F1 » 21 June 2011
Team Lotus ready to learn lessons of Canada
"We ran it in on Friday in Canada and it behaved pretty well but, as degradation can be reasonably high on Fridays in Valencia due to the amount of dust and sand on track, we will be looking closely at how it performs and how we can take advantage of the time difference between the primes and the options on Saturday and Sunday.”
Kovalainen acknowledges that the importance of Friday's two free practice sessions is heightened at a temporary facility like Valencia but, along with Trulli, is confident of producing a decent result for his team despite sandwiching his best finish of the season between two DNFs in the last three races.
"I'm looking forward to the European GP as I think the heat and the demands of the circuit should suit our car well," the Finn explained, "It's not exactly a street circuit, it's a semi-street circuit with a very smooth track surface with almost no bumps and low kerbs. It has long straights and a number of tight corners that means finding the right downforce level is critical to maximising performance.
"Pirelli is bringing the softs and the mediums, which we haven't raced yet this season, so I think we will have some work to do on Friday to look at how to get the most out of them. We've been easy on the tyres all season so, hopefully, that will be the case again in Valencia, giving us strategic options that we've used well all season – Q2 is still the goal for qualifying and then let's see what happens on Sunday.”
“It's a track where you need to find a rhythm," Trulli adds, "Sections of it flow, but then you have other areas that are very much stop and go – long straights with hard braking at the end into tight corners. First gear is used a lot more here than most tracks, and often at the end of a flat out straight, so the brake wear is high. In contrast to Canada, the track surface in Valencia has strong evolution over the weekend - it starts out dusty on Friday but, by Sunday, there is a lot of grip and the lap times come down all weekend.
"Despite the finishing position in Canada, I was really pleased with my performance across the whole weekend. It was a tough race for sure and I finished the race with the inerter dangling around between my legs. The guys on the pitwall were urging me to bring it home and, while it would have been easier to park it, it's times like that when you have to do whatever you can to help the team. Having a large lump of metal hanging about was definitely holding me back and I wasn't able to push as hard as I'd have liked, but it was still pretty satisfying to catch the guys ahead and finish just behind them as we crossed the line."
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