Raikkonen admits error caused bad qualifying
YEONGAM, South Korea (AP) — Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen admitted it was his own mistake that caused him to qualify in a lowly ninth place for the Korean Grand Prix.
The Finn was 1.6 seconds off the time of pole-position winner Sebastian Vettel in Saturday’s qualifying session, with his disappointing grid slot spoiling what he expects to be a better race performance on Sunday with the team’s new longer wheelbase.
Raikkonen locked up the tires twice on his final flying lap after making a strong start, and those mistakes cost him five grid spots, based on his earlier practice times.
“I made a mistake so I knew the the lap was gone,” Raikkonen said. “That’s the way it goes sometimes.”
He was outqualified by teammate Romain Grosjean, who set the fourth-fastest time but will be promoted to third due to a grid penalty for Red Bull’s Mark Webber.
It was the second major mistake of the weekend for Raikkonen, who is nursing a chronic back injury which flared at the previous race in Singapore.
In Friday’s opening practice he lost control near the end of the lap and had a heavy side-on collision with a tire barrier.
Raikkonen is moving back to Ferrari next season, and since the final talks which led to that contract signing, he has qualified 11th in Italy, 13th in Singapore and now ninth in Korea.
Despite his pending move, and being locked out of Lotus’ discussion about next year’s car development, Raikkonen insists his motivational levels remain the same.
“The fact that I have signed for another team changes nothing, as I’m not interested in just rolling around,” Raikkonen said.
Lotus’ switch to a longer wheelbase did not yield marked improvement in qualifying, but its improved stability under braking and through corners is expected to improve results on Sunday.
“I expect we will be a bit better tomorrow, better than the last race anyway, where I was struggling with the front-end the whole weekend,” Raikkonen said.