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25 June 2012

Lotus F1 Team at the 2012 European Grand Prix

Day 1, Friday 22 June 2012

Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean took to the track today for the first practice sessions at the Valencia Street Circuit ahead of Sunday’s European Grand Prix. The day’s programme began with windy and cloudy conditions in the morning which improved in the afternoon.

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director - Technical programme notes :
Today we evaluated a new front wing on Romain’s car and an updated floor, new rear suspension configuration and revised steering set-up with Kimi.
Both cars ran Pirelli’s medium compound tyres in the morning and the medium and soft compound in the afternoon.

What we learned today :

Our base setup appears to work strongly in Valencia.
Long-run, heavy-fuel pace in particular was good.

Kimi Räikkönen, E20-05
Free practice 1 : P10, 1:41.620, 22 laps
Free practice 2 : P11, 1:39.945, 34 laps

Kimi :
“The car feels okay and there were no issues. The wind was a bit of a factor in the morning but it was better in the afternoon. I was stuck in traffic for quite a bit of my long run in the second session, so I wasn’t able to go as fast as the car was capable of, but we don’t have any issues on that front. The E20’s strong point always seems to be its race pace but of course we are looking to make it quicker in qualifying. Let’s see how it is tomorrow morning and we’ll do whatever’s necessary. We’ll make a few changes to the car for sure, but I think we’re pretty okay.”

Romain Grosjean, E20-04
Free practice 1 : P11, 1:41.784, 15 laps
Free practice 2 : P8, 1:39.868, 33 laps

Romain :
“Today was not as hot as we expected, certainly after the weather we saw here yesterday, but the long run pace was there and the car felt good. We still have a few things to try with the setup, so there should be some more pace to come. Qualifying will be the big moment for us as we have seen that we need to find a little bit of improvement there. It’s not the end of the world, as we have seen that we can make good gains on Sunday with our race pace. The trick will be to find more speed in qualifying without disturbing this.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director :
“It’s been a straight-forward and issue-free Friday for us. We conducted aero evaluation of a new front wing and new floor and we will be considering the data this evening. In the afternoon we concentrated on race pace and tyre management so our finishing positions, as usual, don’t necessarily represent where we expect to be after qualifying tomorrow. Overall, we’re very happy with the way the E20 is performing here. There is some scope for improvement to get both Kimi and Romain 100% happy with their cars, which we will work on tomorrow morning. In terms of long run pace we think we are looking competitive.”

Day 2, Saturday 23 June 2012

Romain Grosjean went fourth fastest whilst Kimi Räikkönen was just eight thousandths of a second behind with the fifth quickest time in a searing qualifying session on the streets of Valencia for tomorrow’s European Grand Prix.

Kimi Räikkönen, E20-05. Q : P5, 1:38.513. FP3 : P3, 1:38.759.
“It was very close in qualifying, especially in Q2, so it’s good to be fifth on the grid. The car felt good. If we could have improved just a little bit on my last lap then we could have gained a couple of places, but it is an improvement on last time out so I’m very happy with that. We found a few good things with the setup this morning to make the car easier to drive. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. The car usually goes well in the race when it’s hot, so let’s see what we can do.”

Romain Grosjean, E20-04. Q : P4, 1:38.505. FP3 : P2 1:38.655.
“Today we got pretty much the most out of the car that we could have. P4 is a good position for the start of the race but of course you want always more and to do better. Sebastian did an unbelievable lap and today we could not have matched it. We have improved our qualifying performance but there is still room to do better. Tyre degradation will be more important than what we saw at the last race. There will be 57 laps in hot conditions on Sunday ; we will see what we can do for a good race tomorrow.”

Alan Permane, Director of Trackside Operations :
“We’ve come from much further back on the grid than P4 or P5 and finished very well.”

How do you assess today’s qualifying performance ?
“We’re very happy with today’s performance and both drivers have done an excellent job. Fourth and fifth positions on the grid are excellent places to start and we know the E20 has demonstrated very strong race pace at the majority of circuits this season. I’m sure tomorrow will be no exception.”

Has there been a particular focus on qualifying this weekend ?
“We haven’t done anything radically different from our approach at previous Grands Prix. We’ve certainly had a smoother weekend so far than we did last time out in Montréal, and we seem well suited on the soft tyres. We’ve looked at the data and given greater consideration to qualifying pace, but our race preparations remain the same.”

What are the strategy considerations for tomorrow ?
“We’ve come from much further back on the grid than P4 or P5 and finished very well, so we have good confidence heading into tomorrow’s race. That said, overtaking is very difficult here even with DRS, so we’re not expecting an easy race from that perspective. It’s likely to be a very hot race which will give the tyres a hard time and we’re confident in those conditions. It’s open for a one, two, or three stop strategy tomorrow, so let’s see what happens.”

Day 3, Sunday 24 June 2012

Lotus F1 Team secured another podium finish thanks to a searing performance from Kimi Räikkönen to finish second in today’s European Grand Prix. The Finn was terrific through the traffic and was able to challenge at the front right to the end of the race.

For Romain Grosjean, hopes of another podium were dashed after an alternator failure at two thirds race distance whilst running second.

Kimi and Romain are now sixth and seventh in the Drivers’ Championship. The team remains third in the Constructors’ standings ahead of Ferrari, despite being the 11th team in terms of race laps completed this year. Lotus F1 Team still holds the second highest total in terms of podiums this year (5), behind McLaren (6).

Kimi is now the driver to have contested the greatest number of laps this season, along with Fernando (Alonso) and Nico (Rosberg) : 498 in total. Kimi sits third in terms of podiums clinched this year (3), behind Lewis (Hamilton) and Fernando (Alonso) with 4.

Both drivers started on used sets of soft compound Pirelli tyres.
Kimi stopped on lap 14 for more used softs as did Romain two laps later.
Both drivers changed to new medium tyres under the safety car on lap 28.

Kimi Räikkönen, P2, E20-05
"Second place is okay but the win is what I really wanted. We didn’t quite have the pace for it today. I got a good start but I was blocked by Pastor (Maldonado) at the first right-hander and lost quite a few places which put me a bit behind. We made a good recovery from that position and had quite a hard fight with a few people - overtaking and being overtaken. I couldn’t get the tyres up to temperature quickly enough after the safety car, and I made a small mistake on the re-start lap too. I was able to fight back as we had good race pace again. Today was close but the race win was just out of reach.”

Romain Grosjean, DNF, E20-04
“Basically the car lost power and switched off. I couldn’t even call my engineer on the radio as the radio was dead. The race was almost perfect up until that point : we had a good start and a good strategy. I don’t think we were that far from our first win. The positives of this weekend are that we battled right at the front and we showed good pace. Sebastian (Vettel) was very strong and I don’t know if we could have caught him. When he had his issue, I was in second place behind Fernando (Alonso) and it was then that I thought we could challenge for the lead because we knew that our tyre degradation was going to be less than his. Unfortunately fate decided otherwise…”

Eric Boullier, Team Principal
"It’s a good result for the team and for Kimi. Second brings a lot of points, and we also didn’t lose ground on the teams ahead of us in the championship standings. On the other side of the coin, it’s been a disappointing day for Romain as he was in such a good position for at least a podium finish. This is racing, and we will work closely with our partners to ensure we don’t see a failure like this again in the future. Both drivers and the team worked very well this weekend and we have shown that if we achieve a good qualifying position we can fight for the win.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director
“I’m very happy for the team to be on the podium again with a strong second position from Kimi. I’m sorry for Romain as he was in a good position before what we believe was an alternator failure resulted in a lack of fuel pressure, causing his car to stop. He was right in the fight to be on the podium again so that was unfortunate. Our tyres held up well against the opposition and we did see overtaking once the tyres of other cars dropped away. It was quite a straight-forward call for the final pit stop under the safety car, and we could see that there was enough space between both cars to double stop them. Both drivers did very good jobs today. We know we need to look at getting heat into the tyres quicker after a safety car, but otherwise a very strong weekend.”

Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 Team Support Leader
“Second position for Kimi shows the strength of the car in race conditions. We have to apologise to Romain however, who could also have got a very decent result here as well. The alternator failed at about two thirds distance and the car stopped due to no electrical power. We will look into this thoroughly and see what happened in this instance.”