Lotus admit Raikkonen getting preferred treatment over Grosjean

Lotus pitstop action in Malaysia with Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen behind him

Lotus pitstop action in Malaysia with Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen behind him

Lotus have been giving Formula 1 championship leader Kimi Raikkonen preferential treatment over his French team mate Romain Grosjean, technical director James Allison admitted on Friday.

Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion with Ferrari, won last weekend’s Australian season-opener from seventh place on the starting grid after managing the tyres beautifully and doing one less stop than his closest rivals.

The Finn was fastest again in free practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Friday with Grosjean 10th and sixth in the two sessions at Sepang.

Allison told reporters afterwards that Grosjean was at a disadvantage because he did not have the same package as Raikkonen.

Romain Grosjean

Romain Grosjean at Sepang

“He’s not had an easy weekend either here or there (Australia), because we haven’t been able to provide two cars in exactly the same configuration on either occasions,” said Allison.

“In Melbourne on Friday he was running a step behind Kimi in terms of his aero package, and then he had the upgrade for Saturday morning but then Saturday was disturbed by the weather. Here, once again, we only have one set of (new) kit and we’ve chosen to run that with Kimi and Romain is disadvantaged for that.”

Allison blamed the situation on Formula One regulations forbidding testing during the season, leaving all upgrades to be tested on race weekends.

“You try to upgrade the cars as fast as you can and generally speaking, that means that you’re always going to have one set of kit ahead of the second set and that almost inevitably means that one driver gets to try it before there is a second one available,” he added.

Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E21.

Romain Grosjean Lotus E21

“We will always try to get two sets available but it’s not always possible. So he (Grosjean) has had a difficult set of circumstances and he’s also up against a team mate who is really firing on all cylinders so those are the two things.”

Allison said a combination of patience and a good car had helped Raikkonen, who made his comeback last season after two years out, regain his form of old.

“He’s certainly very, very relaxed and confident this year. He drove the race incredibly patiently. I think he knew he had a good car under him,” Allison said of Melbourne.

“He knew he didn’t have to scamper up behind the group in front and he looked after the tyres, only going quickly when he needed to. It was just a very mature and smooth, fast race.” (Reuters)

 

  • Henk

    How refreshing that a team admits that they cannot give equally fast cars to both drivers, and that, therefore, they have to make a choice of which driver to favour. The statement that “we give drivers equal cars regardless” is not only hypocritical but also insults the intelligence of fans who don’t see why it should be done when one driver has more chances than the other to compete in the WDC. Arguably, the teams that deny this reality the most are probably those who even handicap the driver that could challenge their chosen one, i.e., Red Bull with Webber, McClaren with Alonso.

  • Don’t you mean Ferrari

    The statement that “we give drivers equal cars regardless” is not only hypocritical but also insults the intelligence of fans who don’t see why it should be done when one driver has more chances than the other to compete in the WDC. Arguably, the teams that deny this reality the most are probably those who even handicap the driver that could challenge their chosen one, i.e., Red Bull with Webber, Ferrari with Alonso.

  • Kimster

    I think it is common practice to first of all give the stronger driver of the team the benefit of the upgrades. On the other hand, the upgrades might be worse in which case the no 1 driver wasted a lot of track time. In terms of Lotus, Kimi is the most consistent driver ever and you need such a driver to get the perfect feedback on how the car handles the upgrades. In defence of the team they have to chose the most consistent driver and secondly they need to compare the new upgrades with the old. So no deliberate advantage without reasons

  • F1 Neutral

    I think it was a genuine mistake – we all know that he meant to write Ferrari.

    No need to be smart.

  • Max Smoot

    Allison unusual but clever admission that only KR has the updated package offers a public apology to Grosjean while still providing him an incentive to him to perform better to merit further upgrades. At least the team isn’t being hypocritical about it.

  • Henk

    No typo. I did mean McClaren. In 2007, they chose Hamilton as their number one when Alonso still had a fighting chance. Worse in the case of Red Bull in 2010: they favoured Vettel over Webber even if Webber was leading Vettel in the WDC.

    Lotus has done well by admitting to this early, because they know later in the championship Grosjean could take valuable points off him. Every team must be doing this, but few teams try to fool us that they have the moral high ground.

  • quattro

    @Don’t you mean Ferrari

    I guess he is referring to Mclaren 2007 treatment of ALO. Besides, history clearly shows that ALO is capable of beating MAS even with his eyes closed – no need to special treatment there. After all, ALO did even beat the previous master of massa, mr Schumacher…remember?

  • quattro

    @F1 Neutral

    Your information sources are mostly the hypocritical Brittish media, it seems – no wonder you are missinformed!

    PS. Do something to that alias – would be more fitting by the looks of things.

  • Steady Stock Picks Review

    I’m very happy to write comments in this web site
    I want to think you and congrats you for this wonderful read
    you can find some interest information about steady stock picks in my web-site, enjoy and learn more about it

  • Apex Assassin

    Lol as Lotus should! Grossjeans has a lot to prove while Kimi is a proven winner.

    Go Kimi!

  • jules

    I believe all the big F1 teams have a preferred No1. Ferrari=Alonso, Lotus = Kimi, RB=Vettel. What I dislike about RB is that they clealy favour Vettel but keeps insisting that Webber is treated the same…

    After Melbourne, it is clear who the No 1 drivers are for their respective teams. All 3 WCs are gunning for this year’s title and they have the best chance of winning it for their teams so why would the teams want to change that unless Alonso, Kimi or Vettel messes up the next few races and allows their team mates to beat them by a big margin?

  • met

    Go Lotus!. Go Kimi!.

  • rhicer

    @Max Smoot

    Good reading of the situation. It’s exactly what I was thinking about.

  • Kimster

    Agree with Jules. The one who use the package given to him the best at the start of the season is the one who will receive the advantage. If you look at last year with Kimi and Grosjean. It would have been stupid to not turn your energy to Kimi to at least give him a shot at the WDC when Grosjean was crashing his way through the season. Alonsa, Kimi, Hamilton and Vettel is not just the best drivers out there, they are a huge source of income to their teams as they attracts the sponsors. Alonso with Santander is a great example

  • Joe Kinnear

    Nothing wrong with what Lotus is doing right here. Good for them they admit it.. complete opposite of RBR which is clearly favoring Sebs but keeps on insisting that Mark is treated the same.

    Every team HAS a faster driver and if you’re gunning for the title you must favor the faster one.

    It’s like in football, score’s 0-0 with 5 minutes to go and you get a penalty. Do you give it to somebody like Gerrard (99% chance of scoring) or to your striker with a barren scoring streak to make him feel happy?