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Q&A - James Allison, Lotus

Lotus technical director James Allison looks ahead to what the team can expect from the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona
Q:
What's the technical view heading to the first European race of the season?

James Allison:
We're pretty well placed. Barcelona is similar in many regards to Bahrain; it's hard on the tyres with some challenging fast stuff thrown in. It's not so obviously rear - limited as Bahrain, but is nevertheless a circuit that challenges the tyres, which has been a strength of the E21 thus far. That said, the start of the so-called European season – where many teams unleash a raft of their latest upgrades – could shake up the order somewhat.

Q:
Talking of developments; what do we have in the upgrade cupboard for Catalunya?

James Allison:
Nothing revolutionary, but plenty that should help us go faster. We have new front wing endplate detailing, new aero around the rear drums, modifications to the diffuser and a different top rear wing so there's plenty to help keep us in the hunt.

Q:
The tyre allocation for Barcelona is different from the past two seasons and the hard compound has been revised: your thoughts?

James Allison:
We've used Pirelli's hard and soft compounds for the last few years, so we were slightly surprised to see them opt for the more conservative hard and medium this season; albeit with the hard compound revised from what we have been using so far in 2013. The new hard is akin to last year's rubber; giving its best grip at lower temperatures than the one we started the year with and being more in line with the working range of the other compounds in use this season. It should work well for us in the race and the gap between option and prime in qualifying should be smaller than in previous years, giving more choices about how to tackle Q1 and Q2.

Q:
What are the performance considerations for this race?

James Allison:
Spain is certain to be cooler than Bahrain, but it's not that dissimilar. It's a circuit where the outcome of the race isn't only determined by whether you're on pole position, but rather by a combination of how far up the grid you are, how good your car is on race pace, how you manage the tyres and your race strategy. In pre-season we did one of the best race simulation runs at the final Barcelona test. but it's always difficult to tell what everyone's doing in testing and that was a good few months ago now.

Q:
It's fair to say that the teams are pretty familiar with Barcelona: how does this affect things?

James Allison:
The familiarity means you're not hunting around for things like ride heights, weight distributions, aero balance or roll stiffness as you know roughly where you want to be and it's a matter of fine tuning rather than finding your feet from scratch. That said, we know all of the circuits pretty well...

Q:
What went wrong in qualifying in Bahrain?

James Allison:
We didn't manage to reproduce our Q2 time and although Kimi felt he'd produced a decent lap. It's so close at the front that just the smallest margin can make that difference; a slight temperature difference from the track, a small variation between sets of tyres, a change in wind direction or force, or the way a driver prepares the tyres on the out-lap can all be a factor. Fortunately it was at a track where the net result was unchanged; a podium looked possible from the front row or elsewhere.

Q:
Romain had a much better race in Bahrain – can this be sustained?

James Allison:
We're confident that the step forward in Bahrain was genuine, and is something we can continue in future races to allow Romain to show what he's got.

Q:
What can we realistically expect in Barcelona?

James Allison:
With our pre-season form at the circuit and our reasonably useful showing at all four races so far this season, we head to Spain hopeful of a good race.


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
21.04.2013- Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E21 leads Paul di Resta (GBR) Sahara Force India F1 Team VJM06
21.04.2013- Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E21
21.04.2013- Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E21
20.04.2012- Qualifying, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 Team E21
Lotus E22 with Hisense sponsorship
24.08.2014- Race, Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus F1 Team E22
24.08.2014- Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus F1 Team E22
24.08.2014- Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E22 and Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus F1 Team E22 at drivers parade
23.08.2014- Qualifying, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E22
23.08.2014- Qualifying, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E22
23.08.2014- Qualifying, Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus F1 Team E22
23.08.2014- Free Practice 3, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E22
23.08.2014- Free Practice 3, Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus F1 Team E22
23.08.2014- Free Practice 3, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E22
23.08.2014- Free Practice 3, Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus F1 Team E22
23.08.2014- Free Practice 3, Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus F1 Team E22 and Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E22
23.08.2014- Free Practice 3, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E22
23.08.2014- Free Practice 3, Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus F1 Team E22

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