Today’s Italian GP at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza held little in the way of celebration for the Lotus F1® Team. In a race that never really got off the ground for a team more used to pole positions and podiums, both Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean were embroiled in a fight that would see them finish marginally better than they started, in this the 12th round of the 2013 F1® Championship.
Qualifying was dismal and saw neither driver start in the top ten, Kimi Räikkönen begun from P11 and Romain Grosjean P13. As soon as the lights were out, Kimi’s assault was evident but came to an abrupt end when Sergio Perez darted in front of Kimi causing Räikkönen’s brakes to lock and the Lotus to slide into the back of the McLaren causing Kimi front wing damage and an early pit stop for the Finn. This early drama consequently saw him slide down to P21, in lap 3.
Undeterred however, and revealing his inherent skill Kimi marched on, battling hard to deliver some of the fastest lap times of the race as he sliced his way heroically to P5, before his tyres gave way and another pit stop saw him slide to P14.
Lap 47 saw Kimi in P11 and a tense defence in keeping Lewis Hamilton who was hot on the Iceman’s tail behind him. Despite Kimi’s sterling effort, Lewis took P11 in lap 48 forcing Kimi to P12 before he finally regained the spot, finishing the race and taking the flag in P11.
Team pal Romain Grosjean held a consistent pace throughout the race, although contact from Force India’s Paul Di Resta and a slow pit stop did nothing to aid the Frenchman’s fight to the front. Never-the-less a solid performance saw Grosjean finish in P8.
Kimi retains 4th place in the Drivers Championship with the team also holding 4th place in the Constructors Championship with 191 points.
Kimi Räikkönen. P11, E21-03 “When I lost the front wing I had to come in and change to a new one meaning an extra pit stop which we hadn’t planned. It’s not just the time in the pits, but you have to work your way through the field afterwards. We did a pretty good job of that and the car felt good, surprisingly good given where we were on Saturday. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do after the start to the race we had.”
Romain Grosjean P8, E21-02 “It isn’t easy to follow another car with the aero configurations that we had for the race here but we got the best result we could have done having started in P13. Unfortunately we had a poor pit stop where we had an electronic problem and the light didn’t turn to green, so we lost a few seconds there. I think we could have come out in front of the two McLarens and the Toro Rosso, which would have made things a bit easier for a stronger result. I had a good battle with Lewis on the last lap. I think we did the best we could here in Monza and I hope that for Singapore we can get back to the level of performance that we had in Budapest.”
Eric Boullier, Team Principal "If you want to be competitive for the Championships you need to be able to fight every weekend at the front on Saturday as well as on Sunday. The positive from this weekend is that we showed fantastic race pace and both drivers drove exceptionally well. Romain withstood great pressure and performed great overtaking moves on both McLarens. Kimi fought back from a first lap incident in a superb display of his talents. The negative from this weekend is that we couldn’t qualify where we needed to be. The results at the end of the race aren’t rewarding for the team, but there are plenty of positives to take from the final European race of the season and we head to the final flyaway races with plenty of fight.”
So, the team now prepare for the next race and the next round of the competition which takes place in Singapore on 22nd September 2013.