Kimi Raikkonen led the charge for Lotus F1 Team in the Malaysian Grand Prix; translating a tenth place starting slot into a fifth-placed finish in a rain-affected, red flag-interrupted race. He also set the fastest lap of the day as the track dried in the run to the chequered flag. It was a different story for Romain Grosjean, with an early exit from the slippery Sepang circuit on lap four.
Both cars started on the green marked intermediate tyres. Kimi made three stops with an intermediate, wet, intermediate, hard tyre strategy. Kimi set a succession of fastest laps on the hard tyres as the track dried, culminating with a 1min 40.722secs on lap 53. It was the 36th Grand Prix fastest lap of his career.
Kimi Raikkonen: "It was a bit difficult today. It was my first time on the wet weather Pirellis and I didn't know how the intermediate or wet tyres would react - I had only completed one installation lap on them before. I just tried to stay on the road and push as much as I felt comfortable with. When I changed to the dry tyres it took a couple of laps to get heat into them, and my visor was pretty dirty so seeing the dry line was difficult. Once I found my way I could push much harder. It was difficult to have another mixed weather weekend. The conditions changed a lot today so it was always a case of adapting and looking for grip. Overall, we seemed to have a pretty strong package again this weekend, so I'm relatively happy. A fifth today was okay, but we're always looking for better results."
Romain Grosjean: "It felt like a perfect start off the line; I got a good jump on the others and with the KERS I managed to weave through the cars in front without touching anybody. Coming out of the first two corners I was up to third, which was an amazing feeling. In turn four Mark (Webber) managed to carry a bit more speed through the corner and edged in front. Michael (Schumacher) tried to follow him through but there was not enough space so we touched and I spun. From there things became really tough. The visibility was so poor I couldn't see anything in front of me. We made the decision to stay out on the intermediate tyres but the rain got heavier and there was far too much water. I had massive aquaplaning into turn five and unfortunately ended up going backwards into the gravel."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "Today's result is a bit frustrating. Whilst it's good to have a car finish in the top five after starting from tenth in conditions which were very tricky, we can't help thinking that we could have achieved more from this race. Obviously, it's disappointing for Romain, as it's another DNF for him in the early laps of the race. He had never driven in the rain with these intermediate tyres so we have to take that into account. He had a very good start off the line, but the contact with Michael ruined his race. At the restart, we recovered well from our position and on the plus side, the car looked strong again. Kimi had a flawless race. He was very consistent in all conditions and his best lap shows what could have been without his grid penalty. I'm sure when we have a 'standard' weekend - without bad weather, penalty or interruption - we will do very well."
James Allison, Technical Director: "What we would give for a normal race! We had to fight back from a grid penalty for changing the gearbox on Kimi's car. We also had two drivers learning Pirelli's wet tyres for the first time today. This made for a difficult time here at Sepang. Our pace at the end of the race on dry tyres looks extremely promising from the perspective of both degradation and pace. Give us a normal race, with two clean getaways from the good qualifying positions of which we have shown we are capable, and I think we'll be able to collect a good reward."
Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 Team Support Leader: "Another points scoring finish for Kimi here. Again it was a shame for Romain but over the course of the weekend we confirmed the pace seen in Australia of the Lotus-Renault package. The changeable weather made it very difficult to manage fuel consumption. We burned a lot of fuel at the second start, which allowed us to be lighter towards the final laps. This played out well as Kimi set the fastest lap of the race on lap 53. Overall the engine has worked perfectly and we're now looking forward to China, which presents a very different challenge."
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