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14 October 2013

Lotus F1 Team comments on the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix

Grosjean leads the field towards the first corner

Friday, 11 October 2013

Eric Boullier, Team Principal: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Maria de Villota earlier today. On behalf of the team here in Japan and back at Enstone, I would like to express our condolences to the friends, family and colleagues of Maria. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.”

Kimi Räikkönen set the fourth fastest and Romain Grosjean the fifth fastest time on the first day of practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Hot conditions, clear blue skies and off-track excursions from a number of drivers characterised the day, amongst them Kimi; who ended the second session early – stranded in gravel at Turn 7 – following a spin.

Technical programme notes:
Kimi missed the final 30 minutes of running in FP2 following a spin.
Pirelli’s hard compound [orange] tyre was used in the morning, the hard and medium [white] in the afternoon session.

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

Kimi Räikkönen, E21-05
Free Practice 1: P8, 1:35.364, 17 laps
Free practice 2: P4, 1:34.202, 17 laps

Kimi: “The car felt pretty good today. Of course, there are some areas we can improve but I’m quite happy with the progress we made. I spun in FP2 so we did miss some of the long run laps we would have got this afternoon. I was on a fast run and the wind changed, which can affect the car sometimes. At least we didn’t do any damage so the crew won’t have any extra work. It’s not a big drama as we know the track pretty well. We have a few changes for tomorrow so let’s see what happens.”

Romain Grosjean, E21-04
Free Practice 1: P7, 1:35.179, 15 laps
Free Practice 2: P5, 1:34.411, 30 laps

Romain: “Finding the right balance to get the car working well around here is quite tricky and the tyres are not making that any easier, so we’ve got some work to do overnight to make it a little easier to handle. There’s definitely some more performance to be found, and it’s always better to be near the top of the times even if you’ve not got things quite right, so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: “We have struggled a bit for consistency today, with both drivers having off-track excursions. Romain in particular experienced brake locking, which is something we can counter with some mapping work. We lost a reasonable amount of long run data collection as a result of Kimi’s spin, meaning Romain’s programme was modified slightly and we might look at doing some race simulation work during tomorrow’s practice. On the softer tyre we look competitive and I think we can expect to qualify well. Our long run pace also looks good so it’s an encouraging start to the weekend.”


Saturday, 12 October 2013

Romain Grosjean qualified P4 with team-mate Kimi Räikkönen P9 ahead of tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix. Warm, dry conditions remained throughout the day at the Suzuka circuit, with changing wind direction a factor throughout proceedings.

Romain put in an impressive lap on the hard compound tyre to go fastest in the red flag interrupted Q1 session with Kimi taking P8. The Frenchman then edged a tight intra-team Q2 battle to take P3 from his Finnish counterpart’s P5, with both posting laps within three tenths of one another in the final Q3 session to end the day in P4 / P9.

Kimi Räikkönen, E21-05
Q: P9, 1:31.684
FP3: P8, 1:32.946

“The car has felt much better here than it has in recent races; even if we don’t have a better position on the grid for tomorrow. A small mistake on my quick lap cost me a little bit of time and it’s very close here, so a small amount lost can mean quite a few positions dropped. We’ll have to see what happens in the race, but the car has certainly been more to my liking this weekend so the position on the grid is not a drama.”

Romain Grosjean, E21-04
Q: P4, 1:31.365
FP3: P4, 1:32.707

“The Red Bulls have looked very strong and we knew it would be tight with Lewis [Hamilton] for P3, so I think we did a good job to take P4. The car feels much better than it did yesterday; especially on the hard tyres which we had been struggling with previously but were then fastest with in Q1 today. The team worked hard to address this overnight and we’ve shown great progress through the weekend once again. It’s a tight, technical circuit, the wind is still making things tricky and it should stay pretty hot, so it’ll be interesting to see what we can do in the race. I’m feeling pretty good.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: “We’re now very happy on both tyre compounds”

How was qualifying for the team?
Today went reasonably to plan with both drivers in the top ten for tomorrow’s race. Romain continued his good qualifying form and P4 on the grid is a good result, but agonisingly close to P3 once again. It was a very close qualifying session so to have Kimi start P9 is no big drama; especially as we know how well he can work through the field in race conditions.

How much progress has been made since yesterday?
After missing some long runs on Friday, we spent more time on race preparation during morning practice and managed to unlock some extra pace in the car – especially on the primes – so we’re now very happy on both compounds. Yes, we did struggle with the hard tyres yesterday, but we’ve made a significant setup change which has certainly been beneficial in this area. Both drivers are much happier with their cars.

What are the strategic permutations tomorrow?
The weather forecast looks fine, while the wind – which is often a factor here – looks to be coming from a similar direction to today although maybe not as strong. With that in mind – added to our pace on both tyre compounds – we’re confident we can come up with a good strategy for a strong result.


Sunday, 13 october 2013

Another strong performance for Lotus F1 Team saw Romain Grosjean take a fighting third, whilst team-mate Kimi Räikkönen battled his way to fifth in a tense Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. A superb start from Romain saw him lead in the early stages, before fighting hard with both Red Bulls in the latter stages. Kimi endured a tough start – dropping back to P11 – before battling back in typical fashion to climb back up the order.

Kimi retains third place in the Drivers’ Championship on 177 points; sixteen clear of Lewis Hamilton and thirty behind Fernando Alonso. Romain Grosjean remains eighth in the standings on 87 points, just three behind Felipe Massa. The team maintains fourth in the Constructors’ Championship on 264 points; now just 23 behind Mercedes and comfortably ahead of McLaren.

Kimi started from P9 with a scrubbed set of medium compound tyres, changing to scrubbed hard tyres on lap 11 and new hard tyres on lap 31.
Romain started from P4 on a scrubbed set of medium compound tyres, changing to scrubbed hard tyres on lap 12 and new hard tyres on lap 29.

Kimi Räikkönen, P5, E21-05
“I had a very poor start. I left the line with wheelspin and lost a few places which wasn’t ideal, but I managed to gain places back later on in the race. After the final pit stop the car was working much better. It ran well in the last half of the race and I was very happy with it. It was a pretty normal race I would say. It’s difficult to overtake here so it’s good that we got some points. We did what we could.”

Romain Grosjean, P3, E21-04
“Today was just a very, very good race. What a start! It was superb to go past both the Red Bulls like that and it’ll be one of my best memories of the year. The car was fantastic on the first set of tyres and we managed to pull away, but then the Red Bulls were able to reel us in later on. Ultimately, we were the only car to almost catch the bull. It’s been a great home race for my engineer; it’s always good to come to Japan and it’s really good to be back on the podium again.”

Eric Boullier, Team Principal
“It’s great to see such a good fight in the race and both our cars show so strongly. Once again, both drivers, our strategists and the pit crew performed brilliantly and we did the very best we could on track. We don’t have the pace to beat Red Bull, but today we showed them that we are nevertheless quite formidable whilst also underlining to Mercedes and Ferrari that we are a strong contender for the final four races of the season. We must say a big thanks to everyone at Enstone for the fantastic car we have in the E21. To see Romain leading the race was very satisfying and we hope to see that again very soon.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director
“It was a great race for us and superb to see Romain leading for so much of it. We were the only team to take the fight to Red Bull; ultimately they were too quick for us but we took a strong and well deserved third place with Romain and a fighting fifth with Kimi. Romain made a fantastic start and we had enough in hand in the first stint to be able to pit a lap later than Mark, but they started to catch us on the medium tyres and Sebastian was able to catch and pass reasonably easily with their superior pace. It’s a great feeling to show so strongly at Suzuka.”

Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 Team Support Leader
“Suzuka plays to the strengths of our chassis-engine package, with the straights taking advantage of the good top end power whilst our driveability and good tyre wear favour the slower, more flowing sections. A great race for Romain today; he had a fantastic start and was in contention for the win throughout the entire race. Kimi also had a strong race and was very close to giving Renault a perfect 1-2-3-4 result!”