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26 September 2011

Lotus Renault GP comments on Singapore Grand Prix 2011

Free Practice 1, 23 September 2011

Lotus Renault GP began its preparations for this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix with a shortened and interrupted first session of free practice.

On a hot evening at Singapore’s street circuit, there was an initial half-hour delay as marshals worked on kerbs which had become dislodged at Turns 3 and 14, as highlighted by the earlier running of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia. The kerbing was eventually removed, with drivers allowed to cross the white line at those areas. That reduced the session to an hour – and there was a further five-minute delay for a red flag when Heikki Kovalainen had a fire on his front brakes midway through the hour. Then the red flag came out yet again with eight minutes left as the bolt on another kerb was dislodged.

Bruno Senna nonetheless made the most of the available time running on the Pirelli ‘soft’ compound, the harder of the two available this weekend. At one point Bruno used high-vis paint to check the aero flow as the team works on its latest package. He was 16th fastest with a time of 1m 53.765s.

Vitaly was less fortunate as his session was further shortened due to an installation problem on the team’s new tighter bodywork package. He still ended up 18th courtesy of a lap of 1m 54.736s and his car will be ready for FP2.

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton went fastest with a lap of 1m 48.599s in a session that started in twilight and finished in the fully dark conditions that will dominate the rest of the weekend.

FP 2, 23 September 2011

Following the interrupted first session of free practice for the Singapore Grand Prix, Lotus Renault GP got back into its stride in FP2.

After problems with the track shortened FP1, the kerbs were removed from the inside of Turn 13 for the second session. In the heat of the Singapore night, Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov duly made up for lost time as they both ran trouble-free for the full 90 minutes.

Bruno spent the first half of the session on the Pirelli ‘soft’ tyre before switching to the supersofts midway through. His first lap on the softer rubber was his best of the night – 1m 50.241s – and the 12th fastest of the drivers in action. He then put in a long run to complete his day’s work.

Vitaly had to sit out some of the morning’s shortened session due to problems with the new radiator arrangement so the team reverted to the standard-spec for FP2. He also ran with the soft tyre for the first 45 minutes before a run on the supersofts produced his fastest time, 1m 50.399s. He then finished off his day with a long run, though a glitch meant he was unable to benefit from his KERS.

The fastest car overall was the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel, who set a lap of 1m 46.374s round the twists and turns of the artificially-lit street circuit.

FP 3, 24 September 2011

Lotus Renault GP completed its preparations for the Singapore Grand Prix with the third and final session of free practice on another hot evening in the tropics. Though showers started to appear on the radar in the vicinity of the Marina Bay Street Circuit during the session, the track stayed dry.

After the initial installation lap, the two Lotus Renault cars went out for their first run at the 20-minute mark. Both Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov were on the Pirelli ‘soft’ tyre for their first laps of the artificially-lit track.

With 25 minutes remaining the first cars went out to try the supersoft tyre, but Bruno and Vitaly stayed on the soft tyre for their second run. The pair were then among the very last cars to go out for the final run on the supersoft tyres, going out with just five minutes of the session remaining.

Vitaly put in a lap of 1m 50.229s to go 16th fastest while Bruno hit traffic and backed off on his first flying lap before recording a lap of 1m 50.523s on his second to go 17th.

Mark Webber’s Red Bull set the pace at the front with a lap of 1m 46.081s as the F1 field finalised its settings for qualifying, scheduled for 2200 local Singapore time.

Qualifying, 24 September 2011

Lotus Renault GP will have a lot of work to do tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix after a difficult qualifying session at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Despite the session taking place in the middle of the night, it was still hot and humid as air temperatures reached 30°C.

Both Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov went out early in Q1, putting in a three-lap run on the Pirelli soft tyres before switching to the supersofts for the final five-minute push.

Bruno was blocked by traffic on his first flying lap on the supersoft rubber, but he had just enough time to put in another lap. He duly nailed a time of 1m 48.861s to seal 15th place and make it into Q2. Unfortunately Vitaly only had time for one flying lap on the supersofts and, while his mark of 1m 49.835s was good enough to break into the top 17, he was bumped back down to P18 by Bruno’s late lap.

In Q2 Bruno was just heading out for his first run – again on supersoft tyres – when the session was red-flagged for an accident involving Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber. That meant Bruno had only one chance to set a lap when the session resumed for the final five minutes. He set a time of 1m 48.662s to take 15th on the grid.

In the final Q3 shoot-out, Sebastian Vettel took pole position for Red Bull with a lap of 1m 44.381s ahead of team-mate Mark Webber and the McLarens of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.

Race, 25 September 2011

Lotus Renault GP will leave Singapore licking its wounds after a hard Sunday’s work at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Just like the entire weekend, the Singapore Grand Prix took place in hot and humid conditions with an air temperature of 31°C, though the rain held off for the duration of the race. Unfortunately the team’s struggle for pace round the city streets also continued as Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov both finished down the order.

Bruno made a good getaway from P15 on the supersoft tyre, and he forced his way round the outside of Sebastien Buemi’s Toro Rosso to take 14th place. He battled off the cars behind to hold the position on the run to the first pit stops. Unfortunately shortly after his stop on lap 11 he was forced to pit again to replace his front wing, pushing him down to 22nd place.

The race was then interrupted by a safety car period to clear an accident involving Michael Schumacher on lap 29. Like most of the field, Bruno took his second pit stop as the debris was cleared, exiting in P19. He duly set about the cars in front, making it up to P15 when he passed Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus. Bruno’s final stop was on lap 48, coming out 16th, after which he chased down Jaime Alguersuari to regain P15 by the flag.

Vitaly started from P18 on the soft tyre, the harder of the two available compounds. He found himself baulked on the inside at the first corner and he was unable to gain ground. Soon afterwards he lost a position to Alguersuari before he started to move up the order as the supersoft runners started pitting after 10 laps. The Russian was up as high as 13th before he had to cede ground as his tyres ran out of grip.

Vitaly exited his pit stop on lap 17 in 19th place and gained a few places before, like Bruno, he came in for his second pit stop behind the safety car, exiting in P17. He made his final stop on lap 47, coming out 19th. He then forced his way past the Virgin of Jérôme D’Ambrosio to take an eventual 17th place.

At the front Sebastian Vettel took a dominant victory for Red Bull ahead of Jenson Button’s McLaren and Mark Webber in the second Red Bull.