Archive for April 14, 2012

Post-qualifying interview with Kimi


Despite achieving his best qualifying result of the season so far, Kimi feels that the E20 could be further up the order here in China; the Finn gives us his thoughts on qualifying at the Shanghai International Circuit this afternoon.

Q: Kimi, today saw your strongest qualifying result of the season to date; how are you feeling after that performance?

KR: Qualifying in P5 is ok but overall our pace is not as good as we had hoped. We’ll start in P4 after Lewis (Hamilton) takes his penalty so the result isn’t bad, but the time could have been better. I tried to improve after my first lap but got a bit wide through one corner, so maybe we could have been a bit closer to the front but really I think we got the maximum from the car today. In a way it’s not too bad, but we’re disappointed with the gap to Nico (Rosberg). Anyway that’s how it goes sometimes; hopefully we can at least keep our position at the start and try to move forward in the race.

Q: You’ve mentioned that the car hasn’t quite lived up to expectations so far this weekend; where do you think improvements need to be made?

KR: We seem to be losing time on the straights and through the corners, but the main thing we’re lacking is downforce. More downforce means more grip, and although the handling is fine we can’t push as hard as we’d like. The colder weather didn’t help us, and the temperature dropped quite a lot in Q3 which made a difference to our speed. It should be warmer tomorrow which will help, but then again it will help some of the other teams too. So far our car has had good race pace, so hopefully we’ll see that again tomorrow. Of course, if it rains then we have a level playing field as everyone will need to start from scratch.

Q: How much of an effect do you think the upgrade package brought in for this weekend has had on the car’s performance?

KR: We’ve tried some new parts which unfortunately haven’t worked as we expected, so the car is now more or less back to the set-up we ran in Malaysia. Hopefully we’ll get the updates working soon so we can keep moving forwards; we don’t want to get into a situation where the others are improving and we’re staying where we are. Our pace is not as good as it was in the last race, but I’m sure we’ll get there once we find how to get the new parts working.

Q: Tyres seem to have been the big topic of the weekend, with high wear at the front and difficulties getting the rubber up to temperature being a common complaint in the paddock; what are your thoughts?

KR: I didn’t have any major issues with the tyres. There is clearly a difference between the compounds, but it’s the same for everybody and again the weather will affect this. It’s hard to say how the tyres will perform during the race as we haven’t done any particularly long runs. Again it depends on how hot it is; when it’s cooler we can’t quite get them working how we would like, but once the track warms up we’re fine. A positive from qualifying is that we didn’t set a timed lap on the last set of tyres so, while they’re not brand new, they have very little wear which should help us at the start.

Q: You set the fastest time in the first sector today; despite not being entirely happy with the car, does this give you some optimism for the race?

KR: I’m surprised we were fastest in the first sector as it didn’t feel particularly quick. In a way we can look at today in a positive light; the fact that we qualified in P5 even though the car isn’t performing as we’d like is actually quite encouraging, especially as we’re not as strong around this track as we were at the previous circuits. Not counting the pole time, we’re not far behind the cars in front of us either so we can be pleased with that. I’m not sure we’re in such a strong position as in the first two Grand Prix – which is strange to say when we have our highest grid slot so far – but we’ll see what we can do.


Raikkonen disappointed with pace


Kimi Raikkonen admitted he was disappointed with the pace of his car during qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Although the Finn will start from a season-best fourth position, he said he was expecting his Lotus to be quicker after the promise of the first two races.

Raikkonen finished over seven tenths of a second off the time set by Mercedes’s Nico Rosberg, and although he said he was pleased with his starting position, he expected to be closer to the front.

“It was not too bad, but I am a bit disappointed with the gap to the front and I think we were stronger in the last race than we were here,” said Raikkonen.

“The grid position is okay but when you look at the times, I’m disappointed with the pace of the car today. The rest have improved and we have not.”

When asked if he could have extracted something more from his car, he said: “No, the car couldn’t go much faster, we tried but we couldn’t go much faster.”

The Finn reckons Lotus’s chances of a strong race will depend on the temperature rising for tomorrow’s event after a cool day on Saturday.

“Usually our car is good in the race but it would need to be hotter and that should help us and hurt the other teams so we have to see how it goes,” he added.

Chinese Grand Prix – Qualifying Results: Kimi 4th

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Lotus F1 Team may not have topped the time sheets during the free practice sessions here in China, but the team once again demonstrated true fighting spirit to end the day with an encouraging qualifying performance ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix tomorrow afternoon.

Kimi’s second run was significantly more productive, with the 2007 World Champion putting the trials and tribulations of Friday’s practice sessions well and truly to rest. When the chequered flag dropped at the end of a frantic final minute on track, the Finn found himself in an impressive P5 after setting a fastest time of 1:35.898 from 5 laps.

As mentioned Romain struggled to replicate his Q2 pace on the worn tyres, but will nonetheless start the race in a solid P10 despite not setting a time in the final part of qualifying. With Hamilton taking a 5 place grid penalty, Kimi will be promoted to P4 on the final grid for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix. (read the team’s full qualifying report here).


Kimi Räikkönen – 4th: “The grid position is okay but when you look at the times, I’m disappointed with the pace of the car today. We’ve gained a position after Lewis’s penalty but the speed wasn’t where it should have been, especially when you look at the pole time. We’ve tried some updates this weekend, but they haven’t worked as we wanted so we’ve gone back to how the car was before. We go into the race less confident in the car than in the last two races, but knowing that we start from a higher position on the grid. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow, we’ll try to do the best we can and hopefully we can be higher up than we are on the grid, and that means a podium.”

 1.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m35.121s         
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m35.626s  + 0.505
 3.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             1m35.691s  + 0.570
 4.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       1m35.784s  + 0.663
 5.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m35.898s  + 0.777
 6.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m36.191s  + 1.070
 7.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m36.290s  + 1.169
 8.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       1m36.524s  + 1.403
 9.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m36.622s  + 1.501
10.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        No time
Q2 cut-off time: 1m35.831s Gap **
11.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m36.031s  + 0.331
12.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m36.255s  + 0.555
13.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m36.283s  + 0.583
14.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault     1m36.289s  + 0.589
15.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m36.317s  + 0.617
16.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes 1m36.745s  + 1.045
17.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m36.956s  + 1.256
Q1 cut-off time: 1m36.933s Gap *
18.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m37.714s  + 1.516
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault     1m38.463s  + 2.265
20.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault     1m38.677s  + 2.479
21.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth    1m39.282s  + 3.084
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth    1m39.717s  + 3.519
23.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth         1m40.411s  + 4.213
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth         1m41.000s  + 4.802

Interview with Alan Permane, Director of Trackside Operations:

Q. Both drivers in the top ten again, are we happy with today’s performance?

AP: “Kimi is where the car should be and I think he’s reasonably happy with his performance. He did an excellent job through qualifying and considering the build up of this weekend I think we can be reasonably happy. Romain’s absolute pace is very similar to Kimi’s but qualifying is hungry for tyres if you can’t get the pace straight away. Kimi got through to Q3 with just one set of soft tyres, but Romain required three sets, meaning he then didn’t have a fresh set for his Q3 lap. Romain’s got the pace, we just need to unlock that pace on the hard tyre in a qualifying situation.”

Q. Why didn’t Romain set a time in Q3?

AP: “As he didn’t have a new set of soft tyres, it was always going to be a tough ask to get a blinding lap in the final session, especially as everyone else who got through to Q3 did have a new set. It was unrealistic to expect Romain to qualify higher than tenth in this scenario, but we sent him out anyway. We soon saw from the split times that there was no possibility we brought him in to save a lap on the tyres for the race.”

Q. What’s the assessment of the weekend so far?

AP: “We brought a new update package for the car and we weren’t convinced by a large part of it yesterday. This meant we reverted almost entirely to our Malaysia specification which is why we have missed out on potential pace from the car. We hope to get all the new elements working soon.”

Q. P4 on the grid is Kimi’s best starting position, what can be done from there?

AP: “We have to take every race as it comes, but we’ve certainly seen that we’ve raced more strongly so far than the two Mercedes ahead of us, but that said we were a long way off the pole time, so they are clearly looking very strong. I’d like to think we can take the race to the other cars around us. We’re confident in our starts and our tyre wear and race pace. It should be interesting.”

Video: Onboard with Kimi in Q3

Chinese Grand Prix – Final Practice Results

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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.

 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

Other news:
Lotus evaluating DRS-activated front wing after FIA rejected protest against Mercedes device