A clearly unwell Kimi Raikkonen
said that he still intends to start Sunday's race, despite suffering from pain from a muscle in his lower back that saw him curtail his running in Free practice 3 on Saturday and then slump to 13th place in qualifying, his worst qualifying position since his first race with Lotus in Australia 2012.
"Unfortunately today didn't go to plan as the issue with my back meant I couldn't really drive properly this morning, so we didn't get everything done like we wanted in the practice session," said Raikkonen after exiting qualifying in Q2 for the second weekend in succession. "But that is how it goes and we will see what we can do tomorrow.
"I think it is a combination of both," he replied when asked whether his poor grid slot was the result of his back problem or issues with the car itself. "It's still quite painful and there wasn't much more I could do in qualifying when you take that combination of things into account."
But Raikkonen said that he definitely intends to make the start of the race on Sunday. "I'll be on the grid tomorrow and we'll try to get the maximum from where we are at the start," he said. "It is not the first time and I don't think it will be the last time I have had the pain," revealing that it was a legacy from a race accident 12 years ago.
Team principal Eric Boullier said that the team would monitor Raikkonen's condition and give him whatever support the Finn needed to take up his place on the grid.
"With the pain-killing injection, he doesn't feel anything but I think we will have to monitor through the night and see how he feels tomorrow," said Boullier.
Raikkonen's back issue comes just days after the driver confirmed he was leaving the team for Ferrari
partly because of issues with his salary getting paid, which had left him driving for free for the team on occasion, leaving paddock speculation to ponder whether Raikkonen had just had enough for now.
"There are a lot of stories around and maybe the back pain was something on the top of everything," agreed Boullier. "[But] there is no issue, his money is guaranteed, it is just a cash flow issue. It is a little bit sad in some ways, but we have to deal with it."
In the meantime, Boullier could celebrate his other driver's achievement of claiming third place on the grid for Sunday's night race, after Romain Grosjean
had delivered on his promise of strong form in Singapore.