Kimi: New exhaust is a good step
Finn reckons more is come from updated car while crash-prone Grosjean insists the same of himself
By Mike Wise in Yeongam. Last Updated: 14/10/12 12:54pm
Kimi Raikkonen thinks that Lotus's new exhaust system is a "good step" and also reckons there is more to come from it during the closing races of the season.
The Finn overcame a difficult start to his Korean Grand Prix weekend by qualifying fifth on Saturday, two places ahead of team-mate Romain Grosjean.
Besides being handed the task of shaking down the updated E20, which now sports exhausts which use the Coanda aerodynamic effect to boost rear grip, Raikkonen was also making his debut at the Korea International Circuit.
The 2007 World Champion, who currently stands third in the drivers' standings, said he and the team had also improved the car's set-up overnight.
Still searching for his first win after returning to the sport this year, Raikkonen now hopes he can make further progress in the race.
"Today was better compared to yesterday overall. I think we haven't changed the exhaust since yesterday. We had some gains and we had some losses. It's not the only gain we've got," he said.
"We'll put (the exhaust) in more races and more practices, we'll learn something more and we can improve it. It's not maybe as good as we expected in the perfect situation but it's a good step."
Raikkonen made it to Q3 despite the appearance of yellow flags after Daniel Ricciardo pulled his Toro Rosso off the track at Turn 15.
As is required, Jenson Button backed off but he failed to progress. Raikkonen, however, insisted that he followed suit.
"I lifted in that area," he said.
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Although he seemed downbeat on Friday, Raikkonen now reckons his car's race pace - normally a strong suit - should stand him in good stead.
The 32-year-old stopped short of a podium prediction, however.
"Of course, we don't know what everybody is running but yesterday the car was not very good. But it looked actually okay and I think it should be even better tomorrow," he added.
"We'll try our best and see what happens. The race might end at the first corner you never know.
"We have a good chance to do well but things can go easily wrong."
For Grosjean, of course, the main concern is navigating the start of Sunday's race given his record of opening-lap crashes this year.
With Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier telling Sky Sports F1's Johnny Herbert on Saturday that the Frenchman's place at the team next season is not necessarily a given, the driver himself admitted that he is "a work in progress".
"I love racing, so I'm looking forward to the race. It's the first one minute 30 that I need to work on, after that almost all the races are very good," Grosjean said.
"We've had a step forward this week in terms of working on myself and tomorrow I hope I'm going to show it."