Kimi Räikkönen topped the times on the first day of running as the second round of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship – the Malaysian Grand Prix – got underway at the Sepang International Circuit.
The E21 ran reliably, giving strong performance on all tyres and in all weather conditions. The new front wing works well and will be retained for the rest of the weekend. The new exhaust package works well and will remain on Kimi’s car for the rest of the weekend.
Kimi Räikkönen, (Free practice 1: P2, 1:37.003, 15 laps - Free practice 2: P1, 1:36.569, 28 laps): “It was a pretty good day. We tried changing a few things on the car and made progress with where we wanted to be at the end of the sessions.
We had some running in the wet which you often get around here and the car feels fine. We ran pretty heavy today so I don’t know how we’ll be when everyone is light for qualifying, but I’m happy with where we are and expect we’ll be reasonable tomorrow.”
Romain Grosjean, (Free practice 1: P10, 1:37.915 17 laps - Free practice 2: P6, 1:37.206, 26 laps): “We’re still working on the setup of the car as it’s not quite right for me and it’s difficult to understand why exactly. The new front wing does feel better than the one before so that helps.
Kimi was running an updated aero package which looks to be an improvement so we know there’s more pace to come in that area, but there are still things we can do with the current specification once I get everything working for me.
It was pretty hot out there – quite a contrast to Melbourne – but I felt comfortable and I’m looking forward to making some improvements tomorrow before we head into qualifying.”
James Allison, Technical Director: “I’m happy with our day’s work. We came here this week seeking reassurance that our car would be equally as competitive in a very different set of conditions to what we saw in Australia, and the early indications are that it looks reasonably useful.
The upgrades we’ve trialled today also appear to be working well. Although both drivers ran the new front wing, Romain was at somewhat of a disadvantage in not having the latest exhaust variation and related bodywork on his car, so he can take heart from a healthy position on the time sheets.
The only slight interruption to proceedings was a compromise to our long run programme once the rain arrived, but this actually proved to be pretty useful in itself as we now have a better understanding of the crossover point for the intermediate tyres. Overall it’s been a very productive day.”
Lotus F1 Team