19 May 2013
Raikkonen: Qualifying the focus
Kimi Raikkonen says a good qualifying performance will be key for Lotus if it wants to challenge for victory in Monaco next weekend
Kimi Raikkonen admits that Lotus need to focus on qualifying in Monaco next weekend if it is to challenge for honours at the front of the field.
The Finn heads to Monte Carlo sitting second in the drivers' championship with five races done, and will hope for a better run that twelve months ago – when he suffered from steering issues and wasn't in contention for a top six finish.
However, Raikkonen admitted that he would need to qualify better than he has done so far this season if he wants to fight for top honours in the principality with Saturday's having been the weak point for the Lotus team thus far.
Indeed, despite four top two finishes in five races, Raikkonen has only managed to qualify inside the top six on two occasions so far in 2013.
“We have to focus on qualifying,” he said. “It's a difficult place to race as it's so narrow and – as I said before – passing is nearly impossible. I was stuck behind Rubens [Barrichello] in 2009 and we had KERS then, but you just couldn't get past. We'll have to see how the tyres perform and if there are any good strategies to be made, but the most important thing is to qualify well. It's difficult to know how good the car will be in Monaco as you can't simulate its characteristics; certainly not at any of the circuits we've visited so far this year anyway. We can say the E21's been fast everywhere else so let's hope it's also fast there.
“We'll do the best we can, but of course everyone will be trying to be on the front row. It's not impossible for us, but we won't know how good we are until we get there. We know that tyre changes have to be made so there are opportunities if you run a different strategy to your rivals, but it's certainly more difficult here than anywhere else.”
Despite his strong showings so far, Raikkonen added that he couldn't be completely happy with his season to date going into a weekend he admitted was a special one on the calendar.
“Well, we're not in first place so we can't be too happy,” he said. “For sure it's not a nightmare, but we've still got a lot of races yet to come and anything can happen in Formula 1. Monaco is a different challenge, so we'll have to see what happens there this year.
“It's useless to put races in different categories, because all of them are as important as each other if you want to win a Championship. However, as a real special race there is nothing like Monaco; there is no better feeling than to get things going well there. To race in the streets of Monte Carlo is really different from everywhere else and it's a challenge I look forward to every year. It is very, very difficult – almost impossible in fact – to have a clean weekend down there.”
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