauda, Michael Schumacher. Ferrari felt that Alonso had already exhibited the traits it needed.
So Alonso – and Santander – were welcomed on board, while Kimi was paid to go away. Dismissing Felipe Massa – recovering from serious injury – would have been a brutal sacrifice and besides his lesser status made for an easier team-mate ‘sell’ to Alonso as to why he should join than Raikkonen would have been.
But it’s a delicate balancing act between leading the team and criticising it and of late Alonso’s frustrated comments have been perceived by Ferrari as divisive. The relationship between them has definitely deteriorated. Meanwhile, Massa’s form after improving late last year and into 2013, then fell back to inconsistency.
It became obvious that a more consistently strong team mate was needed. In late July the rumours about Raikkonen again surfaced – and a Ferrari spokesman said at the time that, ‘It would be almost impossible to imagine’ though stopped short of an outright denial. Somewhere between then and the Monza weekend Montezemelo was convinced of the logic of Raikkonen’s recruitment, a process perhaps aided by the boss’ irritation at Alonso’s public criticism.
Alonso’s preference was for Massa to stay, but clearly Ferrari was no longer in the mood to cater to Fernando’s every demand. It made Raikkonen an offer – and all that remained was for Lotus not to be able to give the assurances he was seeking for next year and the return of Kimi, and one of the most fascinating driver line-ups of all time, was complete.
– It’s good this way. I’m really happy that we got things cleared up. It’s better to be in a big team due to next year’s radical regulation changes – like we have seen during the years, Räikkönen assures TS.
Steve Robertson emphasizes that Räikkönen made one of all time’s comebacks when he returned with Lotus.
– I never asked Kimi to return. It was he who wanted to come back. I never said it to him, but I thought he was too young to quit in 2009. I was surprised when he contacted me and told he wanted to return. I thought it could be difficult, especially since Michael Schumacher was at the same time in trouble after his comeback.
– We managed to get him into good positions and then Kimi made a completely fantastic comeback, which now leads back to Ferrari, Robertson said.
Whitmarsh predicts Alonso’s explosion
F1 | Turun Sanomat 08:28
Martin Whitmarsh has worked with both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen.
Turun Sanomat asked Whitmarsh directly if he believes that these two could work well together in Ferrari.
– I don’t see this duo as a match. Kimi doesn’t care who is in the other car, but Fernando won’t like the fact that it’s Kimi. That’s my summary to your question, Whitmarsh replied.
Then is it a completely impossible equation?
– Drivers don’t have to love each other and these two drivers are very "slash and burn" -top drivers. In some things they can be an incredibly strong team when thinking of their driving skills, but it will become a very challenging situation for the team itself.
– This setting doesn’t affect Kimi at all, but I predict that it affects Fernando very deeply, Whitmarsh said.
Never say never
Kolumnit | Turun Sanomat 08:05
And around we go…. but who would had believed, that after year 2009 Kimi Räikkönen and Luca di Montezemolo would shake hands upon a new contract.
’’Never say never’’ is something Steve Robertson has told me over and over again when chatting about next year’s options, since at first I refused to believe in the Ferrari-rumours.
As far as I understand, Red Bull started to procrastinate their driver choice and would had made their decision at the end of the season. Räikkönen didn’t stay put waiting for that.
Fernando Alonso has tried to bring the title to Maranello for his 4th year. Räikkönen again comes to the team as their latest champion.
Maybe this made di Montezemolo react in this way. He knows what a 21-years long remorse trip á la Canossa from year 1979 to year 2000 without a title feels like. Now he has walked that path for almost a one-third.
Räikkönen beats Alonso at least when it comes to patience. Alonso started to show signs of frustration in July and he didn’t hide his critisism towards the team from the media.
Hence many believe that calling back Räikkönen to Ferrari is a certain disciplinary action for the Spanish star. Alonso has to learn the hard way that no driver is bigger than the team. The real boss is still Enzo Ferrari in some way, who’s guideline di Montezemolo still follows to the letter.
Next year Alonso’s and Räikkönen’s mutual battle starts from a clean table – equally.
Fire and Ice
The Iceman and Alonso. Formula One’s most taciturn Finn, paired with one of the paddock’s most eloquent talents. A passionate and fiery Latin temperament coupled with one of the most laid-back men in motorsport history.
Ferrari are either total geniuses or completely mad (geni or scemi, maybe…), and we’ll have to wait until mid-2014 to work out which is which.
On the side of geni comes the good sense of having two of the sport’s fastest drivers on the same team. Pace should mean points, and points most definitely mean prizes. Both Raikkonen and Alonso are top-tier drivers capable of squeezing every last drop of performance from a car, both men are capable of delivering championships, and both men are entirely logical targets for the Scuderia. A winning team needs winning drivers, after all.
And on the side of scemi comes every version you’ve ever heard of Luca di Montzemolo’s comment that he didn’t want to put two roosters in a henhouse. Partnering Alonso with Lewis Hamilton at McLaren went down about as well as a suicidal lead balloon wearing concrete boots. Several seasons have elapsed since then, but there’s no real indication that the Spanish racer has become any better at dealing with a competitive teammate.
Quite the opposite, really: on those rare occasions when Felipe Massa out-performs Alonso in qualifying, the atmosphere in the Ferrari motorhome is several shades past awkward and into walking on eggshells mode. Luckily for the team, who then have to work in an atmosphere most kindly described as strained, Massa hasn’t been beating his teammate into a cocked hat.
But Kimi could prove to be a real problem when it comes to internal harmony. He’s quick, he has no interest in mind games, and he just wants to race. Sometimes he’ll be faster than Fernando, and sometimes he won’t. But on those occasions where Fernando is faster than Kimi, the only message emanating from the Iceman’s cockpit will be a four-letter version of ‘leave me alone, I know what I’m doing’.
There is a growing discontent at Maranello with Alonso, who has had to be reminded on more than one occasion that Ferrari is bigger than any of its drivers.
While racing drivers are trained to put themselves first in the cockpit, Ferrari drivers – be they champions or not – must always think first of the Scuderia, of the men and women proudly wearing red overalls in Maranello, and of the unwavering support of the tifosi. The holy trinity of prancing horse, devoted worker, and passionate fan will endure far longer than any one driver. Michael Schumacher understood this intuitively, but Alonso is still learning.
With Kimi getting his head down and concentrating on the racing, Alonso will need to work hard to restrain any negative outpouring of emotion he might feel towards the car. While the Spanish racer’s frustration has often been justified, any complaint will stand in stark contrast to Kimi’s indecipherable mumbles.
In victory, and in positivity, Ferrari adore Alonso’s passion. But the flipside of a passionate nature is that it also rears its head in the tough times. Faced with Kimi as a teammate, Alonso will do well to live by that adage so beloved of grandmothers around the world: if you don’t have anything nice to say, better to not say anything.
Monaco GP: Nico Rosberg wins wild race for Mercedes
Nico Rosberg finally secured Mercedes’ first Formula 1 win of the 2013 season as he maintained the lead throughout a Monaco Grand Prix interrupted by two safety cars and a red flag.
Mercedes was unable to repeat its qualifying one-two, as Lewis Hamilton fell to fourth behind the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.
Rosberg held his lead at the start and was able to maintain an advantage of around two seconds for the majority of the race, whether in tyre conservation mode or showing his true pace.
Hamilton lost ground when the safety car came out amid the first scheduled pitstops.
Felipe Massa repeated his qualifying crash at Sainte Devote, prompting the interruption and sending the Ferrari driver to hospital for checks.
As all those yet to pit immediately dived in to do so, Hamilton had to queue behind team-mate Rosberg and emerged behind the two Red Bulls.
Hamilton then spent the rest of the race mounting attack after attack on Webber for third, getting alongside through Rascasse at one point but never making it ahead.
Rosberg was not rattled by a mid-race stoppage, caused when contact between Max Chilton’s Marussia and Pastor Maldonado’s Williams sent the latter flying violently into the Tabac barriers.
Maldonado was unhurt in the incident, for which the stewards punished Chilton with a drive-through penalty.
While Rosberg cruised to victory ahead of the Vettel-Webber-Hamilton train, which only spread out in the final moments, the rest of the pack engaged in some spectacular and wild racing.
Force India’s Adrian Sutil pulled off brave passes on Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso into Loews.
He then benefited when contact between Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez at the chicane late on left the Lotus with a puncture and caused damage that would ultimately force Perez to park.
Button came through to sixth, having earlier had a spat with his McLaren team-mate Perez when the Mexican cut the chicane to hold him off.
Perez was ordered to let Button past, but overtook him cleanly at the same spot later on.
He then had another chicane incident with Alonso, and this time it was the Ferrari asked to move aside having cut the corner.
Raikkonen was next on Perez’s list, but on that occasion the chicane move ended in contact.
Alonso lost out to Button in the traffic jam behind Perez’s wounded car and finished a subdued seventh.
Jean-Eric Vergne chased the Ferrari home in eighth.
Paul di Resta converted 17th on the grid to ninth place, thanks to pitting as early as lap nine and making his tyres last to the end.
Raikkonen’s recovery drive ultimately earned him a point, as he overtook Nico Hulkenberg’s Sauber on the final lap.
The other major incident came when Romain Grosjean ploughed into the back of Daniel Ricciardo at the chicane, causing the final safety car.
Jules Bianchi also crashed, slewing into the Sainte Devote barriers, having earlier sustained damage on debris from the Chilton/Maldonado crash.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The Monaco Grand Prix Monte Carlo, Monaco; 78 laps; 260.520km; Weather: . Classified: Pos Driver Team 1. Rosberg Mercedes 2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 3. Webber Red Bull-Renault 4. Hamilton Mercedes 5. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 6. Button McLaren-Mercedes 7. Alonso Ferrari 8. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 9. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes 10. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 11. Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 12. Bottas Williams-Renault 13. Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 14. Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 15. van der Garde Caterham-Renault DNF. Perez McLaren-Mercedes DNF. Grosjean Lotus-Renault DNF. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari DNF. Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth DNF. Maldonado Williams-Renault DNF. Massa Ferrari DNF. Pic Caterham-Renault World Championship standings, round 6: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Vettel 107 1. Red Bull-Renault 164 2. Raikkonen 86 2. Ferrari 123 3. Alonso 78 3. Lotus-Renault 112 4. Hamilton 62 4. Mercedes 109 5. Webber 57 5. Force India-Mercedes 44 6. Rosberg 47 6. McLaren-Mercedes 37 7. Massa 45 7. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 12 8. Di Resta 28 8. Sauber-Ferrari 5 9. Grosjean 26 10. Button 25 11. Sutil 16 12. Perez 12 13. Ricciardo 7 14. Hulkenberg 5 15. Vergne 5 Da Autosport.com
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.
Bahrain GP: Vettel leaves action behind and wins for Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel breezed to his second victory of the 2013 Formula 1 season in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The world champion thrust his Red Bull to the front amid spectacular early dicing, then left the action behind.
In a repeat of the 2012 Sakhir podium, Lotus duo Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean made it through the field to second and third, the latter denying Paul di Resta a maiden F1 podium with just six laps to go.
Vettel was in a hurry to hit the front from the outset.
He forced polesitter Nico Rosberg to defend heavily off the line, and although Fernando Alonso managed to get his Ferrari between them around the outside, Vettel surged back into second with a bold move at Turn 5.
Vettel then pounced on Rosberg’s Mercedes into Turn 4 on lap two, only to run wide. Next time around he made the move stick, and thereafter inched away towards an ever-more certain victory.
Alonso was soon up to second but his DRS flap jammed open. He made an emergency pitstop to fix it, but the problem reoccurred. By lap nine, he was 19th, had made two pitstops and knew he would be without DRS all afternoon.
With Alonso out of contention, the best of the rest battle became a contest between di Resta and Raikkonen, both two-stopping compared to most frontrunners’ three.
Di Resta looked to be best-placed until his final stop, when Raikkonen vaulted him having stopped sooner.
Force India remained on course for third for a while, but Grosjean was looming. The three-stopping Frenchman saved his medium tyres for the final stint and was able to hunt down and pass di Resta, who had to settle for fourth.
The rest of the top 10 featured wild racing all afternoon, with an abundance of side by side and wheel to wheel action as different strategies unfolded and different cars found pace at different junctures.
Lewis Hamilton crept forward after a low-key start and finally grabbed fifth.
Sergio Perez produced by far his most combative performance for McLaren yet. He was embroiled in a long dice with team-mate Jenson Button and the fading Rosberg, which featured contact between the McLarens and anxious radio messages on more than one occasion.
Despite losing a front wing endplate against his team-mate’s car, Perez finished sixth, joining Hamilton in passing Mark Webber on the final lap.
Webber had been a podium threat for a spell, before falling back on his final set of tyres.
Alonso fought through to eighth despite his lack of DRS, with Rosberg and Button forced to four-stop and ending up ninth and 10th.
Felipe Massa suffered two right rear punctures and was only 15th. He had also made contact with Adrian Sutil on lap one, causing a puncture for the Force India driver, who made it back up to 13th.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The Bahrain Grand Prix Bahrain, Bahrain; 57 laps; 308.405km; Weather: Dry. Classified: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 2. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 3. Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 4. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 5. Hamilton Mercedes + 6. Perez McLaren-Mercedes + 7. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 8. Alonso Ferrari + 9. Rosberg Mercedes + 10. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 11. Maldonado Williams-Renault + 12. Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari + 13. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 14. Bottas Williams-Renault + 15. Massa Ferrari + 16. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 17. Pic Caterham-Renault + 18. Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari + 19. Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth + 20. Chilton Marussia-Cosworth + 21. van der Garde Caterham-Renault + Not classified/retirements: Driver Team On lap
Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 16 World Championship standings, round 4: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Vettel 77 1. Red Bull-Renault 109 2. Raikkonen 67 2. Lotus-Renault 93 3. Hamilton 50 3. Ferrari 77 4. Alonso 47 4. Mercedes 64 5. Webber 32 5. Force India-Mercedes 26 6. Massa 30 6. McLaren-Mercedes 23 7. Grosjean 26 7. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 7 8. Di Resta 20 8. Sauber-Ferrari 5 9. Rosberg 14 10. Button 13 11. Perez 10 12. Ricciardo 6 13. Sutil 6 14. Hulkenberg 5 15. Vergne 1
Exclusive Q&A with Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen
He’s already won one race this season, lies second in the drivers’ table and – according to Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso – is currently driving better than anyone else on the grid. But what does Kimi Raikkonen make of the start to his second year with Lotus? We caught up with the straight-talking Finn – eighth on the grid for Sunday’s Bahrain race – to get his take on his 2013 campaign to date…
Q: You seem to be the ‘all-weather’ man this year: whatever the conditions, whatever the tyres, in the end a podium is almost certain. Are you the ideal driver right now?
Kimi Raikkonen: Ha, I wish I was. Clearly you have to look at the conditions and cope with them – even though our car is not the best right now, we are able to adapt to situations pretty well. And, of course, I am always trying my best to deliver a good result.
Q: It looks like you are almost unaffected by whatever is going on around you. You may not always have the best qualifying – just like today – but most pundits have you on their shortlist of potential winners for the race…
KR: Ah, look back at Malaysia. There I had some issues with the car, so no race is a walk in the park for me as you suggest. (laughs) That’s how it goes. But for sure I always try to maximize the yield of points.
Q: There were high expectations today that you would go out in the last two minutes of qualifying and show everybody the way. But you ended up in P9 – and will start from P8 due to Lewis Hamilton’s gearbox penalty. Was there no more to come?
KR: No, we haven’t got the speed for one lap. Hopefully the race will show a different picture.
Q: Is that what your team principal Eric Boullier calls your finishing qualities?
KR: Could be. One lap is one thing, but to do 57 laps and stay at the top of your game is quite another.
Q: That must make you a much sought-after man. There has been talk that Red Bull could imagine you joining them next year…
KR: I have no contract for next year – that much is true. But further than that, I don’t want to discuss the matter. I want to do well this season and everything else will fall into place.
Q: What would convince you to stay at Lotus? What would make you move on? And do you want to stay in F1 racing in the first place?
KR: I haven’t thought about all that yet – I feel good here. But yes, there are many things that are undecided and there is still a long way to go this season, so let’s see how things unfold. We will see pretty significant changes when teams switch to their 2014 car development – and then it will be interesting to see what is going on.
Q: Would you be a better team mate for Sebastian Vettel than Mark Webber? Could it be that friendship is overrated in this matter?
KR: I don’t know. These are not the things that I think about right now.
Q: Would you like to have a more challenging team mate? Or is there something in being the de facto number-one driver?
KR: Look, sometimes he (Romain Grosjean) has a difficult weekend and sometimes I do. In the end it does not matter for me as I don’t really need somebody who is pushing me. I do my own thing.
Q: You were a surprising third in last year’s championship. Now you are an arguably even more surprising second in the standings. Are you surprised yourself – or is this in line with your personal expectations?
KR: Sure, it’s interesting to beat your own benchmark. The only plan I have in my head regarding that is doing better – as to how much better, let’s see. I am pretty relaxed about all these self-appointed point counters and soothsayers. Just let’s wait and see.
Q: Money makes the world go round and that includes development and development speed. Could that correlation make you nervous this season?
KR: True, we have less money than some of the other teams, but I am not sure if that will really hurt us or not. Last year we were able to do pretty well, so why not this again season?
Q: Malaysia was a bit of a drop in form for you. Why did it happen there and could it be symptomatic of conditions like that – ie higher temperatures compared those in Melbourne and Shanghai?
KR: Nothing to do with conditions. We had some issues with the car, that’s all. Conditions are overrated.
Q: What’s the best part of your car?
KR: I would say that we are more or less okay everywhere. We don’t have really bad points anywhere, but also not really good points. The car works okay.
Q: So let’s try this: what’s the best part of your life right now?
KR: I have a lot good things to do and I don’t complain. My life is okay.
Q: Can you comprehend all the lamenting about the tyres? You seem to be pretty unimpressed…
KR: We cannot change them right now so you better get used to it. Lamenting over things never helps.
Q: Last year here you were on the podium. What is likelihood of a repeat tomorrow?
KR: We are lacking a bit of pace, but in a long race with strategy involved anything can happen. Sure the starting position is not ideal.
Q: Strategy will again play a major role. Will we see daredevils trying to run a two stopper, or will three stops be the way to go?
KR: I think three stops will do it.
Q: So you will be running on three stops?
KR: I don’t know yet…
Bahrain GP: Nico Rosberg takes surprise pole for Mercedes
Nico Rosberg claimed a shock pole position for Mercedes in Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying at Sakhir.
Mercedes had not looked like an outright frontrunner during practice, but Rosberg set a banker 1m32.4s lap at the start of Q3 and it proved impossible to beat.
Sebastian Vettel got closest for Red Bull with a 1m32.584s, just ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.
Rosberg then made his pole absolutely certain, improving to 1m32.330s to clinch the top spot by over 0.2 seconds.
His team-mate Lewis Hamilton was 0.4s slower in fourth place. He will lose five places for having a gearbox change prior to the session.
Fifth position will also change post-session. Mark Webber took the spot for Red Bull, but faces a three-place penalty for his collision with Jean-Eric Vergne in China.
Ferrari put Felipe Massa on hard tyres for Q3 and he took sixth place, followed by the Force Indias of Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil. The latter only just made it into Q3 with a late charge.
Friday pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen was only ninth in his Lotus.
McLaren was ecstatic to see Jenson Button reach Q3 against expectations with a last-gasp lap. The Briton chose not to do a flying lap in the pole shootout.
The late Q2 improvements lik pushed Romain Grosjean’s Lotus down to 11th. The Frenchman was back in the pits at the end of the segment and his first lap had not been good enough.
The two Williams set exactly equal 1m34.425s laps in Q1, but Valtteri Bottas had got there first, so he made it to Q2 – where he took 15th – while Pastor Maldonado was left in 17th.
Esteban Gutierrez’s troubles continued as he only managed 18th in qualifying, which will become last when his five-place penalty for crashing into Sutil in China is applied.
There was a change in form at the back. Driving the upgraded Caterham, Charles Pic got his team ahead of Marussia for the first time in 2013, as he beat Jules Bianchi by a full 0.9s.
Giedo van der Garde, in the older-spec Caterham, also outqualified a Marussia, pushing Max Chilton down to 22nd.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m32.330s 2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m32.584s + 0.254s 3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m32.667s + 0.337s 4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m32.762s + 0.432s 5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m33.078s + 0.748s 6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m33.207s + 0.877s 7. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m33.235s + 0.905s 8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m33.246s + 0.916s 9. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m33.327s + 0.997s 10. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes Q2 cut-off time: 1m33.702s Gap ** 11. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m33.762s + 1.016s 12. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m33.914s + 1.168s 13. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m33.974s + 1.228s 14. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m33.976s + 1.230s 15. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m34.105s + 1.359s 16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m34.284s + 1.538s Q1 cut-off time: 1m34.425s Gap * 17. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m34.425s + 1.547s 18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m34.730s + 1.852s 19. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m35.283s + 2.405s 20. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m36.178s + 3.300s 21. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m36.304s + 3.426s 22. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m36.476s + 3.598s 107% time: 1m39.379s * Gap to quickest in Q1 ** Gap to quickest in Q2
Bahrain GP: Fernando Alonso beats Sebastian Vettel in final practice
Fernando Alonso put Ferrari back on top in the final free practice session ahead of Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying.
The Chinese GP winner produced a 1m33.247s lap on the softer medium tyres seven minutes from the end, and it proved unbeatable.
Earlier in the session Alonso had spun wildly out of Turn 2 while on a hard tyre run. He stopped just short of the gravel trap and was able to continue.
Sebastian Vettel looked best-placed to depose Alonso at the end, as everyone else fell shot on their medium runs.
The world champion’s Red Bull had been on top for most of the session, and waited until the final seconds before heading out on medium Pirellis.
Vettel came across traffic halfway round his lap, prompting an angry gesture at Charles Pic. But even before he encountered the Caterham, Vettel’s sector times were already shy of Alonso’s.
Running very wide over the rough Turn 12 kerbs then stymied Vettel’s next lap and he failed to improve on the 1m33.348s he had set on mediums, 0.101 seconds off Alonso’s pace.
Mark Webber completed the top three in the second Red Bull.
Lotus duo Kimi Raikkonen and early pacesetter Romain Grosjean were fourth and sixth, sandwiching Lewis Hamilton.
The Mercedes had a dramatic end to its session when Hamilton suffered an apparent left rear tyre failure on his slowing-down lap. The car sustained suspension damage in the incident, but Hamilton was able to nurse it back to the pits.
Mercedes is now having to carry out a left-rear corner change before qualifying. It is unsure what caused the initial tyre problem.
Force India stayed with the frontrunners as Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta took seventh and eighth, followed by Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes and Nico Hulkenberg’s Sauber.
Felipe Massa, fastest on Friday morning, was only 11th for Ferrari, ahead of the McLarens.
At the back, Marussia’s Max Chilton had to sit out the latter part of the morning due to a KERS problem.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m33.247s 12 2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m33.348s + 0.101s 15 3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m33.380s + 0.133s 19 4. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m33.446s + 0.199s 21 5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m33.455s + 0.208s 19 6. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m33.464s + 0.217s 19 7. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m33.596s + 0.349s 17 8. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m33.700s + 0.453s 15 9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m33.764s + 0.517s 19 10. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m33.922s + 0.675s 17 11. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m33.949s + 0.702s 20 12. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m34.117s + 0.870s 17 13. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m34.282s + 1.035s 18 14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m34.577s + 1.330s 16 15. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m34.611s + 1.364s 17 16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m34.678s + 1.431s 16 17. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m34.833s + 1.586s 17 18. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m35.816s + 2.569s 16 19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m36.731s + 3.484s 17 20. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m36.939s + 3.692s 16 21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m37.630s + 4.383s 7 22. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m39.592s + 6.345s 28
Bahrain GP: Raikkonen leads from Webber in FP2
Kimi Raikkonen edged out the Red Bulls for the fastest time in second Friday practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir.
Raikkonen’s pacesetting lap of 1m34.154s in his Lotus came just after the halfway point.
It could have been faster still, as the Finn ran wide at the final corner on the way to the flag. Yet even with that slip, Raikkonen’s pace was sufficient to edge him 0.030 seconds of Mark Webber, who had been in front for the preceding 20 minutes.
Raikkonen then set an encouraging pace on his later long run, although he was keen to come in earlier than Lotus wanted him to as his tyres faded.
Sebastian Vettel completed the top three in the second Red Bull, a tenth behind his team-mate.
Morning pacesetter Ferrari dropped back only slightly.
After his fastest time in practice one, Felipe Massa had some minor adventures on the way to sixth. Fernando Alonso was fourth.
Between them, Paul di Resta repeated his excellent morning pace and kept Force India in the top five.
Mercedes had a low-key afternoon: Nico Rosberg eighth and Lewis Hamilton 10th, split by Adrian Sutil in the second Force India.
Romain Grosjean was six places and 0.477s behind his team-mate Raikkonen in seventh.
Neither McLaren made it into the top 10, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez ending up 11th and 13th.
Just a day after saying he had learned an important lesson from his Chinese GP collision with Sutil, Esteban Gutierrez was in the wars again as he banged wheels with Charles Pic as he tried to pass the slower Caterham. The Sauber had to limp back to the pits with a puncture.
Pic’s car was unscathed, and he got within half a second of Gutierrez and Valtteri Bottas’s Williams in the final results.
The Frenchman was the best of the backmarker group, just ahead of the Marussias of Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi, as the the Briton outpaced his team-mate for the first time. Bianchi had sat out morning practice in favour of third driver Rodolfo Gonzalez.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m34.154s 31 2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m34.184s + 0.030s 26 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m34.282s + 0.128s 29 4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m34.310s + 0.156s 28 5. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m34.543s + 0.389s 35 6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m34.552s + 0.398s 34 7. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m34.631s + 0.477s 33 8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m34.666s + 0.512s 37 9. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m34.932s + 0.778s 33 10. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m34.976s + 0.822s 29 11. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m35.356s + 1.202s 32 12. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m35.506s + 1.352s 36 13. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m35.5$9s + 1.435s 36 14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m35.761s + 1.607s 33 15. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m36.133s + 1.979s 36 16. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m36.279s + 2.125s 33 17. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m36.579s + 2.425s 28 18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m36.616s + 2.462s 34 19. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m37.061s + 2.907s 32 20. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m37.313s + 3.159s 33 21. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m37.363s + 3.209s 29 22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m37.970s + 3.816s 34
Bahrain GP: Felipe Massa tops opening practice session
Ferrari kicked off its Bahrain Grand Prix weekend with a one-two for Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso in Friday morning practice.
Hot on the heels of Alonso’s commanding victory for the team in China, Ferrari continued to underline that its 2013 Formula 1 car is a frontrunner on merit.
In a typically cagey opening session on the dusty Sakhir track, all the frontrunners waited long into practice before actually going for flying laps, and Ferrari held off longest of all.
Nearly an hour had elapsed by the time Alonso and Massa showed their hand, and they immediately went quickest, as first Alonso did a 1m34.564s, then Massa beat it by 0.077 seconds with a 1m34.487s a few minutes later.
They duly stayed on top as everyone, as usual, focused on heavy fuel and tyre endurance for the remaining half an hour.
Nico Rosberg had been fastest for Mercedes prior to the Ferraris’ laps, and retained third, 0.134s off the pace.
Sebastian Vettel was the leading Red Bull in fourth, three places ahead of team-mate Mark Webber.
Force India had a strong session. Adrian Sutil spent a while on top around the halfway point, and although he later slipped to eighth, his team-mate Paul di Resta made it up to fifth place, ahead of Jenson Button’s McLaren.
Lotus duo Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean completed the top 10.
Lewis Hamilton was only 13th, 1.2s slower than team-mate Rosberg, but with no sign of drama at Mercedes, the disparity appeared due to differing programmes.
Heikki Kovalainen made his F1 return in 20th place. He ended up 0.6s slower than team-mate Charles Pic in Caterham’s upgraded car as he settled in. Both were ahead of the Marussias.
Rodolfo Gonzalez’s GP weekend debut with Marussia was curtailed by a gearbox issue after seven laps. He brought up the rear of the timesheets, but was within 0.8s of race driver Max Chilton.
Kovalainen and Gonzalez hand their cars back to Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi respectively in the afternoon.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m34.487s 11 2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m34.564s + 0.077s 19 3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m34.621s + 0.134s 22 4. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m34.790s + 0.303s 20 5. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m34.949s + 0.462s 17 6. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m35.069s + 0.582s 22 7. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m35.101s + 0.614s 19 8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m35.119s + 0.632s 19 9. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m35.345s + 0.858s 17 10. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m35.611s + 1.124s 14 11. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m35.640s + 1.153s 23 12. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m35.783s + 1.296s 16 13. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m35.792s + 1.305s 16 14. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m36.014s + 1.527s 19 15. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m36.485s + 1.998s 20 16. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m36.498s + 2.011s 17 17. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m36.755s + 2.268s 20 18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m37.214s + 2.727s 21 19. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m37.850s + 3.363s 20 20. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m38.401s + 3.914s 20 21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m39.445s + 4.958s 12 22. Rodolfo Gonzalez Marussia-Cosworth 1m40.215s + 5.728s 7
Kimi Raikkonen, that’s your 20th consecutive finish in Formula One. You’re certainly Mr Consistency. You had to work hard for that second place today. You had some damage to the front wing of your car after some contact, so tell us about that and also how it affected the balance?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: I think in the end it was a pretty okay result. Obviously we want to win but after a bad start the car wads handling well but then overtaking Perez, I was next to him and he just pushed me on the kerb but I tried to avoid him but I went on the grass and hit him on the rear I think and damaged the front. That didn’t help but luckily it didn’t affect so much the handling, it was just a bit too much understeery but we could still fight for second place. For sure without the damage we could have been quite a bit faster. Anyhow, good points and we try to do better next time.
Kimi, obviously a bit of a problem at the start there, tell us about that, and also how much pressure was there at the end as well?
KR: I think we just had wrong settings. The practice start was very good but then it was really bad the real start and we lost some positions and after that the car was okay, but I had a little accident, some problems with Perez and we damaged the nose and the front wing. I was surprised there was no more damage because I hit him quite hard. Also bit surprised that we didn’t have any more problems after that. A bit too much understeer and destroying the front tyre because of that but we still could fight for second place and get quite a good result in the end. Obviously we wanted to try to win but today with all the issues it was not possible.
Q: (Michael Schmidt – Auto, Motor und Sport) Kimi, how much lap time did the problem with the nose and front wing cost you and did it compromise your strategy, would you have gone for or tried a two stop strategy without it?
KR: There’s no way to tell or not how much the front wing damage affected the whole race but obviously the car is not designed like that so it’s not going to help. But I cannot tell you if it’s a tenth or half a second per lap. I was surprised how good the car was, even with quite a lot of damage. It was unfortunate, but I think we also have to be a bit lucky not to lose more. Hopefully next race we can have a normal race and be up there again fighting for a win.
Q: Was it your decision not to change it?
KR: Actually I wanted to change it and wasn’t sure if they changed it because… I think they looked at the wing at the first pit stop but they probably thought that it would take too long or… I don’t know really. I haven’t talked to them. Also, the reason why they probably didn’t change it was that the car was reasonably OK, I could still overtake people.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Kimi, can you please describe your view of the incident with Perez?
KR: I got the better run out of turn three and was on the outside on that little kink through to corner four. I thought that he would leave me enough space but he just pushed me off the circuit. I tried to avoid him but there was first grass and then the kerb and then the kerb saved me, I got grip but I couldn’t slow down and I hit him at the rear. I don’t know if he didn’t see me or what happened, but there was no way for me to avoid him any more because I was there next to it and I ran out of road.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi and Lewis, in your mind, with this tyre situation, is the most serious candidate for the title now Fernando and no longer Vettel?
KR: He didn’t get it but he has the same challenge. But as Fernando said, from race to race, one team is a little bit stronger at one race and the next race is a bit of a different story. I think all four teams are close to each other
Chinese GP: Alonso takes commanding victory for Ferrari
Fernando Alonso gave Ferrari its first victory of the 2013 Formula 1 season as his tactic of starting on soft tyres proved the right one in a strategy-defined Chinese Grand Prix.
Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton used the same strategy to fill the podium, as Sebastian Vettel’s tactics could only give him fourth place, just inches behind Hamilton in a thrilling finish.
The race unfolded as two parallel contests between those who started on softs, briefly burst clear and then pitted early and dropped into traffic, and those who started on mediums, emerged up front, but would face soft tyre pain later.
Alonso quickly thrust himself to the front of the first group. A slow start from Raikkonen meant the Ferraris were into second and third by Turn 1, and both Alonso and Felipe Massa overtook Hamilton on lap five as the Mercedes’ soft tyres faded quicker.
Massa stayed out one lap longer than most on softs and subsequently faded out of the lead battle, while Alonso’s speed at hacking through traffic on alternative strategies once he was on mediums gave him a clear advantage over everyone else on the same strategy.
Vettel left his softs until the final five laps.
But by then, Alonso’s strategy already looked better. The Ferrari’s shorter stints meant Alonso caught Vettel on track on lap 42 on fresher tyres at a time when both had one more stop to go.
Alonso swiftly passed the Red Bull and cruised away, knowing Vettel would still have to take on softs.
While the Ferrari was out of reach, Vettel still had a shot at Raikkonen’s Lotus and Hamilton’s Mercedes, which had been battling all race.
The champion caught his two rivals at a rate of three seconds per lap after his late pitstop and started the final lap with Hamilton in sight.
The Mercedes hung on by just 0.2 seconds, with Raikkonen staying just far enough ahead to claim second. The Lotus was sporting a dramatic tear in its nose section after an early brush with the defensive Sergio Perez’s McLaren.
Jenson Button pulled off a two-stop strategy in the sister McLaren, allowing him to lead for a spell and finish fifth ahead of Massa.
Daniel Ricciardo converted his impressive qualifying result into seventh for Toro Rosso, despite an early front wing change.
Paul di Resta and Romain Grosjean were eighth and ninth.
Nico Hulkenberg played a major role in the early stages. Running the same strategy as Vettel, he got ahead of the Red Bull early on and led as the pit tactics unfolded.
A slow pitstop meant he lost out to Vettel, and Sauber’s choice of a very short middle stint on softs did not pay off, leaving him 10th.
Mark Webber’s troubled weekend got even worse in the race. Clearing the soft tyres on lap one and instantly taking mediums gave him a shot at getting up with the leaders, but he smashed his front wing in a tangle with Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso then retired when his right rear wheel fell off after a subsequent pitstop for repairs.
Nico Rosberg was troubled by an apparent suspension problem from the outset and retired his Mercedes soon after his second pitstop.
A host of drivers, including both Red Bull men, will be investigated for alleged DRS breaches after the race, although AUTOSPORT understand that paddock-wide telemetry problems are the cause.
Esteban Gutierrez could face sanction for ploughing into the back of Adrian Sutil early on, ending both their races. Sutil had earlier clashed with Force India team-mate di Resta.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The Chinese Grand Prix Shanghai, China; 56 laps; 305.066km; Weather: Dry. Classified: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Alonso Ferrari 1h36:26.945
2. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 10.168s
3. Hamilton Mercedes + 12.322s
4. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 12.525s
5. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 35.285s
6. Massa Ferrari + 40.827s
7. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 42.691s
8. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 51.084s
9. Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 53.423s
10. Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari + 56.598s
11. Perez McLaren-Mercedes + 1m03.860s
12. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1m12.604s
13. Maldonado Williams-Renault + 1m33.861s
14. Bottas Williams-Renault + 1m35.453s
15. Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap
16. Pic Caterham-Renault + 1 lap
17. Chilton Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap
18. van der Garde Caterham-Renault + 1 lap
Fastest lap: Vettel, 1m36.808s Not classified/retirements: Driver Team On lap Rosberg Mercedes 22 Webber Red Bull-Renault 16 Sutil Force India-Mercedes 6 Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 5 World Championship standings, round 3: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Vettel 52 1. Red Bull-Renault 78 2. Raikkonen 49 2. Ferrari 73 3. Alonso 43 3. Lotus-Renault 60 4. Hamilton 40 4. Mercedes 52 5. Massa 30 5. Force India-Mercedes 14 6. Webber 26 6. McLaren-Mercedes 14 7. Button 12 7. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 7 8. Rosberg 12 8. Sauber-Ferrari 5 9. Grosjean 11 10. Di Resta 8 11. Ricciardo 6 12. Sutil 6 13. Hulkenberg 5 14. Perez 2 15. Vergne 1 All timing unofficial
Kimi, you held pole briefly but you were just pipped by Lewis.
Kimi RAIKKONEN: 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?
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?
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.
Chinese GP: Raikkonen downplays Lotus’s pace
Kimi Raikkonen believes Lotus does not really have to speed to be at the front of the Chinese Grand Prix field, despite qualifying second.
The Finn was beaten only by Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes in Shanghai qualifying, beating the Ferraris and Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes to the outside front row spot.
But Raikkonen remains sceptical about Lotus’s pace.
"I knew the gap was quite big still and we don’t have that speed right now," he said.
"Second is not too bad, it is the best I can gain with the team. I’d rather be in first place, but we didn’t have the speed.
"We’re missing downforce in the middle sector so we will see what we can do tomorrow."
Raikkonen believes the Lotus package has a similar level of competitiveness to its potential in Malaysia, but that the team is doing a better job of getting that pace out of the car this weekend.
"We had a very small update, I would say it is the same as in the last race," he said.
"It seems to be working OK. We have some issues with some stuff, but it’s a similar story to Malaysia.
"The car works the way I want it to. It has been a pretty tricky weekend to get things exactly right, it’s very sensitive, but we are happy to be where we are now."
Championship leader Sebastian Vettel and McLaren’s Jenson Button chose to sit out the pole battle and run medium tyres in Q3, hoping for a race strategy advantage.
Raikkonen was confident Lotus’s tactics were right.
"We believe our strategy is the best one, that is why we did it," he said. "If qualifying was better on primes, then you would do it."
Second Place Never Enough for Kimi Räikkönen
Clear skies above and a clear track ahead; you must be pleased with the result today?
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.
How is the car feeling?
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.
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?
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.
Do you think victory is within reach tomorrow?
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.
Chinese GP: Hamilton grabs first pole with Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton claimed his first pole position with Mercedes in a Chinese Grand Prix qualifying session dominated by tyre strategy.
Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus will join Hamilton on the front row ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.
Championship leader Sebastian Vettel chose not to set a time in Q3 and can start ninth on medium tyres, while most of those ahead must use the fragile softs for their first stint.
His Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber had a disastrous session, as a fuel pressure problem stranded him in Q2.
With the soft tyres only good for one flying lap and expected to quickly fade in the race, qualifying was all about rubber conservation.
Q3 duly became a one-lap shootout in the final minute as all 10 contenders poured on the track at once at the last gasp.
Raikkonen was first to take provisional pole with a 1m34.761s.
Several likely challengers failed to match that, but Hamilton came through on a 1m34.484s to give Mercedes pole at Shanghai for a second straight year.
Alonso ended his run of being outqualified by Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa as he took third, two places ahead of the Brazilian.
Nico Rosberg split them in the second Mercedes.
Romain Grosjean was sixth for Lotus, followed by Daniel Ricciardo.
The Australian was one of the stars of qualifying as he got Toro Rosso into Q3 for the first time this year, beating team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne by 0.9 seconds in Q2.
Jenson Button joined Vettel in opting for medium and did a slow lap for eighth, while Vettel and Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg chose not to do Q3 flying laps at all.
Webber ended qualifying 14th after a fuel pressure problem forced him to park his car on the circuit in Q2. But the Australian fears he will ultimately end up at the back of the grid if the issue means his Red Bull cannot provide the mandatory fuel sample for the FIA.
Both Force Indias narrowly missed out on the top 10, with Paul di Resta just 0.029s off in 11th. Team-mate Adrian Sutil was behind Sergio Perez’s McLaren in 13th.
The tyre issue even neutered Q1, which did not feature any track action until halfway through.
Toro Rosso attempted to get through on mediums, but had to make a late switch to softs as both drivers were at risk of missing the cut.
Vergne and Ricciardo’s improvements meant Valtteri Bottas’s Williams and Esteban Gutierrez’s Sauber were the two midfield cars ousted.
Jules Bianchi had been ahead of the Toro Rossos before they moved to softs, but had to settle for his usual 19th for Marussia, still comfortably faster than his back of the grid peers.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m34.484s
2. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m34.761s + 0.277
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m34.788s + 0.304
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m34.861s + 0.377
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m34.933s + 0.449
6. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m35.364s + 0.880
7. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m35.998s + 1.514
8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2m05.673s + 31.189
9. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault no time
10. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari no time
Q2 cut-off time: 1m36.261s Gap ** 11. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m36.287s + 1.209s 12. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m36.314s + 1.236s 13. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m36.405s + 1.327s 14. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m36.679s + 1.601s 15. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m37.139s + 2.061s 16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m37.199s + 2.121s Q1 cut-off time: 1m37.508s Gap * 17. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m37.769s + 1.976 18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m37.990s + 2.197 19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m38.780s + 2.987 20. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m39.537s + 3.744 21. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m39.614s + 3.821 22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m39.660s + 3.867 107% time: 1m42.489s
* Gap to quickest in Q1
** Gap to quickest in Q2
Chinese GP: Alonso keeps Ferrari on top in FP3
Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa kept Ferrari on top of the times in the final practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix.
The Spaniard’s best lap of 1m35.391s was still slower than the benchmark set by Massa in second practice on Friday. The Brazilian was second quickest on Saturday morning, over six tenths behind his team-mate.
Lewis Hamilton finished third for Mercedes as team-mate Nico Rosberg had to settle for 14th position after being unable to set a time with the soft Pirelli tyres.
World champion Sebastian Vettel outpaced Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber for the first time this weekend to finish in fourth position, right ahead of the Australian, who completed the top five.
Force India’s Adrian Sutil was sixth ahead of the first Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren’s Jenson Button and Sergio Perez and the Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg, who rounded up the top 10.
Caterham’s Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde were the first men to appear in the timesheets, the duo the only men to post a timed lap in the first 10 minutes of the session.
Perez jumped to the top of the times nearly 20 minutes in, becoming the first driver from a top team to set a time. He was promptly outpaced by Romain Grosjean in the Lotus, the Frenchman relegated by team-mate Raikkonen just moments later.
With a quarter of final practice gone, it was FP1 pacesetter Rosberg who moved to the top with the first 1m37s lap of the hour-long session. Team-mate Hamilton bettered his time three minutes later as Vettel went second quickest behind the Briton, both men still far from the leading times from Friday.
Hamilton was first to move into the 1m36s at the half-hour mark, while Rosberg put the other Mercedes in second position ahead of Vettel.
Ferrari drivers Alonso and Massa waited until the second half of the session to complete their first timed laps, the Spaniard moving to fifth spot 28 minutes in with used medium tyres. Friday pacesetter Massa went sixth quickest with his first attempt seconds later.
The soft tyres made their appearance with less than 20 minutes left, with Rosberg and Raikkonen the first of the frontrunners to try the yellow-marked rubber.
The German, however, aborted his first attempt and complained about excessive bottoming, returning to the pits without setting a time. His mechanics started working on the car immediately and he would not return to the track.
Team-mate Hamilton also slowed down right after posting the quickest time in the first sector, also using soft tyres, but the Briton continued for another run.
Although his first sector was not as strong as before, Hamilton posted the best time of the session with a lap of 1m36.065s which put him over a second clear of the rest of the field at the time.
With most teams eager to save their soft tyres, the action was sparse as the session reached the final 10 minutes. Raikkonen jumped to second with eight minutes to go, but the Finn was still over half a second off Hamilton’s pace. He was soon outpaced by Sutil, but the Mercedes driver’s time was still out of reach.
Most drivers finally jumped onto the circuit with five minutes left, Alonso setting the fastest time of the day with a 1m35.391s, still slower than Massa’s best from Friday. The Brazilian moved to second ahead of Hamilton.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m35.391s 13 2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m36.013s + 0.622s 11 3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m36.065s + 0.674s 18 4. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m36.286s + 0.895s 17 5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m36.420s + 1.029s 15 6. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m36.549s + 1.158s 16 7. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m36.605s + 1.214s 16 8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m36.693s + 1.302s 16 9. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m36.777s + 1.386s 16 10. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m36.853s + 1.462s 15 11. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m37.072s + 1.681s 15 12. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m37.205s + 1.814s 18 13. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m37.300s + 1.909s 11 14. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m37.349s + 1.958s 12 15. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m37.457s + 2.066s 16 16. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m37.487s + 2.096s 13 17. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m37.740s + 2.349s 20 18. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m37.813s + 2.422s 16 19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m38.496s + 3.105s 17 20. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m38.821s + 3.430s 18 21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m39.627s + 4.236s 16 22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m39.652s + 4.261s 18
Kimi Räikkönen Upbeat on Chinese GP Potential
How was the first day out on track?
If you look at the lap time it looks to have been a pretty okay day. For sure, there are things we have to improve and you never know what will happen tomorrow, but it’s a reasonable start to the weekend. We seem to be happy with the soft tyres and maybe not as happy with the harder ones, but we’ve still got time to improve and we’re certainly not struggling so it could be a good weekend.
How does the soft tyre feel better than the medium?
The softer tyre seems to have much more grip and it suited our car better today. For some teams the soft tyre gives a big improvement, for other teams not so much. We will have to see how many laps the soft tyre last for as that will be important in the race. For sure it will be the tyre we use to qualify on.
Is there much more pace to come from the car?
We can definitely improve. We have some pace to come from the car in the usual areas with setup. We’re not far from where we want to be, but if we can find a little more speed with the harder tyres we’ll be happy. My quick lap today could have been better, so there’s some more pace to come even if we don’t improve the car, but hopefully we do…
Bumpy Ride for Kimi Räikkönen in Sepang
After a flying start to the weekend, Kimi had to dig deep to pull off a fighting seventh place in today’s Malaysian Grand Prix. Although a far cry from the heroics of Australia, the Iceman is taking the positives from a solid result
It all started so well this weekend, but not quite the ending you would have liked…
For sure it’s not what we expected, but sometimes that’s how it goes. Although the car felt very good on Friday, yesterday and today have been pretty difficult. Since Saturday morning it has not been behaving as we wanted for some reason, especially in the wet where we really struggled for grip.
How did you see the race from inside the cockpit?
It was a tough race. The start was not good and then I lost part of my front wing on the first lap. The car didn’t handle too well after that and with the wet conditions it was pretty tricky. The pace wasn’t too bad, but it could have been a lot better when you look at our times on Friday.
You had some close tussles out there, particularly with Nico Hulkenberg…
There were a few times where it got pretty close. There are things you should and shouldn’t do but this is racing and at the end of the day I don’t think it changed our result too much.
What positives can we take from today?
It wasn’t the best weekend for us in the end but at least we scored a few points which is better than coming away with nothing. If we can get the car back to how it was in Australia then I’m sure we’ll be at the front again.
Malaysian GP: Sebastian Vettel beats Mark Webber amid team row
Sebastian Vettel denied Mark Webber in a ferocious Red Bull intra-team battle to secure Malaysian Grand Prix victory.
The pair were wheel to wheel repeatedly in the closing laps before Vettel broke clear – despite the team having ordered them to hold station with Webber ahead.
Just behind them,team instructions were also a flashpoint between the Mercedes team-mates, before Lewis Hamilton – who had been a lead threat for a spell – led home Nico Rosberg.
Fernando Alonso’s bid for victory ended early, when he crashed out having sustained wing damage nudging Vettel on the opening lap.
Conditions had been wet at that stage following a heavy pre-race shower.
Alonso immediately passed Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa off the line, resisted Webber’s outside-line attempt and attacked Vettel for the lead, but slid lightly into the Red Bull at Turn 2.
That dislodged the Ferrari’s front wing, a situation that worsened as the lap went on – though that did not stop Alonso from fending off Webber’s repeated probes.
Ferrari stayed out, seemingly hoping to coincide the wing change with a switch to slicks, but as Webber passed Alonso on the pits straight, the Spaniard’s wing collapsed and sent him skating into the gravel and out of the race.
Vettel and Webber then ran first and second, swapping positions at the pitstops as Vettel’s early change to slicks proved slightly premature.
Webber came under increasing pressure from Vettel in the middle of the race, while the Mercedes began catching them both.
This prompted Vettel to urge the team to get Webber out of his way, but the Australian managed to rebuild a lead and Vettel found himself dropping behind the earlier-pitting Hamilton at the third pitstops.
Hamilton lost pace in the next stint as he had to start saving fuel, allowing Vettel to reclaim second into the first corner.
The world champion then played the early stop tactic at the fourth and final pit visit, which brought him right back onto Webber’s tail when the Australian changed tyres.
They grappled wheel to wheel through the first five corners for two consecutive laps, prompting frantic radio calls from a concerned Red Bull pitwall, before Vettel got decisively in front and went on to clinch another win.
The Mercedes had fallen away by that stage and were involved in their own intra-team controversy. After Hamilton and Rosberg swapped places repeatedly in the DRS zones for several laps, they were ordered to hold station and save fuel and tyres, to Rosberg’s clear displeasure.
Ferrari had to settle for fifth with Felipe Massa, who recovered to that position after losing ground in the early stages.
That place would have gone to Jenson Button had the McLaren not lost two minutes in the pits after pulling away with a loose right front wheel and having to stop in the pitlane and wait for his mechanics to retrieve the car.
That was one of a wild array of pit incidents, which also included Hamilton mistakenly pulling into former team McLaren’s area, both Force Indias having to retire with wheelnut issues, and Charles Pic and Jean-Eric Vergne colliding amid pitstops.
Lotus claimed sixth and seventh with Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen, the latter having an uneventful afternoon that included trips off the road and a bitter battle with Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg, who took eighth.
Sergio Perez was ninth for McLaren, while Vergne held off Valtteri Bottas to give Toro Rosso the final point.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The Malaysian Grand Prix Sepang, Malaysia; 56 laps; 310.408km; Weather: . Classified: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h38m56.681s 2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault + 4.298s 3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes + 12.181s 4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes + 12.640s 5. Felipe Massa Ferrari + 25.648s 6. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 35.564s 7. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 48.479s 8. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari + 53.044s 9. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes + 1m12.357s 10. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1m27.124s 11. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault + 1m28.610s 12. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap 13. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap 14. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault + 1 lap 15. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault + 1 lap 16. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth + 2 laps 17. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes + 3 laps 18. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 5 laps Fastest lap: Perez, 1m39.199s Not classified/retirements: Driver Team On lap Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 45 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 27 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 22 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1 World Championship standings, round 2: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Vettel 40 1. Red Bull-Renault 66 2. Raikkonen 31 2. Lotus-Renault 40 3. Webber 26 3. Ferrari 40 4. Hamilton 25 4. Mercedes 37 5. Massa 22 5. Force India-Mercedes 10 6. Alonso 18 6. McLaren-Mercedes 4 7. Rosberg 12 7. Sauber-Ferrari 4 8. Grosjean 9 8. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1 9. Sutil 6 10. Di Resta 4 11. Hulkenberg 4 12. Button 2 13. Perez 2 14. Vergne 1
Malaysian GP: Vettel on pole as rain hits qualifying
Sebastian Vettel took pole position by nearly a second on a drying track in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
With the circuit improving moment by moment in the final part of Q3, Vettel made great use of a fresh set of intermediates to lap in 1m49.674s for Red Bull.
The Ferraris will line up behind Vettel on the grid. Felipe Massa outqualified Fernando Alonso for a fourth straight race, but was still 0.9 seconds adrift of pole.
Lewis Hamilton held provisional pole for Mercedes going into the last minute, before being shuffled back to fourth by Vettel and the Ferraris.
Mark Webber was another man who had had a strong pole shot but ended up lower down, in his case fifth.
Q2 pacesetter Nico Rosberg completed the top six, with Kimi Raikkonen the top Lotus in seventh.
McLaren managed to get both cars into Q3, as Jenson Button and Sergio Perez took eighth and 10th. They were split by Adrian Sutil’s Force India, which had been fastest in Q1.
The rain had started in Q2, catching out those who had not set an early banker lap.
The Ferraris just made it through in time, but Romain Grosjean’s early time was pushed back to 11th, leaving the Lotus driver frustrated.
Paul di Resta spun helplessly to 15th, behind Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Gutierrez. Pastor Maldonado did not manage to get a lap in at all.
Williams had already lost Valtteri Bottas, unable to get out of Q1, along with Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne.
Both men were only a few tenths clear of the astonishing Jules Bianchi’s Marussia. The French rookie beat the rest of the backmarkers by 0.9s ad was 1.2s quicker than team-mate Max Chilton.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m49.674s
2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m50.587s + 0.913s
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m50.727s + 1.053s
4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m51.699s + 2.025s
5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m52.244s + 2.570s
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m52.519s + 2.845s
7. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m52.970s + 3.296s
8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m53.175s + 3.501s
9. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m53.439s + 3.765s
10. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m54.136s + 4.462s
Q2 cut-off time: 1m37.342s Gap ** 11. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m37.636s + 1.446s 12. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m38.125s + 1.935s 13. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.822s + 2.632s 14. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m39.221s + 3.031s 15. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m44.509s + 8.319s 16. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault no time Q1 cut-off time: 1m37.931s Gap * 17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.157s + 1.348s 18. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m38.207s + 1.398s 19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m38.434s + 1.625s 20. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m39.314s + 2.505s 21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m39.672s + 2.863s 22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m39.932s + 3.123s 107% time: 1m43.585s
* Gap to quickest in Q1
** Gap to quickest in Q2
Malaysian GP: Vettel quickest in final Sepang practice
Sebastian Vettel highlighted his position as favourite for pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix by going quickest in final practice at Sepang.
The Red Bull driver posted the best time of the weekend with a lap of 1m36.435s near the end of the session, outpacing Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton by 0.133 seconds and the Force India of Adrian Sutil by less than two tenths.
Vettel’s team-mate Mark Webber was fourth fastest in a very evenly-matched session, the Australian just 0.178s adrift.
Yesterday’s pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen had to settle for fifth position after complaining about the handling of his Lotus.
Although all drivers jumped onto the track right at the start of the session, it was the Caterhams of Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde who set the early pace as the frontrunners took things easy.
Ten minutes in, Raikkonen moved to the top of the times as he posted a 1m38s lap, soon to be bettered by Mercedes’s Nico Rosberg and minutes later by Sutil in the Force India, the German the first man to lap in the 1m37s bracket.
Rosberg returned to first post briefly before team-mate Hamilton outpaced him by over three tenths with a lap of 1m37.527s, still far from the pace set by Raikkonen on Friday.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was the last man to complete a timed lap, the Brazilian not returning to the track until half the session was gone.
Rosberg fitted the medium tyres to move back into first position with the first lap in the 1m36s at the 32-minute mark as Webber and Vettel sat at the bottom of the times, the Red Bull duo still seemingly struggling with the durability of the tyres.
Hamilton’s first run on mediums with 20 minutes to go proved to be the fastest lap of the weekend, improving on Raikkonen’s best from Friday by 0.001 seconds. Webber left the bottom of the times moments later, using the medium tyres to finish 0.045 seconds behind Hamilton.
Vettel, still slowest with 16 minutes of the session left, completed his first lap on mediums to move into sixth position.
Sutil jumped up to second place with less than 10 minutes remaining, finishing just 0.020s behind Hamilton.
With just over three minutes left, Vettel set a new benchmark in the medium tyre-shod Red Bull, the world champion’s 1m36.435s putting him over a tenth ahead of his closest rival.
Except for a few off-track excursions, the session was incident-free.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m36.435 20 2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m36.568s + 0.133s 17 3. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m36.588s + 0.153s 19 4. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m36.613s + 0.178s 20 5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m36.806s + 0.371s 19 6. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m36.807s + 0.372s 18 7. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m36.822s + 0.387s 16 8. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m36.946s + 0.511s 14 9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m36.949s + 0.514s 24 10. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m37.302s + 0.867s 14 11. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m37.359s + 0.924s 11 12. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m37.538s + 1.103s 12 13. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m37.685s + 1.250s 23 14. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m37.690s + 1.255s 14 15. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m37.936s + 1.501s 16 16. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m38.294s + 1.859s 17 17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.376s + 1.941s 16 18. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.425s + 1.990s 15 19. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m38.995s + 2.560s 18 20. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m39.717s + 3.282s 21 21. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m40.209s + 3.774s 18 22. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m40.495s + 4.060s 18
Kimi Keeping Cool on Free Practice Pace
Second in the morning and fastest in the afternoon, it seems Kimi is picking up where he left of last weekend here in Malaysia. What does it all mean to the Iceman? Have a guess…
You were full of praise for the car after Melbourne; how does it feel here in Sepang?
It’s the same car we had at the last race and we won there so we know it can be fast. We tried changing a few things, made some progress with where we wanted to be at the end of the sessions and it feels just as good as it did in Australia. There was also some running in the wet which you often get around here and the car feels fine in any conditions.
Managing the tyres was one of the key elements of your victory last weekend; will this be a more daunting task in the Malaysian heat?
We didn’t complete a long run this afternoon like we planned because of the rain so it’s hard to say how the tyres will be, but they were ok last time so hopefully it will be the same here.
We’ve seen showers almost as intense as the heat here already; how does the changeable weather affect you in the car?
I don’t really mind about the weather; we can’t change it and it’s the same for everybody. It’s hot when you walk around the paddock, but you don’t notice it so much in the car with all the air coming into the cockpit. Like I said, the car feels good in all conditions so I’m not worried what happens.
So overall a good start to the weekend?
It was a pretty good day and it’s always nice to be fastest, but of course that doesn’t mean it will be the same for the whole weekend. We ran pretty heavy so I don’t know what will happen when everyone is light for qualifying, but I’m happy with where we are and expect we’ll be reasonable tomorrow. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
Kimi Raikkonen Q&A: Friday doesn’t mean much
A race win at round one in Australia and top of the timesheets on Friday in Malaysia – things are looking good for Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus. But as is his way, Raikkonen is playing down his early form at Sepang, only too aware that plenty could change between now and the chequered flag on Sunday…
Q: Kimi, aren’t the conditions reminding you of a Finnish sauna?
Kimi Raikkonen: That is in fact a completely different story. Yes, it is humid and so probably not the easiest place to be, but the track is nice. And the conditions are the same for everybody – so why worry about it?
Q: Niki Lauda said in Melbourne that you are his kind of driver, as you remind him of the times when drivers were real racers – like in the days of James Hunt and himself. Would that have been your era – the seventies? A time with less media, but intense racing?
KR: Yeah, I am a fan of the old times. Racing was more dangerous so it was a bit more exciting. You paid a huge price when you made a mistake. But as we all know that we cannot bring back the so-called ‘good old times’, I try to pick the best out of the present. And at the moment the present is all well with me! (laughs)
Q: Can you recap that Melbourne race a bit? You started from seventh position, and while everybody was focused on what Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso were doing you sneaked past them and won…
KR: Looking back, that Sunday didn’t start too well. In fact I was pretty disappointed from qualifying. I definitely thought there should have been more for me. But considering where I started last year I told myself: don’t complain and make it better in the race. I felt that I had a good car and it turned out as such.
Q: You dared to run a two-stop strategy. Your former team principal Stefano Domenicali said that he still believes three stops was the right thing to do. You won – so your choice must have been better…
KR: With no real data from the winter tests it is almost impossible to bank on any strategy being right – probably your gut feeling is the best signpost. We followed ours, took some risks and it paid off. I could save the tyres and I could go fast if I needed – I could really drive very easily, almost cruising to the chequered flag. It was one of my easiest wins – if you can ever consider winning an easy task.
Q: So what about here in Malaysia? With you on a high, do the others have any chance? Especially after this afternoon?
KR: Look at this place: it is hot, it is humid and the track is completely different. On top of this we could see rain at any point of the race, so how should I know what is happening on Sunday afternoon? The only thing that I can say right here right now is that the car is good, that the team is working fantastically and that I want to keep the lead in the drivers’ standings. Let’s see where these factors will bring us in the race.
Q: So let’s recap: today it went pretty well for you, despite all the uncertainties you just mentioned, so the indications are that you will be able to defend your position on Sunday…
KR: It is the first time that we really run in hot weather, so we have to set-up the car carefully to make the tyres work to our advantage in a long, demanding race. At the moment I would say that it is trial and error for all of us, and the more you are able to try the more you have the chance to eliminate any errors. It looked good for us this afternoon, but it is Friday so it doesn’t mean much.
Q: It is known that you and Sebastian Vettel have some kind of friendship. When asked how he sees that friendship, his reply was that he respects your honesty and down-to-earth attitude. How could that change, now that you are really racing wheel-to-wheel for victories for the first time?
KR: Seb is for me an honest guy – and, yes, we get along very well. What happens on the track and life outside the cockpit are two completely different pairs of shoes. We are both professionals who can separate one from the other. I always wonder what people are expecting us to do? That we are running with a knife through the paddock seeking revenge after a race incident, or what?
Q: Your contract runs until the end of the year. Now that things are really working out well for you, are you considering staying?
KR: Let’s wait and see. We’ve only done one race so far, so it’s a bit premature to make any decisions for 2014.
Q: What’s your guess for Sunday?
KR: That it will be a tough race and that all the ‘usual suspects’ have won here in the past so we know how to do it! (laughs)
Topfit Kimi ready for Sepang sauna
Kimi Raikkonen, the winner of 20 Grands Prix, is in the best shape of his life. Just have a look at him and his muscles, he’s really fit. Compared to team mate Romain Grosjean, the Frenchman looks thiny and boyish.
After winning in Australia Raikkonen headed to a gym in Kuala Lumpur. The planned game of badmington against Sebastian Vettel was postponed, while the German were busy elsewhere.
Turun Sanomat met Raikkonen in a good mood, but like every Thursday, approaching every question very critically in this one-to-one interview. While the driving starts on Friday, the Finnish star of Lotus is not that keen to speculate beforehand how it will go.
It will a anniversary of the first ever Grand Prix victory of Raikkonen on Saturday. It’s exactly ten years ago Raikkonen joined the winner’s club.
– Where do you dig all these dates, Kimi comments, while I reminded him about this anniversary.
Do you still remember it well?
– Of course, for sure, I remember all my races, but it doesn’t change anything to what ever will happen this weekend.
You have won twice with Lotus – are there any similarities between Abu Dhabi and Australia?
– No win has any kind of simililarities to some others. Only the position is the same, that’s all. In every race everything, however, happens a little bit differently.
But but TOP3 was in the same order both times?
– Eventhough every single driver would finish the race exactly in the same order, it would not mean, that the races have been similiar – not at least from the driver’s point of view.
Raikkonen is well-known as an athlete, who recordfast is able to leave even the worst disappointment behind. Does the good feeling after winning in Australia disappear as fast from your mind?
– For sure, the feeling is better while you win compared to get a bad result. But it doesn’t change any way how long you feel it – especially now, while a new race is following so soon.
Does Australia then feel as old as a memory like your first victory ten years ago?
– Don’t ask that kind things. Thet feel like questions from a shrink…
Well, let’s change the subject:
You have been working with Adrian Newey at McLaren, with Aldo Costa at Ferrari and now with James Allison at Lotus. Does Allison differ from the two as a technical director?
– For sure, they all have been different kind of people, but the way I have been working with them all, does not differ terribly much. None of them has become more close to me. They all are very good people – without that, they would not be able to build such a good cars.
Allison seems to do well with a smaller budjet, as well?
– I’m certain, all of them would be good. It’s not up to the budjet.
According to team sources Raikkonen has asked to leave his car alone after Australia. Not to touch it, while he wants to carry on like it was in Albert Park.
– But we don’t set-up the car between the races, any way, while it would not help at all. Something small we do for every circuit, but we didn’t touch the car last year, either between these two races. Only on Friday we drive it and then we know, do we have to change something.
Is this the best car you have started the season with?
– I cannot tell. It’s pretty tricky to compare, while every year is a little bit different. Now we have different tyres. And you have to remember, everything is not depening on how good is the car. You can get a bad result with a good car and you can get a good result with not that good car, if something surprising happens.
What is going to decide the championship this year – and, please, don’t answer whoever has the most points?
– What else would then decide it? It’s not up to the mercy given by the others to win it. It is, like it is, who has most points after race 19, will be the champion. It’s like it is in every other sports, too!
Turun Sanomat, Kuala Lumpur
Malaysian GP: Raikkonen quickest in rain-hit second practice
Kimi Raikkonen beat Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa to the top spot in a close second Formula 1 practice session in Malaysia before rain intervened.
A heavy shower approaching the hour mark ensured that the 1m36.569s that Raikkonen had done on medium tyres 36 minutes in would stand as the fastest lap of the day.
Raikkonen’s Lotus, Vettel’s Red Bull and Massa’s Ferrari had all taken turns in front during the dry section, and they ended up filling the final top three, covered by just 0.092 seconds.
The rain did not mean the end of the action. With similar conditions likely in both qualifying and the race, teams swiftly sent their drivers back out to sample both the wet track and the crossover to dry weather so they had some experience in case of rain later in the weekend.
The warm ambient temperature swiftly dried the track sufficiently for slicks, but the track was never quite good enough for drivers to beat their early times.
Behind the top three, Fernando Alonso edged out Mark Webber for fourth, with Romain Grosjean next up.
The Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were seventh and ninth, split by Paul di Resta.
Adrian Sutil held on to 10th despite a mechanical problem keeping his Force India in the garage during the rain delay.
Nearly everyone managed to avoid drama when the rain came, although Nico Hulkenberg did spin his slick-shod Sauber in the pitlane entry. Giedo van der Garde rotated on the track, spinning his Caterham onto the Turn 14 run-off.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m36.569 28 2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m36.588s + 0.019s 27 3. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m36.661s + 0.092s 33 4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m36.985s + 0.416s 23 5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m37.026s + 0.457s 29 6. Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 1m37.206s + 0.637s 26 7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m37.448s + 0.879s 32 8. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m37.571s + 1.002s 30 9. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m37.574s + 1.005s 32 10. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m37.788s + 1.219s 10 11. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m37.838s + 1.269s 21 12. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m37.865s + 1.296s 29 13. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m38.068s + 1.499s 31 14. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m38.645s + 2.076s 23 15. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.738s + 2.169s 31 16. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m38.801s + 2.232s 27 17. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.904s + 2.335s 31 18. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m39.508s + 2.939s 30 19. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m39.660s + 3.091s 28 20. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m40.757s + 4.188s 29 21. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m40.768s + 4.199s 32 22. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m41.438s + 4.869s 23
Malaysian GP: Mark Webber fastest in first practice
Red Bull returned to the top in opening practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix, as Mark Webber led the way at Sepang on Friday morning.
His team-mate Sebastian Vettel was back in third, behind Melbourne winner Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus.
The Finn had not joined the track until 55 minutes into the session as his mechanics worked to replace a KERS battery.
But Raikkonen needed no time to get up to speed as he immediately put a 1m37.003s lap, 0.068 seconds down on pacesetter Webber and sufficient to split the Red Bulls.
Although Raikkonen was late out of the garage, he did not miss out on much running as it took 34 minutes for anyone to set a flying lap.
Most of the pack waited in the pits for circuit conditions to improve, then set their fastest times in a 10 minute spell of short runs before switching to heavy fuel for the rest of the morning.
Those long runs featured significant pace drop-off as tyres wore, with Lewis Hamilton in particular complaining of his Pirellis being "destroyed".
Behind Webber, Raikkonen and Vettel, Fernando Alonso put the leading Ferrari fourth, followed by Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes.
Adrian Sutil followed up his star turn in Melbourne with sixth place, despite having to pit for repairs after damaging his Force India’s wing on a kerb.
Alonso and Sutil’s respective team-mates Felipe Massa and Paul di Resta were seventh and eighth, with Hamilton and Romain Grosjean completing the top 10.
Elsewhere, form appeared similar to Australia, as McLaren, Williams and Sauber were all outside the top 10. Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez committed the only significant error of the session as he went off at Turn 14.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m36.935s 15 2. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m37.003s + 0.068s 15 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m37.104s + 0.169s 21 4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m37.319s + 0.384s 13 5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m37.588s + 0.653s 19 6. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m37.769s + 0.834s 17 7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m37.771s + 0.836s 15 8. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m37.773s + 0.838s 15 9. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m37.840s + 0.905s 18 10. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m37.915s + 0.980s 17 11. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m38.173s + 1.238s 16 12. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m38.673s + 1.738s 16 13. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m38.830s + 1.895s 17 14. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m39.054s + 2.119s 17 15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m39.204s + 2.269s 16 16. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m39.208s + 2.273s 19 17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m39.284s + 2.349s 17 18. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m39.567s + 2.632s 16 19. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m40.728s + 3.793s 17 20. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m40.996s + 4.061s 14 21. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m41.163s + 4.228s 18 22. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m41.513s + 4.578s 14
Great way to start
Obviously, winning the race as soon as the season starts, netting 25 points in the championship and getting the fastest lap time, feels good. I could not have asked for more.
The main reason to be happy with the first weekend of the racing season was, however, the feeling I had with the car. As I thanked the team in the radio after the race, I really meant it: We have a good car!
In Australia the race went very well, but we could have done better in the qualifying. It was a strange session split in two days. I had done the qualifying on Sunday morning only one before long time ago in Japan, and, while it¹s the same for everybody, it was still quite tricky to get the lap together in those conditions.
After qualifying everything went as we planned. We had decided to go for two stop strategy after Friday practise and it was exactly the right way to go. I didn¹t have any kind of issues with the tyres and the win must be one of the easiest I¹ve ever got in F1.
Now we head for the Malaysian Grand Prix. I¹ve got nice and not that nice memories from Sepang circuit. We have won there twice and it was ten years ago, while I did it for the first time in my F1 career.
The circuit is very challenging. It¹s not my favourite place, while it¹s always that hot, but it¹s always a great circuit to race a F1 car. This time we should have a good car for the hot track temperatures, as well, but we have to wait until Friday practise, to find out more precisely.
Obviously, we do our very best to get it right at Sepang, and, hopefully net some good points again.
Da Autosprint n.11 del 19/03/2013:
“Finntastic” – Media Musings After Kimi’s Melbourne Masterclass
After a low-key start to the weekend, Kimi stunned the opposition, the pundits and even the team with his sublime drive to victory in yesterday’s Australian Grand Prix. We’ve put together a little montage to show what the world is saying about our Flying Finn’s performance. Enjoy!
The Age: “Iceman Burns Them Off”
“Kimi Räikkönen is a man of few words, who prefers to let his actions do the talking. In that vein, it’s fair to say that the Finn began the 2013 Formula 1 season shouting through a megaphone as he showed his class and experience to take the Australian Grand Prix for a second time. On a day when the temperatures dropped and cool autumnal showers threatened to turn the Australian Grand Prix into a lottery, Räikkönen and Lotus excelled in the strategic chess game that unfolded; stopping just twice to change tyres while Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari was harder on its rubber and had to make three stops. It’s too early to tell if the volatility of the first seven races of last season – which produced seven different winners – will be repeated, but Räikkönen and Lotus’ ascension is a hopeful sign that they will challenge Vettel and Red Bull, Alonso and Ferrari for the Word Championship”
The Herald Sun: “Finntastic”
“In one of the great races staged at Albert Park, Kimi Räikkönen delivered a brilliant performance in his Lotus to upstage German superstar Sebastian Vettel. A parochial crowd of 103,000 were treated to an action packed Albert Park race as the ‘Flying Finn’ sped past the chequered flag 12 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.”
The Australian: “Lotus Position as Finn Puts Party Back into Formula 1”
“Kimi Räikkönen and his Lotus team outsmarted their rivals to claim the Australian Grand Prix. The famously taciturn Finn has never been one for expansive oratory, but his near flawless drive was the talk of the track as he found the secret of unlocking more mileage than anyone from the prescribed Pirelli tyres. The big questions heading into the start of another Formula 1 season were whether a driver would emerge to challenge Sebastian Vettel and his run of three consecutive World Championships, and which teams would best come to grips with the softer tyre compounds on offer from Pirelli. Räikkönen and his team appear to have answered both in the first two hours of racing.”
Eurosport: “Flawless Räikkönen wins in Melbourne”
“Kimi Räikkönen drove a brilliant race to win the Australian Grand Prix for Lotus – a 20th career win that equalled the tally of retired double champion and compatriot Mika Häkkinen – as the new Formula 1 season opened with an absolute thriller at Albert Park. Finland’s 2007 World Champion made the most of having to make just two pit stops and was pulling away from his rivals – having just set the fastest lap time of the race – when he crossed the line 12.4 seconds clear of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.”
Sky Sports: “Kimi Delivers Daunting Message to Championship Rivals”
“In a daunting message to his World Championship rivals, Kimi Räikkönen said it was "easy" for him to conserve his tyres after running a two-stop strategy to winning effect in the season-starting Australian GP. Simply faultless throughout the race, Räikkönen was able to secure a resounding – and largely unexpected – victory with just two visits to the pitlane over the course of the 58 laps around Albert Park. The E21’s ability to conserve its tyres didn’t just rip up the form book at Melbourne – with Räikkönen winning from just seventh on the grid – but threatens to make the Finn a formidable contender as he chases a second World Championship. It was certainly telling that – despite Räikkönen’s final stint being the equivalent of seventeen miles longer than Alonso’s – the Finn was still able to set the race’s fastest lap in the final stages. Playing down their race-one victory Räikkönen may have been, but having been so comprehensively trumped by Lotus’ victorious strategy, the manner of the Finn’s win will surely cause Ferrari and Red Bull some sleepless nights ahead of next week’s race at Sepang.
Kimi on the Malaysian GP – “It’s nice to go back to where it all began with my first win”
After his success in Melbourne and now the dust has settled, the Iceman talks us through just how good that win felt, and how he will prepare and look forward to trying to achieve the same in Malaysia.
What are your main memories of Sepang as a circuit?
Malaysia has been good and bad for me in the past; I’ve had a few bad races there but I’ve also won three times at the circuit including my first Grand Prix victory so it’s nice to go back to where it all began with my first win. For sure I will always remember that my first win came in Malaysian Grand Prix in 2003.
As it’s the location of your first win, does that mean it’s a special place for you?
I would not say that circuit is more important for me – it’s not that special for me – but it’s quite a nice place to race at. I like it and the challenge is always at the highest level in the beginning of the year in the heat. It’s also one of those circuits where it usually rains sometime during the weekend. So you have to plan the programme with that possibility, too.
Winning the first race of the season automatically means you’re leading the Drivers’ Championship; it must be a pretty good start to your year?
It feels good but it’s only after one race. It doesn’t really change our aim and how we approach this year. Definitely, we are happy with the win but there is an awful lot to still to do to win the championship. We seemed to have a good car in Albert Park, so hopefully it works well in the next races also.
Is a win so early in the season more important?
A win’s a win, it doesn’t really matter when in the season you get it. Of course I’m happy that we didn’t really have to go full speed all the time so it’s kind of a good sign, a good race for us, but as I said, it might be a completely different story in Malaysia, so there’s nothing to jump up and be so extra happy about. It’s a long season and in the end we want to be on the top for all the races and it’s going to be a hard season for that. Everything worked well in Australia, we had no issues with the car all weekend, the car’s been good and the team has been working well. It’s good to come back from winter testing where I probably did the least laps of everybody, in that respect we didn’t have a very special winter.
What are your thoughts looking ahead to Malaysia?
It’s a difference place, it’s going to be much hotter there so it’s very difficult to say how the cars will feel, who will be fastest after having done just one race. I think we have to do two or three races before we really know who is where and what’s going to happen. It’s probably going to rain again in Malaysia at some point but it will be a different circuit, different conditions. Our car worked well in Australia and usually – at least last year – in hot conditions it’s been good for us so hopefully it will turn out to be a good weekend.
Do you think the team can maintain the initial momentum?
There was a big question mark last year over whether our team could keep up with the development of the bigger teams and I don’t think we did a bad job. Of course it’s not going to be easy for us. I’m sure we have the people and all the tools to make it happen. Budget is always a factor and it’s no secret that we don’t have the same money as Ferrari, Red Bull or Mercedes. If we did have more sponsors I’m sure we’d have a better chance in the battle against those teams. It’s a long season. If you do things right it will go nicely but one thing can change the whole year. You do a few things a little bit wrong it can turn around and go downhill after that. So we just have to do our normal things, like we did last year and put the good effort into new parts and if we’re happy we keep them and if not we have to look more closely. But like I said, so far it has been good, so there is no reason why we can’t keep it up.
Q: (Question inaudible)
Kimi Raikkonen: It’s the first race, so you don’t really know how it’s going to go, how the tyres are going to be. I didn’t really do any long runs in the winter. I knew that I had a good car, so I had a feeling that it was going to be a good race but you have to get through the first laps and then go from there.
Q: And you did a 1:29.2, the fastest lap of the grand prix just before the end. Just having a bit of fun?
KR: No, I mean Fernando was catching me at some point, when I was taking it a bit more easy and there was some traffic, so I just wanted to make sure that if the rain comes or something happens we have a bit more gap. I was still taking it pretty easy. Like I said, the car has been very good all weekend and it was a pretty nice race, not so difficult.
Q: Kimi, you lead the world championship. You had two years away rallying, you came back and won a race last year did a great job but here you are leading the championship again. How does that feel?
KR: It feels good but it’s only after one race. It doesn’t really change our aim and our work for this year. Definitely we are happy with the win but there is an awful lot to still do to try to win the championship. We seemed to have a good car here and hopefully it works well in the next races also.
Q: Kimi, did you believe from that seventh position the win was there for you today?
KR: I was pretty disappointed this morning after the qualifying. Obviously there was only one lap really on the dries and I took it a bit too easy and got a bit of a small mistake in one corner. It was more timing and getting it right than really the maximum speed from all the cars, so not the ideal starting place but it was still ten places better than last year, so not a disaster in that way. I knew that my car is quite good. It’s been feeling good all weekend and when we did the longer run it felt good. We only destroy the front tyres so we knew if we get the front tyres lasting it should be fine. In a way I was pretty confident – but of course you have to get through the start and the first lap and it’s the first race so you never know what’s going to happen with the conditions and the circuit after the rain and with tyres, so there’s a lot of question marks. I felt I had a good car and it turned out to be pretty good.
Q: Alan Permane said to you, on the subject of tyres in parc ferme, “we got it absolutely right today.” Was that just one of the ingredients where everything seemed to fall into place for you?
KR: Yeah, I mean our plan was to do two-stop and it’s always difficult, especially the first races, to really know when to stop, and not doing it too early and not too late. We got it, like he said, exactly right. The team worked very well and we had a good plan, and we follow the plan and it work out perfectly for us. I could save the tyres and I could go fast if I needed and I could really drive very easily. One of the easiest races I’ve done to win the race. Hopefully we can have many more of this kind of races.
Q: (Leonid Novozhilov – F1Life) Kimi, do you give a chance to your opponents in Malaysia?
KR: It’s a difference place, it’s going to be much hotter there so it’s very difficult to say how the cars will feel, who will be fastest after having just one race. I think we have to do two or three races before we really know who is where and what’s going to happen. It’s probably going to rain again in Malaysia at some point but it will be a different circuit, different conditions. Our car worked well here at least and usually – at least last year – in hot conditions it’s been good for us so hopefully it will turn out to be a good weekend next week.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, I know how much you love winning. When it comes easily like this, in the first race, does it mean even more to you?
KR: A win’s a win, it doesn’t really matter how you get it. Of course I’m happy that we didn’t really have to go full speed all the time so it’s kind of a good sign, a good race for us, but as I said, it might be a completely different story in the next race, so there’s nothing to jump up and be so extra happy about, because it’s a long season and in the end we want to be on the top for all the races and it’s going to be a hard season for that. As I said, everything worked well, we had no issues with the car all weekend, the car’s been good, the team has been working well. After the winter test, when I probably did the least laps of everybody in the winter, we didn’t have a very special winter. As I said before, we didn’t have a very special winter the previous year and not this winter, but the car has always been good in the
race so so far so good and hopefully it goes like this.
Q: (Don Kennedy – Hawkes Bay Today) Kimi, that seemed to be a very popular win judging by the crowd reaction out there. Can we perhaps expect a re-release of the ‘I know what I’m doing’ t-shirts? They’re pretty popular, I gather. They only had a hundred released and they sold out. Can we have a few more?
KR: No. That was last year and nothing to do with this year or this win. It was just people asked for them and we made them but now it’s not going to happen, not from me at least, maybe somebody else. There’s nothing planned. It’s happened before many times, as I said, but this time it came on TV so I’m sure some odd things will come through even this year. Maybe it gets on TV, maybe not.
Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriere della Sera) Kimi, can you compare the feeling that you have now with the one you had in 2007 when you won with Ferrari?
KR: For sure a win is always a win so in that way we have a good feeling, the best start that you can have in the first race of the season, but of course many things have happened since then. Still, I won here and it’s nice to be winning the first race again. But we started in seventh place and had to fight through the positions to win in the first place and I led more or less all the race. Different years but a similar feeling because obviously we won the first race and leading the points.
Q: (Erkki Mustakari – Finnish News Agency) Kimi, through the years we have seen that whoever can develop the car best through the season has the best fun towards the end of the year. Do you think Lotus has enough resources to keep up the work because there are not many ways you can go from here because you started by winning?
KR: Yeah there was a big question mark last year in our team whether we can keep up with the bigger teams. Of course it’s not going to be easy for us. I’m sure we have the people, all the tools to make it. The money is a big part of the thing. For sure we don’t have the same budget as Ferrari or Red Bull or Mercedes but we could show last year that… we did pretty well on the money and the things we have. I have no doubt we have the people and the tools but of course if we get more money it will help and it will give us a better chance and more fair play against the bigger teams. Like I said, we have good plans, and if we can follow it up it might be good, it might not. It’s a long season. If you do things right it will go
nicely but one thing can change the whole year. You do a few things a little bit wrong it can turn around and go downhill after that. So we just have to do our normal things, like we did last year and put the good effort into new parts and if we’re happy we keep them and if not we have to look more closely. But like I said, so far it has been good, so there is no reason why we can’t keep it up.