Kimi Raikkonen says it was "easy" to look after his tyres at the Australian GP
Lotus driver made two-stop strategy work to take victory
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 17/03/13 11:34am
Reaction from the drivers who made the podium in Australia; Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, and Sebastian Vettel.
In a daunting message to his World Championship rivals, Kimi Raikkonen said it was "easy" for him to conserve his tyres after running a two-stop strategy to winning effect in the season-starting Australian GP.
Whereas both Red Bull, Ferrari and, after a late change of plan, Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes completed the race on a three-stop strategy, Raikkonen was able to secure a resounding - and largely unexpected - victory with just two visits to the pitlane over the course of the 58 laps around Albert Park.
The E21's ability to conserve its tyres didn't just rip up the form book at Melbourne, with Raikkonen winning from just seventh on the grid, but threatens to make the Finn a formidable contender as he chases a second World Championship.
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"It was a pretty nice race and not too difficult," Raikkonen told Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle after heading Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel on an all-champion podium.
"That [two-stopping] was our plan before the race, I was confident the tyres would be ok, I have had a good car all weekend with no issues with the tyres so I thought it would be easy to do it."
Easier said than done, though, with Raikkonen simply faultless throughout the race. But it was certainly telling that, despite Raikkonen's final stint being the equivalent of seventeen miles longer than Alonso's, the Finn was still able to set the race's fastest lap in the final stages.
"I was just trying to make sure we had a gap if the rain came," added Raikkonen. "I didn't do any long runs over the winter but I knew I had a good car and I had a feeling it would be a good race.
"But it is only one race."
Speaking to Natalie Pinkham after returning to the paddock, Raikkonen added that he hoped Lotus's impressive new car would continue to prosper in the expected heat of Malaysia next weekend - competitiveness in warmer climes having been a key trait of last year's E20.
"I don't know [how it will go], the Finn insisted. "It's early races and we have to go through maybe two, three races and see where everybody is.
"If you look last year, we were better in the heat than in the cold, so hopefully it's the same thing."
Playing down their race-one victory Raikkonen may have been, but having been so comprehensively trumped by Lotus' victorious strategy, the manner of the Finn's win will surely cause Ferrari and Red Bull some sleepless nights ahead of next week's race at Sepang.
"It is a worry yes," conceded Alonso. "Lotus did a very good job. We need to analyse what we can do for the next race. They will be a tough opponent."