Kimi Raikkonen promises that Lotus's victory in Abu Dhabi was not a one-off
"There is more to come," reckons Finn after Lotus breakthrough win
Last Updated: 09/11/12 4:15pm
Kimi Raikkonen reckons he and Lotus can maintain the winning habit after their victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Finn's success at the Yas Marina Circuit was his first since returning to Formula 1 at the start of the season after two years out of the sport.
Lotus, meanwhile, had not won a race since Fernando Alonso's victory for the then Renault team in the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix.
The marque - itself celebrating a first win since the original Lotus team won the 1987 Detroit Grand Prix - has been there or thereabouts all season but the best chance of a victory had seemed over.
Lotus seemed poised for a breakthrough after Raikkonen and team-mate Romain Grosjean finished second and third respectively in Hungary before the summer break.
However, as Lotus struggled to introduce upgrades such as their own version of the DDRS system, they got left behind as Ferrari, McLaren and particularly Red Bull forged ahead.
Much like Ferrari, their E20 car has been found wanting on a Saturday but Raikkonen said that they finally put everything together last weekend.
"We've shown all season how good we can be, and in Abu Dhabi we showed we can win. There is more to come. I promise," said Raikkonen, who stands third in the Drivers' Championship and recently signed a contract extension.
"We didn't give up. We had a period where new developments for the car weren't working exactly as wanted straight away and when you have to test new parts during practice sessions it's very difficult to make progress, but we kept pushing.
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"The pace was promising all weekend in Abu Dhabi. I was never out of the top ten all weekend and with that in mind I think we had a good idea that we could be competitive if we could just get qualifying right, which has been the big issue all season long.
"This time though, we got it right."
A highlight of the race was Raikkonen comments over the radio to engineer Simon Rennie, whose attempts to guide his charge home brought a less-than-enthusiastic response.
One such - "Just leave me alone, I know what I am doing" - has since been turned into a T-shirt, with the former World Champion reportedly sending 500 to the team's HQ at Enstone.
"Apparently there were a few of our radio messages broadcast on TV and I think in those moments you could hear how much I just wanted to keep my head down, do my job and win the race. All I needed to know was the gap to the guy behind me," Raikkonen explained.
"I think you can probably find other messages from me in the car if you search YouTube; even from my short time in NASCAR."
The brief time Raikkonen spent racing NASCAR Trucks last season might give him some recent insight into fan-dom Stateside but teams head to Austin knowing very little of the new Circuit of the Americas track.
Lotus reserve Jerome D'Ambrosio lapped the 5.515km layout when it was opened recently but Technical Director James Allison says the playing field will, in a sense, start out as level next weekend.
"For the engineers it's a bit more of a challenge not knowing the peculiarities of the circuit. We know the layout of the track and there are a good number of simulations we can do such as suspension settings, wing levels, gear ratios, but the idiosyncrasies will need to be worked on at the track itself," he said.
Allison also revealed a potential boost for Lotus, in that they hope to race an updated version of their Coanda exhaust system both in Austin and Brazil.
The new version, which it is hoped will improve grip whilst minimising power loss, was tried out by Raikkonen during practice in Abu Dhabi but discarded for the race.
"We are still experimenting with the latest evolution of our Coanda system. This delivers the same downforce as the one we introduced in Korea and used in the Abu Dhabi race, but does not sap as much power from the engine. We trialled this evolution in Abu Dhabi, but opted to go for the known quantity of the Korea-spec," Allison added.
"Now we have the young driver test behind us, we are confident that this evolution will assist with around an extra six horsepower for the last two races of the season."