Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean
struggled to get the best from their Lotus E20s during the opening day of practice for the Chinese Grand Prix
as lower-than-expected temperatures caught many teams out.
The pair wound up 13th and 15th overall respectively, and it could have been worse as both took time sitting in the pits as the engineers attempted to find a cure to the surprising handling traits. A wet start to the day also restricted running for both drivers, while race preparation took precedence later on.
"We saw understeer from both cars, possibly symptomatic of the cool temperatures," trackside operations director .Alan Permane noted, "Track temperature was colder than expected, meaning the car did not handle as predicted.
"In FP1, we completed limited running due to the inclement track conditions, and both drivers completed the majority of running in the first session with Pirelli's intermediate tyre as we evaluated new parts. FP2 saw heavy fuel running, evaluating the medium and soft compound tyres."
Räikkönen began his weekend at the very bottom of the times after a DRS problem forced him to end the system's operation manually - it is usually controlled by either lifting off the throttle or applying the brake - and sit out much of the session waiting for a repair.
“It's not often that you have a perfect car on Friday and there are certain things we have to improve," the Finn admitted, "To be honest, it doesn't matter if you are the slowest car on Friday if you are fast for the rest of the weekend. We now just need to look at the information and change the usual things on the car to improve it.
"We're aiming for better results than what we've achieved from the last two weekends. For sure, we have some work to do on the car. We tried some different things with the set-up today so we have some information to look at, and we know there are certain areas where we have to improve.”
Team-mate Grosjean's problems appeared confined to the handling, which left both E20s further down the order than previous form would have suggested.
“We had strange conditions this morning and a little bit of a difficult session this afternoon, to be honest," the Frenchman commented, "We're not where we would expect to be, partly due to the low temperature, which we didn't expect. We'll analyse what's changed coming from two warm weekends to here, where it's pretty cold and has changed the game.
"On a positive note, I'm comfortable with the way the car feels; we have a few set-up issues but it's not as if the car is nowhere. I'm sure we'll improve tomorrow and, of course, if the weather changes again then everything will change. It's never easy to learn a new track in varying conditions, but it was good to get out there and find my way around, and also to get a proper impression of the intermediate tyres which is a bonus for me. The track itself is quite nice to drive, and I was pleased to be reasonably close to Kimi, who obviously has a lot more experience around here. I'll be working late with the engineers tonight.”