A varied schedule for Kimi in Budapest today saw the Iceman bring home some useful information for the team, and make quite an impression on the time sheets in the process…
Q: Kimi, plenty of useful development work in the first session and a strong result in the second; sum up your day for us
KR: It was a normal Friday really; we ran through a pretty regular schedule. In the first session my car wasn’t set up for the track as we were focused on testing some new parts but in the afternoon we had time to work on changing things to fit the circuit. The car felt good so it’s a positive start to the weekend.
Q: Did it put you on the back foot at all spending the first half of the day running an unusual setup?
KR: Not really, it’s the same with any new parts. We don’t have in-season testing any more so you have to try them out some time. We’ve made small improvements throughout the year by doing this so looking at how things work for the future can only help.
Q: You seemed much more comfortable with the car in Hockenheim and that seems to have carried over to Budapest…
KR: We’ve improved my setup quite a bit in the last few races and changed some things which probably weren’t quite as they should have been. I was happy with the car in the last race and it’s still improving here too. If you’re comfortable in the car you can start to push a bit further; the harder you can push the faster you can go. We’re really starting to get it as we want it now.
Q: Second position is one of the more promising Friday results we’ve seen from the team this season; does that bode well for the rest of the weekend in your eyes?
KR: We were second fastest today but it’s difficult to say what the others are doing. It’s only Friday, but let’s hope we can continue the pace from today, keep working hard to chase down the guys in front and see what happens from there.
Kimi Raikkonen believes he has now found what was ‘missing’ to enable him to get the most out of the Lotus and can translate that into a stronger second half of the 2012 Formula 1 season.
Although Raikkonen has enjoyed an impressive comeback campaign so far and goes into this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix fourth in the world championship, having claimed four podium finishes, the 2007 title-winner says he has only recently become comfortable with the Lotus E20.
“I guess you always learn with the car and try to set it up as you like it,” said Raikkonen.
“At the last few races we’ve been finding our way. We weren’t so happy at the beginning of the year – or we were happy but I felt that there was something that was missing, and then we found some reasons why we probably weren’t so happy.
“In the last races we’ve found pretty much what I have been looking for. So hopefully it means we’ve finally found the area where we can improve.”
Asked if the improvements related to how the car used the Pirelli tyres, Raikkonen replied: “No, it’s more making me able to drive more like I want.”
Raikkonen was second quickest in Friday practice at the Hungaroring, but remained cautious about his chances over the rest of the weekend.
“We don’t know if we’re going to be fast tomorrow because of today because we have no idea what the others are doing, but so far it’s not too bad,” he said.
Yet another rain hit practice session at the Hungaroring this afternoon; but on this occasion there was just enough time for both Lotus F1 Team drivers to put in some solid groundwork and place firmly inside the top ten before the heavens opened.
As the blistering heat continued – track temperature reaching 45 degrees – free practice two kicked off with a bang for Lotus F1 Team in more ways than one.
Both drivers emerged sporting fresh sets of white marked medium compound Pirelli tyres and were instantly on the pace; Romain setting the quickest time in the early stages, only to be outdone almost immediately by his team-mate.
Moments later however, the Frenchman was to have his strong run cut short; a wide exit sending the reigning GP2 Series Champion off track at a right angle, resulting in minor contact with the barrier and a limp back to the pits for repairs.
The Iceman meanwhile – unleashed from his upgrade assessment duties during the morning session – was lighting up the timing screens; exchanging fastest laps with Lewis Hamilton in a cat and mouse battle through the sectors.
New nose now in place, Romain returned to the fray for another assault on the Hungaroring circuit; quickly putting his brush with the Armco behind him and settling back into a good stride with consistent times placing him firmly in the top ten.
A highly entertaining session was once again to be interrupted at the halfway point; sudden showers creating standing water on one half of the circuit within seconds and bringing proceedings to a disappointing halt as the drivers tiptoed their way back to the pits.
With little to be learned in the mixed track conditions, the team opted to send a sole E20 – at the hands of the Iceman – out for a short stint right at the death; basic analysis of the green intermediate rubber the main purpose of his fleeting foray into the moisture.
Inevitably there were to be no improvements in lap time from any part of the field on the sodden tarmac, resulting in Kimi and Romain retaining the positions occupied at the mid-point of running; P2 for the Finn (1:22.180 from 20 laps) and P9 for the Frenchman (1:22.922 from 12 laps).
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m21.995 20 2. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m22.180s + 0.185 20 3. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m22.253s + 0.258 33 4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m22.417s + 0.422 28 5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m22.582s + 0.587 22 6. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m22.747s + 0.752 17 7. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m22.794s + 0.799 23 8. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m22.824s + 0.829 18 9. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m22.922s + 0.927 12 10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m23.160s + 1.165 19 11. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m23.164s + 1.169 28 12. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m23.337s + 1.342 26 13. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m23.713s + 1.718 25 14. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m23.814s + 1.819 17 15. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m23.841s + 1.846 28 16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m24.328s + 2.333 23 17. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m24.345s + 2.350 27 18. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m24.623s + 2.628 22 19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m24.823s + 2.828 28 20. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m25.220s + 3.225 28 21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.104s + 5.109 27 22. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m27.106s + 5.111 18 23. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.185s + 5.190 22 24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m27.822s + 5.827 20
Kimi Raikkonen – 2nd: “It was a normal Friday for me. We did the normal things and tried to make the car as quick as it can be. We were second fastest which was good, and we’ve managed to improve the setup on my car over the last few races so I’ve been pretty happy with it. We’re just making small improvements, but we’re making them all the time and going in the right direction. It’s only Friday, but we’re hoping for another good day tomorrow. “
Romain Grosjean – 9th: “Not the best day we’ve had but not the worst either. The car didn’t feel quite as I like it, similar to how it felt in Hockenheim, which made things a bit tricky. I made a mistake running wide on the exit of turn seven in the second session which meant I touched the wall, so a big apology to the guys for that. On a more positive note we now understand a few things which need improving in terms of setup, so hopefully tomorrow these will make a difference and I’ll have the confidence to push a bit harder and show the true pace of the car.”
James Allison, Technical Director: “We conducted valuable analysis of our latest aerodynamic developments on Kimi’s car this morning which help bring it a step closer to deployment in a race sometime in the future. Romain was uncomfortable with his car today which is something we will try to understand this evening. Kimi was pretty happy overall, even this morning when we weren’t running the native downforce settings for this circuit. With the Hungary setup in the afternoon, Kimi was comfortable, quick, and happy with both specifications of dry tyre. Whilst we haven’t conducted our usual long runs today it looks like both compounds should be reasonable race tyres.”
Contrary to forecasts earlier in the week, Friday got off to a dry, clear and scorching hot start as the green flags waved to signal go-time at the Hungaroring. Prime E20 weather then, as Kimi and Romain emerged for install laps on matching sets of the white marked medium compound Pirelli tyres.
A lot of interest in the Finn’s car this morning, with the developments seen during Friday in Hockenheim once again on show. The Frenchman’s ride was also sporting an unusual attachment; his addition however coming in the form of an aero analysis device.
Three single lap bursts within the first fifteen minutes kicked off the Iceman’s day; assessment of upgrades the name of the game in the early stages, with the latter of these stints providing his first flying lap of the day.
Romain eventually took to the track for his inaugural full throttle taste of the Hungaroring circuit in a Formula 1 car with one third of running complete; solid times for the Frenchman as he worked through the standard Friday programme of setup tweaks and race pace simulations.
The pair spent the second half of the session trading track time; continuing to run the medium rubber and racking up the laps to garner as much data as possible for the team to pick apart over lunch.
Short bursts of action intertwined with multiple pauses for adjustments were the tone of the morning; the chequered flag falling on the sun drenched Hungaroring to see Kimi end the session in P8 (1:23.983 from 24 laps) while Romain went into the break in P5 (1:23.633 from 24 laps).
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m22.821 30 2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m22.922s + 0.101 24 3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m23.397s + 0.576 24 4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m23.628s + 0.807 29 5. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m23.633s + 0.812 24 6. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m23.845s + 1.024 26 7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m23.904s + 1.083 25 8. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m23.983s + 1.162 24 9. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m24.152s + 1.331 24 10. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m24.268s + 1.447 27 11. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m24.300s + 1.479 23 12. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m24.394s + 1.573 19 13. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m24.546s + 1.725 24 14. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m24.559s + 1.738 22 15. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m24.608s + 1.787 25 16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m25.354s + 2.533 25 17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m25.559s + 2.738 27 18. Jules Bianchi Force India-Mercedes 1m25.715s + 2.894 26 19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m26.440s + 3.619 27 20. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m26.705s + 3.884 23 21. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m26.755s + 3.934 28 22. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.015s + 4.194 24 23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m27.101s + 4.280 21 24. Dani Clos HRT-Cosworth 1m28.176s + 5.355 24