Kimi Räikkönen bagged his second podium on the trot in Barcelona, charging hard to finish third behind first time grand prix winner Pastor Maldonado and, by just half a second, Fernando Alonso.
The Finn was disappointed not to finish on the top step, though, claiming that the Lotus E20 had the potential to have won every race this year so far. Nevertheless, he is now fourth in the Drivers’ Championship, just 12 points behind leaders Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.
Starting on the second row behind team-mate Romain Grosjean, he passed the Frenchman at the start. He held third till the second round of stops, and when Alonso pitted from the lead on Lap 45 the Iceman enjoyed two laps at the front, before being passed by the resurgent Maldonado. Struggling with degradation, he was soon holding up Alonso before pitting for late rubber on Lap 49 and then setting off on a final sprint on fresh rubber. As the laps counted down he slashed the gap to Alonso by a couple of seconds a lap while the Spaniard struggled with grip. He entered the final of 66 laps 2.3 seconds behind the Ferrari and screamed across the line just 0.6 adrift.
“I had a good start,” said Kimi, “but I hit the rev limiter and couldn’t take the other two, and then we fell back too far in the middle stint. By pitting late the third time I had a lot of speed for the finish and, given one more lap, I probably could have overtaken Fernando, but that’s easy to say afterwards.”
Romain took the chequered flag just ten seconds behind his team-mate, securing fourth place. He had lost several positions at the start, and lost a bit of front wing to Bruno Senna which didn’t help matters, but he recovered to score 12 points.
“Both cars finishing strongly in the points is great for the team,” reflected Romain. “It was pretty difficult for me at the start of the race as it was hard to get the front working properly with the wing damaged, but we made some changes and at the end of the race the car was really flying.”
Currently sitting third, the team now moves within 14 points of McLaren and 25 behind leaders Red Bull Racing in the Constructors Championship.
Romain Grosjean: "When you get one [podium], you want more. That's for sure!"
Éric Boullier: "It's nice to fight at the front and nice to battle with the big names like Red Bull and McLaren."
Kimi Räikkönen : "I needed a few more laps to maybe fight for first place, but that's racing. At least we scored some good points for the team, and we're going in the right direction."
Lotus ambassador and double world champion Emerson Fittipaldi looks back on the Spanish Grand Prix and ahead to Monaco…
A strong points finish for Lotus in Barcelona, with Kimi Räikkönen third and Romain Grosjean fourth. Afterwards, though, Kimi seemed a bit disappointed. Do you think he could have won?
Of course he had the speed to win. He was catching the leaders at the end by two seconds a lap. So it’s disappointing the race wasn’t a couple of laps longer. With a different strategy, perhaps he could have got ahead.
In five rounds, the Lotus E20 looks to have been the most consistently fast car. Is it a surprise, therefore, that it hasn’t won yet?
I believe the Lotus will be the only consistently fast car at all the different tracks this season. They’re the surprise of the season, but winning is a process, it will happen sooner or later.
What does the team need to do to seize these elusive wins?
All the team needs to do is keep doing exactly what it is doing, and it will come.
Lotus are third in the championship, which is incredibly tight this year. If they can keep scoring like in Spain and Bahrain, can you see them challenging for the title?
I think that Lotus is at a point now where we can say it is challenging for the title. A race win will solidify this status.
Next up is Monaco, a track you know very well of course. What can the drivers expect heading to this very unique circuit?
Monaco is all about qualifying. Kimi could do very well there, and start up at the front. I can see him doing just that. Romain has shown to be very fast in qualifying and could do it too.