“#wheresmypodium” Tweeted the Lotus F1 Team throughout the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend. Having come close in each of the opening rounds, the obvious pace of the Lotus E20 and the unquestionable skills of Kimi Räikkönen and young hotshot Romain Grosjean, it was only a matter of time. Finally, in the Middle East, it came together.
Kimi qualified 11th, and in missing out on the Q3 cut-off he saved a set of Pirellis which would come in handy. Romain qualified seventh.
The start was scintillating from both Lotus drivers. Grosjean shot up to third, Räikkönen up to sixth. Then they set about picking off more rivals, and emerged from the pitstops second and third respectively. On soft tyres, Kimi was the faster of the pair and was allowed to overtake on Lap 24. Let of the leash, he began hunting down race leader Sebastian Vettel. Having reigned him in with DRS, and had a stab at the end of the straight, Seb and Kimi pitted together on Lap 39, the German maintaining his lead and slowly pulling away.
The Lotus is kinder to its tyres than the Red Bull but on this occasion Vettel’s RB8 was able to keep a gap to the fired-up Finn. They crossed the finish line a few seconds apart, with Romain taking his first F1 podium further down the road.
Lotus now leaps from sixth to third in the Constructors’ Championship, sandwiched between McLaren and Ferrari.
Kimi Räikkönen was disappointed not to win the Bahrain Grand Prix but was pleased for the Lotus team after the 'Iceman' achieved 2nd in the race.
A double-podium for Lotus on Sunday. First of all, what did you think of Kimi’s drive to second and could he have done any more to get past winner Sebastian Vettel?
EF: It is always hard to tell if he could have passed Vettel because of the variables like the tyres, but I have to say they both drove great races. I always thought Kimi would be fast - a champion never loses the speed, but I am pleasantly surprised to see that he did not take any time to adapt to the new cars and tyres.
Romain Grosjean only scored his first F1 points last week and now he’s on the podium. How good is this kid?
EF: Romain is young and obviously fast. I believe that he and Kimi are a great combination for the team.
Lotus finally showed its potential after some unlucky races. Can the team now challenge for the title?
EF: I think Lotus has an outside chance to fight for the title, and I am very happy to see that happening in the year I celebrate the 40th anniversary of my world title with Lotus.