Romain Grosjean benefitted from an aggressive tyre strategy whilst Kimi Raikkonen ultimately lost out in a fast-paced and exciting Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit. Romain went from tenth on the grid to finish in sixth, whilst Kimi ran strongly in second place until his tyres could no longer deliver sufficient performance, finally finishing in 14th.
Both cars started on the yellow-marked soft Pirelli P-Zero and used a further two sets of mediums. Romain pitted on laps 11 and 32. Kimi pitted on laps 10 and 28. Kimi ran in P2 for laps 41-47. Romain ran in P2 for laps 29-31.
Kimi Raikkonen: "We tried to run two stops as it looked to be the fastest strategy and up until the last ten laps it was looking good, but we ran out of tyre performance at the end. I was stuck behind Felipe (Massa) for quite a while and couldn't get past as I wasn't fast enough in the right parts of the track to make a move. Even if I'd got past I don't think it would have made the greatest amount of difference to the final result. We had good pace in the race, we tried a different strategy and it didn't pay off today; it's as simple as that."
Romain Grosjean: "It was a very good race, I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately I made a little mistake fighting with Mark (Webber) but overall it was a good performance. The car felt great and the team did an amazing job to give us such a big improvement from Friday, so I'm especially happy for the guys to be able to finish the race and get some good points on the board. To be up there fighting with McLaren and Red Bull is a great feeling and I'm happy to have got my season started properly. We've had high hopes since P3 on the grid in Melbourne, and now after a few setbacks it's time to aim higher. There's always room to improve and hopefully from here we can aim for the top five and eventually podiums. We'll take things step by step but I'm feeling confident for the rest of the season ahead."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "It is getting more frustrating for us as we are clearly very close to achieving a very good result. Twelve laps before the end of today's race we had one car in P2 and one car in P5 with no more pit stops to go. Unfortunately, we were a little bit too aggressive with our strategy. As soon as we understood some cars were doing three stops it was clear there was potential for us to finish on the podium, but we were not expecting the tyre wear to be as high as it was. For Romain the strategy worked; for Kimi it did not. The positives from this weekend are that we continue to show good qualifying and race pace with the E20, and we were capable of fighting for a podium finish with Kimi. Also, it was a very good first full race for Romain. One slow stop and one mistake when fighting with Mark (Webber) for position meaning he ran on the marbles cost him two positions. He recovered very well from this and his pace was very consistent."
Alan Permane, Director of Trackside Operations: "Ten laps before the end of the race, Kimi's tyres were nearing the end of their life and unfortunately he got on the marbles when Sebastian (Vettel) passed. That was the end of his race effectively as he lost ten places over the course of a lap. We'll dissect the data and see if a three stop would have been better for us, but everything before the race suggested a two-stop was the way to go, and this approach benefitted Romain. Without the gamble we took with Kimi we wouldn't have been running in second position so that was the risk we took. I'm happy for Romain to finish his first race of the season. To go from tenth to sixth - racing with the cars of the calibre he was - showed a measured performance so it looks good for the future. We've learn a lot this weekend and hopefully we head to Bahrain with an improved car and better understanding of this year's tyres."
Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 Team Support Leader: "Congratulations to Romain on his first points of the season. It was a shame that Kimi could not get a double points finish, but the speed of the package is fundamentally there. Engine-wise we've had a trouble free weekend, which is always positive at this type of track where the unit gets a workout over the entire rev range. Driveability through the slow corners was good and the top speed was reasonable, which allowed Romain to defend his position in the closing laps from the Williams and get some decent points for the team today."
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