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29 October 2013

Lotus F1 Team comments on the 2013 Indian Grand Prix

Friday, 25 October

Romain Grosjean ended the first day of practice for the Indian Grand Prix with the third fastest lap of the day, whilst Kimi Räikkönen was eighth at the Buddh International Circuit. Both drivers completed their Friday programmes, with extra focus given to long runs on Pirelli’s soft and medium tyre allocation.

Technical programme notes
Both cars ran trouble-free through both sessions enabling a variety of set-up permutations to be evaluated.
Pirelli’s medium (white) tyre was used in the morning and the medium and soft (yellow) compound slick tyres were used in the afternoon session.

What we learned today:
The E21 demonstrated strong potential using both tyre compounds.

Kimi Räikkönen, E21-05
Free practice 1: P17, 1:28.730, 18 laps
Free practice 2: P8, 1:26.632, 32 laps

Kimi: “The car feels pretty okay now, but we can still make it better. We made quite a few changes in the morning as it didn’t feel so good then, but it’s much better now and we should be able to make more progress for tomorrow. The track is quite slippery, but that improves with time and the car gets better too.”

Romain Grosjean, E21-04
Free practice 1: P4, 1:26.990, 20 laps
Free practice 2: P3, 1:26.220, 36 laps

Romain: “That was a good start to the weekend. The car feels good and we made progress through the day to make it better. It’s still a struggle to find grip here which can make things interesting as you find the limits, but the pace of our car relative to our rivals looks quite good. I’m hopeful of another solid day tomorrow which should give us another strong qualifying position if the evidence of today is anything to go by. We’ll do everything we can to take the fight to Red Bull.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director:
“It was a difficult morning for Kimi who wasn’t happy with the balance of his car so his engineers made a reasonable amount of changes to the set-up over lunch, meaning the car was much more to his liking in the afternoon. Romain was generally happy with his car and just made minor changes to the set-up to get it 100% to his liking. We completed a good number of laps on low and high fuel with both tyres and we’re looking in strong shape. The Red Bulls are unfortunately looking incredibly quick, but we’re leading the charge behind them.”

 

Saturday, 26 October

Kimi Räikkönen qualified sixth with team-mate Romain Grosjean seventeenth ahead of tomorrow’s Indian Grand Prix. Warm, dry conditions remained throughout the day at the Buddh International circuit, with the poor visibility that had hampered FP3 earlier in the day clearing sufficiently to allow un-interrupted running for qualifying.

A tightly contested Q1 session saw Kimi make two runs – one on each tyre compound – to eventually progress in P6 using the soft rubber. Romain by contrast ran a single stint on medium tyres; a gamble which narrowly failed to pay off as the Frenchman found himself eliminated at the first hurdle, despite posting a time just a second away from the fastest car.

Q2 was more straightforward for the remaining E21; Kimi progressing comfortably to the top ten in fourth with a strong pair of single lap runs on the medium tyres. The final session saw the Finn take sixth spot at the flag with a single run on soft rubber.

Kimi Räikkönen, E21-05
Q: P6, 1:25.248
FP3: P11, 1:26.635

“It wasn’t an ideal qualifying session and I’m still having some problems with understeer, but the car did feel better overall than yesterday. The tyres have to be managed over a full lap for qualifying so we are where we are on the grid. We’ll see what happens tomorrow and I’ll try to do as well as I can. Overall, the car feels slightly better than in the last few races; still not where we want it to be, but slightly better.”

Romain Grosjean, E21-04
Q: P17, 1:26.577
FP3: P5, 1:26.350

“We took a gamble once again to try just one run on the prime tyres in Q1, and although it’s been a successful tactic for us recently it didn’t pay off this time. The times were much tighter than expected and ultimately we made a miscalculation with the cut-off time. It’s easy to look back and think what might have been, but we made the decision together and unfortunately in the end it was the wrong one. It’s tough to overtake here so it’s going to be a long race from seventeenth on the grid. We’ll have to pull off something quite special with the strategy to take anything from there, but of course we’ll analyse the options overnight to see what’s possible. For sure we won’t be leading after the first corner this time, but we’ll do our best.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director:

How was qualifying for the team?
In hindsight we made the wrong call with Romain. We expected him to progress quite comfortably through Q1 on the medium tyre and unfortunately this wasn’t the case. Clearly, he’s starting a long way out of position and will need a strong charge through the field to make it into the top ten, but we’re extremely confident that he’ll be able to do so. How far into the points he can progress will depend on the start and our management of the tyres. It was a reasonably straightforward session for Kimi with no real dramas. He’ll be the first to admit that qualifying hasn’t been going to plan for him recently, and he’s about where we expected him to be after free practice this morning. As always we’re confident that his race pace will be exemplary, so we’re anticipating a very strong race from him starting from sixth on the grid.

Where do we stand in terms of setup to help the drivers progress through the field tomorrow?
We’ve taken this into account after seeing how tough overtaking can be here during last season’s race. Kimi’s car is certainly more biased towards race pace than single lap performance, and we’ll be looking at ways to help Romain carve his way up the order overnight too. Our race pace on the medium tyre looked strong during practice, so we’re hopeful of making progress.

What are the tyre strategy considerations for the race?
Today very much followed the pattern of the weekend so far, with the option tyre suffering from blistering and graining while the prime looks to be a very strong choice for the race. We’ve seen so far that there’s about a second per lap difference in long run pace between the two. One of the keys to the race is certainly making the front left tyre – and to a lesser extent the front right – last when using the soft compound; particularly on high fuel at the start of the race.

Sunday, 27 October

Romain Grosjean drove a perfect race from seventeenth on the Indian Grand Prix grid to third at the chequered flag – despite enduring problems with his engine’s pneumatic system – whilst Kimi Räikkönen found the limits of his tyre’s performance as the team attempted a one-stop strategy.

Romain managed his car well to take the final podium slot while the team and engine partners Renault devised a strategy to limit the air consumption of his engine’s pneumatic system. Kimi ran out of tyre performance near the end of his race, resulting in a late pit stop and the consolation of the race’s fastest lap.

Kimi retains third place in the Drivers’ Championship on 183 points; 14 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton and with a reduced gab to Fernando Alonso on 207 ahead. Romain rises to seventh position on an equal points tally – 102 – to Felipe Massa in eighth. The team remains fourth in the Constructors’ Championship on 285 points from Ferrari’s 309.

Over the previous four races – Singapore, Korea, Japan and India – Lotus F1 Team has scored the second highest points tally of any outfit on the grid with a haul of 94, behind only Red Bull Racing on 118. In that same period, only Sebastian Vettel has outscored Kimi and Romain; 100 points for the German compared to the Finn’s 49 and Frenchman’s 45.

Kimi started from P6 with a scrubbed set of soft tyres, changing to new mediums on lap 7 and making a late stop for a further set of mediums on lap 58.
Romain started from P17 on a new set soft tyres, changing to a new set of mediums on lap 13.

Kimi Räikkönen, P7, E21-05
“We ran maybe the first twenty laps with no brakes as they had overheated massively, so every time I got close to somebody I lost braking. At the end of the race I ran out of tyre performance too so it’s been a pretty disappointing day. I knew the tyres would drop off quite quickly, but there wasn’t much to lose between trying to get to the end and making an extra pit stop in terms of time lost. In the end it didn’t work.”

Romain Grosjean, P3, E21-04
“If you had told me yesterday that I’d be on the podium here I would have said you were crazy! Straight from the beginning of the race I felt very comfortable on the option tyres and we looked in pretty good shape, then we fitted the mediums and the car was really quick. I lost quite a lot of time behind [Esteban] Gutierrez which maybe cost us the fight for second, but we managed to come back from that well. When I saw that I was fourth in front of [Felipe] Massa with 27 laps to go I knew it was going to be close with him as we had to take care of the tyres, plus we had an engine issue at the end of the race which made things quite tricky. In the final laps Kimi was really struggling with his tyres so I managed to pass him and luckily had enough pace to keep Felipe behind. Before the race our best prediction was fourth if we had a strong start and a perfect race, so it was an amazing result and a great performance from the team.”

Eric Boullier, Team Principal
“It’s been an eventful weekend. In the end it was a brilliant job from the team and a great performance from Romain, who had a very strong drive and managed to conserve his tyre performance right to the end. He was fast today despite having to nurse his engine, and being on the podium is a good reward for the whole team. Obviously it’s disappointing that the tyres couldn’t last long enough for Kimi as being third and fourth would have been an amazing result for the team and very useful in the Constructors’ Championship, but we’ll keep fighting hard until the end of the season and we’ll give some headaches to the other teams. We give our congratulations to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull for their Championship victory today, and also our promise that we’re working hard to give them a tougher battle in 2014.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director
“It was a fantastic race from both drivers, even though the strategy didn’t quite work out for Kimi. We started with a plan of two stops for him but made the call to go for one after losing time stuck behind Nico [Hulkenberg]. Unfortunately the tyres didn’t quite last as long as he needed and he was forced into making a late stop for fresh rubber. It was a fantastic drive from Romain again and a great call from our strategy team to move him from seventeenth to third; that was just brilliant. Romain’s engine pneumatic system’s air consumption was a big worry and we had to use every trick in the book to avoid him retiring as per Singapore. Overall, a great team performance today.”

Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 Team Support Leader
“A hard race today right until the end, and a relief to get the eventual result! Romain did a fantastic job to finish on the podium; especially with having to manage a problem with the pneumatic system. Unfortunately we had an occurrence similar to the issue from Singapore – despite having put a solution in place – so we’ll look at this before Abu Dhabi. Also a big congratulations to all at Red Bull; it’s great to see another Renault powered title!”