Better Than It Looks
It was a tough return to Austria for Lotus F1 Team with both Romain and Pastor languishing at the tail end of the order through both practice sessions today, however rays of sunshine can be seen through Romain’s promising high fuel pace.
Neither driver troubled the top ten in the final order of either session with Enstone’s latest car seeming to share a particular trait to its forebears of not liking cold weather. Finding grip was an issue and the denser cool air wasn’t sufficient to mitigate against the altitude challenge to give greater grunt up the hills.
Over a single lap, unlocking a scorcher was out of reach and to make matters more challenging Romain couldn’t find clear track on the confines of the 4.3km circuit when going for a ‘fast one’, and Pastor’s power unit was refusing to play ball too.
Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane offered some insight.
“Finding grip was a particular issue for both Pastor and Romain so we need to get to the bottom of that,” he said. “On heavier fuel and longer runs we look much more competitive, however, with Romain showing good pace in these conditions. Certainly, there’s more to learn on our return to Spielberg and we hope for a better performance tomorrow.”
The man with the promising race pace echoed the positivity.
“Clearly we have been struggling and the car has been a bit tricky to drive but on a positive note with high fuel at the end our pace seems pretty good and competitive on a par with the Red Bulls,” said Romain.
“I was a bit surprised by it because when you know where you were just before…. We have a lot of data to go through to see why the car was different in low and high fuel and see if we can repeat that on the low fuel configuration. Overall the car has been tricky to drive and to handle in different corners but it gives us a clue on what to look at to try to make it quicker and to make steps forwards.”
On the other side of the garage, Pastor acknowledged issues related to the suck, squeeze, bang and blow department.
“It has been a difficult day,” he said. “We had some problems related to the power unit; the car has a new engine and we are trying to calibrate it and to do our best.
“Our engineers are now working hard to solve all the issues. As a consequence, we didn’t have a chance to do a good sequence of high fuel runs as we normally would on a Friday afternoon. I’m confident though that there is room to improve and try to be more competitive. Hopefully the weather will also be on our side and help to warm up the tyres. We will see, we are working hard to get there and hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.”