22 March 2014
Lotus F1: Wait and see what we can really achieve
New deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi is confident that Lotus F1 can turn its 2014 season around.
Newly-appointed Lotus deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi insists that the Enstone squad has the ability to overcome its early-season problems and return to the front of the F1 pack in 2014.
While the turnaround may not be immediate after a lot of lost track time in both the pre-season and opening round last weekend, Gastaldi – whose promotion was confirmed in Melbourne – is confident that Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado can both become factors before too long.
The pair struggled for laps in both practice and qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix, but surprised everyone – including the team – by making it to the halfway point of the first race of the year, and Gastaldi insists that that is a handy foundation on which to build for the rest of the season.
“I think it would be right to say that the start of the season has been a tough wake-up call for everyone,” he acknowledged, “I knew that it was not going to be easy to start with, and I've been in F1 long enough to understand what was coming.
“It was frustrating more than anything to see the team working so hard; everyone pulling all-nighters, but without great results to show for it on track. Following the race on Sunday, it felt like we'd completed our first real test as the two weeks in Bahrain were a very frustrating experience for everyone. The Melbourne race was the first time we managed to run some consistent laps with both cars, because the free practice sessions were so difficult. So, on that side it was very tough considering the amount of hard work that everyone put in to make things happen.”
With the majority of problems stemming from the new turbo V6s mandated by the change of rules for 2014, Gastaldi is encouraged by the improvements shown by fellow Renault runners Red Bull, Caterham and Toro Rosso in Australia.
“I'd say wait and see what we can really achieve with the E22,” he said, “If you look at it logically, Renault Sport F1 are the reigning world championship winning engine partner, so how is it possible to go from there to nothing? They will deliver the right package to all of us which will enable Lotus F1 Team to be at the front once again.
“We're a smaller team - we're not Mercedes or Ferrari or McLaren - but we have enormous pure racing spirit. This team has been around a long time and we have people here from the glory days, who have passed on the philosophy and ethos of the team's renowned spirit and passion. We are ready to fight!”
With rounds two and three coming on back-to-back weekends in Malaysia and Bahrain, and very little turnaround time since Melbourne, despite an unusual weekend off, Gastaldi warns that immediate results may not be forthcoming, but that both upcoming races will still prove valuable for Lotus.
“To keep learning,” he said when asked what the goal was for Sepang, “I would be dancing faster than the music if I said something different! We need to keep learning and, if everything goes as we anticipate, in collaboration with Renault Sport F1, then we will be in a position to continue progressing for Bahrain and when the championship comes back to Europe in May.”
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