Kimi Raikkonen shrugged off another podium finish in the 2013 F1 world championship campaign, suggesting that his second place, ahead of team-mate Romain Grosjean, was more important from the point of view of the Lotus squad.
The Finn came from ninth on the grid to be the nearest thing to a challenger to Sebastian Vettel but, even as the German edged closer to a fourth straight title, admitted that the 2-3 result was of greater value to Lotus as it attempts to regain a top three spot in the constructors' standings. Despite taking 17 points out of the deficit to Mercedes, Lotus remains 44 adrift of its Brackley rival, while Raikkonen moved back into the individual top three by overtaking the Three-Pointed Star's Lewis Hamilton.
“I think that's the more important thing,” the Finn said of the team's gain, “For them to get... not maximum points, but not far off. I think we scored quite a bit more than the guys in front of us in the championship so it's good for them.”
Once again the E21 appeared more competitive in race trim, allowing Grosjean to vault Hamilton for second early in the race, and Raikkonen to climb through from the lower reaches of the top ten to claim yet another second place.
Kimi, eighth in the early stages, could you imagine being second at the end?
“We have done that before, so...,” he murmured when asked how he felt about picking up so many spots, “It's not ideal to start so [far] behind and not have maybe the best weekend. [It was a] bit similar to the last race really, but the car was a bit better in the race. Still not ideal, a little bit too much understeer, and I lost one place or two places at the start, then got them back in corner three. Then I was able to pass people, but then sat behind them again after the pit-stop….
“I had more speed, but I couldn't get past so then we decided to stop a bit earlier. When the safety car came for whatever it was, five laps or something, obviously it helped a little bit for us to close the gap to the front, but we'd managed to pass all the cars apart from these two guys [Vettel and Grosjean] before the safety car. It maybe helped a bit in the end, because my front tyre was in quite a bad way - it kind of ran out of rubber in the end - so I couldn't go much longer any more.”
Along the way, and after hounding his team following the safety car period, Raikkonen passed Grosjean for second, although the Frenchman did not make it easy for him.
“I think he moved a few times on the left,” the Finn recalled, “I got a good run, he made a mistake in, I think, the second-last corner and I got the good run. I heard that there will be yellow flags at the end of the straight, so I knew he's not going to pass me back with the DRS because it's not open with the yellow flags, so I thought I would try to overtake and it was not too difficult.”
Once in second, however, there was no further progress for Raikkonen, as Vettel proved to have too much in hand.
“Let's put it this way: even it we would have started right behind him, we still don't have the speed of him,” the 2007 world champion admitted, “We're not far off from him in the race, with a little bit [of help] from all the tyres, but it's so difficult to overtake if you're not massively faster. I think it was pretty okay what we did today.”