Lotus F1 Team enjoyed a strong first day of running at the Bahrain International Circuit. The team fielded three drivers today, with Third and Reserve Driver Jolyon Palmer running with Pastor Maldonado in FP1 and Romain Grosjean returning to the cockpit for FP2 alongside Pastor. Pastor ended the day as the fastest Lotus F1 Team driver, with a 1:35.474 secs lap, the seventh fastest in FP2, just eight tenths off the fastest car.
Both cars ran aero and set-up evaluation programmes in the first session with both Pastor and Jolyon reporting themselves happy with the balance of the car. The second session was predominantly focused on tyre evaluations, with Romain returning to duties alongside Pastor. Pirelli's medium (white) compound tyre was used in the first session, the medium and soft in the afternoon.
Romain Grosjean: "It was a frustrating session for me as I couldn't get the car exactly how I wanted it, but we can see from Pastor's lap time that the pace is there once we get the set-up working. The circuit is always great to drive and we run qualifying and the race in similar conditions to those we saw in FP2 today, so we really need to get the car where we want it overnight."
Pastor Maldonado: "I was very happy with the car in the hot conditions of the first session and also in the cooler, later session too. This is very positive as we didn't have to spend too much time working on refining the set-up for the different track temperature but could work on our usual tyre evaluations. The track condition was good, even at the start of FP1 so we were able to have a productive day. I think we have good potential here this weekend."
Jolyon Palmer: "It was a great session for me and it felt far smoother than last time out. It was great to be back in the car so soon after Shanghai as I've been able to maintain a good momentum. I set my quickest time quite early in the session, so I didn't stay as high up the order with the long runs later in the session, but I was happy with my progress. The car felt improved since China, with similar characteristics enabling me to feel comfortable and push. I'm happy with today's work."
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: "Friday in Bahrain is a bit of an usual day now as we run FP1 in hot daytime conditions, then FP2 is in much cooler conditions similar to those of the race and qualifying. This gives us more of a challenge for set-up as work done in FP1 isn't as relevant to later, but we are well versed in these situations. Once more, we had three drivers in the car today, each of which delivered as we'd expect. Jolyon drove very well in his second session in the car and had more pace than his lap time showed due to small technical issue on his fastest lap. Pastor had a very strong day and was happy with his car throughout both sessions. We still have some work to get Romain's car where we want it, but we have a clear direction of what to do."
Check out our Friday gallery, here.