November 17th, 2012 (F1plus / Gustavo A Roche).- From Friday and Saturday practice sessions Lotus created a different story to tell with the excellent qualifying performance they were able to pull.
Both drivers, Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen made it to Q3 and even manage o finish 4th and 5th respectively.
However, the Frenchman will have to start from 9th after a 5-grid penalty takes effect because of an unscheduled change of gearbox. This also promoted Kimi to fourth (same position he started in Abu Dhabi and won).
The team struggled more than the rest of the field in all the session preceding qualifying, to the point of being close to four second off pace from a giant Vettel. Then in the second session that gap was reduced to two and half second, which got even smaller in third practice to one and half.
This means the team did a superb job adjusting and improving the performance of the E20 for qualifying. Overall the team is confident of a podium finish tomorrow.
“There’s no reason we can’t be up there challenging for a podium spot again.” Said Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director.
One of the updates set on the E20 was a new exhaust configuration, which seemed to be bringing the goods.
"We’re certainly happy with today. It was a good qualifying performance from both drivers and we’ve shown that the car has improved pace in qualifying trim with the updated which is a big positive." Permane added.
Unfortunately for Gorsjean his penalty dropped him to ninth on the grid, but he remains somewhat positive for the race.
“I will start P9, but this is racing. The guys did an awesome job to change the gearbox between FP3 and Qualifying – which was a really tight turnaround – but we’re still in the top ten even with the penalty so that’s a good result. Apart from the gearbox problem, it’s all gone very well today.
"We’ve understood a difficult and evolving circuit and found a good set-up. I’m happy to be where I am and at least I will be on the good side of the track for the start tomorrow.” Grosjean said.
The Finn seemed rather pleased with his performance that exceeded his own expectations.
“I was actually expecting a more difficult qualifying session today, but the car was the best it’s felt all weekend so it turned out to be quite good. The set-up is still not exactly how I want it but it’s much closer.
"The warmer conditions make the car work much better and that certainly makes a difference. Starting on the dirty side of the grid maybe isn’t the best; we’ll have to hope that the circuit picks up a little more grip for the race tomorrow.” Raikkonen said.
What are your thoughts on qualifying?
Unfortunately for Romain, we had a gearbox issue with his car this morning which means he’ll take a five place grid penalty but we know the car has good race pace; with a clean start from both drivers there’s no reason we can’t be up there challenging for a podium spot again.