Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean both reach the podium at the Hungarian Grand Prix and challenged Lewis Hamilton for victory throughout. It was Lotus’s second double-podium of the year, the drivers having finished the same way round in Bahrain.
Kimi started fifth and lost a place to championship leader Fernando Alonso, forcing him to lap behind the Ferrari for his first stint and conserve his tyres. He had a problem with his KERS, which failed at the start of the race and only later returned at 50 percent power. Team-mate Romain, who started P2, was the one putting the initial pressure on Hamilton before pitting on Lap 19 and losing a second during his stop due to a slow rear tyre fit.
Räikkönen profited as the pitstops shook out and rose to P4 on a long 26-lap stint on soft tyres before re-pitting for mediums on Lap 46, six laps after Grosjean and five after Hamilton, and preparing for a final hard charge. The Finn exited the pits just as Romain, who had been held up by a backmarker, came screaming down the main straight, causing their engineers to sweat as they went through Turn 1 side-by-side and Räikkönen forced Grosjean wide in order to steal the racing line and hunt Hamilton.
He was soon within a second of the Englishman, but the McLaren driver was able to eek out faster third sectors, protecting himself down the main straight. There were no other opportunities for the Lotus to pass. Grosjean held on to third ahead of Vettel, who made a third pitstop without losing a place and charged back to attack the Lotus on fresh softs, to no avail.
In Hungary, Lotus scored its first double F1 podium since Bahrain. How important was this result going into the Summer break?
It takes Lotus even closer to winning a grand prix. Expectations at the Belgian Grand Prix, in a month’s time, will be high. Kimi Räikkönen is particularly fast at Spa-Francorchamps, so it’s going to be really interesting to watch.
Kimi put an aggressive move on Romain Grosjean to seize second place as he came out of the pits. Do you think it was overly risky, given that they’re team-mates?
No, I think it was a great move, well executed, and it didn’t put either Lotus at risk unnecessarily.
Romain was disappointed not to challenge for the win at the end. Do you think he should be happy with third?
Racing drivers should never be happy until they finish first. We can never be satisfied with third, but its still a good result and he can take consolation in the fact that the car is getting better and better and can challenge for the win. I think we’ll see him on the top step soon enough. Romain is driving very well.
Both Lotuses looked quicker than Lewis Hamilton's McLaren. What could they have done differently to leapfrog him?
Nothing. I think the strategy was perfect and towards the end the tyres were bad for everyone. It was great to see Lotus in there challenging for the win.
Are you frustrated that Lotus seem to have a car fast enough to win multiple races, yet still haven't done the business?
The Lotus E20 has been the most consistent Formula One car this year so far, so I’m confident that once it starts winning it will keep on winning. There should be no frustration at all, winning is part of a process. I’m a good friend of Lotus’s team principal Eric Boullier and I am very happy to see him taking the team in such a solid direction.