Raikkonen enjoys strong Indian GP debut

Oct 27, 2012

Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen tried out his second new Formula One circuit in the space of two weeks on Friday and declared the unfamiliar Indian track was to his liking.

The Finn was fifth fastest in the day's second session, after posting the 10th best time in the morning.

"The circuit is nice. For me it was easier to learn than the Korean track; it's not as technical but it's good," said the 2007 world champion, who made his F1 comeback this year after two seasons out.

South Korea's Yeongam track, followed by the Buddh International Circuit this weekend, were two of three unfamiliar layouts he must face this year. The other is the new Austin circuit in Texas next month.

Lotus F1 Formula One driver Raikkonen stands in his team garage during the second practice session of the Japanese F1 Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit. Reuters

Lotus F1 Formula One driver Raikkonen stands in his team garage during the second practice session of the Japanese F1 Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit. Reuters

"I went out first time today, I didn't really walk around the circuit yesterday," said the Finn, referring to the usual track inspection.

"It's always nice to come to some new place because I've done it for many years and you end up going to the same places every year, so it's just nice when you get some new place and new circuits," added Raikkonen, who is third in the championship.

His French team mate Romain Grosjean, who has also not raced in India before, had a tougher first day.

"It's been very hard to set up the car as the track has been evolving a lot through the day, from zero grip in the morning to much better in the afternoon," he said.

"There are a few blind corners, and some quick places where you don't want to make mistakes either," said Grosjean, who spun at the challenging turn 10 complex. "Hopefully, we'll find the car we want for qualifying and get what we want tomorrow."

Lotus enjoyed a good first half of the season with a string of podium finishes, but the team has fallen behind its rivals since the summer break.

Even though Red Bull and Ferrari look to be too far ahead, Raikkonen was still optimistic that the team could perform strongly this weekend.

"Of course I hope that we are faster than McLaren. Our car was working well, especially on soft tyres but with the hard tyres it was more difficult to find grip," said the 33-year-old.

"We can still improve on one lap but I think we are not far away from our maximum speed."


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