Lotus F1 technical director Nick Chester has confirmed that the Enstone team is not yet giving up on the 2014 season, with another raft of development parts due to appear on the E22 at this weekend's German Grand Prix.
The black-and-gold cars of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado have yet to make a regular impact, in results terms, on the 2014 campaign, but the team is keen to keep bringing upgrades to the E22 in a bid not only to improve its championship standing, but also learn more for next season, as the latest technological era moves into year two.
After another frustrating outing at Silverstone, where the two drivers were classified twelfth and 17th after problems, Chester confirmed that there will be further differences on the cars at Hockenheim.
“Our development schedule is continuing at full pace,” he revealed, “We will have a new front wing, which is a decent improvement, a cooling upgrade and some smaller bodywork updates to increase downforce. Between what we have learnt in the Silverstone test and these upgrades, we hope to make a good step forward.”
Despite the optimism over the new parts, however, Chester is quick to point out that it is Hungary in two weekends' time, rather than Germany next weekend, which will probably yield the better result for Lotus.
“Between Hockenheim and the Hungaroring, which is the second circuit in the back-to-back combo, Hungaroring should be more beneficial for us as it is mostly made up of medium-speed corners,” he pointed out, “It's also not known as a 'power' circuit and is a high downforce track – which are all better aspects for us!
“[Hockenheim] is quite a mixed track, with a couple of long straights and a medium-speed final section. The hairpin is a key area for overtaking, so braking will be important, and two of the straights are also linked by a medium to high-speed corner, which is good for us, as is having soft and supersoft tyres for this circuit. Weather is often a factor there too and, last time we were there, in 2012, it was wet on the Friday and Saturday.”
Chester's faintly positive outlook is also heightened by the fact that the problems suffered at Silverstone were easy to explain.
“Romain's start was compromised by an incorrect setting, which meant he didn't have full power to make a proper getaway from the grid,” he noted ruefully, “This was frustrating as he lost a lot of places, which dropped him behind slower cars.
“Pastor's car suffered from a lot of floor damage after the contact from Esteban Gutierrez, which meant the loss of a good chunk of downforce. The rear wing was also badly compromised so he was running surprisingly well considering. For Pastor, we were also losing power from his engine over the course of the race, though it was managed to keep him going as long as possible. This did mean that our exhaust temperature went up, which may have led to the eventual exhaust failure, but the exhaust will have also experienced a fair shock with the contact and airborne moment too.”