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US Grand Prix – Lotus preview

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus
“It will be the third new circuit for me this year and most of all, a brand new place for every team and every driver as well. Korea and India were both new to me, but I had seen the previous races on TV. I don’t know anything about Austin, just the name Circuit of the Americas. I have always liked to go to new places as it adds a bit of additional excitement. I’m particularly looking forward to this one. I like the American atmosphere, it’s just a relaxed environment; they know how to have fun and, most of all, they love racing.

“I competed in seven Grands Prix at Indianapolis. Unfortunately the one time I felt I had a really strong car there was in 2005 when only six cars raced and I wasn’t one of them. I did get pole position in 2003, but none of the races are ones I remember well. Last year I tried NASCAR. I did two races on the Charlotte oval and I really liked it a lot. That was probably the experience I needed to open my eyes for racing again. After that I really wanted to come back to Formula One, while it was a tempting idea to do more NASCAR, too. After seeing the excitement of the American NASCAR fans I hope Formula One gets people as eager to enjoy our racing in Texas, too.”

Romain Grosjean, Lotus
“I’ve never been to the USA before, not even for a shopping trip to New York! It’s going to be a new experience in many ways. In actual fact, I did try to make a quick visit after the Canadian Grand Prix but there wasn’t time in the end. I’m sure it will be a big journey of discovery for me; a new country, a new culture and of course of a new race track which is always something I like to experience.

“NASCAR is of course very famous, and I think we can learn things from the show that it puts on for all the fans, as it’s very impressive. The Indianapolis 500 is another event that everybody knows too. I hope that all the fans we meet in Austin are as enthusiastic as seen at these other events.

“I’ve spoken to [Lotus test driver] Jerome [D’Ambrosio, who has driven the Circuit of The Americas] so I have a little idea of what to expect. On top of that I’ve worked with simulations of the track, and it’s easy for me to play Xbox when I am travelling so I can get an idea from that too. I don’t think it will be the easiest circuit to learn and there are a few fast corners which look like they will be a challenge. The first corner certainly looks to be good fun.”

Eric Boullier, Lotus team principal
“We as a team are very happy to be returning to the USA especially as we strongly believe that it’s a market where Formula One should be. We already have some American partners, so it’s good to be racing in their home country. It a land of tremendous opportunity for Formula 1 and we hope to build on this opportunity in the future. Also, we took part in the opening ceremony of the track two weeks ago, and the buzz it has generated was quite surprising. I’m sure that America likes Formula One more than people think.”

James Allison, Lotus technical director
“It’s certainly more difficult than going to a circuit which we have raced on before! The good thing is that it is a level playing field in that regard – no team has raced on the Circuit of The Americas before. For the engineers it’s a bit more of a challenge not knowing the peculiarities of the circuit. We know the layout of the track and there are a good number of simulations we can do such as suspension settings, wing levels, gear ratios, but the idiosyncrasies will need to be worked on at the track itself.

“It’s a similar overall downforce level used on the car, but it’s a very different circuit from Yas Marina. There is a much wider range of corner types. Austin has a series of flowing fast corners which doesn’t exist in Abu Dhabi, then there are some slow chicanes which do. The diversity of corners means that it’s a much sterner overall test of the car. However, if we look at other tracks that test the car in this comprehensive manner, we’ve been pretty good.

“We are still experimenting with the latest evolution of our Coanda system. This delivers the same downforce as the one we introduced in Korea and used in the Abu Dhabi race, but does not sap as much power from the engine. We trialled this evolution in Abu Dhabi, but opted to go for the known quantity of the Korea-spec. Now we have the young driver test behind us, we are confident that this evolution will assist with around an extra six horsepower for the last two races of the season. We also have a little aero upgrade to the front wing too.”


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