Lotus previews the ninth round of the 2014 season at Silverstone

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Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi, Technical Director Nick Chester, drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado previews the British Grand Prix.

Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi previews the British Grand Prix.

Were any mountains climbed in Austria? I would say we got half way up it! Pastor had arguably his best race of the season so far. He showed that he could fight for points and he was actually unlucky not to get his first of the season. I would not say that we came away with too much satisfaction because we were not rewarded with points but for Pastor the maximum was extracted from his race in Austria, so positives could be taken. Pastor was one of only four drivers to achieve his theoretical best lap in qualifying which shows when everything is right he can deliver. The team fought back with typical spirit from a really tough time in Montréal which says a lot about the team and the spirit we have. This gives us a good platform to achieve our aims and objectives for Silverstone, which is to add to our points tally. But first we have to match the slower speed corner performance of the E22 to the high speed performance.

Were you impressed by Romain’s tenacity from the pit lane start in Austria? Yes I was. It is never easy coming back from the technical set back he suffered. Yet Romain showed the fighting spirit which he is famous for and which the team really appreciate. He made easy work of those immediately in front of him but then had some brake issues like a lot of our competitors did during the race. Romain remains upbeat and he knows that although it is taking longer than anyone expected, he can exploit the potential that exists in the E22. He is as hungry as ever.

Silverstone is not too dissimilar to Barcelona in that it is a technical circuit albeit quicker in nature. What can we expect back in England? The momentum we got from the Spanish Grand Prix and the test afterwards was forgotten slightly after the tough three races since then. But we know that at a track like Silverstone we should be able to see similar performance and exploit the capabilities of the E22 and the powertrain package with the help of Renault Sport F1.

Will racing at home and so close to the factory be an advantage? It is always nice to come to Silverstone, first and foremost because it is the home event for the factory and we get so much support. It is also good to race at iconic venues like Silverstone which has been hosting World championship Grands Prix since the start in 1950. It is very important to keep the heritage and history of circuits like Silverstone, Monza and Monaco going. It is part of the fabric and lifeblood of the sport.

From a motivation point of view we never lack that, wherever we race. But still I suppose there is an added ambience to a race that is on our doorstep. We want to achieve something for everyone at Enstone to have an extra special spring in their step on the Monday after the British Grand Prix.

Finally…..things are going well in the World Cup for your home nation of Argentina so far. Any predictions? I never predict! So far so good though but we have three more matches until the final. The quarter finals are over the Silverstone weekend but I doubt I will get the chance to see much if we are playing. Of course I hope we win though. At least we won’t play England which might have put me in danger at Silverstone!

Romain Grosjean previews the British Grand Prix expectant to reverse the recent trend of difficult Grands Prix at the circuit closest to home, Silverstone.

Romain Grosjean, Lotus F1 Team
Romain Grosjean, Lotus F1 Team

Photo by: XPB Images

How do you like Silverstone? It’s a fantastic track with a lot of high speed corners which should suit the E22 a lot better than the circuits we’ve visited recently which have seemed to jump on every weakness with our current package.

How frustrating was the gearbox issue which put you to the back of the grid in Austria? I would be lying if I said it wasn’t frustrating! It was one of those things where an electronic part argued with a mechanical part and I ended up starting from the pit lane as a result. In a way that gives you an auto reset as anything you achieve in the race is a benefit so I got my head down and did the best I could, even if there were other gremlins trying to attack me in the car too.

How was the performance on track? Austria really didn’t play to our strengths, but then we did see other teams in similar situations. We had brake issues so it was a race where I had to stay focused on what I was doing and every lap seemed like a new experience as you never knew quite what to expect!

What do you think of Silverstone? I won there in the GP2 Series in 2011, so I have to say I quite like it! I scored points there in my F1 debut but then last year my race wasn’t so good there. This means I must be due a good result.

Why is Silverstone rated as one of the favourite circuits for many drivers? Silverstone is challenging, but it has a good feel. It’s one of the quickest tracks of the year. There are corners which are legendary like the Magotts, Becketts, Chapel complex. It’s quite a feeling going through there and I can’t wait to feel that sensation once more. It’s also a special Grand Prix for the team as the factory is very close to the track. It’s always nice to see not only the race team, but also some of the many people from the factory come to see us out in action. It’s thanks to all their hard work that we’re out on track and they are all doing an amazing job, always working so hard. I will be in the factory before and after the race so it really does have a feeling of a home event.

How is it as a driver visiting the factory? It’s still a magical experience as you know there are so many people and so many resources just to make two cars that you and your team-mate will race around the world. It’s such a privileged position to be in and everyone at every level in Enstone does an amazing job. For sure, this year has been difficult as our performance has not been where we want it to be, but everyone gets their heads down and keeps working towards getting us to our goal.

What’s easy about a Silverstone weekend? It’s not far to go from home so I can sleep in my own bed and be with my family. It’s nice to have a Grand Prix where you don’t have to visit an airport and it’s nice to be close to the factory where you know everyone is working their hardest to give you the best car possible.

What is difficult about a Silverstone weekend? Over the years there’s been quite a bit of wet weather over the weekend, and this was not so much of a surprise to the Englishmen I’ve spoken to! I live quite near to the track now and my experience of regularly visiting Enstone means that I know the weather can change quite a lot. An English summer’s day is wonderful, but sometimes you have to look hard to find one! That said, it’s looked pretty good so far this year. Certainly, it’s fantastic to be at Silverstone when the weather is good and the fans are all out.

After what was a strong race for him in the cockpit, battling and overcoming various difficulties to bring the car home in Austria, Pastor Maldonado looks forward to one of his favourite circuits on the calendar.

Pastor Maldonado, Lotus F1 Team
Pastor Maldonado, Lotus F1 Team

Photo by: XPB Images

What are your thoughts of the British Grand Prix? I’ve won at Silverstone in the GP2 Series and I’ve always really liked the circuit. I’ve spent so much time in England that it’s like a second home to me, especially as I have family who live very close to the circuit in Oxfordshire. It’s a great event coming mid-season and it always provides an interesting race. It’s always a very special event for the teams based nearby and the support all drivers get there is amazing with some of the most knowledgeable fans in the world. This will be my first home Grand Prix for Lotus F1 Team so I’m looking forward to racing just down the road from the factory and seeing many familiar faces over the weekend.

What do you think of Silverstone as a circuit? I think that Silverstone is an amazing track. It has a great history, it’s fast and the change to the most recent layout hasn’t really changed the nature of the track too much. It’s always a special place to visit and you know that you’re always there for the racing as it’s not on the doorstep of a big city. I have always enjoyed racing at Silverstone since my first visit back in 2007. I also have good memories of it as I have had some great races there, including winning in both 2009 and 2010 in the GP2 Series.

Which parts of the circuit do you like in particular? My favourite corner is Becketts as it is really quick through there. I think the track will suit our car because it’s similar to Barcelona and it’s also very fun to drive with sections like Maggots and Becketts which really test you as a driver.

What about the feeling of racing somewhere which so many teams call home? Certainly, it’s home for many, many people who work in the paddock and you do get a special feeling there. The support you get from the fans is amazing

What particular challenges could you face at Silverstone? With the track being quick and the temperatures usually low it is easy to grain the front tyres and this is something we will have to manage and consider when deciding on the pit stop strategy. Certainly, we’re always asking for more power and better reliability this year and this is something I hope we can experience in England.

What did you learn in Austria? The team and Renault Sport F1 hopefully learnt quite a lot and for me behind the wheel it was a challenge. There were many issues to manage, but we but we drove through them to get to the end of the race. This year’s cars give you a lot to manage in terms of settings and driving strategies, so there is a lot to focus on when everything is working as it should. There’s even more to focus on when something’s not working the way it should! Quite a few teams were caught out with issues in Austria so it was satisfying for me and the team to get to the end of the race.

What’s the approach to the British Grand Prix? Like always, just to maximise the package we have and make the very most of every opportunity. Hopefully the high speed corners will work better with our car and it would be great to be back to where we were in Barcelona which is quite a similar circuit to Silverstone. Obviously, at the Barcelona test teams were all running to different programmes, so I don’t think we’re suddenly going to be the fastest car, but I do expect to be further up the order than we have been at recent races.

After an uphill struggle in Austria, Lotus F1 Team Technical Director Nick Chester welcomes the team’s home round at Silverstone.

Austria wasn’t a pleasant experience for us. Was there anything to smile about? The main positives were the performances of the drivers, especially Pastor, who did a great job over the weekend. The car wasn’t working as well as we’d like, particularly in the low speed corners, but he drove well in qualifying and the race. Twelfth wasn’t where we wanted to end up but he did a pretty good job. Obviously it was a struggle for Romain having to start from pit lane due to a gearbox change caused by an ECU reset and he was further compromised by power unit sensor failures during the race.

Should Silverstone be better for the E22? Obviously Silverstone is a very different track to Austria, with many more high-speed corners that will suit our car better. We’ve also got a few updates, including a front wing and floor, some different combinations of aerodynamic parts to try and some new set-up concepts to explore. It’s a home race for the team so we’d like nothing more than to put on a good show in front of our factory staff and all the loyal fans in the grandstands.

Are we getting the most from the 2014 tyres? A lot of teams seem to be struggling to consistently get the best from the tyres this year. At some events certain teams and drivers get it right, only to drop down the order at the next event. It’s one of the challenges we have every season, to maximise tyre performance from the latest cars, but this year seems to be particularly difficult. We do have very different cars this year and we also have very different tyres so it’s an area that has a lot of potential for improvement as, after all, the tyre is the only part of the car in contact with the road. We’ve shown the car can work well on the medium and hard tyres at Barcelona, another high energy circuit, so that gives us added confidence for Silverstone.

Would you class Silverstone as a power circuit? Austria and Montreal are critical circuits in terms of power. Silverstone on the other hand has a larger percentage of time spent in corners so engine influence is more diluted and the high-speed corners mean that downforce plays a bigger role.

How is the quest for low-speed performance progressing? We have done a lot of work on the rig and mechanically the car is performing well and comparably to our recent cars. Now we are paying more attention to other areas such as aerodynamics and tyres. It’s a case of narrowing it down and hopefully making significant improvements along the way.

Silverstone is close to Enstone, does that help with developments? It’s easier to get new parts to the track, so that is an advantage in terms of any last minute developments as you can get them straight down the road. However teams are taking whatever upgrades they can to each and every race so Silverstone is not particularly biased in terms of upgrade packages. Barcelona always has a flurry of new parts simply because it’s the first European round. The pace of F1 means that no-one sits on a development if it has been shown to offer an advantage during in-house tests and simulations.

Lotus F1 Team

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Tags lotus, pastor maldonado, romain grosjean, silverstone

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