April 20th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Lotus were left scratching their heads after their pace seemed to mysteriously disappear in qualifying after an otherwise competitive weekend so far. Romain Grosjean failed to progress to Q3 and Kimi Raikkonen could only manage the ninth fastest time in the top-ten shootout. Raikkonen will start 8th, as Lewis Hamilton has a five-place grid penalty that pushes him down to 9th on the grid.
All is not lost for Lotus, as qualifying positions are proving to be less important in the era of fast-degrading Pirelli tyres. This year's Lotus is kind to its tyres, which could help Raikkonen and Grosjean to score decent points in tomorrow's race. Grosjean has the option of starting on fresh tyres, which could help him to make up places at the start of the race. Raikkonen will have to start on the set of medium tyres on which he set his Q3 time, and will be looking to make the set last as long as possible in the early phase of the race.
Raikkonen has never won in Bahrain, not even in his championship-winning 2007 season. He will be keen to amend that record tomorrow, and from 8th on the grid it is possible. It will, however, require a very strong race from the Finn.
The drivers reacted to the qualifying session as follows:
Kimi Räikkönen: “It wasn’t the easiest qualifying session after a weekend which hasn’t been the easiest so far either. Yesterday it was difficult at times to find the balance with the car and I found that again today. This morning it felt good and we didn’t do too bad in free practice, but we didn’t quite get it right this afternoon. My lap wasn’t great, but it’s a long race so we’ll just have to see what we can do tomorrow.”
Romain Grosjean: “It’s obviously disappointing to miss out on Q3 but it’s just one of those things. There weren’t any issues with the car, we just tried to be a little too brave by doing just one run and unfortunately it didn’t pay off. On the positive side, we’ve found a lot of performance this weekend compared to the first three races and our pace on the prime tyres in Q1 looked very strong. We qualified in similar positions last year and came away with a double podium, so it’s still all to play for.”