A bullish Eric Boullier has outlined the goals for the newly-renamed and strikingly-liveried Lotus Renault GP outfit in F1 2011 – asserting that 'we live to race and our goal is to win', and professing himself confident that the groundwork laid down last year and newfound financial stability courtesy of Group Lotus have left the team in the perfect position from which to capitalise.
Away from the political squabbling surrounding the ongoing row over Lotus naming rights, Lotus Renault GP – formerly Renault F1 – launched its new R31 challenger in Valencia today (Monday), ahead of the opening three-day group test session around the Circuit Ricardo Tormo from Tuesday to Thursday.
Speaking at the official unveiling, managing director Boullier – a man who has been at the helm of the Enstone-based operation, and indeed in F1, for barely a year – was quick to pay tribute to the work carried out in difficult circumstances in 2010 in the wake of the infamous 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing scandal and subsequent majority withdrawal of parent manufacturer Renault, as well as the impetus that has recently been re-injected into the team with the arrival of Group Lotus.
“2010 was a useful year, a time to rebuild and prepare for the future, but at the same time everybody in the team put in an amazing amount of effort and we saw the results of that on the racetrack,” the Frenchman affirmed. “Now, with the arrival of a long-term partner in Group Lotus, we have the financial stability to build on these strong foundations and ensure a very competitive future.
“That is incredibly motivating for everybody in the team, and gives us all the belief that we can continue to compete at the sharp end of the grid with the strongest teams in the sport. Over the last twelve months, we have all worked so hard to prepare for 2011. I'm incredibly proud of what we have achieved and am looking forward to getting the season underway. I think there is a great deal to be excited about this year, especially as we begin an important new era for this team.”
Revealing that work on the R31 began before its R30 predecessor 'had even done a single race', Boullier singled out Renault's relentless development pace throughout the F1 2010 campaign as one of the key factors behind its impressive run of results – and whilst he clearly hopes for a similar rate of progress between Bahrain and Brazil this time around, he is quietly optimistic that the team will come out of the starting-blocks in Sakhir in rather better shape than was the case twelve months previously.
“F1 never stops,” the 37-year-old underlined. “In 2010, we achieved a very high rate of development and the car that finished the season was two seconds per lap quicker than the car we had at the first race. During the winter, that same determined approach to the workload has continued, which is a testament to the spirit and commitment of the people we have in this team. Yes, the workload is huge at this time of year, but if we keep our heads down and maximise the winter test sessions, I'm pretty sure we will have a strong start to 2011.
“The plan is then to take exactly the same approach to development this year, although our expectation is to start the season in a much stronger position. That means we will have to be even more creative and will look to investigate some new technical areas that we have not examined before – but technical innovation isn't the only key to performance, and over the last twelve months we have reviewed all our internal processes and left no stone unturned. Today, we can say that our overall efficiency has improved by 15 per cent.
“We live to race and our goal is to win – it's the core of our philosophy. All the hard work over the last twelve months has been focussed on delivering a big improvement for 2011, and that means we should be more competitive than last year. Will we be stronger than our competitors? Hard to say, but based on the efforts of everybody here, I feel we deserve it.”