A confusing day for both Lotus Renault Grand Prix cars with neither driver able to unlock the potential of the R31; Vitaly Petrov qualified in 11th and Nick Heidfeld in 16th for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix.
• Today’s 11th fastest time means Vitaly is the first driver on the grid able to decide which tyres he will start the race with.
• One of our gunmen was injured during this morning’s P3 session. Although he will miss tomorrow’s race, he is thankfully on the mend after having a few stitches.
• Vitaly and Nick: Q1 new soft, new supersoft. Q2: scrubbed supersoft, new supersoft.
Vitaly Petrov, P11, R31-03, 1’15.815
“We should be comfortably in the top 10, so naturally starting 11th on the grid is not particularly satisfying. We have found the super soft tyres challenging this weekend and I only managed to take off a few tenths when I used them, so we need to look at why this has happened. We should really be a second quicker than we are, so we will look at the data this evening and see what needs to be improved to ensure we are performing better tomorrow – we are going to have to be very much on our game strategically come race time. On another note, Sergio’s crash was a tough one. He seems to have lost control exactly where I had a problem on Thursday. We were teammates in GP2 so I hope he’s OK and I wish him all the best.”
Nick Heidfeld, P16, R31-04, 1’16.214
“There were no problems with the car and I did have clear laps but obviously we weren’t as fast as we want to be. After Thursday’s running we knew we still had work to do, but I thought we would be able to make it into the top ten. Unlike in Barcelona, there won’t be much overtaking here because of the nature of the track but we will be pushing hard. Maybe if we use KERS in an unconventional way, where the driver in front has not expected it, there will be an opportunity, but it certainly won’t be like the last race. Of course, anything can happen with safety cars and other cars not finishing so it’s important that we finish and push as hard as we possibly can.”
James Allison, Technical Director:
Many people speculated LRGP might put in a strong performance this weekend – so far, the car has been off the pace… “We thought we would do particularly well here in Monaco but so far our performance has been decidedly lacklustre. At the last GP we had qualified as close to the leaders as we have all year, so to come here and be this far off the pace is as unexpected as it is disappointing.
This season there has been a pattern of the team starting the first day of practice slowly, but coming to form in P3 and qualifying – you must have hoped that would repeat itself today? “We have struggled to get the most out of the super softs all weekend, so I did have my suspicion that we would struggle for pace in qualifying. On the prime tyre we performed more respectably, but even this was below the standard we would have expected.
There is a lot of emphasis put on qualifying here in Monaco – how difficult will it be to move up the order tomorrow? “Without a good start it will be tremendously hard – this is not going to be a KERS, DRS, tyre, F1 2011 style overtakeathon. Tomorrow will be a traditional Monaco race where attrition and the barriers will make overtaking more likely than anything else. We will need to make a flying start tomorrow and then hope for things to unfold favourably in front of us.
Is there much that can be done strategically tomorrow to raise the level of performance? “It is much harder for strategy to have a real impact at Monaco. Of course, it remains crucial to do the right thing in terms of when and how often to stop, but it is difficult to get past other cars unless mistakes are made. However, it is the case that our race pace is respectable, so we will be looking to salvage what we can from a disappointing weekend so far.”