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25 June 2011

Lotus Renault GP - European Grand Prix 2011

24 June 2011, Free Practice 1

Vitaly Petrov, R31-05 Free Practice 1: P2, 1:41.227, 20 laps

Nick Heidfeld, R31-04 Free Practice 1: P5, 1:41.580, 23 laps

Vitaly Petrov led the way for Lotus Renault GP on a cloudy first session of free practice for the European Grand Prix on the streets of Valencia.

Using chassis R31-05, Vitaly went second fastest of the day so far as he worked through the standard programme for the first running of the weekend. His time of 1m 41.227s was just over eight-tenths slower than the fastest set today, showing there is still speed to be found.

Nick, in chassis R31-04 set the fifth fastest time. Neither driver encountered any problems today and set-up work found improvements in their cars through the session.

This is the first race weekend where Pirelli’s new medium compound tyre will be faced, so a lot of time today is being spent understanding this tyre on the rapidly evolving Valencia street circuit.

Fastest today was Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber with a time of 1m 40.403s.

Tyre evaluation will be the focus of this afternoon’s 90 minute practice as the drivers the medium and soft compound Pirellis. As with other street course, the track surface is always ‘green’ – dusty, dirty and not rubbered in - for the first session because it is so rarely used but it improves markedly over the course of the weekend.

FP2

Nick Heidfeld, R31-04
Free Practice 1: P5, 1.41.580, 24 laps
Free Practice 2: P9, 1.39.040, 35 laps

Vitaly Petrov, R31-05
Free Practice 1: P2, 1.41.227, 20 laps
Free Practice 2: P10, 1.39.586, 27 laps

Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov followed up their strong FP1 timings with top ten finishes during the second practice session at the European Grand Prix in Valencia today.

Both drivers trialed the Pirelli medium and soft compounds. Whilst on the soft compound, Nick managed to secure a best time of 1.39.040 leaving him in P9 whilst Vitaly clocked in with a 1.39.586 leaving him one place behind in P10.

Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, set the fastest time of the afternoon with a 1.37.968. Lewis Hamilton finished in P2 whilst Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was third fastest.

25 June 2011, FP 3

Vitaly Petrov, R31-05
P9, 1:38.822, 17 laps

Nick Heidfeld, R31-04
P10, 1:39.113, 15 laps

Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov completed their preparations for the European Grand Prix at Valencia with a productive third session of free practice ahead of this afternoon’s hour of qualifying.

Nick was the fastest car on track early in the session as he and Vitaly evaluated the relative tyre performance of Pirelli’s medium and soft compound P Zeros.

On the softs in the latter part of the session, Nick set a 1m 39.113s to end the session as tenth fastest, whilst Vitaly set a late 1m 38.822s to pip Nick to ninth spot.

Sebastian Vettel topped the times with a 1m 37.258s to head Ferrari duo Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

Qualifying

Nick Heidfeld, R31-04
Qualifying: P9, 1:38.781, 17 laps

Vitaly Petrov, R31-05
Qualifying: P11, 1:39.068, 14 laps

It was a Qualifying session of mixed fortunes for Lotus Renault GP, with Nick finishing in P9 whilst Vitaly just missed out on a place in Q3, finishing in eleventh.

In considerably hotter conditions than were experienced during yesterday’s free practice sessions, Nick managed to secure his place in Q3 despite not posting a time in the final session.

Assuring himself of a place in the top 10 after posting best times of 1.39.877 in Q1 and 1.38.781 in Q2, he did not run in the final session on hearing that Adrian Sutil would not be competing.

Vitaly, meanwhile, posted a time of 1.39.690s in Q1 and then 1.39.068s in Q2, just three hundredths short of Sutil who finished in P10.

Sebastian Vettel secured yet another pole position with a time of 1.36.975s, almost two tenths quicker than his Australian team mate Mark Webber.

After the race

Nick Heidfeld - “new regulations can have a positive impact”

Nick, you’ve competed in Valencia a few times before - how did this race rank alongside the others?
NH: Well, today was a little disappointing given where we both qualified for the race. We managed to have some more fun out there today than we’ve previously had here, and there were a few overtaking manœuvres (a few more than in previous years) so from that point of view it was probably more open.

Tell us about how your race panned out?
NH: Well, what cost us a little bit were our starts. I lost a position to Adrian (Sutil) and then had to fight hard not to lose more. I finished more or less where I had been for the majority of the race (behind Sutil). I managed to overtake him once but then he used DRS to get past me and, unfortunately, I was not able to attack any harder to get by him. To be honest, I did not expect to finish behind a Force India and a Toro Rosso so we need to look at why we were so off the pace.

And overall this weekend?
NH: We pushed hard throughout the weekend, but it’s just not been possible to get the pace out of the car that we wanted. We will need to take a step forward for Silverstone.

Looking ahead to Silverstone, that will be an altogether different proposition…
NH: Yes, it will. Silverstone is a track with a lot of high speed corners, and our car performs well on these types of corners. We will also see how the new regulations affect our car, but I think it will have a positive impact for the team.