Lotus Renault GP returned to their regular qualifying pace by fighting for a go in Q3. After a problematic Silverstone qualifying session, here at the Nurburgring things went better with Vitaly qualifying in P9 while Nick ended up in P11.
The cooler conditions at the Nürburgring made it difficult though to find the right set-up. Vitaly put in a strong qualifying performance to finish P9, behind Adrian (Sutil) but ahead of Michael (Schumacher). Nick, meanwhile was edged out of a place in Q3 by just over three hundredths of a second after compatriot Michael (Schumacher) took the final spot.
Vitaly Petrov, P9, R31-05, 1.32.187:
Q1: Soft (Scrubs), Q2: Soft (Scrubs), Soft (New), Q3: Soft (Scrubs), Soft (Scrubs)
“It was not an easy day for us as it was very difficult to find the right set-up and also to warm-up the tyres in these cold conditions. We all worked very hard so it was satisfying to achieve our main target of getting into the top ten, and I think we should be quite happy with our position today. That said, we were still at the limit to get into Q3 so there is more work to do. The team did a fantastic job and they gave me a fantastic car. The weather has changed a lot over the last two days so you need to always adapt your driving style, but whether it is wet or dry tomorrow, we are ready for anything."
Nick Heidfeld, P11, R31-04, 1.32.215:
Q1: Medium, Soft (Scrubs) Q2: Soft (Scrub), Soft (New)
“I was only just over three hundredths of a second off Q3 but margins like that can always be found somewhere, so by no means was this a bad qualifying session for me, although it would have been good to have had a run in Q3 and try to gain a few more places. As for tomorrow, so much depends on the weather; if it’s wet it makes it very difficult to know what to expect and we know that as a team, our car is better in dry conditions and on the long runs. One thing is clear, and that is that we’re on the way back. Silverstone was a tough race for us, but we’ve certainly made a step forward and we need to have a good race tomorrow to demonstrate that. We’re definitely targeting points."
James Allison, Technical Director:
The team’s in need of a strong weekend here in Germany - are you satisfied with what you’ve seen so far? After the qualifying performance we put together in Silverstone at the last race, we’re happy enough to have a car back in the top ten. It’s sad that Nick missed out by a heartbeat, he was only just over three hundredths off the mark. We’re satisfied that we’re back on the mend but obviously still a lot of work ahead tomorrow and in the next few races.
From today’s qualifying positions, how do you expect the cars to fare tomorrow? We should be on for getting some points, seventh or eighth should be very achievable if we put in a strong performance.
The team’s been working on some differing set-up configurations this weekend - is it too early to say what’s been learnt from this? Yesterday’s running was very instructive in comparing the two different exhaust configurations. It’s too early to consider running the rearward exhaust in anger because it isn’t competitive with the forward-facing (exhaust) yet, but it’s certainly something we are going to keep exploring and considering.
Can we expect a flurry of pit-stops with the soft and medium tyre combination? The option (soft) tyre is a pretty good tyre; it seems to have good legs on it, it’s consistent and fast so I think the teams will want to stay on this compound as long as possible. Because it seems to run well, I don’t think there will be millions of pit stops, I think everyone will be hoping to spend the shortest time possible on the prime (medium) tyre. However, all this will be academic if the rain we’re expecting does indeed arrive, that would shake things up even more.