Kimi Raikkonen is cautious over predicting where Lotus will fit in at next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix. The Finn admits that the Lotus E21 isn’t typically suited to low downforce circuits but is eager to break his Monza duck and win there for the first time.
The 33-year-old retired from the last race in Spa, his first retirement in 38 races, thanks to a brake failure. He is eager to score a good result in Italy and keep his title chances alive, but is cautious over predicting how competitive Lotus will be. Despite struggling more than others in low downforce trim, Raikkonen is hopeful that the hard work being put in at Enstone on the Monza-spec car will pay off.
Speaking in a team statement, he explained the challenges of the historic Monza circuit: “Monza always gives a great challenge. To go fast at Monza you need a car that is good aerodynamically, stable over the kerbs, and has a strong engine as we are using full throttle for most of the lap. I think we should be pretty good in those areas, but we won’t know exactly how good until we get out on track.”
Speaking about the set-up of the car and his chances over the weekend he said: “It’s a unique circuit with the high speeds achieved there and everyone will be running the lowest level of downforce we see all year. Low downforce has not always been the best for our car, but the factory has been working hard to get more speed and stability for us with some changes to the car. Let’s wait and see how the car goes on Friday morning and then we’ll have a better idea of what can be achieved.”
Meanwhile team-mate can’t wait to drive on the Monza circuit after missing out in 2012 thanks to his one-race ban. Despite that, he has fond memories of the circuit and is hoping to challenge for a podium finish: “I was on the podium last time I raced at Monza, which was in the GP2 Series in 2011. Wouldn’t it be great to return to the podium this year? That’s what we’re trying for, of course, so let’s see what happens.”
The Frenchman admitted that the hot temperatures and heavy braking zones can be “hard on the tyres.” With the E21′s past history of preserving its tyres well, Grosjean is hoping this will be an advantage for them.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic