• Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Qualifying

Raikkonen focused on crucial start

ESPN Staff
November 3, 2012 « Rosberg hails Mercedes' progress | Mistake cost Schumacher time »
Kimi Raikkonen was 0.3s slower than second-placed Mark Webber in qualifying © Sutton Images

Kimi Raikkonen admits the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be key to his hopes of challenging for a podium on Sunday.

Pastor Maldonado qualified his Williams in third place, between Mark Webber's Red Bull and Raikkonen in fourth. Raikkonen said that overtaking would be difficult at the Yas Marina circuit, so he's looking to gain places on the opening lap to prevent getting held up.

"It's the same story as many of the races, when you lose some places at the start it's bad and when you gain some it's good," Raikkonen said. "You don't see a lot of overtaking even this year when you have the DRS, so we try to gain a place if we can but we just have to make a good start."

Raikkonen endured a frustrating race stuck behind Felipe Massa in India, and he believes he has the pace to challenge Red Bull on Sunday as long as he is able to follow one early on.

"We had the speed last time as lap time but not in the straight line and it hasn't changed anywhere. Like I said if we have the speed and we can put ourselves at the start behind the cars that have similar speed we can follow and try to do something in the pitstops, but if we're stuck behind the slower cars it's difficult to get past.

"In the last race we had the speed to fight in any position lap time wise, but when you're stuck behind another car with our straight-line speed I think here with the straight line you don't see much overtaking. If we get stuck behind the Red Bulls after the start we have a good chance to stay with them and hopefully do something about them during the race, but if we are stuck behind a slower car and it cannot keep up with the others the only chance is either they make a mistake or we try to pass them in the pits - and by then it's too late already to do anything about the guys in front."