Kimi Raikkonen believes Lotus pace was strong enough for Malaysian GP front row

Kimi Raikkonen believes his Lotus had the potential to be inside the top two in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix, had not made a mistake on his Q3 flying lap at Sepang

Kimi Raikkonen believes Lotus pace was strong enough for Malaysian GP front row

Raikkonen will start from 10th on the grid in Sunday's race after the team was forced to change his car's gearbox, but Raikkonen believes his pace was good enough to contend for pole; on paper, at least.

Asked by AUTOSPORT if he could have been one of the two fastest drivers in qualifying, the winner of this event in 2003 replied: "Yeah for sure. It's [his time] a tenth away from the top three and for sure we lost that easily.

"I got out of shape in two places and lost maybe a tenth or two, and on a perfect lap for sure it could have been two tenths faster, but it's not often that you get everything right like that so..."

The Finn also revealed that he was happier with his car after overnight changes to the floor and repairs to his KERS, which hadn't functioned properly during Friday's practice.

"It worked today, so I mean it didn't work yesterday, we had some issues with KERS and all sorts of things," he explained. "Now it is normal and it's fine. I don't think in Melbourne... it didn't feel something [right]. We ran the same floor, and then we changed the floor yesterday because we had some issues and suddenly it's like it was in testing."

The 2007 world champion was quick on race pace on his return to F1 at Melbourne last week, where he finished seventh, and though he hopes to be able to achieve a similar speed on Sunday, he was cautious about predicting a podium place.

"I don't know," he said. "I'll tell you tomorrow. I mean the cars in front of us, they are fast, but I think we were pretty good in the race in Melbourne in the long runs. Yesterday I had a good speed in the long runs so we will see.

"It depends, a lot can happen in the first two corners, if you can get through clean and with no problems. That's why it would have been nicer to start closer to the front.

"Yesterday in my long run the car was pretty good, even though we didn't have KERS and the car probably wasn't perfect overall. But then the soft I don't know.

"If it is the same like yesterday I think we have a pretty good car."

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