F1 » 23 June 2013
Alan Permane, Lotus F1 - Q&A
Trackside operations director Alan Permane looks at what Lotus can expect from the British Grand Prix
Montréal wasn't the weekend we wanted; what have we learnt from the experience?
We struggled at a low energy circuit in both wet and dry conditions; that much is simple to say. Of course, as a team we go over the whole weekend and dissect every detail – including things like procedures, car setup and so on –to ensure we pick up on any area we may have missed out on and to identify if we could have done things better. Overall, it was very clear we were struggling for grip through the entire weekend in both wet and dry conditions. Romain put in some decent laps on Friday and ended both sessions in P3, but it was difficult to replicate that performance again. It looks like we weren't able to get the tyres into their performance window other than on Friday.
If the team struggles with low energy circuits, is there a concern for the rest of the season?
Fortunately there aren't any more really low energy circuits to come this season. Of the current venues we visit, Montréal, Monaco and Hockenheim can be viewed as low energy and we've visited two of those already so far this year, with the third not being on the 2013 calendar. I'll be surprised if we encounter the issues we did in Montréal again this season.
What is needed from the car in Silverstone?
It's a circuit which is similar to Barcelona in the regard that it exposes weaknesses in downforce. You need an efficient car; one with a decent amount of downforce, but one which remains slippery for the straights. There are two straights where the cars exceed 300kph, so too much drag will hurt here. There are some very high speed corners, with the first sector of the lap consisting entirely of high speed turns. The new layout has brought a few more technical corners, but overall it's still counted as a high-speed track.You need to set up the car aerodynamically to be as quick as possible through the medium and high speed corners and along the straights. The circuit is windy with a scarcity of shelter which – added to unpredictable weather – makes set-up difficult at times. The wind can lead you to run with less than optimum levels of front wing to keep the car consistent.
What upgrades are there for the car?
We have a tighter, figure-hugging bodywork package which should give some benefit; especially if the weather is quite cool at Silverstone. There's a new front wing, suspension profiles and suspension upgrades in addition to various other aero upgrades, which combine to give us what should be our biggest step forward of the year. This is a good thing, of course, but we'll be running them in the context of all our rivals probably unveiling significant upgrade packs too. We conducted a couple of days of straight-line running after Canada with positive results and some of the fruits of this work should be seen in Silverstone.
What do you make of the latest tyre allocations for the next three races?
They certainly seem conservative and contrary to the supposed approach for the tyre allocations in 2013. The individual compounds – supersoft, soft, medium and hard – were made softer for each grade this year in order to present teams with a challenge, which is whatwe saw at some races earlier in the season. That work is undone if you simply allocate harder compounds for races, as we've seen with those nominated for the next three rounds. It's certainly unusual to take the same tyres to Hungary as to Bahrain and Silverstone. The situation is quite similar to last year when the allocations went harder late in the year and we just ended up doing one-stop races. Of course, there are teams who are eager for the tyres to be more durable; whether through changes to the tyres themselves or changes to the allocations for races. In contrast, we're firmly in the camp that the approach to tyre allocation should remain as agreed by the sport before the start of the season, and not be changed part-way through the year.
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