Kimi Raikkonen has said that Lotus is close to finding a solution to the power-steering problems that he has had to put up with during the first two rounds of the 2012 F1 season in Australia and Malaysia.
Despite not being happy with the feel of the E20 though, the Finn has done pretty well on his return. Indeed despite a disastrous qualifying at Albert Park, he came through from 17th on the grid to finish seventh and score six world championship points. He also scored in Malaysia last time out and while a gearbox change dropped him from fifth on the grid to tenth, again he had a good race, finishing in fifth.
Speaking ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix next weekend, the 2007 F1 world champion was pretty upbeat: “So far it has been more or less alright for me and the racing isn't any different than before. The E20 certainly feels good. We're working to get the steering exactly right for me - and we're almost there,” he confirmed.
“The speed in the car is good – and this applies to qualifying and race pace. It's been two frustrating races in terms of where we started. We shouldn't have started so far back in Australia, and the penalty for changing the gearbox before the Malaysian Grand Prix cost us finishing positions too, but that's motor racing.
“Shanghai is quite similar to Albert Park and Sepang in what it requires from the car so that should be good for us. We have some new parts for the E20 so that should also be good.
“I'm sure all the other teams have new parts for their cars too, however, so we won't know where we are until we get there.”
Lotus technical director James Allison meanwhile added that while the steering set-up has been improved for Raikkonen, it is still a 'work in progress'.
“Our latest set-up now gives Kimi sufficient assistance in the high speed, high load corners, but we still have yet to give him a power steering unit which offers the finesse he wants,” Allison explained. “We're making progress in this area, but the way Kimi drives the car is to find the limit on the front axle and then adjust the car very delicately around that limit; he can only do that if the steering is giving him exquisite feedback.
“We are working hard to provide him with perfect equipment so that he can deliver those last few tenths in qualifying.”