A season best performance overall for Lotus F1 Team during this afternoon’s qualifying sessions for the Spanish Grand Prix, as both Kimi and Romain brought their E20’s home in the top five during a pole position shootout which was as frantic as it was unpredictable.
Similar conditions to those of Free Practice 2 yesterday afternoon provided a significant challenge for the drivers as Qualifying 1 got underway at 14:00 local time in Barcelona. Soaring temperatures created a noticeable lack of mechanical grip, as most competitors struggled with understeer in particular.
The first flying laps of the afternoon for Lotus F1 Team saw Romain immediately flying out of the traps, taking P1 with his first attempt on the silver marked hard compound Pirelli tyres. With Kimi was somewhat more conservative in P5.
With five minutes to go, both drivers emerged once more on the yellow marked soft tyres. Kimi surged straight up to P2, only to be immediately knocked out of his position as his team-mate went quickest. The Finn ended the session in P7, with the Frenchman flying high in P2.
Qualifying 2 saw the team opt for a single run apiece for Kimi and Romain. With six minutes to go, the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion lead the reigning GP2 Champion out of the pits. An empty track greeted the pair, with matching sets of fresh soft tyres for both.
Once more, the Finn jumped straight to the sharp end of the grid, shortly to be displaced by the Frenchman. Both drivers easily sailed into the pole position shootout in P3 (Romain) and P5 (Kimi).
The final session kept the entire paddock guessing right until the last minute. Both Lotus F1 Team drivers left it late to make a single attempt on the soft tyres, The Finn and the Frenchman momentarily sitting in P3 and P2 respectively; just shy of Fernando Alonso.
A frenzy of last gasp attempts saw Kimi eventually finish the day in P5 on the grid for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix, with a fastest time of 1:22.487. Romain’s best effort of 1:22.424 will see him start in P4; another fine performance for the young Frenchman.
With the team’s best qualifying session of the season so far and good long run pace demonstrated in Friday Practice, the team are feeling positive for the race tomorrow.
Kimi Räikkönen, E20-03
- Position: Q1 – P7 / Q2 – P5 / Q3 – P5
- Best Time: Q1 – 1:23.406 / Q2 – 1:22.856 / Q3 – 1:22.487
- Laps Completed: Q1 – 7 / Q2 – 3 / Q3 – 3
Romain Grosjean, E20-04
- Position: Q1 – P2 / Q2 – P3 / Q3 – P4
- Best Time: Q1 – 1:23.248 / Q2 – 1:22.667 / Q3 – 1:22.424
- Laps Completed: Q1 – 8 / Q2 – 3 / Q3 – 3
Pos--Driver---------------Team-----------------Time-----------Gap 1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m21.707s 2. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m22.285s 3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m22.302s 4. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m22.424s 5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m22.487s 6. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m22.533s 7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m23.005s 8. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault No time 9. Michael Schumacher Mercedes No time 10. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari No time Q2 cut-off time: 1m22.904s Gap ** 11. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m22.944s + 0.839 12. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m22.977s + 0.872 13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m23.125s + 1.020 14. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m23.177s + 1.072 15. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m23.265s + 1.160 16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m23.442s + 1.337 17. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m23.444s + 1.339 Q1 cut-off time: 1m24.362s Gap * 18. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m24.981s + 2.398 19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m25.277s + 2.694 20. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m25.507s + 2.924 21. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m26.582s + 3.999 22. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m27.032s + 4.449 23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m27.555s + 4.972 24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m31.122s + 8.539
Kimi Raikkonen – 9th: “I think we had a chance to be in the top three but we’ve been fighting with the set-up quite a bit today. We changed the car for qualifying and actually it was the correct call in the end; it was just a few small mistakes which cost me some time on my Q3 lap. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow in the race; the car has usually been better on Sunday than it has been on Saturday, so if that’s the case tomorrow we’ll be pretty happy. A lot of small details will decide the race and the tyres are one aspect of course. Our long runs were promising yesterday, so we’re not looking too bad. Hopefully we get a reasonable start and we can be up at the right end and go for it. I think we’ve got a good car and that’s the main thing.”