Kimi Räikkönen set the fifth fastest time whilst Romain Grosjean was seventh quickest in qualifying for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit. Kimi will start from tenth position on the grid for the race after a penalty for a gearbox change on his car. This moves Romain up to sixth place.
Kimi Räikkönen, E20-03.
Q: P5*, 1:36.461.
FP3: P4, 1:37.356.
*Plus five place grid penalty.
“The car was working well today. Unfortunately, I made a couple of mistakes on my fastest lap which probably cost a couple of tenths. Without that, we were in with a shout for pole today. I got a little bit sideways at the exit of turn nine and we lost some time, but that’s how it goes sometimes. We had some issues with KERS yesterday, but there was no repeat today; the car worked exactly as it should and it felt good. It’s a shame we have a penalty on the grid but the car works well. Today was definitely a positive day. Tomorrow we start from tenth and will try to improve from there.”
Romain Grosjean, E20-01.
Q: P7*, 1:36.461.
FP3: P7 1:36.658.
*Starts from P6.
“It’s great to have both cars in Q3, and I’m really pleased to have been part of the top ten in both of my first two races. The team has done a great job to get the most out of the car, and we can be really pleased that we’re fighting for the top positions. It’s going to be an interesting race tomorrow, and hopefully we can move up even further. You never know what will happen with the weather here, our pace is not too far off the leaders and it will be a long race, so anything is possible. In these conditions managing the tyres is crucial. Qualifying is one thing, but the race will be a whole other matter. I’m looking forward to the race, if we can finish in the top five that would be great, but the most important thing is to get my first points of the season."
Alan Permane, Director of Trackside Operations: “We always want more...”
Two drivers in the top ten. That’s a bit more like it… “Obviously we’re happy from today’s performance, but as ever in Formula 1 we always want more. Kimi felt he made a mistake in a couple of corners, and with a perfect lap he could have certainly done better, but overall to have the fifth and seventh fastest cars in qualifying was encouraging.”
What can we expect from the race tomorrow? “Looking at all the data, we should expect a strong race. We have a good handle on the tyres in these conditions. We have good set-ups which both drivers feel very happy with. Weather permitting, we should expect to have both cars in the points tomorrow.”
We changed Kimi’s gearbox. Are there any concerns going into the race? “None at all. We saw high temperatures on Kimi’s gearbox in Australia after the cooler was blocked by grass and debris. It completed most of the race like this. We checked both gearboxes thoroughly and there were no concerns with Romain’s gearbox. Kimi has a new ‘box on his car – for which we receive a five place grid penalty – but this was necessary.”
Sepang is notorious for its variable weather. How do you plan a race strategy for this? “We plan for a dry race and the fastest strategy possible given our grid positions. We monitor the weather reports and satellite information as well as looking at the skies in the build-up to the race, and we have a plan in case it rains. It’s almost impossible to make a concrete wet race strategy in advance as there are so many variables involved. It’s a time when all of us on the pit wall really have to earn our salaries with our strategy calls. It’s a time for cool heads and calm decisions.”