Kimi Raikkonen currently sits seventh in the drivers’ championship, but was left to rue lost points in the Chinese Grand Prix after failing to pass Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo.
Three point-scoring finishes to start the 2019 season place Raikkonen as best of the rest behind the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull drivers following his move to Alfa Romeo. In China, a long first stint allowed Raikkonen to close up on Perez in eighth and Ricciardo in seventh on fresher tires, but after a brief attack he dropped back in the closing laps.
“In the race, the car was good,” Raikkonen said. “(In qualifying) we didn’t end up where we hoping for, and I think we already understood some things. But I think that if we can get the qualifying better we can have a much more free race, as we have the speed to be closer to the front.
“The car was running well and we could pass people, but unfortunately in the end we lost front end grip after the tires got too cold. But we had the speed to score more points.”
Raikkonen suffered suspected damage to his car in the final 10 laps of the race, hampering his progress, but the Finn cited an inability to get the tires working again for a late attack on Perez as the bigger issue.
“It was not perfect, for sure,” he said. “I think we still had very good tires in the end, because there wasn’t a big wear out on the front or rear tires, but they just got too cold and switched off. I tried to work harder and harder to keep the temperatures, but it never came back.
“I had to slow down then, and it was a shame, because I was looking after the tires to attack in the end, but obviously that didn’t happen. Still, we took some points, the car was working very well, much better than (in qualifying), so we just to tidy up things more and try to get up there next time.”
China was the first time Raikkonen had failed to reach Q3 this season, and he said performances in qualifying need to be Alfa Romeo’s focus ahead of Azerbaijan.
“The car was going well, there was some good overtaking, I’m happy with that, but we need to tidy up things for qualifying,” he said. “If we can start from where the race speed is, we should have much easier races.”