Lotus: No room for complacency

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With only one week to savor his team’s victory in Melbourne, Lotus technical director James Allison has said the team cannot afford to rest on its laurels if it is to open the 2013 Formula 1 season with back-to-back victories.

In the team’s official Malaysian Grand Prix pre-race release, Allison said there are still “annoyances” the team has to work through and has to keep pressing ahead of the race in Kuala Lumpur.

“I think mechanically we have a strong car. As said repeatedly since the beginning of the season, the annoyances we had in the garages were just that – annoyances – rather than worries,” he said. “Getting the set up just so and having both driver and car working in harmony is far from a given, so there’s no room for complacency at all.”

Malaysia and Australia present two completely different circuits; the series shifts from the street circuit in Melbourne to the first of the Hermann Tilke-designed tracks on the calendar, in a race that is notoriously one of the hottest of the year.

“The race was conducted in cooler than expected conditions,” Allison said of Melbourne. “When it is cool, tire wear is dominated by graining. We were able to make the car work in these conditions, but it remains to be seen whether we can do the same when the wear mechanism shifts to traditional high temperature degradation. One thing we can be sure of is that Malaysia will deliver high temperature degradation in spades.”

Allison said the team will work with an experimental exhaust and bodywork combination, and also try out a new front wing this weekend.

Kimi Raikkonen qualified and finished fifth in Malaysia a year ago, while Romain Grosjean started seventh and spun off after three laps.

IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama final practice report

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Will Power posted the fastest lap in the third practice session for the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. with a speed of 122.953 mph.

Rookie Robert Wickens (122.552 mph) was second fast, foretelling a continuation of his incredible rookie season.

Scott Dixon (122.237), Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.231) and Alexander Rossi (122.106) rounded out the top five.

The practice was interrupted several times for incidents. 

Ed Jones spun off track in turn five after locking up his brakes with 30 minutes remaining in practice three. He was able to drive back to the pits under his own power.

With 20 minutes still on the clock, Jordan King took a trip into the fence after posting a fastest lap of 121.753 mph. He sustained substantial left side damage to his car and came back to the pits on the hook.

“I’m annoyed really,” King said afterward on the live stream at IndyCar.com. “I slightly locked the inside front, then just stayed off onto the grass and that was it. But I wasn’t really even pushing that hard.”

With two minutes remaining, Charlie Kimball lost power and pulled off the track, bringing an end to the practice session.

Dixon also had an off-road excursion.