Raikkonen hopeful of strong result in China

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Kimi Raikkonen is hopeful of a strong result at the Chinese Grand Prix next weekend following a good start to the 2013 Formula One season.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t go well there,” explained Raikkonen in a team statement. “We have some new parts for the E21 and the last upgrades we had seemed to help so it will be interesting to see what will happen if it doesn’t rain.”

Raikkonen has a good record in China, and he spoke of his wish to extend this.

“I have been first, second and third in Shanghai in previous years so it would be nice to add to that list.”

However, the Finn did admit that until he had some lap time in the E21 at the Shanghai International Circuit, it would be hard to make any predictions.

“It’s always difficult to predict what will happen in the next race as we haven’t been there yet with this car. Every car reacts differently to each circuit.

“If we get the car working as well as we did on Friday at Sepang, we should do well in Shanghai too.”

Raikkonen won the opening race of the season in Australia, but he had a difficult weekend in Malaysia that saw him finish P7. Lotus do appear to be working well with the new Pirelli tires, and the Iceman will be hopeful of a good showing in China to underline his championship credentials.

Teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens earn top-fives at Barber

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For the first time this season, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcilffe and Robert Wickens earned top-five finishes in the same race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Hinchcliffe finished third in the Grand Prix of Alabama; Wickens was one spot behind in fourth.

Wickens had one previous podium at Phoenix with his second-place finish. Hinchcliffe’s best result was a fourth in the season-opener in St Petersburg, Fla., so this marked his first podium of the year.

Both drivers needed a little help from the rain.

As precipitation began to fall in the closing stages of the race, Hinchliffe asked his team on a couple of occasions if it was wet enough to pit for rain tires. He was told twice to stay out and was then called into to the pits at the optimal time.

“Solid weekend for us after coming here before – not a great test,” Hinchcliffe said. “Two cars in the top 10 qualifying; two cars, top five in the race. Pretty proud of these boys, everybody on the Arrow car.”

The rain helped Wickens’ race strategy come together.

“I was having to save a lot of fuel in that second stint,” Wickens said. “So once (Scott) Dixon starting getting close to me I was thinking ‘Oh God, I’m going to actually have to give this one up.’ And then the rain came, so the fuel mileage happened naturally. So, yeah, it saved us a bit.”

And while both were pleased with their top-five finishes, drivers are rarely satisfied unless they are standing on the top step of the podium.

Wickens’ top-five finish was hard-fought. After winning the pole at St Petersburg and starting sixth at Phoenix, he failed to advance to the Fast 6 in back-to-back races at Long Beach and Barber – qualifying 10th both times.

“I was a little gutted that we came out in a big bunch of traffic,” Wickens continued. “It made the race fun, but a little frustrating as well because of people off sequence and whatnot. We lost a lot of track position there. Both of us could have been fighting for higher steps on the podium, but we need to do a little better job in qualifying. “