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18 November  2012

Lotus F1 Team comments on the USA Formula One Grand Prix

Friday 16 November 2012

Kimi Räikkönen went eleventh fastest whilst Romain Grosjean set the thirteenth quickest time as teams throughout the paddock got to grips with the Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas for the very first time. The team evaluated new rear drums and the latest exhaust evolution with both cars running reliably throughout the two 90 minute practice sessions.

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director - Technical Programme Notes :

We re-evaluated our latest exhaust update on Kimi’s car in FP1 and FP2.
Romain evaluated new rear drums in both sessions.
Kimi will evaluate our latest evolution front wing tomorrow morning.
Pirelli’s hard compound tyre was used in the first session, the hard and medium in the afternoon.

What we learned today :
We have sufficient data to be confident in running the latest exhaust system and new rear drums on both cars for the rest of the weekend.

Kimi Räikkönen, E20-05
Free practice 1 : P14, 1:41.880, 23 laps
Free practice 2 : P11, 1:40.166, 32 laps

Kimi :
“It’s a nice circuit to drive ; the sectors are quite different so there’s a good challenge there. Of course, like with any new track there was no grip at the start of the day which doesn’t give you a very good feeling, but as the grip improves it will be more fun to drive for sure. This morning was very slippery, this afternoon less so but you still can’t really push and it’s a bit tricky to find the limit. There’s a lot of improvement to come - from the track surface and from the setup of the car - so qualifying will be pretty interesting.”

Romain Grosjean, E20-03
Free practice 1 : P15, 1:41.998 27 laps
Free practice 2 : P13, 1:40.286, 32 laps

Romain :
“The most noticeable thing about the circuit at this stage is the lack of grip ; it’s really, really slippery out there. The layout itself looks very nice but we’re a long way off being able to push the car anywhere near the limit, particularly through Turns 7-9 and towards the end at Turn 19 where it’s tricky to predict how the car will behave. The good thing is that the car felt comfortable on long runs with the hard tyre so we have a good starting point, but there is still a little bit of work to do with the mediums. We still have tomorrow morning and I think the track will continue to improve right until the end of the weekend, so qualifying will be interesting for sure.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director :
“Despite being an all-new track, it’s been a fairly normal Friday for us. The morning session delivered the expected low levels of grip with the surface improving hugely later on making any comparison tests very difficult. This meant we concentrated on keeping the cars balanced and spending as much time out on track as we could. FP2 was a mix of setting the cars up and then carrying out high fuel work, however both struggled to get a clear lap on the medium tyres. Neither driver was particularly happy with their set-up so we’ve got a little bit of work to do. Our high fuel pace looks okay, and we’re confident we can deliver more on low fuel tomorrow.”

Saturday 17 November 2012

An exciting inaugural qualifying session at the Circuit of the Americas saw Romain Grosjean set the fourth-fastest time with Kimi Räikkönen right behind him in fifth. A gearbox change for Romain will see him start from ninth on the grid for tomorrow’s United States Grand Prix ; with Kimi inheriting fourth position as a result of his team-mate’s penalty.

Kimi Räikkönen, E20-05. Q : P5, 1:36.708. (Starts P4) FP3 : P13, 1:37.765
“I was actually expecting a more difficult qualifying session today, but the car was the best it’s felt all weekend so it turned out to be quite good. The set-up is still not exactly how I want it but it’s much closer. The warmer conditions make the car work much better and that certainly makes a difference. Starting on the dirty side of the grid maybe isn’t the best ; we’ll have to hope that the circuit picks up a little more grip for the race tomorrow.”

Romain Grosjean, E20-03. Q : P4, 1:36.587 (Starts P9) FP3 : P17, 1:38.753
“I will start P9, but this is racing. The guys did an awesome job to change the gearbox between FP3 and Qualifying – which was a really tight turnaround – but we’re still in the top ten even with the penalty so that’s a good result. Apart from the gearbox problem, it’s all gone very well today. We’ve understood a difficult and evolving circuit and found a good set-up. I’m happy to be where I am and at least I will be on the good side of the track for the start tomorrow.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director :
“There’s no reason we can’t be up there challenging for a podium spot again.”

What are your thoughts on qualifying ?
We’re certainly happy with today. It was a good qualifying performance from both drivers and we’ve shown that the car has improved pace in qualifying trim with the updated exhaust configuration which is a big positive. Unfortunately for Romain, we had a gearbox issue with his car this morning which means he’ll take a five place grid penalty but we know the car has good race pace ; with a clean start from both drivers there’s no reason we can’t be up there challenging for a podium spot again.

How difficult has it been to get up to speed with this new circuit ?
It’s been a bit of a struggle for everyone I think. We’ve seen a very green surface, low track temperatures and tyres which are really far too hard for what’s required. The circuit has started to clean up significantly which is allowing the car and tyres to behave in a much more normal fashion and it now seems to be relatively easy to run very long stints on either compound.

What are your thoughts in terms of strategy for tomorrow ?
As per the last few weekends, it’s highly likely that we’re looking at another one stop race. The decision will be whether to stop early and make the jump or whether to spend the most time possible running the option tyre, so that’s what we’ll be analysing tonight.

Are we feeling optimistic heading into the race ?
I think so, yes. Our race pace on Friday looked promising and – as a rule – the car has been kind on tyres so there’s no reason to believe we shouldn’t be aiming for another strong result.

Sunday 18 November 2012

Lotus F1 Team took a formation finish with Kimi Räikkönen in sixth and Romain Grosjean seventh in the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas this afternoon.

Kimi maintains third position in the Drivers’ Championship on 206 points ; 16 ahead of Lewis Hamilton in fourth. The team remains fourth in the Constructors’ Championship on 302 points ; an increased 166 in front of Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 in fifth.

Kimi and Romain both started on used medium compound tyres.
Romain pitted for new hard tyres on lap 9, Kimi on lap 24.

Kimi Räikkönen, P6, E20-05
"It was an okay day, but not a very easy one for us. I got a bad start and then I touched with a Force India at the second corner so I lost a few more places. After that the car was okay and I could get past some of the others. Unfortunately, when it got cloudy it got too cold so the tyres stopped working and that’s where we saw Jenson [Button] get past. Basically, it was a race where we were just depending on the tyres to be in their window. I’m still 3rd in the championship and we’ll do everything we can to maintain this position until the end."

Romain Grosjean, P7, E20-03
"Not a bad race but the spin on lap seven was frustrating. The start was good, the first lap was good and the pace was definitely there. I recovered pretty well from where I was to finish P7 and was fighting Kimi at the end which is a positive sign. I pushed as hard as I could, so I was happy to bring home some more points for the team."

Eric Boullier, Team Principal
"Today wasn’t as good as Abu Dhabi obviously, but with both cars in the points we’re quite satisfied. The first part of the race created some expectations that we could have been in a position to fight for a better result, however the race didn’t play out that way. We had a small problem in Kimi’s pit stop and lost time there. Romain made a mistake behind Nico Hulkenberg and lost the opportunity to do a better job, but he had a very strong race from there and came back well. In the end, Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari were faster and there wasn’t anything we could do. It’s good to gain some points, plus we know we have better performance still to come from the car and the ability to achieve better results, so we’re looking forward to Brazil."

James Allison, Technical Director
"Although there were elements of today’s race that were quite positive, overall I have to admit it was a pretty joyless experience. Romain’s off-track excursion during the early stages put a sizeable flat spot on his tyres which proved to be too much to live with past a few extra laps. This was a real shame as he clearly had good pace and put in a very spirited drive to recover from there. After a tricky start from the dirty side of the track, Kimi did a good job of clawing his way forwards and was on course to jump Fernando [Alonso] in the pit stop battle, but unfortunately we had a bit of a drama with our tyre change which put paid to that. On a more positive note, our qualifying pace has certainly improved so with a trouble free race in Brazil we can hopefully wrap up the season with another podium."

Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 Team Support Leader
"Coming to a new circuit is never straightforward as we are constantly learning about the track and optimising engine maps, fuel consumption and grip levels. We’ve had a strong weekend overall and sixth and seventh is a solid result, although perhaps we would have expected more after qualifying yesterday. The next race is only a week away and has its own set of challenges so we’ll take that result and look forward now."