|Nick Heidfeld drives during the final qualifying session for the 2012 Monaco GP © Lotus|
Kimi Raikkonen – Barcelona was your second podium in a row for the team; how was it from your perspective?
To be honest, I was a little disappointed. I expected us to be a bit stronger in the race, especially at the beginning. In the last stint we were very good, but it was too late. We were not fast enough to race and that’s why we couldn’t fight for a win. But we showed in the end that we have good speed.
You were flying at the end – was there anything more you could have done to catch Fernando?
Our strategy was to be fast at the end of the race, and we were. When you’re in this situation you wish the race was a little longer, but if it was longer then the other teams would have used different strategies. I was pushing as hard as I could and to catch up almost 20 seconds felt good, but there’s a little bit of a disappointed feeling afterwards, as in just a few more laps you could have been fighting for first place. That’s racing and at least we scored some good points. We’re going in the right direction.
Second and third already; do you feel a win is around the corner?
To be on the podium twice already is good. Unfortunately you’re not always going to get there. If you get the chance, you should take it because it’s not every race that you will be able to fight for that position. Hopefully we can keep doing what we’re doing now and at a certain point I’m sure that things will go exactly right and we’ll get there. So far we’ve made good steps forward and the car has been strong everywhere.
How are your prospects heading to Monaco?
Monaco is a little bit different and it’s hard to say how it will go there. The team has done a good job so far and we still have work to do and things to improve. So far it’s going well and I’m happy with it. OK, we’re not 100% satisfied with it because we are not winning but that’s a very normal thing and I’m pleased for the team.
How do you define the Monaco Grand Prix?
It’s useless to put races in different categories, because all of them are as important to me. However, as a special race there is nothing like Monaco. There is no better feeling than to get things going well in there. To race in the streets of Monte Carlo is really different from everywhere else; a challenge I look forward to every year. It is very, very difficult, almost impossible, to have a clean weekend there.
You won in Monaco in 2005 – how did that feel?
I’ve only managed to get it right once before, you really do get the greatest feeling by winning it. My win in 2005 ranks up there with my most memorable. So to win it again would be just as special.
What’s the challenge behind the wheel?
It’s such a twisty and narrow track. You have to be extra sharp and focussed in every single metre you go fast there. It gives such a good feeling a fast lap in Monaco. Overtaking has been almost impossible there in the past so to really enjoy racing there you have to be at the front.
What about the atmosphere?
Monaco is always special. It’s an interesting place to go to, with a lot of fans and a lot of parties going on – or so I’m told. It’s a completely different atmosphere from anywhere else.
What’s your approach to the weekend?
We have to focus on qualifying. It’s a difficult place to race as it’s so narrow and passing is nearly impossible. I was stuck behind Rubens [Barrichello] in 2009 and we had KERS then, but you just couldn’t get past. We’ll have to see how the tyres perform and if there are any good strategies to be made, but the most important thing is qualifying well. It’s difficult to know how good the car will be in Monaco as you can’t simulate its characteristics, certainly not at any of the circuits we’ve visited so far this year. We can say the E20 has been fast everywhere else so let’s hope it’s also fast at Monaco.
Romain Grosjean – How do you feel after another strong result in Spain?
I think we can be quite happy with the result. Not satisfied, but happy. Both cars in the top four is good for the team and good for the championship. It’s good for me as well to finish another race, and to gain some more experience at the front of the field. We have also shown ourselves to be one of the most consistent teams in the paddock, which is a very good strength. We can still improve our car and that’s what everyone is working hard for.
Did you feel any pressure after missing morning practice and having to go straight into qualifying in Barcelona?
For sure, missing the third practice added a little bit of pressure for qualifying, but then what can you do? That’s racing. Sometimes you have issues but it didn’t cost us much in qualifying; maybe a little bit more in the race – because the set-up could have been slightly better. Not much, but slightly. I think we can learn from that, be happy about the recovery we made and feel optimistic about the future.
How difficult was it racing with a damaged front wing?
My start was okay but not fantastic.into the first corner Sergio [Perez] was on my outside, but then he tried to open through turn two for turn three. Unfortunately I was on his left and he came into my car and I touched his rear wheels with my front wing. He had a puncture and it cost me quite a lot of downforce, which we tried to recover in the pit stop, but never managed completely. It didn’t help especially as we were struggling with the front tyres, so it was worse than it should have been. It was quite a lot better after the pit stop I have to say. The first stint didn’t look fantastic, but then I could play with the brake balance and diff to help the car to suit me a bit better. For sure it was not a dream, but it was okay. It was good enough to keep the Mercedes of Michael [Schumacher] behind me and then go on to pass Nico [Rosberg], and also set the fastest lap so it can’t have been too bad!
How do you feel heading to Monaco with a car that’s we’ve seen has been good this year?
I think Monaco is going to be a fantastic event and it is a special race for me for sure. There are certain to be a lot of French fans, and I’m looking forward to their support. It’s also a very special event in its own right, and the atmosphere is quite crazy! As a driver you have to stay calm and relaxed and try to do your job. It’s a track that doesn’t allow any mistakes. You have to respect it and that is the key there I think. Hopefully we can have another good result.
It’s a very particular and distinct track, how do you think the E20 will perform there?
Well this is what we will discover. I think Monaco is a specialist track and it’s very difficult to say if a car will suit there or not. It’s bumpy on the straights and it’s a very low grip track surface. All these things mean that you never know what to expect. On a more normal racetrack you know more what you are going to have. I hope we will have a pleasant surprise and that the car will suit Monaco’s unique challenges. That would be nice.
How have you been finding this year – your comeback, first points, first podium. It’s building and building…
It’s nice, for sure. That’s why we enjoy Formula 1: for the pressure, for the bad news but sometimes the good results. It is all of these up-and-downs that make it special. Honestly I enjoy the life in Formula 1. I hope I can stay here for a while because this is where I feel quite happy professionally. I hope one day I can have my first victory, then more and then win the world title.
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