7 June 2011
Q&A: James Allison, Lotus Renault GP
James Allison: We are all adamant that we will get the car back up to the much more impressive level of running that we had earlier in the year, and there are several things in train at Enstone to make that happen. There's no doubt our stronger performances need to begin here in Canada.
Lotus Renault GP technical director James Allison looks ahead to the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
From Monaco to Montreal – another street course, but one of a very different nature...
The Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve is different from Monaco. It's very power hungry and has relatively few corners. The corners we do see are comparably slow, with only one above 200kph. Most importantly, it's the hardest circuit on the brakes we will visit all year.
What changes have been made to the car?
Montreal requires a medium-low level of downforce and this is the first circuit of the year to have this requirement. This means we will debut a new rear wing, and this will incorporate a new DRS which loses more drag when it is being utilised.
In addition, we have a new front wing to complement the downforce levels of the rear and there will be various other refinements on the car, with particular emphasis on ensuring there is good airflow to assist with brake cooling.
How much of a concern is braking in Canada and what can you do because of this?
There are several high speed straights into low speed corners so the brakes receive repeated extreme use over the course of a lap. Canada is the most challenging circuit of the year from a brake wear point of view. Brake wear is largely a function of brake temperature, and so a lot of work must be done (using tools such as CFD, the wind Tunnel and a Brake Dynamometer rig) to ensure adequate aerodynamic cooling of the disks and pads.
A further complication is that our drivers prefer different brake materials from each other, which adds to our workload in terms of validating each solution to ensure that both drivers can apply the brakes in a carefree manner throughout the GP.
Is it fair to say that Monaco didn't go to plan?
Even before Vitaly's accident, where thankfully he was unhurt, it was a weekend we'd rather forget. Our performance in very slow corners at Monaco was unexpectedly poor and we are working hard to understand why this is the case.
We also didn't get as much performance out of the super soft as we should have done in qualifying. Our use of this tyre in Free Practice was interrupted by various red flags which meant we approached qualifying rather blind, leaving the drivers with the disadvantage of having to feel their way on the Option tyre in the crucial sessions of Q1 and Q2. This meant that arguably we were around 0.4-0.5 sec shy of our ultimate performance with the super soft. However, even allowing for this we were still well off where we expected to be.
Can you turn things around in Montreal?
Hopefully, we will get a less disturbed build up to qualifying in Montreal. Even without the plethora of red flags we saw at the last race, Monaco is a tricky place to organise a clear lap. Montreal is much easier in this regard. In addition, we expect to have addressed some of the issues that had plagued us in the slower corners at Monaco.
How would you review the year to date?
Looking at the season thus far, we started rather brightly and scored a couple of very good results early on, and while we have been credible since then, I don't like the trend that we're on. We are all adamant that we will get the car back up to the much more impressive level of running that we had earlier in the year, and there are several things in train at Enstone to make that happen. There's no doubt our stronger performances need to begin here in Canada.
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