March 22nd, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - His team-mate may have won the opening race of the season and topped the times in Friday practice for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, but Romain Grosjean is still trying to get his side of the Lotus garage up to peak performance. Tenth place in Australia was slightly underwhelming, but Grosjean is looking at a better result this weekend if he can optimise his set-up for the race.
Lotus have brought two upgrades to Malaysia. A new front wing has been tested on both cars during Friday running and will be used for the remainder of the weekend after the team confirmed it is happy with the performance delivered. Kimi Raikkonen is running an upgraded exhaust on his car, while Grosjean retains the configuration used in Australia. The new exhaust is working well, which gives Raikkonen an immediate advantage over his team-mate, but Grosjean is confident that there is more speed available using the older specification.
Grosjean has to find six tenths of a second to match Raikkonen's pace. While some of that deficit is likely the result of the upgraded exhaust on Raikkonen's car, it seems unlikely to all be related to a single upgrade. Grosjean confirmed that he needs to make setup adjustments to find more speed:
“We’re still working on the setup of the car as it’s not quite right for me and it’s difficult to understand why exactly. The new front wing does feel better than the one before so that helps. Kimi was running an updated aero package which looks to be an improvement so we know there’s more pace to come in that area, but there are still things we can do with the current specification once I get everything working for me. It was pretty hot out there – quite a contrast to Melbourne – but I felt comfortable and I’m looking forward to making some improvements tomorrow before we head into qualifying.”
Grosjean finished FP1 tenth, just under a second off the pace set by Mark Webber, but improved to sixth in FP2, 0.637 seconds off the pace of Kimi Raikkonen. The two Lotus drivers will be back on track in Free Practice 3 on Saturday morning as the team prepares for qualifying.