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17 April 2011

Lotus Renault GP - Chinese Grand Prix 2011

15 April 2011

Nick and Vitaly began their Chinese quest today as free practice got underway at the Shanghai International Circuit.

Alan Permane, Chief Engineer - Technical programme notes

A fairly typical Friday session for us today – running hard tyres in the first practice session, and both hards and softs in the second, some long running with both cars on high fuel.
Very unusual for Nick to have two incidents like that, which put us back a bit but we’ll recover from that tomorrow.
There was a little too much understeer on Vitaly’s car in the morning and oversteer on Nick’s car so we had some set-up work to do on both cars and improved things throughout the day.

What we learned today:

Tyres are performing relatively well, somewhere between the degradation of Melbourne and Malaysia.
Track was dusty and dirty, particularly off line, but we expect it to clear up over the weekend.

Nick Heidfeld, R31-01
Free practice 1: P5, 1:40.987, 5 laps
Free practice 2: P8, 1.38.805, 26 laps

Nick: “Today obviously wasn’t what we wanted, after I spun off in the first session and then again in the second which were both my fault. I hope it’s a good omen because in Malaysia we also didn’t have many laps on the Friday and then we had a good result. Given that I only had five laps in the first session, it was surprising how fast I was, we were both in the top 10. There’s still some more in the car but the gap is a bit bigger than we would have hoped for. As expected, we achieved quicker lap times when using the softs over the hards, and it was good that we managed to use both.”

Vitaly Petrov, R31-04
Free practice 1: P9, 1:41.231, 16 laps
Free practice 2: P9, 1.38.859, 31 laps

Vitaly: “We managed to run the whole way through both sessions, and then we were able to work on some directions for set-up so we’re quite happy with that. I think we need to be happy with today, of course not on the pace and the lap time as we can be quite a bit quicker. What is good is that we don’t have any mechanical problems, we can still continue to work and push hard. The option tyres were a big improvement, as usual, with much more grip.”

16 April 2011

A dramatic qualifying session saw Vitaly qualify in P10 and Nick in P16, after the Russian’s car lost power and halted what could have been a very strong session for the team.

• Vitaly’s car was halted when the air supply to the engine was cut off, causing the engine to lose power. At the moment we believe there is no reason to change the engine.

• Both Nick and Vitaly used one set of hard and soft tyres in Q1. Nick used two sets of softs in Q2, while Vitaly used one set.

Vitaly Petrov, P10, R31-01, 1:35:149
“I am very disappointed with what happened after having just completed a very fast lap which put me in fourth position at the end of Q2. The car lost power so I stopped on the side of the track. The track was getting quicker and my times were up from this morning, things were going very well. Because of the power failure, I couldn’t move off the track and so that was the end of my qualifying. The positive thing is the car was looking fast and I hope I can make up some ground tomorrow from P10 on the grid.”

Nick Heidfeld, P16, R31-04, 1:36.611
“It’s quite frustrating to be starting from P16 because I don’t think it’s a fair reflection of our pace. We were always going to do one run on the soft tyres in Q2, but the red flag made the last few minutes on Q2 very busy. You really needed to be first in the queue at the end of the pit lane because there was not much time to get around and cross the line before the end of the session. I managed to do one final lap, but I was stuck in traffic and I couldn’t get a clean lap. As I said, our race pace is definitely better than our grid position, but starting from P16 is not going to be easy. I think it’s a track where you can overtake so hopefully I can make a good start, like in the previous two races, and fight for points.”

Alan Permane, Chief Engineer: “We know our car is fast off the line…there’s no reason why we can’t bring two cars home in the points”

Alan, first of all, what happened with Vitaly’s car in Q2?
We are still investigating exactly what happened. It’s clear that he lost power and the engine died. We believe the air supply to the engine was cut off. It couldn’t be restarted and the car got stuck in gear, which is why he stopped on the track.

Nick was an unfortunate victim of the red flag – why was he running so late in the session?
Nick’s time from Q1 suggested that it might be difficult for him to make it through to Q3. That’s why we wanted to run right at the end of Q2 to take advantage of the maximum track evolution. As it happened, Vitaly’s car brought out the red flags at exactly the wrong moment, and Nick then got caught up in the traffic in the busy rush at the end of Q2.

Nonetheless, the car has looked quite competitive this weekend. That must give you some encouragement for the race?
I think we can expect to see our pace being relatively better in the race, even compared to Vitaly’s good qualifying pace. We know our car is fast off the line; we’ve got very good straight-line speed and the R31 looks after its tyres well. There’s no reason why we can’t bring two cars home in the points.

What is the situation with tyres for the race?
Our poor qualifying performance leaves us with more tyre options than we would normally have. We’ve effectively saved an extra set of soft tyres on each car, which are available for the race.

17 April 2011

Vitaly scored another couple of points as he finished P9 at the Shanghai International Circuit, while teammate Nick came home in P12.

• Both Vitaly and Nick ran two-stop strategies.
• Vitaly started on softs, took another set of softs on lap 17, and switched to hards on lap 37
• Nick also started on softs, took more softs on lap 18, then finally ran the hards from lap 30

Vitaly Petrov, P9, R31-01
“To be P9 and take two points for the team is still good, given that we did not qualify in high positions. However, we are still a bit disappointed that we did not challenge higher up the order and gain even more points. The strategy was OK, but we must now see where we can improve. We will analyse the data and see what went wrong, and we will try to repeat the results we had in Australia and Malaysia when we reach Turkey.”

Nick Heidfeld, P12, R31-04
“I’m not happy with where I finished, even though I started P16. The start was very poor, but I went aggressive into the first corner and made up a few places. After a few laps I started having problems with the KERS and couldn’t use the full power all the time, which made overtaking and defending quite difficult. I think our pace in the second stint on the soft tyre was not too bad, but it was still hard to attack the cars ahead of me. That’s why we made an early stop for hard tyres in the hope that we could get some clean air and jump the cars ahead of me. Unfortunately Perez and Sutil stopped on the same lap, and it meant I couldn’t really show our pace in the final stint.”

Eric Boullier, Team Principal and Managing Director
“Starting where we did, it was always going to be difficult to repeat the results we have had already this season. In the end, it turned out to be quite a frustrating afternoon for us and we didn’t really make the progress we expected in the race. Part of the reason was that overtaking was not as easy as we thought it would be, even with the DRS. Also, we need to review our strategy because it wasn’t easy to make the calls today and it’s clear you need to switch tyres at exactly the right moment. Still, it’s good to pick up more points with Vitaly and we now have three weeks to regroup before Turkey to make sure we can be fighting closer to the front.”

Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer
“It was a tricky day for us, which wasn’t helped by our poor qualifying yesterday, but ultimately we struggled for pace and both drivers found it quite difficult to overtake. Vitaly didn’t make a great start and he was stuck in traffic during his first stint. At that point we were thinking about whether to do two or three stops, but when he finally found some clean air his pace looked reasonable and we decided it was best to do two stops. However, he struggled for pace on the soft tyres during his middle stint. As for Nick, we chose to run the same tyre strategy as Vitaly, but he struggled with KERS overheating problems, which meant the system could only be used intermittently and made it even more difficult for him to come through the field.”

Ricardo Penteado, LRGP Engine Support Leader, Renault Sport F1
“A long and hard race for the team, with battles on every lap for both drivers – including the last one! We can be pleased to be in the top ten after the difficulties yesterday. Vitaly and Nick gave it everything and both finished up on their starting positions, with Vitaly taking some more valuable points in 9th. Temperatures were significantly higher than yesterday but the R31-RS27 chassis-engine package performed well, although we know that we are capable of finishing higher than 9th and 12th.”