Having achieved a double podium at the previous race, both Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean are now eager to secure Lotus' first win of the season...
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Q: It took you four races into your comeback before you achieved a podium - were you surprised at this?
KR: I never had any doubts in myself and it is clear we have a good car so in some ways the podium could have come sooner. We had the car already in the first three races to be up there, but we made some small mistakes and it cost us a lot. I would have been much happier if we had managed to get the victory, but nevertheless it's a good result and the team deserved it for all their hard work. We have been good in every race so far, so hopefully we will be regular visitors to the podium this season.
Q: Are you frustrated not to have taken the win?
KR: I chose the wrong side to make it past Sebastian (Vettel). I didn't make it past and after that, I pretty much knew that was it. Of course, I wanted to win. I would have been much happier with myself after the race.
Q: You did not attend the Mugello test - is this an issue for you?
KR: We didn't have any major new parts to test and we don't race at Mugello so I was not crying when it was decided that I wouldn't test. I know the track well but there was no need for me to drive. I am here to race and that is what I will do in Barcelona.
Q: You must have completed a lot of laps of the Circuit de Catalunya over the years; what are your thoughts of the track?
KR: I have tested there very many times. It's a challenging circuit - great fun with a good car, but not that great with a not so good car. Usually a car going well in Barcelona, goes well everywhere. We had a good car there for the second pre-season test even if the car wasn't quite together for the first one.The car has improved and I feel more comfortable in it.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Pirelli tyres and the strategies needed for the best results?
KR: No matter what the tyres you always have to make a strategy to suit them best. The tyres are fine for me. For the strategy I work with my engineers and we make the best choices we can. Sometimes we get it right, like in Bahrain. Sometimes we get very close, like in Shanghai. After the race in China and after the qualifying in Bahrain, people probably started thinking that we are idiots and cannot do anything right. But we showed in the race why we did what we did. It was close already in China and this time our strategy paid back very nicely for us. It's all part of racing and the same for everyone.
Q: Are you looking forward to racing in Europe again?
KR: I really like racing in Europe. We don't have to travel too far and all the energy is saved for the weekend itself. Traditionally the real season starts while coming back to Europe. For me it's just great.
Q: What do you think can be achieved in the Spanish Grand Prix?
KR: I expect Lotus to be very competitive at Barcelona. It's going to be very, very close between the top teams. This is the only circuit where the teams have already tested with the new cars, and the set up is crucial as the track changes with the wind and temperature. All the teams have updates for the first European race, which makes it even more interesting and even tighter at the top.
Q: You have some good memories of the Spanish Grand Prix?
KR: Yes, I have won there twice, and there's nothing better than winning in any Grand Prix. Those two wins are my only podiums in the event.
Q: Four races completed; what do you want to achieve from the next four?
KR: Let's see what happens. As I've said, the car feels good everywhere we've been so far. I am here to race and I race to win. That is the target for me and the team. We want to win Grands Prix. We have a good car and we saw in Bahrain it is good enough to win. That's the target.
Q: The Circuit de Catalunya is a track the team know well...
RG: We know the track well from testing in the winter, it's an even track on its handling requirements from the car, and as we head back to Europe it will be a good benchmark for the rest of the European campaign. Everyone knows Barcelona very well because of testing. The first sector is pretty fast with the first four corners, then a slow final sector between turns 10-15. Out of turn 15 you need a good rear end of the car with strong traction. It's important not to overheat your rear tyres and degradation will be key in Barcelona, as when you reach high degradation on your tyres you are nowhere on lap time. Tyre management will be the key for a good performance in the race. Let's see what the temperatures are like. If it's as hot as Bahrain, the E20 should work well...
Q: How much more developed is the car from the pre season tests in Barcelona?
RG: In the test we attended we were P1 after the four days so hopefully we will be there again! Every team is working very hard to develop their cars. We have a good understanding of the E20 after the Mugello test and we hope to bring some new parts to Spain too. It's always a battle to keep ahead in the race to get faster. As we have seen this season, the competition is very close, and a small improvement can make a huge difference.
Q: Any particular challenges you expect from the weekend?
RG: In Barcelona it will be important to qualify well, and it will be much harder to overtake than Bahrain. Qualifying is an area where we can still improve a little bit ourselves, we have some ideas of how to improve, and hopefully we'll get on to the front row.
Q: How difficult to understand and how critical for performance are the tyres this season?
RG: The difference between compounds is a little bit bigger than it was before. We have seen that it's really difficult on the strategy side to get the best results. You have to strike a balance between taking sufficient risks to beat your opposition but not so much that you encounter difficulties; equally you lose out from being too conservative. You can gain a lot of time from an aggressive strategy, but you can lose a lot of time from an aggressive strategy. Barcelona is the hard and soft tyre allocation. Let's see how it goes, but I think both compounds work very well on our car. It will be harder for qualifying as the lap time difference between the two compounds will be bigger so maybe we will have to use the soft tyre from Q1 onwards.
Q: After a difficult first two races you said that your season starts in Shanghai. Points there and a podium in Bahrain were the result. What can happen next in Barcelona?
RG: We will have to see what we can pull out of the hat! We still need to build step by step. The two last races have been really good, both for the team and for myself. I will give my best in Barcelona and the goal for the next races is to get as far up the driver standings as I can. I still have a lot of things to learn, I've only completed four Grand Prix as a full time driver for the season. It's not too much experience but every Grand Prix I finish is a fantastic experience for me. For sure the podium in Bahrain gives me confidence for Barcelona.
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