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Aiming to be back on top in Canada
31 May 2013 In Davide Valsecchi's latest exclusive column on Crash.net, the Lotus F1 Team third driver and 2012 GP2 Series champion looks back at rounds five and six of the F1 2013 season and casts his eye ahead to round seven in Canada...
Two more races have passed and we are already getting set to pack our bags for Canada and for the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. But before we talk about that, what of Spain and Monaco I hear you ask?
Well, going to Spain the team was in good spirits. After some strong results in Asia we were really excited and we started the first European weekend of the year at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya well. We were extremely competitive and in practice and qualifying we were immediately there. Kimi Raikkonen qualified fourth and Romain Grosjean was seventh. It was a really positive feeling. Both of our cars were strong and we had high hopes for the race.
Kimi had another impressive grand prix and got another top result, with yet another podium, finishing second behind Fernando Alonso.
For Romain however, it wasn't so good. He had a mechanical failure, and that didn't permit him to finish.
It was a strange problem. It seems that during the grand prix there was some sort of vibration - it was something quite particular. This never usually happens and he didn't do anything wrong. It just broke and when he came into the box we discovered he had a rear suspension failure. It was a pity because he was fast and although he wasn't in a great position at that moment, as he was only ninth when he had to retire, the pace compared to Kimi was very positive and he should have been able to recover. It is a shame we didn't score points with him.
On the plus side though, the overall pace of our car in Spain was really encouraging and we were very happy about it.
After that it was on to Monaco and it is always a good feeling to go there. It is a place for the rich and famous and is inevitably a favourite with the sponsors. I don't know why but winning in Monte Carlo and fighting at the top there is always extra special. Everyone is there over the weekend and it is just seems that little bit more important than the other races, even though the points on offer are the same.
In 2012 Romain qualified in P4 and so it is a good circuit for him. Kimi struggled a little in qualifying twelve months ago, but this year his pace was incredibly good. It was unfortunate then, that the results were not fantastic and we only scored one point.
Kimi qualified in P5 and that was the position we were expecting - just behind the Red Bulls and the two Mercedes cars. We were in front of Ferrari, so it was a good result. Then in the race Kimi always had good pace and was easily matching the speed of the front drivers. But then there was the incident with Sergio Perez. From our point of view, Sergio was too aggressive. He destroyed Kimi's race.
Kimi could have easily finished fifth and it was only thanks to a miracle by the 'ice man' that he still got a point. We have to remember that after the contact, Kimi got a puncture and had to pit to change his tyres. He re-joined in something like P15 and then finished in P10, making some great overtakes on the last few laps. He performed well and it's just a frustrating for us he couldn't score more points.
Romain in contrast, had a really tough time. He crashed a lot and that was unfortunate because he had great speed. When he did a complete lap without any issue he was able to stay in the top-five and sometimes he was even faster than Kimi. But he made a few little mistakes that became really big and at the end he could not finish the race after the incident with Daniel Ricciardo. He will recover and bounce back though, hopefully in Canada next time out...
I've never been to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, so I am looking forward to the trip there. I can't wait to discover the circuit and sample the atmosphere. People say Canada is one of the most attractive races of the season because the city is beautiful and the track is fantastic. I'll let you know if that is the case!
The aim for us will be to get back on top and I really hope we can do that. We will be aiming to score some really good points like we were doing just before round six.
Monaco was a bit unlucky for us, but our car is competitive and we have to consider that even in Monte Carlo we were a factor in the race. We have a really great level of performance and we want to maintain that level and standard.
We will also get the chance to run with Pirelli's revised race tyre there - albeit only in practice - and that should be useful.
Tyres have certainly been a big talking point again this year and that went to a whole new level when news broke in Monaco of the 'secret' Pirelli test Mercedes did after the Spanish Grand Prix. It is not my place to say too much on this. But I do think it was a bit unfair because they were the only team to do it. They didn't say anything about it either and did it in 'the shadows' and then said it was legal to do it. That doesn't seem right. But it is up to the FIA to rule on this and so we will just have to wait and see what is decided. It is okay though, as we will beat them anyway! From our point of view, the tyres are fantastic this year. We can usually conserve them very well in the races and we haven't had any problems. We just need to continue to work hard to be competitive.
Until next time, that's me signing out...Davide Valsecchi
To keep tabs on the Lotus F1 Team's progress in 2013, simply follow this link: www.lotusf1team.com