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28 October  2012

Lotus F1 Team comments on the Indian Grand Prix 2012

Friday 26 October

Kimi Räikkönen went fifth fastest and Romain Grosjean set the ninth fastest time at the end of Friday’s two practice sessions at the Buddh International Circuit ahead of Sunday’s Indian Grand Prix. Both drivers used the team’s new Coandă exhaust system, with new updated rear bodywork sections, whilst Kimi evaluated a new evolution front wing. Both cars ran reliably throughout the two 90 minute practice sessions.

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director - Technical programme notes

- We ran the Coandă exhaust system on both cars for the first time following its successful debut with Kimi in Korea.
- New bodywork around the exhaust area to better harness and utilise the Coandă system was employed on both cars.
- Kimi evaluated the latest evolution front wing.
- Pirelli’s hard compound tyre was used in the morning, the hard and soft used in the afternoon.

What we learned today :

- We’re confident we’ll be able to put in a good showing tomorrow.
- We need to find more pace on the hard tyre, but soft tyre pace is good.
- We are yet to reach a conclusion on whether we will use the updated rear bodywork.
- The front wing will be used by both cars for the rest of the weekend.

Kimi Räikkönen, E20-05
Free practice 1 : P10, 1:29.291, 24 laps
Free practice 2 : P5, 1:27.030, 40 laps

Kimi : “The circuit is nice. For me it was easier to learn than the Korean track ; it’s not as technical but it’s good. It’s always nice to come to a new place like this – I’ve been racing for many years, and you always end up going to the same places so it’s good when you get a new place and a new circuit. For sure we can still improve on one lap but I think we are not far away from our maximum speed. Of course I hope that we are faster than McLaren. Our car was working well, especially on soft tyres but with the hard tyres it was more difficult to find grip.”

Romain Grosjean, E20-03
Free practice 1 : P15, 1:29.895, 19 laps
Free practice 2 : P9, 1:27.397, 36 laps

Romain : “It’s been very hard to set-up the car as the track has been evolving a lot through the day ; from zero grip in the morning to much better in the afternoon. However, we’ve made good progress today and we’re working on improving further overnight. There are a few blind corners, and some quick places where you don’t want to make mistakes either. Hopefully we find the car we want for qualifying and get what we want tomorrow.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director :

“Both drivers got up to speed pretty quickly on a new track once more. We spent the morning session evaluating the new front wing and some new rear diffuser parts ; we need to investigate further the diffuser parts but the new front wing looks good so we’ll run it with both cars for the remainder of the weekend. We were able to conduct an uninterrupted FP2 programme, running both tyres reasonably early on, followed by a long run on the soft compound. We’re missing a little pace on the hard tyre so we’re investigating our tyre temperatures and pressures, however on the softer tyre our car looks very competitive on both low and high fuel loads. It would be nice to squeeze another two or three tenths out of the car in qualifying, but nevertheless we confident of the potential for a good show tomorrow.”

Saturday 27 October

A closely fought qualifying session at the Buddh International Circuit saw Kimi Räikkönen take seventh position on the grid whilst Romain Grosjean was just edged out of the top ten session, qualifying in eleventh place for tomorrow’s Indian Grand Prix.

Kimi Räikkönen, E20-05. Q : P7, 1:26.236. FP3 : P5, 1:26.209
"We changed the car after this morning’s session and we were quite confident heading in to qualifying. Unfortunately, we didn’t seem to have any grip this afternoon so it was much more difficult than we thought. I’m quite disappointed to be starting from seventh as I thought we had a much better car than that."

Romain Grosjean, E20-03. Q : P11, 1:26.136 FP3 : P10 1:26.664
"I was expecting better so I’m a little disappointed, however in terms of strategy P11 has one advantage as you’re the first car that can choose which tyres it will start the race on and I have a couple of new sets in my pocket for tomorrow. I wish I could have got through into Q3 and lacking two hundredths of a second to make it there was frustrating. On my second timed lap I was doing well, but for whatever reason the car snapped on me and I lost time. It was difficult to get everything right, but we’re looking strong to score some good points tomorrow."

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director :
"It’s going to be a tricky race to move forwards."

How do you assess today’s qualifying performance ?
"It was a disappointing result. Kimi had a very good session in the morning and we were looking forward to a strong qualifying. Unfortunately, neither driver felt they had the grip levels they had enjoyed in the morning. Romain reported poor overall grip in all corners, whereas Kimi had issues with the low speed corners - a nervous car on entry and poor traction on exit - which are typical comments made about a car which is lacking in all round grip."

Where do you think the car should be on race pace ?
"Qualifying seventh behind two Red Bulls, two McLarens and two Ferraris shows that we have the fourth fastest car here. We will do what we can in the race but we’ve seen very low tyre degradation and overtaking is difficult due to the circuit layout and DRS setup."

What strategies do the tyres allow ?
"We think one or two stops will be the preferred strategies and will work tonight to see which will suit us best."

Sunday 28 October

Kimi Räikkönen took seventh while Romain Grosjean finished ninth in a solid but frustrating Indian Grand Prix where both drivers finished right behind the cars ahead. Kimi maintains third position in the Drivers’ Championship on 173 points ; 54 away from Fernando Alonso ahead and six in front of Mark Webber behind. The team remains fourth in the Constructors’ Championship on 263 points ; 43 behind McLaren and an increased 127 in front of Mercedes.

Kimi started on soft tyres, pitting on lap 27 for a set of new hards.
Romain started on hard tyres, pitting on lap 36 for a set of new softs.

Kimi Räikkönen, P7, E20-05
“I had a very good car today but I just couldn’t do anything with it as I was not able to pass on the straight. It was quite disappointing but that’s how it goes. We put ourselves in that position yesterday with the set-up we chose for qualifying and we paid the price today. We had the speed but not in the right place and when you are behind someone there’s not much you can do. Hopefully in the next race we can be a bit more smart and use our race speed to take some more Championship points.”

Romain Grosjean, P9, E20-03
“Finishing 9th after starting from 12th is good but we could have done even better. That said, I think it was a very good race from myself, my engineers, and the crew during the pit stops. We did everything we could ; everybody was working at 100% but today we were lacking some speed in a straight line which makes it impossible to overtake. I pushed on every lap - it was like 90 minutes of qualifying - and gave everything to get the best performance from the car, so I’m very happy.”

Eric Boullier, Team Principal
“Like every race, qualifying is obviously the key to get good points so yesterday’s performance defined our race. Unfortunately Kimi was unable to overtake Felipe and stayed stuck behind. I think we had the pace to be a little bit better and get nearer the front. We clearly need to work on qualifying and make sure we do a better job. We know our car is strong in the race and I think both drivers today did the job we were expecting. The team did a great job on the pit stop strategy so we cannot complain. Let’s just say we’re frustrated that we didn’t do a little bit better.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director
“Both drivers reported that their cars were excellent during the race, which was good. The downside was that Kimi spent the whole race looking at the back of Massa’s car and Romain was held up for around four laps whilst Michael (Schumacher) received blue flags ahead of him. This circuit is pretty difficult to overtake on ; even though there’s a very long straight, the DRS zone isn’t actually that long. It was clear we were definitely faster than the cars ahead, just not sufficiently faster to overtake.”

Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 Team Support Leader
“A double points finish is a good result today. We worked very hard with the team to optimise the Coandă exhaust system and we have made some good progress in this area. In this respect it’s been a very positive weekend and we hope to build on this momentum in a week’s time in Abu Dhabi.”