9 January 2014
Boullier: Lotus won’t be only F1 test absentee
Eric Boullier insists that Lotus is healthy ahead of F1 2014, and won't be the only team missing from the Jerez group test later this month.
Lotus F1 team principal Eric Boullier believes that his won't be the only squad missing from the opening pre-season test of the 2014 season.
The Enstone team announced earlier this week that the late-January session at Jerez was 'not ideal timing', coming too soon for the completion of its E22 contender. Technical director Nick Chester confirmed on Monday that running the 2013-spec E21 was not an option due to the widespread regulation changes for 2014, and that Lotus was therefore unlikely to appear on track before the two scheduled tests in Bahrain.
"We've decided that attending the Jerez test isn't ideal for our build and development programme," Chester noted, “We're going to keep our car under wraps a little longer than some other teams. We are likely to unveil the car before attending the Bahrain tests, and in Bahrain we should really be able to put the car through its paces in representative conditions."
With CEO Patrick Louis also announcing that he was leaving the team, it has been a week of bad news from Lotus, but Boullier insists not only that the team has no concerns ahead of the 2014 season, but that he also expects other teams to follow its lead when it comes to the Jerez test. The squad ended 2013 under a financial cloud, with Kimi Raikkonen claiming not to have been paid, and having to opt for Pastor Maldonado over Nico Hulkenberg for 2014 in order to bring in sponsorship while it waits for consummation of the much-hyped partnership with Quantum Motorsports.
"Everything is fine here,” Boullier told BBC Sport, “Lotus will be on the grid this year and for a long time."
While Lotus is the only team to announce its absence from the Jerez test, Boullier does not expect to be alone.
"You will see, we will not be the only team not being in Jerez," he said, "I know this for a fact already. We already said a month ago that it is going to be tight. Actually most of the teams agreed it was going to be tight. Then it was a decision we took.
"It is true the car will not be ready on time, but we will be ready shortly after that – and, in some ways, it is not bad because we will have time to watch what the others are doing and nobody will be able to watch what we are doing. Remember, this year it is a big regulation change, so everybody will be watching very carefully what the others have done. We will have to focus on doing things a little bit differently to make sure we do not lose too much."
By skipping Jerez, Lotus leaves itself with only eight days of pre-season running, two-thirds of the total open to rivals completing all three sessions, and Sauber's Adrian Sutil believes that the Enstone team may come to regret the decision.
"For sure, it is not good, but I don't know the internals and what the problem is,” the German admitted in an interview with Sky Sports, “But I think you need every test day available - that will be very important this year.
“In the last [few] years, I think it was very difficult to be absolutely ready for the first race because the time is limited - last year, I only had two or three test days before my first race. It is never optimum, but what can we do? I mean everyone is in the same boat and this is the challenge of F1 nowadays.
"We don't want to see races where all the cars are failing and having problems everywhere. At the end of the day, F1 is a show and the pinnacle of motorsport and the top range of racing - it stands out for engineering power - and if that doesn't go well and all you see is cars breaking down, then that is not the image you want to see for F1."
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