Trulli and Kovalainen to sit out first practice

2011 Chinese Grand Prix

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Davide Valsecchi, Lotus, Sepang, 2011

Lotus will run two reserve drivers in the first practice session at Shanghai.

Regular race drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli will be replaced for the first session by Liuz Razia and Davide Valsecchi.

Valsecchi also drove in the first practice session at Sepang. Razia has previously driven the car in pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya. The pair race in GP2 for Lotus’s sister team Air Asia.

Chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne said it would be important for the team that the two drivers complete as much running as possible:

“In China we will all be in slightly unknown territory with the tyres and the cooler temperatures will mean the most important goal for us will be to maximise our track time on Friday and Saturday morning, getting the cars set up properly for qualifying and bridging the gap to make it into Q2.”

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    Keith Collantine
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    43 comments on “Trulli and Kovalainen to sit out first practice”

    1. Sounds like a very sensible idea to get the most out of the car and close in on the mid field teams. Insert not as deemed fit.

      About as sensible as FI giving Huelkenberg time in DiRestas car in FP on tracks he doesn’t know.

      1. Yup. This is taking it too far. one is plenty, but giving two drivers a go? maybe they know that their car has no improvements coming for shanghai so they’re just going to take the hit and give the guys some experience, but really it cannot help the team!

        1. Also they’re both regular GP2 drivers, so its not as though they get zero track time at all the races! what a joke.

      2. Well, it sounds like a bit of cash-injection to fund them getting those Europe developments, to me!

    2. “In China we will all be in slightly unknown territory with the tyres and the cooler temperatures will mean the most important goal for us will be to maximise our track time on Friday and Saturday morning, getting the cars set up properly for qualifying and bridging the gap to make it into Q2.”

      So why junk both of your race drivers for a whole 90 of the allotted 240 minutes? That’s over 1/3 of track time for them gone.

      1. Completely agree. I just do not understand the logic behind having both your reserve drivers on track at the same time for an entire practice session, especially in ‘unknown’ territory for the team.

        1. No logic. Just sponsors’ demands.

        2. Sound_Of_Madness
          13th April 2011, 11:51

          Maybe they want to evaluate them both at the same time, in order to choose the one who will participate in future FPs and, maybe, replace Trulli next year?
          That is the only logical explanation I can see, not a needed move IMHO just when they showed that, maybe, they could outpace a few of the established teams.

          1. why trulli? id keep him as long as possible. he isnt as fast as he was but he is good enough for the team where they are now.

            it would be a shame if hekki has to spend another season at the back tho. he might want to move on.

            i was thinking the other day, how is Timo going to recover his career???? he could of gone to renault in for 2010!! look where he is now. such a shame.

    3. How pointless, do Lotus want to move forward?

      1. Exactly. The reason you hire experienced drivers like Trulli and Kovalainen is to ensure they can get the most out of the car and develop it at a good pace. Lotus will essentially loose out on 3 hours of set up time…

    4. Oh dear, how desperate are Lotus for money? I always assumed they had a decent budget, but I suppose spending so much time in the High Court ain’t cheap…

      1. Yeah, I can’t see that being cheap, still, imagine the cost of losing the name.

    5. ??? if everyone is in “slightly unkown territory” wouldn’t it make sense to try and keep at least one variable constant and use your very experience race drivers? bizzare

    6. Ghali's Monkey
      13th April 2011, 10:26

      They’re lucky their car is so much faster than the Virgin. And Luiz Razia? Luiz flippin’ Razia? Any old Charlie, aye?

    7. Cash injection needed?

    8. Team Lotus have no real updates for china, as i understand it they trying to resolve some reliability issues so there will be no disadvantage in running reserve drivers in p1. hey if they need the money to pump into there development program or to offset court fees then so be it. heikki and jarno will have all the data for tyre deg and be well rested with the quick turnaround for this event.

      1. Assuming Razia and Valsecchi don’t “Do a Narain” and stick it in the wall at the first corner.

        1. To be fair, it was the other Indian driver, Chandhok, who crashed the Lotus earlier this year :p

        2. do Narain? hahaha. maybe he refer to 2005 Chinese grand prix when Narain crash heavily at the corner before the long straight in Jordan.

    9. Stupid decision. This would have made sense if it was one of the European tracks both drivers and test drivers are familiar with. But on a track these testers are probably just coming into contact with, a new car and tyres, I don’t see what contribution these testers can make other than using up sme tyres and engine life.

      For such a new team trying hard to catch up with the midfield, track time is important irrespective of its state friday morning.

    10. How are they going to move up the grid when they are letting two newbies have a little practice?

      Testing is precious time in F1 these days and wasting an hour and a half for two guys to ‘have a go’ then they really need to reconsider.

      Surely this is a shout out to the FIA to allow more young driver testing days?

      1. I agree, or perhaps a 3rd car running in FP 1/2 for drivers who have completed less than x Grand Prix? Or an additional Free Practice, e.g. FP 1b?

        1. or doing what moto gp does, staying on an extra day at some tracks for a days testing. they the cars and the tyres are already there. so cant be that much more expensive.

          but only allow drivers who didnt race in the previous GP to run.

    11. Agree, the team is making excellent progress but feel it necessary to now handicap both their drivers. So what if it brings bit of extra sponsorship or whatever the reason, surely it will be more than lost when it costs them points money at end of year.

    12. Lotus really are pathetic. They talk like a midfield team but act (and perform) like backmarkers. It would suit them far better to stop rabbiting on about how they’re going to deliver and actually start doing it.

      1. Did you not see their performance in Malaysia? They qualified 0.4s off Q2 despite Kovalainen making errors on his fastest lap and in the race Kovaliainen finished the race all over the back of a Torro Rosso. They’re genuinely on the back of the midfield now rather than being just being the first of the new teams.

    13. Lotus may well be committed to giving their reserve drivers a certain amount of track time.

      They’re bringing a significant exhaust upgrade to Spain so perhaps they’re getting these two out of the way to have Trulli and Kovalainen in the car for all the sessions at Catalunya?

      1. I don’t think it’s such a bad decision. The car is the same and they can analize its behaviour anyway, and this is what test drivers are for.

      2. Oh, that is also a good explanation – since they are unlikely to have updates for China that they didn’t have in Malaysia, the tyres are the main thing they need to work on, and maybe those runs can be done reasonably okay by the test drivers.

    14. Thinking that GP2 drivers would not take part in the rounds GP2 is supporting, their next opportunity after this would be Canada, and after that Singapore.

      Of course Chandhok doesn’t have those duties so he might drive in some European rounds, but from Barcelona onwards I expect Kovalainen and Trulli to drive most FP1 sessions too.

      1. Ah, I think you’re right there.

        1. That does sound logical, and combined with what you wrote above about the exhausts that makes perfect sense.

          Still a front running team would not be doing this right now, would they?

          1. Still they’re not a front running team, not even close ;)

            Of course it’s not good for Jarno and Heikki, but they know the circuit well and they probably know that without some decent upgrades they won’t challenge the midfield (I hope it’ll be third time lucky for Williams this time), and they’re faster than the two-you-know-which teams.

            As I remember they signed some about four(?) test and reserve drivers, and as Keith pointed out they probably have some commitments, so it looks strange now but may turn out like very sensible move.

    15. Alistair Rumbold
      13th April 2011, 11:43

      I thought this track was little used and therefore dusty, so why not put the two into the cars in p1 as road sweepers? Also get them to do the engine mapping and data collection.

    16. I think much of the reason for this decision lies with the abscence of in-season testing…it’s quite ridiculous how little time some F1 drivers get particularly on the lesser teams (who can’t afford or attract the top drivers) before they are racing in anger…there is no option but to run them on Fri and Sat practice sessions if one wants to develope young up and comers…

    17. “Chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne said it would be important for the team that the two drivers complete as much running as possible”

      Of course. That’s sensible.

      Oh…no it’s not as neither will be competing in the race.

    18. Looking at the comments above, I think giving Razia and Valsecchi track time before the GP2 season and before the new exhaust comes, seem to explain the sanity of the decision.

      There might be two things more on Lotus’ list:
      – They expected their car to be faster, so this could be a good moment – when the car is the same – to start on a new track with another visison on set up and see where that brings them.
      – Maybe they’re not only reviewing Razia and Valsecchi, but also putting a bit of pressure on Trulli and Kovalainen?

    19. This is so stupid; so much for jumping Toro Rosso or Force India / Williams this weekend!

    20. Complete contradiction! Need to get a good set up so we can get into Q2! Not like this I’m afraid, what are they doing?!

    21. tomforpresident
      13th April 2011, 17:51

      maybe one of their reserve drivers will be a proper driver for the team next year, surely giving them as much time in the car this year will set them up better for the start of their f1 career.

      we are at a place in f1 where it is an extremely hard and long process for rookies to settle into the sport fully without there being in season testing, so surely it makes sense for them to do this kind of thing.

      lotus really seem to be in this for the long haul so setting up young drivers to help bring them up the ranks would be a good idea. the front runners wont be doing something like this beause they have to focus fully on winning races, lotus need to focus fully on getting better every year. and that means breeding new talent

    22. That is way too much. This team improved a lot since last year & you would want both the driver to take part so that they can give more data back to you. Testing one driver may be OK but two is not the proper way to go.

    23. I actually don’t think it’s that stupid.

      – Obligations/commitments to the test drivers and their sponsors. Maybe they have to be given a minimum of track time during the season. Better to do that now, than later in the season where Lotus aims/hopes to have improved and when the stakes are therefore higher.
      – Added to this, which I think is the most important element, there are no major upgrades for Lotus this weekend. Should there have been some, all of FP most likely would have been done by Heiki and Jarno. No such thing this weekend, so this may be one of the reserve’s few chances to actually get some running this season.
      – Maybe it really is part of their evaluation of both drivers as future F1 pilots: same equipment, same conditions, same track and in a car that Lotus knows, again, since there are no mayor upgrades for this weekend.
      – FP1 is a bit like testing: the team has a programme which the drivers strictly have to follow. Not sure if the driver really makes that much of a difference in FP1. Again, no major upgrades this weekend, so the car itself can serve as a stable factor.

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