July 26th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Lotus are looking set for a strong result in Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix, after Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen each finished one of the Friday practice sessions third on the time sheets. Whether or not they can challenge for victory will depend on how much progress can be made before tomorrow's qualifying session.
There are several updates running on the Lotus, including new mirrors, rear floor updates and exhaust configurations.Those are no doubt contributing to their competitive showing. The hot temperatures will also be helping, as the Lotus car is generally very kind to its tyres, which means it can handle higher temperatures than its rivals. With a forecast air temperature of 40 degrees Celsius for Sunday, Lotus are therefore looking very strong this weekend.
Romain Grosjean, who set the third fastest time in FP2, was happy with how his Friday went. He said: "It’s been a good day overall. I didn’t get to try the new tyres at Silverstone so the main focus was to work on getting the most from them which all went ok. To be honest they’re not really night and day from the old ones, which is good as it means we haven’t had to change too much. There’s still a bit of graining and degradation to deal with but that’s normal. Our pace looks pretty good on both compounds, but the field is quite close so it’s hard to say where we are. We’ll just keep doing our best to find the right compromise for qualifying and the race and see where we stand at the end of the weekend."
Kimi Raikkonen was third fastest in FP1, but his first flying lap on the soft tyres in FP2 was ruined by a slow Jenson Button who held Raikkonen up in the final corner. Consequently, his eighth place in the session was not representative of his pace. Nonetheless, he was not quite satisfied that he and the team have managed to get all of the available performance out of the car and expects that things should improve on Saturday.
Raikkonen said after Friday practice: “It wasn’t ideal today but it wasn’t that bad either. We took a bit of time to understand the new tyres and it was also very hot. It’s too early to say if the heat will suit us with these new tyres, but we’ll soon have a better idea. I had some traffic in the afternoon and so wasn’t able to set a fast lap on new tyres, plus we have some areas to improve on with the setup. We’ll try to do the best that we can in qualifying and we’ll see where we are. If we get the car right we should be ok tomorrow.”