Brought to you by TJ13 contributor Fortis
Following their first double points score of the season with a 7th and 10th place finish in the recent Canadian Grand Prix, Lotus F1 have set their sights on overhauling Red Bull Racing an claiming 4th place finish in this year’s Formula One Constructors Championship.
The Enstone based racing team are currently sitting 31pts behind the former champions in the standings. However Technical Director Nick Chester is confident that Lotus with its much improved Mercedes powered E23, can make further inroads into that deficit, starting with this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.
In an interview recently published on the Lotus F1 website, Chester said, “There’s nothing to say we can’t perform as we did in Montreal.
“There doesn’t seem to be anything to strike fear into the team, in fact the next races present us with a good opportunity to move up the order. Austria should be strong, Silverstone should be good as it’s also a power circuit if a little more of a challenge with some of the high speed corners and we went quite well in Barcelona with quite a similar set-up.”
Budapest will be another strong circuit for Lotus as the E23 is particularly good in low speed corners and has good traction. Nick Chester adds the power circuits of Spa and Monza to his hit list of circuits where Lotus should outperform Red Bull.
In fact as the Lotus Boss observes, “We’re showing well on all types of track so we’ve good confidence for the season ahead.”
Lotus have spent incremental time analysing tyre temperatures in an effort to understand how to adjust the characteristics of the car accordingly. “Generally our drivers report an understeery car in qualifying but a more balanced car in the race,” Chester reveals. “Whereas this time [in Canada] the feedback was more of a well-balanced car in qualifying but some over steer in the race. It’s our task to try to get the optimum for both scenarios. Certainly from the Barcelona test onwards we have made a step forward in understanding and optimising the car”.
The Lotus cars’ performance around the streets of Monaco was a step forward, before Pastor Maldonado retired and Romain Grosjean was rear end mounted by an over enthusiastic teenager.
The key to delivering consistent GP results week in and week out is having a car than can be dialled in quickly for the varying demands of the different circuits and conditions.
Lotus feel this is now a strength of their E23. “In Monaco we were able to harness the low-speed corner potential and we saw some of this in Montréal where we had a particularly good balance. It’s proving to be quite an easy car to set-up and we’re continually making improvements.”
Red Bull Racing and Renault face a myriad of problems at present and are facing impending grid penalties for exceeding their maximum annual engine allocation.
No wonder Lotus feel confident they can catch and pass the quadruple world champions, though they need both drivers to deliver points finishes – race in and race out from hereon.