Lotus' Romain Grosjean ended the day sixth with Heikki Kovalainen eleventh during a rain affected qualifying session for tomorrow’s Brazilian Grand Prix. The classically unpredictable São Paulo weather saw conditions range from drying, to light showers, then heavy downpours; making for a challenging but entertaining afternoon at the Interlagos circuit.
An absence of rain at the start of Q1 left a drying track as the drivers emerged for their opening runs on intermediate tyres; both making an early jump to take advantage of the conditions before the forecasted showers began. Romain’s time in that single stint was good enough to see him through in eighth place, whilst Heikki opted for a second run to eventually progress in fifth.
With the rain intensity starting to increase, Q2 once again saw both drivers head out for early stints on the intermediate rubber; pitting for fresh sets of the same compound with minutes to spare after initial banker runs. A fantastic lap from Romain saw the Frenchman progress in top spot, whilst Heikki narrowly missed the cut for the top ten shootout in eleventh.
Torrential downpours in the build-up to Q3 saw the session delayed by fourty minutes due to excessive levels of standing water on the track. Once underway, the sole remaining E21 set off for an exploratory lap on wets, before pitting immediately for a switch to intermediates. As the puddles began to clear so the times started to tumble; Romain putting in a respectable lap in the final moments to take sixth on tomorrow’s grid.
Heikki Kovalainen, E21-05 , 11th: “It’s disappointing not to make the top ten, but I just didn’t have enough pace in the second session; it’s as simple as that. The conditions weren’t ideal, but it’s the same for everybody and there was nothing wrong with the car so I can’t have any complaints. It’s not the ideal starting position, but the car is performing well and anything can happen in motor racing – especially here at Interlagos – so we’ll look at where we can improve for tomorrow and try to do a better job in the race.”
Romain Grosjean, E21-04, 6th: “That was quite a difficult afternoon. It was tricky to decide which tyre we should use for the final qualifying session and we wanted to try for pole which is why we used the intermediates, but in the end there was probably just a little bit too much water which certainly made things interesting. Ultimately my lap wasn’t good enough, but the car has been strong all weekend so we’re confident for the race no matter what the weather is. Certainly, my Q2 lap in the wet today was very good and we know we have a strong baseline setup in the dry, so let’s see what happens.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: "This was rather disappointing. The car has been performing well all weekend in the wet conditions, so we were hoping for a strong performance. Heikki was unlucky to narrowly miss out on going through to the top ten by a very small margin, and conceded a couple of small errors on his lap. In the final session we let Romain down with a poorly timed pit stop after making the call to put him out on intermediates. These were the right tyres, but we should have waited a little before he started his run on them.
"We still have a good chance for a strong result tomorrow. Both drivers have been very comfortable with the car in the wet conditions today and we know it performs well in the dry. If it’s dry then everyone will be heading into the race without any tyre data, which could be an advantage for us as our tyre management in the race is generally amongst the best on the grid."