29 June 2014
Minor updates as Lotus F1 chases home race return
Technical chief Nick Chester is hopeful ongoing development of the Lotus E22 will make it more competitive at the British F1 Grand Prix.
After an uphill struggle in Austria, the Lotus F1 Team returns to 'home soil' in the hope of kick-starting its 2014 season with a return to the points at Silverstone.
The team conceded that the Red Bull Ring did not suit the current E22, but is more optimistic of success at a track that more closely mirrors Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, where Romain Grosjean scored points and the car performed better in both race and test conditions.
Although tweaking cars has been a regular occurrence in a season seeing so many new technical parameters, technical director Nick Chester confirms that there will be further developments on the E22 for Silverstone as the team attempts to establish itself as a regular in the top ten.
“It's a home race for the team, so we'd like nothing more than to put on a good show in front of our factory staff and all the loyal fans in the grandstands,” he admitted, “Obviously Silverstone is a very different track to Austria, with many more high-speed corners that will suit our car better, but we've also got a few updates, including a front wing and floor, some different combinations of aerodynamic parts to try and some new set-up concepts to explore.”
While agreeing that the factory's proximity to Silverstone makes it easier to bring new parts to the race weekend, Chester is quick to point out that, such is the pace of development in 2014, updates have been appearing at every round.
“Silverstone is easier to get new parts to the track, so that is an advantage in terms of any last minute developments as you can get them straight down the road, but teams are taking whatever upgrades they can to each and every race, so Silverstone is not particularly biased in terms of upgrade packages,” he confirmed, “Barcelona always has a flurry of new parts simply because it's the first European round, but the pace of F1 means that no-one sits on a development if it has been shown to offer an advantage during in-house tests and simulations.”
Low-speed performance has been high on the list of E22 bugbears this season, but Chester is optimistic that work ongoing at Enstone is gradually beginning to get on top of the issue.
“We have done a lot of work on the rig and, mechanically, the car is performing well and comparably to our recent cars,” he revealed, “Now we are paying more attention to other areas such as aerodynamics and tyres. It's a case of narrowing it down and hopefully making significant improvements along the way.”
Tyres, too, offer scope for improved performance – if only the team could unlock the secret of making them work from round to round.
“A lot of teams seem to be struggling to consistently get the best from the tyres this year,” Chester pointed out, “At some events, certain teams and drivers get it right, only to drop down the order at the next event. It's one of the challenges we have every season, to maximise tyre performance from the latest cars, but this year seems to be particularly difficult.
“We do have very different cars this year and we also have very different tyres, so it's an area that has a lot of potential for improvement. We've shown the car can work well on the medium and hard tyres at Barcelona, another high energy circuit, so that gives us added confidence for Silverstone.”
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