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Romain Grosjean Lotus E22 Renault

Formula 1



F1 Lotus Team Austrian Grand Prix Preview

Federico Gastaldi  Deputy Team Principal-

Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi heralds the potential excitement as Formula 1 returns to Austria as well as giving a frank assessment of the state of play following a double retirement in Canada

What’s the outlook heading to Austria?

We have potential which is still to be fulfilled. Canada was a kick where it hurts for everyone at the team but we took stock, identified the issues and have taken action to avoid any repeats. The last thing you want is both cars sat in the garage at the end of a race, but that’s what we had. Thankfully it is very rare for us. A rear wing issue for Romain was something unforeseen. We’ve analysed what went wrong, found a fix and it won’t happen again. A power unit issue for Pastor was not something new so we’re spending more time with Renault Sport F1 to do everything possible to avoid a repeat of this. It was an issue with a power unit sensor. Just a small thing, but something that had terminal repercussions.

Do you think a return to more conventional permanent tracks this summer will tap in to the latent potential of the E22?

Yes that is the objective. We saw that on a level playing field at Barcelona we can be fighting for big points. The E22 when running cleanly can be a potent proposition but the bugs must be ironed out and we have to start scoring points with both cars to move our way up the points table to where we think we should be.

What do you think about Formula 1 returning to Austria?

It’s good to see another race on the calendar and it exposes our sponsors and partners to another market. For the drivers and engineers it presents a different challenge. It’s quite a short track, but one with plenty to think about. The racing could well be very good.

What do you make of one company having two Formula 1 teams and one Grand Prix?

It’s an interesting situation which shows the commitment of one multi-national organisation to the sport. It’s been a little while since we had a new European race on the calendar so that is great to see. We’ve seen organisations own more than one team before, so that’s nothing new.

Canada was quite an exciting race?

There was certainly a lot going on and Canada has produced excitement so many times over the years. It’s great that Felipe [Massa] and Sergio [Perez] were fine after their incident at the end of the race, and only natural that there would be many differences of opinions about how this came about. For Daniel [Ricciardo] it was a wonderful day and he richly deserves that victory. For the championship, there was an exciting battle at the front of the race which wasn’t without a little controversy. This is what Formula 1 is about.

Where do you position Lotus F1 Team in the current order of teams?

It’s a difficult question. We are only seven races in to the biggest rule changes we have seen for a generation so we’re all finding our place. Certainly, we’re learning a lot. I don’t think it’s fair to judge us purely on our results so far this year, and fortunately the championship is 19 races long. Monaco and Montréal were both races which didn’t play to our strengths and additionally we had reliability problems at both of them. Austria looks to be more positive in terms of its potential for us, as well as the next few races too. We’re making improvements all the time so we can tackle all the aspects which cause us a challenge.

ROMAIN GROSJEAN

Romain Grosjean Lotus F1

Romain Grosjean previews the Austrian Grand Prix, looking forward to a circuit he’s never driven before, hoping to harness the progress made with the E22. 

What’s your outlook heading to Austria?

I am positive. Even though the end result in Canada might not show it, we’ve actually made good progress with the car and it’s starting to feel like a real racer in how it handles and how all the systems feel. This is very important to me as it helps you get the most out of the car through every corner to make the most of every lap. Certainly at the start of the season this new generation of car was not the easiest or the most pleasurable thing to drive, but I’m being won round! The feel of the car is an important aspect of the improvements being made so it’s another piece in the jigsaw.

Have you driven the Spielberg circuit before?

Competing in the Grand Prix will be my first experience there, which is a pretty cool way to get to know a track! It looks like quite a fun lap with some high speed sections and not too much low speed stuff – which hasn’t suited our car so far this year. The track has a bit of undulation too, which is always fun as a driver. A downhill approach to a corner means you have to drive it quite a bit differently than if it’s an uphill approach and Spielberg has both of those. It should be fun.

How do you prepare going to a track that’s new for you?

There’s a lot you can do with simulators, watching on board laps from other people and going through data and predictions with your engineers as well as driving the track on the Xbox! That said, nothing beats getting in the car and actually driving it for real. I’ll be pretty excited at the start of FP1 as that’s when I’ll really know what sort of track it is.

How do you work on set-up at the same time as learning a new track?

You very quickly know what you want from the car and how to put together all the corners which make a circuit that’s new to you. The objective for learning a track and setting up the car is to go as fast as possible so for both it’s all the same goal.

How frustrating was it to retire from the Canadian Grand Prix?

You never want to stop racing so it wasn’t the best. That said, it was a pretty exciting end to the race so it was good to watch it as it happened! Our target is to be part of the battle of fighting for points positions so we need to ensure we don’t have any more problems with the car. We’re making definite progress with pace, how the car feels and generally with reliability too, so it was frustrating that there was an issue with the rear wing. It’s another lesson learnt and we will come back stronger for Austria and beyond.

How competitive do you think you can be in Austria?

We won’t know for sure until we’ve been out on track, but I don’t think the circuit should be as much of a challenge to us as Monaco or Montréal. Certainly there are fewer low speed corners which seem to have been more difficult for us this season and the downforce level could suit us better too.

How has it been working with a new team-mate now you have a good number of races together?

Pastor’s a great guy and easy to work with. We’re both positive and proactive and know what we want from the car and the team. He’s fast too so it keeps me on my toes to beat him!

What are your thoughts on revising the weekend format for Grands Prix?

As long as there’s a Grand Prix and qualifying session, that’s the main thing! Whatever happens, it will be the same for everyone. I quite like the idea of a practice session late on Friday as it means I won’t have to get up so early! Let’s see what happens.

Pastor Maldonado:

Pastor Maldonado Lotus F1

After seeing his first points for Lotus slip away in Canada, Pastor Maldonado is happy to be heading back to Austria for F1’s first visit since 2003…

What are your thoughts ahead of Austria?

I know the track, but it was maybe ten years ago when I last raced there and it will be new for me in an F1 car. I think it should be quite good for the E22. It looks like the circuit doesn’t have too many low speed corners and the downforce and set-up is similar to Barcelona, which should help us. We will work hard to solve the problems we had in Canada so that we can reach our targets in Austria. I’m certainly optimistic Austria will suit us better than the last two rounds.

What were the positives and negatives from Canada?

The main positive was that we were fighting for points, easily. The strategy was quite good: Starting on prime tyres and planning only one stop. It was difficult in terms of grip at the beginning and we lost some places, which we expected because the other guys were on super soft tyres. But the pace came and I was competitive. We started 17th and were up to eighth place. Then we had a power unit problem and had to retire. I know we’ve had retirements before, but this was particularly difficult as we have really made progress and we could have finished well despite starting the race from so far back.

How is your morale after two tough races?

I am very motivated. I think we have some good weekends ahead of us and there are still so many races to go. The European part of the season is very important for us, so let’s push hard, do our best and for sure we will be in the points soon.

Do you like racing in Europe?

I like to be racing anywhere! I have raced for many years in Europe and so many of the junior categories are there. Of course, I would love to race at home too, but racing anywhere is what you want to do as a race driver. I would race on the moon if there was a race track there!

What do you remember about your last race in Austria?

It was in Formula Renault and I finished on the podium. Actually I think I won, but I don’t remember to be honest! It’s a high downforce track. Most of the corners are very quick, especially in the second sector. It’s a lot of fun to race there and I’m happy to be going back.

How is the relationship with the team?

We all know what we have to do and we are all pushing hard. Yes, we can all get frustrated, but ultimately we all want to achieve success so we remain positive. We can see how much improvement there has been with pace from the car and once we have all the reliability issues sorted we’ll be regularly fighting for points. Once we’re there, the next target is to fight for more points and then podiums. We’ve seen that the Mercedes are not perfect and can be beaten. Even they had reliability issues in Canada.

Given the start to your season, does your outlook change?

No, I still keep pushing and it’s still possible to achieve good things this year. We have had a third of the season which has been a challenge – a big challenge – but we still have two thirds of the year to go with many circuits which should suit our car. You arrive at every track with the target of having the best weekend possible and finding as much performance from the car and yourself. This does not change if you’ve had a difficult last weekend in the car.

I can’t wait to get out in FP1 in Austria.

NICK CHESTER

Lotus F1 Team Technical Director Nick Chester explains the special challenges provided by F1’s Austrian return…

How would you categorise the Spielberg circuit?

The layout requires a medium downforce package for the car. In terms of demands it’s similar to Bahrain with some decent straights and then an infield section with medium speed corners. So it’s lower downforce than some tracks on the calendar. Pirelli’s track surface analysis points to a relatively non-abrasive, smooth asphalt which is why we will see the soft and super soft allocation once more.

How much of a challenge is it to understand a new circuit?

It can be quite challenging, although in the case of Austria we have been before. We raced there from 1997 to 2003, so there’s a certain knowledge bank we can dip into. In particular we have information about driving lines which improves the accuracy of our simulations. In contrast, with a brand new circuit it’s more complicated because we have to generate a driving line to be able to run a simulation and without a real driving line the simulated corner speeds will not necessarily be 100%. We’ve already got real data for Austria, so we can do a basic simulation quite easily.

Neither driver has driven the track before as F1 drivers, how does that change our approach?

It biases you towards doing longer runs and much of the first session will be about letting Pastor and Romain learn the circuit. As we haven’t been there for over a decade, things like track surface evolution could be a challenge as we learn how much the track cleans up as the weekend progresses and this has an impact on set-up.

The post Canada debrief can’t have been pleasant?

It’s fair to say we were not happy with our performance in Canada. We had a number of issues with Pastor’s car over the weekend, emanating both from ourselves and from Renault Sport F1 whilst Romain struggled with race pace and experienced an issue with his rear wing. To say we are investigating these issues thoroughly is an understatement. Pastor’s issue in the race was related to a power unit sensor problem. It’s only a small component on the car but the issue had big repercussions. Pastor was on course to finish strongly in the points. With Romain’s car we’ve identified the issue with the wing and taken preventative measures to ensure it won’t happen again. Every time we experience a retirement it hurts every single person at Enstone and all of our partners. We will keep pushing until we return to the exemplary level of reliability we enjoyed over recent seasons.

What are the latest developments for the car for Austria?

We have a number of aero updates and we have some more work to do on braking. There is a good chunk of time still to be found in the braking zone and the key to unlocking this potential is enabling the latest brake-by-wire systems to deliver better feedback to the drivers.

Where does the focus lie between development of this year’s car and work for 2015?

There are no significant rule changes for 2015 so anything we do with this year’s car is beneficial for next year’s car too. We are learning a lot this year, even if there are tough lessons on occasion. We have faith that there is a lot more to come from the E22 and will continue to develop. We are well underway with the design of the E23 which should be a significant step forwards, both in performance and in the area of reliability which has challenged us and Renault Sport F1 so much at the start of this new generation of rules.

TECH TALK

E22 SET UP

FRONT WING

A reasonable level of front wing will need to be carried to help reduce understeer in the long med/high speed corners turn 5 and 6.

REAR WING

Simulations show that the rear wing level will be similar to that of Bahrain/Malaysia. A little more than was used in Montreal

SUSPENSION

A little bit of everything is needed from the suspension, good traction from turns 2 and 3, a responsive car for turns 5 and 6. In the past the cars could run extensively over the kerbs – we will need to asses any changes and adjust settings accordingly.

BRAKES

First 3 corners are preceded by long straights and we can expect speeds well in excess of 300kph before braking down to these slowish corners which will give the brakes quite a workout. However the rest of the lap is medium to high speed corners with light braking requirements. Overall it’s quite an easy track for the brakes.

TYRES

Once more it will be the yellow soft and red super soft combination of tyres from Pirelli’s range. Not too many sustained high-speed corners to stress or overload the rubber.

POWER UNIT

The Spielberg circuit may look simple but there are a number of challenging points for power units. The high altitude will cause the turbo to spin at a much higher rate to compensate for the low ambient pressure, while the four straights will mean the ICE runs at full throttle for a high percentage of the lap. These long periods of open throttle require the MGU-H to recover and deliver lots of energy to the ICE to minimize lap time. Likewise the MGU-K will be expected to feed the ICE to deliver extra power, although the low number of braking points will make it difficult to recover significant energy under braking.

Photo By: Rolex / Jad Sherif

Le Mans



24 HOURS TO GO: EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

Following the completion of qualification yesterday evening, 54 cars and 162 drivers are ready for tomorrow’s start of the 82nd edition of the 24 Heures du Mans (24 Hours of Le Mans). Excitement is building in sunny Le Mans. An epic edition of the race is forecast, particularly the battle for supremacy in LM P1. Three manufacturers – Audi, Porsche and Toyota – have a realistic chance of claiming the 2014 title, each in a different state of mind and form.

One of Audi’s three starting R18 e-tron quattros – the #1 vehicle driven by defending champions Loïc Duval and Rolex Testimonee Tom Kristensen, in addition to newcomer Lucas Di Grassi, – risked not making the start grid at all. During Wednesday’s free practice session, with Duval at the wheel, #1 spun off violently in the Porsche corner. The car was destroyed, Duval was ruled out of the race but fortunately sustained no serious injuries. Overnight between Wednesday and Thursday, the Audi engineers worked effortlessly and successfully to rebuild the car from scratch. “Our mechanics did a fantastic job. It’s flat-out work and complicated because the engineers had to use a spare monocoque from the test car,” explained Kristensen.

The 24 Heures du Mans’s most successful driver, with nine victories to his name from 17 appearances, remains typically positive. “You have to reflect on your situation and get on with it. I know at Le Mans, always expect the unexpected, you always have to be alert. We are not back at zero, we can still see the goal, but maybe from a different angle or further away.” Duval, who holds the lap record at the event, will be replaced by reserve driver Marc Gené of Spain, no stranger to the circuit having competed eight times. “I couldn’t have better co-drivers. I’ve known Lucas since last year and with Tom I’ve done two tests in 2014,” he revealed. In qualifying, Audi’s three entries finished behind Porsche and Toyota’s two cars, in fifth (car #3), sixth (#2) and seventh place (#1).

Toyota are many experts tip for a first LM P1 title, having dominated the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) to date. Swiss Sébastien Buemi, driver in their #8 car – third in qualifying – admits they start off with an advantage but urges some caution. “If you look at the facts we look like the favourites because you cannot win the last two races and arrive here and say you are not. However, this race is still out of the ‘normal championship’ because it’s a 24-hour race and what you need here is different to a six-hour competition. In terms of speed we are there.” So it proved during qualifying with Toyota claiming pole and third. The fastest lap on the 13.629km Circuit de la Sarthe was set in 3:21.789 by Kazuki Nakajima in Toyota Racing #7. He becomes the first Japanese driver to secure pole at the world’s most renowned endurance race. “The quality of cars is impressive, the gap between the teams is very close and it’s going to be one of the best Le Mans,” explained the 29-year old shortly before qualifying.

Porsche’s return to Le Mans has brought great fanfare. Its two entries registered impressive times in qualifying, recording second (#14) and fourth (#20) position. “Anything can happen, you have to be on your game, there is never a dull moment in Le Mans,” explained New Zealander Brendon Hartley, driving Porsche #20 alongside former Formula 1 driver Mark Webber. “You never know who’s in the car in front, there’s often tired, less experienced drivers. Reading the traffic, learning from the previous lap, learning about the car, being patient is key.”

In LM P2 the fastest time was set by #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing in 3:37.609 while the AF Corse teams #51 and 81 were fastest in GTE Pro and GTE Am respectively. Only #99 Aston Martin Racing Vantage was unable to qualify for Saturday’s start due to a heavy crash during the first qualifying session. All teams are working hard to be ready to peak for tomorrow’s iconic race start as the Rolex clock flicks to 15:00.

The 54 car driver line up includes a rich array of talent, both amateur and professional, ranging from 16-year old American debutant Matt McMurry, poised to break the longstanding record held since 1959 by then 17-year old Pedro Rodriguez, to 64-year old Howard Blank. The average age of the drivers, hailing from almost 30 countries, is 34.

As Brazil celebrates its opening match victory at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the 24 Heures du Mans is welcoming a debutant who has lifted football’s most iconic  and treasured trophy: Fabien Barthez, goalkeeper when France won the trophy in 1998. 42-year old Barthez is racing car #58, Ferrari 458 Italia in GTE AM. “All of the drivers tell me that it’s a unique circuit, an incomparable atmosphere,” he said. “I’m making the most of it. And I’m a little bit the curiosity, the footballer who drives…”

The 24 Heures du Mans is organised by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest. Rolex has been the Official Timepiece since 2001.

Porsche Le Mans 2014

LE MANS



LE MANS 2014 – PORSCHE LEAPS AHEAD

Although this first day of track activity was marked with Loïc Duval’s violent incident in the No.1 Audi, Porsche put itself in the lead during the first qualifying session. In the LM P2 class, Morgan topped the time-sheets while Ferrari was dominated the LM GTE Pro and Am classes.

The free practice session that took place between 4 pm and 8 pm was marked by the violent incident that happened to Loïc Duval at the wheel of the No. 1 Audi. The French driver, winner of the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans and World Endurance Championship title holder, had an accident at the exit of the Porsche Curves.

The ACO medical and technical services came to his aid immediately, taking him first to the Medical Center of the circuit before transferring him to the Le Mans Hospital for examination.

His status, considered satisfactory, will not allow him to take part in the 82nd edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Saturday June 14th and Sunday June 15th. Medical delegates submitted a report to the marshals disallowing him from racing after the accident he experienced.

Marc Gené, Audi reserve driver, entered until now in the No. 38 Zytek Z11SN-Nissan, has been authorized by the college of marshals to join the No. 1 Audi driver line-up as of tomorrow. At the same time, the college authorized the Jota Sport team to replace him with the Brit Oliver Turvey as of tomorrow. Turvey will proceed with all administrative verifications before taking his place in the No. 38 Zytek during Thursday’s session.

Following the incident, the No. 1 Audi chassis is no longer usable. Audi Sport Team Joest presented a request to the technical marshals to be able to use a new tub, and presented this to the marshals. They gave their authorization for Audi Sport Team Joest to rebuild the No. 1 car around this new tub. The team will present it tomorrow for technical inspection.

Strictly in terms of performances, this free practice session, cut short by almost an hour, was dominated by the No. 8 Toyota (Davidson, Lapierre, Buemi) with a time of 3:23:652.

At 10:00 p.m, after a two-hour break, the first qualifying session was underway. It was a session unfortunately cut short. It was 11:04 p.m. indeed when the No. 99 Aston Martin had an incident at the Karting curve, driven by the Brazilian Fernando Rees. Though the driver was ok, the debris left by the incident meant the session would not resume.

All the teams waited patiently to go after the pole position, but it was an assault that could not take place.

At the close of the qualifying session, the No. 20 Porsche 919 Hybrid clocked the best time in 3:23:157 ahead of its sister car, the No. 14 (Dumas, Jani, Lieb) at seven tenths. Next came the two Toyota TS 040 Hybrids followed by the two remaining Audis. The fastest LM P2 car was the No. 26 Morgan-Nissan (Rusinov, Pla, Canal) in 3:38:843.

In the LM GTE Pro class, best time for the official No. 51 Ferrari 458 Italia (Bruni, Vilander, Fisichella) in 3:54:754 and in the LM GTE Am class for another Ferrari, the No. 72 (Basov, Bertolini, Shaïtar) with 3:56:787.

The 55 24 Hours of Le Mans competitors return to the track tomorrow starting at 7:00 p.m. for four hours of qualifying (7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. then 10:00 p.m. to midnight). The start of the 82nd edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be given Saturday, June 14th at 3:00 p.m.

Motorsports / DTM 2013, 3. Rennen Red Bull Ring Spielberg (AUT)

FORMULA 1


VETTEL AND RICCIARDO PREVIEW THE RED BULL RING

Next Stop: the Red Bull Ring. After 11 years the Austrian GP is back.
A new CGI film featuring four times World Champion Sebastian Vettel and Canadian Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo racing round the Red Bull Ring is now available.
Driving RB10s, Daniel and Sebastian explain the track’s unique characteristics as they dual around the 4.3km circuit. As the Red Bull racers contend with changing weather conditions, they explain the circuit’s elevation changes, the four best overtaking opportunities, the track’s nine corners and the four high-speed stretches.
In certain sections of the circuit, Sebastian’s RB10 becomes transparent, showing the intricate inner details of his 2014 race car.
Based in Spielberg, in the Styria region of Austria, the Red Bull Ring is the venue for the next round of the Formula One Championship; the race is on Sunday 22 June, 2014.
AUDI LE MANS

LE MANS



Preview 24 Heures du Mans 
INTERVIEW WITH LOIC DUVAL

 With just a few days to go to the start of the Le Mans 24-Hours week Loïc Duval, who set the fourth-quickest time at the test day last Sunday, has finished his training programme and is ready to cope with the days to come!

Loïc, what information can we glean from the test day last Sunday?
LD: “In terms of sheer performance we weren’t too surprised by the final standings. It’s more or less what we were expecting. The only surprise was Porsche’s position as we thought they’d be quicker. Our car’s lovely to drive, in particular in the series of fast corners where it feels like it’s glued to the track!”

How have you trained for this race?
LD: “From a physical point of view I haven’t changed my programme. A few years back I used to eat a lot of blueberries before Le Mans as they were supposed to improve night vision. I didn’t notice any difference so I stopped. From a technical point of view I speak to Tom Kristensen and Lucas di Grassi a lot on my Smartphone: we exchange ideas. We’ve also set up a little group with some of the engineers and we organise meetings through Skype.”  

Do you think you can win Le Mans again this year?
LD: “Of course! Given the results of the test day clinching pole will be difficult even though we’ll give it a go. Taking this situation into account we’ve really concentrated on our race, our fuel consumption and how we can reduce tyre wear. We’ve also done a lot of work on our possible reactions in case of a brutal change in the weather conditions or if the race is interrupted by the safety car. That’s where you can really win Le Mans.”

The speed difference between a GT and LM P1 looks enormous. Is it something to worry about?
LD: “Not necessarily. First of all it seems to me that this year the GT drivers are far more aware of the speed difference; they’re more careful. Then our car has a rear-view camera, which enables us to see when we can pull in after passing. It’s pretty useful. And for the first time this year we’re using laser headlights so it’ll be impossible not to see us! But that doesn’t mean we can relax our vigilance.”

Should your car win France will be on level pegging with Great Britain in terms of victories for drivers per nationality at Le Mans. Is that an extra motivation?
LD: “Ha, ha! Not at all. But it’d be a nice little bonus to clinch this statistic!”    

Canada 2014 podium

Formula 1



Daniel Ricciardo wins in Canada!

DANIEL RICCIARDO: “I’m a grand prix winner! I think it still seems a bit surreal to be honest, just because it all happened so quickly at the end. I was third for a while and then it all happened in a really exciting fashion. Once I got past Perez I knew I just had to drive clean and get in Rosberg’s DRS zone and, from then on, it was just awesome. Finishing under the safety car made it a bit weird, but I wanted to make sure the two drivers who were in the accident were okay before I started celebrating. We achieved a great result today with first and third – so let’s enjoy it – but we will still have some work to do also. This will motivate the guys to work even harder and find even more, so I’m sure it will keep coming even better for us at the next few races.”
Nico canada podium 2014
Nico Rosberg,

That was a big battle all the way through today! I had a tough start but I was able to defend in the first few corners and fight against Lewis. The race went smoothly for a while then both cars suddenly lost the MGU-K system and a lot of power which was really tough. Then I lost some time in the second pit stop which let Lewis jump me and I was struggling to cool the rear brakes down so it was all happening. Towards the end of the race, I tried to defend against Sergio which was fine but Daniel was too fast on the straights with much more power than I had available and he was able to get past. With so much going on, I had to ask my engineer where I finished at the end as I thought I was probably about fifth or sixth. I was so happy to hear that I was in P2! They are important points for me in the championship, so it was a tough but ultimately good day. Congratulations to Daniel for his first Formula One win.