Lotus: We were happy with the pace from both drivers, particularly on the long runs

Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki Kovalainen ended the first day of practice for the United States Grand Prix with the fifth fastest time at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Team-mate Romain Grosjean was eighth fastest during an afternoon of glorious blue skies; contrasting the delayed and interrupted morning session.

Technical programme notes:

  • Both drivers ran the long wheelbase configuration E21.
  • Pirelli’s Hard [orange] compound tyre was used in the morning session, the hard and Medium [white] in the afternoon.
  • The morning session was initially delayed by fog preventing the medical helicopter from taking off, then due to issues with the helicopter’s communications once it was in the air.

What we learned today:

  • The E21 demonstrated strong potential using both tyre compounds.
  • Heikki was quickly up to speed.

Heikki Kovalainen, E21-05:

  • Free Practice 1: P13, 1:39.487, 18 laps
  • Free Practice 2: P5, 1:38.073, 41 laps

Heikki: “It’s been a pretty smooth landing, joining Lotus F1 Team. We’ve had no major issues on track today and we just need to keep chipping away to see how good we can get the car for tomorrow and Sunday. We lost a bit of track time in the morning, but the car balance was reasonably good straight away. I was able to settle in and work immediately on the setup and tyre work. All the procedures and routines are quite similar up and down the pit lane, plus I’m familiar with all the systems from driving with a Renault engine already this year and previously, so it was a pretty straight-forward day.”

Romain Grosjean, E21-04:

  • Free Practice 1: P11, 1:39.238, 13 laps
  • Free Practice 2: P8, 1:38.255, 33 laps

Romain: “It was an interesting start to the day waiting to see what the helicopter would do. After that the morning was about finding grip in the cold conditions. The afternoon was much warmer and we were able to complete some good work. We struggled a bit to get the brakes exactly as I want them on low fuel, but once that’s sorted we should be well placed for tomorrow. Certainly the car feels good on the long runs so it’s a positive start to the weekend.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: Alan: “Obviously our programme was interrupted somewhat in the morning which deprived Heikki of some vital track time to get used to the E21, but this doesn’t seem to have hurt his day and we’re very happy that he was immediately comfortable with the car. Romain had a couple of issues with braking on his lower fuel runs which we’re working on improving for tomorrow. It’s difficult to draw conclusions from the cooler morning practice, but in the afternoon we were happy with the pace from both drivers; particularly on the long runs.”

Subbed by AJN.