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Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Apr 2013   |  5:39 pm GMT  |  96 comments

One of the biggest surprises in Saturday’s qualifying session for the Bahrain Grand Prix was the performance of the Lotus cars, with Kimi Raikkonen 9th fastest and Romain Grosjean 11th.

They were the pace setters on Friday, set the fourth fastest time in Saturday morning practice and Raikkonen set a competitive Q2 time in 1m 33.146, the third fastest time in that session.

So what happened?

According to Lotus’ Trackside Operations Director, Alan Permane, the result is something of a mystery. They believed – and many other teams agreed with the view – that Raikkonen could win this race, based on the single lap and long run performances the showed on Friday.

“Kimi’s session was a bit more of a mystery. His second run in Q2 was pretty respectable but it just didn’t come together for him in Q3. He’s been strong all weekend up until that point, so we’ll need to trawl through the data this evening to understand what happened.”

Raikkonen himself says that the car balance wasn’t right, “We were not fast enough. This was our maximum,” he said. “Maybe we could’ve been a few places better, but like I said yesterday, it didn’t feel exactly like we want. It’s just one of the places where we don’t seem to have the speed. Hopefully tomorrow it will turn out different.”

Analysis of Raikkonen’s qualifying tells a story in itself.

First there is the Q2 time, which was competitive, in 1m 33.146s. The problem was that he didn’t move forward from there in Q3. Whereas Rosberg found 0.5s from Q2 to Q3, Vettel 0.2s, Alonso 0.7s and Hamilton 0.6s, Raikkonen actually went slower in Q3 by 2/10th of a second, recording a 1m 33.327s lap.

Had he simply repeated his Q2 time he would have split Webber and Massa in 6th, which would have become 4th with the penalties for Hamilton and Webber. From the second row of the grid, alongside Alonso, we would have had the thrilling battle, which had looked to be on the cards between the two all weekend.

So was the Lotus too slow? Well, not if you add together all of Raikkonen’s best sector times. Had he been able to put them all together in the same lap, as others did, then he would have done a 1m 32.983s instead of the 1m 33.327s.

And that would have put him next to Alonso on Row 2. So it’s not that the car wasn’t fast enough; it was capable of doing fast sector times. The problem was that he wasn’t able to put them all together in one lap.

This is an example of the very fine margins which divide success and failure in F1 at the moment. From 8th on the grid with two Force Indias ahead of him which will be hard to overtake, as they are the two fastest cars in the speed trap and Raikkonen is giving away 6km/h which is half the DRS effect.

On top of that, Massa will run a long first stint on hard tyres and then there is also Mark Webber to get past; it’s going to require a blistering start and some clever strategy to get Raikkonen into contention for a podium.

The Lotus has the best tyre life and a very strong race pace, so it’s possible. Only Raikkonen knows where that pace went when it mattered in Q3, but tomorrow he has a chance to redeem himself.

Last year Lotus qualified 7th with Grosjean and 11th with Raikkonen and finished second and third. But Raikkonen had the advantage of saving enough sets of tyres to do the whole race on new sets. He will have to work harder tomorrow, as he did in the Australian race this year, which he started in seventh place.

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96 Comments
  1. Heinz says:

    Could track temperature offer some explanation? yesterday 42, today 37 or 35 [last time I checked] maybe the Lotus is more sensitive to that change than Merc, Force Ind and the Ferrari on the harder tyre.
    Because also not easy to explain is Alonso’s drop in performance and two mistakes on his final qual lap. And Vettel’s final lap should have beaten the Merc.

    Theory: could be wrong, but the cooler breeze affects RB, Ferr and Lotu on the softer tyre.
    Maybe higher temp on sunday will reverse this ?

    1. Manished says:

      Temp is always an issues for Lotus.

      James Allison said their rear wing DF output is not enough to switch on wet tyres.

      From there, you can get an idea that the car overall lacking significant downforce compare to top runners.

      Its common sense anyway.

      When you design a car, you always look at compromise btw mechanical and aero. To be able to run softer suspension setup than their rivals, one should ponder how much aero gain had they compromised??

      So what the car treat the tyre gentle??? To me, ferrari was in the same mould with better aero efficiency than lotus.

      When your car couldn;t switch on tyre at will and rely too much on circumstance…1 tailwind will ruin your lap rather easily.

    2. Korsakov says:

      In the One Formula, tyre temperature is everything. If want exciting raceing, to try race in winter

    3. Tristian Trigg says:

      Did you not read JA’s article above, or did you simply not understand it? It had nothing to do with temperatures. The speed was in the car, just not, on this rare occasion, in Kimi, who failed to thread together his best sector times. Had he done so, he would have been good for a net second row grid slot.

      The margins this year are so tight that a couple of tenths = a couple of places won or lost.

    4. Loko says:

      Its Kimi & qualifying. He have been struggling with his qual performance throught the career. Where is the mystery? o_O

      But he got better grid pos than last year.. And last year he finished 2nd :-)

      1. Manished says:

        Boullier said that they had good pace on medium tyres and worse pace with hards on Friday.
        Then on Saturday it was inverted. They did some changes and got hard tyres to work, but it made mediums worse.
        Boullier didn’t want to comment whether they’ll try 2 or 3 stopper

        A good lesson. If it aint broken, dont bloody fix it.

      2. Daninator says:

        I don’t agree with what you said re RAI and struggling with quali throughout is career.

        He has maybe struggled during his comeback. But if you look back to his first career he was one of the best qualifiers.

        Esp 2005 when they had the 1 lap qualifying and you had to qualify WITH the fuel load you planned to start the race on, RAI had many poles that year or top 5 grid positions only to fin out in the race that he was in fact fueled many laps longer than his opponents in the race.

        Also in 2010, his last year with Ferrari before going to WRC, in a slow car that Ferrari gave up on developing in August that year, he still managed to consistently qualify in the top 6 or 7 (and go on to finish consistently in the top 5.

  2. goferet says:

    Am just guessing here, as a possible explanation why Kimi didn’t repeat his Q2 time, maybe a gust of wind caught him in Q3 at just the wrong time for this has a way of unbalancing a car especially in Bahrain.

    Anyway, the way I see it, Kimi isn’t really in the weeds, he can do some good work from where he’s starting from besides poor grid positions tend to work out in legends’ favour e.g. Donington 1993.

    In my point of view, the only driver Kimi has to worry about is the late stopping Massa. We all know, Webber will be losing places at the start and the Force India boys are going for a conservative strategy (maybe 2 stops)

    However, Grosjean’s inability to make it to Q3 is rather baffling.

    I think the poor lad must be suffering from a crisis of confidence after a number of drivers ganged up to get him fired during the off season.

    1. Nigel says:

      It would have to be a very selective gust of wind, as every other driver in Q3 (with the obvious exception of Button who didn’t set a time) improved on their Q2 time.

      As for Grosjean, it appears he didn’t make it into Q3 as the team didn’t send him out for a second run. I’m not sure why that is, but his Q2 time was faster than Raikkonen’s first run in Q2.

  3. dean cassady says:

    Is the car set up maximizing the gentleness on the rear tires? Could it be that by setting it up that way, potentially enabling a two stop strategy, that the cot was one lap pace?
    I hope so.
    Ferrari look strong.
    Red Bull looks strong.
    Mercedes looks vulnerable, but they have adopted the under promise, over deliver public relations management approach (like Ferrari – Alonso); so who knows.
    It could be interesting with all of the ego-maniacs at the front and a bit insecure Rosberg front the start; while everybody is looking at the statistics indicating a distinct lack of safety car adventures at Bahrain, maybe we’ll get one at the first lap tomorrow.
    The intra-team rivalries will boil out to the overall competitiveness again tomorrow; with the under-reported tension at Force India the most interesting of all, in the middle of the top ten.

  4. anon says:

    Bad lap from Alonso in the final run. Let a Red Bull and Mercedes qualify in front of him when the Ferrari was clearly quickest.

    I guess he’s not much of a qualifier. Lucky they have DRS nowadays. Means he won’t get stuck behind someone like Petrov.

    1. F1Fan4Life says:

      When you say the Ferrari was clearly quickest, do you base that on any evidence, or is it just an assumption?

      1. adriana says:

        In both , it is evident that he is a heater . and the assumption that he doesn’t know nothing about F1 .

      2. anon says:

        I can infer that they are fastest based on practice times, Alonso’s Q1 time, the fact he was able to put it on 3rd with used tyres. If he didn’t make mistakes on his final qualifying lap he would have certainly been on pole. Massa was only 0.5 second behind him on hard tyres.

      3. F1Fan4Life says:

        The difference between Massa and Rosberg in qualifying was over 0.9 seconds. So you think comparing Alonso to Massa shows Alonso should have pole? The medium tyre gives 0.5 seconds at best to the hards at this race…so expecting Alonso to go a second faster than Massa on mediums is a bit ridiculous. That is the only way he’d have got pole. Certainly not ‘clearly quickest’. In fact i don’t think he was even quickest on used tyres in Q3, Rosberg had that. Not sure what you saw in Q1 to say he should have had pole.

  5. Sid says:

    Hello James, I have a very important question to ask. Whenever I rewatch F1 races, I don’t enjoy them as much since I miss the live timing a lot. Where can I get the lap times(sector times bifurcation) etc in probably .pdf format which I can refer to when I rewatch qualifying/race.

    I’ll be extremely pleased to hear from you.

    PS – I did try to record my screen but the file size is huge, like around 180mb per 10s…

    Pls help!!!

    1. James Allen says:

      http://www.fia.com >Sport>F1> Timing Data>Race History

      1. bbobeckyj says:

        I looked for “Timing Data” all over that site and I can’t find it. I have tried a Ctrl+F search on the web page, and a search using their search box. What am I doing wrong?

    2. Maxime Labelle says:

      Or… you could buy the excellent (albeit not cheap) Soft Pauer F1Timing App, available for Apple and Android devices.

      You can download any sessions you want, including the race, and you will be able to replay them in real-time.

      A must have for any F1 enthusiast, if you ask me…

      1. Sid says:

        Fan-ta-bu-lous…. thanks Maxime, surprised I didnt know about Soft Pauer.

        Soft Pauer, you just got a new customer…

        James, thanks for guiding me, I wasn’t able to find it in the new website design… but now I have…

      2. Jonathan says:

        Have to agree that it is an excellent, if expensive app. Only issue I have is the slight delay between it and the sky F1 channel (app about 7 seconds ahead of transmission). Needs a bigger screen than my s3 though. Also never realised that there was such a wealth of race info at the FIA site though. Geek heaven!

  6. Vivek says:

    Second time this has happened, first time being Malaysia. Lotus needs to get to the bottom of this.

    An Alonso-Kimi battle is what F1 needs, it will be mega. Kimi owes one to him for 2005 :-)

    1. Lewis says:

      Surely Kimi got one over Fernando in 2007?

      1. Vivek says:

        That was a not a straight fight between those two. Kimi was not even in the fight, it was a Alonso-Hamilton battle that went horribly wrong for Mclaren.

        But you do have a point. But as a Kimi fan,I am thirsting for a Kimi-Alonso fight that comes out in Kimi’s favour :-)

        I am sure Kimi does not care as much about it as I do :-)

        Let us have a good Bahrain race now…

      2. Sid says:

        Well looking at Alonso these days, he might leave you disappointed because he’s at the top of his game and best driver out there. Reckon he’ll beat Raikkonen any given day. For me Raikkonen has a big question mark on Saturdays, put Vettel/Hamilton in his car and yesterday Lotus would have been around row 2, and not so far down the order. On Sundays he’s absolutely fine but struggles if the balance isn’t quite there…

      3. Fel says:

        Raikkonen is the best driver on the grid right now so the fight is not gonna be that big. Alonso is good but not on Kimi’s league, well that’s not new, It’s been like that since Kimi started racing in F1, always better than Alonso, this year that Kimi is getting more confortable in F1, Alonso will have another guy beating him regularly. Vettel/Newey vs Raikkonen will be the fight to watch these year.

  7. Rayz says:

    There’s more too it than just a poor lap from Raikkonen. Grosjean was looking good this morning in FP3 aswell and he went out in Q2.

    9th and 11th is no coincidence. Lotus have gone in the wrong direction somewhere along the line. And its cost Kimi a great chance of a victory this weekend. A shame really.

    Now he needs a great drive just to get up to 4th or 5th.

    1. Simon Donald says:

      Given that he almost won Bahrain last year from 11th and won from 7th in Melbourne, Im not too worried. If he has the car underneath him on Sunday he’ll in the hunt for the win.

      1. magic carpet says:

        +1
        Lotus wasn’t trying for pole.

  8. Peter says:

    OK he did not put the perfect lap together, but Kimi is not the sort of guy who tries to hide any of his mistakes. Usually he is the first to put his hands up. Besides he said already yesterday that something is not right with the car, that seems to be very very sensitive to track changes etc.

    1. yugin says:

      That’s true… remember Suzuka last year:

      “Kimi, what happened?”

      “I spun.”

  9. KimiFan says:

    James i think its mostly down to the lotus inability to heat the tires faster than the other teams for a single flying lap,coupled with raikkonens driving style which is smooth and less aggressive than his teammate grosjean. Or it could be that the E21 is a really sensitive car to track conditions, or perhaps a setup change from practice 3 to qualifying. I dont know but Kimi is a very picky driver and its all about the Feeling for the car about him, if his race engineer(webbers former engineer)messes up his start again then a top 5 finish is his maximum

    1. Brad says:

      “if his race engineer(webbers former engineer)messes up his start again then a top 5 finish is his maximum” No wonder!! That really sounds awful!!!

  10. Anne says:

    I love the title of the article. Sounds like an Agatha Christie novel

    :)

    But the there is no conspiracy and no plotting. Kimi just couldn´t put together a good lap. There is no mystery at all

    :(

  11. MaxCO2 says:

    I’m sorry, but “…if you add together all of Raikkonen’s best sector times…” to arrive at a conclusion is a totally specious argument.

    Each sector time is unique due to different driver inputs, tire type and wear, fuel load, meteorological conditions and a myriad of other variables.

    Consider something as simple as the fast time in one sector having been achieved by giving up something in the previous sector for a better run off of a corner.

    To assume that each of the fastest sector times from different laps can be combined into one fastest lap ignores reality.

    A similarly deceptive argument would be to claim that the car with the highest speed would also have the quickest lap. It just doesn’t work out that way.

    1. James Allen says:

      Funny, because it’s the way people in F1 teams look at it…

      1. Martin says:

        It possibly isn’t an issue here with these tyres, but it is a common phenomenon for the tyres to not last an entire lap – use everything in the first two sectors and the driver may lose too much time in the third. To assess the real pecking order, taking best sectors helps remove driver error as there are more data points to select from.

      2. Horno says:

        But that does not make them right, perse..
        We did not even consider setup changes during qualy..
        If the balance aint right, probably they made small tweeks to the stup during qualy which could result in different sectortimes.

      3. monsterFG says:

        Lol mate funny you don’t see logic behind thinking in this way. Combining different sector times into one ultimate lap is a way of teams knowing what the car is capable off once the driver “gets it all together”.

    2. Random 79 says:

      MaxCO2: Apt name

  12. chub says:

    I think he missed he’s 1st run in Q2 with fresh tyres, that’s why he’s gone for a second run which grosjean was not allowed to do.

    may be all the other had succeded in saving a fresh set for the last run of Q3 and raikkonen was only on used rubber ?

    It enlighten the words of grosjean who says that the right setup is not easy to find on this lotus whereas raikkonen is always saying that the car is perfect, there’s no reason to complain bla bla bla… Hey! so why is he making so many mistakes, run wide many times in sepang, run wide in barhein…
    A narrow operating window ?
    Is it to complain to say what you feel ?
    Didn’t he complain so much with the steering wheel, the suspension (changed so many times even in china) ?

  13. David Ryan says:

    Given what happened in Australia, I wouldn’t be unduly worried. One swallow doesn’t make a summer, as they say, and likewise one dud Q3 lap doesn’t make a difficult race. If anything he’ll probably be more fired up because of it, and Bahrain does at least provide some decent opportunities to overtake. I wouldn’t rule him out by any means.

  14. mhilgtx says:

    @Heinz your guess sounds plausible.

    Alonso looked pretty rough all day to me. Multiple times he had traction events, to me the car looked “loose” or unstable. I believe once was oversteer and the spin was understeer but I will have to go back and look.

    I had hoped for a Vettel, Kimi, Alonso top 3, in any order but it didn’t quiet work out. I never dreamed Nico would be as fast as he was.

    On to the tires, can someone tell me if Paul Hembry is a nice guy or not. I swear every time Will Buxton talks to him he sounds like an arrogant jerk.

    I assume this is because he has been hammered by the press and just feels like he is constantly in the firing line. But I would like to know is he a jerk or just trying his best.

    I do believe the complaints about the Pirrelli tires are a bit unfair. The FIA-FOM asked them to do something that to be honest we should expect a few seasons to get just right. Then the FIA made some more changes moving the goal post.

  15. Rich C says:

    How can this possibly be a surprise since its been said over and over here on these pages that Friday times mean noting??

    They should stop reporting these Friday times and Pundits should cease all Friday-based punditry.

    It just makes them look silly and uninformed.

    1. James Allen says:

      Disagree. Friday here showed a lot.

      The final lap times aren’t what counts really, it’s all the lap times, in context, that count

      1. Manished says:

        Friday showed that merc will not be in front.

        Again, armchair expert should just shut up.

        James Allison already said that the car was extremely sensitive.

        And the track was cooler today and more clouded too. Remember austin last year kimi suddenly lose pace in the race?? and regain it in last minute??

        THese Pirelli are a joke.

      2. MikeW says:

        Then they should stop displaying fastest lap on the screens during FP. Display last lap instead, and number of laps

  16. Grant says:

    I think more and more teams will deliberately sacrifice qualifying for race pace.
    Being on pole might not be the smartest thing to do anymore.

    1. Multi 21 says:

      The pole sitter has finished on the podium at all three races so far this year. Doesn’t seem like such a disadvantage to me.

  17. Michael S says:

    It all comes down to the start…. If Kimi can be around 7th at the end of lap one he can start to work his way up. If he drops a spot to Lewis which is very possible then coming from 9th to the front is a super long shot.

  18. Miha Bevc says:

    So, basically, the sole reason for the Lotus’ lack of pace are their drivers? Not being able to combine three perfect sectors?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not necessarily, but the point is that the car did 3 competitive sector times during that period so it was capable of it

      1. Erik says:

        Did you see the towing he got one run?
        Did you hear the commentators view that a cloud or a few degrees in any direction will change the characteristics of the cars behavior?
        A small wind gust will make a difference too.
        Did you add together all the other guys times too and found out they all did their best sectors on their Q3 final lap? Alonso?
        If not, your post have nothing to do with reality. You might even get paid to write some stuff on this site. Untruths since otherwise you would write them anyway. Similar to that riDICulous PR stunt from that rattling between the legs guy to get some free PR for the gutter running teams.

  19. magic carpet says:

    The problem is not Kimi “not being able to put together fastest sector times into a single lap”. The problem is these ridiculous Pirelli tires that shed layers when pushed and the disproportionate return on the investment in pole position for pushing in quali just to be DRS passed on lap 2. Kimi will still finish on the podium.

    1. Doohan says:

      Impossible.
      You can’t use drs on lap 2

    2. magic carpet says:

      Congratulations to Kimi and Lotus! Two podium positions! Funny how the Lotus “pace” magically returns on Sundays.

  20. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Go Kimi go! He knows what to do!

    1. kfzmeister says:

      …and you certainly don’t have to always remind him.

      1. Sufyaan says:

        …and hes doing it all the time!

  21. Andy says:

    If he had done the perfect lap, he would have been 5th. What would have been the outcome if everyone else had done their perfect lap.
    A flaw with Renault (Lotus) is that they are not consistent.

  22. anon says:

    Kimi’s quick but ultimately inconsistent. Reflected in 16 pole positions in his career — which dates back to 2001. Vettel’s had a full-time drive since 2008 and has 38 poles.

    Nuff said.

    1. KimiFan says:

      kimi only had a legit fast car in 2005 and in 2007, the 2008 car hampered him during qualifying because of developments that deviated away from his driving style giving him instability in the front wheels and cant switch the front to temperature during qualifying

      1. anon says:

        Kimi parachuted into a Newey designed McLaren in his second season, then parachuted into Schumacher’s Ferrari, then got fired because Massa — who was on a quarter of Kimi’s salary — was matching him.

        He’s had cars capable of race wins ever since 2002. He has 38 fastest laps, which demonstrates he’s always had a car with the speed. He’s just inconsistent.

      2. Alexander says:

        Bad luck I must said, he should have won 2003, 2005 worldchampsionships if the car wasn’t so unreliable.

    2. Andrew says:

      Vettel has had the standout best car much more than 38 times.

      Kimi hasn’t. When he won the championship Ferrari was broadly equal with Mclaren.

      In 05 he had a fast car but not the kind of advantage that Red Bull generally have.

      1. anon says:

        The Red Bull was only dominant in 2011 and the car’s speed was flattered a little bit simply by how good Vettel was.

        Kimi got lucky in 2007. It’s almost inconceivable how Hamilton gave up that advantage over Kimi with two races remaining. That makes up for 2005 though, where Kimi was the better driver than Alonso.

        Kimi had his chance at in a Newey-designed McLaren, then parachuted into a Ferrari team that Schumacher had rebuilt from the ashes. Had the 2007, 08, didn’t in 09, but if he stuck around he would have been competing for the championship in 2010, 2012 (2012 had solid race pace despite Alonso’s protestations).

        The best drivers invariably find themselves in the best cars.

  23. Methusalem says:

    Had frustrated Di Resta insulted Räikkönen during Q2?

    1. Chromatic says:

      di resta does too much yap yap. If that car has any potential today it will be Sutil who will make strides.

      But even disadvantaged as they seem to be with the softer tyres in Q3, because of a cooling track, or whatever, I still expect Vettel, Kimi and Alonso to share the podium.

  24. LEM says:

    I thinks it’s the car’s sensitivity on tire/track temp changes. Pirelli said that the track was “too cool” for the tires. Remember that the compunds were changed from Soft/Meds to Meds/Hards on the last minute. It really sums up the E21′s tire heating issues.

  25. Manished says:

    Everyone hype the Lotus up.

    Kimi been struggling on mid sector all weekend.

    And in long run pace, ferrari looks better than Lotus. But again, the pundits keep hyping them up.

    From what i heard, the car was extremly sensitive, which is why Romain keep struggling.

    1. James Allen says:

      Ferrari looked better on Friday because it had less fuel on board. They are closely matched for race pace

      That’s the view of all the engineers in F1, maybe you have another source of info to share?

  26. Mike84 says:

    Thanks for articles that dare to actually say something, rather than just notify and hype.

  27. Kimi4WDC says:

    Rosberg most likely cut his first stint by at least 5 laps with that lap :)

  28. sandman says:

    Same thing happened in malaysia. Raikkonen quickest when the grip levels are low on friday and then loses out when the track rubber. Seems to me like they are not accounting for track evolution while choosing setup.

  29. Ali says:

    no effort is spared by the English media to ridicule Kimi. from what is regarded has his fluke 2007 title to his fluke win in Australia this year.

    i hope kimi wins. and not just to rub it in.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      Are you kidding? The English media loves Kimi! He’s the greatest source of jokes because he doesn’t seem to care. When Kimi won in Australia every UK outlet declared him a real contender for the title this year.

      How is that ridiculing the guy?

    2. pcoops says:

      I dont believe the english media are trying to ridicule Kimi at all, we do however have something called manners and respect still in some parts of the UK and at times Kimi’s attitude goes deyond being funny…

  30. Elie says:

    James it you look at Lotus qualifying since 2012 their gains from Fridays to Quali have always been relatively small increments compared to their rivals. I don’t doubt Kimi should have been maybe 2tenths quicker – he believed so himself – but he was never going to be on pole ( despite my greatest wishes). Lotus and Kimi especially seem to reach maximum pace quickly and that always leaves us begging for more..

    What we must reflect on was the fact he never once got into the 1.32 prior quali where Ferrari did.- despite his consistent FP form. Also I noticed toward the end of q3 a few cars locking up – including Alonso on his second run- so perhaps track conditions changed- temperature drop, dust and high wind Perhaps an early run would have been better!.

    Im sure Kimi would be disappointed but I still believe that Lotus lacks much downforce and 1 lap pace. That hasn’t changed and clearly it’s a very fine line between quali pace and race pace that few have gotten right since Pirelli came on deck and only RBR being specialists – although this year looks like Ferrari have taken the advantage thus far.Still gotta hope he has a good race and manages to fight for a podium like he did last year- that would be very special for all the reasons you mentioned.

    1. keith says:

      +1.

      I think the fact that he never got into the 1:32s is telling.

      However, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if he had done two flying laps instead of one.

      I’m still undecided as to whether Kimi’s qualifying woes in 2012 and 2013 are up to inconsistency on his part, or something innate to the car – i.e. tyre temps hard to boost up, brake temps hard to boost, lacking downforce without extra fuel weight, or similar.

      Seems to be that the car works really well until it gets to really low fuel loads.

  31. Zinobia says:

    In general the Lotus has just not been fast, in qualifying. In all of their qualifying sessions so far for the season they have been P7 and lower. The anomaly is China, where the conditions where hotter then expected. In this qualifying session it was very overcasted and the temperatures where lower then expected.
    The E21 can be fast but it seems like a very difficult car to setup, and to drive. Just the smallest changes in track conditions, and the setup doesn’t work properly anymore.

  32. guy says:

    Can’t believe no one has wised up to this yet. Even Alonso has said qualifying is losing its importance. These guys are purposefully qualifying at 7 tenths or 8 tenths of their cars true pace so they can have a strong first stint. All they have to do is hang in there for the first couple laps then drs the guy in front. That single qualifying pole lap is quite taxing on the tires and brakes because they are on maximum attack.

    1. Anne says:

      Pole is not very important now. But at the end of the season who knows. Remember last year we were having a similar situation until RB became very dominant starting in Singapore

    2. Rayz says:

      Sorry dude but that’s a load of rubbish!! Those that are capable of putting their car on pole are going for it.
      There appears to be a lot of extra wear when the car is stuck in traffic (see Massa and Grosjean in China) so it would more than cancel out any attempt to save the tyres by doing a slow Q3 time.
      If a team opted to save the tyres, they would do what Button did in China and not run at all. Saves the tyres completely. I believe he is trying the same this weekend. Kimi now has 3 laps done on the mediums that he starts the race on.

      P.S James, this article has got the Iceman’s fans annoyed by the looks of it. Kinda funny, I see you are having to back up your arguments.
      Probably wasn’t Kimi’s best lap but when the car is good, Kimi is great. So I think its fair to assume that the car just wasnt there for him.

      Lotus do need to get on top of it rapidly though. They have a very good chance of the championship if they can stay competitive. And there is no doubt that if they can provide the right car, Raikkonen can win this championship.

  33. pcoops says:

    Wow James, i agree with your conclusions in this article completely, but looks like you have to be very careful when suggesting Kimi didn’t get the most out of the car, his fans don’t take too kindly to it. :)

    1. pcoops says:

      I would like to add that despite the fact that i generally think Kimi’s “leave me alone” attitude to be great, It does seem to be going a little too far lately. His comments during the BBC interview such as “You better do this (the interview) quickly or i’m going back inside” are a little too arrogant and plain rude..

  34. Chromatic says:

    Is there a hint of conflict in what Team Lotus are saying about quali as opposed to both their drivers’ reported statements?

    There’s a touch of “don’t ask us, go and ask Kimi why he didn’t manage a good lap”. That is not giving support to your star driver, in my view. KR deserves better, even if the poor lap was down to him.

    By contrast, Gros was slagging off his own engineers as soon as he got out of the car, and blaming them squarely for his Q2 exit.

    Is all well at Lotus?

  35. JohnBt says:

    On Raceday the temperatures will change the situation of each driver. Then the Pirelli’s are too sensitive so let’s see what happens. And the fuel loads on practice is just a guide so let’s see what happens when there are points to be collected on Sunday.

  36. mhilgtx says:

    Well as the race is now over Kimi’s pace has shown back up taking a second. Quite strong showing for Lotus while Vettel was dominate.

    Ferrari as I predicted are just not organized and consistent enough, once again bad decisions regarding wings on both cars cost them dearly.
    They might be the fastest car, but as the old saying goes…”to finish first, first you must finish”.

  37. A Finn says:

    How much better laptimes would other drivers have had if their best segment times were counted? Just plain stupid to speculate as you do.

    And still. Second in the race. Best driver, not even nearly the best car.

    1. James Allen says:

      Even the team says that they should have qualified in first five.

      I’m sorry if you don’t want to think of what ifs, but the reality is that Quali didn’t work out

  38. Gonzo says:

    Kimi 2nd after starting 8th yeeii o/

  39. David Hope says:

    Given both Lotus drivers were off the track a bit when pushing I think the car was just a bit tough to drive at the maximum. Kimi should have been just ahead of the force indias if he’d got it all right but I don’t think Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s and Rosberg were a tough ask.

    The other cars seemed able to get into Q3 without going to the limit whilst Lotus had already got close to that just to make it. Strange though given the race pace

  40. David Hope says:

    I’d add that Kimi has traditionally been a solid qualifier but not the very best. In 2008 I remember he set numerous fastest laps but kept losing out in traffic after Massa (and others) qualified higher with slightly less fuel and a faster lap anyway. Difference now is grid position is just an advantage and far less decisive

  41. Zinobia says:

    Qualifying didn’t work out exactly. But it is revealing to hear the strategy today in hindsight. They based their setup on the hard tyres for long run pace, so in hindsight it wasn’t to surprising that they didn’t qualify as well. Sure Kimi could have been two tenths or so faster, but that is true for most drivers in qualifying, it seems like people are sometimes much harder on Kimi then what they are on other drivers. Kimi only missed out on two positions at most. Sometimes people make too much out of an issue over qualifying, you get points in the races. In general it is like Lotus is always competing for pole or something. In the last 24 races they have reached the front row only 3 times.

    I can understand that the teams might use the technique of calculating together the best sector times. But this will not always work, sometimes the characteristics of the sectors are very different. One sector might be only straights and one sector could just be tight corners. If you have a setup with high downforce then your sector times with the tight corners would be better and if you have low downforce then your sectors with long straight would be better. Drivers often still make small changes in qualifying like their wings for example, so just counting the best sector times cant always be a conclusive method.

  42. flash says:

    How about if we add other drivers best sector times together? I would say that its normal NOT to have all your best sector times on a one single lap.

    Anyway, looking back at it now and seeing how Lotus performed in the race, how Mercedes performed in the race and what tyres were used more, the reason for losing the qualifying pace is obvious as it was for mercedes to gain it:
    The car could be set up heavily to be optimal on either the harder tyre or the softer tyre. In qualifying Lotus was setup for the harder tyre, they lost pace but gained it in the race. The opposite happened to Mercedes (Rosberg), which was really good on the softer tyre and had amazing quali, but in the race Rosberg was almost driving on reverse.

  43. pally says:

    It’s the tyres. They’ve lucked into it on a Sunday. They don’t understand them that’s why they can’t win races by solving the problem of qualifying.

    If they knew the secret to their success quali would be better. But the reality is that Boullier is shouting from the hip when he says he designed the car for the tyres in mind.

    It’s just luck, not engineering skill.

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