Eric Boullier has predicted another tight season in the battle for F1 honours, with five teams in the mix for victories heading to Australia this weekend.
The Lotus boss has seen his team show impressive pace during the off-season with the new E21, although the car failed to complete as many laps as a number of rival machines during the three tests held in Spain.
Speaking ahead of Albert Park however, Boullier said he expected both Kimi Raikkonen
and Romain Grosjean
to be in the mix, with the team having taken a step forward compared to 2012 – when Raikkonen won in Abu Dhabi en-route to third in the standings.
“We can take quite a bit of confidence following pre-season testing,” he said. “We didn't complete as many laps as we wanted and we did experience a few glitches both technical and physical, but despite this we were able to work through most of the items in our itinerary. We are confident that we have made a step forward compared to last year.
“I think it's going to be as competitive as ever [this season]. You can see at least five teams having the potential to win races and it's getting very tight. It's going to be interesting to see how the teams can perform on a single lap, but also how they can perform during long stints and on track. More so than last year, it will be important to fight from the front with a good qualifying position and the race pace of our drivers will be important.”
Boullier added that, as well as keeping the strengths of the E20, Lotus would also benefit from having an unchanged driver line-up for a second successive season.
“That for me is one of the key points for this year and it's clearly going to be one of the assets of our team's performance,” he said. “To keep both these drivers, who are very complimentary, is the best situation for the team. Both now know the team well and it is their second consecutive year together in Formula 1.
“With this you can build up a nice momentum for the start of the season, compared to last year where we had to spend time nurturing that relationship.”