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23 April  2012

Bahran Grand Prix; comments from the Lotus F1 Team

This weekend in Bahrain Lotus did show it means business! We did see both Räikkönen and Grosjean on the podium after the race and I couldn't help myself thinking back to the days when we did regulary see this happening when Andretti and Peterson where driving...

Here are the unedited comments from the Lotus F1 Team:


Friday 20 April 2012

Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean took to the track for the first practice sessions of the fourth round of the 2012 Formula 1 World Championship at the Bahrain International Circuit in hot and dry conditions.

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director - Technical programme notes

In FP1 we evaluated our modified new floor and front wing, exclusively using the medium compound tyre.
FP2 saw heavy fuel running, focusing on the long run performance of the medium and soft compound tyres.

What we learned today
Tyre degradation potential is significant with both tyre compounds.
We are in reasonable shape looking at our degradation and pace.

Kimi Räikkönen, E20-03
Free practice 1: P9, 1:34.609, 18 laps
Free practice 2: P13, 1:35.183, 33 laps

“The soft tyres felt better today but we have to work out which tyre will work best over a stint duration. It’s too early to draw any conclusion and we have to look at the data. At the moment, it doesn’t look like the difference will be night and day. The track conditions were surprisingly good straight away in first practice today, and it didn’t feel like a massive difference in the second session. Hopefully the wind does not get up overnight and blow sand on to the track. Tyre degradation should be interesting. There are things you can do as a driver to minimise this, but you can do more with the set-up of the car. I hope we find a good solution.”

Romain Grosjean, E20-04
Free practice 1: P10, 1:34.847, 20 laps
Free practice 2: P9, 1:34.615, 32 laps

“This season so far we’ve been from quite cool temperatures in Australia to hot weather in Malaysia, reasonably cool in China and then hot again here in Bahrain. This variation makes it difficult for the team to set up the car, as you’re working with different conditions and therefore spend most of the practice sessions adjusting things to match. We now have a much better idea of how the car behaves and hopefully this will lead to a good performance in qualifying tomorrow. I think we can be quite happy with our day’s work; we ran through the full programme as planned and got some decent mileage under our belts. We’ve made a big improvement from where we were this time last week in China; I’m feeling confident on long runs and tomorrow we’ll be pushing hard to get the best single lap pace as well.”

James Allison, Technical Director:
“There’s a pattern emerging over the first four races where it seems that the programme we run on a Friday is different from that run by other teams, so you can’t draw too many conclusions merely from looking at our position on the timing monitors. The key for this weekend’s race will be making the tyres work in the heat and we’re encouraged by our pace using both tyres with both cars on high fuel today. We ran comparisons of our upgrade components and we have plenty of data to make an assessment.”

Saturday 21 April 2012

Romain Grosjean qualified in P7 whilst Kimi Räikkönen was fastest of the non-Q3 participants in P11 during qualifying for tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix. Kimi’s starting position outside the top ten means he has an open choice of starting tyre for the race.

Kimi Räikkönen, E20-03. Q: P11, 1:33.789. FP3: P7, 1:33.976.
“We had the speed today and we could easily have gone through to the final session with another run, but we thought it was worth taking the risk to only do one lap in Q2 and save fresh sets of tyres for the race. Managing the tyres will be a priority tomorrow, so while it was a gamble that didn’t get us through to the final session it will hopefully be a strategy which pays off in the race. We knew it was going to be close and of course we always want to be as high up the grid as possible, but there were two options and we went for the one which we believe will deliver the best result on Sunday. There are no points given out on Saturday, so let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

Romain Grosjean, E20-04. Q: P7, 1:33.008. FP3: P9, 1:34.401.
“It was a good result for the team. We’ve now got through to Q3 at every race weekend this season and that’s always satisfying. I think we can be pleased with how the car is working. If I hadn’t made a small mistake on my flying lap we could maybe be even further up the order. It’s a big contrast here to the conditions we saw in China, and I think we can be proud of how well we’ve adapted to that change as it makes finding the right setup a big challenge. Today we were maybe a bit further behind the leaders than we’d like, but our race pace looks good and it’s another close grid so tomorrow should be very interesting.”

Alan Permane, Director of Trackside Operations:
“It’s going to be a long hot race...”

How do you assess today’s qualifying performance?
“We’re a little bit disappointed with our pace on the soft tyre and we need to assess where we lost out on speed as we didn’t achieve what we thought would be possible with Romain in Q3. Kimi’s pace was comparable to Romain’s and with another set of tyres he could have gone through to Q3.Tomorrow will be all about tyre degradation, so we took the risk not to run Kimi a second time in the Q2 session in order to save tyres. Unfortunately, he was pipped out of the top ten at the last moment. We knew it was a risk not running him again, but the performance penalty of not making Q3 was is not as great as it could have been due to the benefits of the fresh tyres saved for the race.”

How does Kimi’s P11 starting position look when assessing the race strategies?
“It’s better to be starting in P11 with four new sets of tyres available for the race than further up the grid with fewer new sets. Kimi’s in a strong position and there is the potential for a good result. We are capable of running for the entire race with only new tyres and the performance benefits that brings.”

Did you expect better from Romain’s qualifying performance?
“Romain did a great job in Q1 on the prime tyre, but his pace wasn’t quite there with his initial run in Q2 on the soft tyre so we ran him again. In Q3 he made a slight mistake which probably cost around two tenths, and the grid is very close out there.”

What is the difference between the two tyre specifications here?
“We’re seeing around 6-8 tenths, although it appears that some of our rivals are able to extract a bit more pace from the soft tyre than we are. This is not so much of an issue for the race, as we are confident in our long run pace.”

Thoughts for tomorrow?
“It’s going to be a long hot race tomorrow. There’s potential for high tyre degradation and it’s a physical race for the drivers because of the heat. Anything is possible.”

Sunday 22 April 2012

Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean danced their way through the Bahrain desert for a double-podium performance in today’s Bahrain Grand Prix. Kimi took advantage of saved sets of new tyres from qualifying to vault from eleventh to second, whilst Romain scored an equally impressive seventh to third.

Both cars started on the yellow-marked soft Pirelli P-Zero.
Romain changed to a set on mediums on lap 10, then made two further stops for more mediums on laps 25 and 40.
Kimi pitted for a set of softs on lap 11, then fresh sets of mediums on laps 24 and 39.

Drivers’ Championship:
Kimi Räikkönen, P7 (34 Points)
Romain Grosjean, P8 (23 Points)

Constructors’ Championship:
Lotus F1 Team, P3 (57 Points)

Kimi Räikkönen, P2, E20-03
Fastest Lap, 1:37.116 (Lap 41)

“It’s a great result for the team and we deserve it as everyone has been working very hard. To be honest, I’m slightly disappointed we didn’t take the win because we had the pace. I only had one chance to overtake Sebastian (Vettel) and unfortunately I chose the wrong side to try and get past. If I hadn’t made a small mistake at the start and allowed Felipe (Massa) to get through then maybe it would have been a different story, as we spent quite a lot of time fighting with him. At the end of the day, it’s good to have both cars on the podium, especially after last race which didn’t go to plan, but I honestly think we could have taken the victory today.”

Romain Grosjean, P3, E20-04
Fastest Lap, 1:36.928 (Lap 42)

“It’s a great feeling to get my first podium, and I’m really proud of the whole team for doing an incredible job today. We’ve known all season how quick the car can be, but with such a tight field any small mistakes can make a huge difference. Today I think we got everything right, and we’ve finally been able to prove how competitive we are. Last week I was aiming for my first points, this week I was hoping for top five, but here we are on the podium so who knows where we can go from here! We can be very happy with what we’ve achieved today; hopefully we can now head to the Mugello test and find that last bit of to push us right to the top.”

Eric Boullier, Team Principal

"It was a great team performance today and I’m delighted for everyone, both here in the paddock and back at Enstone. The first three races were very frustrating, as we knew we were capable of a result like this. Until now, small details have hindered our performance, so it’s almost a relief to finally show what we are capable of. We took a bit of a gamble on strategy and I’m pleased to say it paid off. Both drivers put in a fantastic performance, and to have two cars not just on the podium but so closely matched all through the race demonstrates what a strong line-up we have. I’m immensely proud of what we’ve achieved today."

Alan Permane, Director of Trackside Operations

“We’ve been saying over the last few races that podium finishes were on their way and today we’ve proved that. To come from eleventh to score a strong second, challenging for the win was an awesome performance from Kimi and shows that the E20 is a superb race car. For Romain to match Kimi’s pace and finish just seven seconds behind him despite having fewer new tyres is a comparably impressive performance. Our race strategy calls today were not as tricky as we’ve seen in other races. We knew we had to make three stops and it became clear as the race went on that our main question was could we beat Sebastian (Vettel)? We gave it a good go. It wasn’t a perfect performance this weekend - we weren’t happy with our performance on the soft tyres in qualifying – but it’s clear we have a car which has the pace to win races. ”