Saturday, November 3, 2012

Solid qualifying gives Kimi a chance

Poor qualifying has consistently been Lotus' Achilles heel this season, but a fifth place start for Kimi Räikkönen in Abu Dhabi gives him a shot at a podium finish

Kimi Räikkönen will start from fifth place for tomorrow's 2012 F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, and does so with every expectation of being able to gain at least one place early in the race to put him into position to compete for a podium place.

"Qualifying was good," said Raikkonen. "The car hasn't felt fantastic all weekend but we decided we weren't going to change the car's set-up from where it was for the last race. 

"It was the right choice because in the end the circuit came to us in qualifying where the car was the best it has been so far here," he continued. "We'll give tomorrow our best shot; Let's see if we can make a good start to get right behind the Red Bulls, and then we'll see what happens after that."

Alan Permane, the team's trackside operations director, felt that "we could have possibly managed even more with both drivers," especially with Romain Grosjean ending up in tenth place after making it through to Q3.

"Fifth on the grid is very good for Kimi and means we should be well placed for tomorrow," he continued. "Romain was looking set for a strong lap too, matching Kimi for the first two sectors, but he lost half a second on the final sector; we'll be looking at what went wrong there."

"It wasn't a great qualifying lap for me today, and P10 is not where we want to be on the grid," Grosjean admitted. "In the last run in Q3 I had no grip so wasn't able to find more pace. The car had felt fine before that and we looked good through the other qualifying sessions. 

"It just means I have some more work to do in the race and I think there's more to come from me and the car," he added. 

Permane was equally bullish about the team's chances in race trim on Sunday at the Yas Marina Circuit. "As has been the trend this season, we're confident in terms of where our race pace should be relative to our opposition," he said.

"We completed a promising long run on Friday afternoon; we have no problems or issues with tyre wear, warm-up, or anything like that so there are no reasons why we should not have a good evening tomorrow," he added. 

"Overtaking is slightly easier here; however, Romain will have his work cut out," Permane admitted. "That said, he completed some nice overtaking moves last time out, so let's hope for the same here."

Grosjean also had a moment in the pit lane with Fernando Alonso after what Ferrari felt was an unsafe release by Lotus right in front of the world championship contender, but even if that is looked into by the race stewards it's thought unlikely to result in anything more than a financial penalty levied on Lotus.


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