Lotus preview the Italian GP

Wednesday 05-September-2012 14:19

Lotus are eager to bounce back from their Belgian GP "hangover" at Monza this weekend.

For all the latest F1 odds on the Italian Grand Prix, round 13 of the 2012 F1 Championship, visit Sky Bet.

Kimi Raikkonen

Q. From Spa it's straight to Monza; how do you feel about these back-to-back races? There are rather a lot of back-to-backs in the second half of the year...
KR: "Most of all a racing driver wants to race. That is what we do. It's our passion. That means I feel good going to these back-to-back races, especially when they are to circuits like Spa-Francorchamps and Monza. What is not to like?"

Q. In Spa you have achieved your most wins, but in Monza you have none. Time to rectify that?
KR: "It's true that I have never won in Italy. For one reason or another things just did not work out for me. It doesn't mean I can't drive the track. Just because I have not won at a circuit in the past it doesn't mean that I won't win or get a good result there in the future. Hopefully we will have a real chance to fight for that victory this time."

Q. How do you feel about Monza as a place?
KR: "Monza is the real home of the Tifosi and there will be a lot of the Finnish fans, too. It's the place where we go really, really fast. It's great to go there with everything working well in the car and seeing how quickly you can go. Last time I raced in Monza In was a Ferrari driver. I have always enjoyed the atmosphere at Monza but it was very special as a Ferrari driver. I hope they will still like to see me racing there even if I could be in front of a Ferrari. I am really looking forward to see all the fans and I think it will be a pretty special feeling if I'm on the podium as a Lotus driver too."

Q. What about the challenges of the circuit?
KR: "Monza always gives a great challenge. It's so unique compared with the more modern circuits as the layout means the car needs to be setup differently. To go fast at Monza you need a good aerodynamic car that is stable over the kerbs with a strong engine, as we are using full throttle for most of the lap. I think we should be pretty good in those areas but we won't know exactly how good until we get out on track."

Q. Spa was quite a difficult race for you?
KR: "My car wasn't very nice to drive and we did struggle all weekend. We lost Friday's running due to the weather, but that was the same for everyone. In qualifying we were fighting for the second row and I wasn't expecting an easy ride in the race, and it turned out to be pretty difficult. Because the car was sliding around more than we wanted we had to put more downforce on it, which meant it was slow in a straight line. It made for some interesting racing with Michael [Schumacher] as he was able to get back past me because he had better top speed. His speed also meant I couldn't get past him on the straights as I was on the limiter."

Q. You eventually made it stick through Eau Rouge - that was quite some move...
KR: "I had to just take a chance to overtake him with the KERS into Eau Rouge. It's always good to get past another car and Michael never makes it easy. The move paid off - but even then he almost got me still back which shows us that we didn't really have the speed in the car. I was happy to leave Spa with a third place and it's good to be back in fourth in the Drivers' Championship, let's see what we can do in Monza."

Jerome d'Ambrosio

Q. How does it feel to be called on to drive in the Italian Grand Prix?
JdA: "I understand the circumstances in which the drive has come about, but for me it's a great opportunity and great challenge. I first want to thank the team for having faith in me and allowing me to step in the car for this race at Monza. I will do everything I can to do the best possible job. I've worked hard outside the car this year and tried to prepare as best I can just in case something like this happened. I want to make the most of this weekend."

Q. How is your past form at Monza?
JdA: "I had my last podium in GP2 there, so I have good memories of Monza. It is a very challenging track because of the low downforce. It's also going to be a special event in general, because it is the last race in Europe and Monza always has a very special atmosphere. I'm really looking forward to it."

Q. What are the challenges of being thrown in at the deep end for a race like this?
JdA: "It's a massive challenge, especially because I've not driven much this year and Monza is a unique low downforce track. But I don't want to focus on what will be hard or difficult. I just want to focus on what I can achieve. It will be challenging but I am already part of the team, I know everyone and I will have great support from them to do the best I can. I will be focussed 100% to make full use of free practice because that could be the key for me this weekend."

Q. What have you been doing in preparation for your race?
JdA: "As soon as I got the call on Sunday night I drove back to Spa to speak with Ayao Komatsu who will be my race engineer. We checked my seat and talked through everything I need to know. I will be spending time in the simulator, fine tuning myself with all the procedures. And I'll be speaking a lot with the engineers so I'm as prepared as I can be heading into first practice on Friday."

Q. Monza's quite a unique track, where will your focus be?
JdA: "I can't wait to be in the car! Monza is high speed and low downforce. Parabolica is a very important and a great corner. Ascari is also not an easy corner. There are some good challenges. It's a different track from most these days and there will be plenty to do. I'm looking forward to being there and looking over all the data, but most of all I'm looking forward to being there and driving."

Q. Are you ready for extra attention you're going to receive this weekend?
JdA: "My focus is on the race. I had a complete season in F1 last year. This is a good thing because I know how an F1 weekend runs and also I've been with the team this year. I know it's really busy at a Grand Prix, but in a good way because it's a lot of work with engineers which I like."

Q. You did drive at last year's Italian Grand Prix - is that good preparation?
JdA: "It wasn't too good as preparation as my car broke down on the warm-up lap! I'm definitely hoping for something better this year. My last real memory of Monza is from GP2 when I was on the podium. I'm going to be 100% focused to get a good result this year and am really looking forward to being on the grid watching the start lights."

Eric Boullier - team principal

Q. Eric, how do you feel after a tough weekend in Belgium?
EB: "It almost feels like a hangover! You just wake up with a headache, you try to remember what happened the day before and then slowly realise that is wasn't a nightmare. Romain was really banned for a race, which it hard to believe. But there's nothing we can do about this. We've accepted the decision of the Stewards, we did not appeal, and Romain apologised to the drivers involved in the incident. We now need to move on. Also, this penalty has somehow hidden Kimi's sixth podium this season. He's now one point away from third in the championship on his comeback year, and this is really impressive."

Q. Will Romain attend the Italian Grand Prix, even if he doesn't race?
EB: Of course. He's a member of the team.

Q. Jérôme D'Ambrosio will race alongside Kimi this weekend; was it an obvious choice?
EB: "Yes. He's our third driver and he's able to step in straight away. This is why we've chosen him last winter. To be honest with you, Jérôme should have normally done a few FP1s for us this season. However, considering our level of performance since Melbourne, and with the rate of our technical development, it made more sense to keep our race drivers in the cars during the whole race weekends. I can't say that I'm happy about the penalty handed to Romain, but Jérôme deserves this opportunity. That's his big chance to impress."

Q. Why didn't you announce the news on Sunday?
EB: "I wanted to tell the Enstone staff first, on Monday morning."

Q. What has been Jérôme's reaction when he heard the news?
EB: "He's a driver. Racing is his passion so on one hand, I think he was very happy to be given this opportunity. On the other hand, he knows that there's a lot of expectation: the car he'll be driving should be able to fight for the podium, and he won't have much track time to get ready. That's a challenge and I'm sure that Mr D'Ambrosio can surprise a few people. One thing is for sure, he's half Italian and I think I know which driver the spectators will support apart from Fernando!"

Q. What advice will you give him?
EB: "I'll tell him to take things one step at a time over the race weekend. The worst thing to do would be to try and match Kimi's pace straight from FP1. Jérôme will do his homework from Friday to Saturday, with the engineers he knows, according to a tailor-made programme. I'm not worried. He knows our processes, our set-up philosophy, and he also knows Monza like the back of his hand. It won't be an easy weekend for us, but I'm not too worried."

Q. The E20 didn't look as competitive in Spa as it was in Budapest. Is this worrying for the rest of the season?
EB: "I don't think so. First of all, Spa is a very specific track and none of the remaining circuits have the same characteristics. Also, we only had one hour to set-up our cars and, although the situation was the same for everybody, we could have been quicker with more track time. Finally, quite a few interesting developments are still in the pipeline and they'll be implemented later in the year. At this time of the year, the team usually starts focusing almost only on its next car. This is not the case this year, as we'll develop the E20 until the very last race. And that won't compromise the design of the E21."

Q. Let's come back to Kimi. What are his chances to fight for the world championship?
EB: "We know that we don't have the quickest car, but probably the most consistent one. We've clinched nine podiums already. Kimi is 33 points away from the current leader and we know that the season is still wide open. With eight races to go, we'll keep pushing as long as we have a chance. Kimi has been under that kind of situation before and we all know he can do the job if we give him the right car. The pressure is on us, then."

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