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Indy 500: Lotus flops with Alesi early exit

There was no hiding just how poor the performance of the Lotus engines was on ovals at Indianapolis, with Jean Alesi and Simona de Silvestro both ordered into the pits on lap 9.
One of the big talking points going into the 2012 Indianapolis 500 had been: was the Lotus engine really as poor on ovals as it had looked in qualifying? And if it was, would the IZOD IndyCar Series race officials really make the call to eject the two Lotus-powered cars form the race?

The answers were yes it was, and yes they would.

The black flag came just nine laps in, when the front runners were already bearing down on the two Lotus cars and preparing to lap them for the first time. At this point the cars of Jean Alesi and Simona de Silvestro were some 13mph off the pace of the leaders and outside the 105 per cent range off the top times that they were required to sustain.

"This regulation is fair," admitted Alesi, although it had taken him two laps to respond to the black flag when it came out and he was duly given a penalty to drop him back down to 33rd and last place in the classification to ensure that he didn't benefit from the misdemeanour. "It's a shame we cannot be out there ... it is difficult to be out of the race."

"I'm disappointed, but we didn't have speed from the beginning," agreed HVM Racing's Simona de Silvestro. "I understand the call. We have to have more horsepower to be competitive."

Given that the speedway is 2.5 miles long and a lap takes around 40s, to be caught by the leaders in just nine laps is a graphic illustration of just how far off the pace they were. Race director Beaux Barfield had no choice but to remove them before they became a danger to the much faster cars approaching them from the rear.

"We were trying to keep up pace, but unfortunately right now we don't have the pace, so now we have to work hard to get to the pace that we need to," said de Silvestro.

Alesi insisted that he and his scratch Fan Force United team - put together by the Firestone Indy Lights outfit just days before the start of practice for the Indy 500 - had done all that they could in the circumstances to be competitive.

"From the first day that I arrived, saw the car and met my team, I understood that we had to work hard, and we did. There is a part of the job that can be fixed on the track," he said. "Frustration is a part of my job. We worked hard.

"We had an engine that was not competitive straightaway, and we had to deal with it," he admitted. "We tried many things to avoid a lack of performance, but it could not be overcome."

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Simona de Silvestro excited to get the season started. [Picture credit: IndyCar Media]
Simona De Silvestro (#78) during practice for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500. 12-27 May, 2012, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. (c) 2012, F. Peirce Williams, LAT Photo USA (Photo credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA)
Jean Alesi on track during the Indy 500 Rookie Orientation Program on 10 May, 2012.(c) 2012, Walt Kuhn.LAT Photo USA [Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA]
Jean Alesi during the Indy 500 Rookie Orientation Program on 10 May, 2012. (c) 2012, Michael L. Levitt, LAT Photo USA [Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA]
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IndyCar, Dallara 2018 chassis, [Credit: IndyCar]
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May 28, 2012 4:11 PM

Hard to think of a more embarrassing manufacturer entry to any series. Compare this to how quickly BMW have got to the front in DTM, building and running the entire car, rather than just the engine. Wherever the Lotus name has been seen in racing in recent years there's been under-performance, mismanagement, legal wranglings and management bullying. Has anybody bought a Lotus car on the 'strength' of their racing 'efforts'? Colin Chapman will be turning in his grave.

KGBVD - Unregistered

May 28, 2012 8:05 PM

And now Danny Bahar is suspended (soon to be canned and thrown in jail). Lotus is a terrible, sad, pathetic excuse for a 'manufacturer' (particularly as they don't seem the manufacure anything they race). This is exactly what people were worried about when Fernandes founded MF1 as "Lotus Racing", but it looks like Lotus didn't need any help screwing up their brand.

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