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3 September  2012

Lotus F1 Team comments on the Belgian Grand Prix 2012

Friday, 31 August 2012

Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean took to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in wet conditions today for the first practice sessions ahead of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.

The cold and very wet conditions meant that the team only completed limited running in the morning, when both cars ran the team’s new aerodynamic device. No laps were completed by the team in the afternoon.

Free Practice 2 Summary

0mins : It’s raining, a lot
5mins : Kimi gets into his car
17mins : Kimi gets out of his car
29mins : Romain thinks about putting his helmet on, but decides against it
45mins : At the halfway stage, it’s still raining
51mins : Will Buxton and Natalie Pinkham drop by to cheer us up
68mins : The team fire up Kimi’s engine to keep warm
73mins : Serious debate begins as to the best choice of biscuits with our tea
80mins : Romain’s side of the garage gets a bit chilly, so we fire up his motor too
90mins : An enthralling session of damp media members and biscuit banter concludes

Kimi Räikkönen, E20-05
Free practice 1 : P23, 2:46.580, 9 laps
Free practice 2 : No time set, no laps completed

Kimi :
“There’s not much to say about today. It was too wet to run and there was little point as the forecast is for better conditions over the next two days. I’m looking forward to driving the circuit in the dry. It’s a shame that we haven’t been able to evaluate our new developments as it would have been interesting to see how they perform here. Tomorrow is another day, let’s see what happens.”

Romain Grosjean, E20-04
Free practice 1 : P21, 2:38.701, 9 laps
Free practice 2 : No time set, no laps completed

Romain :
“It’s a big shame we couldn’t do much running today as it was so wet. I was really looking forward to trying the famous ‘Device’ for the first time, but I guess I’ll have to wait. The weather should be better tomorrow, so we’ll have a busy time getting two days of evaluation into one session and then going straight into qualifying. The E20 has been strong at every circuit so far this year, so I’m sure it will be pretty good around this track in any case.”

James Allison, Technical Director :
“The forecast for the next two days is for dry and warmer weather so running today was not very useful in terms of preparing for qualifying or the race. Today’s rain also prevented us from seeing how the ‘Device’ would perform in the expected race conditions. With discretion being the better part of valour we will conduct P3 tomorrow with a conventional aero package rather than attempting to squeeze Friday’s intended evaluation into the precious final practice session. On the plus side we learned today that the cars are working fine and we’re happy to end the day with no damage from running in these difficult conditions.”

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Kimi Räikkönen will start from P3 on the grid with Romain Grosjean in P8 for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. Kimi qualified in fourth position but gains a place thanks to a penalty for Pastor Maldonado. Romain set the ninth fastest time but also gains a place courtesy of a penalty for Mark Webber.

Kimi Räikkönen, E20-05. Q : P4, 1:48.205. FP3 : P2, 1:48.683
“It wasn’t the easiest of qualifying sessions. The car is okay but it doesn’t look like we have the speed that some others have and we were certainly not quick enough for pole today. The race is a different story. On the grid we’re in front of of the guys who are ahead of us in the championship so we’ll try to score more points than them.”

Romain Grosjean, E20-04. Q : P9, 1.48.538 FP3 : P8 1:49.266
“That wasn’t my best qualifying ever and I struggled a little bit. I had traffic in Q1 and I didn’t feel as confident with the car as I would like. You can see how close it was in the top ten so I suffered from not having everything exactly as I wanted, especially on the softer compound. Missing yesterday’s practice because of the weather didn’t help either as any time in the car is always beneficial, especially for a long lap like Spa. I’m sure the car will be good in the race and we should have a good strategy.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director :
“We can still do things from where we start.”

How do you assess today’s qualifying performance ?
“A little disappointing to be honest as we hoped for a bit more than that today. Kimi didn’t quite get a perfect lap and Romain wasn’t happy with the setup of his car. The car looks to have been unusually difficult today, with some inconsistency making it difficult to extract the best lap time. This is unexpected, as previously this season we’ve been able to find a good setup very rapidly when there has been limited running.”

What can be achieved in the race ?
“We’re looking forward to a strong race and there looks to be no weakness in the car or our race strategy. The race will be about tyre management as the loads on the tyres are very high here. If there are no strategic dramas we hope to bring home another good points haul.”

How compromised were preparations after yesterday’s poor weather ?
“We ran much less than normal, but it’s the same situation for everyone. We still have a good idea of what we are going to do in the race. This is our twelfth race of the season so we understand the tyres a lot more and we’re far better off than in the earlier races.”

How do both tyre compounds perform here ?
“We’re happy, with no dramas and no warm-up issues. We had a little graining with the soft tyre this morning and we preferred the harder tyre with high fuel loads. We’ll start with the medium compound and take it from there.”

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Kimi Räikkönen took a strong third position in the Belgian Grand Prix to move him back into fourth position in the Drivers’ Championship after a warm, dry and action packed race at Spa-Francorchamps. Kimi is now just one point off third-placed Mark Webber, whilst the team remains in third in the Constructors’ Championship. Romain Grosjean had a short race, ending with contact heading into the first corner. He was later penalised by the Stewards and is suspended from the next race in Monza, Italy. The team will not appeal this decision and will communicate the name of Romain’s replacement as soon as possible.

Both drivers started on scrubbed medium compound Pirelli tyres
Kimi stopped on laps 11 and 28, both times for new hard compound tyres.
Both stops were sub 3 seconds.

Kimi Räikkönen, P3, E20-05
"I made a pretty okay start, similar to Jenson [Button]’s and I overtook the Sauber. I saw a lot of action in the mirrors but luckily it missed me. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the pace today. My car wasn’t great all weekend and we couldn’t find a competitive setup. On new tyres it was okay, but we had to use a lot of downforce to prevent sliding. That meant we were very slow on the straight. You could see this in my battle with Michael [Schumacher]. Each time I passed him he just went straight back past down the Kemmel straight. My only chance was to go for a gap at Eau Rouge. Luckily it paid off and I managed to stay ahead of him that time. We didn’t have the pace today and it wasn’t an easy race, so P3 was not too bad.”

Romain Grosjean, DNF, E20-04
“When your life is all about racing, not being allowed to attend an event is probably one of the worst experiences you can go through. That said, I do respect the verdict of the Stewards. I got a good start - despite being disturbed by Pastor’s early launch, which I think was the case for everybody at the front - and was heading into the first corner when the rear of my car made contact with the front of Lewis [Hamilton]’s. I honestly thought I was ahead of him and there was enough room for both cars ; I didn’t deliberately try to squeeze him or anything like that. This first corner situation obviously isn’t what anyone would want to happen and thankfully no-one was hurt in the incident. I wish to apologise to the drivers who were involved and to their fans. I can only say that today is part of a process that will make me a better driver."

Eric Boullier, Team Principal
"It’s been a tough day for the team but we fully respect the Stewards’ decision. Romain won’t be driving at Monza but he still has our full support. We’ll announce the name of his replacement a bit later in the week. As far as the race is concerned, unfortunately we didn’t have the pace for Kimi to challenge Jenson [Button] or Sebastian [Vettel]. We had to look closely at the strategy during the race to see if we should switch to one stop, but in the end a podium finish still brings us some good points. Of course, everyone talks about ‘the win’, and this is something we all want. We were not fast enough for it today, so we all need to keep working hard for this goal."

James Allison, Technical Director
“Kimi did a really good job to salvage third position today with a car which really wasn’t quick enough, contrary to all our expectations coming into the event. In actual fact, this has been one of our tougher weekends and we’re thankful that Kimi did his best to limit the damage to our Championship aspirations. Fortunately, Spa can be viewed as sufficiently distinct in its characteristics to mean that we’re not unduly worried about the car’s potential performance heading to the next races.”

Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 Team Support Leader
“Getting a podium here is satisfying considering the challenge of the track, with nearly three quarters of the lap spent at full throttle. We introduced new units this weekend to maximise power on the straights and help overtaking. Wwe needed it today when Kimi made an awesome move to overtake Michal [Schumacher]. It bodes well for Monza though where a similar emphasis is placed on outright top speed.”