• United States Grand Prix - Qualifying

'Better than expected' qualifying for Raikkonen

ESPN Staff
November 17, 2012 « Webber avoids grid penalty | Grosjean philosophical over penalty »
Kimi Raikkonen believes he could challenge Red Bull and McLaren in the race © Sutton Images

Kimi Raikkonen said qualifying was "better than I expected" after he secured fourth place on the grid for the United States Grand Prix.

Although he only qualified fifth, Raikkonen will start fourth after team-mate Romain Grosjean - originally fourth - received a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change. Having appeared off the pace during Friday practice, Raikkonen said he was pleasantly surprised by the improvement Lotus had shown and believes he could challenge for victory once again on Sunday.

"It's probably better than I expected," Raikkonen said. "With all the difficulties during the practices it finally got a bit more hot and the tyres started to work so it helped us.

"Usually we've been more strong during the race, so hopefully it should be a bit more warmer tomorrow and I think it should be better for us. Because the weather seems to come more better for us hopefully it's another thing tomorrow that just improves our car and we can fight with [Red Bull and McLaren]."

Raikkonen admitted, however, that starting on the left hand side of the grid could be a hindrance to him at the start.

"You would think because it's been very slippery anyhow and then the racing line goes more or less over the right hand side so you expect that it's going to be very slippery on the left but I don't know. We'll wait and see what happens."

Asked if the season was ending too soon as Lotus appears more competitive once again, Raikkonen said he was happy with the progress being made and hoped it would help the team in 2013.

"For sure we had a little difficult time after the summer break, we probably lost a little bit compared to the others, and we didn't improve enough. Since we got the new exhaust it definitely improved our situation and we've just been able to improve the car little by little and getting things a bit more together over the race weekend so that's been helping.

"For sure if we could start the season now it would be a bit easier than the first races to get all the things right because we were still learning about things and we didn't have many test days anyhow. I expect that it should be more easy next year to start with but you still need to have a good car to start with and if you have that I think we can have a solid start and go from there."