Fontana, CA - Lotus HVM Racing and driver Simona De Silvestro have had a busy week since arriving here in Fontana on Tuesday. The team had a good test on Wednesday and was prepared for a good qualifying today with a newly updated engine.
Tom Brown, team technical director, was pleased with the Wednesday test. "It was a good test," he said. "We ran 238 miles and made good progress considering it was Simona's first time here. We concentrated on race runs and have a great baseline to work with."
The team received a new engine with the latest updates from Lotus late last night. Due to a delay in customs, the engine didn't arrive at the track until very late requiring the team to stay past 2:00 am to complete the installation.
Shane Seneviratne, team manager, was impressed by the team's hard work.
"I want to thank all the guys for their hard work," he said. "Unfortunately we had to wait for the engine to get delivered to us.
It got held up in customs and didn't arrive until after 9:30 p.m. This is just another example of how hard the guys have worked all season. I'm really proud of them for their continued dedication to the team, Simona and the sponsors."
Sadly, that hard work was for naught. In this morning's practice the engine experienced a failure and will have to be replaced with a previously used engine. The team was unable to install the second engine in time for qualifying leaving De Silvestro watching from the timing stand.
"We blew up the engine in practice this morning," she said, "and we just weren't ready to go out for qualifying. It's a shame, because the team was here really late last night putting the engine in. But, that's racing. It is what it is."
Keith Wiggins, team owner, was optimistic coming into the day. "Well," he said, "it's the last race of the season. We came here and tested in order to get as many miles as we could. Simona and the team had a good test session. We came here today with high hopes having received another fresh engine, the best to date for the weekend, last night.
The guys worked hard to put it in, but unfortunately it had a failure today so we didn't get to qualify. We'll go back to one of the other engines for tonight's practice and tomorrows race. We would have had a grid penalty anyway, so we'll still be starting at the back. Our main focus is to have a solid, long race in order to give Simona as much experience on the oval in order to start getting ready for next year."
Vincent Pereme, Motorsport Engine Manager for Lotus Racing also commented on the situation. "We brought a new spec engine for this race with all the improvements we could bring, since we had the chance to re-homologate the engine," he said. "Unfortunately, after having fitted the engine in the car yesterday evening, we only got to do a few laps this morning.
The engine had an issue, which is still under investigation here at the track, and back at the factory, to ensure that this will not happen again during tomorrow's race. For now, there is no obvious explanation for this failure and we want to apologize to the HVM Racing team and Simona for taking away her chance to fight her way forward in the qualifying session.
We will do everything possible to fine-tune the engine on the car for this evening's test session. And, after that, we just all need to concentrate on tomorrow's race."