April 13th, 2013 (F1plus).- It was said from the very beginning of the year that for Lotus to really aspire for a championship, either for constructors or drivers, the team would need to improve its qualifying, given the fact that race pace was among the best.
Well, it appears that this Saturday things clicked for the team with Kimi Raikkonen achieving second best time in the last round (Q3), which represents his first front row start since the 2009 Monaco Grand Prix.
The Finn used Pirelli’s soft compound tyre and clocked a time of 1min 34.761 about a third slower than poleman, Lewis Hamilton.
“This is my best qualifying for the team which is good, but of course you always want to be on pole.
"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 seems to be working well now.
"The tyres will of course be the question mark tomorrow; some people are starting on the primes but 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.” Said Raikkonen.
As for Frenchman Romain Grosjean, he comfortably made it to the top ten with a Q3 time of 1min 35.364 good enough to place him sixth on the grid.
“Friday was difficult and we missed some time on Saturday morning so it’s been a challenging weekend, but I’m finally back in business.
"We’ve been chasing some small problems here and there, but the engineers have been working hard and did a fantastic job to get the car to where it is now.
"My first lap on options in Q1 was actually my first of the weekend with those tyres so we had to guess a little on the set up, but I think we did pretty well. Of course you always want to do better, but overall I’m pleased. The car was much better this afternoon so let’s see what we can do in the race.” Said Grosjean.
Lotus said there’s s strategy in place that obviously spins around the tyre choice and how they will evolve during the race. Having other drivers in the top ten with different compounds, initial stages of racing surely will be interesting.