Trackside operations director Alan Permane says he is confident of a strong run for Lotus in this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix.
Although the race proved to be a difficult one for the Enstone-based squad last year, the team has run well on the streets of Monte Carlo in the past – winning with the likes of Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso and taking a front-row start and podium with Robert Kubica back in 2010.
On the back of a fourth podium finish for Kimi Raikkonen this season in Spain last time out, Lotus heads to Monaco aiming to once again challenge at the front with further upgrades being introduced onto the E21 for the street circuit.
“Similar to Barcelona, we will be bringing a new rear wing which follows the same concept as the one we ran in Monaco last year,” he said. “There will also be a new front wing and some modifications to the floor, so plenty to keep us occupied. We're confident in the upgrade package for this race and the car has worked well at every circuit so far this season, so there's no reason it won't be strong here.”
Permane added that he felt he team was heading to Monte Carlo with a better grip on how to extract the most out of its 2013 car in qualifying ahead of a race where a strong position on the grid will be important – even if it isn't necessarily as vital as in years gone by.
“It's no secret that this is an area we've been looking to improve and we haven't done a bad job in this regard,” he said. “We took a front row slot in China and – disregarding Mercedes – we were less than a tenth from the front runner in Spain. I wouldn't go as far as to say our qualifying pace is perfect as it's clear there are still gains to be made, but we've certainly made significant inroads into understanding how to get the most out of the tyres over a single lap, in addition to balancing setup for both qualifying and race pace.
“A few years back I can honestly say we would head to Monte Carlo without even considering race performance. The entire weekend was focused on qualifying, with practice spent seeking nothing but ultimate pace on the minimum amount of fuel possible to complete a run. That isn't quite the case anymore, and this weekend will require a fair amount of assessment work with both tyre compounds.
“We ran the super soft compound in qualifying and briefly at the start of the race in Australia, with the same true of the soft in China, so our knowledge of their behaviour thus far is relatively limited. In recent years Monaco has generally proved to be a one stop race, so we'll need to ascertain what each compound is capable of ready for the race on Sunday.”