Archive for March 17, 2012

Q&A – Kimi reflects after qualifying


After a difficult day at the Albert Park circuit, Kimi reflects on qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.

Q: Kimi, not exactly what you had in mind for your first qualifying session of the year; what happened out there?

KR: I made a small mistake on my final run. Based on the first part of the lap it should have easily been enough to get us through to Q2, even though we chose to stay on the medium compound tyres. Unfortunately we had a communication issue and I didn’t realise how close we were to the end of the session. I backed off to make space for a clean lap, and ended up crossing the line too late to set another time.

Q: Do you believe you had the speed today to match or improve upon Romain’s third place?

KR: I don’t see why not. We haven’t had any clear laps all day, so it’s hard to say. The car felt good and I think that without the issues we would have easily made Q3, but that’s what happens sometimes and we have to make the best of it. I’m not surprised by Romain’s performance. He’s driving well and we already knew the E20 was quick, now it’s just a case of getting everything right so we can get the most out of the car.

Q: You’ve already mentioned that the E20 is looking good, but there are some quick cars and drivers around you on the grid. How confident are you that you can get a decent result tomorrow?

KR: I’m not making any predictions, we’ll just have to see how it goes. I feel good in the car so if everything goes according to plan we should have a decent race. Unfortunately things haven’t gone our way today, but that’s racing. Sunday is when it all counts; I managed to win the race at Suzuka in 2005 from 17th on the grid, so who knows what might happen.


Australian Grand Prix – Qualifying Results

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Lotus F1 Team experienced both ends of the emotional spectrum this afternoon in Melbourne, as Romain made a big impression on his Albert Park debut while Kimi suffered an unexpected blow on his return to the sport.

Q1 got underway at 17:00 local time, with both Kimi and Romain heading out early in the session on the medium compound tyre and completing a total of 9 laps apiece. After a solid first stint, Romain returned to the track on a fresh set of tyres and sailed comfortably into Q2 with a time of 1:26.498.

Unfortunately for Kimi, his session was not to run as planned. Having set an almost identical time to Romain in his first stint the Finn made a late appearance for his final run, again opting to stay out on the medium compound tyre. A couple of small mistakes followed by a communication issue were to prove costly, as Kimi ran out of time to complete another flying lap, ruling him out of qualifying at the first hurdle and consigning him to an unexpected 18th place on the grid.

With the entire field now utilising the soft compound tyre, Q2 would prove to be the first real comparison between the teams. Despite having no prior experience of the Albert Park circuit before Free Practice 1 on Friday, Romain looked assured and confident at the wheel of the E20, progressing to the final knockout stage in 5th place with a time of 1:25.845.

Q3 proved to be a classic Formula 1 showdown, with the majority of drivers opting to complete a short run early in the session before heading out for a last-gasp run at the very end. Romain was among those to adopt this tactic and the Frenchman did not disappoint, crossing the line in a time of 1:26.498 to clinch 3rd position on the grid for his first Australian Grand Prix.

The start lights will go out at 17:00 local time tomorrow afternoon for the opening race of the season in Melbourne, with an intriguing plot line in store for the team as Kimi and Romain face very different challenges.

Kimi Raikkonen: “Today didn’t go quite as planned. There’s no issue with the car; I made a mistake and there was a communication issue so the timing wasn’t right to get another lap. It cost us a good qualifying position but that’s how it goes sometimes.

“We should have easily been in Q2. It’s not the best start but we’ll try to put it right in the race. There’s plenty of speed in the car.

“The steering was fine. It’s not perfect for exactly what I want but it doesn’t affect my driving. For sure we can do better than 18th tomorrow so we’ll have to see what happens.”

 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1m24.922s
 2.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1m25.074s  + 0.152
 3.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1m25.302s  + 0.380
 4.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1m25.336s  + 0.414
 5.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1m25.651s  + 0.729
 6.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1m25.668s  + 0.746
 7.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1m25.686s  + 0.764
 8.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1m25.908s  + 0.986
 9.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1m26.451s  + 1.529
10.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    No time
Q2 cut-off time: 1m26.319s Gap **
11.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m26.429s  + 0.960
12.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1m26.4942  + 1.025
13.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1m26.590s  + 1.121
14.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault      1m26.663s  + 1.194
15.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1m27.086s  + 1.617
16.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1m27.497s  + 2.028
17.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        No time
Q1 cut-off time: 1m27.633s Gap *
18.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1m27.758s  + 1.576
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1m28.679s  + 2.497
20.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1m29.018s  + 2.836
21.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1m30.923s  + 4.741
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1m31.670s  + 5.488
23.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1m33.495s  + 7.313
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1m33.643s  + 7.461


Australian Grand Prix – Final Practice Results

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After a comparatively low-key day on Friday, Lotus F1 Team started the weekend on a positive note in the glorious Melbourne sunshine this afternoon.

As green lights at the end of the pit lane signalled the start of Free Practice 3 at the Albert Park circuit, the Australian weather justified the team’s decision to avoid running in the damp conditions seen during yesterday’s sessions.

Romain was one of the first drivers to emerge from his garage, heading out for an install lap on a set of the medium compound tyres. Kimi was not far behind, opting for the same tyres as the E20s were put through their standard pre-run procedures.

Kimi spent the majority of the session working on the setup of his E20, clocking 19 laps in the process – almost double the amount completed during both of Friday’s sessions combined.

Having returned to the base setup for his steering rack, the Finn reported being far more comfortable in the car. A combination of slower traffic and yellow flags deprived Kimi of the chance to put in a clean flying lap on the softer compound tyres, with his best time of 1:26.737 good enough for 12th place.

Romain continued to demonstrate his abilities in adapting to a new circuit, showing good pace whilst working through a range of setup changes, and finishing the session in 2nd place overall.

With seven minutes of running remaining, the Frenchman jumped from ninth position to the top of the leaderboard with a lap time of 1:25.758. He too was then hindered by on-track events, and so this would remain the quickest of his 21 attempts.

Romain was particularly satisfied with his day’s work so far, but refused to get carried away:

“I had a lot of fun out there. I’m happy with the car, and i felt for the first time that i had the confidence in my knowledge of the track to push a little harder. We’re pleased with the performance, but we won’t know for sure where we are until the end of qualifying. P2 may not be realistic, but we have a good chance of making it through to Q3”

The team rounded off the session with pit-stop simulations for both drivers. All eyes are now focused on preparations for this afternoon’s qualifying sessions – beginning with Qualifying 1 at 17:00 local time.

 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1m25.681s           18
 2.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1m25.758s  + 0.077  21
 3.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1m25.900s  + 0.219  20
 4.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1m25.906s  + 0.225  17
 5.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1m25.929s  + 0.248  23
 6.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1m26.078s  + 0.397  14
 7.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1m26.211s  + 0.530  12
 8.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1m26.470s  + 0.789  17
 9.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1m26.632s  + 0.951  20
10.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m26.723s  + 1.042  17
11.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m26.733s  + 1.052  15
12.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1m26.737s  + 1.056  19
13.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1m26.755s  + 1.074  21
14.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1m27.029s  + 1.348  23
15.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault      1m27.119s  + 1.438  20
16.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1m27.323s  + 1.642  19
17.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1m27.428s  + 1.747  22
18.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1m28.023s  + 2.342  19
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1m28.341s  + 2.660  19
20.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1m28.702s  + 3.021  11
21.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1m30.728s  + 5.047  13
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1m31.225s  + 5.544  14
23.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1m33.114s  + 7.433  12
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1m33.261s  + 7.580  13