Lotus Renault press release
"I expect the R31 to be much more in the hunt than in Singapore"
What can be learnt from the Singapore Grand Prix?
James Allison: It is much harder to say with any precision just what it is about our car that can impact performance at these low speed tracks. Neither is it clear why Singapore was notably worse than either Monaco or Hungary. We know from our experiments with rear blowing exhausts earlier in the year that they do offer a lot more rear downforce - especially at high rear ride heights.
We know that slow speed tracks allow the rear to be held up high in all the corners and we know that rear downforce is a prized asset for coping with the traction demand at these tracks. We also know that the forward exhaust, by contrast, performs more strongly once the rear ride height starts to compress - something that cannot be avoided in medium and high speed corners. It is probably reasonable to conclude that this is the basic mechanism behind the way that we shed so much competitiveness at slow speed tracks. Our car is very sensitive and extremely unforgiving of even the slightest geometric misalignment. We were plagued by rear wing and floor issues that all seem to be even more sensitive at very low speeds than they are at the higher speeds where our car is more comfortable.
Will LRGP be able to get rid of these problems with the R32?
JA: Of course. Each of these problems we can engineer out of the R32. However, at this stage of the season it is much harder to address these underlying problems for the R31.
I will be disappointed if we are not in the top 10 cars in qualifying
The Japanese GP comes next - do you expect the R31 to be competitive at Suzuka?
JA: I expect it to be much more in the hunt than we were in Singapore. There are just two slow corners at Suzuka, and the R31 is much more at home on flowing, faster tracks. I will be disappointed if we are not in the top 10 cars in qualifying to give us an opportunity to exorcise the disappointment of Singapore. We ought to be able to get the car back into the points. We need to - Force India is starting to breathe down our neck and we need a few good results to stay ahead.
Suzuka - what challenges does it present?
JA: Suzuka, like Spa, is one of F1's classic tracks. It is popular with the drivers who relish the test of nerve and skill posed by the 's curves', Turn 1 and 130R. These last two will be particularly interesting in 2011 to see whether anyone dares make it through them in qualifying with their DRS system activated. We are long overdue a wet Suzuka race- we have had a wet session every year since 2005 and yet surprisingly, all the races have been dry for over 10 years!