Lotus F1 technical director Nick Chester has revealed that next year's car from the Enstone team will be very different to the current E22.
Lotus has struggled to match its performance from recent years following the change of regulations for 2014 and, saddled with a less-than-competitive Renault engine, finds itself battling in the midfield rather than challenging for points on a regular basis. The car has already marked itself out as one of the most visually striking, with its unique 'twin tusk' nose design, and, despite vowing to continue with the development of the E22, Chester also reveals that work is already well underway on its successor.
“We'll obviously have a good go at getting points in Hungary and then after the summer break the development of this car will still continue,” he confirmed, “There will probably be one more sizeable package of new parts and then a series of smaller, simpler upgrades to bring fairly easy performance towards the end of the season.
“Looking further ahead, we are already well into the design of next year's car. It looks quite promising, with some very distinctly different features from this year's car.”
Chester admits that Lotus, as he suspects is the case with its rivals, still have a lot to learn about the latest specification of F1 car.
“There are always areas you can improve and things that you want to do,” he noted, “The changes to the aerodynamic regulations in particular have made development a little trickier but, on the other hand, we are reasonably on top of the energy management side now.
“For the cars, the main changes [for 2015] will be to the nose and chassis regulations. Noses are set to take on a fairly standard, low design. A change to the skids underneath the floor is quite significant. It's drawn attention because of the sparks that will be generated by the car, but it will also mean that the car needs to run higher. That is another thing that will be a key factory in aero development. There is also a change to the power unit, with variable trumpets.
“This year's cars are so much more complicated than the previous generation cars. There are simply more parts to be built, so they definitely take more time to work on. This is one element where we're building improvements into next year's car. It'll never be easier to work on than a normally aspirated V8-engined car without all the energy recovery systems that we have now, but certainly it will be a step forward in this regard.”
Despite the sport taking steps forward in many areas, it has decided to backtrack on 'trick' suspension systems with the expected ban on FRICS, a technology in which Lotus has led the way.
“I'm sure we struggled with our qualifying pace because of [its removal],” Chester conceded, “Our race pace was better, but maybe that was because we were looking after our tyres well.
“It's clear that we had a very developed FRIC or hydraulically linked suspension system, so we've got a lot more set-up work to do now to get the most out of the change.”