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28 May  2012

Lotus F1 Team - Monaco Formula One Grand Prix 2012

Comments from the Lotus F1 team

Day 1, Thursday 24 May 2012

Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean took to the track for the first practice sessions on the streets of Monaco in mixed conditions today. A dry and warm morning session was followed by a mixed dry and wet afternoon session. Both drivers used new helmet designs today – images can be downloaded below.

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director - Technical programme notes

In FP1 we conducted evaluations of our Monaco setup and gained initial data of Pirelli’s soft compound.
Kimi completed just his initial installation lap in FP1 as he found the Monaco steering setup not to be to his liking.
FP2 saw lower fuel running than usual, focusing on qualifying specification performance of the soft and super soft compound tyres when the track was sufficiently dry. We also ran with the intermediate tyres on both cars.

What we learned today:
Our Monaco specification setup works well in both dry and damp conditions.
The changed steering setup for Kimi was more to his liking for FP2.

Kimi Räikkönen, E20-03
Free practice 1: No time set, installation lap completed
Free practice 2: P19, 1:19.267, 25 laps

Kimi: “It’s good to be back in Monaco even if we missed some running today. The steering wasn’t to my liking so the team changed it for me. It’s something you change for Monaco and there’s no way of knowing what it will be like beforehand. The car felt good in the second session, though it was obviously pretty slippery when the track was wet. I would have liked to have had more time in the car, but Monaco’s a track I know pretty well and it hasn’t changed much over the years. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

Romain Grosjean, E20-04
Free practice 1: P2, 1:16.630, 22 laps
Free practice 2: P2, 1:16.138, 19 laps

Romain: “I think the car is suiting the track pretty well and I love Monaco, it’s good to be here and it’s nice to see so many fans. The car was looking good this morning and this afternoon – we are working in a good direction. Unfortunately it was a bit wet this afternoon and we couldn’t do all the programme we wanted to achieve but as we have a good baseline it shouldn’t be such a big deal. Let’s see what the weather will be like tomorrow and what we can achieve. I think that we are looking good in both conditions.”

James Allison, Technical Director:
“We’re happy with today’s performance as we came here with a certain amount of trepidation about whether our cars would be competitive. It was a disappointment to have missed the first session whilst we changed the steering setup on Kimi’s car, but he’s an old enough trooper to get himself up to speed on Saturday. The pace shown by Romain in both sessions was certainly encouraging. All the Monaco upgrades seem to be working well and the E20 is pretty happy around what is a very unique track.”

Day 2, Saturday 26 May 2012

Romain Grosjean qualified in P5 whilst Kimi Räikkönen set the eighth fastest time in qualifying for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix. Romain gains a position on the grid due to a five position penalty for fastest man today, Michael Schumacher. Qualifying was exceptionally close, with all nine cars setting a time within a second of pole in Q3.

Kimi Räikkönen, E20-03. Q: P8, 1:15.199 FP3: P12, 1:16.301
“For sure we’re not very happy after that session. Since the first practice we’ve been a little bit behind where we should have been and we’ve been trying to catch-up. The car is fine, the biggest problem today was trying to get the tyres working as it seemed to be a bit tricky to get them up to temperature. I could have been a bit faster on my best lap, but I went a little bit too deep in the swimming pool section. It’s a bit disappointing but you can’t get it right every time. At a normal race track you would be able to gain positions through overtaking, but in Monaco this is difficult. That said, anything can happen here so hopefully we can achieve something good tomorrow.”

Romain Grosjean, E20-04. Q: P5, 1:14.639 FP3: P5 1:15.445 (will start from P4)
“We are not as high on the grid as we wanted to be, but things were very tight today. I did a very good lap in the first part of Q3 but then I couldn’t improve on my second set of tyres. This was a shame because our strategy was perfect for the last part of qualifying. The traffic wasn’t too bad but I missed out in sector two. I think pole position was within reach. P4 is not exactly where we wanted to be but the race will be long. It’s Monaco, it will be difficult; nonetheless we know that the car is quite good on high fuel and with the tyres, so let’s see what we can do and put the best strategy into place.”

Alan Permane, Director of Trackside Operations:
“We’ve got it all to do...”

How do you assess today’s qualifying performance?
“Disappointing. After the pace we saw in the car on Thursday and this morning we expected better. Monaco is a very difficult place to get everything exactly right on a lap and the penalties for making a mistake were seen elsewhere in qualifying, but nevertheless we thought we were a realistic prospect for a front row here so to miss out is a bitter pill to swallow.”

What are the strategy considerations for the race?
“Overtaking is notoriously difficult here due to the narrow and twisty confines of the track. No matter what the tyre performance or the presence of DRS, KERS or any other factor, a slower car can hold up a faster car for a long time here. Our best opportunity for a strong race result is for Thursday afternoon’s rain to return or for there to be an eventful race to mix up the order.We will of course spend a long time looking at what we can do strategically as the E20 is generally easy on it’s tyres. Also Monaco can often throw up many surprises.so the podium is by no means out of reach”

Did missing FP1 affect Kimi’s performance?
“We certainly can’t say it helped him. Kimi struggled to get sufficient heat in his tyres today, even with the super soft compound, so he didn’t feel he had sufficient grip to push harder. He needed one more set of super softs than Romain to get into Q3, so consequently had one fewer set than Romain in that session.”

Romain has looked very strong so far this weekend; was there more possible in qualifying?
“Romain lost out in the second sector on his fastest lap and we will be looking to understand what went wrong. When you look at his times all through the weekend, and consider the track evolution, his qualifying lap was short of what we thought possible. But still, it’s not a bad effort for a first F1 qualifying here.”

On the plus side?
“We do have both cars in the top ten which is good for our Constructors’ Championship points potential. McLaren in second in the standings ahead of us have one car outside of the top ten so we have scope to do well against them, but equally it’s a very close field.”

Day 3, 27 May 2012

Lotus F1 Team endured a difficult Monaco Grand Prix, with Kimi Räikkönen finishing in ninth position and Romain Grosjean crashing out of the race before the first corner. It was also a difficult race for the strategists with rain looming but never arriving to any significant extent until immediately after the chequered flag fell. Lotus F1 Team are now tied in third position in the Constructors’ Championship with Ferrari.

Both cars started on used sets of red-marked super soft Pirelli P-Zero tyres.
Kimi changed to a set of new soft tyres on lap 29.

Kimi Räikkönen, P9, E20-03
“Ninth was the best we could do today. I didn’t start in a great position and I had some difficulties during the race so it’s not been the easiest weekend, but at least we got a couple of points. It’s better than nothing but not exactly what we wanted. One race doesn’t change the fact that we have been pretty strong everywhere – even here at the beginning of the weekend. This circuit is completely different from any other and I don’t think we should worry too much about the fact that it wasn’t our best weekend. It is what it is – sometimes it doesn’t go the way you expected and now we should look to Canada for a better result.”

Romain Grosjean, DNF, E20-04
“We struggled to get off the line and it looked like Lewis [Hamilton] in front didn’t have the best start either. Fernando [Alonso] pulled alongside him so I was then on the outside of both cars, and unfortunately Michael [Schumacher] was on the outside of me as well. There just wasn’t enough room and next thing I’m facing all the traffic after just one hundred metres which wasn’t a nice feeling. It’s a disappointing end to the week after some positive early signs, but that’s racing and now we look forward to Canada and a chance to bounce back.”

Eric Boullier, Team Principal
"We arrived in Monaco after two consecutive podiums and did not really know what to expect at such a unique circuit. Before qualifying it was obvious that the E20 was going to be competitive, but things did not go as planned. Our positions on the grid did not reflect our true pace and that put us on the back foot for the rest of the weekend. Unfortunately Romain’s race ended prematurely after contact with Michael Schumacher, and like the Stewards I think it was a racing incident. With Kimi, we knew that fighting for a podium was going to be more than difficult. It then became obvious that we were struggling with our tyres when the temperature fell. The grip was just not there and we could only defend our position. In the end, the two points we’ve scored today are disappointing but because the field is so tight we have not lost too much ground on our opponents. We have the same number of points as Ferrari in the constructors’ championship, while Kimi is 25 points away from Fernando Alonso who’s leading the drivers’ classification. Anything can still happen and the championship is wide open. We’re now looking forward to Montreal, the first low downforce track of the season, where the E20 should be strong. Finally, I wish to congratulate the team for all their hard work this weekend. Our 500th was not one of our best, but I hope the 501st is!”

James Allison, Technical Director
“We’ve had five races so far this season where we’ve shown strongly. Sadly, at the sixth we were not on the pace. It was a completely joyless experience from start to finish. Romain has been metronomic this weekend, but he was out of the race before the first corner which was a massive blow to our hopes for today. Kimi had an okay start, but wasn’t able to keep the car running at a challenging pace once the sheen came off his tyres after ten or fifteen laps. We stayed out longer than we would have done otherwise on the first set of super soft tyres as we, and everyone else, were waiting for rain to come. Now we have to pick ourselves up and come back in Canada to bring both cars home in strong placings.”

Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 Team Support Leader
“We worked hard to deliver good drive and response over the lower rev ranges to deal with the low average speed of the Monaco track. The package has been quick this weekend, which was reflected in the qualifying positions, but Romain was very unlucky to be involved in the accident at the start. Ninth place for Kimi is a bit frustrating and not reflective of the general level of performance we have shown at this event.”