Lotus F1 Team previews the tenth round of the 2014 Formula 1 season
Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi previews the German Grand Prix
Silverstone was a bit flat in more ways than one last weekend? Any positives? There are no substitutes for points so again we were obviously disappointed coming away from Silverstone. However, Romain’s pace in difficult conditions was positive and his performance warranted a point in mine and others’ opinions. His run on medium tyres later in the race gave us some really good data and if he had been enabled to get off the line in a good fashion he would have been fighting for points. We had lots of issues over the weekend, some we could control but many we couldn’t.
It was hugely frustrating for Pastor to be moved down the grid due to insufficient fuel for his qualifying run and then he was the victim of a misjudgement from Esteban Gutierrez in the race. These things happen in racing from time to time but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, but once more we saw a great approach from Pastor; even though his car was damaged and his engine wasn’t at full strength he kept pushing hard.
How did you view the test at Silverstone last week, particularly the new Pirelli 18-inch tyres? It was interesting. The tyres were a good technical challenge for the engineers and also for Charles too, who did a fine job evaluating and giving strong feedback. Regarding the tyres, they are important not only for the performance of the car but also how the cars look. I think that fans and especially kids want to look at an F1 car and say ‘wow’, it looks amazing.
While it is important for us to have a technical identification with the automotive industry there does need to be certain aspects that stand out more as well, too. So maybe even larger sizes are the answer? It remains to be seen what the FIA will decide upon for the future but we were happy to help Pirelli with the first steps in the process. We are all racers at Enstone and we care about the future of the sport deeply.
Hockenheim was good to the team in 2012 with a podium. What are the aspirations for the return fixture this year? Hockenheim is always a great Grand Prix and we enjoy racing there. Like Silverstone it has some good history and with the natural amphitheatre stadium bowl it has a unique atmosphere. I remember well the third place we achieved in 2012 and the memories are happy ones. However, for 2014 we are in a different situation but as ever we will strive for the maximum and push once more to fight for points. The team is working so hard for such little points reward at the moment. We need to see that change as soon as possible.
Pastor endured some misfortune again at Silverstone, he’s due some good luck isn’t he? If only F1 worked like that! But yes if it balances out a little during a season then he is owed some big-time luck. Through no fault of his own he got penalised in qualifying and started further back than the position he had earned, and then in the race we all saw what happened with Esteban Gutierrez. It was unfortunate that it affected him so much through his race because Pastor was quick prior to that, and I am sure, would have been strong as the race progressed. I hope for Pastor that his luck will change from Hockenheim onwards.
A World Cup update! What will the Gastaldi household be like on Sunday night? Tense but confident! The final of the World Cup is massive and we have not won it since 1986, so it is a long wait. I know the Albicelestes (sky blue and whites) will do their best and I hope they can achieve something memorable with our genius captain Lionel Messi. Vamos Vamos Argentina!
ROMAIN GROSJEAN - RACE DRIVER #8
After paying the price from a difficult start position at Silverstone, Romain Grosjean is determined to put up more of a fight in the German Grand Prix…
Your last two German GPs have seen contrasting results… I’ve definitely got good memories of Germany from last year at the Nürburgring, when I led the race on the way to finishing a close third behind Kimi. However my only Hockenheim F1 race was one to forget, a grid penalty and then car damage early in the 2012 Grand Prix. I’ve got nothing against the track though - one of my first single seater races was at Hockenheim in 2003 and I’ve raced there in various categories over the years.
The shorter layout may not have the same character as the original Hockenheim, but it usually provides plenty of overtaking and the atmosphere in the stadium is amazing. It’s another track where the fans are absolutely brilliant and really show their appreciation of the sport. I’m looking forward to returning.
What about the weather? The weather played a part in the Silverstone weekend, just as it did at Hockenheim in 2012, so we’ll need to stay on our toes. I think as a team we have more to gain than lose from any weather changes so we should view them as an opportunity - the E22 seemed to like the damp conditions at Silverstone.
Will the circuit suit the E22? We’ve worked hard to improve performance in the low-speed corners, so Hockenheim will be a good test of how much we’ve progressed. Apart from the run down to the hairpin there are no real straights to speak about so power unit emphasis will be on acceleration rather than top speed.
How would you sum up Silverstone? I was lucky to avoid the incident at the first start and towards the end of the race our pace was quite good, but starting so far down cost us the chance of points. We can’t afford to give our rivals a head-start like that and a top ten grid place will be the first target for Hockenheim.
What can we expect from the two-day test at Silverstone after the GP? I wasn’t driving but I did attend on Tuesday to see what we were working on. The aim was to complete a thorough aerodynamic programme and we did just that. It’s a bit too early to say what will come from it but it looked positive. At this stage in the new regulations, every outing on track is so valuable to keep the development curve going.
Do you prepare differently for a track that features every other year as opposed to every season? Not really, we approach most tracks in the same way. The big differences training-wise come when we race in extreme conditions such as humidity or high temperatures, or more generally, if we’re going to a brand new track. We will pay particular attention to changes around the circuit during the Thursday track walk but that’s true of any Grand Prix.
You’ve enjoyed some interesting side projects lately, how is your cooking these days? I had the pleasure of learning from a master recently, Raymond Blanc, which was brilliant. He’s a great man and was kind enough to show me how he prepares a salmon-based dish which is my wife’s favourite. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to do things like that, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of racing of course!
PASTOR MALDONADO - RACE DRIVER #13
A Fun Circuit
After a bumpy ride at Silverstone, Pastor Maldonado turns his attention to the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim…
How well do you know Hockenheim? I have raced at Hockenheim both with GP2 and F1. I’ve been quite quick there in the past - winning in GP2 - and it’s a fun circuit to drive so we’ll see how it goes. I really like the people there; the fans are great and so many of them come to the race. There is a great atmosphere, particularly in the final few corners with the big grandstands.
What has been the highlight to date at this track? Winning in the GP2 Series there was great; I led pretty much from start to finish apart from one lap and it was the year I took the GP2 championship so that was a good experience during a great season.
Are there any key areas in terms of a quick lap time? The final sector is challenging with lots of corners coming quickly after each other, so that is one area where time can easily be won or lost. Get it right and you carry speed from one corner to the next, but a small mistake in one corner can mean you are also punished at the next.
How big a part could the weather play? We’ve had really changeable conditions in the past, with rain one session and a drying track the next so the weather could definitely have a hand in the run up to the race. We did see that the E22 seems to be much more competitive in damp conditions so I definitely want some rain in terms of assisting our performance!
Will the circuit characteristics suit the E22? There’s potential for it to be a tough weekend for us. The surface is very smooth, there are some slower corners with strong traction demands out of them as well as several straights where you need as much power as possible. Certainly, the latest engine I used at the Silverstone test feels to be much stronger so that will be a benefit.
Did the mid-race incident with Esteban Gutierrez at Silverstone distract you at all?
The contact put my car into the air, but it was over very quickly and honestly I was so focussed that I didn’t give it a second thought. As soon as the wheels were back on the ground I was racing again. After the race, people told me it looked quite spectacular! I was told afterwards that there was quite a bit of damage to the car.
Certainly, it didn’t feel like I had all the downforce I should have had and we could see the damage to the floor and rear wing.
Before those issues, how was your race? It was a similar story to other races in that we struggled for power so I wasn’t able to fight the cars around me. I pushed as hard as I could but it was a difficult race and not what I wanted in front of the Enstone team and our fans. I’m disappointed to have not scored points but our car is showing that it can compete at different circuits.
What’s your approach for the next races? It’s always the same. You arrive at the track and try to do your best for every element of the weekend. It’s the same if you have a car which is working as you want or one that has work needing to be done: You focus to optimize the package as best you can; you work with your engineers through the weekend then you focus on maximising every opportunity when you’re on track.
NICK CHESTER - TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
Lotus F1 Team Technical Director Nick Chester talks Silverstone, Pirelli’s 18” concept tyres and looks ahead to Hockenheim…
How are we looking forward to Hockenheim? It’s quite a mixed track with a couple of long straights and a medium-speed final section. Two of the straights are also linked by a medium to high-speed corner, which is good for us, as is having soft and supersoft tyres for this circuit. Weather is often a factor there too. Last time we were there, in 2012, it was wet on the Friday and Saturday. The hairpin is a key area for overtaking, so braking will be important.
Will we have any upgrades? Yes, our development schedule is continuing at full pace. We will have a new front wing, which is a decent improvement, a cooling upgrade and some smaller bodywork updates to increase downforce. Between what we have learnt in the Silverstone test and these upgrades, we hope to make a good step forward.
Is Hockenheim a circuit which should suit the E22? Between Hockenheim and the Hungaroring, which is the second circuit in the back-to-back combo, Hungaroring should be more beneficial for us as it is mostly made up of medium-speed corners. It’s also not known as a ‘power’ circuit and is a high downforce track – which are all better aspects for us!
Can you explain the technical issues for Romain and Pastor in the British Grand Prix? Romain’s start was compromised by an incorrect setting which meant he didn’t have full power to make a proper getaway from the grid. This was frustrating as he lost a lot of places, which dropped him behind slower cars. Pastor’s car suffered from a lot of floor damage after the contact from Esteban Gutierrez, which meant the loss of a good chunk of downforce.
The rear wing was also badly compromised so he was running surprisingly well considering. For Pastor, we were also losing power from his engine over the course of the race, though it was managed to keep him going as long as possible. This did mean that our exhaust temperature went up, which may have led to the eventual exhaust failure, but the exhaust will have also experienced a fair shock with the contact and airborne moment too.
Lotus F1 Team was chosen to debut Pirelli’s 18” tyres in the post-race test. What changes did you have to make? The 18-inch Pirelli tyres are obviously very different to the tyres used in F1 now, so we viewed it as a shakedown run; simply a case of ‘let’s see’ for Pirelli, rather than a performance run. The bigger size meant we had to trim the floor and change the ride height to adapt to the different loaded radius of the tyres. Some of the suspension set up also had to be modified, such as the cambers. These were very basic revisions to enable Pirelli to evaluate the concept for the future and see what the bigger wheels look like on the car.
How much preparation time would be needed if 18” tyres are to be raced in F1? Having 18-inch tyres would have a big impact on design. We would want to be testing in the wind tunnel for at least a year ahead of their introduction. The ride height and suspension packages would have to be changed and the tyre profile itself would be very different. It would be an interesting challenge.
Lotus F1 Team