Raikkonen targets beating Alonso

Finn upbeat despite qualifying spin

By Mike Wise at Suzuka.   Last Updated: 07/10/12 12:54pm

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Kimi Raikkonen is optimistic that he can finish ahead of title leader Fernando Alonso in the Japanese Grand Prix after both struggled in qualifying on Saturday.

The Finn lines up seventh on the grid at Suzuka after spinning out of the final session. "I was just a bit too fast," Raikkonen said of his slip up at Spoon Curve.

Even so, he was upbeat having experienced problems earlier in the weekend. Raikkonen missed out on track time when a KERS problem intervened on Friday and has also suffered handling difficulties.

"We had some issues the whole weekend so it hasn't been easy. But we had a good speed in qualifying so we'll see," the 2007 World Champion said.

"I'd rather be like this than being slow and eighth."

Raikkonen reckoned he could have qualified on the second row but for his error. As it stands, his best lap of 1:32.208s was over 1.3s down on the Red Bull of polesitter Sebastian Vettel.

Yet even though his Friday problems prevented any long runs, Raikkonen still thinks that Lotus's race pace - a particular strong suit this season - will stand them in good stead.

"We were doing a 31.5 - that would have been enough for fourth place. It makes no difference now but at least we had the speed. With all the problems we tried different things," he said.

"It was a good qualifying. Like I said, I haven't run with the high fuel but I think it should be fine."

Raikkonen currently stands third in the title battle, 16 points behind Vettel with Alonso 45 points ahead.

With the defending World Champion's pace appearing ominous this weekend, Raikkonen has decided instead to set his sights on the Ferrari driver.

"It's the only positive thing coming out," he said of Alonso's performance. "Today we could have been better but the Red Bulls are very much faster than us.

"I mean, right now we try to gain on points on Alonso. Hopefully at the next races we can get the maximum out of whatever package we have."

Raikkonen's already slim title aspirations might hinge on upgrades promised for next weekend's race in Korea.

Something that won't feature there is Lotus's double DRS device, which they have found difficult to set up this weekend.

Raikkonen could not say whether it would finally make an appearance further down the line but denied the development had been an unnecessary distraction.

"The issues that we have had (in Japan) are nothing to do with that. The weather has been tricky in some places and we've had some other issues, so it's not because we tried that that we couldn't do well," he added.

"We used it on Friday in Hungary and we did well there, so it didn't hurt us."

Team-mate Romain Grosjean, meanwhile, set the fifth fastest time and also reckoned he could have gone even faster.

"I think we could have been in front of (fourth fastest Kamui) Kobayashi for a number of reasons. The lap was not the best one ever but in general compared to yesterday we were thinking sixth would be the best," he said.

"It looks pretty interesting still, pretty good to be honest - to follow the Red Bull and fifth is good. If we have a good start tomorrow then I'll try to follow them and see what we can do."

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