Kimi Raikkonen has blamed a mistake and a communication issue for his failure to progress beyond the opening qualifying session today in Australia.

Raikkonen, who is returning to the sport this year after two years competing mainly in the World Rally Championship, had been twelfth this morning in final practice. However he made an error on first run in Q1 and then missed out on his final lap in the first session, after failing to cross the line before the chequered flag.

The Finn thus qualified down in 18th - elminated along with the Caterhams, Marussia and HRT cars - and while he will gain one spot after Sergio Perez got a five-place grid penalty due to a gearbox change, it was still a major disappointment, especially as Romain Grosjean qualified third in the sister Lotus E20 [see separate story - here].

"Today didn't go quite as planned," Kimi admitted. "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."

Alan Permane, Lotus F1 director of trackside operations, added: "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.

"We'll have to see if there's anything clever we can do to help him move up the order now. He's clearly qualified out of position, but he has the advantage of three sets of new soft tyres which will help him."

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