April 12th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Lap times from Friday practice seldom tell the whole story, and that is certainly the case for Lotus in China. Kimi Raikkonen finished FP2 second, which could be a fair reflection of the pace of the Lotus. But Romain Grosjean was way down in 12th place after getting stuck in traffic on his low-fuel soft tyre run, rendering his fastest lap time fairly irrelevant.
Lotus spent much of the day evaluating new parts. Grosjean ran with a new front wing and did comparisons of the new exhaust layout used by Raikkonen in Malaysia against the older specification used in Australia. Raikkonen tested some new aero parts on the rear floor. The component testing went well, and confirmed that the new front wing and exhaust layout provide enough of an advantage to stay on the car for the rest of the weekend.
All of the teams devote significant time on Friday to tyre testing, evaluating how the two compounds perform on low and high fuel in order to make setup tweaks that might be necessary to extract more performance from the tyres or use them more gently so as to reduce the rate of wear. Lotus reported that they are comfortable on both compounds, which is very good news for the team as it means the drivers will be able to push at any stage required in the race, rather than having to sacrifice too much performance in the pursuit of tyre management.
Raikkonen reported that he was fairly happy with his setup, although he felt it would be possible to make further gains on Saturday. Grosjean was not quite as satisfied with his Friday, but felt cofident of improvements in FP3 on Saturday.
This is what the team had to say after Friday practice:
Kimi Raikkonen: “If you look at the lap time it looks to have been a pretty okay day. For sure there are things we have to improve and you never know what will happen tomorrow but it’s a reasonable start to the weekend. We seem to be happy with the soft tyres and maybe not as happy with the harder ones. We’ve still got time to improve and we’re certainly not struggling so it could be a good weekend.”
Romain Grosjean: “Today was not so easy for me and I’m still looking for the right setup. I ran with the new exhaust package in the morning and the older one in the afternoon to try to help find where improvements can be made. We now have a lot of data to help find the extra performance we want. The new front wing helps, so that’s a step in the right direction. In Malaysia we developed the car as the weekend continued and there are of course a few things we can change overnight. It’s a new day tomorrow and we’ll hopefully be able to have the car as I’d like it for a strong result this weekend.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: “We’re reasonably happy with what was a fairly normal Friday for us. Kimi’s pace looks strong and he felt he could have gone faster on his flying lap. Romain’s lap time is not representative after he got caught up behind Lewis [Hamilton] during his option run. The grip level between the two tyres through certain corners is quite noticeable and – as we saw during winter testing – the lifespan of the soft tyre could be a talking point. There’s no doubt it’s the tyre for qualifying, but making it last in the race will be a challenge. Overall we’re pleased with the car in terms of pace, high fuel performance and tyre preservation; hopefully we can look forward to a strong weekend ahead.”