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17 October 2011

Team Lotus comments on South Korean Grand Prix 2011

14 october 2011, Free Practice 1 & 2

Karun Chandhok, Car 21 - Chassis T128-03: "I do seem to be a little jinxed with the rain… I think Monza and Suzuka were anomalies as every time I get in the car the rain seems to hammer down, but I just have to deal with what's put in front of me, and so it was again today! Despite the limited running in FP1 I still got a sense of how good this circuit is but today it was simply about keeping it on the track and making sure I didn't make any mistakes in pretty treacherous conditions. I think the pace was pretty good for the one run I did and certainly the last two Fridays have given me a lot more confidence in the car than I had a couple of months ago."

Heikki Kovalainen, Car 20 - Chassis T128-04: "This morning was basically a write-off. You could see that the whole pitlane had the same idea - limit the running on full wets as we're not going to learn anything of real value for the rest of the weekend and avoid any issues that create unnecessary work. This afternoon the track at least dried enough for us to put in some laps on the inters, and we managed to complete some of the plan on the engine maps, so it wasn't all bad. The balance felt fine, and I think it'll be a totally different story tomorrow when it'll be a very busy FP3 for everyone and we can see how the two compounds of slick tyres behave in the dry."

Jarno Trulli, Car 21 - Chassis T128-03: "To be honest today was just one of those days that we sometimes have in F1. The conditions meant we didn't really have a chance to try too much as the forecast is for dry running tomorrow and Sunday, and when the track's as wet as it was this morning, and we can only run on inters in the afternoon, there's not a lot we can learn. We did a bit of work on the engine driveability in FP2, and at least we now know how the car's behaving on the inters so if the forecasts are wrong we have banked some data, but I think a dry track tomorrow will suit us and we can pick up where we left off in Japan."

Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 Support Leader: "The weather conditions today basically made our job pretty hard. We wanted to work on the engine driveability and while we managed to do a bit on that we definitely were not able to complete the program. This circuit requires us to have both very good top speed and good traction out of the slow corners. The long straight from T2 to T3 means we have to have the right top gear to both attack cars ahead under the tow, and defend from those behind and make allowances for the wind which can change quickly here and affect outright pace. We also need to make sure we give the drivers good traction out of the slow corners and good rear stability from the blown floor so I think that will be the main areas for us to work on tonight to prepare for what will be a very busy session tomorrow morning."

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "Obviously the weather today made it a tricky Friday for everyone, but despite that Karun managed to complete a good run this morning and did another solid job for us around a track that is new to him. In the second session the conditions improved and we ran reasonably competitively on the intermediates. We put both cars onto the supersofts for the last run but it was immediately obvious that the track had not dried out enough to find out anything useful from the final laps, so now we will hope the forecasts for dry running tomorrow and Sunday are right and we can have another successful weekend as we did last time out in Japan."

15 October 2011, FP3 and Qualifying

Heikki Kovalainen, Car 20 - Chassis T128-04: "For me that was probably my best qualifying lap of the season. Next to Hungary, I think I got as much as I possibly could out of the car and nailed every sector, so it's a good feeling to know when you've wrung as much as you can from a single lap. We worked hard last night and today to find a balance that would suit the dry conditions today and tomorrow, and I think we've done that, so I'm feeling pretty good about the race. It'll be very interesting to see how the tyre strategies play out, and if we can keep up the pace from Suzuka we'll be there or thereabouts."

Jarno Trulli, Car 21 - Chassis T128-03: "I think we did ok today, but there was definitely a bit more in the car. This morning I had a really good setup and found a lot of grip, but this afternoon it just didn't feel quite the same so I wasn't able to get as much out of the car as I could. Still, I'm reasonably happy with where we are - we're well ahead of the cars behind and close enough on race pace to a couple of the teams just ahead, so another good start tomorrow and we'll be ok."

Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 Support Leader: "As yesterday's weather limited most of the meaningful running we could do to prepare for qualifying and the race it was important we had a solid FP3 and could fine tune the engine maps to give the drivers the top speed, traction and driveability they need around this track. I think we have achieved what we set out to, and the feedback from both drivers has been good, especially on Heikki's car, so I think we can look forward to the race where we know our pace gives us a chance to fight with some of the teams just in front."

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "Today was a reasonably satisfying qualifying session for us. Jarno was struggling this afternoon with the grip levels on his car, but I still think he found as much as he could from his car, and Heikki put in a couple of decent laps on both runs to finish just ahead. Tomorrow's race will be dominated by tyre degradation levels and in similar situations this season our speed in the race has given us the chance to race with a pack of cars ahead, so I think we will be able to fight in the race tomorrow and repeat our performance in Suzuka."

Riad Asmat, Group CEO: "That was pretty good, considering how little time we have had on track in the dry. The team worked very well last night and in FP3 to find a couple of setup options to give the drivers something they could really push with, and I think Heikki's lap in particular showed that we made the right choices. Now we look forward to tomorrow where the objective is the same as it has been all season - make sure both cars run without any issues and edge ever closer to securing tenth place this season."

16 October 2011, Race

Heikki Kovalainen, Car 20 - Chassis T128-04: "After the fantastic performance last weekend in Japan this is another big step forward for us - finishing 14th today, ahead of both Saubers and within touching distance of Senna on the final lap is for sure our strongest ever race and it's a great feeling for me and the whole team to see us fighting with a big group of cars right from the very first lap. I had another amazing start, passing a bunch of cars into turn 1 and making it look like they were all in reverse. From there I had a good first stint on the options, managing to look after them well enough to stay out for an extra couple of laps that really helped in the first stop. We went onto the primes, and my pace on them was just fantastic, good enough to help me match the times of the cars ahead right up to about tenth. The second set of primes we put on were exactly the same - the wear rates were totally manageable and I could really push on every lap. We knew there were a few cars ahead who would struggle to get to the end, and if I'd had another half a lap I would have passed Senna for sure. As it was we finished ahead of both Saubers on pace and strategy and that's a very good feeling. We've been strong all weekend and it's great for the whole team that we're heading towards the end of the season with a car that is giving us a chance to really show what we can do. Honestly, I'd like to get straight back in now and do it all over again - now I can't wait for India!"

Jarno Trulli, Car 21 - Chassis T128-03: "That was a really strong race for us, definitely the best of the season, and I want to congratulate the whole team for the work they've done here and back at the factory for giving me and Heikki a car that we can really race with. For me, the start wasn't so good - I lost a few places into the first corner but I made them back up again quickly on the first set of tyres, and when we changed to the primes my times were great. Heikki and I were keeping pace with the midfield and easily pulling away from the cars behind, but then in my second stop I had a bit of an issue with traffic in the pitlane which lost me a bit of time and brought me out just behind where we wanted to be. As soon as the blue flags started coming out late in the race I had to slow up, and if I hadn't had those problems I'm sure I could have finished with Heikki ahead of Kamui and Sergio. Despite that it's been a good weekend, and now we have another three races to build on today's performance and finish the season as well as possible."

Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 Support Leader: "We can all be delighted with where we finished today. From the engine perspective we definitely got as much performance out of the car as we could, and seeing both drivers matching the times of the cars ahead shows we keep making improvements right across the car. The drivers have given their all today, and it is good that we can help provide them with the right package to extract as much performance as possible, particularly around a track like this that demands high top speed and good traction - we were not losing any time to our nearest rivals in either the high or the low speed sectors, so I think we leave here feeling very pleased with how we have performed."

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "A really excellent race and a great performance from the whole team. I know we said that last week in Japan was our strongest ever race but we have managed to improve once again and to beat both Saubers and match the pace of a group of teams ahead is very satisfying indeed. We started both cars on options and then switched onto the primes for the second stint and it was immediately obvious that they were going to degrade much less than we had thought which made the two stop strategy work. Jarno had a very strong middle stint but was unlucky to be held up, dropping him back into the traffic that ultimately meant he finished further back than he could have done. Heikki had a very good start and then drove well throughout the whole race. Towards the end we could see that the Renault's tyres had given up and we kept telling Heikki to push. He was making up about six seconds a lap over the last two laps and with one lap more I am sure he would have passed him as well, but that does not take anything away from the job we have done today. We are having a very strong end to the season and now we need to make sure we continue this run in the last three races."

Riad Asmat, Group CEO: "What a race! We are all thrilled with how we have performed today, right across the team. Our strategy was good, our pace was strong and the pitstops were excellent. We keep on improving, and to do so as we near the end of the season shows how serious we are about building on the foundations we have laid for future success. We could have settled for where we were - well ahead of the two teams behind us and just about keeping contact with the teams ahead, but today we showed that we can really race. It feels good, right across the whole team, to know that we can mix it with teams whose combined experience and budgets far exceeds what we can work with, and it shows enormous promise for next year and beyond. We want to do this again in India, and in the last two races, and show that we have really joined the fight. After today, I am sure we can."