Kimi’s column: Australia review | Malaysia preview

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The heat is on!

It’s signed, sealed and delivered with the Australian Grand Prix. Right now I’m trying to get grips with the next challenge here in the hot and humid equatorial climate of Malaysia. Obviously, it was very nice and rewarding to open the season with some good points.

Honestly, I didn’t know that much what to expect from the first race weekend after two years’ break. We got a good feeling in the car since the day one in Jerez, but you never know exactly how competitive the new equipment is compared to other new cars. Well, now we know a little bit, at least.

I always felt I could make a return to Grand Prix racing, but, I can confess now, I got some good answers to my own minor doubts how quickly you can adapt the racing rhythm after being away for some time. The speed is there. That’s ok. The car is good. That’s ok, as well. Some issues were to be improved, especially in the qualifying routine.

I knew already before going to Melbourne, that it takes some time to get everything together in the best way with all the new things there are with tactical and mechanical part of the whole qualifying procedure. On Saturday I wasn’t happy at all. We had some issues that put as in a very poor situation to start the race. All in all, I’ve got a perfect start from the line and, obviously, it could have been very good for the race. But the first corner mess-up with some cars took my advantage away, I had to back-off and we had to build up again the race to reach the TOP-10. The first set of tyres didn’t feel that good, but then I saw the other people having even more problems with them, so I just sat back and went for it. It was quite tricky to get past the cars. The DRS doesn’t help that much in Albert Park-like circuit and while I was battling against Saubers, they were too strong coming out of the last corner, where the DRS zones started. The safety-car situation didn’t help, as well. I’ve got a set of brand new tyres, but after the race re-started, it was very difficult to get them working properly.

Finally everything went well. We got some places back in the last lap and I was quite satisfied finishing seventh in that first race. As a team we know, we have a solid and consistent car to work with.

It’s nice to have a race again this week. Sepang is the place with some nice memories for me, while we won a Malaysian Grand Prix both with McLaren and Ferrari.

The heat is a little bit too much, but it’s the same for everybody. I just sit back again, put my head down and try to get the best out of the car and myself, too. The heat is on!

Lotus team preview quotes:

Eric Boullier, Lotus team principal: “Sepang will be a totally different track from Albert Park of course. This said, we think that the E20 should be competitive there. One of its bigger assets is very low tyre degradation. Considering the very hot conditions in Malysia, this can only be a help. We think we can be competitive there.”

James Allison, Lotus technical director: “Although slightly unusual, Albert Park is actually not a bad weather vane for the season. Its range of corner speeds and traction demands means that cars which are quick in Melbourne tend to do OK over the remainder of the season. The next race will be much hotter, which poses different challenges for the cars, the tyres and the drivers, but we are confident that our Melbourne form, coupled with our reasonable pace in Jerez and Barcelona, will translate into a competitive showing in Malaysia. We don’t have any big upgrades to the car. It is a tight turnaround with a back to back race and we will be concentrating on finding a good setup with the package we have to make sure that we are using the tyres well. Sepang is quite challenging in this regard, due the high track temperatures that we can expect.”

Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director: “The track surface is very abrasive, particularly in comparison to Albert Park, which is very smooth. High speed stability is an essential requirement of the tyre in Malaysia due to the circuit layout, which contains some long straights and quick direction changes.”


One response

  1. julia

    My favorite driver is back, and this means that F-1 for me is back too!!! Crossed my fingers for you, IceMan!!!
    Greetings from Latvia!


    March 21, 2012 at 2:21 pm

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