Lotus F1 technical director Nick Chester will have plenty of new parts to play with when the team's E22 hits the track in Barcelona next Friday, as the Enstone squad brings its first major upgrade of the 2014 season.
The Spanish Grand Prix traditionally marks the first opportunity for serious revisions after the more prohibitive 'flyaway' races, and Lotus will not be alone in hoping that developments honed since the start of the season get the chance to prove their worth. The team has been making gradual progress with the E22, with Romain Grosjean qualifying and running in the top ten before a gearbox problem forced him out of the Chinese Grand Prix, and Chester is expecting another jump in performance in Spain.
“We had a huge amount to get through [in China] because we hadn't run much in the Bahrain test,” he explained, “We assessed over half of the new parts, which is a positive, and we have a lot more lined up for Barcelona.
“We've got further improvements on engine mapping, which should give us another step forward. We've got a new cooling and bodywork package coming - quite a big upgrade - plus some updates to the rear wing and various other bodywork parts. All of the developments that we've brought for the car so far have been an improvement, which is highly satisfying and validates the hard work being done back at the factory. We also received more horsepower from Renault Sport F1 in China and I hope we'll get a further step-up in Barcelona, which will make a massive difference.”
While improvements on the engine front will get the most attention, with all Renault-powered teams struggling for pace in the 'flyaways', Chester confirmed that there are other areas of the E22 that will come under the microscope.
“There are a lot of aero improvements we want to bring to make the car more predictable for the drivers,” he revealed, “We also want to do more work on tyre temperatures. The latest generation of tyres are quite hard in compound and it can be difficult to keep them in the optimum operating window.
“The E21 was very kind on tyres as we know, but we are still really discovering the E22, so it is difficult to know for sure [how they will react]. What is certain is the fact that the left fronts at Barcelona will be key because of the long constant radius turn three.
“On the other hand, braking is definitely better now. We've made some good improvements in terms of how the drivers can control the brakes and manage the power unit during braking. Power is always important, but it plays a smaller role than at other circuits so we are expecting to be reasonably competitive at both [Barcelona and Monaco].”