Lotus preview the Hungarian GP

Tuesday 24-July-2012 08:20

Having claimed another podium in Germany, Kimi Raikkonen is confident Lotus will again be competitive while Romain Grosjean hopes to be back in the points.

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

Kimi Raikkonen

Q. You're up to fourth in the Driver's Championship with only a small gap to the drivers directly in front; where can you go from here?
KR: "If you had told me in January that we would be fourth halfway through the season, I think I would have been pretty pleased. It's not a bad place to be, but I think we have a car good enough to have scored more points. I want to win and the whole team is pushing hard to make it happen, so let's see what we can do in the second half of the season..."

Q. How are you feeling heading to Hungary?
KR: "It is always nice to go to Hungary. The circuit is not the most difficult of them all, but it is still quite challenging. It is also the last race before the summer break and it's a great city to end the first half of the season. It's always nice to have a summer vacation and recharge the batteries for the last - and most important - part of the season."

Q. How do you rate your past performances at the Hungaroring?
KR: "I have won once in Hungary and finished second three times. It is very hot and very demanding race. It's only when you win that you don't suffer at the Hungaroring. I hope I don't suffer this time."

Q. Are you happy to receive a podium placing for your performance in Germany?
KR: "It's nice to get the points for third position, but obviously we would rather score it on the track. Having said that I think we did the best we could at Hockenheim from the position we started. Maybe if we had found a bit more pace in the wet of qualifying we could have started higher, avoided the traffic and pushed the leaders, but it is what it is. For sure we were hoping for a bit better, but the car worked well all through the race and we still brought home some good points for the team so there are some positives to bring to Budapest."

Q. How do you assess the team's potential heading to this event?
KR: "The team has been working hard in developing our car and we are confident we should be competitive in Hungary. Usually we have a hot weekend at the Hungaroring, and that's what we have been looking forward to during the whole summer. It's never nice to go to media after a race without a win. I love to win, not to explain why we were not able to win. Hopefully we can get the result we are looking for."

Q. What are the particular challenges of the circuit?
KR: "It's such a slow and twisty track that you there are two things most of all which are really important for fast lap times; these are good turn in and good traction. If you have those, you have a competitive car there."

Q. The circuit's tight and twisty: how important is qualifying?
KR: "This is one of those circuits where it's very difficult to overtake. Obviously, you need to get to the front in qualifying and you also ideally want to avoid the dirty side of the track on the grid. We haven't been the best in qualifying so far, but we have been good in the race in hot conditions and able to make different strategies work. It won't be the end of the world if we don't qualify at the front, but it won't make things easy for us either. Let's see what happens."

Q. The Hungarian Grand Prix is also sometimes known as the Grand Prix of Finland because so many of your countrymen attend. What does this mean for you?
KR: "It is always nice to see the blue and white flags waving. It's the closest we Finnish drivers get to a home race and a lot of Finns turn up every year. Hopefully I will be able to celebrate with a win for them."

Romain Grosjean

Q. What's the key to a good result this weekend in Hungary?
RG: "It's a familiar story; we need to achieve a good qualifying performance. We have a few updates coming which is good news and I'm sure we are going to be better than we were last time out. In terms of conditions, it should be hot and hopefully sunny which will suit our car better than the cold we've seen recently, and certainly better than in the cold and wet! The Hungaroring is a circuit that I quite like and one where I have had good experiences in the past. Hopefully my past history at the track will help me to have a proper race weekend. Having all sessions in the dry, so we can work properly from beginning to end, will also be very helpful!"

Q. What went wrong for you in Hockenheim?
RG: "It was a difficult weekend, especially in qualifying and in the race. We weren't able to get any pace in qualifying and we're still trying to understand why that was. My car was very difficult to drive when it was wet, and it was always raining hardest when I wanted to set a fast qualifying lap. On top of that I had a five place penalty on the grid due to my gearbox change. Then in the race, the first lap was a bit of a mess and I got hit by another car. Maybe it was bad luck, but either way I know I need to improve my first laps. I am working on that as it is a bit of a shame when you have a good car, but your race is effectively over after a couple of minutes. In Germany my front wing needed replacing and the punctured tyre damaged the floor. It was then very difficult to finish the race let alone to keep up any sort of good pace. There are races where nothing goes right and it was one of those. Let's hope the luck will turn around and everything will be much better in Budapest."

Q. Had you driven a race lap with a punctured tyre before?
RG: "No. That was the first time, so I can add that to my experience. It's difficult to know how fast you can go and you can't see how much damage is being done to the bodywork. It's not a nice experience. It's far better with a car that is healthy!"

Q. You still had to push on in case there were any opportunities for points - it must have been quite character building?
RG: "It was very difficult. The car was not handling well, but this is normal with the damage we had. I hope I don't have that situation again. The car was unbalanced, unpredictable and inefficient. Everything you don't want from a car!"

Q. How is your past experience at the Hungaroring?
RG: "I scored my first GP2 Series pole position there in 2008. Last year I won and finished third, which was a pretty good weekend. I'm heading to Hungary with a positive attitude."

Q. How does it feel to have completed half of the season?
RG: "It's not been easy so far. We've had some very good results and some very bad races. The last race was maybe one of the worst - so let's work, analyse and try to understand so I don't make mistakes any more. Stay out of trouble and qualify better, this is the key. And from that we can go forwards."

Q. What do you have planned for the August break after the Hungarian Grand Prix?
RG: "I'm going to have my honeymoon so it's going to be a good month for me. Hopefully I can head off on holiday with the very nice present of a podium finish in the Hungarian Grand Prix."

Eric Boullier - team principal

Q. The team has fallen from third position in the Constructors' Championship. Can this be regained in the second half of the year?
EB: "It's obviously disappointing to lose third place, but it's very, very tight and we've built a gap over the fifth-placed team. However, we are hungry for success and we do want more. If we can keep bringing the developments and updates we have been planning and make them work on track then I think we should be able to defend our current position. I am not sure about third or fourth by the end of the year, as everything is very close, but I am pretty convinced that we will be in the fight for one of the prime places in the Constructors' Championship."

Q. How do you rate the team's performance in Germany?
EB: "We saw a great recovery from Kimi after a difficult qualifying session. He put in a very strong and experienced drive coupled with a good strategy from the team. Starting in tenth and nineteenth positions we were always going to have our work cut out, so it was good to see Kimi score big points again and display strong race pace. Going forwards, it's clear what we need to do for better results. Anyone who watches Formula 1 can tell us this. We need to do better in qualifying. It's clear that if we want to win the races we have to be top four or five on the grid."

Q. It was one of Romain's difficult weekends - he seems to be either hot or cold in terms of his race performances?
EB: "We have all seen him have very good weekends, but we have also seen weekends where the results have not been as Romain or anyone in the team would have wanted. This means we need to ensure that he has solid weekends even when circumstances are against him, such as starting from the back of the grid. He's still learning. It's only his first full year. But as we all know he can do very well and we are working with him to ensure that he always puts in a solid drive. This includes making it through the first lap which is obviously very important."

Q. Qualifying was difficult for the team with a lack of pace in wet conditions - something we've not seen before?
EB: "We have not really seen that before, and hopefully we won't see it again! We need to look in detail at what happened. The temperature was very low and the rain showers were short and intense. We are looking into it and will fix it if it happens again."

Q. The driver line-up was seen as something of a brave move by the team. How do you assess Kimi and Romain in their half term report cards?
EB: "I don't see much of a downside to Kimi to be honest. He came back to his speed level very quickly and I would not be surprised if he wins very soon. Romain is still building himself up. Even if he did seven races two years ago, he never had a real chance to blossom, so for me he is still very much in his first year. He is making mistakes - of course - because he is a youngster. But the good news is that he never repeats a mistake! He is learning, listening and getting stronger with every race."

Q. What do you want to achieve from the next ten races?
EB: "On paper I would say with the experience we have learnt from the first ten races, we should be able to score more points in the second half of the year, which will be very good for our championship battle."

Q. How much happier are you at the half way mark of the season compared to this time last year?
EB: "Significantly; if I had to take a number, let's say 1000%!"

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