Saturday 16 March
The Melbourne skies offered up their famed four seasons in one day to interrupt and delay qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix. An eventful day at Albert Park saw Romain Grosjean top the times in FP3, then set the third fastest lap in Q1 before the remainder of qualifying was postponed. Kimi Räikkönen went fifth fastest in FP3 and eleventh quickest in the Q1 session. Qualifying will resume at Albert Park with the Q2 session, starting at 11:00 local time (01:00 CET).
Kimi Räikkönen, E21-03.
FP3: P5, 1:27.625.
Q: (Q1) P11, 1:45.545.
“It wasn’t easy with the traffic, people going off and the yellow flags but we went through to the second qualifying session tomorrow so it’s not all bad. The car doesn’t feel too bad in the wet – it’s an improvement on where we were last year for sure – but today the challenge was finding some clear space on track. The session being delayed until tomorrow was a shame but it’s the same for everyone.”
Romain Grosjean, E21-01.
FP3: P1, 1:26.929.
Q: (Q1) P3, 1:44.284.
“The day started pretty well; it’s the first time I’ve topped an official practice session and I have to say a big thank you to the team for their hard work since yesterday. We took a different direction with the setup and it’s clear we made the right decision. It’s frustrating to delay the rest of qualifying, but there were some good things for us to take from Q1. It’s no secret that wet conditions did not favour our car last year, but from what we saw today there have definitely been some improvements. I’m sorry for the fans as they have been fantastic all week and stuck around despite the weather. We have a big day tomorrow and it looks like staying dry, so hopefully we can put on a good show for them.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: “It’s been fun today.”
How did the team fare in the limited dry running today?
The changes we made to Romain’s car allied to the revised aerodynamic package clearly made a difference which was highlighted by him setting the session’s fastest time before the rain started. He was very happy with the improvement and is as content with his car as Kimi is with his. It’s been fun today reacting to the different weather conditions.
How about in the rain?
We’re in good shape. We’ve made some improvements to our wet setup following lessons learnt in pre-season testing which have certainly worked. It’s a shame that we can’t finish qualifying today, but it’s absolutely the correct decision; it was too wet.
What are the particular considerations for running qualifying and the race in one day?
It doesn’t change things too much if everything goes well in qualifying, but if there is a lot of work to do on the car between qualifying and the race then it’s going to be a busy day.
What are your thoughts in terms of strategy for tomorrow?
In terms of the weather it looks like tomorrow should be dry, in which case the supersoft is the faster qualifying tyre. That means the top ten starting on the supersoft and working to maximise its potential at the start of the race on high fuel and a newly washed track surface. The medium compound will be the preferred race tyre.
Are we feeling optimistic heading into the race?
We’ve looked good come both wet and dry so far so there’s no reason to think otherwise.
Sunday 17th March
Kimi Räikkönen qualified seventh and Romain Grosjean eighth in today’s resumed qualifying session for this afternoon’s Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park. With an initially wet but rapidly drying track, both drivers progressed through the Q2 session using Pirelli’s intermediate tyres. The top ten determining Q3 session saw all competitors start on intermediates before moving to the supersoft dry compound.
Kimi Räikkönen, E21-03 – Q3: P7, 1:28.738
“It was an okay qualifying session. We had just one lap on the dry tyres and I got a bit sideways at the end on a damp patch which meant I lost some time so that was a bit disappointing. The car seems to be working well. It had the speed, but when you have only one lap on dry tyres on a damp circuit setting a fast lap is not the easiest thing to do. The weather seems to be changing very quickly, but we’ve seen that before in Melbourne. It’s the same for everybody and it will be in the race too.”
Romain Grosjean, E21-01 – Q3: P8, 1:29.013
“That has to be one of the trickiest qualifying sessions I’ve ever had; the delay overnight then really mixed weather today made it a big challenge. Unfortunately we only got one flying lap on the dry tyres in Q3, which was a shame as it’s hard to know the limit in these kind of drying conditions. I had a small lock up into Turn 3 which lost me quite a bit of time so it could have been a bit better, but the main thing is we have both cars starting in the points positions. The race is long and it looks like being dry, so let’s see what we can do from here.”
James Allison, Technical Director: “There’s nothing to suggest we shouldn’t have a strong race.”
How did we perform in qualifying – part two?
Reading a drying track like we had today is always very difficult. There was the speed in the car to do better had there been more constant conditions.
What’s our potential in the race?
We’re more than adequately placed to put in a good showing this afternoon. We’ve shown well on heavy fuel in pre-season testing and the start will be interesting on the supersoft tyres.
What about the weather considerations?
We’re expecting it to be cool and dry. The temperatures will make graining an ever present threat, but there’s nothing to suggest we shouldn’t have a strong race
Sunday 17 March
Kimi Räikkönen opened up Lotus F1 Team’s 2013 championship points account with a maximum deposit by taking victory in the first race of the season; the Australian Grand Prix. Kimi made two pit stops – whilst most of his opposition made three – to secure his 20th Grand Prix win, equalling the tally of compatriot Mika Häkkinen. Romain Grosjean came home in tenth position after a difficult race. Kimi leads the Drivers’ Championship with 25 points to Fernando Alonso’s 18, whilst the team occupies second position in the Constructors’ Championship with 26 points to Ferrari’s 30.
· Kimi and Romain both started on used supersoft compound tyres.
· Kimi pitted for new medium tyres on laps 9 and 34, Romain on laps 5, 19 and 37.
Kimi Räikkönen, P1, E21-03
“I’m happy for the team and for myself also. We’ve had a quick car all weekend and there were no issues with it either, so we could just focus on trying different things and getting the setup how we wanted. I had a good feeling that we would be ok with the tyres after practice and the team got the strategy perfect. I made a few places at the start and then had a good battle with Lewis [Hamilton] but after that it was quite simple; probably one of my easiest wins. You can’t start the season much better than winning the first race and of course we hope we can be fighting at the front of the Championship, but there’s a long way to go still and we need to keep pushing hard all the way.”
Romain Grosjean, P10, E21-01
“Something felt wrong with my car, so I have to sit down with the team and analyse where the issue came from. It felt so good all weekend until the race itself, but in the end the race was long and quite difficult for me. We know that Albert Park can be a tricky circuit and the weather has certainly not helped today. It’s been a great weekend for the team with Kimi’s win so it’s clear there’s pace in the car. Let’s hope I can unlock that pace too next weekend in Sepang.”
Eric Boullier, Team Principal
“I’m very happy. After Kimi’s great start we were hoping that we could achieve a podium finish, then as the race unfolded and we saw the other teams pitting – showing that they were on three-stop strategies – our position became stronger and stronger. It’s a fantastic feeling to open the season in this way. Kimi drove impeccably all weekend and gave the team his all. Romain had a difficult race and we have to analyse what went wrong for him. This win is a further testament to all the hard work which goes on at Enstone and we owe tremendous thanks to each and every employee. We head to Malaysia in the best position we could be. ”
James Allison, Technical Director
“It was a splendid thing we saw today. It’s a day like this which make everything about this job worthwhile and that will be true for everyone involved with the team. It’s great. We were a little deflated after qualifying, as we knew the car had better pace than our grid positions suggested. Nevertheless we were confident from the long run pace we’d seen on Friday that we could make a two-stop strategy work. It was lovely to see the lap times ticking off metronomically without any real fear that the tyres weren’t going to go the distance. Hopefully we can repeat Kimi’s fantastic performance again next weekend with both cars.”
Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 Team Support Leader
“As we’ve seen this weekend the field is incredibly close and each detail counts even more, so we’ve worked hard with the team to exploit every last area of performance from the engine over the winter period. In the race we were aggressive with the fuel strategy to maintain a healthy gap over Fernando and Kimi did a great job with managing the tyres. Romain also came in strongly at the end to get a double points’ finish. A fantastic way to start the season!.”