Kimi Raikkonen wants conditions to get warmer at the U.S. GP in Austin
Abu Dhabi winner lines up fourth on the grid for Sunday's race
By Mike Wise in Austin
Last Updated: 18/11/12 1:40pm
The Finn will line up fourth on the grid for Sunday's inaugural race at the Circuit of The Americas, having been outqualified by team-mate Romain Grosjean.
Grosjean will take a five-place grid penalty as a result of a gearbox change ahead of the session but the team were pleased with their showing having hitherto struggled in Austin.
Speaking on Friday, Raikkonen described his outings in opening practice at the brand new track as little more than "sliding around".
There was more of the same during a chilly P3 session which started at 9am on Saturday morning. Yet the subsequent rise in temperature brought the track towards the team's E20, which has always tended to perform better in warmer conditions.
Of course, a temperature that barely struggled above 20 degrees Celsius hardly matches the heat of Abu Dhabi, where Raikkonen claimed Lotus's first win of the season a fortnight ago.
Even so the former World Champion, who currently lies third in this year's standings, wants the upward trend to continue.
"That was probably better than I expected. Because of the difficulties in the practices, it finally got a bit more hot and the tyres started to work so it helped us," said Raikkonen.
"Usually we've been more strong in the race, so hopefully it should be a bit warmer tomorrow and it should be better for us. Hopefully it's another thing tomorrow that improves our car and we can fight more."
Raikkonen built his win in Abu Dhabi on a strong start, yet he may find it difficult to do another given that he lines up on the left-hand side of the grid where grip is particularly low.
"It's been very slippery anyhow, the circuit, and then the racing line goes more or less over the right-hand side so we expect it's going to be very slippery on the left. We'll have to wait and see tomorrow what happens," he said.
Raikkonen also denied that set-up changes played a part in the sudden improvement in grip he experienced - the 33-year-old nonetheless still managing to spin in Q1.
"It was very difficult to get them working at all until the qualifying and then we got them to work much better. It's still not like we want them to work but it was much better," he said.
"I knew already in the first qualifying that the tyres were much better than this morning or yesterday. It just seemed to improve and we found better pressures for the end. It's just getting better and better all the time.
"I don't think the circuit has improved for us, it's just the tyres - if you get them switched on then everything changes. It's not like the circuit suddenly changes for us, it's just the tyres."
Raikkonen added: "It doesn't matter how much we change the car. We know where we should be. It's just the weather and certain things. But there's not very much we can suddenly do: if it gets warmer like it is now then it helps us. In the mornings it's been 10 degrees, which is not ideal for us."