Kimi Raikkonen was within ten laps of a podium finish today in Shanghai before the wear on his last set of Pirelli tyres became so great that he lost ten places over the course of a couple of laps and finished down in fourteenth place.
The Finn rightly blamed the choice of tyre strategy on his poor result, but was comforted by the fact that the pace of his Lotus was competitive for most of the race.
“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,” said Raikkonen. “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.”
In constrast, team-mate Romain Grosjean did manage to score some points. The Frenchman brought his car home in sixth place as, for the first time in 2012, he managed to complete more than three racing laps.
“It was a very good race, I really enjoyed it,” said Grosjean. “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.”
Lotus team prinicpal Eric Boullier was again frustrated that the team could not finish in the positions that their performance seemed to deserve. “It is getting more frustrating for us as we are clearly very close to achieving a very good result,” he said. “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.”