12 October 2013
Japanese Grand Prix: Grosjean ahead of Raikkonen on the grid again
Romain Grosjean was buoyed up by a stronger than expected qualifying performance at Suzuka, but his team mate Kimi Raikkonen was left ruing mistakes and facing another comeback battle on Sunday.
By any reasonable expectations, the Lotus F1 team did a solid job on Saturday in getting both cars through to the final round of qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix. But underneath there were some contrasting reactions between Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen regarding their ultimate fortunes in the final top ten shootout.
Grosjean was delighted to put his car onto the second row of the grid, behind the two Red Bulls and alongside the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton - much better than he'd been expecting after Friday's practice sessions, he admitted.
"It's night and day compared to yesterday," Grosjean said. "We worked quite hard last night trying to analyse what was right, what was wrong and what we could do to adapt. The feeling was pretty clear; it wasn't that clear on the data but then we made the change, tried to go for it and the first lap this morning the car felt very, very different and very competitive.
"The car feels much better than it did yesterday; especially on the hard tyres which we had been struggling with previously but were then fastest with in Q1 today," he said. "I was very surprised on the hards because yesterday we were something like two seconds off the pace and today we're probably one of the quickest, so I'm happy with that."
Fourth on the grid was really as high as he could ever have reasonably hoped for, said the Frenchman. "The Red Bulls have looked very strong and we knew it would be tight with Lewis for P3, so I think we did a good job to take P4.
"Before qualie we expected to be P5 or something like that, but we did manage to beat one of the Mercedes so that's a good point," he said. "It's a track where lap-time is very close because there are not many corners where you can make a big difference, surprisingly, but there are a lot of corners where it's easy to make a mistake."
As for his prospects for Sunday's race, Grosjean was reasonably optimistic: "It's a tight, technical circuit, the wind is still making things tricky and it should stay pretty hot, so it'll be interesting to see what we can do in the race. I'm feeling pretty good."
Kimi Raikkonen, by contrast, was somewhat less content with the outcome after he slumped to ninth place on the grid following a problematic Q3, although he insisted that there was nothing wrong with the car that would impair his ability to race hard in the Grand Prix.
"The car has felt much better here than it has in recent races; even if we don't have a better position on the grid for tomorrow," he said. "A small mistake on my quick lap cost me a little bit of time and it's very close here, so a small amount lost can mean quite a few positions dropped.
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