Lotus’ pace this 2013 season is undeniable, with victory in Melbourne and a fastest lap time in Free Practice 2 in Malaysia. Now rivals have moved to question their rise to the top after struggling with extremely high tyre degradation in Malaysia.
Whilst Red Bull and other rivals experienced high wear and high degradation of rubber around the Sepang Circuit, the Lotus appeared to gain pick up but then have the ability to clean their tyres of excess rubber around later corners, meaning their car could be pushed to the maximum for more corners and more laps than the rest.
Rivals have begun to question how much knowledge Lotus would have gained from having their 2010 chassis as the model Pirelli used to try out and test this years new rubber. Whilst the car itself is now 3 years old and the majority of the parts on this years car would have been heavily changed since then, there will be some parts that remain the same, as not all areas of the car are changed year to year. The core DNA of the machine remains. The other teams’ speculation arises when they assess how much Lotus knew about what set up changes enabled the tyres to work correctly or at an optimum range.
The Pirelli contract did state that no team would gain substantial benefit from the tests and all the teams were offered the opportunity to ‘give’ Pirelli a chassis, however many declined until Lotus offered. Perhaps this recent upturn in performance for Lotus is the fruit from their good-will seed from 2011.
Kimi Raikkonen has become the jest winner of the 2013 season at Albert Park.
He led home Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel who ensured the podium was an all-champion affair.
Felipe Massa finished 4th ahead of Lewis Hamilton in 5th and Mark Webber in 6th.
Twice leader of the race Adrian Sutil fell away in the final stint to finish 7th ahead of team mate Paul di Resta in 8th. Mclarens Jenson Button finished 9th and Romain Grosjean rounded out the points in 10th place.
Romain Grosjean set the quickest time in a rain affected Free Practice 3 at Albert Park.
His dry time of 1m26.929 was faster than Alonso, Massa, di Resta and Kimi Räikkönen.
The times were wholly irrelevant as rain fell at the circuit after 15 minutes forcing all the drivers to pit and remain in the garages.
Felipe Massa was the driver to go out for a full wet tyre run with 25 minutes remaining. Most drivers then took to the track for exploratory runs on both sets of wet tyre until the end of the session.
With just 10 minutes of the session remaining, Sebastian Vettel pulled off circuit with a hydraulic failure.