Lotus F1 has confirmed that it is likely to move from testing its own 'double DRS' system on the opening day of a grand prix weekend to running it in races as it attempts to keep Kimi Raikkonen's title ambitions alive over the remaining nine races.
Although the entire F1 circus is on shutdown for the next couple of weeks, the Enstone team is already well advanced with the development of its trick aerodynamic addition - which is thought to channel air from extra intakes above the driver's head and, using a fluid switch, divert it to the rear wing - having had it on the drawing board since Shanghai and on the E20 from Hockenheim. However, Raikkonen has yet to use it beyond Friday free practice, when the team went to great lengths to hide its secrets from rivals.
In effect, the system is more an evolution of McLaren's now-banned 'F-Duct' concept, but evades the rules by not requiring the intervention of the driver to make it work. With McLaren
apparently working on its own version of the 'double DRS' idea, and Mercedes having run the concept from the start of the season, Lotus has said that it will continue to invest in the technology, despite the teams having come together and agreed to ban it for 2013. The Enstone team has been knocking on the door of potential victory since Bahrain, with Raikkonen having three second places under his belt since returning from the WRC, and is tipped to be the next team to taste victory after missing out in a frenetic start to the season that saw seven different winners - from four different teams - in the opening seven races.
"I think you can probably surmise from the fact that we have been willing to sacrifice track time on a couple of events trying to bring this gadget up to speed for us to believe it would definitely pay for itself over the remainder of the season," technical director James Allison told Sky Sports
' F1 Show, "If it goes away next year, it's still something we think is worthwhile putting our effort into. We're only just halfway through a very long season and there are plenty of races left in this one and it looks as if it's shaping up to be something of a scrap."
Allison confirmed that the first race after the summer break, at Spa-Francorchamps, was most likely to see the race debut of the Lotus system, with the Belgian circuit's long fast sections - and those at Monza a week later - expected to benefit the E20.
"We hope to have it ready to deploy at Spa," Allison confirmed, "Typically, you would deploy it at a normal track, but it has its most benefit at tracks with lots of straights. There are an awful lot of things to get right between now and then and we've got precious little time to do it. It's a reasonable amount of time on the calendar but, in working terms, not very long at all because of the shutdown.
"One of the things that our team has got wrong in the last couple of seasons is that we have been too keen to switch over to the new car a little bit too soon, so we started this year consciously with the aim of developing this one a bit longer."
Allison is confident, however, that, even without the introduction of the new technology, Raikkonen can continue to be a thorn in the side of the expected title contenders. The Finn currently sits fifth overall, 48 points behind leader Fernando Alonso, but just eight points off second-placed Mark Webber
with another 225 points to play for over the remaining nine races.
"There are an awful lot of points for coming first and an awful lot of races left," Allison reasoned, "The lead is miniscule compared to the points available."