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14 November 2011
Team Lotus comments on the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix 2011
Free Practice 1 and 2
Heikki Kovalainen, Car 20 - Chassis T128-04: "Not too bad at all. Both sessions were pretty straightforward and we kept making improvements all day. The car felt good on both sets of tyres - the track here has really good grip levels and the degradation on the softs was pretty low, certainly manageable, so that looks good for Sunday. The main thing is that our Fridays are now all solid, giving us the chance to really dial the cars in and that means we can work on maximising our pace on Saturday and Sundays, and you can see the evidence of that from our recent races."
Jarno Trulli, Car 21 - Chassis T128-03: "That was a good Friday for us. The car felt pretty balanced all day and we kept improving on each run, so I think we're looking ok for the rest of the weekend. Both tyre compounds behaved pretty well here - the softs weren't going off too quickly at all so I think that gives us good options for the race, and there's a bit of performance difference between the softs and the mediums so we might be able to do something with that in qualifying - let's see."
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "A good day for us here in Abu Dhabi - we completed the planned program on both cars with no issues all day, keeping up the much improved reliability record we have had in the latter part of the season. This morning the two drivers ran on the development tyres and Heikki was working on brake comparisons, so we have some useful data to look at from those. In the afternoon we worked on race evaluations on both compounds and I think we look pretty good on both the low and heavy fuel loads on both. All in all a good Friday, setting us up well for the rest of the weekend."
Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 Support Leader: "We completed a very good number of laps today which is always key for Fridays. We now have a lot of data to work on which we will use tonight to fine tune the engine performance for the drivers tomorrow and on Sunday. This track puts the emphasis on the responsiveness of the engines - driveability it not so important here as there are a number of relatively low-speed second and third gear corners and I think we are looking ok in those areas, as well as in top speed which is obviously key for the long straights."
Riad Asmat, Group CEO: "Another solid Friday for us and we look like we have maintained the same sort of pace we have been showing in the last few races. One of the key areas we have been working on is making sure we run reliably all weekend, so to complete another Friday where we have run without any issues all day is good. Now the goal is to carry that through the rest of the weekend and make sure we keep up this level of performance to the end of the season."
FP3 and Qualifying
Heikki Kovalainen, Car 20 - Chassis T128-04: "I am really pleased with that performance today. We definitely got as much performance as we could out of the car and to break into the 1.42s is very satisfying. I pretty much nailed the quick lap and I think we know that where we are on race pace gives us another chance of a strong finish tomorrow. I'm also looking forward to Brazil where we have an update to the rear wing coming - that should give us a better chance of using the DRS more effectively around the whole lap in qualifying, helping us get much closer to our race pace on Saturday afternoons, so another quick lap like that in Brazil with the update would be a great way to finish the qualifying sessions this season."
Jarno Trulli, Car 21 - Chassis T128-03: "It's obviously been a tricky Saturday for me, having had to sit out FP3 when we found an issue with the gearbox that couldn't be fixed in time for me to run in that session. Despite that, the team worked well to fix the problem and gave me the chance to get out in qualifying without incurring any penalties, so putting together a lap that comfortably keeps me ahead of the guys behind is, in the circumstances, pretty good."
Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 Support Leader: "We saw from Heikki's fastest time that the work everyone put in last night and today gave us the performance we were looking for. With the change in track temperatures we do have to give the drivers different engine maps to suit the ambient temperatures, as well as maximising performance for the specific characteristics of this track, and the times we put in on both cars, especially considering the lack of running Jarno had earlier, puts this down as a good qualifying session for the team."
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "A reasonably satisfying qualifying session for us. Obviously Jarno had some ground to make up after losing this morning's session with a gearbox issue that we were able to fix in time for qualifying. Heikki put in another very good Q1 and extracted as much performance as he could out of the car, so they both did well today. We put both cars on two runs in the session, first on the medium compounds and then on the softs, and we finised the session closer to the pack ahead than we have all season, so that points towards another strong Sunday for us. The key now is to maintain the pace we have shown since Singapore and make sure we bring both cars to the chequered flag without any problems."
Riad Asmat, Group CEO: "I think we can be reasonably pleased with today's performance. Heikki put in another incredible lap, getting it just right in all three sectors to finish as close as he did to Michael ahead, and Jarno had to perform in a car that he had barely had track time in today and managed to put in a good lap, pretty close to his team mate. Two more races to go, one tomorrow and then the final race in Brazil in two weeks, and two more races for us to secure that all important tenth place. If the drivers and the team can keep up the level of performance we have seen today and for a good part of the whole season, I think we will be ok."
Heikki Kovalainen, Car 20 - Chassis T128-04: "Another pretty good start and from there the whole race was straightforward. I didn't have any issues for the whole race, the pitstops were good and the strategy worked out exactly was we'd planned, so across the whole weekend this has been another strong event for us. What seems to be happening is that in the first couple of stints, as the race sort of settles down, we are able to keep up with the cars ahead, and that's obviously a sign of how we have progressed, and that's again what happened here. When we went onto the primes for the last stint the pace obviously dropped a bit but we had another strong push to the end, with Senna losing time on his final set of tyres, and that points to us being able to fight much more closely next year. For now we have one race left, so we'll shift the focus now to Brazil and make sure we finish the season as strongly as we have been doing since Singapore."
Jarno Trulli, Car 21 - Chassis T128-03: "I lost a few places at the start with clutch slip, but within a few laps I had got passed the cars we needed to fight and then focused on making sure I got the car to the end of the race. The second stint was pretty strong, but then on the last stint on the hard tyres I was struggling to get them up to temperature so I couldn't really push any more. This has been a bit of a tough weekend. I came here with a bit of a fever and then losing time in FP3 obviously set me back as well, but now I want to make sure I have as good a race as possible in Brazil and help the team secure tenth place."
Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 Support Leader: "I think we managed to get as much as we could hope for today. We have been focusing on giving the drivers the right mix of top-end speed, rear-end stability and good responsiveness in the low to mid-speed corners, and I think Heikki's early pace showed that we keep going in the right direction."
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "A solid race for us and good to see both cars across the finish line with no problems all afternoon. We opted for the same strategy on both cars, running the first two stints on the soft tyres and switching to the mediums at the end and it worked out how we had planned it would. Jarno lost some time at the start but he pulled some of that back with a strong middle stint but was then hit by the number of blue flags that he had to slow down for. At the end of the race Heikki was once again chasing down the Renault but just was not able to get past him with the laps he had left. Now we move on to the last race of the season in Brazil where we will be focusing on the season's number on goal - securing tenth place and giving ourselves the platform we need to keep building for the future."
Riad Asmat, Group CEO: "We leave Abu Dhabi feeling pretty good about the way the weekend went for the whole team, particularly seeing Heikki having another storming race and mixing it in the midfield for a good part of the afternoon. We keep edging closer to tenth place, and while that is not a step forward for us in championship terms, compared to last year, it is vital for our long-term growth, and when we can carry over the step-up we have made this year in the pitstops, in the factory and in our race pace, we are putting ourselves in the right place for next season and beyond. One more race to go and we will make sure we keep up this level or performance in Brazil before the race team takes a well-earned break."