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14 May  2012

Lotus F1 Team comments on the Spanish Grand Prix 2012

Day 1, Friday 11 May 2012

Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean took to the track for the first practice sessions of the fifth round of the 2012 Formula 1 World Championship at the Circuit de Catalunya today in hot and dry conditions. The Lotus F1 Team drivers ended the sessions with the fifth and sixth fastest lap times of the day.

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director - Technical programme notes:
In FP1 we conducted aerodynamic evaluations, in particular of our different front wing specifications and also the latest floor modifications using the hard compound Pirelli tyre.
FP2 saw heavy fuel running, focusing on the long run race performance of the hard and soft compound tyres.

What we learned today:
Our lower fuel set-up changes have been validated following developments tested in Mugello.
The base set-up for the car works well with no surprisess.

Kimi Räikkönen, E20-03
Free practice 1: P9, 1:25.285, 29 laps
Free practice 2: P5, 1:23.918, 32 laps

Kimi:
“There were no problems with the car and everything felt good today. We tried a different front wing, but in the car you can’t tell if it makes much difference; that is why the team’s engineers are looking at the data. I felt comfortable and I think the work done at Mugello and in the Windshear test programme have made improvements. We’ll have to see tomorrow how much pace everyone has when it comes to qualifying as that’s when it matters. We’ve been fast everywhere else so far and there’s nothing to suggest we won’t be fast here again.”

Romain Grosjean, E20-04
Free practice 1: P7, 1:25.217, 16 laps
Free practice 2: P6, 1:23.964, 37 laps

Romain:
“It was a pretty good day today. The weather is fantastic, the car feels great and the lap times were promising; I’m a happy man. The balance felt strong on both tyres and we were able to complete long runs to give us valuable tyre data for Sunday. I’m happy with the performance of the car even when the tyres are nearer the end of their performance life which is a good sign for this weekend. It’s very close of course, so qualifying will be interesting. I can’t wait for tomorrow to come.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director:
“The car looks to be working very well and we’re happy with progress. Our long runs on the softer tyres gave us good data for the race in terms of degradation and how many laps they can last before the performance drops away significantly. From this we’ve had an initial look at our pit stop strategy for Sunday. There were no problems from either car and both drivers were pretty happy with things. Some of work in Mugello concentrated on how we run the cars on lower fuel levels which is reflected by our better lap time performance on a Friday than we’ve seen at some other races.”

Day 2, Saturday 12 May 2012

Romain Grosjean qualified in P4 whilst Kimi Räikkönen set the fifth fastest time under blue skies and light clouds in qualifying for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya

Kimi Räikkönen, E20-03. Q: P5, 1:22.487.
“I think we had a chance to be in the top three but we’ve been fighting with the set-up quite a bit today. We changed the car for qualifying and actually it was the correct call in the end; it was just a few small mistakes which cost me some time on my Q3 lap. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow in the race; the car has usually been better on Sunday than it has been on Saturday, so if that’s the case tomorrow we’ll be pretty happy. A lot of small details will decide the race and the tyres are one aspect of course. Our long runs were promising yesterday, so we’re not looking too bad. Hopefully we get a reasonable start and we can be up at the right end and go for it. I think we’ve got a good car and that’s the main thing.”

Romain Grosjean, E20-04. Q: P4, 1:22.424.
“It was a good performance from the team, especially as I didn’t run in FP3 because of a fuel pressure problem. For the set-up we went from what we’d found out yesterday and it worked pretty well. Everyone did a good job to get the car ready for qualifying after the problems of the morning. We can be happy with what we have achieved – of course you always want more but this is the result for today. I think that I could have been a little bit quicker, not too much more. Tomorrow is going to be long; our race pace did not look too bad but, of course, we’ll have to manage tyre degradation.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director:
“Today went relatively smoothly for us…”

How do you assess today’s qualifying performance?
“Today went relatively smoothly for us. In Q3 I think we could have had a little bit more from both drivers’ laps. For Romain in particular – after missing this morning’s practice – it was an exceptional effort. Having the hard and soft tyres as opposed to two compounds which sit alongside each other (the medium and soft used in Bahrain for example) meant we had to approach qualifying differently as we all needed the softer tyre to progress through Q1, limiting the number of soft tyres available for the next two sessions. We saw different approaches to this; we’ll have to see in the race whose was correct.”

How are we looking for the race?
“Our long run pace yesterday looked good so we can be reasonably confident heading into the race. Our target for today was to get both cars into the top six; we’ve got both in the top five so let’s try and exceed expectations once again tomorrow.”

What are we thinking for tyre strategy heading into tomorrow?
“We used three sets of soft tyres to go through qualifying, but we have two new sets of the hard compound Pirelli tyres. We are very flexible on tyre strategy for tomorrow and we’ll be spending a lot of time now looking at all the possible permutations. There’s certainly no clear solution shouting out at us at this stage, so we have a lot of number crunching to do. We’ll be starting both cars on scrubbed soft tyres, after that it is still to be decided.”

Day 3, Sunday 13 May 2012, Race

Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean ensured that Lotus F1 Team were the strongest points scoring team in a fast-paced Spanish Grand Prix, finishing in third and fourth position to move the team within 14 points of second place in the Constructors’ Championship.

Both cars started on used sets of yellow-marked soft Pirelli P-Zero tyres.
Romain changed to a set of used softs on lap 10, then made two further stops for new silver-marked hard tyres on laps 26 and 51.
Kimi pitted for a set of used softs on lap 11, then fresh sets of hards on laps 27 and 48.

Kimi Räikkönen, P2, E20-03
“I had a very good start and had a chance to overtake on the outside, but we did not have enough speed and I hit the limiter in fifth gear. I am a bit disappointed because if everything had gone right in the first part of the race, we could have won. There was no issue with the speed of the car, but it is so close between all the teams that if you have a small problem or a small issue it can cost so much. Our car can do it, but everything has to fall into the right place to be able to get on to the top step. My first stint was okay, but I didn’t have the speed to stay with the cars in front. We changed the tyres and it seemed to be pretty good, but we were too far away. At the end we needed a few more laps and we could have fought for the win. We’re not far away from it and so far we’ve made good steps forwards; the car feels strong everywhere.”

Romain Grosjean, P3, E20-04, Fastest lap of the race: 1:26.250 (Lap 53, hard tyres)
“We lost position at the start and with it a bit of front wing too! It was cooler today which didn’t suit us so much. Despite this, I am very happy with P4 especially when you look at yesterday where I missed all of the final practice session. Both cars finishing strongly in the points is great for the team. It was pretty difficult for me at the start of the race as it was hard to get the front working properly with the wing damaged, but we made some changes and at the end of the race the car was really flying. I think we made the right decisions today; if you told us we could finish third and fourth at the beginning of the weekend we’d have taken it.”

Eric Boullier, Team Principal
"It’s a very strong result and it’s a great reward for the team today. I think we can expect a stronger season than we had last year and we need to carry on scoring points as we have in the last two races. I’m sure a win could arrive at some point this season. After qualifying you build expectations, and we could have expected after the strong race pace we had in Bahrain that we could have done the same here, but it was not the case. A race incident at the start didn’t help Romain, but the pace of both drivers at the end of the race illustrated our potential. Finally, we must say congratulations to the Williams team for their win, and we hope no-one was seriously hurt in the post-race incident in their pits.”

Alan Permane, Director of Trackside Operations
“Third and fourth is a really good result for the team and it meant a big points haul here – more than any other team this weekend – which helps us to close up hugely on second place in the standings. Of course, it would have been nice to have done better, but the key to a strong championship campaign is consistency and if we can finish third and fourth in every race this season we’ll be very happy. We didn’t have the pace to win today, that much was clear after the first stints. We tried to push our stints out and be quick at the end. We were, and it nearly paid off.”

Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 Team Support Leader
“It was a great race with another podium and fourth position to move us a lot closer to second in the championship. We introduced new engines after Friday practice and it went well. We managed the fuel consumption effectively on both cars in the race, but in Romain’s we had some engine air consumption in the middle stint. Congratulations to Pastor and our Renault colleagues working at Williams today – a well deserved win.”