17 May 2013
Q&A - Eric Boullier, Lotus
Lotus boss Eric Boullier talks tyres, the Spanish Grand Prix and what to expect from Monaco 2013
There's been a lot of talk about tyres and now it's been announced that there are changes to come; how does this sit with the team?
There aren't many sports where there are such fundamental changes to an essential ingredient part-way through a season. Just imagine for a moment that, because a football team can't run as fast as its opponent, the dimensions of the pitch are changed at half time! That there are changes to come can be seen as somewhat frustrating, and I hope they are not too extreme. It's clear that Pirelli have found themselves in a difficult situation and under pressure from different quarters. Last year, when we were designing our 2013 car, each team received information from Pirelli and everyone did the best job they could to develop a chassis which would make best use of the tyre characteristics. We even ran with some experimental 2013 tyres at the end of last season, to assist us in confirming our development paths.
As with every season, some teams do a better job than others with their designs, and some drivers are more adaptable than others to the changes of both car and tyre. It is frustrating when you've developed a car from a set of tyre specifications which are available to everyone – for tyres that are the same for everyone – to then be told that they are being changed mid-season. That said, we have a team of talented designers and engineers who will be working twice as hard to ensure we adapt to these changes in the most competitive manner.
Last year the team celebrated its 500th Grand Prix in Monaco; how would you rate the first races of the second 500?
Since Monaco last year we've had twelve podium finishes including two wins – in Abu Dhabi last year and Australia this season – so we've been doing a pretty good job. Like everyone in motor racing, we're not entirely satisfied unless we're winning races and leading championships, so those are certainly what we're pushing for.
It was a short race for Romain in Barcelona; how do you ensure a failure like this doesn't happen again?
It was frustrating for Romain and frustrating for the whole team. A Formula 1 car is made of so many components, and despite all the checks every once in a while a failure happens. Our technical team has taken immediate action, identified where the problem was and redesigned a new part for Monaco onwards.
For Kimi it was pretty much a perfect race again?
It's clear that Kimi is driving very well at the moment and our car is capable of consistently delivering strong performance. There are some clear areas where we want to improve, with the car and with the team, but we have had a very strong baseline when we've visited every track so far this season; we're hopeful of the same in Monaco.
How has the team reacted to the changes to the technical department?
We have a very strong technical department made of many people. It's an illustration of the strength of talent at Enstone that we were able to promote from within, and Nick Chester has been working on adopting his new role for some time now. We have plenty of upgrades to come for the E21, as well as the additional challenge of reacting to the forthcoming tyre changes. We're confident we can maintain performance and development with this year's car whilst at the same time developing an exciting car for 2014 and the new regulations.
What's the team's outlook right now?
It's good that we're consistent, but we're greedy and want more wins. We are hungry for more points and we want to keep being in the battle at every race.
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