Kimi Raikkonen couldn't quite beat Lewis Hamilton
for pole position, but his second place for the start of the 2013 Chinese Grand Prix
will nonetheless be his first start from the front row in F1 since Monaco almost four years ago.
"This is my best qualifying for the team, which is good," said Raikkonen. "But of course you always want to be on pole." His team mate Romain Grosjean
will start the China GP two rows behind from sixth position in Shanghai.
"We're obviously very happy with the result today," said Lotus F1's trackside operations director Alan Permane. "Kimi has been comfortable with his car pretty much all weekend; not so much this morning when a small set up change was made, but that was reversed and he was back where we wanted to be.
"From second and sixth anything is possible; we will certainly be pushing to get both drivers on the podium with one of them on the top step," he added.
But neither the team nor the drivers are taking anything for granted after a weekend that has already proved anything but straightforward up to this point.
"It's been quite a tricky weekend so far and we've had a few small issues with setup, but it's always difficult to get things exactly how you want them and the car seems to be working well now," said Raikkonen.
Despite clinching sixth place on the grid, Grosjean also had a less than ideal build-up to qualifying.
"Romain had a difficult morning but with no real issues, just circumstantial problems which put things on hold briefly," Permane explained of he time the Frenchman lost in FP3. "He went into qualifying with a car that was unchanged from this morning, so bearing in mind his earlier tribulations he did a great job to take P6."
"It's been a challenging weekend, but I'm finally back in business," said Grosjean himself. "We've been chasing some small problems here and there, but the engineers have been working hard and did a fantastic job to get the car to where it is now.
"My first lap on options in Q1 was actually my first of the weekend with those tyres," he added. "We had to guess a little on the set up, but I think we did pretty well. Of course you always want to do better, but overall I'm pleased. The car was much better this afternoon so let's see what we can do in the race."
"The tyres will of course be the question mark tomorrow," added Raikkonen. "Some people are starting on the primes but we chose the strategy we think will work best," he added.
"Hopefully we can keep managing the degradation well like we have so far this season and have a good race tomorrow."