Tag Archives: Lotus

Our nose design is legal, says Lotus

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Lotus has countered speculation about the legality of its twin-pronged nose by insisting that it is legal.

Technical director Nick Chester said: “As you know we have passed all the necessary crash tests and we are very confident that our design complies with all the FIA legal requirements – we have just taken an innovative direction, and one that’s different to the other teams. Where there are so many variations in design, there is always bound to be a little talk, but we remain relaxed and focussed on our design and progression.”

Regarding what the team can learn despite missing the Jerez test, Chester said: “It’s always interesting to see what solutions the other teams have. Obviously you can’t see under the skin of the cars easily where the majority of the design work takes place, but it’s always interesting to see the various aero packaging on the other cars. We’ll look at the different bodywork options they’re running and there’s always a few things to pick up on what they are pursuing.

“As we can see there are plenty of different solutions out there as we expected there would be with such a radical change of regulations. There appears to be some elegant solutions and others that certainly don’t look as nice! We’re very happy with the direction we have taken, and it will be very interesting to see how the cars perform once we get a proper chance to compare them on track.”

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Lotus finally confirms Maldonado deal

Lotus has finally officially confirmed that Pastor Maldonado will race for the team in 2014, alongside Romain Grosjean.

As previously reported here Maldonado and his Venezuelan backers opted for Lotus over Sauber in Brazil on Sunday, after a frantic final day of discussions with both teams.

However, it has taken most of this week to finalise what is obviously a complex deal. It’s believed that the sponsors wanted to ensure that their funding goes into the operating budget of the Enstone team, rather than straight towards paying off loans or debts, and also there was the matter of ensuring that Grosjean’s backer Total and PDVSA could work together.

Although it was assumed that Maldonado’s decision would quickly trigger a round of announcements elsewhere, that is unlikely to be the case. The situations at Force India and Sauber are not straightforward, and both teams have been aware of Maldonado’s decision all week.

“It is with great pleasure that we can formally confirm that Romain Grosjean will continue with Lotus F1 Team next season,” said Eric Boullier. “He has really made the most of his tremendous talent over the latter part of the 2013 season and will be a fantastic asset to our 2014 challenge. Romain will be joined by Pastor Maldonado; a driver I have known since he drove for me at DAMS in the 2005 World Series by Renault season.

“It is clear that Pastor has pace and potential – demonstrated by his 2010 GP2 Series title success and then through strong races throughout his career at Williams F1 Team – and we are convinced that we will be able to provide the correct environment to enable him to flourish regularly on track. We have been working on our new car in alignment with the new regulations for over two years and we are confident that we have a very good solution to all the challenges ahead. With Romain and Pastor I believe Lotus F1 Team will be able to cause quite a few surprises next year.”

Grosjean said: “This past year has been tremendously satisfying for me. We have worked well together, and I know everyone at Enstone is motivated to continue the fight for every last point available. I am very excited about next year’s car and I cannot wait to get out on track for pre-season testing before heading to Australia for the first race of the season.”

Maldonado said: “It is a fantastic opportunity for me to join Lotus F1 Team for 2014. It’s no secret that I have wanted a change of scene to help push on with my Formula 1 career and Lotus F1 Team offered the very best opportunity for me to be competitive next season. The regulations and cars will change significantly so it is a very good time for a fresh start. I can’t wait to be racing in black and gold.”

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Impressive Grosjean makes it four podiums in five starts

Romain Grosjean continued his run of strong results with a superb second in Austin. The Lotus driver passed Mark Webber at the start, and survived intense pressure from the Australian in the closing laps.

It was Grosjean’s fourth podium in five races, but his first second place of the season. He clearly thrived after being handed the de facto team leader role, in the absence of Kimi Raikkonen.

“I think the strategy was pretty clear,” he said of his efforts to stay in front. “We were copying what Mark was doing. When he was pitting for hard tyres, we pitted for hard tyres, if he was pitting for prime or option. Then in the race I was just trying to make as much gap as I could before the DRS zone, so turns eight and nine are pretty hard to follow another car.

“I think we had a pretty good balance around there, and then use all the power we could on the back straight, trying to avoid the DRS, and then I know that by turns 17,18, 19 it was very difficult to follow me, so he was very close every time into turn one, but never had a go. I think the closest he was into turn 12 was probably ten meters. He pushed me wide once because I outbraked myself, but as long as he didn’t seem to be too big in the mirror, that was fine.”

He added: “One year ago my wife sent me a picture of a pregnancy test saying that ‘well done Champion, you’re going to be a Dad!’ So America brings me a lot of bliss and pleasure and I’m looking forward to come back here.”

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Hulkenberg turned down Lotus due to “bigger picture”

Nico Hulkenberg says he chose not to leave Sauber to drive for Lotus in the final two races because it would have been too much of a risk.

“Of course it is attractive and sounds attractive from the outside,” he said. “On the other hand it was for the last two races, which brings also some risk with it. And also after that you have to see the bigger picture which is beyond after two races, what can happen there. And that’s why we came up with this decision.

“I just went there to see Eric and to speak face-to-face about these two races as well, because obviously the future and next year is important as well, and that’s why we went to see each other and speak face-to-face.”

Regarding the risks, he said: “Stepping into a new car, which you don’t know. If I had stepped in there I don’t think people would have expected me to beat Romain right away, he seems to be fairly comfortable in the car now and in the team, he’s delivering very good results now.”

Asked by this writer if his choice would have been different had there been a 100% guarantee of a 2014 Lotus drive: “I think had that been the case that would have been a big change in the plan, for sure.”

As to whether moving at this stage would have ended his chance of driving for Sauber in 2013 he said: “Exactly…”

Hulkenberg admitted to some frustration about now knowing where his future lies.

“It is a bit tricky, and a patience game, a bit of a mind game, to be delivering and not knowing abouut the future, it’s a bit tricky. Of course I’d like to know weeks or months ago what I’m doing. The answer is it is at is, so I have to live with it and cope with it. It’s not me, half of the field is not knowing what they are doing. From that point of view on a race weekend you have to black that out, keep delivering, that’s all I can do on the circuit.

“I’m aware that we have to keep out eyes and ears open, we can’t let it slip through our hands. I think there are options and opportunities for me to be somewhere.”

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Kimi Raikkonen: “You have to put the line somewhere…”

Kimi Raikkonen said today he only came to the Abu Dhabi GP because he believes that he’s come to an “understanding” with the Lotus team on his unpaid salary – but the Finn also made it clear that he could yet not complete the season.

Not for the first time Raikkonen failed to show up at the track on Thursday, leaving his arrival until the last minute amid speculation that he would boycott the race. Raikkonen endured a similar saga last year, but was eventually paid.

“I came here only because hopefully we found an understanding on certain issues we’ve been having,” the Finn explained. “Hopefully it’s been fixed and we can finish the season as well as we can.”

Asked whether he would consider not racing if the issues weren’t resolved he said: “Yeah, for sure. I enjoy racing, I enjoy driving. But a big part of it is business, and when that’s not dealt with like it should we end up in an unfortunate situation. I mean you have to put the line somewhere, and if it goes over that, it’s not really my fault any more.

“Everybody has their own view, their own ideas of everything. Sometimes it’s not very nice when you hear that you are, not really a team player, but you don’t have the interests of the team [at heart], and you’ve been paid zero euros the whole year. It doesn’t put you in the most best place. But that’s how it goes. Hopefully as I said we’ve found an understanding on both sides on how we should deal with the situation right now and fix the issues, and try to finish as well as we can.

“Like I said we all want to enjoy it and do well, and unfortunately a big part of it is business, and sometimes when it’s not fixed it can be painful, but that’s how it is.”

Raikkonen also played down the controversial four letter ‘get out of the way’ instruction he received at the Indian GP.

“It’s a small part of it. Those things shouldn’t happen, but unfortunately it happened. That’s not really the issue. It’s the other stuff, and obviously all the things come together in the end.”

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Gerard Lopez on Raikkonen: “Kimi is often misunderstood…”

The relationship between Kimi Raikkonen and the Lotus team has been in the spotlight of late, not least because of the controversial radio message in India, when the Finn was told to get out of Romain Grosjean’s way. Meanwhile the ongoing saga of the team’s failure to pay its star driver has put a firm focus on the financial situation. Today Lotus responded by issuing an interesting Q&A with co-owner Gerard Lopez – featured here are the questions that relate to Raikkonen.

Q: How is the relationship with Kimi?

Good. I speak with Kimi more than a lot of people probably realise and we rarely speak about Formula 1. Of course, recently a lot was made about the comments between Alan Permane and Kimi during the course of a tense moment in a race, but this was just one exchange taking a matter of seconds in the course of a two-year relationship. It certainly wasn’t the most beneficial few seconds, but you have to step back and accept that everyone is passionate about racing and sometimes these things do happen.”

Q: What is Kimi like to work with?

From my perspective, Kimi is often misunderstood. He’s actually a very talkative, very friendly guy. One of the unfortunate things about being in the limelight is that people are always trying to make it look like there are huge fights going on. For instance, we discussed the fact that Kimi was signing for Ferrari between the two of us and it was a very frank discussion. It was factual, emotional at the same time and although it’s funny to say, he’s a very human human-being. The whole Iceman thing actually prevails on the track from where he is very cool-headed and a very good driver. In reality he’s a kind guy, he’s a very talkative guy and over the two years I’ve gained a friend in Formula 1, which is a difficult place to do so.”

Q: Did Kimi’s announcement that he was going to Ferrari change the relationship?

For a long time we had the opportunity to keep him in our hands, but we weren’t able to operate to the timeframe – or make the offer – that Ferrari were able to do. For me this brought sadness, as it’s like prodigal son leaving us. When we signed him there was a lot of criticism and a lot of disbelief. There were some people who were saying that he still had it in him and that he was one of the best Formula 1 drivers out there, but at the same time there were many people who were saying that he couldn’t do it, that he was overweight, this, that and the other. But we believed in him and he delivered big time. The only reason we’re fighting for second in the World Championship is because of all the points that Kimi has scored. We’re doing everything we can to ensure Kimi and the team can continue to fight right up to the chequered flag in Brazil.”

Q: What has Kimi brought to the team over the past two years?

He’s been a number of things to the team; some of which have been quite obvious to people, and others which are less obvious. The first thing that Kimi did was to remove any excuses from the team. We knew we had one of the best ever drivers in Formula 1 and as a result of that there was no escape from whether the cars were good enough. With Kimi we knew we had a benchmark. This gave people the belief that whatever we put on the car or put into development, was going to get maximised on the race track. That is very motivating for anyone working in the team and in the factory; the fact that you know you’re putting all this effort into making something which you can transform into performance on the track. The second thing he did was match really well with who we are as a culture. We are at the pinnacle of motorsport and we are a very serious, hardworking team, but nobody in the team considers Formula 1 to be an elite club in which you cannot have fun, and we have a pretty relaxed attitude on a number of things; for sure not on performance, and for sure not on development. It’s not as clinical as other teams, and he fits right into that. For us essentially he was the perfect puzzle piece and for him I think it was a perfect fit. I still think it’s one of the best partnerships in Formula 1. The third thing he did is helped Romain to develop as a driver in a way he perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise. Had Romain been next to a more junior driver, or a less capable driver, we probably would still not know how good Romain is. For Romain to be delivering the results he is doing so now, it’s really very much because he is driving next to probably one of the best Formula 1 drivers ever. Kimi has been a tremendous help in the development of Romain.”

Q: Will the team and you miss Kimi?

The fact is he will be missed and I really think that this is one of those partnerships in Formula 1 that is – and will be remembered as being – very, very special. It’s difficult to think about the fact he’s not going to be in our black and gold car next year. I think he feels the same way. There’s no such thing as regrets, but there is such a thing as sadness even if disguised sometimes… he will be missed, and from what I’ve discussed with him he will miss this team. It doesn’t take anything away from the relationship and it doesn’t take anything away from the fact that I certainly gained a friend and that will continue to exist.”

Q: What do you think the future will hold for Kimi?

I think Kimi will do a good job at Ferrari. We’ve seen what he is capable of so we know what a formidable force he can be.”

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Boullier has “had enough” of rookie drivers

Lotus boss Eric Boullier says that 2014 is not the time to be bringing on a rookie – and has made it clear that the team does not intend to hire an inexperienced driver any time soon.

He admitted that there’s little chance of reserve driver Davide Valsecchi being promoted.

“Davide is on the list but to bring to the grid next year a driver with no experience is a huge step for them,” said Boullier. “I’ve done it twice with them, first with Petrov and then with a semi-rookie Grosjean, and I think I’ve had enough to be honest with you. Davide is on the list because we consider him as a good driver, as a GP2 champion, but it’s true that if you favour a scenario for next year it will be a driver with experience.

“If we cannot find any driver with experience, fitting the strategy of the team, obviously we will go for a rookie driver and then Davide is obviously on the top of the list. It looks harsh, I’m sorry but it’s true.”

Meanwhile regarding Romain Grosjean’s prospects of staying on he said: “Romain has a contract signed anyway for next year. It’s just, say, a matter of confirmation. We are being prudent after last obviously. But I think it’s on its way to be confirmed soon.

“We are definitely pleased with his performance, since Germany actually. Clearly, something switched on and he is working better. I mean the same tyre story as well, the latest spec of tyres suit a little bit more his driving style than Kimi’s one. But yes, we are pleased that he is stepping up. We don’t have a policy of driver number one and number two but we needed him obviously to step up.”

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Kimi Raikkonen: “I just pushed a bit too much and spun…”

Kimi Raikkonen had an encouraging Friday in Suzuka – despite ending FP2 beached in a gravel trap after a high speed spin at Dunlop Curve.

Raikkonen, who crashed on Friday in Korea, had already set the time that secured him fourth place in the session, some 0.350s off pacesetter Sebastian Vettel.

“It’s been better, or more my liking here, at least today, than it’s been the last few races,” he said. “Especially in one lap, so that’s a good thing. Obviously tomorrow is a new day and it might be a completely different story. But not too bad.

“The harder tyres seem to be quite tricky anyhow, and it didn’t feel so nice, but the lap time wasn’t so bad on the first lap. I think we’ll be OK.”

Regarding his off he said: “I just spun, it happens sometimes. Obviously it was quite windy today, so it didn’t help. It’s been a bit tricky the whole day. I just pushed a bit too much and spun. There’s no damage or anything, so we just didn’t do as many laps as we wanted, so it’s not a big deal. We didn’t do the long runs, but I don’t think it’s going to change a lot.

“Usually we like to get the car as good as we can anyhow for one lap, and when we get there we run it like it is for the race anyhow. I think if we get the car running well tomorrow we should be OK.”

Asked by this writer if he felt he had a good package for the race he said: “We’ll see on Sunday. I’ve no real interest in starting to guess what will happen. We’ll have to try to do the best what we can and see where we end up.

“It’s a tricky circuit, and if the car’s not right, plus the overtaking for sure is more tricky here than some other places… It depends a lot on the weather and wind and all kinds of things.”

 

 

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Raikkonen will get his money, says Boullier

Lotus team principal Eric Boullier says that Kimi Raikkonen will be paid his salary – and insists that the saga has not done any damage to the image of the team.

“I don’t think it’s damaging the brand of the team to be honest,” he said. “The truth is that yes, we owe him money, so that’s true. He’s going to be paid, that’s true too and if you want to have a little bit more of the story, last year in the same period it was the same story. We were owing him some money but at the end of the year he was fully paid. It’s just the way we manage our cash flow. Unfortunately we are not as rich as some other teams on the grid.

“You can also understand that a team capable of winning this year and fighting for some podiums may not be as sustainable as it should be. We have obviously favoured our people working in Enstone, which is understandable I think, obviously the car development because this is the essence of Formula One if you want to keep competing. So there is nothing else behind this story.”

Boullier denied that the team might change its strategy by taking a pay driver.

“We keep the same strategy that we’ve had for many months. Genii helped us to bring the team to where it is today. We now want to have more finance, more sponsors because we need to step up and guarantee some stability over a few years. That’s part of the strategy, this is what we are still working on, and we need to deliver on that point. We see the timing was not the right one for Kimi, but we still have to deliver this. That would then allow us to chose drivers on merit which is obviously the first choice.”

He also gave his backing to Romain Grosjean: “His future is secure so far because he has a contract with us. Last year was a bit difficult for him; this year he’s doing a great job. In the last four races, we have nothing to complain about. He was one hundred per cent up to speed, especially compared to his famous team mate. We just see now and monitor what he is doing and if everything is going as planned, he will have a great future with us.”

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Kimi Raikkonen: “It’s not like we are 20-year-old guys any more…”

Kimi Raikkonen confirmed today that the financial situation at Lotus played a big part in his decision to move to Ferrari.

It’s no secret that the team struggled to pay the Finn’s salary and point bonuses last season, and has fallen behind again this year. Nevertheless it was intriguing that he was so open about the issue in the public forum of a press conference. Now that he’s definitely leaving he has no reason to be coy about it.

“There was a lot of things and for sure they know what it is.” said Kimi when asked what Lotus could have done to keep him. “It’s hard to say which way it would have gone if that would have had happened but the deal’s done now, and I’m very happy with the new deal.”

Later he was asked why he continued to show up given that he had not been paid: “I like to race and then obviously that’s the only reason why I’m here; it doesn’t matter which team it is. The reasons why I left from the team is purely on the money side, that they haven’t got my salary, so it’s an unfortunate thing. But like I said, I want to try and help the team as much as I can and I like to race.”

Meanwhile Kimi seemed bemused by the fuss about his return to Ferrari.

“I just have to say things change in Formula One a lot. I never had a bad feeling with them really. But I mean I still have a lot friends and good memories from there. I knew that my contract will end at the end of this year, so obviously I had to make some kind of decision what to do for next year, and now it’s been done.

“I know the team and I know the people. Obviously there are some new people and some more have left since I was there, but most are the same. I don’t think this will be too difficult to go there and do well. The cars will be obviously different [in 2014] so I think that will be the most difficult thing, to get the cars right and get them running reliable, and whoever makes the best car will probably make the best out of it.”

Kimi says he sees no problems in the relationship with Fernando Alonso: “I don’t see the reason why it wouldn’t work. We are all old enough to know what we are doing and for sure the team is working for the right things to make sure. If there is something, I’m sure we can talk it through. It’s not like we are 20-year old guys any more. I might be wrong, but time will tell, but I’m pretty sure everything will be good.

“For sure, you always learn from different team mates; everyone does different things. Maybe they do something better than you but often there are a lot of things that only suit one guy and it doesn’t work if you try to do the same thing for yourself, it’s not going to work. I know the team, I know the people. Like I said, I have no worries to go there and have something that wouldn’t work. I don’t really worry about it, I’ve never worked with Alonso. I obviously know him from racing but I’m sure it will be fine.”

Raikkonen is confident that Ferrari will have a good turbo package in 2014.

“Obviously I hope so. They built very good cars and engines in the past, they’ve won a lot of championships as a team, and then you have to look on the other side at teams like Red Bull or Lotus with Renault who have done very well. It’s very hard to say which way it’s going to go with the new rules and who’s going to have the best package.

“There are a lot of stories about certain engines that will be much stronger than others, but there are so many different things that you have to look at and go through and make sure that it works that I have no idea which team will be strongest and which team will come out on top. We have to wait and see, really, for the first few tests.”

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