No matter how well Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen did in qualifying on Saturday, his grid position was always going to be something of an anti-climax once the five-place penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change kicked in.

"It's a shame we have a penalty on the grid but the car works well," said Raikkonen after posting the fifth-fastest time in Q3. "The car worked exactly as it should and it felt good ... Today was definitely a positive day."

He even felt that the Lotus had been in with a shot at topping the timesheets at Sepang, had things gone slightly differently.

"I made a couple of mistakes on my fastest lap which probably cost a couple of tenths," he insisted. "I got a little bit sideways at the exit of turn nine and we lost some time, but that's how it goes sometimes.

"Without that [and the penalty] we were in with a shout for pole today," he added confidently.

The team's director of trackside operations, Alan Permane, confirmed the reason why Lotus had opted to change the gearbox as a precautionary move ahead of qualifying.

"We saw high temperatures on Kimi's gearbox in Australia after the cooler was blocked by grass and debris. It completed most of the race like this," he explained. "We checked both gearboxes thoroughly and there were no concerns with Romain's gearbox. Kimi has a new 'box on his car - for which we receive a five place grid penalty - but this was necessary."

The gearbox penalty means that Raikkonen will actually start from tenth place in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, while his young team mate Romain Grosjean gets a one-place boost as a result of the Finn's penalty and will start from sixth position, another impressive achievement for the reigning GP2 champion in his own first season back in F1.

"It's great to have both cars in Q3, and I'm really pleased to have been part of the top ten in both of my first two races," said Grosjean. "We can be really pleased that we're fighting for the top positions."

"Obviously we're happy from today's performance, but as ever in F1 we always want more," commented Permane. As for how he saw the race itself going, much depended on the notoriously fickle and extreme climate around Kuala Lumpur.

"It's almost impossible to make a concrete wet race strategy in advance as there are so many variables involved," explained Permane. "It's a time when all of us on the pit wall really have to earn our salaries with our strategy calls. It's a time for cool heads and calm decisions."

Not easy at the best of times - let alone the searing heat of Malaysia.


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