Lotus team boss Eric Boullier says the reaction of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean to the Bahrain Grand Prix result was a sign of the spirt within the Enstone-based team as F1 returns to Europe.
The pair took second and third behind Sebastian Vettel at the Sakhir circuit in a race that Lotus could well have won such was the pace of the E20.
Speaking ahead of this weekend's race at Catalunya, Boullier said the fact that both drivers had questioned why they didn't win in Bahrain was an indication of the desire to succeed and added that he expected things to be close again between the top teams in Spain.
“I remember the face of Kimi and Romain,” he said, looking back to the Bahrain weekend. “I liked the fact that they were relieved, but not fully happy. We had just achieved a great result, but they already wanted more. They knew we could have won. Instead of simply enjoying the moment, they were trying to figure out what went wrong and why they were not standing on the first step of this podium. It says a lot about our team's spirit right now.
“The first race in Europe is always the start of a new adventure. In this respect, yes, we¹re all looking forward to this challenge. It also makes the life of the team easier in terms of logistics: we¹re not that far away from home any more. This said, Barcelona is a special track because we always test there in the winter so it will be interesting to see the gaps between the teams; it might be even tighter than what we have already seen.”
Lotus head into the Spanish race on the back of a strong week of testing in Mugello last week and technical chief James Allison insisted that the team had made good use of the track time available in Italy.
“We saved for Mugello certain tests that are too elaborate to do on a Grand Prix Friday, because the modifications take too long,” he said. “On both of the dry days we ran one fundamental configuration in the morning before switching to a different fundamental configuration in the afternoon. Then, within each morning or afternoon session there was a constellation of smaller tests that could be made independently of the major morning to afternoon assessment.
“This has allowed us to answer some questions which have been bugging us for a while and it gives us a good direction for our future campaigns. That's the benefit of an in-season test compared with a pre-season test. At the start of the year you are so focused on reliability and getting all the bits ready for the first race that you don't have the breathing space to contemplate a more elaborate comparison of different configurations.
“Although we know[Catalunya] like the back of our hand, the race is always a little bit different from winter testing because of the change of temperature from February to May. The tyres will behave a little differently with more than ten degrees added to the asphalt temperature. In addition, the car has come on quite a lot since we last tested there, so the race team will still have a busy weekend to make sure we get the most out of the car.”