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Lotus victory a “relief” after a season of near misses says team boss Eric Boullier
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Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Nov 2012   |  8:15 am GMT  |  63 comments

Lotus team principal Eric Boullier revealed it was a “relief” to watch Kimi Raikkonen take the team’s first win of the season in Abu Dhabi and first for the squad from Enstone, formerly known as Renault, since Fernando Alonso took victory in the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix.

It was a victory which included a bit of good fortune as Lewis Hamilton’s retirement with a fuel pressure problem allowed Raikkonen to inherit the lead and one which rewarded them after a season of near misses.

The black and gold liveried team started the season on the back foot after missing the second test due to a problem with the front-suspension mounting, but the pure speed of the E20 – which looked like one of the grid’s strongest and most inventive cars – was clear.

Points finishes in each of the first three races was a solid start, but round four in Bahrain was the first race in which Lotus could have challenged for victory. But a disappointing qualifying, which proved to be the team’s Achilles heel for much of the season, proved their downfall.

Raikkonen spent much of the race hustling leader Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull, but couldn’t find a way past and ended up second ahead of team mate Romain Grosjean.

The Finn came close again in Spain, but an erroneous pit strategy put him out of the challenge and he finished third while in Canada, the pace of the Lotus was clear when Grosjean battled through the field to take a second. The Frenchman had rotten luck at the next race in Valencia when his alternator failed while he was battling with Fernando Alonso for the lead.

Struggles in qualifying hampered the team once again in Hungary with Raikkonen unable to pass Lewis Hamilton and settling for second ahead of Grosjean in the team’s second double podium finish of the season.

Lotus’s appeared to lose out in the development race as the season wore on, with their form tailing off in the second half of the season as they struggled to make their new double DRS work.

They bolted it on the car in practice in Germany and have since tested it on several occasions. However, they have yet to use the device in a grand prix with technical director James Allison saying recently that they are unlikely to do so before the end of the season.

“We’re not giving up on it because there is some goodness in there, but that really is tricky. Well, we found it so,” Allison said.
“We will bring it out to play at the young drivers’ test [which is taking place in Abu Dhabi this week] and hope to make some progress there.”

But the team’s new Coanda-effect exhausts, which were bolted on the car in Korea, have reignited their season and proved a success. The downward facing device makes use of the exhaust gases to boost the car’s aerodynamics.

That upgrade, coupled with a better qualifying and strong start from Raikkonen in Abu Dhabi, put the Enstone-based team in the position to contend for victory – something team boss Eric Boullier was pleased to have finally have achieved.

“When we you look back at the season we could say we were that close to do it, let’s do it next year,” he said. “I have to say it’s a good relief to say it’s done!”

And Boullier believes the team, which has limited resources compared to the big teams, can now start to compete for victory on a regular basis which will in turn help the outfit attract funding.

“It’s good to see that our car was matching the pace and being fastest on track, or nearly the fastest one,” said Boullier. “And it’s it good to see what we produce as a team. We can do it and we can compete with the big boys. That’s clearly a very good source of motivation and belief in the future.

“We have now shown the world we are serious, that we can deliver and so it should help with any commercial discussions. But to build a team, a winning team, we also need more experience and time because this team is new in a way, new with two new drivers.

“We have learned this year to work all together, with our drivers, and we’ve had our ups and downs. But we can see now Kimi is here for qualifying and the race, and as for Romain, we will see yet.

“We have been on an upward curve this year, but now there is extra belief and motivation in what we are doing and capable of doing.”


Grosjean’s future has yet to be decided and while the Frenchman has shown glimpses of good form this season, he has been otherwise erratic.

Raikkonen, for example, has scored points in 17 of the 18 races – including six podiums – this season. Grosjean, meanwhile, has been involved in seven first lap crashes – one of which saw him banned for a race – alongside his three podiums to cost the team a host of valuable points.

Should the team re-sign him for next season, they will need and expect him to keep his nose clean and deliver on a consistent basis like his team mate if they want to contend for both drivers’ and constructors’ titles.

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63 Comments
  1. David Goss says:

    Looking at the constructors standings, it seems Grosjeans antics have cost Lotus 3rd place ahead of McLaren which would have been a huge financial gain.

    Do you think Grosjean will be retained? And how much does Boullier being his manager factor in that? Who might they hire instead?

    1. KGBVD says:

      If the team were at Sauber’s level, I’d say he’d be retained without issue. But their problem with RG is the same as Ferrari’s with FM: at the sharp end of the grid, you need a fast AND reliable pair of hands.

      #2s like Webber and Button fit the bill, Grosjean and Massa don’t – despite brief flashes of brilliance. Ferrari has spent years paying for Massa’s under-performance; as likeable as Grosjean is, I hope the Enstone boys don’t do the same.

    2. Mark V says:

      Is there any chance Grosjean has not been announced as a driver because they’re waiting to see if Kubica can come back to F1? Kimi plus a healthy Kubica would be a fierce duo.

      1. Luke DLP says:

        Word from rallying is that RK is still yet to really show he’s recovered. The next few weeks of rallying will show that a little more.

    3. Tony says:

      Next years lotus will definetly be designed according to Kimi’s taste. This year no one has complained about lack of oversteering as much as Kimi. That could explain the qualifying underperformances. I think that grosjean’s faster qualification speed is because of Raikkonen’s underperforming and mistakes. But the raw performance speed when racing is from another world compared. Usually the guy qualifying faster is the faster guy also in racing situation average.
      McLaren understood Kimi’s taste for car handling and he was a sound qualifyer back then. Hope he finds that Q3 Mojo

      1. Toleman fan says:

        I think getting the steering right might make a bigger difference.

        James, any word on how the team is / plans to get the steering how Kimi likes it? Or do the reports after Monaco that he’d have to live with what they’d got apply for 2013 as well?

  2. Marc Aubry says:

    It was good to see Kimi/Lotus score a win. lets hope this is just a beginning and that they keep at the competitive end of the grid. To have 4 or 5 teams able to go for the win in any given race, can only be good for F1 and its fans. With regards to Grosjean, I hope he will keep his race seat next season for when he manages to stay out of trouble, you can see he is a capable racer. He has made some serious mistakes this season, so lets hope he has learn from them and that he comes back next year a more complete racer and an asset to Lotus. Marc

  3. Sanjog says:

    Reckon Lotus should look for Alguersari for next season .. The Pirelli testing stint and prior experience in F1 should mean that he’s on the pace straight away.. In my opinion, Romain’s had his opportunity and frankly although he’s very quick, he’s equally erratic and Lotus could have been challenging Mclaren with those extra points.. what do you think James.. Does Jaime stand a chance to land a lotus seat in 2013?

    1. Toleman fan says:

      Just re. that Pirelli thing – they tried that argument when they signed Heidfeld…

  4. goferet says:

    Good for Lotus, in that they were able to grab this win with both hands. It would have been a shame for them considering virtually all top & top midfield teams had been able to nail a win this season.

    Also it must have been a relief for Kimi for apart from Schumi (in a horrid car), all the world champions have managed to win a race = Reputation boost

    Hopefully this result will bring in the needed sponsors to enable the team fight more consistently for wins next year.

    And seeing next year, Lewis will be out of the running for pole, Ferrari not having the pace over one lap & the 2013 Mclaren drivers having off days, Lotus can slot nicely into the thick of it so I can easily see front row & second row grid slots from here onwards.

    Regards the Grosjean issue, if I were the team principal, I would swap him for Maldonado simply because Pastor has the X Factor i.e. aggression + speed + big stones and more importantly learns from his mistakes.

    P.s.

    Good omen for the team

    Lotus has won the championships (both of them) in it’s different disguises over the years

    First as the original Lotus then as Benetton then as Renualt.

    As Kimi would say… ”I will drink to that”

    1. Andrew says:

      Very good point on Maldonado. Him and Raikkonen would be the perfect mix and arguably the strongest driver line up of all the teams.

      1. Erik says:

        Yep, probably why Williams wanted Raikonen at the begging of the season too.

    2. Kimi4WDC says:

      Lotus got all the financial backing they need. As long as they are on the podium all the time. Univeler just needs to know that people who run the team are sharp enough and can get the results.

      It is a relief for Mr. Boulier, cause their recent performances would have made a dent in Sponsors view of the Teams ambitions.

  5. riku says:

    Kimi has actually scored 7 podiums this season, not 6.

    I think Lotus should keep Grosjean. He’s fast and if the car is good enough, he will deliver atleast multiple podiums like this season. He will be more consistent in the future but I doubt he’ll ever be as consitent as his team mate is.

    1. Mitchel says:

      Kimi to Red Bull seems like such a logical choice for 2014.

      He’s mates with Seb, so you’d think a 3 time WDC would have a bit of say in who his team mate is…..and I don’t think he’s headed to Ferrari either.

      1. Niner says:

        I don’t know that Kimi would be all that happy with the sponsor/team obligations that come with a top-three team. He’s back because he loves – and as he’s proved in Abu Dhabi – and is capable of racing at the very front of the grid. Whether that will remain enough motivation in another years’ time is anyone’s guess.

        I’d say if he’s resistant to the engineers interference in the car I can only image his resistance to sponsor and team interference outside it. The fact is he’s already been there, done that at McLaren and Ferrari. Red Bull remains a tantalizing option, but one I’m not sure I’d put money on.

    2. alam says:

      Grosjean’s mishaps have cost Lotus a 3rd place in constructors. He is going to be shown the door.

      Only reliable drivers with speed are Kovalinen or Maldonado ( with cash).

  6. Alexyoong says:

    Grosjean has promise, fast but erratic is far better than slow and steady. He is an excellent qualifier at the very least

  7. rey cruz says:

    the frenchman should be dump

  8. Pulkit Tripathi says:

    Dear James,

    Kimi is for sure signed for 2013 @ Lotus , but
    1.Is there any possibility that he will jump to RedBull or Ferrari in 2014?
    2. What is the difference between 2006 and 2013 for the enstone team

    1. Simmo says:

      I don’t personally dee him going back to Ferrari after they chose Fernando over him. Red Bull in 2014 – it would work, as he was with Red Bull rallying team!

  9. Irish con says:

    Romain has showed glimpses of great speed but u don’t think he has the spare capacity and spatial awareness to be a top line f1 driver. Lotus should pick up a safe pair of hands somewhere. Sutil perhaps.

    Also how worried should McLaren be about next year. The gap between button and Hamilton last weekend was scary. They have lost a special talent and Perez has alot of live up to and I don’t think he is good enough. Going up against a vettel/red bull pairing u need better than button and Perez unless ur car is half a second faster than everybody.

    1. Dave C says:

      The difference between Button and Hamilton is scary? Yes it is looking at the qualifying performances from Spa and Suzuka, both drivers circuits where Button is nearly a second quicker, and judging from the young driver test it seems Mclaren have the fastest car and have been like that more often than not this season, face it Hamilton and even Button are both overrated and are not in Vettel and Alonso’s league.

      1. Alex S says:

        The young drivers test only proved that the Mclaren was the fastest car at Yas Marina which in Lewis’s hands was true until his car failure in the race.

        Back on topic. I would like to see Grosjean have another year as he has impressed when he hasn’t been tripping over other people and the prospect of a full on Kimi title push next season would be delightful to watch!

  10. Bring Back Murray says:

    Can Raikonnen have a go at the WDC next season?

    Hamilton is obviously out of it. Ferrai is still hit and miss.

    Depends on how Red Bull start off I guess.

    He certainly has taken that team by the scruff of the neck this year.

    1. Beka says:

      Pat Fry was saying in an interview that their championship push this year is affecting the next year’s car badly already. So I am not sure Ferrari will be a championship winning car in 2013.
      Mercedes will focus on 2014 as there is no point for them to throw a lot of resources into the next years car. They will not be able to mount a real challenge and will waste resources anyway.
      Mclaren does not have particularly strong drivers. Perez did not do anything special speedwise, just tyre strategy and with Button – you are left guessing whether he will find a right “balance” or not before each weekend.
      Red Bull will be strong I guess as they have lineup consistency and an excellent base for next year.
      There is a good chance for Lotus to challenge for WDC next year if they have a good enough car

  11. Elie says:

    It’s really good to hear some relief in Eric Boulliers comments. I think he needs congratulating here in the way he has managed two disparate drivers and allowing Kimi his freedom- otherwise these kind or successes fall by the wayside.

    I would very much like to see the passive DDRS make progress this week in Abu Dhabi, if not in time for USA & Brazil, certainly to be workable by next year as many teams will have a similar system to improve their quali capabilities & top speed for 2013.

    1. Simmo says:

      DDRS is banned for next year :(

      1. Elie says:

        Not the passive DDRS- that’s still okay :). This is why Lotus chose this method . But obviously this is a little complicated to get working .

  12. T Nelan Esq says:

    Re sign Grosjean? Surely you mean “resign”???!
    I think he will be the most exciting driver on the grid next year, he makes the racing so exciting because you never know who he will collide with next or when he might trigger a safety car. Once upon a time Bernie suggested adding sprinklers to the tracks. No need to do that with Grosjean around!

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      I think Maldonado must be Grosjean’s biggest fan. Takes him out of the spot light a little!

      Actually, how many collisions has Grosean caused, and how many has Maldonado caused? Anybody got any stats to this effect?

      1. Simmo says:

        Maldonado has caused/had over well over 10 incidents at his blame this year. Grosjean has only had a few (compared to Maldonado), all at the start.

      2. Kimi4WDC says:

        I would love to see Maldonado as Kimi’s team-mater. Lotus F1, a No Bull*hit Team :)

  13. Jem says:

    I think they could do a lot worse that to get Paul di Resta in that second seat.

  14. F12012 says:

    Looked like it was never going to happen, glad they got the victory, kimi showed his class

  15. Jason Norwood says:

    I no this a little bit off topic, but the other night I woke up in the middle of my sleep with an idea about DRS. Why doesn’t the system work the other way round? Surely it would be better that the car behind gets more wing angle in the tight twisty area of the track when it is harder to stay closer to the car in front? The drivers always say that they get so close to the car then loose all the advantage they gained because they cant follow the car in front due to the loss of down force. If the car were to get more wing in the corners then they will be stay closer to the car after the corner and be able to attack more under braking. Not just breeze past before the cars make the corner like most of the DRS passes are like now, which although helps the cars get past one another, is rather uneventful for the fans and the driver that is being passed can do very little about stopping the pass.

    1. Simmo says:

      THAT IS A FANTASTIC IDEA!! Your opinion James?!

    2. Aaron says:

      I would imagine that it would have to operate on both the front and rear wings, otherwise it would unbalance the car and the front end would slide all over the place.

  16. SuperSi says:

    I think that it is in Lotus’ interest to re-sign Grosjean, he has exceptional speed, all he needs now is some experience(which is hard to get with no testing). Whats the point in signing a new rookie when you can just keep the one you have and know he has at least some experience now and can build on that. I think Grosjean is deffinetly a better quality driver than the likes of Perez. Grosjean’s just had some rotten luck this year.

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      To many people keep on getting in his way!

  17. manu says:

    Bahrain – The team ask kimi to abandone Q3, not that he screw up quali. The team screw kimi up in strategy by making kimi stuck behind romain despite running diff strategy. And inability to perform undercut in pit stop + slow pit stop

    Hungary – Kers issues for kimi

    1. manu says:

      The team needs to improve their pit stops and strategy. Kimi nearly lose his lead in abu dhabi when the team perform 3.6s pit stop.

    2. alam says:

      Eric Boullier cost Lotus as he Let Grojean spoil Kimi’s races. He’s fast but keeps crashing. Best he drives for caterham/force India and get more experience.

  18. Robin says:

    James, Is this a “Lotus” victory offcially or a “Team Enstone” victory? Wil the official hisotry books add it to Lotus’s number?

    1. John says:

      +1…no connection to Team Lotus whatsoever…so confusing :(

    2. Patrick says:

      Or is it the first win for Toleman the original incarnation. :) The Enstone team have had greatliveries so they look great when they do win.

  19. Sufyaan Patel says:

    Makes me wonder, how would there season have went if the FIA didnt go back on that decision with Lotus’ clever suspension idea. One answer we will never know I guess.

    Either way, I dont think many expected Kimi to be 3rd in the standings, 18 races into the season. He’s done an absolutely brilliant job and the driver of the season is a close call between him and Alonso for me.

    James, do you think the Enstone team can come up with a good car next year too? Also, will Pat Symonds be returning? I also heard a rumour recently about them losing a key aero guy to Mercedes. Any truth in this?

  20. jayteeniftb says:

    team needs to improve its strategy and be aggressive rather than defensive.

    bahrain – missed undercut on vettel
    spain – wrong tyres in middle stint
    britain – missed undercut on sch train
    india – could have gone for undercut 2 laps earlier like button

  21. Alex says:

    I like Grosjean. I think he shows some great potential but comes off as too desperate to do well and makes a mockery of himself in the process. Having said that, WHY OH WHY DID KUBICA HAVE TO WRECK HIS HAND!?!?!? Honestly, Kubica’s story is probably the most depressing F1 story of the last ten years. I hope if Kubica never makes it back to the sport he is remembered in the same way as the likes of Pironi and Villeneuve are because he truly was destined for greatness.

    1. tarun says:

      kimi and kubica together would have made a great team! no bs just fast driving.
      sad we missed that

    2. Peter C says:

      Kubica is doing two rallies soon to see how things go.

  22. Michael says:

    It was great to watch Lotus win in Abu Dhabi. While some make the argument that it is not “really” Lotus, there is at least a connection with the car company. (Of course Mercedes isn’t really the old Mercedes team either but the evolution from the much missed Tyrrell team.)

    Anyway I am happy to see the Lotus name back and winning in F1 and I will be cheering them on from Turn 5 in Austin.

  23. Stewart says:

    I’ve been wondering about the Grosjean situation because he looked rather hang-dog all weekend. He’s certainly fast on his day, but the accidents are really mounting up. I’m not sure whether he gets a rush of blood to the head and panics (which can be sorted out – Maldonado seems more under control these days) or whether he is unable to process all the information he gets at the start of a race/in close combat and makes bad decisions. If it’s the latter, then it’s hard to see him ever making it.
    From the team’s point of view, I think he does bring some money, but against that, his repair bill must be enormous, and while I think the difference between 5th (last year) and 4th in the WCC is a reasonable amount of prize money, it pales in comparison to the difference between 5th and 3rd. If he had managed to finish more races, Lotus would almost certainly have got the 30 points they need to overhaul Maclaren, and get the extra money.
    If the rumours about Enstone getting a huge new sponsor to be unveiled before Austin are true, I could see them going for a steadier driver to act as a number 2 for Kimi, and aiming at a real challenge for next year’s title.

    1. John says:

      Only hope for Grosjean is the old cliche “You can make a fast driver neater but not a neat driver faster…” Maybe he cleans up well…

  24. Austin Bill says:

    Grosjean has been fast but erratic this season but I also think that there has been some “piling on” so to speak. While he definitely has caused some accidents several were not his fault. As far as resigning him is concerned, I think EB (his manager) would have done so by now except they might be looking for a pay driver to firm up the bottom line. This makes the most sense as to the delay. Anyone coming to Austin? I have seats in turn 5.

    1. David H says:

      Bill, do you mean you have extra tickets to sell?

      1. Austin Bill says:

        David, I actually meant my seats are in turn 5 but I may have two tickets for sale depending on some friends and if they can make it. If they cancel out I would sell them at face value.

      2. David H says:

        Thanks for responding. Am in Denver, didn’t book a motel before costs escalated, was going to pass due to total cost but as the time approaches with the championship in the balance, am feeling a tug… Anyway, I expect word-of-mouth amongst friends would want your tickets but if not I’d appreciate knowing, though it’d only be for one of the seats. Email: hootowl002@gmail.com

  25. Jimbo says:

    I think Lotus will retain Grosjean for another season, despite his inconsistent form. He has shown tremendous speed this year, something you can’t always teach a driver. But unquestionably his racecraft leaves a lot of room for improvement.

    Since Suzuka, his confidence has clearly taken a battering. He looked more assured in the first half of the season, troubling Kimi often. Lately he’s become more contained and not able to express himself in the manner he was before, due to the fear of making more mistakes.

    I think he just needs the season to come to an end. Relax and reflect during the Winter months, come back refreshed. Hopefully learnt from his mistakes and start the next season with a clearer mindset along with a full seasons experience behind him. Still capable of becoming a very good driver if he’s given the time to grow.

    If for whatever reason, he was not retained, why not give Kovalainen a shot? Would make for a very solid number 2 alongside his countryman, at a team he knows well from his Renault days.

  26. 2 bites at the F1 cherry for Romain – he will be very lucky if he gets another one

    Total sponsorship is key – also the fact we might have a French GP next year to replace New York could help

  27. McHarg123 says:

    Kimi’s win just shows you how much of a genuine champion he is. A two year break, decides he wants to race again in F1, picks up a lousy 6 podiums and a win,decent chance of winning in Bahrain and Hungary. To do that is just astonishing. Honestly, he deserves to have more than 1 championship.
    KIMI you are a legend!!

    Another Thing
    Lotus have to be a genuine threat to the Championship next year. More money in the bank with 4th. Looking forward to seeing the Enstone team back at the top.

  28. Tom Taylor says:

    Hi James. I know you won’t post this but I just want you to correct the bit where you say Kimi has 6 podiums – it is actually 7 although admittedly the one in Germany he got after the podium ceremony. Also, Grosjean retired in Valencia when he was fighting Vettel for the lead. Previously I told you that Jenson Button had extra podiums but you didn’t post my comment or correct your fairly big mistake. Please change it.

  29. Miha Bevc says:

    Is this first win of new Lotus F1 team or this 80th win for Team Lotus? What will history say?

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