The weather at the Sepang International Circuit was not as hot as I expected it to be today. In spite of the sun beating down and the humidity rising with every passing hour, the conditions were surprisingly bearable. That said, there were dark clouds on the horizon.
I spent the free practice day with the Lotus F1 Team, my hosts for the weekend. As it turned out, the day didn’t turn out as promising as anticipated for them.
The first session showed much promise, with both drivers finishing in the top 10. Kimi Raikkonen concluded the session in 7th place. He completed 22 laps, and managed a best lap of 1:39.128, with his average speed being 201.303 km/h.
Meanwhile, Romain Grosjean did better, getting into 5th spot with a best lap of 1:38.919 and an average speed of 201.728 km/h, covering 17 laps in the process.
By the second free practice, however, things weren’t going as rightly, and both drivers dropped places. Grosjean slipped to 9th with a best time of 1:39.311. Luck wasn’t on his side, as one of his tyres picked up a cut, which means losing a set for the weekend.
Raikkonen ended the day in 15th, clocking in a best lap of 1:39.696. An issue with the KERS meant that the time he managed didn’t show the car’s true pace. Reports have since filtered in that the team has discovered a problem with the gearbox and have decided to change it.
With the rules stating that every unscheduled gearbox change will require the driver to drop five places on the grid at that meeting, it looks like Raikonnen might have to repeat his performance in Melbourne, storming from the back of the grid to finish in a point-scoring position.
As for Grosjean, he’ll be hoping that Melbourne will not repeat in Sepang. The again, this is only free practice. For the actual starting grid, well, we’ll just have to wait for tomorrow.