Archive for April 21, 2012

Kimi: I think we’re in a pretty good position


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Qualifying may not have gone exactly to plan for Kimi at the Bahrain International Circuit this afternoon, but as the man himself states, the most important factor is being in the best position for the race…

Q: Kimi, an unexpected result in qualifying today; what was the thinking behind your chosen strategy?

KR: We could easily have gone through to the final session with another run; the pace is there in the car and it felt good to drive. However, managing the tyres will be the key tomorrow so we thought it was worth taking the risk to only do one lap in Q2 and save fresh sets of tyres for the race. It was a gamble that didn’t get us through to the final session, but it will hopefully be a strategy which pays off after 57 laps tomorrow.

Q: Were you confident after your flying lap that you would make it through to the pole position shootout?

KR: We knew it was going to be close and of course we would ideally have liked to have been in Q2; we always want to be as high up the grid as possible. We were fairly certain that we would make it, but at the end of the day there were two options and we went for the one which we believe will deliver the best result on Sunday. Looking at the pace on the soft tyres I don’t think we’re at a big disadvantage starting further back. There are no points for qualifying, so let’s see what happens tomorrow.

Q: Is there a noticeable difference between the fresh rubber and a scrubbed set of tyres?

KR: You can definitely feel the difference, although it’s difficult to say exactly how much it’s worth in terms of lap time. It will give us an advantage off the line and through the first lap especially, so we have a good chance to make up the places we may have lost in qualifying at the start.

Q: Does having a grid position which is slightly lower than you would have expected alter your strategy for the race?

KR: Of course, we have to adapt our plans according to where we are but this is also something that changes throughout the race depending on our pace, what the cars around us are doing and of course things like weather and safety car periods. Strategy is never set in stone, so we have to have the flexibility to make to most of each situation. The good news is that starting outside the top 10 we can choose which tyres we start on which will also help.

Q: Do you think the E20 can manage the degradation on the soft tyres better than some of the cars in front?

KR: It’s hard to say. We have a rough idea of where we are compared to the other teams from testing yesterday but you never know what programme they were running so it’s all just speculation really. We came very close to pulling off a longer stint than anyone around us in China and our car is more suited the warmer weather here, so hopefully that’s a good sign. Obviously we took a risk there that didn’t pay off, but we now have a very good understanding of the tyres. I think we’re in a pretty good position.

Q: How are you feeling about the race tomorrow?

KR: I’m feeling pretty good. The thing about this season so far is that it’s been so close and so unpredictable that it’s pointless making any kind of guesses. Anything can happen out there, so we’ll just get our heads down and make the most of the options we have. We’re just as competitive here as we have been so far this season, so let’s see what we can do.


Bahrain Grand Prix – Qualifying Results: P11

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Kimi Räikkönen, E20-03

Position: [Q1] P9 [Q2] P11
Best Time: [Q1] 1:34.552 [Q2] 1:33.789
Laps Completed: [Q1] 3 [Q2] 3

Kimi counting on race tyre gamble: “We took the risk to try to save one set of tyres and didn’t go out afterwards when we could easily get in [to Q3]. We thought it was worth it to save the tyres, so we’ll see what happens. It will be more difficult [with tyres] here than it was in China, but I think everybody has the same issues. That’s one of the reasons why we didn’t go through [to Q3], but hopefully it will pay off tomorrow.”

A two hour break following this morning’s free practice session provided a good opportunity for the drivers to relax and shelter from the intense Bahrain heat.

As Q1 got underway, rival teams flooded out onto the circuit to complete early runs in the session. The E20s by contrast remained firmly parked in the Lotus F1 Team garage until the mid-point of the session; a tactic that certainly proved successful.

With a single flying lap each, Kimi and Romain leapt straight to the summit of the leader board; the Finn taking top spot briefly before the Frenchman eclipsed his team mate’s time by an impressive 0.4 seconds.

Despite completing just one run apiece on the slower, white marked medium compound Pirelli tyres, the team decided that both drivers had set sufficiently competitive times to see them through to Q2. As the chequered flag flew, both Romain and Kimi had in fact done more than enough; sailing into the second session in P4 and P9 respectively.

With 3 minutes elapsed in Q2, Kimi flew out of the box for his first single lap run on the soft compound tyres. The Finn was clearly pushing hard, and went fastest momentarily before gradually slipping to P6 as others improved on his time. Romain completed a 2 lap stint, but was not as happy as his team-mate; finishing his initial run in P11.

Both drivers returned immediately to the garage for a fresh set of soft tyres as the team weighed up whether a second run would be required. Satisfied with his pace, the Finn remained parked for the remainder of the session. Romain on the other hand was keen to improve on his initial showing, and emerged with just 3 minutes of running time remaining.

The move paid off for the Frenchman, who produced a stunning lap to jump 8 places up to P3; easily making it through to the pole position shootout. Kimi by contrast was an unfortunate victim of the final cut, missing out by fractions of a second as his time was bettered at the very last minute to demote the Finn to a starting slot of P11 for tomorrow’s race.

 1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1m32.422s  
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1m32.520s  +  0.098
 3.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1m32.637s  +  0.215
 4.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1m32.711s  +  0.289
 5.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1m32.821s  +  0.399
 6.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m32.912s  +  0.490
 7.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault          1m33.008s  +  0.586
 8.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1m33.394s  +  0.972
 9.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                No time
10.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   No time
11.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault          1m33.789s  + 1.367
12.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1m33.806s  +  1.384
13.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes   1m33.807s  +  1.385
14.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1m33.912s  +  1.490
15.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault       1m34.017s  +  1.595
16.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault       1m36.132s  +  3.710
17.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1m34.865s  +  2.443
18.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m35.014s  +  2.592
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault       1m35.823s  +  3.401
20.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth      1m37.683s  +  5.261
21.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth           1m37.883s  +  5.461
22.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault       No time
23.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth      1m37.905s  +  5.483
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1m38.314s  +  5.892

Team quotes:

Kimi Raikkonen – 11th: “We had the speed today and we could easily have gone through to the final session with another run, but we thought it was worth taking the risk to only do one lap in Q2 and save fresh sets of tyres for the race. Managing the tyres will be a priority tomorrow, so while it was a gamble that didn’t get us through to the final session it will hopefully be a strategy which pays off in the race. We knew it was going to be close and of course we always want to be as high up the grid as possible, but there were two options and we went for the one which we believe will deliver the best result on Sunday. There are no points given out on Saturday, so let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

Bahrain Grand Prix – Final Practice Results

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With one final chance to get the cars up to speed before qualifying, Free Practice 3 at the Bahrain International Circuit was a busy 60 minutes for the team. Setup tweaks, practice pit-stops and analysis of the different tyre compounds kept the crew busy, while the drivers put in a solid performance to see both cars into the top 10

Kimi Räikkönen, E20-03

  • Position: P7
  • Best Time: 1:33.976
  • Laps Completed: 14

Romain Grosjean, E20-04

  • Position: P9
  • Best Time: 1:34.401
  • Laps Completed: 16

Another warm start at the Bahrain International Circuit with a slight tail wind down the main straight as Kimi and Romain departed the garage for their install laps. As usual, the team opted to head out as soon as the green flags were waved, aiming to maximise track time before qualifying begins this afternoon.

Both E20s were sporting matching sets of the white marked medium compound Pirelli tyres, with a single lap to test the systems followed by the customary oil dips upon their return to the pit lane. With a fair amount of dust hanging in the air, the crew were out in the boxes with ‘leaf blowers’ removing the sand to give the drivers more traction for any practice pit stop pull-aways.

With just under 15 minutes elapsed, Kimi lead Romain out onto the circuit for the first runs of the day, beginning with practice starts at the end of the pit lane. Scrubbed mediums were the rubber of choice for both drivers as Romain set the early pace with his first flying lap, narrowly edging out his team-mate who had previously topped the times. Not to be out done, the 2007 World Champion immediately responded with an improved time as the pair traded places at the sharp end of the leader board.

Returning to base after a pair of initial 4 lap stints, it was the Frenchman who sat atop the standings with the Finn just behind. Kimi will have been glad for the dust removal strategy as he carried out a practice pull away before being wheeled back into his garage. Minor setup tweaks to both cars as the team experimented with different settings for the morning’s conditions.

At the halfway stage in the session, Romain sat in P2 with Kimi P5; just 0.8s covering the top 8 in a tightly packed field. After a quick turnaround, the Finn charged down the pit lane for his second run, followed shortly afterwards by his opposite number. 4 and 5 lap stints respectively for Kimi and Romain on medium tyres this time around, with data and setup analysis the main priority.

Another set of practice pull-aways for both drivers, before a short break to take shelter from the sun and make a few final setup adjustments. With just over 10 minutes left to run, the track transformed from a deserted stretch of tarmac to a hive of activity as the teams pushed for a final few laps and the all-important data that goes with them.

Kimi and Romain were two of the first to emerge, with both trying out the yellow marked soft compound tyres for the first time during the session. Their final stints included two practice pit-stops for each car; one mid-run and one at the end of the run, putting the mechanics through their paces before Sunday’s race. Meanwhile on track, the pace of both drivers was solid, as both E20s nestled themselves inside the top 10.

 1.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes              1m33.254s            14
 2.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      1m33.401s  + 0.147s  14
 3.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault      1m33.663s  + 0.409s  15
 4.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      1m33.782s  + 0.528s  16
 5.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes              1m33.796s  + 0.542s  16
 6.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes      1m33.899s  + 0.645s  14
 7.  Kimi Raikkonen      Lotus-Renault         1m33.976s  + 0.722s  14
 8.  Daniel Ricciardo    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m34.197s  + 0.943s  14
 9.  Romain Grosjean     Lotus-Renault         1m34.401s  + 1.147s  16
10.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari               1m34.895s  + 1.641s  11
11.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Renault      1m34.918s  + 1.664s  12
12.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m34.977s  + 1.723s  12
13.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari        1m35.067s  + 1.813s  17
14.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari        1m35.128s  + 1.874s  14
15.  Paul di Resta       Force India-Mercedes  1m35.336s  + 2.082s  22
16.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari               1m35.536s  + 2.282s  15
17.  Bruno Senna         Williams-Renault      1m35.623s  + 2.369s  16
18.  Heikki Kovalainen   Caterham-Renault      1m35.694s  + 2.440s  19
19.  Nico Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes  1m35.773s  + 2.519s  21
20.  Vitaly Petrov       Caterham-Renault      1m36.532s  + 3.278s  17
21.  Charles Pic         Marussia-Cosworth     1m37.267s  + 4.013s  18
22.  Timo Glock          Marussia-Cosworth     1m37.654s  + 4.400s  18
23.  Pedro de la Rosa    HRT-Cosworth          1m38.973s  + 5.719s  11
24.  Narain Karthikeyan  HRT-Cosworth          1m39.221s  + 5.967s  9