1 May 2013
Davide Valsecchi column: Lotus one of top teams
Lotus F1 Team third driver Davide Valsecchi looks back over the 2013 F1 Chinese and Bahrain Grand's Prix in his latest Crash.net column...
In Davide Valsecchi's latest exclusive column on Crash.net, the Lotus F1 Team third driver and 2012 GP2 Series champion looks back at rounds three and four of the F1 2013 season - including a double podium finish for Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean in Bahrain...
Last time I spoke to you, I was in the paddock in Shanghai preparing for the Chinese Grand Prix, where everyone in the Lotus F1 team was hoping we could bounce back from the result in Malaysia, where both Kimi and Romain had to try and fight back from a tough qualifying session.
As I said at the time, we felt confident heading to China and it turned out to be another good weekend for the team. Shanghai itself is a wonderful city to visit and the circuit is also very good. It produced an entertaining good race on track and we were all happy to be there, especially when we had a podium finish to celebrate at the end of it.
We knew ahead of the race that there was going to be a lot of fans cheering for us thanks to an advertising campaign that our sponsor Unilever had produced that featured Kimi. We had a lot of support on the back of that, and it was enjoyable to take part in an event that they held on the Thursday before the race.
The actual race itself went well and showed what can happen when we qualify towards the front of the field. In Malaysia, we'd been caught out by the conditions in qualifying so, even though the car was competitive, our result in the race had already been compromised.
In China, we were able to qualify well with Kimi on the front row of the grid and he drove a great race. He had a bit of a problem at the start and lost a few places, but then he came back strong as the race went on and, even though he had contact with another car that damaged his nose, he still managed to finished second. Without that, who knows what might have been possible? He might have been even quicker...
If I'm being honest, I felt the contact with Sergio Perez that damaged his car was a bit unfair as he pushed Kimi onto the grass. I think it was incredible how Kimi performed after that as there was a loss in performance because of the damage but he was able to stay calm and showed good pace for the rest of the race. The team also managed the situation well, and they were clever to realise that the damage wasn't bad enough to mean the nose had to be changed, as that would have cost valuable time. As it was, Kimi could push on and finish on the podium.
I've been asked if I think Kimi could have won the race if he'd had a better start, but the simple answer is that you never know these things. After his retirement in Malaysia, Alonso drove an incredible race to win, so it isn't as easy as just saying that, if Kimi had got away from the line better, he would have won. However, if he had finished the first lap in first or second place then anything could have been possible as Kimi is a great driver.
Romain was unlucky to finish ninth in China as he drove a good race but, when you are in traffic, you don't always get the result that you deserve. It was a hard race for him, but he did well when we they got to Bahrain.
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