Kimi Raikkonen has said Lotus made progress on Friday during practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Raikkonen was second in the first session this morning at the Sepang International Circuit, sandwiched between the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.
However this afternoon the Finn improved, even though the second session was interrupted by a minor rain shower. In the end he clocked a 1 minute 36.569 second lap, which put him top, 0.019 seconds up on Vettel.
Raikkonen did 43 laps in total during the day, evaluating a new front wing and new exhaust package, and both upgrades will now be retained for the rest of the weekend, the Enstone-based outfit has confirmed.
“It was a pretty good day. We tried changing a few things on the car and made progress with where we wanted to be at the end of the sessions,” said Kimi, who of course won in Australia last weekend.
“We had some running in the wet which you often get around here and the car feels fine. We ran pretty heavy today so I don't know how we'll be when everyone is light for qualifying, but I'm happy with where we are and expect we'll be reasonable tomorrow.”
Romain Grosjean meanwhile was tenth quickest time in FP1 and sixth in FP2 in the sister car. The Frenchman, however, wasn't as happy as Raikkonen.
“We're still working on the setup of the car as it's not quite right for me and it's difficult to understand why exactly,” he admitted. “The new front wing does feel better than the one before so that helps. Kimi was running an updated aero package which looks to be an improvement so we know there's more pace to come in that area, but there are still things we can do with the current specification once I get everything working for me.
“It was pretty hot out there – quite a contrast to Melbourne – but I felt comfortable and I'm looking forward to making some improvements tomorrow before we head into qualifying.”
“I'm happy with our day's work,” summarised Lotus technical director, James Allison. “We came here this week seeking reassurance that our car would be equally as competitive in a very different set of conditions to what we saw in Australia, and the early indications are that it looks reasonably useful.
“The upgrades we've trialled today also appear to be working well. Although both drivers ran the new front wing, Romain was at somewhat of a disadvantage in not having the latest exhaust variation and related bodywork on his car, so he can take heart from a healthy position on the time sheets. The only slight interruption to proceedings was a compromise to our long run programme once the rain arrived, but this actually proved to be pretty useful in itself as we now have a better understanding of the crossover point for the intermediate tyres. Overall it's been a very productive day.”