Lotus Renault GP technical director James Allison looks back on Vitaly Petrov's brilliant third place finish in Melbourne and discusses the new upgrades the Enstone-based team will have for this coming weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix...

Q:
James, how did it feel to see the R31 finish on the podium on its debut?

James Allison:
It was a cocktail of exhilaration, relief and contentment to see the R31 start the season on the right foot and begin to reward the team for the effort that we have lavished on it.

Q:
Give us an idea of just how much effort went in behind the scenes over the winter to make this car...

James Allison:
The bare statistics show that this year's car has 12 percent more drawings than any previous car we have made. The statistics do not, however, begin to tell the whole story. We committed to the forward exhaust layout in early September, having already done a lot of design work on a rear exit exhaust. Changing design direction in a major way at a relatively late stage places strain on the organisation at every level. The team has risen to the challenge as they always do, but we continue to pay the price even now in terms of increased workload.

Q:
Vitaly finished ahead of a Red Bull and both Ferraris on merit. That bodes well for the car's competitiveness...

James Allison:
It was a fine effort by Vitaly and an encouraging start for the R31. However, we will need to add a lot more performance to the car over the coming races if we want to keep up our early momentum.

Q:
The decision to make only two pit stops was key to Vitaly's strong result. Is this a sign that the R31 is easier on its tyres than your competitors?

James Allison:
We had felt from winter testing that the R31 was relatively easy on its tyres and we seemed to go OK on them in Melbourne. However, the season is far too young to make any bold claims about how our tyre degradation stacks up relative to our competitors.

Q:
You spoke of new upgrades in Malaysia. Can you be more specific?

James Allison:
Well, I don't want to be too specific - you know how paranoid we engineers are in this business - but I can say that we will bring a moderate upgrade package to Malaysia worth several tenths of a second. We will be making changes to the front and rear wing in addition to several items of bodywork.

 

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