• Korean Grand Prix - Qualifying

Raikkonen insists Lotus closer to pace

ESPN Staff
October 13, 2012 « Alonso not worried by Red Bull pace | Grosjean puzzled by tyre issues »
Kimi Raikkonen was only 0.383s off pole position at Yeongam © Sutton Images
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Kimi Raikkonen says Lotus is closer to the front-running pace after qualifying in fifth place for the Korean Grand Prix.

Running new Coanda-effect exhausts, Raikkonen was able to set a time within 0.4s of Mark Webber's pole position time. With race pace on Friday looking competitive compared to the Red Bulls, Raikkonen said the improved car would allow him to fight to at the very least maintain his position and potentially make progress at the front.

"It's good for us to be more higher up - we could have been in a similar position last week but I spun - so it helps us," Raikkonen said. "It should make us a bit better in the race; a bit safer position and a better position to start but the good thing I think is that in lap time we are bit closer to the front so in that way we should have better chances in the race because before we've been further up but not had the lap time itself so we knew it was going to be very difficult. Now I think we have better chances to score better positions."

Raikkonen added that the new exhausts did have their downsides and that there was more to come from them, but said it was tough to quantify the difference between the two solutions.

"Today was just better compared to yesterday overall, but it hasn't changed the exhaust since yesterday. We've had some gains but we've had some losses; it's not only gaining with the exhaust.

"It's difficult to say (if the car feels different). I've never been here before, I've only driven the exhaust all weekend - we didn't try any changes - so it's very difficult to say. It feels OK. We are a bit slow in a straight line because you lose a bit of horsepower with those things, so it's not only that you gain everything; you lose a bit. I think as we put it through more races and more practices we'll probably learn something more and we can improve it. It's maybe not as good as we expected in a perfect situation but it's a good start."