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Grosjean shines in Hungary as Raikkonen struggles
27 July 2013
Until Budapest, Romain Grosjean had managed to out-qualify his vastly more experienced team mate Kimi Raikkonen only once before in 2013. But in Hungary, there was no question about who had the measure of the Hungaroring this weekend and who was struggling to get to grips with the tight and twisty 2.722-mile circuit.
“It's been a good weekend so far with the car consistently showing strong pace," beamed Romain Grosjean after clinching third place on the grid for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix in qualifying on Saturday.
"Setting the fastest time in practice this morning was a good sign, and the car was handling really well throughout each qualifying session," he said.
Grosjean was also very happy that he was well within striking distance of the leaders - only two tenths of a second separates him from pole position man Lewis Hamilton.
"Lewis set a very quick time, but we're not too far from Sebastian and anything could happen in the race depending on the tyres," said Grosjean. "I think tomorrow will be very open and a lot will depend on strategy, traffic and things like that, so if we can put everything together there's the strong possibility for a good result."
It was the tyres that were at the forefront of Kimi Raikkonen's thoughts, as his slightly underwhelming weekend in Hungary continued, with the Finn being unable to improve on sixth place on the grid.
"It hasn't been the easiest weekend for me so far<' the 2007 world champion admitted after qualifying. "Maybe the new tyres are a bit different – especially on the front – so it's been hard to find a good setup.
"We're getting there little by little and the car was definitely better in qualifying than at any other point this weekend," he continued, sounding a little more optimistic. "Obviously P6 is not ideal, but it's better than we have seen sometimes so we'll try and see what we can do tomorrow.
"It's not so easy to overtake here, but we have seen in past years that if you can run with the tyres well you can make a lot of places, so let's see what we can do," he added.
"From third and sixth there's no reason why we can't have a strong race with both drivers," agreed Lotus' head of trackside operations Alan Permane. "We're reasonably happy but – of course – we always want more. Everything went pretty much as we expected."
Permane all-but discounted Lewis Hamilton's presence on pole, explaining that he expected the Mercedes to struggling in race trim just like it had done in Germany three weeks ago.
"We see Sebastian Vettel as our main challenger in the race," stated Permane. "The Mercedes did go well in Monaco on a tight and twisty circuit – in the race as well as in qualifying – but here tyre degradation should be more of a factor. This should help us in our fight for a good result."
And Permane hinted that Grosjean's third place on the grid - putting him on the 'clean' side of the track for the start of the race - could prove a decisive factor in Lotus' favour on Sunday.
"Third is actually almost as good as second here as you start on the clean side of the grid and it's a very dusty circuit," he said. "Lewis and Sebastian were just too strong for us in qualifying, but there's potential for us to have a very good race tomorrow."
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