May 12th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Kimi Raikkonen's strong season continued in Spain with a solid drive to second place. Crucially for the Finn, he took 6 points of championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who came home fourth. But Raikkonen is not complacent, and admitted that his Lotus was not quick enough to challenge Fernando Alonso for victory.
Raikkonen started the race fourth and lost a place in the early stages. But good use of a three-stop strategy, compared to four for most of the field, allowed Raikkonen to take advantage of his car's tendency to manage tyres well and he ended up second, well clear of Felipe Massa in third but not quite within striking distance of Alonso at the front.
Raikkonen has, impressively, finished every race since his comeback in Australia 2012. He has featured in the points for the last 22 races, putting him third in the all-time list for that particular record, behind Michael Schumacher, who finished 24 consecutive races in the points and Fernando Alonso who had scored at 23 races in a row before retiring at the start of the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix. Raikkonen need only score points at the next three rounds in Monaco, Canada and Great Britain to hold the record outright.
World Championships are not necessarily won by the driver with the most victories in a season, but it certainly helps to take maximum points as often as possible .Raikkonen has won just once this season - in Australia - and knows more victories will greatly help his title challenge. After today's race, the Finn said, "Unfortunately it’s second place again so it’s not time to celebrate too much. The car felt good and we did pretty much all we could today, but we didn’t have the pace to challenge Fernando [Alonso]. I drove to the maximum and it’s good for the championship that Sebastian finished behind us. It’s nice to be on the podium for me and the team; let’s see what we can do in Monaco."
Raikkonen's Lotus team-mate, Romain Grosjean, had a very short afternoon, his race ending after eight laps with a failure on the rear suspension. Grosjean had made a poor start from sixth on the grid and was running ninth when his suspension issues struck. He was philosophical afterwards, saying: " It’s always disappointing for everyone when something like this happens but there’s no-one to blame; it’s just a part of motor racing."
Although they did not manage to win in Spain, Lotus will be encouraged by their performance at the Spanish Circuit de Catalunya, which is considered a benchmark track by all of the teams. The circuit tests the all-round performance of a Formula One car, from power to downforce to balance, and Lotus came through that particular test second best, behind Ferrari. The rest of the season therefore looks promising for the team from Enstone.