22 May 2012
Q&A: Eric Boullier, Lotus
Eric Boullier: Historically Enstone teams have shown good pace in Monaco, but last year's car wasn't strong in slow speed corners so we may have some work to do.
Lotus team boss Eric Boullier looks ahead to this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, the sixth round in the 2012 F1 World Championship...
Eric, the aim at the start of the season was to finish fourth in the Constructors' Championship – the team are currently in third place and closing on second…
After a difficult first few races – where our pace on track did not convert to results at the chequered flag – it's true to say we have had two strong results and if we continue to score like this we may have to revise our expectations. That said, nothing stands still in F1 and we would be foolhardy to underestimate the opposition. We have had two good results, yes, but we have not scored a win. Things change very quickly so we won't be resting on our laurels.
Heading into the Spanish Grand Prix there was a lot of expectation on the team, and Friday's pace seemed to compound that. Was it somewhat frustrating not to have achieved better in the race?
We did look good on Friday, but then the race is on a Sunday. Conditions change, your rivals fine tune their cars and setups. No-one wins anything from being fastest in practice or setting the best lap times on a long fuel run during a practice session. It's the race that matters and that's where our focus lies.
How difficult will it be to score a win in 2012?
In terms of the number of winners so far this season you could say it's easier than before! That's not the case. It's so close this season and you can be a hero one weekend and a zero the next. Our strength has been that we have been there or thereabouts at every circuit. So far we haven't suffered the performance fluctuations that some of our rivals have seen. If we continue like this we will be very well placed for scoring good championship points. Of course, scoring points is one thing. They're very valuable and whoever has the most wins the championship. But we all really want to have a win.
Do you think the team's first win of the year can come in Monaco?
We are celebrating our 500th Grand Prix in Monaco so what a story that would be! Monaco is a unique event and it really is the jewel in the Formula 1 crown. Historically Enstone teams have shown good pace in Monaco, but last year's car wasn't strong in slow speed corners so we may have some work to do. In terms of the team and our drivers, we're all ready for a win. We're looking at every aspect of the car and how we run it and we're all focused tremendously on achieving our goals. A win would be a fabulous thing.
What work is still to be done?
Both our drivers are improving with every race as they had both been away for two years. We've seen how good they are with their results, but they are both getting better all the time. It's fantastic that they are both so close on pace, in qualifying and in the races. Car development is of course an ongoing project and we have plenty of developments and refinements for what is a very good starting point with the E20. We are also focusing heavily on pit stops, in particular the tools and components used during stops to ensure we are not missing any tricks to spending the smallest amount of time possible in the pitlane.
How different is the feeling for you and the team relative to last season?
This time last year we also had some good feelings from podiums in Australia and Malaysia, but we had a design concept which would frustrate our potential. This year we have had a great sniff of victory and that is driving everyone forwards, making us all work harder. We're hungry and we know what we want.
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