May 11th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Lotus have reason to be confident ahead of Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, after Kimi Raikkonen qualified fourth and Romain Grosjean seventh. Grosjean benefits from a grid penalty for Felipe Massa and will therefore start sixth on the grid. The race pace of this year's Lotus has been very strong all season, which suggests that Raikkonen and Grosjean could challenge for the podium or perhaps even victory.
The major strength of the Lotus seems to be tyre management. Both drivers routinely make their tyres last longer than their competitors. That could prove crucial in the early phase of tomorrow's race, as all of the cars will be on heavy fuel which makes tyre management all the more critical. If Raikkonen and Grosjean can make good starts - which they have generally done this year - then they could find themselves fighting at the front in short order.
Raikkonen did not seem overly concerned about not challenging Nico Rosberg's pole position time, saying, “That was more or less all we could do today. I didn’t make any mistakes on my fastest lap so that was pretty much all there was to come from the car. I wouldn’t say it was a perfect lap, but I don’t think we would have been much higher up the order if it had been. The Mercedes, as we’ve seen before, seems to be pretty fast in qualifying but hopefully in the race we can turn it around. Our race pace has been pretty good all year so let’s try and get on the podium. I’ll have to make a good start, then let’s see what happens.”
Romain Grosjean admitted a mistake in Q3 that could have cost him a better grid position. But the Frenchman seems confident of a strong race: “We did a good job today throughout qualifying but on my last lap I made a mistake into turn one, so I decided to back off and save the tyres. Otherwise, I think we could have done a bit better and maybe sit one or two rows further towards the front. I was happy with the car and all the work we’ve done since Friday. For tomorrow, we will see what happens as the competition is very tight. As we have seen, conditions are variable this weekend and once more the tyres should be key.”