Lotus F1 team principal Eric Boullier has played down his squad's underwhelming Belgian Grand Prix and insisted that there is still enough time in the season - and potential in the E20 - for Kimi Raikkonen to mount a title bid.
Taking advantage of the double retirement of championship leader Fernando Alonso and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton at La Source on lap one, Raikkonen claimed a podium finish to move back into fourth place in the standings, and now sits just 33 points adrift of Alonso as the series heads to Monza for the final European race. However, the Belgian weekend did not live up to expectations for the Enstone-based team, which had been denied the chance to debut its 'double DRS' system after rain throughout Friday practice made fine-tuning impossible. Romain Grosjean then blotted his copybook by triggering the lap one shunt, resulting in him earning a one-race ban for Italy.
"We now need to move on," Boullier insisted, "It almost feels like a hangover! You just wake up with a headache, you try to remember what happened the day before and then slowly realise that is wasn't a nightmare.
"Romain was really banned for a race, which it hard to believe, but there's nothing we can do about this. We've accepted the decision of the stewards, we did not appeal, and Romain apologised to the drivers involved in the incident. Also, this penalty has somehow hidden Kimi's sixth podium this season. He's now one point away from third in the championship on his comeback year, and this is really impressive."
Whilst accepting that the E20 was not quite the potent force many had expected it to be at Spa-Francorchamps, Boullier insisted that the car remained a genuine contender, even if it would not feature the much-hyped 'double DRS system at the fastest track on the schedule [see story here
"I don't think [we should be worried]," he said, "First of all, Spa is a very specific track and none of the remaining circuits have the same characteristics. Also, we only had one hour to set-up our cars and, although the situation was the same for everybody, we could have been quicker with more track time.
"We know that we don't have the quickest car, but probably the most consistent one. We've clinched nine podiums already, Kimi is 33 points away from the current leader and we know that the season is still wide open. With eight races to go, we'll keep pushing as long as we have a chance. Kimi has been under that kind of
situation before and we all know he can do the job if we give him the right car. The pressure is on us.
"[However], quite a few interesting developments are still in the pipeline and they'll be implemented later in the year. At this time of the year, the team usually starts focusing almost only on its next car. This is not the case this year, as we'll develop the E20 until the very last race - and that won't compromise the design of the E21."