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1 November 2011

Lotus Reanult GP comments on the Indian Formula One Grand Prix 2011

Friday 28-10-2011
Practice 1 and 2

Karun Chandhok, Car 20 - Chassis T128-01: "It felt great to finally be able to drive an F1 car here at the Buddh International Circuit, and it was a real honour to be the first car to set a timed lap in front of the fans. I want to thank the team for giving me that chance, and everyone at the Jaypee Group and all the people involved in helping create the first ever Indian Grand Prix for doing such a great job on the whole event. In the car I was pretty pleased with how it went today. We completed most of the morning programme and without the yellow flags at the end of the session I'm pretty sure there was another second in hand on my final lap time. The track itself is really enjoyable to drive, particularly the middle section which is very quick, and as it evolves and the times keep coming down I think we'll see some very good racing here all weekend."

Heikki Kovalainen, Car 20 - Chassis T128-01: "I'm reasonably pleased with how it went this afternoon but think I suffered a bit from not running this morning. Still, you have to deal with what you have in front of you so we worked hard in the afternoon session to get used to the track and find a balance that gave me the confidence to push. There's definitely quite a lot more to come from the car and as the track evolves I think we'll see that the fact we're pretty kind to the soft tyres should help us, probably more on Sunday than tomorrow, but we'll see."

Jarno Trulli, Car 21 - Chassis T128-03: "That was a very smooth Friday and we made good progress in both sessions, both on learning the track and on the best setup here in India. The track is not too hard to learn but it's interesting - there are a few different lines you can take and I think that will encourage overtaking, so Sunday's definitely going to be fun. The track surface developed quickly today and I hope it continues to do so - off line it's still very dusty and that could catch out a few people, so let's see how it evolves over the weekend. On the tyre side I think we've seen some interesting results today. The softs seem to hang on very well over the long runs but the hard tyres have almost no grip and it seems pretty tough to get them up to temperature. We'll have to see if that's the same tomorrow as it could change as the track keeps developing."

Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 Support Leader: "This was obviously our first time running here in India so the first task was to take a look at how the gear ratios we had run on the dyno worked when we were actually on track. It looks like we have made the right choices as we hit our targets around the whole track, particularly on the full throttle ratio which plays an important role around this type of circuit, which is pretty similar to Korea."

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "An excellent first day here in India for us. We were able to complete a very decent number of laps on both cars and completed the whole program we had set for all three drivers today. This morning Karun was the first car out to set a timed lap here and that was obviously a special moment for him, but he focused on the job he had to do and worked through the aero program we had set him. This afternoon we worked on tyre evaluation and we made good progress on a track that looks to be very exciting for the drivers and fans, and a good challenge for the engineers, so from our perspective this has been a very good day."

Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: "I am delighted to see the Indian Grand Prix get under way in such a good style, both for the Indian fans and the team that put the race together, and for our team who have had a very good Friday on track. It started with an historic moment for Karun as he became the first driver ever to record a timed lap in an F1 car at the Indian Grand Prix, and I am very pleased for him that he finished the session as the fastest Indian driver out there, having completed his program and putting in another strong performance. This afternoon both Jarno and Heikki were also very strong, Jarno finishing FP1 a couple of tenths away from the cars ahead and in the afternoon session both drivers looking strong on heavy fuel on both tyre compounds, which bodes well for the race. We are finishing the season extremely well, both in terms of reliability and performance, and I think that gives us good cause for optimism for the last three races this year, and looking ahead to 2012."

Saturday 29-10-2011
Practice 3 and Qualifying

Heikki Kovalainen, Car 20 - Chassis T128-01: "I think I got as much out of the car as I could in quali and it's good to put in a lap like that right towards the end of the run. Honestly, I've been struggling all weekend to find a balance and put heat into the tyres, so to come out on Saturday and hook up a lap within 0.7 of Kamui feels pretty good. As the weekend's continuing the track's getting better and better and I have to say I'm really enjoying myself out there, so tomorrow will be fun, particularly as we've shown recently that we can fight with the cars in front throughout the race."

Jarno Trulli, Car 21 - Chassis T128-03: "I was a bit unlucky with traffic on my quick laps and I think there were a couple of tenths to find but we were pretty close to pushing as hard as we could today in quali. We've taken a step forward since yesterday as the times show, but we know our qualifying pace doesn't reflect what we can do in the race so I want to make sure I can get back to the great race starts I'd been making a couple of races back and see where we end up tomorrow afternoon."

Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 Support Leader: "We worked a lot last night on improving the balance of the car through the medium and high speed corners and on maximising our straight line speed so both cars have the best shot of competing with the teams ahead tomorrow. I think we will be ok - this is a similar layout to the last race in Korea and we were strong there so I think we can look forward to another good performance on Sunday."

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "I think we can be reasonably pleased with our qualifying performance here. Our drivers were close to the maximum on their quickest laps and even though they had a couple of issues with traffic and struggled to generate heat in both compounds of tyres, we finished Q1 close to the group ahead. We know we can fight with a number of cars in the race so the aim for Sunday has to be a repeat of our races in Japan and Korea and maintain the strong end to the season we have been enjoying over the last few races."

Riad Asmat, Group CEO: "We did ok here. Both drivers have struggled a little with the tyres here but I think our qualifying performance today shows some of the hard work put in last night and this morning has brought us back to where we know we should be. Now we want to maintain the very good reliability we have seen all weekend and make sure both cars finish well tomorrow. I think the race itself is going to be a momentous occasion for everyone involved in the Indian Grand Prix and I hope the fans have something to cheer for, no matter what team they are following."

Sunday 30-10-2011

Heikki Kovalainen, Car 20 - Chassis T128-01: "I had another good start, maybe not quite up there with the last two races, but avoided the problems in turn 1 and 3 and from there I had a really strong race. At one point I was running 10th and the car felt great all afternoon. I was still in it after the first stops and as the fuel level dropped I was able to keep pace with Senna ahead, and keep a gap to the cars behind, but when I went onto the hards it was much harder to keep up the pace. I was also seriously held up by the HRTs when they had blue flags shown to them. I think they held up Lewis as well and they definitely cost me quite a lot of time. I probably wouldn't have finished any higher, even without them holding me up, but when we're pushing as hard as we are, and fighting with midfield cars, it's a good feeling, for me and the whole team."

Jarno Trulli, Car 21 - Chassis T128-03: "The bad luck struck again. I had a pretty good start but then one of the HRT's hit me from behind as we came out of turn three and that was basically the end of my race. I had a puncture and had to do almost a full lap to get me back to the pit, so from that position there wasn't anything I could do. I think the car suffered some damage to the floor when I was hit as the balance had completely gone for the rest of the race and I just couldn't put any decent times in. Despite that this has been another good weekend for the team. Our reliability has been strong, Heikki's pace in the race was good so I just hope I have better luck in the last two races and help make sure we secure tenth in this year's championship."

Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 Support Leader: "For us that was another strong performance from the whole team on a track that pushed the engines pretty hard. Obviously it was a shame that Jarno's race was compromised so early on but with Heikki he was able to race as high as tenth up to the halfway point which is very encouraging. It looks like we found balance we were working on, with good top speed for the first half of the lap and maximising the driveability and responsiveness of the engines for the second part of the lap, so we leave India feeling pretty satisfied with the job we have done on this new track."

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "A mixed result today for us. Unfortunately Jarno's race was effectively ended on the first lap when an HRT crashed into the back of him, causing a rear puncture and causing damage to the rear floor, so all he could do today was make sure he brought the car home. Heikki drove a very strong race on a two stop strategy, running the soft tyre for the first two stints and then going on to the hard to the end of the race. He was fighting with the midfield all the way through and brought the car home to record another strong finish. Yet again we showed the progress the team has made throughout the season and we are continuing our strong end to 2011. Now we have two more races to look forward to - two more chances for us possibly to score our first point, but, more importantly, to finish tenth."

Riad Asmat, Group CEO: "First I want to say on behalf of the whole team what a great job the Jaypee Group and everyone here has done to put on a truly spectacular first Indian Grand Prix. From our perspective we leave here reasonably pleased with how the race went - Heikki had another fantastic drive today and made the most of the opportunity to race with the cars around him. Jarno was unlucky to be hit by the HRT after he had made a good start, but the main thing for us this weekend is that we have crossed off another race and are a step closer to finishing tenth. That is the primary goal for us this season and we are nearly there."