Berthold Bouman, F1 correspondent
A major setback for the Lotus team today, as they were forced to park their E20 in the garage after driver Romain Grosjean had only completed seven laps on the Circuit de Catalunya this morning. Lotus will not be running their new car this afternoon, after the team had discovered a ‘chassis issue’.
Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane explained the situation, “This morning was our first shakedown of our second chassis. Once the car was on track it was soon evident that everything wasn’t quite as it should be.”
And he added, “As a precaution we are returning the chassis to Enstone for further investigation. Chassis E20-01, which we used in Jerez, is being sent over and we expect to be on track with that chassis tomorrow.” Lotus did not comment on what the issue exactly was, but it was serious enough to immediately stop further testing today.
Team Principal Eric Boullier however, suggested it was just ‘a minor’ issue, “This is a minor setback to our overall test programme. Fortunately we accumulated good mileage in Jerez. If this is the only issue we have during testing then we will still be well prepared for the start of the season." Boullier expects Lotus will be back tomorrow with the E20-01 chassis, while the E20-02 is checked at the Enstone factory.
This is a minor setback to our overall test programme
As a result of the problem with the chassis, Grosjean could only set the ninth fastest time before he had to return to the garage. Already during his first run the Frenchman felt there was something wrong, “We completed a few aero runs and then started timed runs, but I was very quickly aware that the car wasn’t responding as it should.”
He also played down the problem, “It’s not ideal to lose track time, but fortunately we will have the chassis which ran perfectly in Jerez so I should get some good track time tomorrow.” And he optimistically added, “It’s far better that we have an issue like this now rather than in Melbourne.”