• Chinese Grand Prix

Lotus drivers to sit out first Friday practice

ESPNF1 Staff
April 13, 2011 « Force India announce academy | »
Lotus is focussing on driver development as well as car development © Sutton Images
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Lotus has taken the unusual move of replacing both of its drivers for first practice for the Chinese Grand Prix.

In Friday's morning session, neither race driver Heikki Kovalainen nor Jarno Trulli will be in the car as they are replaced by third driver Luis Razia and reserve driver Davide Valsecchi. It will be Valsecchi's second consecutive Friday in the car after he drove Kovalainen's T128 in Malaysia, while it is Razia's first grand prix session of the season.

Razia also confirmed that the pair would be testing some new upgrades for the team in Shanghai.

"It's a great opportunity," he told Agencia Estado. "I will do the first practice with two sets of tyres and one or two new items brought straight from the factory."

Both Kovalainen and Trulli will return for Friday's second practice session, and chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne said it was important that they got time in the car to ensure the cars were set up to mount a challenge in qualifying.

"We have Luiz Razia and Davide Valsecchi driving for us in FP1 and I think Shanghai will be another interesting weekend for us, especially as we have had two races so far in such different conditions," Gascoyne said. "In Melbourne the tyres lasted longer than I think everyone expected and then in Malaysia there was much higher drop-off and multiple stops as a result.

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."