LAT Photographic

Indian Grand Prix Qualifying – Lotus Renault GP

One of these days – Indian GP, Saturday 29 October 2011

Day two at the Buddh International Circuit saw Bruno and Vitaly whittle down their lap times from yesterday’s practice sessions, but not enough to break into the top 10; Bruno will line up in P14 and Vitaly in P16 on tomorrow’s grid.

• In FP3, both drivers managed to sculpt out respectable lap times. Using Pirelli’s soft (prime) tyre, Bruno’s best time was 1min 27.235secs whilst Vitaly secured a time of 1min 27.280secs.

• Vitaly ended Q1 in fine fettle. Posting a time of 1min 26.181secs, he rocketed to the top of the leaderboard going into Q2.

• During Q2, Bruno eked out a small improvement on his Q1 lap time, finishing with a time of 1min 26.651secs, which leaves him 14th on the grid.

• Vitaly was unable to advance upon his pace-setting Q1 time, leaving him 11th fastest after a time of 1min 26.319secs. With his five-place grid penalty, however – resulting from an incident at the Korean GP – the Russian will line up two places behind his team mate in P16.

• Bruno Q1: Hard (new), Soft (new); Q2: Soft (used), Soft (new)

• Vitaly Q1: Hard (new), Soft (new); Q2: Soft (used), Soft (new)

Bruno Senna, P14, R31-04, 1:26.651
“That was definitely disappointing. The circuit evolved from this morning and the changes made to the car took me, I believe, in the wrong direction given the conditions of the track. I struggled a lot with balance and paid the price for that. I have one set of new soft tyres so it’s going to be difficult tomorrow, but I’m hoping that maybe the temperature will be lower and then perhaps we will have a stronger day than today. I think the track has evolved more to suit other cars, but maybe we’ll look better tomorrow at the start of the race, particularly on the high fuel load that we will have. The level of tyre degradation looked fine in FP3 so let’s see how that leaves us for the race.”

Vitaly Petrov, P16, R31-06, 1:26.319
“It was a great feeling being top of the leaderboard at the end of Q1 this afternoon, and it was fully justified – at that point our pace was very good. I was a little bit off my times in Q2, and I wasn’t able to better my Q1 time because I made a couple of minor errors on the last couple of corners. Combine that with the fact that the other teams’ times improved and you have the reason for why I did not make Q3.Tomorrow’s the first ever Indian GP so it is very much an open book in terms of what could happen. Even with my five place penalty, I remain optimistic that I can salvage a respectable result for the team.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director:

What can be drawn from today’s result?
The immediate reaction is one of disappointment. We never really saw the best of Bruno. Vitaly, meanwhile, had the pace in Q1 to make it through to Q3 but he just did not manage a proper lap in Q2 which is disappointing. The car definitely had the pace to stake its place in the final session, but we were unable to capitalise on that potential. With Vitaly’s five place penalty, which will leave us in 14th and 16th on tomorrow’s grid, we are undoubtedly up against it.

How have the tyres been behaving?
The tyres are performing well and the degradation is low, so we will do everything we can tomorrow to put the car back in the points. As for tyre usage tomorrow, the hard (option) tyre is tricky to use here; most teams will be looking to maximise use of the soft (prime) tyre. Due to the obligation of having to use the hard tyre, we may well see teams use them for the last lap of the race such as we saw in Nürburgring.

Bruno said the track felt quite different in P3 to how it did in qualifying…
Yes, Bruno noticed that the balance was not perfect; he said the car was too much on the nose. Maybe the track was a bit dusty at the beginning of the session, but it certainly cleaned up and I’m surprised it didn’t get easier.

What can the team do to salvage some sort of result tomorrow?
There isn’t a great deal one can do when you have two tyres which are so very different. With the low degradation, we could look at fewer pit stops than the others, but it’s not going to be an easy track on which to overtake even though there are some long straights. We shall have to see if we can be creative tonight, and conjure up a useful strategy to give us a decent opportunity tomorrow.