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Lotus boss sets sights on the title

Lotus team boss Eric Boullier says that the teams' efforts have been vindicated by winning the Australian GP - and insists the 2013 title is possible.
Eric Boullier was celebrating Lotus F1's success in the first race of the 2013 season in Australia, and said that victory in Melbourne not only proved that the team deserved a seat at the sport's top table but that it was also in with a serious shot at the driver and constructor titles.

"At least I can say Lotus F1 is a top team now, said the team principal. "We clearly stated we want to be a top team, and starting the season like this it means we will fight with everything for the championship!"

Raikkonen's comfortable victory in the opening race of the year puts the Finn at the top of the world championship standings, with Lotus second behind Ferrari in the constructors points.

But Boullier admitted that at the start of the race he was simply hoping for a podium finish, fully expecting that Red Bull duo Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber would run away and hide at the front. "We were scared a little bit, yes," he said of that prospect.

"After Kimi's start I was secretly hoping we could catch a podium," Boullier said, after Raikkonen was able to leap up from seventh on the grid to fifth place before the first corner. Raikkonen then picked up another place by making short work of Lewis Hamilton and proceeded to close up on the front runners where he bided his time to see what his rivals were doing about pit strategies.

"Definitely in the second stint when we saw the other team's pitting for a second time and being on a three-stop strategy - then we started to say 'we can do it,'" said Boullier. "Two-stop was always the plan."

With Vettel unable to produce the sort of pace in race trim that he'd enjoyed in qualifying, and the two Ferraris also opting for three-stop strategies, Raikkonen finally overtook Force India's Adrian Sutil on lap 42. Any fears in Boullier's mind that Fernando Alonso might be able to mount a late-race charge to hunt down the Finn at the front were allayed when Raikkonen put his foot down and set the fastest laptime of the race on the ante-penultimate lap, before going on to finish a comfortable 12.4s ahead at the line.

"If every year we are putting ourselves in a situation where we can compete for wins this is where we wanted to be, said a delighted Boullier. "Then from that we can expect and build up from the nice momentum to maybe one day be champion again."

A long way to go, then. But the winning feeling in the team that started with Raikkonen's slightly fortunate victory in last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was infectious and had seemingly permeated the team over the offseason, giving everyone involved a spring in their step coming into the 2013 season.

Even the famously deadpan Kimi Raikkonen was looking energised by the upturn in Lotus' fortunes, insisted Boullier.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
17.03.2013- Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 Team E21
17.03.2013- Race, Press conference, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 Team E21
17.03.2013- Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 Team E21 race winner
17.03.2013- Celebration, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 Team E21 race winner
17.03.2013- Celebration, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 Team E21 race winner with Eric Boullier (FRA), Team Manager, Lotus F1 Team
Kimi Raikkonen tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Kimi Raikkonen tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
27.11.2016 - Race, Start of the race, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB12 and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H and Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race,Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H  leads Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB12
27.11.2016 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid leads Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H leads Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB12
27.11.2016 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H and Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB12
27.11.2016 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H

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Mojo Jojo

March 19, 2013 11:23 AM

To be fair, I was never really a fan of Boullier last year as I felt he did make a few questionable calls with regards to Kimi's race strategies, but this particular race he - and in fact, the whole team redeemed themselves. Perfect strategic call on the two-stopper. And gave Kimi a car to really be confident and comfortable in. Not a fan of Grosjean either, but I hope he does improve and give Lotus the much needed points (which translates to more money and more developmental budget) to help the team move forward in the constructor's standings. Can't wait for Sepang to see if Lotus have indeed got it right this season!

Fernandabulous

March 20, 2013 8:35 AM

The team 'still' tend to supply Kimi with relatively average pit-stops though, but the car looked impressive, especially managing to dispatch Hamilton's Mercededs very early before DRS was enabled, and I think they got a slice of luck when Maldonado fell off the road after Alonso and (I think) Sutil got ahead of the Williams. Only one race down it will be a good test of the teams level of competitveness in whatever conditions Sepang this weekend. Im almost certain though that if Kimi gets the tools he will give the team a chance.



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