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23 July  2012

Lotus Racing last weekend, 21-22 July 2012

Formula One - German Grand Prix

Kimi Raikkonen was classed third at Hockenheim having started back in tenth place. He crossed the line in fourth, but with the stewards penalizing Sebastian Vettel 20 seconds for passing Jenson Button off the track, Kimi inherits the podium position even though he missed out on the rostrum bubbly.

The Finn qualified a disappointing tenth in the rain affected session but made an aggressive start to Sunday’s race, making up two places on the first lap and then pulling off a thrilling manoeuvre on Force India’s Paul di Resta around Turns 7 and 8. Having started on the soft compound tyre, he went for the same again on Lap 11 but his middle stint was a little underwhelming. He held out until Lap 38 to switch to mediums, before passing Michael Schumacher and finishing behind the McLaren of Jenson Button.

Romain Grosjean had a less rewarding race, making contact with Bruno Senna and coming off at the hairpin on Lap 1 with a broken front wing. He dropped to the back as he pitted for a replacement, and two more times for fresh tyres, opting for a soft-medium-medium-medium strategy. He finished in 18th.

Romain drops to eighth in the drivers’ championship with 61 points, while Kimi rises to fourth with 98. Lotus drops to fourth, just one point behind McLaren in the constructors’ championship.

Kimi Raikkonen: “We did the best we could given where we started, but the chance of victory was lost on Saturday, and not for the first time. We didn’t have much grip in the wet unfortunately. Therefore we can be quite happy with where we ended up today. My start was okay, but I had to slow down to avoid hitting Lewis [Hamilton], which let Paul [di Resta] past, and then I went after him. The car worked well today, and if we had started higher I think we could have done a bit better, but there are positives to take to the next race.”

Romain Grosjean: “We were on the back foot this weekend having been given a five-place grid penalty for changing the gearbox. Nothing went right today. It’s a shame because I had a good start and made up some places through Turn 1. Then on the straight there was contact, and that was the race ruined. I’m not sure exactly what happened, I need to watch the on-board. My car was badly damaged with a broken wing and a puncture. I’m hoping for a much better weekend in Hungary.”

GP2 - Hockemheim

Lotus’ James Calado won the GP2 sprint race in Germany, having earned the reverse grid pole the day before. Calado and team-mate Esteban Gutierrez both had ten-place grid penalties from Silverstone, which was always going to make the Hockenheim weekend a challenge. Calado responded by setting the second fastest time in qualifying, which meant he started Race 1 from P11. Gutierrez was caught out by a yellow flag during the wet session which meant he set only the ninth fastest time. He started Saturday’s race in P18.

With the track damp at the start, most teams including Lotus GP elected to start on wet tyres, with Johnny Cecotto gambling on slicks. His call paid off, as the sun dried the circuit quickly and the field filed into the pits after a few laps to change to dry rubber. With both Lotus’ pitting at the same time, Gutierrez had to wait while Calado’s tyres were changed which dropped him back to 19th. The Mexican then managed those slicks well, so that he was able to attack hard in the final third of the 39 lap race, passing Tom Dillmann for P10 and chasing down Marcus Ericsson. On the last lap he made a move on Ericsson at the hairpin but the pair went wide, allowing Dillmann back through. Esteban managed to retain tenth place, earning himself a point. Calado, meanwhile, fought over eighth place with Davide Valsecchi, which is vital for a good starting position for Race 2. Valsecchi went wide on Lap 31, which allowed the Englishman through.

Starting from pole, Calado made a great Race 2 start and despite early pressure from Guido van der Garde was able to pull away from the Dutchman in the second half of the race. It was the rookie’s second sprint win of the season. Gutierrez finished fifth after a long fight with Fabio Leimer who, despite a last lap attempt, he was unable to pass.

Esteban maintains third place in the drivers’ championship with 129 points. Calado is fifth in the standings with 116 but has closed the gap. Lotus GP lead DAMS with 245 points to 227.

James Calado: “A fantastic weekend for me and Lotus GP. I had a ten-place penalty but I came here focused on qualifying well, which I did. I was very close to pole position. I had contact with another driver during Race 1, which broke part of my front wing and the loss of down force really ruined my tyres. P8 was the target and we got there, so that was good. The start of Race 2 was perfect; in fact I’d say it was the most perfect race I’ve ever driven. I set my fastest lap of the race just a few laps from the end, which goes to show how well the car was set up. Despite pressure from Van der Garde I knew I had plenty left. My confidence is now boosted. We had no problems at all and a good load of points to take to Hungary.”

Esteban Gutierrez: “In Race 1 I lost critical time to James on the pitstop, and after that I had a lot of work to do. It was a long stint, so I had to take care of the tyres at the beginning. Towards the end we were able to gain a lot of positions, so this tactic worked. Tenth is not so bad, it could have been worse. Race 2 was more fun, I had some good fights and it was very challenging as I had very little tyres left at the end. I tried to overtake Leimer but felt the tyres going away. The day was very positive as I managed to score six points and my team-mate won the race, so it’s terrific for Lotus GP.”

GP3 - Hockenheim

Lotus GP took three podiums from Germany’s two races, with Daniel Abt scoring pole position for Race 1.

Abt was one of five drivers to start the race on slick tyres, which proved the wrong call as the heavens opened on the formation lap. This promoted Lotus team-mate Conor Daly, who started P3, to the lead before the conditions were so bad the race director signalled the red flag and the race was suspended. After a 15 minute wait on the grid the cars restarted under the safety car and, on Lap 8, racing was finally underway again. Daly was passed by Patric Niederhauser and finished P2, while Abt finished seventh earning the reverse grid P2 for Race 2 and Aaro Vainio, in the third Lotus, finished fifth tucked up behind Matias Laine’s MW Arden, whom he was unable to pass.

Race 2 saw very little racing, just three laps that weren’t under the safety car. Abt made the perfect start to take the lead from Mitch Evans and blast into the distance, but his advantage was cancelled out by a Lap 1 incident at the hairpin involving Vicky Piria, which led to eight laps behind the safety car. Daly, meanwhile, leapt from seventh place to third. At the restart Evans was able to get a tow and pass Abt. Fabiano Machado’s off on Lap 11 brought out another safety car, under which the race was finished. Abt finished second, Daly third, and Vainio sixth.

Evans now leads the championship with 121 points, with Vainio second on 103, Abt promoted to third on 76 just ahead of Niederhauser and Daly on 75. Lotus GP extends its lead the teams’ championship with 254 points to MW Arden’s 216.

Daniel Abt: “After the bad luck yesterday, I made a pretty good start to pass Mitch and take the lead. I think I could have kept P1 after the first safety car phase but Mitch got a good slipstream and was able to pass me at the hairpin. With the second safety car I didn’t get a chance to try and reclaim my lead so it was a very bad day for me. Second place is not what I wanted in this race. My expectations were higher having earned pole for Race 1 and started on the front row for Race 2. I still got good points but it was the win that I wanted in front of my home fans.”

Conor Daly: “This was a great weekend, I had no penalties and a good qualifying, and I go away with two podiums. That’s great for the championship and continues the strong momentum from Silverstone. It was frustrating to spend so many laps under the safety car today because the car was strong in the dry, but in the end that’s motorsports and at least I made a mega start which put us up there.”

Claudio Berro, Director of Lotus Racing: “Some good results this weekend, with a win in GP2 and podiums in both Formula One and GP3. Once again the Lotus F1 Team showed strong pace in the race, but as Kimi says qualifying is important too and Saturday ultimately kept the team off the top spot again in Hockenheim. We all know the team, the drivers and the E20 car has the ability to win and we must wait patiently for everything to come together. Winning is something we’re looking forward to and it’s only a couple of days until Lotus arrives in Hungary to try just that.”

Indycar - Edmonton Indy

Sunday’s sunny Edmonton Indy was America’s first premier open-wheel race to run ‘caution free’ since Portland 2007. Lotus HVM Racing’s Simona de Silvestro drove a consistent race and showed good speed through the corners, pulling a nice move on Ed Carpenter Racing’s No.20 car on Lap 17. Unfortunately the car’s lack of pace on the straights made it difficult to gain more positions, and she finished 23rd.

Simona de Silvestro: “It was kind of a weird day. No yellows, so we couldn’t really get off strategy. We had to make one more stop than everybody else because our fuel consumption is comparatively poor. We had a strong race car today, but we’re still not fast enough.”

Vincent Pereme, Lotus’s motorsport engine manager: “We had a new spec of engine for Edmonton with an additional performance upgrade. We are very pleased with the fact that we were able to finish the race with no engine related issue. This is very important information for us as it validates this new specification of engine as the base on which we will be able to do further work. We understand that it is frustrating for Simona, as it is for the HVM and for all of us at Lotus, to not be able to compete yet with the frontrunners.

But we are showing clear signs of improvement at each race and that will continue through the season.”

American Le Mans Series - Grand Prix of Mosport

Lotus Alex Job Racing completed a full weekend without any major hiccups in Ontario to finish ninth, and gaining valuable data in the process in order to develop the car. The Canadian Tyre Motorsport Park gave the team of Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler their first chance to put the Evora GT through its paces around properly high-speed turns.

Bill Sweedler: “Once again we did maximum laps and took another step in the development of this very promising car. As we go to every track that is new to this car we are coming up with more items to improve handling and overall performance. This week it was aero balance. The guys are doing a great job.”

Townsend Bell: “We are getting faster. It is a lot of work for a ninth-place finish. We ran as high as sixth and were able to be respectable, while running what is essentially a test program on TV. We know what our goals are for the season, and we are right on pace with the development of the car.”