Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen has expressed his 'surprise' after finishing Friday practice at Monza in third place overall.
Raikkonen had to settle for fifth on the timesheets in the opening session, but improved in the afternoon, posting a 1 minute 25.116 second lap, which left him 'best of the rest' after the Red Bull's of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
In the end the Finn completed 58 tours in total, running with the new long chassis configuration of the E21, not that the 'ice-man' seemed to think it had much effect.
“The car felt pretty normal for me today and we're going to look at the data in order to make a decision on whether to use today's specification or the older one,” he explained. “It doesn't feel much different to me so it'll be a decision based on what the data says.”
“Today we were a little surprised to be third fastest, but we're still quite far away from the fastest cars [the Red Bulls],” he added. “There are still some areas for improvement however, so hopefully we can find more speed for tomorrow.”
Romain Grosjean meanwhile also set a 1m 25.116s lap, equalling that posted by Raikkonen to the thousandth of a second.
“We had a productive day today,” stated the Frenchman, who was given fourth on the times. “The timesheets showed that Kimi and I were very close, however that doesn't necessarily mean a lot.
“Kimi tested the new long wheelbase car and from today's work we have sent data back to the factory and we will see what the outcome is when analysis comes back. As drivers, our feedback on the feel of the car is also key. It is hard to precisely compare the two though; it could provide more brake stability which is what we all want here in Monza, however each driver also has their own braking style.”
“That was a fairly straightforward Friday for us with both cars evenly matched and both drivers happy,” summarised Lotus trackside operations director, Alan Permane.
“We've completed a good amount of low and high fuel runs as well as evaluating the two tyre compounds for race strategy. Romain was happy on longer runs whilst Kimi's afternoon session was slightly interrupted with an engine water pressure issue during his long run, but this was no big drama. Overall, the car looks quick, reliable and we're happy today.”