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8 May 2011

Lotus Renault GP - Turkish Grand Prix 2011

Friday 6 may 2011

Nick and Vitaly kicked off their Turkish campaigns today as free practice got underway at Istanbul Park Circuit.

What we learned today:

• Nick was able to trial the extreme wets for the first time today - There were no major issues reported.

• By the time we had an opportunity to fit intermediates in P1, the track was too wet to make sensible use of them.

• Following the pattern of the first three races, our car is looking increasingly competitive as the qualifying session approaches and the programmes of the various teams point towards a maximum performance with a low fuel load.

• Based on what we have seen today, we would expect our drivers to earn a place in an increasingly competitive Q3 and then go on to both score good points in the race.

James Allison, Technical Director - Technical programme notes

• Like all the teams, Friday work is focused on race preparation rather than maximising qualifying performance.

• It was tricky to read too much from this morning’s times. The rain ebbed and flowed throughout the session and the pace of the competitors varied accordingly. We were pleased to get through the session unscathed.

• The afternoon session was a more regular affair. We appear to be more or less where we have been on a Friday in the first three races of the season.

• We ran our new tyres early in the session and ran relatively long stints on heavy fuel in the second half of the session

Nick Heidfeld, R31-01
Free practice 1: P4, 1:40.338, 9 laps
Free practice 2: P13, 1:28.475, 35 laps

Nick: “It was good to finally get an experience of the wet conditions by using the extreme wet tyres, because I haven’t used them before in testing properly. That went quite well I have to say. We didn’t want to destroy them – as we hadn’t tested them before, we didn’t know how long they would survive and the forecast was still not clear for Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately we didn’t get into a position to be able to drive the intermediates. Then, as the second session was completely dry we were able to completely focus on our programme, which was to get a long run in towards the end, whilst having a high fuel load.”

Vitaly Petrov, R31-03
Free practice 1: P5, 1:40.401, 10 laps
Free practice 2: P7, 1:27.517, 37 laps

Vitaly: “It was a bit difficult today with the weather conditions. We didn’t use inter tyres in the first session which was a pity. We wanted to save tyres, which is why we only had 10 laps. In P2 we knew it would stay dry. We need to be happy with today. As expected, we achieved quicker lap times and there’s still some more in the car. Judging by our performance in P2, I think there are encouraging signs ahead for the rest of the weekend.”

Saturday 7 May 2011

After a challenging P3 session, LRGP improved throughout Qualifying allowing Vitaly and Nick to finish in P7 and P9 respectively.

• P7 and P9 grid positions are on the clean side of the track, which could allow for a strong start tomorrow.

• Vitaly Q1: new hard, new soft, Q2: scrubbed hard, new soft, Q3: new soft, new soft.

• Nick Q1: new hard, new soft, Q2: new soft, new soft, Q3: new soft

Vitaly Petrov, P7, R31-03, 1:26.296
“I’m not fully satisfied with where I qualified today because we’re capable of finishing even higher than seventh on the grid. However, for both of us to secure top 10 positions should be seen as a positive thing and it is good that we don’t have any mechanical problems. We can still continue to work and push hard to make sure we can be fighting closer to the front of the grid tomorrow.”

Nick Heidfeld, P9, R31-04, 1:26.659
“It’s not too bad to be in P9 – I struggled earlier in the day and in Q2 I found the balance and grip from the tyres that I was looking for. It could have been even better as I had some understeer problems with the front tyres but it was ok. I feel more confident going into tomorrow, we know that with the DRS we can overtake better, we’ve seen that already so we can finish higher than our grid position. Usually the car is better on race pace, and we know we can get good starts so gain some strong positions.”

James Allison, Technical Director: “I think both drivers did a good job in bullying their cars as far up the grid as possible today”

James, P7 and P9 – how pleased are you with the performance of the cars today?
I’m pleased; it’s a starting point that should allow us to have a good race tomorrow.

Given the speed off the mark we’ve seen from both cars in a couple of races this season, how can we expect tomorrow’s race to go?
Tomorrow’s going to be a very busy race. We’ve seen some races with two stops, other which are borderline three. I think tomorrow will be busier than that – you only have to look at the attempts made by all the teams to conserve race tyres during qualifying to see this. Both drivers start on the clean side of the grid and with a good getaway we hope we can take the race to some of the cars ahead of us.

What challenges have the engineers faced over the last couple of days?_ Yesterday the challenge was to squeeze our race preparation into a single session as a result of rain in the first session. Today the challenge has been to negotiate our way into an increasingly competitive Q3 session before bullying our way as far up the grid as possible while keeping the tyres in good shape for the race. I think both drivers and car crews did a good job in achieving that today.


Sunday 8 May 2011

In a race packed full of pit stops, LRGP advanced on yesterday’s qualifying positions by finishing in P7 (Nick) and P8 (Vitaly). After scoring another 10 valuable points, Lotus Renault GP remains fourth in the Constructors Championship.

• Both Nick and Vitaly adopted a four-stop strategy: soft / hard / hard / hard / soft
• Vitaly stopped on laps 8, 19, 34, and 45. Nick stopped on laps 10, 22, 36 and 46.
• Nick and Vitaly are now on equal points in the Drivers Championship – 21 points.

Vitaly Petrov, P8, R31-04
“It was an interesting race, and strategically it was challenging for all the teams. I think what really affected my position today was the collision with Michael early in the race. He hit my car and then I was stuck behind some slower drivers after the first pit stop. If this had not happened, my race would have been much stronger and I could have pulled away. However, I was pleased to overtake Sebastien (Buemi) at the end, which took me back into eighth. We must be positive, we have both cars in the points and it’s another ten points for the team.”

Nick Heidfeld, P7, R31-03
"It’s always good to score points, but I think I could have finished even higher up today, even though I started in P9. I am not totally happy with the race -I was stuck in traffic for quite a while, overtaking was difficult and Vitaly made contact with me- but my pace was good, especially at the end of the race when the car was light on the soft tyres. I also think our strategy was the right one. Overall, to finish in P7 and take six points for the team is good, given that I did not qualify in a higher position.”

Eric Boullier, Team Principal and Managing Director
“Today, going for four pit stops was the right decision. There was no spectacular start from our cars but we pitted at the right time to ensure both drivers finished in the points. We definitely need to work harder on Fridays to understand the tyre degradation, which will allow us to know where we stand for the rest of the weekend. From here, we will push even more as the result today was not as strong as it could have been – we will be striving to get back into the top six. ”

James Allison, Technical Director
“Today we opted for a four stop rather than a three stop race, and the balance of the evidence suggests that was the right choice. In all honesty, I feel satisfied rather than happy with today’s performance - satisfied because our finishing places in the race were stronger than our qualifying positions, but not happy because the gap between us and the cars that finished on the podium was too large. We have more improvements planned for the car and we will be aiming for top six finish or better in the coming races at Barcelona and Monaco.”

Riccardo Penteado, LRGP Engine Support Leader, Renault Sport F1
“Another double points finish for Lotus Renault GP, which after the issues of the last race is a good result. We planned an aggressive strategy to try and catch Jenson (Button) at the end and fuel consumption was very high, even higher than in qualifying, so we were very tight on fuel with both cars. It almost worked and Nick wasn’t far away – just over a second. It was a shame that we got caught in the traffic and could not get ahead but the most important thing is that we got another 10 points and consolidated our position in the championship.”