Lotus: In hindsight we made the wrong call for Romain, but Kimi had no dramas

26 October, 2013

Kimi Räikkönen qualified sixth with team-mate Romain Grosjean seventeenth, ahead of tomorrow’s Indian Grand Prix.

Warm, dry conditions remained in place throughout the day at the Buddh International circuit, with the poor visibility that had hampered FP3 earlier in the day clearing sufficiently to allow an un-interrupted qualifying session.

A tightly contested Q1 session saw Kimi make two runs – one on each tyre compound – to eventually progress in P6 using the Soft rubber. Romain, by contrast, ran a single stint on Medium tyres; a gamble which narrowly failed to pay off as the Frenchman found himself eliminated at the first hurdle, despite posting a time just a second off that of the fastest car.

Q2 was more straightforward for the remaining E21; Kimi progressing comfortably to the top ten – in fourth, with a strong pair of single lap runs on the Medium tyres. The final session saw the Finn take sixth spot at the flag with a single run on Soft rubber.

Kimi Räikkönen, E21-05: “It wasn’t an ideal qualifying session and I’m still having some problems with understeer, but the car did feel better overall than yesterday. The tyres have to be managed over a full lap for qualifying so we are where we are on the grid. We’ll see what happens tomorrow and I’ll try to do as well as I can. Overall, the car feels slightly better than in the last few races; still not where we want it to be, but slightly better.”

Romain Grosjean, E21-04: “We took a gamble once again to try just one run on the Prime tyres in Q1, and although it’s been a successful tactic for us recently it didn’t pay off this time. The times were much tighter than expected and ultimately we made a miscalculation with the cut-off time. It’s easy to look back and think what might have been, but we made the decision together and unfortunately in the end it was the wrong one. It’s tough to overtake here so it’s going to be a long race from seventeenth on the grid. We’ll have to pull off something quite special with the strategy to take anything from there, but of course we’ll analyse the options overnight to see what’s possible. For sure we won’t be leading after the first corner this time, but we’ll do our best.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director:

How was qualifying for the team?
In hindsight we made the wrong call with Romain. We expected him to progress quite comfortably through Q1 on the Medium tyre and unfortunately this wasn’t the case. Clearly, he’s starting a long way out of position and will need a strong charge through the field to make it into the top ten, but we’re extremely confident that he’ll be able to do so. How far into the points he can progress will depend on the start and our management of the tyres. It was a reasonably straightforward session for Kimi with no real dramas. He’ll be the first to admit that qualifying hasn’t been going to plan for him recently, and he’s about where we expected him to be after free practice this morning. As always we’re confident that his race pace will be exemplary, so we’re anticipating a very strong race from him starting from sixth on the grid.

Where do we stand in terms of setup to help the drivers progress through the field tomorrow?
We’ve taken this into account after seeing how tough overtaking can be here during last season’s race. Kimi’s car is certainly more biased towards race pace than single lap performance, and we’ll be looking at ways to help Romain … move up the order overnight too. Our race pace on the Medium tyre looked strong during practice, so we’re hopeful of making progress.

What are the tyre strategy considerations for the race?
Today very much followed the pattern of the weekend so far, with the option tyre suffering from blistering and graining while the Prime looks to be a very strong choice for the race. We’ve seen so far that there’s about a second per lap difference in long run pace between the two. One of the keys to the race is certainly making the front left tyre – and to a lesser extent the front right – last when using the Soft compound; particularly on high fuel at the start of the race.

Subbed by AJN.


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