13 September 2015
F1 Singapore Grand Prix: Lotus has 'scope for good weekend'
After Spa and Monza, Singapore presents a very different challenge for the Lotus F1 team, but technical chief Nick Chester expects the team to be in the hunt for points.
Lotus technical director Nick Chester believes there is no reason not to expect the Enstone team to feature amongst the points as F1 heads for the streets of Singapore this weekend.
Although the current E23 is supposedly more suited to flowing circuits like Spa-Francorchamps - where Romain Grosjean grabbed an unexpected podium - and Monza - where both cars were taken out in a first corner accident when well-placed on the grid - Chester is confident that it will adapt to the different requirements posed by the tight confines of Marina Bay as Lotus continues its battle for fifth place in the constructors' table with Force India.
"[Singapore] should be pretty good for us," Chester claimed, "We've shown the E23 to be pretty capable in low speed corners and over kerbs, which is positive. We may not be quite as good as we have been at the medium downforce tracks, but there's scope for a good weekend.
"We were reasonably happy with the performance of the car [in Italy], the drivers were confident with the balance and performance, and qualifying went reasonably well - although we could have got a little bit more out of it, starting eighth and tenth on the grid wasn't bad. It was a real shame to have both drivers taken out, and neither accident was the fault of our drivers. We could have had a good run otherwise - on pace we should have been fighting for fifth."
With Force India having stolen a 13-point march on it at Monza, Lotus has extra reason to strike back this weekend, but Marina Bay isn't a venue to be taken lightly, especially with a driving strength as mercurial as that in black-and-gold.
"There are a lot of walls and not so much run-off, meaning there's plenty to think about," Chester confirmed, "You're dealing with very slow speed corners and a lot of kerbs, which means many demands on the car. There are many braking points – even though there aren't any high speed stops - so the brakes really take a pummelling as they're always being used and they get no time to cool down. Lots of braking means lots of accelerating afterwards, so you need good traction. There's plenty to think about for the drivers and engineers alike.
"Ensuring a good level of grip in the low speed corners is crucial at Marina Bay, and it will be down to the drivers to report back what the car is doing and let the engineers re-balance the car as the track temperature comes down. With previous years' experience, we have a fair idea of what sort of adjustments we need to make. The temperature does fall quite a bit, changing the grip and balance of the car somewhat. As the track temperature comes down the grip difference front to rear can change and make it tricky to get the car balanced following the earlier hotter practice sessions.
"It is a high downforce track, so everybody will be running toward their maximum downforce set-up, and then it really is all about how you manage the mechanical set-up to get the best out of the car in terms of handling the kerbs."
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