“#Wheresmypodium” tweeted the Lotus F1 Team throughout the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend. Having come close in each of the opening rounds, the obvious pace of the Lotus E20 and the unquestionable skills of Kimi Raikkonen and young hotshoe Romain Grosjean, it was only a matter of time. Finally, in the Middle East, it came together. It was the first time two Lotus drivers have been on the F1 podium together since Carlos Reutemann and Mario Andretti followed Patrick Depailler’s Liger home at Jarama, Spain, in April 1979.
Kimi qualified 11th, and in missing out on the Q3 cut-off he saved a set of Pirellis which would come in handy. Romain qualified seventh. The start was scintillating from both Lotus drivers. Grosjean shot up to third, Raikkonen up to sixth. Then they set about picking off more rivals, and emerged from the pitstops second and third respectively. On soft tyres, Kimi was the faster of the pair and was allowed to overtake on Lap 24. Let of the leash, he began hunting down race leader Sebastian Vettel. Having reigned him in with DRS, and had a stab at the end of the straight, Seb and Kimi pitted together on Lap 39, the German maintaining his lead and slowly pulling away.
The Lotus is kinder to its tyres than the Red Bull but on this occasion Vettel’s RB8 was able to keep a gap to the fired-up Finn. They crossed the finish line a few seconds apart, with Romain taking his first F1 podium further down the road. Lotus now leaps from sixth to third in the Constructors’ Championship, sandwiched between McLaren and Ferrari.
Kimi Raikkonen: “It’s a bit disappointing that I didn’t manage to win, but at least we got a podium with both cars. We’ve not been 100 percent happy with how the weekends have been so far, but finally we’ve got some proper results, so it’s an important step. I got one chance on Sebastian but I chose the wrong side under braking. In the end, there were no other chances to try. I don’t like to finish second, but I’m pretty happy to be up here.”
Romain Grosjean: “I’m delighted and very proud of the team. We knew we had a quick car but at the beginning I think we were surprised by how quick we were. Our car is very competitive in what is a tight season so far. I think we can be very happy with what we did. Last week I earned my first points, this week I get my first podium. I’m looking forward to what comes next.”