March 23th, 2012 (F1plus / Andrés Rojas).- The 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix weekend went under way and the feeling that we all get is that McLaren keeps positioning like the team to beat.
Red Bull at the hands of Sebastian Vettel is not far along, but the Mercedes team of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg looked to be poised to generate real pressure.
Nevertheless, the Lotus E20 machine seems to be evolving and its drivers getting more comfortable at the steering wheel.
Romain Grosjean, who earned a third place start for the Australian race last weekend, did have a good run today as he finished fifth and ninth in the two practice sessions. The young Frenchman is gaining confidence and with every action he seems to be extracting the most of the car, which is a good trait to have as a driver.
“Today went pretty well with a couple of small interruptions to my sessions. In the morning there was something not quite right with the rear of the car which was soon sorted, then in the afternoon I picked up a cut on one of my tyres. Neither was a major issue. We looked at dealing with the heat and finding a good set-up for the high track temperatures here. This track feels fantastic in a Formula 1 car. We’re not quite there with the set-up, but we have plenty of data to work through. I think we’ve got a good idea of where to go for qualifying tomorrow.” Romain said about his session.
Then we have Kimi Raikkonen who is still at an adjusting period, but showing clear signs that his speed is there. His session was not as good as the one his teammate had, but partly because of faulty KERS unit in the afternoon, which did not help him to keep his pace nor to improve his lap time. The Finn registered the best seventh time in the morning, but then clocked the 15th in the second session.
Raikkonen commented: “It was an okay day but we still have work to do on the set-up. The steering was a small improvement but we are still working in this area. I feel fine in the car in the hot conditions, and the race will take place later in the day so I don’t expect that to be a problem. I hope we will make some progress tomorrow as the car is quicker than we’ve shown. Having an issue with the KERS in the afternoon was frustrating but I’m sure we’ll have it fixed for tomorrow. The track is exactly as I remember it and I hope for a better qualifying than we had in Australia. I’m looking forward to racing here.”
All in all, Lotus feels good about the E20 and its chances of setting itself high on the table close to the top team. Today’s session was a mixed one, because of minor technical issues, but expectations are high.
James Allison remarks, pretty much sum up the session: “Team Those were today’s nuisances, but the positives are that the E20 is working reasonably well. We have good base set-ups for both drivers. Tyre management looks OK despite the hot conditions. The pace of the car on high fuel loads looks promising.”