Lotus F1 Team will have plenty of new parts for the E22 to maximise when the European F1 season gets underway in Barcelona.
Romain Grosjean, race driver #8 - Gain in Spain
After seeing a top ten start thwarted by a rare gearbox issue at Shanghai, Romain Grosjean is determined to see the team’s progress rewarded in Barcelona…
Is it a case of glass ‘half full’ or ‘half empty’ after China? The gearbox problem was obviously a big disappointment. But the overall picture for the whole weekend was 90% positive. We didn’t get a reward at the end, but we know we made a step in the right direction with the car. Before the problem in the race we were the second Renault team, also in front of the McLarens and fighting with Force India. That was positive.
How do you explain the progression made at the last race? On the exterior the car looks the same however we had a number of mechanical upgrades and also improvements that came from Renault Sport F1. Also, we continue to learn and understand the E22 and how to exploit areas we can continue to improve on.
It seemed the team made a bigger step than the other Renault teams in China? Yes. On paper we made a big relative improvement in China but it wasn’t just one thing. We took the Renault updates and our own updates as well and moved forward. Altogether we made a big step, even though there were no massive changes on the car - we’re just trying to make everything work together better. There is more to come for Barcelona.
What does returning to Barcelona mean for you? Barcelona means the start of the European season. That also means we can travel less, which is good because I’ve now seen every single movie on the plane! But seriously it’s easier for the engineers to bring new parts to the track and it’s always nice to see European fans. I’m happy to be back in Barcelona. I have some good memories and it’s a track where I finished 4th back in 2012. It is a circuit everyone knows well, so as a team we go to Barcelona intent on getting much more performance from the car. We are concentrating on this goal. We just have to push as hard as we can and stay as positive as possible even when the going gets tough. As a team we have to stay united, it will make us stronger as a unit.
Pastor Maldonado race driver #13 - The Señor wants more…
After going the distance at the last two races, Pastor Maldonado is eager to pick up the pace and fight for points during the opening round of the European season in Barcelona…
What did you ‘takeaway’ from China? We had a good start and first lap, but then because of the lack of top-end speed we were struggling to overtake and lost a lot of time behind slower cars, which compromised our final result. Lap by lap our pace was improving, but it was not enough to pass more people. I think we need to work very hard to increase the top speed so that we can attack more during the race. Otherwise the car is not too bad and it can only improve from here. We achieved a good step forward for the Chinese race. Now we have time to review the data and try to do the same again in Spain, hopefully giving us a good chance to fight for points.
What do you remember about the win in 2012? It was a great day in my career, a strong race and victory over Fernando Alonso in his home event. We really deserved it because we did it on merit and under big pressure from the Ferrari all race. People forget that we were outside the top ten on Friday and then everything came together. We qualified second - pole after Lewis Hamilton was disqualified - and I knew there was a chance to win the race. I just felt so calm and ready to win. That weekend, after being 17th in first practice, shows why you must never give up in Formula 1. It also gave me more confidence because my first year in F1 had been difficult, but as soon as the car was competitive I was up there, fighting with the top drivers. My mentality changed and this now drives me forward when times are tough.
What would be a realistic target for Barcelona this season? I’m expecting to be more competitive. It will be very important to start scoring some points, but if everything goes well and we get some luck too then a top five is possible. It is going to be difficult - there are the two Mercedes and two Red Bulls and then others who have shown good pace in recent races like Force India - but if we get 100% from the car we can fight all of the other teams and come away with something good to build on.
What are you expecting from the technical updates? Clearly we expect the updates to be positive, but it’s difficult to say how big the relative improvement will be because everybody will bring updates and nothing stands still in Formula 1. The bottom line is that we must keep improving and pushing. We won’t get to the end of this season and look back to think we could have done more. Everyone is fighting 100% to get back to the front of the grid. When we get there it will be even sweeter.
How important is it to get points as soon as possible? It is vital because this team and the drivers are used to scoring lots of them. But more importantly it will act as a trigger for more confidence throughout the team and it will mean we can act on that and feed off it. The races after Barcelona are Monaco and Montreal where many variables usually happen. We have to be in the right place to take advantage of these and to enable a good platform for the summer.
Nick Chester Technical Director - New Parts for the Puzzle
Lotus F1 Team Technical Director Nick Chester will have plenty of new parts for the E22 to maximise when the European F1 season gets underway in Barcelona.
Describe the Chinese GP from a technical stand point? We made some good steps on engine mapping. The car was a lot more driveable due to a much better torque delivery, which helped the drivers make a big step. On top of that we completed a lot of running on the Friday, particularly with Romain, which meant vital set-up work could be undertaken and we also confirmed aerodynamic improvements on the car. These combined factors helped us to be more competitive, including P9 during the second session. In third practice we were pretty quick in the wet, and then again in qualifying we showed improved pace. Our race performance also improved, moving us ahead of Toro Rosso and McLaren in Shanghai. We have made steady progress in terms of closing the gap to all of the leading teams since Australia.
Where might Romain have finished? We were unfortunate to miss out on a point or two with Romain due to the gearbox failure in the race. It was a new and rare issue but we’ve made preventative measures to avoid a similar scenario in the future. Pastor’s weekend was hampered a little by his mistake on Friday and an issue on Saturday, which necessitated a change of power unit. As a result Pastor lost most of FP3 and all of qualifying, putting him on the back foot for the race. Although we’ve improved the drivability of the car, Pastor wasn’t quite as happy with the chassis balance as he had been in Bahrain. So he wasn’t as comfortable in the car as Romain, but that may simply be due to missing out on so much track time.
Was there time to assess all of the new parts? We had a huge amount to get through because we hadn’t run much in the Bahrain test. We assessed over half of the new parts which is a positive and we have a lot more lined up for Barcelona.
Tell us more… We’ve got further improvements on engine mapping, which should give us another step forward. We’ve got a new cooling and bodywork package coming - quite a big upgrade - plus some updates to the rear wing and various other bodywork parts. All of the developments that we’ve brought for the car so far have been an improvement, which is highly satisfying and validates the hard work being done back at the factory. We also received more horsepower from Renault Sport F1 in China and I hope we’ll get a further step-up in Barcelona, which will make a massive difference.
Where can more performance be found? There are a lot of aero improvements we want to bring to make the car more predictable for the drivers. We also want to do more work on tyre temperatures. The latest generation of tyres are quite hard in compound and it can be difficult to keep them in the optimum operating window. On the other hand braking is definitely better now. We’ve made some good improvements in terms of how the drivers can control the brakes and manage the power unit during braking.
Last year we finished in second place after a three-stop strategy. What will be the way to go this year? It is difficult to say because the tyre constructions are different this year and also a lot depends on temperatures. The E21 was very kind on tyres as we know, the E22 we are still really discovering so it is difficult to know for sure. What is certain is the fact that the left hand fronts at Barcelona will be key because of the long constant radius Turn 3.
Barcelona and then Monaco: Two very different tracks, will they suit the E22? They may look very different, but they are both handling and downforce dominated circuits. Power is always important; more so in Barcelona than Monaco, but it plays a smaller role than at other circuits so we are expecting to be reasonably competitive at both events.
Lotus F1 Team