Group Lotus brings you something from the weekend (a little later than usual due to the Frankfurt Motor Show….)
FORMULA ONE – ITALIAN GRAND PRIX
Bruno Senna scored his first ever F1 points on his second outing for Lotus Renault GP. It marked the first time since the 1993 Australian Grand Prix that the Senna name has appeared on the points list. The Brazilian finished in ninth place, improving one position on where he started, while team-mate Vitaly Petrov’s race ended at the first corner. The Russian, who started an impressive seventh, was battling Nico Rosberg through Turn 1 when Vitantonio Liuzzi lost control of his HRT, spun backwards across the grass and smashed into three cars at the chicane, destroying Petrov’s car and his race. Senna, who lost positions during the Turn 1 melee and pitted on lap 2 for soft tyres, dropped to 18th and gained nine positions during the remainder of the race.
Bruno Senna: “I’m happy to score my first F1 points today, especially as it was only my second race for the team. Although I started tenth, it wasn’t easy to finish ninth. We suffered some bad luck in the first corner; everybody was cutting the chicane, which forced me to drive around the outside and in the process I lost all the places I had fought so hard for in qualifying. The pace of the car was clear for all to see, but I wish the race was just one lap longer because I may have been able to pass Paul di Resta for eighth. The team did a great job and I am really looking forward toSingapore.”
Vitaly Petrov: “Naturally I am very disappointed with what happened today. I had a reasonable start and, as I was heading into the first chicane, Vitantonio’s HRT came from nowhere and hit me big time. There’s nothing I could have done to avoid this. I’m happy not to be injured. On the upside, the car has felt good since the first practice session here; we definitely made a step forward performance-wise and we should have a strong end to the season.”
Eric Boullier, Lotus Renault GP Team Principal: “I have mixed feelings because the first corner cost us dear today. It was good to see Bruno score his first points in F1, and it is clear that if we have a trouble free race we can finish much higher.”
GP2 – MONZA
With Romain Grosjean having sealed the title last time out at Spa, the fight atMonzawas for second place in the championship. It’s an interesting fact that every driver who has finished runner-up in the GP2 series has gone on to race in Formula One and Jules Bianchi of Lotus-ART was one of five drivers in the mix. He arrived inItalythird in the championship, and that’s where he stayed after finishing eighth in Race 1 and third in Race 2. Coloni’s Luca Fillipi managed to claim second on home tarmac, pipping the Frenchman by a point. Bianchi had had issues in qualifying, starting the feature race in 19th and fighting his way through the field, enabling him to start the sprint race from pole. Meanwhile team-mate Esteban Gutierrez, who started Race 1 on the back row after a crash, recovered to ninth and then had a strong drive to sixth on Sunday. Lotus-ART round off the teams’ championship in fifth place with 68 points.
Jules Bianchi: “Starting P1 and finishing P3 is not a great result, and this has been a difficult weekend. I was disappointed not to score more points and finish second in the championship rather than third, but Luca [Filippi] was really quick and he deserves his second place, so well done to him. Still, considering where we were inValencia – I think I was 14th in the championship – it’s been an amazing turnaround, and the team has done a really good job.
Esteban Gutierrez: “Qualifying didn’t look good. My mistake in Ascari was a big one, and that’s a part of my learning process. But we recovered, got a point, and that’s a great psychological boost. I feel happy with the year, because I’ve learned so much and I’ve enjoyed racing against drivers at this level. For sure, it was one of the best seasons of my life, and I’m really looking forward to 2012.
Frederic Vasseur, Lotus-ART Team Principal: “Jules could have been second in the championship but he could have been fifth too. It wasn’t an easy start to the weekend, with Esteban crashing in qualifying and Jules having a technical problem. If you had told me then that in Race 2 we’d get a podium and Esteban would finish sixth I’d have been very happy. Both drivers made a very good comeback.”
GP3 – MONZA
With Lotus-ART drivers Valtteri Bottas and James Calado both fighting for the championship, there was a frenzy of excitement in the team pit. Both raced hard but fair, taking a brilliant 1-2 victory on Saturday, led by Bottas – his fourth win of the season – which handed the Finn the title. He made the best start, moving from fifth to third while Calado held station in sixth. The pair then rose through the field until the safety car was deployed on lap 10, following a crash by Adrian Quaife-Hobbs.
With just three laps left after the restart, and with the Lotus-ARTs leading, the Englishman prepared to attack his team-mate to keep his championship hopes alive. Bottas defended beautifully and took the chequered flag. It took the pressure off for Race 2, and in these carefree conditions Bottas missed his braking point for Variante Ascari and punted Conor Daly into the gravel trap, along with himself. Meanwhile Calado, who started seventh, was in the lead after two laps. With the following driver able to get a tow down the straight, he and Mitch Evans traded positions during a thrilling duel which came to an end on Lap 11. Calado went wide at Turn 1, was launched over a bump, and careered into Evan’sArden, taking the Kiwi out. Calado would receive a post-race drive through but finished the race in second position after losing a place to Antonio Felix da Costa. Lotus-ART finish the year in first place in the teams’ championship, scoring 124 points to MW Arden’s 69.
Valtteri Bottas: “I feel like the happiest man on Earth. James and I had a really great battle, it was one of the most interesting and exciting races I’ve ever had, and I think it was personally my best race because it was so tight. InMonza it’s not easy to lead because you give the guy behind a tow. In the middle of the season we completely turned it around. I am really proud of the team. Next year, the logical step is GP2 but nothing is confirmed. My target, of course, is Formula One and I hope this win will help me to achieve this goal.”
James Calado: “It went down to the last lap with Valtteri, and we put on an entertaining show. It’s been good all weekend. Mitch and I had a shunt, I was on the inside and not over the white line. The kerb made me bounce in the air, and that’s why I hit him. It was a racing incident. The car has really come on since the Nurburgring, we’ve got the tyres working correctly for qualifying, and it’s been a nice year. We all did a great job and can be happy with that. Congratulations to Valtteri.
Frederic Vasseur, Lotus-ART Team Principal: “It was a very good weekend, securing 1-2 in the championship in the first race. It’s a great moment for our team, everyone has worked very hard and I congratulate everyone. It’s been a lot of fun.”
ILMC – SIX HOURS OF SILVERSTONE
The Jetalliance Lotus team managed to get both Evora GTE’s to the finish line at the British round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Championship. The number 65 car of factory drivers James Rossiter, Johnny Mowlem and former F1 driver Karl Wendlinger finished 12th out of 15 in their class, 40th overall, after a faultless race. The sister car, number 64 driven by Jetalliance CEO Lukas Lichtner-Hoyer, Martin Rich and David Heinemeier Hansson, had a more difficult time with an overheating gearbox and, later, a collision. Car 65 finished seven laps behind GTE Pro class winners Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella’s Ferrari, while the 64 car was unclassified.
Tim Wright, Jetalliance Lotus race team manager and Car 65 race engineer: “It was a very strong performance for us, with Car 65 getting through the whole six hours with no problems at all. Car 64 had a shift problem and wouldn’t change gear due to overheating. Then it had a coming together with another car which damaged the left rear corner and the suspension. We got it fixed but it cost us 23 laps in the garage. The team did a great job today, we can be really happy. We’re only 2-3 seconds off the front-runners, which is not bad considering where we were at in Imola and Spa, having had very little preparation. We have found 3-4 seconds of speed since then and there’s still plenty of performance we can unlock.”
Claudio Berro, Group Lotus Director of Motorsport: “We saw some really exciting racing this weekend. First of all congratulations to Lotus-ART on a fantastic season, and especially to Valtteri Bottas who has claimed the GP3 drivers’ title. Well done also to Bruno Senna who has taken his first Formula One championship points on only his second outing with the Lotus Renault GP team. And encouraging stuff at Silverstone where the Evora GTE once again proved its potential in the hands of our factory drivers.”