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Lotus ready to resume testing after “intense” remedial work
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Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Feb 2012   |  3:11 pm GMT  |  36 comments

Lotus will return to the track at Barcelona on Thursday with its technical director James Allison confident that the chassis problems that forced it to pull out of last week’s test – which have now been confirmed as issues with the mounting of the upper front wishbone – have been fixed following an “intense” few days at its Enstone factory.

After a promising start to pre-season when Romain Grosjean set the pace for 2012 cars at Jerez, the Frenchman reported the new second chassis as feeling strange on his first flying lap of the second test at the Circuit de Catalunya, prompting investigations back at the team’s factory which led to the difficult season to abort the week altogether.

The setback has cost the team dearly in terms of pre-season track time – it will now head into the Australia season opener with just eight days of full testing under its belt instead of the 12 of its key rivals – but Allison says the response from the team to rectify the problem with the mounting of the upper front wishbone rear arm has been impressive.

“It’s been an intense few days, but I have to say that everybody has completed their tasks in tremendous fashion,” he said in a Q&A released by Lotus. “On the first day back at the factory, I spoke to the entire Enstone personnel and clearly explained what happened. Everybody understood that the situation was unfortunate, but under control. We designed the new parts, manufactured them, and fitted them to the chassis. We then completed the necessary tests satisfactorily and the chassis left for Spain.”

The team is believed to have implemented new composite techniques aimed at lightening the weight of the monocoque for 2012 and Allison has confirmed as a result of the strengthening changes to the E20, the chassis is now 1kg heavier than before – although he describe this as “manageable” and without any major ramifications for handling or performance.

He confirmed that the revised chassis did not have to undergo fresh FIA crash tests and that the 01 chassis used at Jerez, now equipped with modifications, would be used again at Barcelona with the 02 to be a spare and the 03 now close to completion.

Allison gave a definitive “yes” when asked if he was confident that the problems were now fixed and believes the team can recover strongly from the setback: “Of course, missing four days of testing is not ideal. We need mileage at this stage of the year, as does any other team. That said, there are reasons to remain optimistic. First of all, we completed many trouble-free laps in Jerez and gained a good understanding of the car. Also, some of the small issues we identified in Jerez needed to be fixed, and the parts were not available last week. On Thursday, the car will run with all the required redesigned parts. We’re looking forward to being back on track.”

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36 Comments
  1. Philippe Lasry says:

    I’d love to see this team fighting for podiums (or even a lucky win)! Good luck boys.

  2. Richard says:

    The chassis being one kilo heavier is not an issue as all cars are ballasted to achieve the correct weight distribution so they hopefully can just leave some weight out. Better to have found a problem early and resolved it, however I don’t think the reduced running time will be a big issue.

    1. Dave Wynter says:

      It would be very interesting to hear what an expert would have to say about the impact of having 1 kg less available to position strategically about the car.

      1. John says:

        Its not just the extra weight its how it effects the centre of gravity. Therefore how high and how far to towards the front or back of the car it is. The mounting for an upper front wish bone will be almost at the top of the front of the monocoque – therefore quite high and far forward. The amount of avaliable ballast weight will vary from team to team but according to F1.com teams will have about 35kg to play with.

        So the change is ok, but not great

      2. Justin says:

        well i would presume they would take 1kg out of the front and now you’re pretty much the same.

        also the weight distribution is fixed now so that won’t make much of a difference.

  3. Rick says:

    They will wind up with as many days as Mercedes with their new car. I wonder if they will get to recover one of their lost days on Monday March 5th. In any case, I wish them well.

    1. Dave Wynter says:

      Ferrari and Red Bull were not allowed to move their test to a day later to finish on the 5th, so doubtful Lotus will be allowed this.

    2. Bayan says:

      I don’t think they will be allowed for the same reason Ferrari and RB were not allowed to change their test days. See that story published a few days ago for more details (No testing for week prior to the grand prix with some exceptions).

  4. Ashish Sharma says:

    James,

    It would be good to see one of your in-season behind-the-scenes articles to feature the impact of a gain of 1 kg. I am sure they will not go overweight and will just adjust some of the ballast but that would i guess raise the center of gravity, since it is the “upper front wishbone”. Your thoughts?

    1. Richard says:

      James Allison says no major ramifications for handling or performance so while there maybe a slight CoG change it’s not significant. – Not sure where the ballast is located but one sort of assumes it’s near the floor, but I expect it’s wherever they have some available space.

  5. Ben says:

    Couldn’t they have just gaffer taped it up?

    1. Davexxx says:

      Not enough time to crash-test the gaffer tape ;-)

      1. Kris says:

        No need to go pass crash tests again so they could’ve? ;)

    2. Pat Guillon says:

      Gaffer tape is magical just ask the team at Mythbusters!

    3. Aaron95 says:

      Where do you think the extra 1kg came from?

    4. azac21 says:

      Good, sensible idea!

      I thik all teams will soon have a roll of graphene made graffer tape for quick fixes in the body work during races.

  6. Dan Orsino says:

    the banned ride height system and now an extra 1kg. Must add a fraction to ultimate speed of the car .. the fraction that makes a lot of difference where you end up

  7. goferet says:

    Good news for Lotus.

    We need to see the entire rat park on the grid & where this outfit slots in that melee, will it be inbetween Mercedes & Ferrari or behind those two.

    But one thing is for certain, Lotus are on the back foot and need to do lots of miles in Barcelona without looking at the stop watch just to make sure, this machine can cover race distances.

    But you know what, I have got this good feeling in the back of my head that this team will do good especially in the hands of the Iceman for not only did the Mclaren drivers say their pace was genuine but also Kimi has been the driver that has always been at the sharp end of things after a dominant season e.g. 2003 and 2005

    So Mr. Kimster is my dark horse this year

  8. Michael S says:

    Really hope this car can bring Lotus to 4th in the constructors this year… that would be huge for them moving forward

  9. Landon says:

    I hope caterham smokes them to be honest, after they threw the toys out of the pram last year.

    As far as I’m concerned, this team is still Renault.

    1. Simmo says:

      I agree. They are essentially the same people, so they are the same team.

  10. Rob Newman says:

    I want Kimi and Lotus to be at the front ahead of the Ferraris. They were doing well in Jerez so don’t expect them to be too far behind. The key is continuous development throughout the year. Otherwise they will end up where they left last year.

  11. tim says:

    I don’t think they’re on the back foot at all. They aren’t going to be challenging for wins right out of the box; they’re going to be in the chase pack. One or two races sorting things out isn’t a huge difference in that context. If they were Red Bull or McLaren, on the other hand …

  12. Kevin Green says:

    really hope they have got it right would be great to see 5 or 6 teams shuffling about on the podium this season :)

  13. Bollo says:

    One Kilo doesn’t sound like much but presumably its all right at the front of the car strengthening the weak points of the front suspension. More weight at either end of the car but (particularly the front) increases the polar moment of inertia and makes the turn in less positive. So in actual fact when they are working hard to save grams on cars – 1 kilo is really bad news despite the all up weight not changing.

    Any race engineers please comment if this is or is not the case.

    1. ajk says:

      I’m no race engineer so just guessing here. As far as I know cars are light enough so they tend to ballast the front in any case. They can offset the extra kilo to some extent. The extra kilo is quite up in location they would most likely never ballast though so it is not optimal but probably not catastrophic either.

      Allison revealed they are already building chassis 03 with new designs. My guess is 01 and 02 have been emergency patched and 03 will be rebuilt to new spec from scratch. 03 will probably be lighter and closer to original weigh-wise. I hope :) Some reports suggest 02 has already been sidelined as a ‘spare car’ but I guess they need to send it to Melbourne as time is running short.

    2. SteveH says:

      The front/rear weights are set by regulation and are the same for all cars, so this shouldn’t be an issue.

      1. Bollo says:

        I just checked the regs – see below,

        For 2012 and 2013 only, the weight applied on the front and rear wheels must not be less than 291kg and 342kg respectively at all times during the qualifying practice session.

        So it seems there is a bit of scope for some F – R tuning by weight adjustment which I would have thought was essential for optimizing the various different chassis’s.

  14. Allan says:

    Just get their drivers to loose another kilo of bodyweight….problem solved! LoL

    1. Hendo says:

      It’s not just a matter of losing a kilo – its where that kilo comes off. For instance if we chop his left foot off, that will upset the front/rear weight bias (a set parameter, which would need a corresponding adjustment at the rear) Ideally, to lower the CoG it would be best to remove the drivers brain but this may impair some motor functions.

      1. Grayzee (Australia) says:

        LOL!!!
        If the 1 kilo was removed from his bum, he could sit lower in the car……..

      2. Allan says:

        LoL…

    2. Elie says:

      Yeah if Kimi just “takes a s@it..” before the race -problem solved..LOL

  15. Kit says:

    With 01,02 and 03 chassis, which will eventually make it to the first race?

    Is 03, a post-02 with the wishbone problem ironed out?

  16. Adiel says:

    Good news from the Lotus team. Better 1 kilo then 5 kilos

  17. Andrew Kirk says:

    Hi James I have a question have Lotus signed up anyone in the techincal side of things for this season? It was an area that cost them dear last year with a promising car sliding down the field due to poor lack of development. I can’t help but feel that the drivers got the blame with Heidfeld getting the boot halfway in a clear example of this. Kimi is going to win in a tractor!

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