Kimi Räikkönen set the fourth fastest and Romain Grosjean the fifth fastest time on the first day of practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Maria de Villota earlier today. On behalf of the team here in Japan and back at Enstone, I would like to express our condolences to the friends, family and colleagues of Maria. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.”
Hot conditions, clear blue skies and off-track excursions from a number of drivers characterised the day, amongst them Kimi; who ended the second session early – stranded in gravel at Turn 7 – following a spin.
Free Practice 1: P8, 1:35.364, 17 laps
Free practice 2: P4, 1:34.202, 17 laps
Kimi: “The car felt pretty good today. Of course, there are some areas we can improve but I’m quite happy with the progress we made. I spun in FP2 so we did miss some of the long run laps we would have got this afternoon. I was on a fast run and the wind changed, which can affect the car sometimes. At least we didn’t do any damage so the crew won’t have any extra work. It’s not a big drama as we know the track pretty well. We have a few changes for tomorrow so let’s see what happens.”
Romain Grosjean, E21-04
Free Practice 1: P7, 1:35.179, 15 laps
Free Practice 2: P5, 1:34.411, 30 laps
Romain: “Finding the right balance to get the car working well around here is quite tricky and the tyres are not making that any easier, so we’ve got some work to do overnight to make it a little easier to handle. There’s definitely some more performance to be found, and it’s always better to be near the top of the times even if you’ve not got things quite right, so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: “We have struggled a bit for consistency today, with both drivers having off-track excursions. Romain in particular experienced brake locking, which is something we can counter with some mapping work. We lost a reasonable amount of long run data collection as a result of Kimi’s spin, meaning Romain’s programme was modified slightly and we might look at doing some race simulation work during tomorrow’s practice. On the softer tyre we look competitive and I think we can expect to qualify well. Our long run pace also looks good so it’s an encouraging start to the weekend.”
Lotus F1 Team