Kimi Raikkonen insists he is happier at the Japanese Grand Prix than in recent races despite qualifying his Lotus down the field again.
Raikkonen has not qualified in the top six since the Hungarian GP in late July, and will start ninth at Suzuka. His teammate Romain Grosjean was fourth fastest in qualifying, but Raikkonen played down the single-lap disparity.
“There were a couple of small mistakes, and we lost a few places from that, but the car is pretty much normal,” he said. “I’m much happier than I was at the previous race even though the starting place is the same.”
Despite his poor qualifying form, Raikkonen has charged through to the podium in the last two grands prix and is confident that will continue.
“We haven’t had very good qualifying lately, but we’ve still been up there in the races, so that’s what counts,” he said. “Obviously, I would have like to qualify higher but last time it wasn’t a disaster.”
Grosjean was thrilled to qualify as high as fourth, having suspected in practice that Lotus was off the pace.
“We worked hard last night trying to analyze what was right, what was wrong and what we could do to help that and the feeling was pretty clear,” he said. “The first lap this morning, the car felt very different and very competitive.
“I was very surprised on the hard [tire] because yesterday we were something like two seconds off the pace and today we were one of the quickest.”