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10 April 2011

Lotus Renault GP - Malaysian Grand Prix 2011

8 April 2011

What we learned today?
Both cars encountered problems with their front suspension uprights in the first free practice session. After careful analysis, the team identified a material defect linked to a specific batch of components. For the afternoon session, the team reverted to a different batch and ran without any issues.

Alan Permane, Chief Engineer - Technical programme notes
It was difficult to learn anything today. The issues this morning limited our mileage in both sessions and it’s difficult to draw too many conclusions.
Due to the lack of running, neither driver was able to make much progress with their set-up programmes and we have a lot of work to do to improve the handling.

James Allison, Technical Director
“Both Vitaly and Nick suffered failures under braking in the front uprights early in the first session. As a precaution we stopped running the cars until we had understood the problem. We quickly established that the two failed items had come from the same material batch and that nothing from this batch had run prior to today. It took a little longer to rule out other potential causes but once we were confident that the failures were related to a material problem we released the cars for the second half of afternoon practice where they ran without problem.”

Nick Heidfeld, R31-01
Free practice 1: P7, 1:40.525, 6 laps
Free practice 2: P8, 1:38.570, 16 laps

Nick: “Because of the issues this morning, we didn’t run very much at all today. We therefore had to prioritise what we did in the afternoon and we felt it was best to do a long run on the soft tyres. Although we didn’t do many laps, we got some data and we learned a few things, especially about the high degradation rate of the softs. Considering that we did no real set-up work today, it’s quite encouraging that I was in the top ten in both sessions. We now have to concentrate on making good progress in the final practice session tomorrow morning.”

Vitaly Petrov, R31-03
Free practice 1: P24, 1:47.932, 4 laps
Free practice 2: P13, 1:39.267, 17 laps

Vitaly: “It wasn’t the best day. The problem in the morning was quite a surprise and we decided not to run until late in the afternoon when we had understood things properly. When I did finally get out, the car felt fine, but the time we had was very limited and we didn’t really manage to do any set-up work. As we expected, the degradation rates are very high here, especially for the soft tyres, but they definitely had more grip and were a couple of seconds quicker than the hard. However, tomorrow is a new day and I think we can still have a good weekend.”

9 April 2011

It was a strong recovery from LRGP after the team showed improvements in final practice before both drivers qualified in the top eight.

• Nick qualified on third row (6th) and Vitaly the fourth row (8th)
• Both drivers did one run for Q1, Q2 and Q3, allowing tyres to be preserved for tomorrow’s race
• The two cars ran on option tyres (soft for the whole of qualifying) and times got faster in each of the qualifying sessions

Nick Heidfeld, P6, R31-04, 1:36.124
“I’m very satisfied as I think it’s the maximum we could have achieved, especially looking back at Friday where we didn’t do many laps at all and didn’t have a lot of time to set up the car. It got faster and faster in qualifying today, but I have to say in Q1 I took it easy then I pushed a bit over the limit in Q2 and lost some time there, but in Q3 I found the golden middle and it was a good lap. Of course, I was a lot happier with the traffic here than I was in Australia.”

Vitaly Petrov, P8, R31-03, 1:36.324
“To get in the top ten today is a good result considering the track time we lost yesterday. We worked hard on improving the set-up in final practice and in the end I had quite a good feeling with the car. For the race, anything can happen, but it’s clear that looking after the tyres will be very important because the degradation is very high here. We will also have to watch what happens with the weather because there is a high risk of rain. I don’t mind if it’s wet or dry.”

James Allison, Technical Director: “We can expect lots of pit action tomorrow”

James, sixth and eighth on the grid – surely that was hard to predict this time yesterday?
We certainly had a troubled day yesterday, but there was no reason to believe from yesterday’s running that the car was struggling for pace so it’s very nice to be sixth and eighth on the grid, very nice to have both our cars in the top ten only having had one in Melbourne.

Does today’s result put you in a strong position for tomorrow?
It will do if we make a good start as both drivers are already in points-scoring positions. However, if we want to convert a promising qualifying into something very good then we’re going to have to do well in what is certainly going to be an interesting race, whether that’s with the risk of rain which is more than moderate and also with the fact that there’s going to be a flurry of pit-stopping.

How do you think the tyres will hold up tomorrow, it what is likely to be wet conditions?
That’s one of the things we have less of a feeling for than maybe some of our competitors because of yesterday’s compromised running. However, from what little high fuel running we did manage yesterday, we seemed to be alright for our race pace even with a car balance which was far from satisfactory. However, with the balance we’ve achieved today, we believe the car will run well on its tyres tomorrow.

10 April 2011

LRGP secured its second podium in as many races to give the Enstone team a flying start to the season

• Second podium in a row podium for LRGP
• Both drivers were on three stops: soft, soft, hard, hard
• Vitaly went off track on lap 52, and after his car hit the curb and took off, the steering column mount broke when landing
• LRGP is now placed fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, 26 points ahead of nearest rival.

Nick Heidfeld, P3, R31-04
“I had a great start just like in Australia, and did not expect to make up so many positions. I moved up to P2, making up four places. After that I did my best to follow Sebastian (Vettel) but he was much quicker. Then, I noticed some drops of rain and my tyres were going off but I stayed out. I lost a couple of places at my first pit stop, but it’s clear we had really good pace and we were able to fight with the cars ahead. I got lucky with Fernando (Alonso) having a problem, but it was great fun fighting and getting ahead of Lewis (Hamilton). In the final few laps Mark (Webber) was close behind me but we had the pace to stay ahead. It’s another great result for Lotus Renault GP and it’s clear the team has taken a big step forward this year.”

Vitaly Petrov, DNF, R31-03
“First of all I am happy for the team as we got another podium, so we can consider this a great start to the season for us. It was a strong performance by the team in an unusual race. I made a small mistake which shouldn’t have had the consequences it had. I went wide and the car took off on the curb, landing hard. Both cars should have been in the points today, but the good news is that we clearly have the pace needed to compete this season.”

Eric Boullier, Team Principal and Managing Director
“That was a tough race with a lot of pit stops, a lot of strategy changes and honestly I don’t believe everything was going according to plan for anybody but as a team we reacted very well.I’m pleased of course for Nick but I’m also pleased for the whole team. It’s another great reward for us, especially after the tough start to the weekend. It’s good to be on the podium again, although it is disappointing to have lost one car with less than ten laps to go. There’s no doubt the car is competitive although it is not currently quick enough to be winning races. So, we need to push hard on the development side, but scoring two podiums in a row is definitely very satisfying.”

James Allison, Technical Director
“We thought it was going to be a blizzard of pit stops today, and so it turned out. It was a fantastic performance from the team, slightly lucky to get a podium but even without Alonso’s incident it would have been a very well deserved fourth place. Today’s result is fantastic for all the team here at the track and back in the factory. We’ve recovered from what was a very inauspicious start to the weekend and to have both cars run strongly in the race was great. Our competitiveness over the weekend got stronger and stronger. We’ve got plenty of work to do before China but the car performed well today and we can be pleased with that."

Ricardo Penteado, LRGP Engine Support Leader, Renault Sport F1
“It’s a fantastic result for LRGP to have its second consecutive podium. Congratulations to Nick and the whole team. Today both drivers drove a great race and it was a shame that Vitaly could not give the team the double points finish it deserved. Nick had an amazing start and held off Mark Webber in the closing stages under very heavy pressure. The result, and the 15 points it brings, shows just how well the chassis and the RS27 package is working at the moment. We didn’t have any issues from the engine side; the cooling systems all worked very well despite the high ambient heat and humid conditions we saw today. The KERS system also helped today and we’re pleased with the way everything went.”