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GP Week : Issue 125
MARTIN Whitmarsh says Lewis Hamilton was being updated on a lap-by-lap basis about his fuel saving efforts in the closing stages of the British Grand Prix as he came under attack from Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. Hamilton was heard on the team radio complaining about the lack of informa- tion he was being given, but Whitmarsh insisted he was being kept in the loop. “How is it? Look man, you’re not giving me any information,” Hamilton told his race engineer on the radio with three laps to go. Like team-mate Button, Hamilton had been short-fuelled in anticipation of being stuck in slower traffic at the beginning of the race, but because he was able to make quick progress from tenth on the grid in the wet conditions at the start, he had to ease off in the second half of the race to ensure he made the finish. “ The engineers had fuelled him – in fact they fuelled both cars within a kilo of each other – in anticipation of the laptime that was expected in traffic,” explained Whitmarsh after the race. “ We had a weekend where it was difficult to judge fuel consumption and their job is, when you finish the race, to have enough fuel for a fuel sample and no more. As it turned out we were quicker in the race. We were then in fuel conservation mode for the second half of the race.” When asked by GPWEEK why the team had not been keeping Lewis up to date on the status of his fuel saving, Whitmarsh insisted he had been updated every lap. “He’s driving a car and he’s got someone behind him. Once a lap we were telling him, there’s no point telling him on a second-by-second basis,” said Martin. “ There’s a lot of tension when you’re defending in that situation. At the end, as it turned out, because there are different sensors on the car, on the last laphewastoldtogoforitandhehad fuel at that point. “It isn’t easy with a vehicle that’s moving around with sustained periods offourorfiveG,mostofthefuelison the roof of the fuel tank, not on the bottom of the fuel tank, so having preci- sion in those circumstances is difficult. We needed Lewis to get there and score some solid points and that’s what we did.” TEAM Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen says his team’s target of racing with F1’s midfield and scoring points from the beginning of the year was too optimistic, as the team continues to struggle to latch onto the tail-enders of the established teams. Having won the battle of the new teams last year, Lotus came into 2011 hoping to be regularly in Q2 and scoring points, while chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne was even targetting Renault in the latter half of the year. But so far they’ve only qualified inside the top 17 on three occasions and have finished no higher than 13th in the races. “I think they [the targets] were too opti- mistic. With the tools we have at the moment, we can’t expect to be fighting with the middle of the pack or with teams like Renault or Mercedes,” said Kovalainen. “ We’re not there this year, we clearly don’t have the structure in place yet to be able to do that. I think the targets were too optimistic but I haven’t worried about that too much.” Kovalainen explained that the team’s facilities first need to be improved before they can begin to think of challenging the established teams. Because of the sub-optimal facilities the team is still behind target on in-season development. When asked by GPWEEK if he was pleased with the pace of development, Kovalainen said: “I think it’s not good enough yet, it’s one area that we need to improve for the future. We know that because the main reason is that the facility that we have is not good enough yet, it’s not big enough. “ The tools that our designers and engineers have are not good enough. We’re working on those areas to give people better tools to actually be able to keep up in this development race,” he continued. Kovalainen: Points target “too optimistic” Whitmarsh: Hamilton updated every lap 10