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25 November 2013

Lotus F1 Team comments on the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix

Friday, 22 November 2013

Heikki Kovalainen ended a wet first day of practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix with the fourth fastest time at Interlagos. Romain Grosjean was tenth fastest on a day which started wet and became wetter with rainfall over the Brazilian track in São Paulo.

Technical programme notes
Pirelli’s Intermediate (green) and Wet (blue) tyres were used in the morning and afternoon sessions.
The morning session was damp, the afternoon was considerably wetter with ongoing rain and increased standing water.

What we learned today:
Wet set-up was validated through a significant number of laps in anticipation of similar conditions for qualifying tomorrow.

Heikki Kovalainen, E21-05
Free practice 1: P9, 1:26.133, 31 laps
Free practice 2: P4, 1:28.129, 13 laps
Heikki: “Obviously, it was challenging conditions but it was good for me to get the experience in the wet weather. There were no big surprises and the car was behaving quite well. It was a little bit trickier than driving in the dry, but we expected this. That said, I think the team have made good progress in this area as it wasn’t too difficult to drive. There are still a couple of areas where we can improve on, and whether we have valid information for tomorrow’s weather we don’t know yet.”

Romain Grosjean, E21-04
Free practice 1: P13, 1:26.570, 28 laps
Free practice 2: P10, 1:28.891, 12 laps
Romain: “It wasn’t perfect weather and we still have some progress to make on the wet set-up for conditions like we had today. In the morning it was a struggle for grip with too much understeer, but we made progress in this area for the afternoon and have a few ideas about how we can improve further for tomorrow. It’s certainly a challenge with the spray and standing water, but despite this it’s still awesome to be driving around Interlagos.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director:
“We’ve gained strong data using both of Pirelli’s wet tyres. Romain wasn’t happy with his set-up in the morning, but he was much happier in the afternoon. Heikki continues to get comfortable with the car and in the team and showed great pace in the wet in the afternoon with the fourth quickest time. We’re happy with today’s work.”

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Romain Grosjean ended the day sixth with Heikki Kovalainen eleventh during a rain affected qualifying session for tomorrow’s Brazilian Grand Prix. The classically unpredictable São Paulo weather saw conditions range from drying, to light showers, then heavy downpours; making for a challenging but entertaining afternoon at the Interlagos circuit.

An absence of rain at the start of Q1 left a drying track as the drivers emerged for their opening runs on intermediate tyres; both making an early jump to take advantage of the conditions before the forecasted showers began. Romain’s time in that single stint was good enough to see him through in eighth place, whilst Heikki opted for a second run to eventually progress in fifth.

With the rain intensity starting to increase, Q2 once again saw both drivers head out for early stints on the intermediate rubber; pitting for fresh sets of the same compound with minutes to spare after initial banker runs. A fantastic lap from Romain saw the Frenchman progress in top spot, whilst Heikki narrowly missed the cut for the top ten shootout in eleventh.

Torrential downpours in the build-up to Q3 saw the session delayed by fourty minutes due to excessive levels of standing water on the track. Once underway, the sole remaining E21 set off for an exploratory lap on wets, before pitting immediately for a switch to intermediates. As the puddles began to clear so the times started to tumble; Romain putting in a respectable lap in the final moments to take sixth on tomorrow’s grid.

Heikki Kovalainen, E21-05
Q: P11, 1:27.456
FP3: P3, 1:28.595
“It’s disappointing not to make the top ten, but I just didn’t have enough pace in the second session; it’s as simple as that. The conditions weren’t ideal, but it’s the same for everybody and there was nothing wrong with the car so I can’t have any complaints. It’s not the ideal starting position, but the car is performing well and anything can happen in motor racing – especially here at Interlagos – so we’ll look at where we can improve for tomorrow and try to do a better job in the race.”

Romain Grosjean, E21-04
Q: P6, 1:27.737
FP3: P2, 1:28.195
“That was quite a difficult afternoon. It was tricky to decide which tyre we should use for the final qualifying session and we wanted to try for pole which is why we used the intermediates, but in the end there was probably just a little bit too much water which certainly made things interesting. Ultimately my lap wasn’t good enough, but the car has been strong all weekend so we’re confident for the race no matter what the weather is. Certainly, my Q2 lap in the wet today was very good and we know we have a strong baseline setup in the dry, so let’s see what happens.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director:
How was qualifying?
Honestly? Rather disappointing. The car has been performing well all weekend in the wet conditions, so we were hoping for a strong performance. Heikki was unlucky to narrowly miss out on going through to the top ten by a very small margin, and conceded a couple of small errors on his lap. In the final session we let Romain down with a poorly timed pit stop after making the call to put him out on intermediates. These were the right tyres, but we should have waited a little before he started his run on them.

What’s possible in the race?
We still have a good chance for a strong result tomorrow. Both drivers have been very comfortable with the car in the wet conditions today and we know it performs well in the dry. If it’s dry then everyone will be heading into the race without any tyre data, which could be an advantage for us as our tyre management in the race is generally amongst the best on the grid.

Sunday, 24 november 2013

A disappointing end to the 2013 Formula 1 season for Lotus F1 Team yielded the Enstone squad’s first point-less weekend of the year at the final round in Brazil; Heikki Kovalainen dropping three positions from his eleventh placed grid slot whilst team-mate Romain Grosjean retired with an early engine failure having started sixth.

In stark contrast to the first two days of track action at Interlagos, dry conditions remained for the majority of the race; interrupted only by light showers during the closing stages. A tricky start for both drivers saw Romain drop two positions and Heikki four on the opening lap; completing the first tour in eighth and fifteenth respectively.

Three laps later and Romain’s impressive run of results during the final third of the season came to a premature end; the Frenchman’s RS27-2013 engine failing in spectacular fashion on what would be the final appearance for the V8 configuration power plant. Movement amongst the midfield throughout a two stop strategy race was not enough to aid Heikki in recovering from a slow getaway; the Finn eventually crossing the line to take fourteenth place.

Kimi Räikkönen’s absence from the last two races of the season sees him fall to fifth place in the final Drivers’ Championship standings on 183 points; 6 behind Lewis Hamilton in fourth. Romain takes seventh position with 132 points; trailing Nico Rosberg by 39. For the second consecutive season the team finishes fourth in the Constructors’ Championship; a total of 315 points the final tally from Ferrari’s 354.

Heikki started from eleventh on the grid with a fresh set of medium tyres; pitting for the same compound on lap fifteen and again for new hards on lap thirty-four.
Romain started from sixth on a fresh set of medium tyres; retiring on lap four.

Heikki Kovalainen, P14, E21-05
“It has been a great opportunity to drive for Lotus F1 Team and I’m upset that I was not able to score any points for them today. I think the car is great, but I was not able to unlock the pace and make the most of it. I made some mistakes – probably through lack of routine – but I was anticipating it would be easier to come back and race competitively. My starts both here and in Austin were really poor, with procedural issues both times meaning I wasn’t able to keep pace with everyone off the line. That was disappointing as it’s such a big part of the race and it’s very difficult to recover positions. I’d like to thank everyone at Lotus F1 Team for all their support during these two races.”

Romain Grosjean, DNF, E21-04
“At this point in the season I think everyone needs a holiday, but apparently my engine decided to go on vacation early! Of course, that’s not the way we wanted to end the year but it’s been a fantastic season for the team and I think we can be really proud of what we’ve achieved together. We’ve proven this year that we are a top team, and I’m certainly proud of all the guys in the garage and back at Enstone. Today was obviously disappointing for everyone as they deserved more from this final race after all their hard work, but now it’s time to get a little bit of rest and then focus on making sure we head into 2014 and the new regulations as one of the top teams once again.”

Eric Boullier, Team Principal
“Clearly this is a disappointing way to end what has been a strong season for the team in often difficult circumstances. Our goal at the start of the year was to improve on last season’s fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship, and although we may have just fallen short of that target, it has certainly not been through a lack of effort. Fourteen podium finishes and 315 points is a commendable improvement on our 2012 performance, and I am extremely proud of everyone who has worked so hard to keep us right at the front of a very competitive pack until the very last weekend of the season. In Kimi and Romain we have had one of the strongest line-ups on the grid, and I would like to congratulate them both on some fantastic performances throughout the year. From Kimi’s memorable win at the opening race to Romain’s recent run of podium finishes, they have both been superb. It’s going to be a busy winter preparing for the challenges of 2014, but for now we wish everyone a good few days of well-earned rest.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director
“After the season we’ve had with the E21, it’s hugely frustrating that we were unable to give what has been a fantastic car the send-off it deserved. For Romain in particular – who has barely put a foot wrong over the past couple of months – we feel particularly aggrieved after his early retirement. We’ll be looking into what happened with his engine to see exactly what caused such a significant failure, as generally speaking our reliability has been pretty strong all year. After a poor start it was always going to be difficult for Heikki to climb back into the points, but we’re nonetheless disappointed to come away from this weekend with nothing on the board. We now look ahead to the challenge of 2014 aiming to maintain the momentum of the past two seasons.”

Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 Team Support Leader
“Today was the last race for the V8s and unfortunately Romain’s gave up before the end. We saw a massive drop in oil pressure in the data but we won’t be sure of the exact reason until we get the car back; it could be cause or consequence. In any case it caused the engine to seize and explode in a spectacular way, so we’ll investigate thoroughly to analyse exactly what lead to the failure.”