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Lotus confident of matching Red Bull pace

26 July 2013

Despite blisteringly hot temperatures that usually suit the Lotus, Kimi Raikkonen ended Friday's free practice in a less-than-compelling eighth place almost three quarters of a second off Sebastian Vettel's benchmark pace.

But the team weren't concerned, and explained that Raikkonen's afternoon lap time didn't tell the full story.

"Kimi's afternoon time isn't representative as he got caught up with a McLaren on his fast lap," explained Alan Permane, Lotus F1's trackside operations director. "We have no concerns about our long or short run pace."

"It wasn't ideal today but it wasn't that bad either," said Raikkonen. "We took a bit of time to understand the new tyres and it was also very hot. It's too early to say if the heat will suit us with these new tyres, but we'll soon have a better idea.

"I had some traffic in the afternoon and so wasn't able to set a fast lap on new tyres, plus we have some areas to improve on with the setup," he added. "We'll try to do the best that we can in qualifying and we'll see where we are. If we get the car right we should be okay tomorrow."

He's certainly got cause for optimism, with Romain Grosjean able to find some space on the track in the afternoon and end the session only 0.153s adrift of Vettel's time and in third place on the timing screens in the sister Lotus.

"It's been a good day overall," said Grosjean who like Raikkonen was trying the new Pirelli tyres for the first time having missed out on the opportunity in the Young Drivers Test at Silverstone the other week.

"To be honest they're not really night and day from the old ones, which is good as it means we haven't had to change too much," he shrugged. "There's still a bit of graining and degradation to deal with but that's normal.

"Our pace looks pretty good on both compounds, but the field is quite close so it's hard to say where we are," he added. "We'll just keep doing our best to find the right compromise for qualifying and the race and see where we stand at the end of the weekend."

Both cars ran with the team's slimline bodywork configuration and without the 'device' (passive DRS innovation). Among the upgrades that the drivers tried out were new mirrors for improved aerodynamic performance, rear floor updates and exhaust configurations.

The biggest problem that the team experienced on Friday was a faulty drinks bottle in Raikkonen's car, which ended up leaking over the driver's legs during FP1 causing him come concern until the source was identified.

"A good solid Friday for us with nothing untoward to note, save for a leaky drinks system, during the course of the day," confirmed Permane. "The car is clearly working well here and we have no concerns about the heat.

"We paid particular attention to the various temperature levels on the car to ensure cooling levels are sufficient for Sunday and we're happy with all the data we've seen so far," he added.


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