The Boys are Back in Town – Australian GP, Saturday 17 March
Romain Grosjean made a dream return by qualifying in third position for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix, whilst Kimi Räikkönen made a mistake on one lap and fell foul of a communication issue at the end of the session which precluded him from qualifying higher than 18th.
Kimi Räikkönen, E20-03.
Q: P18, 1:27.758.
FP3: P12, 1:26.737.
“Today didn’t go quite as planned. There’s no issue with the car; I made a mistake and there was a communication issue so the timing wasn’t right to get another lap. It cost us a good qualifying position but that’s how it goes sometimes. We should have easily been in Q2. It’s not the best start but we’ll try to put it right in the race. There’s plenty of speed in the car. The steering was fine. It’s not perfect for exactly what I want but it doesn’t affect my driving. For sure we can do better than 18th tomorrow so we’ll have to see what happens.”
Romain Grosjean, E20-01.
Q: P3, 1:25.303.
FP3: P2 1:25.758.
“Today is like a dream come true. I only really discovered the Albert Park circuit in the dry this morning and I didn’t know what to expect. When I heard my position over the radio I just could not believe it. This third position shows one thing: you must believe in your dreams and hold on to them, whatever happens. Very few people still had faith in me after my first life in F1, but we’ve all worked very hard to start a new adventure and I’m very happy to be able to put a great performance in right from the start of the season. Thank you also to the team for designing such a nice, tidy and quick little car. I will not get carried away because, as the saying goes, you don’t score any points on a Saturday. We all know that Melbourne can be a very tricky race. I hope we can keep going like this all season long and in the end it will be a nice story.”
Alan Permane, Director of Trackside Operations:“We’ve exceeded our own expectations.”
Alan, two very different qualifying positions from the drivers…
“Overall we’re very happy. It’s clear we have a car with good pace here at Albert Park as illustrated by Romain’s qualifying performance. Things didn’t go quite right for Kimi; he was running late to the programme and he made a couple of mistakes, otherwise he would have been comfortably in a strong position.”
How much have we learnt from today?
“Through the winter we thought we had a good car, but you never know exactly where you stand against the opposition. In Albert Park today we stacked up pretty well so it’s a great start and we’ve exceeded our own expectations. After the setback we had missing a test over the winter it’s great to have all the hard work paid off with a quick car. Every time we’ve run the E20 we’ve been fairly comfortable. The base set-up has worked well at three different tracks so far. Let’s hope we continue like this for the other 19 tracks we will run at this year.”
Looking ahead to the race, it will be two very different strategies for the cars…
“As always, we need to analyse the data and see what’s possible. For Romain it’s clear that we’ll be on the quickest strategy; for Kimi we’ll have to see if there’s anything clever we can do to help him move up the order. He’s clearly qualified out of position, but he has the advantage of three sets of new soft tyres which will help him.”