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Eric Boullier hoping for a ‘standard’ F1 weekend soon for Lotus

Kimi Raikkonen leads his Lotus through the rain at Sepang. Photo: Andrew Ferraro

Kimi Raikkonen leads his Lotus through the rain at Sepang. Photo: Andrew Ferraro

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Kimi Räikkönen came home fifth as Hethel-backed Lotus produced a decent showing in a rain-affected Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Finn, who had to swallow a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, made steady progress while also clocking the fastest lap of the day on what was a drying Sepang track.

“It was a bit difficult today,” said the 2007 world champion. “It was my first time on the wet weather Pirellis and I didn’t know how the intermediate or wet tyres would react – I had only completed one installation lap on them before.

“I just tried to stay on the road and push as much as I felt comfortable with. When I changed to the dry tyres it took a couple of laps to get heat into them, and my visor was pretty dirty so seeing the dry line was difficult. Once I found my way I could push much harder.

“It was difficult to have another mixed weather weekend. The conditions changed a lot today so it was always a case of adapting and looking for grip. Overall, we seemed to have a pretty strong package again this weekend, so I’m relatively happy. A fifth today was OK, but we’re always looking for better results.”

After a flying start, Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean got too close to Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes in the poor visibility before eventually spinning off the track on lap four.

Following on from lasting just one lap in the season-opener at Melbourne after a tangle with Pastor Maldonado, the Frenchman is yet to really get his teeth into a grand prix since the GP2 champion’s return to the grid.

“It felt like a perfect start off the line; I got a good jump on the others and with the Kers I managed to weave through the cars in front without touching anybody,” said Grosjean.

“Coming out of the first two corners I was up to third, which was an amazing feeling. In turn four Mark (Webber) managed to carry a bit more speed through the corner and edged in front. Michael (Schumacher) tried to follow him through but there was not enough space so we touched and I spun.

“From there things became really tough. The visibility was so poor I couldn’t see anything in front of me. We made the decision to stay out on the intermediate tyres but the rain got heavier and there was far too much water. I had massive aquaplaning into turn five and unfortunately ended up going backwards into the gravel.”

Lotus sit fifth in the constructors’ championships, behind Sauber thanks to Sergio Perez’s monumental effort if Malaysia.

“Today’s result is a bit frustrating,” added Lotus team principal Eric Boullier. “While it’s good to have a car finish in the top five after starting from tenth in conditions which were very tricky, we can’t help thinking that we could have achieved more from this race.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing for Romain as it’s another DNF for him in the early laps of the race. He had never driven in the rain with these intermediate tyres so we have to take that into account. He had a very good start off the line, but the contact with Michael ruined his race.

“But we recovered well from our position and on the plus side, the car looked strong again. Kimi had a flawless race. He was very consistent in all conditions and his best lap shows what could have been without his grid penalty. I’m sure when we have a ‘standard’ weekend – without bad weather, penalty or interruption – we will do very well.”

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