Kimi Raikkonen has vowed to keep pushing in his bid to maintain his outside hopes of winning the F1 2012 drivers' title.
The Finn finished fifth in Korea on Sunday, a result that keeps him third in the drivers' standings. However with Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso both finishing ahead, the Lotus driver lost further ground to his two rivals ahead and he is now 48 points adrift off Vettel, with four races to go and 100 points still up for grabs.
“I think this [P5] was about where we should have been today,” Raikkonen conceded at the finish. “The yellow flags at the start didn't help when we were fighting with Felipe [Massa] but even so we didn't quite have the speed to match the Red Bulls and Ferraris.
“We also lost quite a bit of time behind Lewis [Hamilton] – mainly because the new exhaust system means you lose a little bit of power so it was hard to get past – but with a few more practice sessions I'm sure we'll learn a lot more to be able to improve it.
“I was pretty much on my own at the end but we had to keep pushing to maintain position and it wasn't so easy. The gap to Sebastian in the Championship is quite big now so it will be very difficult to catch him, but we'll keep pushing all the way.”
Romain Grosjean meanwhile put his recent troubles behind him and took seventh in the sister car, something of a boost after he was labelled a 'first-lap nutcase' last time out in Japan by Mark Webber.
“For sure I was a bit nervous starting the race today, but we did a lot of work this week trying to understand a few things and it's certainly helped,” Grosjean admitted. “It wasn't the easiest start; there was contact behind me at turn three and I took evasive action but after that it was quite straight forward. I struggled on the last set of tyres as I had graining straight away meaning the performance was not great during the final stint.
“Maybe we could have achieved one place better – I think I now know every detail of Force India's car after spending so much time battling with Nico [Hulkenberg] – but I'm happy to make it to the chequered flag after a good, clean race.”
“We knew we would not be fighting for the win here, and fifth for Kimi was the maximum we could have achieved today,” summarised Lotus team principal, Eric Boullier. “We scored a good tally of points in the Constructors' Championship and although third position is slowly edging away from us with just four races left now we're not ready to give up.
“It was good to see Romain drive very sensibly despite all the pressure that is on his shoulders; I think he is learning from this experience and it will only make him a stronger driver.
“Kimi's racecraft was impressive as usual; his battle with Lewis showed real class and he was maybe unlucky not to have been closer to the leading pack after being held up for so long. We will have the Coandã exhausts on both cars in India which should help us in our fight.”