Spanish Grand Prix Qualifying – Lotus Renault GP

Light my fire

After a challenging day with Nick’s car catching fire in FP3 because of a crack in the right exhaust, Vitaly qualified in a strong P6. Nick could not take part in qualifying and will start the race from the back of the grid.

• Vitaly could have gone faster, but lost time in the second sector. However, he equals his best qualifying result this year.

• Nick’s car could not be repaired in time for qualifying but will be ready for tomorrow’s race. His engine had to be changed: the V8 fitted ran in China and Turkey.

• Vitaly Q1: new hard, new soft. Q2: new soft. Q3: new soft.

• Nick: Did not qualify.

Vitaly Petrov, P6, R31-03, 1:22.471
“We have got to be happy with the result. The team made a big improvement today, and the result of my car reflects that. Things felt good, the balance of the car was fine and I was able to put in a fast time in Q3 to ensure that we got the car in a good position on the grid. I knew what we had to do today, and did it so I am pleased and looking forward to tomorrow. It should be another action packed race and strategy will be very important.”

Nick Heidfeld, No time set, R31-04
“It was a challenging day, and there was not much more we could have done after the exhaust problem this morning. The was a small hole in the right exhaust and then it overheated. Then, when I heard a strange noise, the power cut out and there were flames so I had to stop. Since then, the team worked flat out to try and get me out for the qualifying session, but it was not to be. At least I managed to get a couple of laps on the hard tyres today, and during the race tomorrow I will need to push hard to make up some ground and get up the order.”

Alan Permane: Chief race engineer:

It was an eventful day for the team?
“It’s been a mixed day for us, that much is certain. It was a great day for Vitaly with P6 on the grid for tomorrow’s race, but there was potential in the lap for an even better time. There was an issue in the second sector, but Vitaly’s first sector was great, and his final sector was fantastic. This was satisfying after having a KERS problem with his car yesterday, which we have fixed and there were no issues from it today.”

What happened with Nick’s car?
“It was a failure from the right hand exhaust which caught fire. The bodywork around it then caught fire too and made quite a mess. Nick was able to park the car and get out without any harm to him, but there was a lot of work required in a short period to fix the car ready for qualifying. We tried hard, but unfortunately we were not able to get the car ready for the session. We fitted a different engine and essentially replaced the entire rear end of the car, including gearbox, suspension, radiators and wiring looms.”

What are the team’s prospects for tomorrow’s race?
“There’s definitely scope for a strong race from Vitaly, especially if he drives like he did today. He has good pace and the car seems to be working well. It’s going to be interesting with the tyres, as there is a big difference between the two compounds. The hard is a lot slower so the soft will be preferred, but its high degradation makes things difficult. We will have to see how the strategy evolves. With Nick, we face a big challenge because we start from the back of the field but we have more strategy options than with Vitaly.”

• Did you know? The exhaust gases can reach up to 900°C