Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus F1 Team

Closer Than Close – Monaco GP, Saturday 26 May

Romain Grosjean qualified in P5 whilst Kimi Räikkönen set the eighth fastest time in qualifying for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix. Romain gains a position on the grid due to a five position penalty for fastest man today, Michael Schumacher. Qualifying was exceptionally close, with all nine cars setting a time within a second of pole in Q3.

Kimi Räikkönen, E20-03. Q: P8, 1:15.199 FP3: P12, 1:16.301
“For sure we’re not very happy after that session. Since the first practice we’ve been a little bit behind where we should have been and we’ve been trying to catch-up. The car is fine, the biggest problem today was trying to get the tyres working as it seemed to be a bit tricky to get them up to temperature. I could have been a bit faster on my best lap, but I went a little bit too deep in the swimming pool section. It’s a bit disappointing but you can’t get it right every time. At a normal race track you would be able to gain positions through overtaking, but in Monaco this is difficult. That said, anything can happen here so hopefully we can achieve something good tomorrow.”

Romain Grosjean, E20-04. Q: P5, 1:14.639 FP3: P5 1:15.445 (will start from P4)
“We are not as high on the grid as we wanted to be, but things were very tight today. I did a very good lap in the first part of Q3 but then I couldn’t improve on my second set of tyres. This was a shame because our strategy was perfect for the last part of qualifying. The traffic wasn’t too bad but I missed out in sector two. I think pole position was within reach. P4 is not exactly where we wanted to be but the race will be long. It’s Monaco, it will be difficult; nonetheless we know that the car is quite good on high fuel and with the tyres, so let’s see what we can do and put the best strategy into place.”

Alan Permane, Director of Trackside Operations:
“We’ve got it all to do…”

How do you assess today’s qualifying performance?
“Disappointing. After the pace we saw in the car on Thursday and this morning we expected better. Monaco is a very difficult place to get everything exactly right on a lap and the penalties for making a mistake were seen elsewhere in qualifying, but nevertheless we thought we were a realistic prospect for a front row here so to miss out is a bitter pill to swallow.”

What are the strategy considerations for the race?
“Overtaking is notoriously difficult here due to the narrow and twisty confines of the track. No matter what the tyre performance or the presence of DRS, KERS or any other factor, a slower car can hold up a faster car for a long time here. Our best opportunity for a strong race result is for Thursday afternoon’s rain to return or for there to be an eventful race to mix up the order.We will of course spend a long time looking at what we can do strategically as the E20 is generally easy on it’s tyres. Also Monaco can often throw up many the podium is by no means out of reach”

Did missing FP1 affect Kimi’s performance?
“We certainly can’t say it helped him. Kimi struggled to get sufficient heat in his tyres today, even with the super soft compound, so he didn’t feel he had sufficient grip to push harder. He needed one more set of super softs than Romain to get into Q3, so consequently had one fewer set than Romain in that session.”

Romain has looked very strong so far this weekend; was there more possible in qualifying?
“Romain lost out in the second sector on his fastest lap and we will be looking to understand what went wrong. When you look at his times all through the weekend, and consider the track evolution, his qualifying lap was short of what we thought possible. But still, it’s not a bad effort for a first F1 qualifying here.”

On the plus side?
“We do have both cars in the top ten which is good for our Constructors’ Championship points potential. McLaren in second in the standings ahead of us have one car outside of the top ten so we have scope to do well against them, but equally it’s a very close field.”