Kimi Räikkönen set the fifth fastest time whilst Romain Grosjean made it through to Q3 but did not set a time in the final session before tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit. Kimi benefits from a gearbox change penalty for Lewis Hamilton and will start in P4 for tomorrow’s race whilst Romain will start from P10.
Kimi Räikkönen, E20-03. Q: P5*, 1:35.898. FP3: P10, 1:37.061. *Starts from P4.
“The grid position is okay but when you look at the times, I’m disappointed with the pace of the car today. We’ve gained a position after Lewis’s penalty but the speed wasn’t where it should have been, especially when you look at the pole time. We’ve tried some updates this weekend, but they haven’t worked as we wanted so we’ve gone back to how the car was before. We go into the race less confident in the car than in the last two races, but knowing that we start from a higher position on the grid. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow, we’ll try to do the best we can and hopefully we can be higher up than we are on the grid, and that means a podium.”
Romain Grosjean, E20-04. Q: P10, no time. FP3: P12 1:37.274.
“I have mixed feelings after today’s session. After struggling a bit yesterday it’s great to have both cars in Q3, but unfortunately after a terrible first run in Q2 we were forced to use up all our new sets of soft tyres before the final session. This meant there was no point trying to set a competitive time in the pole position shoot out which is a real shame, as our pace in Q2 was good. I feel much more comfortable with the car and I think that shows in the lap times today. The team did a great job to turn things around and get us back towards the top where we should be. I still have some fine tuning to do but 56 laps in tomorrow’s race will certainly help that!”
Alan Permane, Director of Trackside Operations:
“It should be interesting…”
Both drivers in the top ten again, are we happy with today’s performance?
“Kimi is where the car should be and I think he’s reasonably happy with his performance. He did an excellent job through qualifying and considering the build up of this weekend I think we can be reasonably happy. Romain’s absolute pace is very similar to Kimi’s but qualifying is hungry for tyres if you can’t get the pace straight away. Kimi got through to Q3 with just one set of soft tyres, but Romain required three sets, meaning he then didn’t have a fresh set for his Q3 lap. Romain’s got the pace, we just need to unlock that pace on the hard tyre in a qualifying situation.”
Why didn’t Romain set a time in Q3?
“As he didn’t have a new set of soft tyres, it was always going to be a tough ask to get a blinding lap in the final session, especially as everyone else who got through to Q3 did have a new set. It was unrealistic to expect Romain to qualify higher than tenth in this scenario, but we sent him out anyway. We soon saw from the split times that there was no possibility we brought him in to save a lap on the tyres for the race.”
What’s the assessment of the weekend so far?
“We brought a new update package for the car and we weren’t convinced by a large part of it yesterday. This meant we reverted almost entirely to our Malaysia specification which is why we have missed out on potential pace from the car. We hope to get all the new elements working soon.”
P4 on the grid is Kimi’s best starting position, what can be done from there?
“We have to take every race as it comes, but we’ve certainly seen that we’ve raced more strongly so far than the two Mercedes ahead of us, but that said we were a long way off the pole time, so they are clearly looking very strong. I’d like to think we can take the race to the other cars around us. We’re confident in our starts and our tyre wear and race pace. It should be interesting.”