Friday may not have been ideal for Kimi, Romain and the E20s, but Lotus F1 Team bounced back with an improved performance during the final practice session on Saturday morning, with attention now turning to qualifying this afternoon.
With plenty of work left to do after a disappointing first day at the Shanghai International Circuit, Romain and Kimi departed their respective garages in flying formation moments after the green lights went out to ensure maximum track time before qualifying.
With their install laps and oil dips complete, both drivers returned to the pits for a short break while the team analysed the initial data to ensure everything was in order. 12 minutes into the session, Kimi once again followed Romain out onto the track with both remaining on the white marked medium tyres – a fresh set for Romain, and scrubbed set for Kimi.
A more encouraging start to the day saw both drivers sitting inside the top 10 as they brought the E20s home once more with the midway stage of the session approaching – Romain having completed 7 laps overall and Kimi a total of 6 after the first stint.
The warmer conditions allowed the team to gain a better idea of how the upgrades were affecting performance after an inconclusive day’s work with the new parts on Friday, hence the decision to remain with a similar set-up to yesterday throughout the morning.
Almost exactly halfway through proceedings, the next stints were underway for Kimi and Romain. Both were clearly pushing hard to find the limits of the E20s around the track, with Kimi sending sparks flying from the kerbs on the exit of the final turn, and Romain having a half spin in turn 2 as he explored the boundaries of grip from the Pirelli tyres.
With 12 and 10 laps down overall for Romain and Kimi respectively, the third and final run of the session saw the day’s first appearance from the yellow marked soft compound tyres. This time it was the Finn’s turn to lead the Frenchman out onto the circuit with 10 minutes remaining.
After abandoning his first lap following a slide in the first sector, Kimi promptly put his E20 firmly inside the top 10 with his second attempt, improving by almost 7 tenths of a second. Romain meanwhile continued his learning experience at the track, putting together a solid string of laps at an impressively similar pace to his more experienced team mate.
Practice pit stops and a final oil dip rounded off the morning for the drivers, as Kimi ended the session in P10 with a best time of 1:37.061 from 17 laps, with Romain close behind in P12 after setting a fastest time of 1:37.274 from 19 laps.
Pos--Driver---------------Team-------------------Time---------------Laps 1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m35.940s 13 2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m36.093s + 0.123 12 3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m36.389s + 0.449 16 4. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m36.512s + 0.572 17 5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m36.635s + 0.695 16 6. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m36.765s + 0.825 17 7. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m36.781s + 0.841 19 8. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m36.880s + 0.940 17 9. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m37.039s + 1.099 15 10. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m37.061s + 1.121 17 11. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m37.237s + 1.297 16 12. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m37.274s + 1.334 19 13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m37.288s + 1.348 16 14. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m37.425s + 1.485 14 15. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m37.465s + 1.525 12 16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m37.493s + 1.553 13 17. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m37.628s + 1.688 14 18. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m37.831s + 1.891 14 19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m38.701s + 2.761 19 20. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m39.198s + 3.258 19 21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m39.796s + 3.856 18 22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m40.048s + 4.108 17 23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m41.263s + 5.323 14 24. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m41.499s + 5.559 18
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