14 October 2012
Lotus to continue work on double DRS
The Lotus F1 team has said that, while it will continue to work on its 'double DRS' system, it will do so away from grands prix weekends.
Lotus' much-hyped 'double DRS' system may not see the light of day at a race meeting this season, but the team insists it is not giving up on the technology altogether.
Despite some takes on the double DRS concept - such as that being employed by Mercedes - being outlawed for 2013, Lotus believes that there is still much to gain from pressing ahead with its development, which remains legal, but concedes that the likelihood of its so-called 'device' appearing during free practice at any of the four remaining grands prix is slight. The Enstone team has tried, without success, to perfect the system during the two Friday practice sessions, having been thwarted by inclement weather at successive races in Europe and then deciding that there was no benefit from taking it to either Monza or Singapore.
"We're certainly not giving up on it because there is some goodness in there, but that really is tricky - well, we've found it so anyway," technical director James Allison admitted, "We will keep working on it, but you probably won't see it as much on Fridays. We're going to bring it out to play again at the young drivers' test and, hopefully, make a bit of progress there."
Despite several promising performances with 2012's E20, Lotus has yet to reach the top step of the podium, although both Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean have finished in the top three. The Finn even remains in title contention, albeit more as an outsider on the eve of the Korean Grand Prix, and Allison remains confident that the team can be a frontrunner as it continues to bring new ideas to the car.
"[Our task is the] same as anyone else – you just chip away at [things]," he confirmed, "It's an annoying sport this: you can think you're making progress and then everyone else gives you a wake-up call. But we've got a good team back at the factory and a good team here at the track. We just keeping working away at the things that aren't so good and try to make the things that are good even better. It's always the same job."
Among the areas in which it had been left behind by some of its rivals was exhaust development, but Lotus finally introduced its take on the 'coanda effect' as part of its development package for the Asian 'flyaways', and Allison admits that there were practical reasons for not having done so earlier.
"At the point when we were committing to what we were going to start the season with, we had two paths: a coanda path and what we chose, which was a very simple exhaust which was there to optimise power," he explained, "At the time, the coanda solution was worth a little bit more theoretically than the power maximising solution, but you had to be confident that it was going to deliver all the downforce that it promised, because you could be fairly certain that it was going to deliver all the horsepower loss that the more convoluted exhaust pipe requires.
"So, if the downforce didn't materialise, you knew you were down on the deal, so where we were when we launched our car, that was a relatively finely balanced decision. We launched with the simple thing and then we got under way and have had a reasonably bright season and have been pretty competitive deep into the year. We kept working on the other solution because it was fairly clear that that was where the centre of gravity of opinion in the pit-lane was and also because it was a reasonably productive avenue back in the wind tunnel.
"It got to a point where the gain of the coanda system was sufficiently far ahead of our previous race system that it was quite clearly something that we ought to look at, both for this year and also to make sure we're doing the right thing for next year. That's pretty much the history of it; probably could have committed a bit earlier but then things were going quite well for us on the track as well.
"We're reasonably happy with the way they're working, [although] I think we're at the beginning of a relatively long road with them," he reported, "They're not straightforward to make work perfectly first go out, but the numbers we're getting from them are good, so yeah, we're quite pleased."
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