Joined: 19 Jan 2005
|Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:25 am Post subject: The 2012 Challengers: The Lotus F1 E20
|The Lotus F1 Team (previously Renault) have launched their 2012 challenger. Photos of the new car will be added as they become available
Eric Boullier on the E20
The Team principal puts 2011ís travails behind him and looks forwards to the potential of the 2012 season.
How are you looking forward to 2012 and what do you hope can be achieved?
Obviously 2012 is very welcome after a poor 2011 and very hectic year. Itís clear weíve maintained our ambition on track and we want to carry on the full restructuring, progress and change that we started one year ago. We now have a clear target. We know that we have a strong commitment from our shareholders, that we want to be a top team and seen as a top team. 2012 will be the year of our final adjustment to be ready and fully operational from 2013 with an ambitious plan. For 2012 we expect to be in a position to fight for fourth place for the championship.
Two new drivers including a former world champion who has been away from the sport for two seasons; is this a brave approach to the driver line-up?
I think our driver line-up reflects the ambition of this company and this team. It is clear that to have Kimi back on track - on top of being a nice media and PR action - we need a driver of the calibre of Kimi to be able to fight for the top positions. It is also good to have Romain joining us because he has clearly demonstrated his value, talent and speed over the last 18 months. He is definitely now mature and ready. He is good for the French market, for Total and for Renault. Itís good to see him with us. He is our future.
Additionally, we have a tried and tested third driver in JťrŰme DíAmbrosio. He contested every race last season and did a good job with the tools at his disposal. He is fresh and motivated and will be looking over the shoulders of our two race drivers; to assist them at the tracks and also to learn as much as he can. Heís a great addition to the squad.
What other assets can the team draw on for 2012?
Our new 60% scale wind tunnel which went operational last year has made a great contribution to the development of the E20 and we are using this resource as much as we can to push development of the car forwards. From April we should have our ĎDriver in the Loopí simulator active and this is another superb resource to assist our engineers in developing the car. These are two areas which further demonstrate our intentions.
Whatís the teamís overall approach to 2012?
We have conducted a very long and deep process since 2010. You cannot return to being world champion in one day or one month. You need time. We had a complete review of our process and structure. 2012 will be the final step towards building a winning and ambitious team, as Iíve said before; a clear target for 2012 and also after 2014.
James Allison on the E20
Lotus F1 Team Technical Director James Allison looks to the season ahead...
How different is 2012 likely to be from 2011?
If you casually flicked through the regulations youíd be forgiven for thinking that there arenít many differences from last year, however nestling in there are some fairly profound changes
The most notable changes relate to the exhaust. The teams decided around Silverstone in 2011 that we were going to get rid of exhaust blown rear diffusers, and that point alone requires a very different design concept.
Recent car designs have been heavily influenced by their rear exhaust configurations, and the intent of the rule is to stop that happening.
The rules on the exhaust geometries themselves have been reinforced by some engine operation rules which donít sit in the technical regulations, but which arrived by Technical Directive quite late last year.
The exhaust issue, although agreed in principle at Silverstone, continued to unfold as late as mid- November, so the challenge has been to roll with the punches as the detail emerged over a fairly extended period Ė trying to make the best of each version of the rules as theyíve come out, whilst trying to anticipate where the end position is going to be. Itís certainly been an area which has preoccupied us and I imagine the rest of the grid too.
How much will the new regulations affect what we see on track?
Last yearís cars had quite a variety of exhaust layouts, with differing levels of success. If the latest rules really have been successful in resetting the power of the exhausts to a much lower level, then thatís an opportunity for a reshuffle of the pack.
What are your feelings on working with two new drivers for 2012?
Romain put in two very promising sessions at the end of last season, having not driven an F1 can for more than a year. He jumped in the car and was immediately competitive with our race drivers at the time, in a quite impressive fashion. I think that has gone a long way to getting him the ride for this year. So weíre looking forward to a strong start with him.
Kimiís recent test in Valencia with the R30 showed that he has lost none of his speed and that he is full of appetite for the season ahead. It is going to be great for us to work with a driver of such clear quality.
What is completely new and what is more familiar on the E20?
Depending on where you look, some parts of the new car are a ground-up redesign and in other areas we have further optimised the best bits of the design philosophy weíve adopted for several seasons.
As far as the exhausts are concerned, our forward exhausts would now be illegal under the new rules and didnít live up to our expectations in any case. So that part of the car we say goodbye to and welcome in a complete re-design. The front and rear suspension layouts are substantially revised to try and give us better aerodynamic opportunities.
The front wing is a continuation of the concepts we have worked on since the 2009 rules were published. The rear wing system, weíve continued to try to work on having a satisfactory level of rear downforce stability, whilst having a maximum DRS switching potential.
How do you expect the E20 to perform?
Weíve worked hard and long on the car. We have tried to react to the regulatory picture as itís unfolded, but we will only really start to be able to judge how well we have done once we start to run the car in pre- season. Even then we wonít really know until qualifying in Melbourne.
Kimi RšikkŲnenís Q&A
The 2007 Formula 1 World champion talks of his return to the sport with the Lotus F1 Team after two years away in the forests and stages of the World Rally championship
Formula 1 is something very special in my racing career, and you always want to race at the toughest level, so Formula 1 is where you want to race if you have a choice.
What do you think of the team now youíve completed two days testing?
Iím happy with the team, they are very nice people, very easy going and it was nice to work with them for the two days I did in the R30. I think weíll have a lot of fun in the season ahead and hopefully we will get some good results. I want a strong enough car to challenge for good results.
When did you decide to finish rallying and to go back to Formula 1?
When I did the NASCAR races, I enjoyed the racing and I want to do more racing. I still want to do rally and if I could Iíd do them both at the same time Ė but this isnít possible. For sure I will do rallying again in the future. I want to do racing as I had a really good time in NASCAR racing against other people and I realised that I was missing this Ė thatís when I decided that if there was a good chance to return properly that I would do it.
What are your thoughts on how F1 has changed since you last competed?
In 2010 I didnít really follow Formula 1 but I saw more races last year. It doesnít really look different, but there is overtaking in some different places where people can just drive past by opening the rear wing and the driver in front has no chance to defend himself Ė so is this really overtaking? I donít think it counts all the time. But for sure the show is better. The tyres make a difference too, as there is a big speed difference between when the tyres are new and when the tyres are old. In the old Formula 1, you had to be so much faster than the guy in front of you to have any chance to overtake, but now with the tyres and the DRS, itís different.
Do you have anything to prove with your return?
I think people expect things from me, but as long as I know that Iím giving 100% and Iím happy with my driving then Iím happy. If those aspects are true and itís not enough, then itís not enough.
How well do you know your new team-mate, Romain Grosjean?
I think we will have a good relationship. I met him before Christmas and I raced against him in 2009. He seems a very nice and normal guy, so I donít see any problems there.
Romain Grosjeanís Q&A
Romain Grosjean makes a return to Formula 1 after contesting seven races in 2009. he talks about the challenge of his first full season in the sport he loves
How does it feel to have a full-time F1 drive?
Itís just starting to sink in. Itís a dream come true to get this drive. A fantastic emotion and a fantastic challenge as well. I think the team has a really good line-up for this year, with Kimi and myself. Hopefully we can do something special. I think Iíll only truly realise it when we get to Melbourne and I see my name on the official entry list. For now Iím really happy to be at the factory as much as I can, to get involved with the team and get ready for testing.
How do you view this season Ė you had a part season two years ago Ė so is this a part-rookie year?
Itís difficult to say how I should view this season. For sure I did seven grands prix alongside Fernando [Alonso] and the experience I gained from that was helpful - and is still helpful today. On the other hand there are still some circuits that I donít know. But I donít think we can say Iím a rookie, just because of the experience I have. Letís say that I am a young driver who still has plenty of things to learn in Formula One, but we are all expecting a good season.
How and why is the 2012 specification Romain Grosjean different compared to the 2009 version?
Compared with 2009 I am two years older! No big difference, just an improvement in terms of many small things, including maturity. The 2009 experience was very helpful for me to understand things and grow up from that point. So it was difficult, but very good as well. The 2012 Romain Grosjean sees life a little bit different. My aim is to enjoy my number one passion, Formula One.
What do you expect will be your biggest challenge in 2012?
Formula One is a big, big challenge, but I think the biggest challenge personally will be to get 100 per cent out of myself and the car, every time. No mistakes. That is the life of a Formula One driver. You need to get 100 per cent out of the car, focus, concentrate and improve lap after lap. So I hope we can have a good car from the beginning of the season, some good ambitions going into the first race and just develop all season long.
What do you think of the new car?
From what Iíve seen of the new car so far, I can say that the colours are the same! We will see when get on the track. Hopefully it will be a good car and we can give it a nice nickname after the first test. Then we will try to improve it lap after lap and session after session.
JťrŰme DíAmbrosioís Q&A
JťrŰme DíAmbrosio has joined the team as third driver for the 2012 Formula 1 World championship season. JťrŰme, who competed last year as a race driver for Marussia Virgin Racing, will attend all races in 2012, working with the race driver pairing of Kimi RšikkŲnen and Romain Grosjean. The 26 year-old Belgian will participate in driver debrief sessions and be ready to stand-in for either of the two race drivers if required.
How does it feel to join the team?
Itís a great feeling to be joining Lotus F1 Team and itís an exciting next step in my career. I contested a complete season in F1 as a race driver for a smaller team where I learnt a lot about Formula 1. Now I have the opportunity to work with one of the top teams with great potential for my future development. With my recent race experience I know I can make a valuable contribution to the team.
What do you think of Enstone?
I have known the team for a number of years and I am familiar with Enstone. Itís a great facility and another world in size and amount of people; itís bigger and has so much potential and will give me so much opportunity to learn and develop as a race driver.
Thereís a new ĎDriver in the loopí simulator being built Ė will you be using this?
The new simulator will make up a big part of my contribution to the team during the season and it will also keep me sharp; Iím really looking forward to it and canít wait to start working with it. I can contribute highly to the team in this area. Itís going to be a really intense programme once weíre operational in that area Ė itís not just one session a week, itís full on. Itís a really good tool for pushing development of the car and of myself as a driver so I am looking forward to doing a good job here.
As a driver who contested last seasonís championship what can you bring to the team?
I had a great season in Formula 1 and it was a fantastic opportunity but now Iím looking to develop. I can bring a lot more to the team with my race experience than someone who doesnít have any recent race knowledge. When youíre first in Formula 1, everything is so new and so big. Itís difficult to know where your focus should be, and how you should work, but this improves as your experience comes together. I know the tyres, I know the different compounds, I have experience of the circuits and car set-up so I can contribute to the discussions with engineers and race drivers. I am very motivated to help the two race drivers and the team in any way I can, and of course I am always ready to get into the car if the opportunity ever arises. Having contested the 2011 season Iím race fit and raring to go.
What do you think of your team-mates, Kimi RšikkŲnen and Romain Grosjean?
Iíve never met Kimi so Iím looking forward to meeting him. Heís a legend in Formula 1. Iím looking forward to watching him work with the engineers and understanding how a world champion goes about his work. I know Romain pretty well as weíve raced together and been team- mates, weíre the same generation of drivers, and we work well together.
Last edited by Ed on Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:29 am; edited 1 time in total