Kimi Raikkonen has made it a habit of turning mediocre grid positions into podiums and at the Korean Grand Prix he was at it again, converting ninth place into a second place. He spoke about his afternoon of work in the cockpit of the Lotus E21.
You had to start a little bit further back in ninth place. How was the drive to get yourself back into a chance of getting on the podium?
Kimi Raikkonen: It was OK. I mean from the beginning I lost I think one place on the first lap, no, on the first straight, but then there was an accident so get it back. The car was just understeering too much, the whole weekend, even today, so I have to try to look after the front tyre and that was really the limitation on how much I could push and obviously we were stuck behind the traffic after the pitstops and then we decided to stop earlier and it was a good move and obviously the safety car helped a little bit but we had the speed and we could run until the end. So even without the safety car we could have maybe run until the end and still have a podium position. So it was good – but not ideal.
Tell us about the pass on Romain going into Turn One. It looked rather close.
KR: I think he moved a few times on the left. I got a good run, he made a mistake in I think the second-last corner and I got the good run and I heard that there will be yellow flags at the end of the straight so I knew he’s not going to pass me back with the DRS because it’s not open with the yellow flags. So I thought I would try to overtake and it was not too difficult.
Eighth in the early stages, could you imagine being second at the end?
KR: We have done that before, so obviously… it’s not ideal to start so behind and not having maybe the best weekend. Bit similar to the last race really but the car was a bit better in the race. Still not ideal, a little bit too much understeer and I lost one place or two places at the start and then got them back in corner three. And then I was able to pass people and then sat behind them again after the pitstop. I had more speed but I couldn’t get past and then we decided to stop a bit earlier and when the safety car came for whatever it was, five laps or something, obviously it helped a little bit for us to close the gap in the front but we managed to pass all the cars apart from these two guys already, before the safety car. So it maybe helped a bit in the end because my front tyre was in quite a bad way, it kind of ran out of the rubber in the end. So I couldn’t go much longer any more – but obviously that’s the part of racing. Sometimes it helps you a bit.
I’m sure you were pushing hard right at the end but just nothing you could do about Sebastian?
KR: No, I mean. Let’s put it this way: even it we would have started behind him, we still don’t have the speed of him. Not far off from him in the race with a little bit from all the tyres but I mean it’s so difficult to overtake if you’re not massively faster. So, I think that was pretty OK what we did today.
And a pretty good result for the team.
KR: Yeah. I think that’s the more important. For them to get their… not the maximum points but not far off. I think we scored quite a bit more than the guys in front of us in the championship so it’s good for them.
You said after the first initial graining phase that the times were improving but that safety car… was there anything on your Friday data to suggest that you might have actually made it to the end, without the safety car?
KR: We would probably have tried it, or looked at some point at how the tyres… without the safety car we gained a lot of time and lap places if we’d stopped earlier in the last pit stops, so who knows? In the end we didn’t stop again now. You can always say that if but it makes no difference. You have to react and do what you think is the right thing and sometimes certain things help you. My front tyre was pretty done in the end but we finished the race in a pretty good position. We would probably try to run until then anyhow.
You had some action moments in this race, coming from the back, first with Fernando Alonso, then with Romain. From the start of the race to the finish of the race, can you describe it and did you enjoy it?
KR: Yeah, it was nice, I think we had pretty OK speed and then we made the most of it after yesterday. The car still wasn’t ideal today but we managed to be a bit faster on used tyres than some others. At the beginning I managed to overtake a few cars and then I got stuck on the second… after the pit stop I got stuck with the same cars again and then decided to stop earlier. I was pretty OK after the restart. Romain made a mistake and I managed to pass him and just didn’t have enough speed at the end and not enough tyres were left compared to them, because they stopped later. It was good fun but I would rather start in the front and finish in the front. It would have made our life a bit easier.