Kimi Raikkonen admitted that he realised around halfway through the Spanish Grand Prix that he would not be able to take the fight to local hero Fernando Alonso.
The Finn had to settle for another second place finish – his third in a row stretching back to the Chinese Grand Prix – and closed the points gap on championship leader Sebastian Vettel to just four, but cut a frustrated figure both on the podium and when meeting the media at the Circuit de Catalunya after admitting that there had been little he could do about Alonso's Ferrari.
Although, pre-race, Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull had been the widely-held favourite for success, the German faded to fourth as Alonso, benefiting from a lightning start that gained him places at the expense of Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton on lap one, made full use of a four-stop strategy to pull clear of the field.
Although he was surprised to see the Ferrari come barrelling through on the opening tour, Raikkonen insisted that that was not
where Alonso won the race.
“He had a good start around the outside of me,” the Finn confirmed, “But I don't think the end result was really decided there. We just did a different way of doing the race, and [ours] wasn't a winning way today.”
Even though Lotus followed form and used one less tyre stop for Raikkonen, it wasn't enough to keep Alonso in sight, and the Finn also had to suffer a second pass by the Spaniard as they found themselves of tyres at different points in their respective performance cycle.
“Obviously, we were leading but, when we were on old tyres and he had newer tyres, it's too easy to overtake. There's no point to really fight because you cannot hold him behind. I knew if I could somehow stay a bit closer, even with old tyres, maybe I'd have some chance, even if I'm already behind and will be with old tyres in the end. But they were just too fast.”
Refusing to join the condemnation of the current tyre regulations, Raikkonen admitted that, perhaps, there could have been another way of approaching the race that might have allowed him to take the fight to Alonso.
“I took maybe a few laps more than I expected [to pass Vettel], but I got past him and could pull away but, in the end, I really don't think those were the decisions that were the deciding story of the race,” he mused, “I think we had the speed, but we should have done it different.
“Maybe [we could have done] more pit-stops as, then, you can push all the time, but I think this was our best way of doing the race. That's what we planned and that's what we did and I think we deserved to be second and not really winning today.”
Having realised from half-distance that he was relying on luck to guide him to a second win of the year, Raikkonen found succour in the fact that he was not only ahead of Vettel, but also had the cushion of Felipe Massa to help him eat into the German's points lead.
“We're never happy if we're not winning - we're only here to try to win - but we kind of caught up with Vettel, [although] obviously Fernando caught me up [too],” he noted, “We're still in the hunt and we'll keep ourselves there – and, hopefully, in the future, just try to win a bit more.
“I think, if you can do that often, it will give a good chance in the end to fight for the championship. It's only a five race-old season, so there's an awful lot to be raced.”