A return to winning ways?
Marina Bay 2014
Singapore Grand Prix
Allison believes Lotus has genuine pace and will continue to challenge at the front
Scuderia Ferrari
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Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Apr 2013   |  11:31 pm GMT  |  102 comments

Lotus technical director James Allison believes the team’s car has genuine pace in the dry and will continue to race at the front of the field in the upcoming races.

Kimi Raikkonen produced a scintillating drive to take victory, his second for the team, in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Raikkonen was seventh last time out in the rain-hit Malaysian Grand Prix, one place behind team-mate Romain Grosjean, but Allison told the latest edition of the JA on F1 podcast that the car still showed front-running pace in dry conditions.

“We didn’t have a great race at Sepang but the damage was done in the first seven laps when were half a minute down,” said Allison. “If you look at Romain, who had a fine drive, he was 26 seconds down after seven laps and 35 down at end of race using a strategy that probably cost us seven seconds overall.

“So he only really lost two or three second to [race winner Sebastian] Vettel over the dry portion of race. The pace of car in the dry was good in Sepang and Australia, the tyre temperatures and wear was strong in both races, and I think we will go on to have strong races in China and Bahrain.”

Although Lotus don’t have the same size of budget as the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren, Allison remains unfazed.

“The biggest and hardest thing to do is get the car to first race,” he said. “That’s the really difficult cash period for a team – and we’ve done that. The subsequent making the car quicker part is considerably cheaper so we should be able to do that.”

And Allison believes the team have a strong understanding of what they need to do to make their car even quicker.

“There is a significant opportunity to improve this car,” said Allison. “It’s not proving difficult to find performance in the windtunnel.

“There is raft of mechanical changes that we think we can bring to it to make it quicker and I’m confident we’ve got engineering skills to make it quicker. We just want to make sure that what we’re bringing is more than everyone else.”

Raikkonen, who won the world title with Ferrari in 2007, said that he is enjoying life back in F1 with Lotus having returned last year after spending two years in rallying.

“I had a good time with Lotus and still have good time with them,” said the Finn who lies second in the drivers’ championship. “It’s a pretty relaxed team, a bit more open I would say, not so much politics.

“Everybody enjoys working there – we don’t have the resources of the big teams but we still manage to do a good job with what we have.”

To listen to the full interview with James Allison and Kimi Raikkonen, plus interviews with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa and a progress report from former Williams chief enegineer Mark Gillan, make sure you listen to the April edition of the JA on F1 podcast available to download directly here.

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102 Comments
  1. Mike from Colombia says:

    Any comments on the reports that the FIA has supposedly ruled that the Red Bull, Lotus and Mercedes splitters are “too flexible” and that changes have to be made for China.

    What kind of effect is this likely have?

      1. Hendo says:

        Maybe this has come to notice because of the sparks flying from under the cars at Melbourne & Sepang (especially the Lotuses). It’s just like the good old days!

  2. DC says:

    Would anyone mind explaining what the bulbous pieces either side of the airbox are? They look rather un-aerodynamic, so presumably do something good!

    1. AuraF1 says:

      You probably have 10 replies to this but they would be the air inlets for ‘The Device’ or the wing stalling system lotus have been working on since last year – the passive DRS effectively.

    2. matthew cheshire says:

      Don’t forget those areas are behind the front tyres so they don’t meet clean air like the front and rear wings. They may be pushing the turbulent or low pressure (drag) air down and to the sides, away from the rear wing and the coanda exhaust outlets.

      This is an area where cars were not optimised last year because the coanda exhausts appeared mid-season.

      If it isn’t for the exhausts then they are probably just fixing the airflow to the “coke bottle”.

    3. Nigel says:

      Covers which blank off the intakes for the passive DRS.
      The intakes are probably part of the crash structure, which is why they aren’t just removed while Lotus aren’t running the system.

  3. goferet says:

    Right, according to James Allison the Lotus car is allergic to wet surfaces
    as shown by the wet qualifying of Australia and Malaysia 2013 but anything to do with dry surfaces (irrespective of whether it’s hot or cold) then the Lotus will be a major player.

    Yes, this is a massive ace card to have up one’s sleeve for as it usually plays out, we tend to have more dry races than wet ones in a season so I think Lotus are looking pretty at the moment.

    Also comforting for the Lotus fans is that the team isn’t worried about development, for apparently, trying to develop a car during a season is much cheaper than we all thought >>> which fact puts a lot of small budget teams under a heavy cloud of question marks >>> perhaps it’s all boils down to the intellectual ability of the staff and not necessarily the cheque book e.g. Toyota.

    As for Kimi, good to see him enjoying his racing and his team as shown by the fact he has of late become pretty friendly with the media and although he might have lost a bit of his raw pace especially during qualifying, the thing that is impressive about the new Kimi is his new ability to score points no matter the circumstances.

    Yes gone are the days when it was either win or crash/engine blow for the Iceman, these days, it’s all about quietly bagging those points if you happen to have a difficult race such as the one in Malaysia.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      Development is not cheap – Lotus still have an immense budget compared to most teams – they are spending less than the big four no doubt. I think the plan however is to front load their spend into a well designed mechanical car – they can then limit the spend to aero bolt ons. As we’ve seen so far with the Pirelli a car with supreme downforce like the red bull may actually be too hard on its tyres – so this year might bizarrely favour a brilliant mechanical base and slightly less aero genius.

      And it is funny to hear Kimi so positive. I imagine when the iceman says ‘yes you are okay’ he practically wants to marry you and have your babies…

      1. Lee says:

        Maybe the development itself isn’t (relatively) too expensive, but the salaries for good brainpower are?

      2. AuraF1 says:

        It certainly is for Newey who gets paid more than any driver it seems. But even Ferrari have mentioned the cost of aero development. If lotus does prevail with their lower yearly budget it will upset a lot of preconceived notions about F1.

      3. Darth Vader says:

        Sorry, what?!?

        Do you know the hourly cost of running one of those windtunnels?!?

    2. Chromatic says:

      “new” ability to score points??

    3. Hendo says:

      I think what he’s saying is “it’s cheaper to build are car that’s ok at the start and make gradual improvements than to build a dog (read McLaren) and have to spend a truckload playing catch-up”.
      Trouble is you don’t know how your car compares until you get to the 1st GP because Red Bull are always sandbagging.

    4. Baghetti says:

      I’d be somewhat careful with Alison’s self-confidence. I think it is in the same interview that he is saying that any comment by any F1 team is always subjective in the sense that these comments are always intended to serve another purpose in the interest of the team. So maybe Alison is just looking for some more (smaller) sponsors, hence the good news show and the ‘we know how to make the care even better’ and ‘it really isn’t that expensive’ lines. What else is needed to attract the attention of someone with a little money on his hands that wants to link himself with a winning F1 team?

    5. Kidza says:

      Having a car that is is “allergic to wet surfaces” but “quick in the dry” is no “massive ace card to have up one’s sleeve” if other cars are quick in both dry and wet conditons. It is Red Bull, and especially Mercedes who have a massive ACE card because their cars are quick in all conditions, on all tyres and with reasonable tyre wear.

    6. Paige says:

      Actually, I think Kimi has always been one of the better drivers when it comes to pace consistency over a race, driving in a very tire and car conscious manner, etc.. The thing he has perhaps lost was his ability like in 2003-2005 to pull absolutely hellish laps out of a car in qualifying. But he makes up for it now with his very rational, calculated driving style, and while guys like Button are praised for their tire-friendly style, I think Raikkonen is the guy who has always deserved the most credit of anyone on this front.

      I’ve always thought that Raikkonen was the best of his generation. The problem for him has always been motivation. He now seems motivated, he’s cleaned himself up some, and he’s driving as well as he ever has- even in the days when he had more dominant cars. I think he’s the championship favorite right now.

  4. mhilgtx says:

    To Kimi’s point of being more relaxed than at say Ferrari, that is one advantage Lotus has. Being a “smaller” team it makes sense they don’t have as much politics. I would assume that at some point the larger the team the more difficult it is to be nimble. Some of you veteran’s can help me out with that.

    Since we don’t really know how much faster RBR could go, and we know that Merc can be much faster and Ferrari didn’t have Alonso I wonder how easy it is to say where Lotus could have finished if not for the wet conditions.

    I of course want Vettel to win his 4th in row. After that though this looks like a great year. My only misgiving is the team I knew of besides Ferrari before is Williams and they look to have some serious issues for some reason.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      Kimi probably is more relaxed than he was at Ferrari, they have probably the biggest pressure on any team worldwide.
      But even at Ferrari, he was happier than he had been at Mclaren. It’s been reported many times that Mclarens ethics and moral codes are hyper restrictive.
      That’s one of the main reasons Lewis moved away from them, all the sponsor duties they have to fulfill.

  5. Elie says:

    Many thanks James, any update on Lotus plans to run / not the passive DRS ? . It would be fantastic if they could utilise it in places like Monza, Suzuka later in the year. Also very interested to know if it was just a set up change that cost Lotus the speed between Friday and Saturday at Sepang. Im presuming they went for a compromise for partial wet race ( as it turned out) and the car did not respond as well – & that the tiny piece of front wing that came off Kimis car at the start tussling with Hulkenberg did not help either.

    1. Val from montreal says:

      Elie , If Red Bull and Vettel loses in 2013, I wish they lose out to Raikkonen … He deserves ALOT more than only 1 championship ! 2005 was in reality HIS title but only lost out because of McLaren’s reliability and some very bad luck … Plus he got shafted by Montezemelo for no good reason … There’s a whole back-story of what really went on behind-the-scenes while he was there at Ferrari but that’s for another time … After MSC , KR was the fastest driver on the grid , no doupt in my mind …. He’s not into politics or a glamorous life-style like Hamilton or Alonso ..He just drives the car and lets his speed to the talking … Him and Vettel are the fastest drivers in F1 !

      1. Elie says:

        Hi Val,”your preaching to the converted”. What about 2003 he was a definite contender when his Merc powered Mclaren failed a few times whilst he was leading a GP. Don’t worry I spend alot of time on here ( in case you hadnt noticed) telling people about the lies and politics at Ferrari that quite possibly cost him a chance at another title. He is a very rare talent -definitely an equal of a triple WC. You just have to watch some YouTube clips to understand why. I’ve never once doubted the guy and I can’t tell you how over-joyed I was to watch a Melb GP live this year for the first time since 98 and to be rewarded like that amongst the sea of Red Bull and Ferrari fans- it was beautiful ! I was jumping up & down like a kid amongst 100 or so people who were quite baffled.

        I’m not sure Lotus can develop the E21 as much as the top3 ( make it 4 with Merc upping the ante) at the back end of the year. But if they do this is the best year for it because the base car right now is great. Oh well can only hope they win 3 or 4 in the first half before Mclaren and Red Bull find something.! I tip my hat to you sir-James Allison- been big fan of his for the last few years- I hope they don’t loose him to the big teams just yet , but understand if he gets an offer.

      2. Joel says:

        No Team Principle would hire a top driver only to shaft him (same goes to Alonso’s stint at McLaren). You and I don’t know exactly what went behind closed doors @ Ferrari, sans roumors. I’m not partial here – because I used to root for Kimi when he was driving that fragile McLaren (and so was Mika H).
        But, the fact is Kimi left F1 for “MONEY”. He could have easily foregone that money and moved to a lesser team, if he wanted. But, he din’t. I’m not against drivers looking out for themselves. But, to claim Kimi is a saint and he deserves WDC more than others, even before the season solidly commences is premature.
        Kimi deserves it as much as many other drivers (some driving a dog of a car at the backend of the field). However, we’ll see what happens as the season progresses.

      3. Elie says:

        “No Team Principle would hire a top driver only to shaft him”- Uhmm..1. If you don’t get along and the driver is not a yes man well you certainly would find some options !!. 2. If a Sponsor comes with millions of dollars conditional upon signing another driver 3. If you want to reach a particular audience by having Spanish speaking drivers.
        4. If there’s no drive for you in a top team -Do you become a pay driver or do you take $54m and a sabbatical
        You must seriously ask yourself why would Ferrari have paid that sought of money without having a “bigger agenda”
        5. Yes “everyone deserves to win”. But if you were leading championships or a contender for a few years and missed out due to mechanical failures. Many would ( and still) say Kimi I very deserving.
        6.who on earth would ever suggest Kimi is a saint.!!The reason we like him is cause he’s not. But one thing he is and others aren’t is an honest non political racer- that just doesn’t “fit the current crop of f1 driver moulds”.He is very much unique.

        No one knows what happens exactly behind closed doors but if you understand people and read dozens of articles – truth and lies – you can begin to piece together the puzzle.
        Kimis instantaneous performance and motivation at Lotus also highlights the fact that it was more team and management at Ferrari than his “motivation”.

  6. DK says:

    I sure hope that Allison’s confidence will be realised through the season, but the development arm race from other top teams will be difficult to match in terms of hard cash.

    For the moment, even Force India’s car is very quick. If It is a dry race in China, I think we see clearer what the pecking order is on the grid.

    If Lotus can keep up with others and I am sure Kimi can challenge for another WDC to his name.

    The question is, how long will James Allison stay with the Enstone team?

    1. Bim says:

      Question is when will Merc buy him out??

      1. AuraF1 says:

        Ha ha – I imagine there is a row of offices at Mercedes marked ‘chief top most brilliant car designer’ and only one or two highly stressed staff working for all these chiefs…

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        It would seem that Mercedes strategy is to leave no designer at any other team, hence winning by default..

      3. KRB says:

        Quite brilliant in its simplicity, you must admit.

    2. Joel says:

      I have a feeling he will move to McLaren. Allison’s boss made a comment along the lines of “Allison ain’t the only one doing design work at Lotus”.
      Although true, usually, these are the first signs of cracks.

  7. 2o2y says:

    Has anybody else noticed from the image of the Lotus it looks like it has a giant pumpkin above the driver’s head? Not aerodynamic at all!

    1. Matthew Cheshire says:

      Good point. Other photos of the cars show the extra bulbous sides are intakes that are blanked off in James’ photo here. They look to channel air straight down to the diffuser. Odd that it’s blanked off here unless they are testing it.

      They could be cooling the Kers battery/capacitor and then exiting the warmed air to the diffuser.

      A bit of genius using hot air from the battery instead of the exhaust? No regs on that!

      1. Sujith Radhakrishnan says:

        It surely has something to do with the so called DRS Device. I saw the same on Kimi’s car last year in Budapest, when they did a lot of testing for the same on Friday. But yeah, back then it was not that prominent because the livery was a bit different and that area was black.

  8. BigHaydo says:

    James, I only ask because the photo here shows it clearly: what is with the bulbous roll-hoop on the Lotus? I would have thought that they would prefer to streamline it to maximise the rear wing!

    1. pm says:

      I’m sure allison and his designers know what they are doing

  9. Sri says:

    If they had quali on Friday in Sepang, Kimi could have been on pole and from there a race win was very likely. FP3 was terrible and something got changed in the car. Everyone progressed ahead and Kimi went backward. And wet conditions in quali just added more misery. Then the penalty. And then a bad start losing three places. From 13th in the beginning to get to 7th is good, but it could have all gone better. Let us see how they perform in China and Bahrain. If they don’t finish in top-3 in at least one, then Kimi and Lotus’ hopes of WDC will dwindle a lot. Vettel and RedBull will be un-catchable in the latter part of the season as surely they will pull themselves away from the crowd.

    1. Chromatic says:

      Not so much a bad start, as the car just too slow, as if the exhaust had a hole in it! I read somewhere that set up changes for fp3 meant a big loss of downforce

      1. Steven says:

        I think you’re confused as to what the “airbox” is…

  10. Scuderia McLaren says:

    I hope Raikkonem and Lotus do well this year. I called a Kimi WDC late last year, mainly as a joke, but I am sticking to it now. They are the only driver / team package I can wholly support nowadays.

    I find myself in an odd position as an F1 fan lately. I find myself unable to really root and yell support for anyone or any team nowadays and so i just enjoy the spectacle.

    I love Ferrari. Truly supported them for years. But am a bit put off by Alonso. I can’t seem to support them with him driving. He seems manipulative and political and concerned with being seen as a Jedi Warrior or Samurai or somesuch. I can not believe he didn’t at least know about Singapore 2008.

    I dislike RBR. Their culture, their style, their management, their product. Marko is strange at best. Can’t stand whinging Webber but seem to admire Vettel. Mainly because he regularly puts manners on Webber. And admire Newey, so kind of enjoy watching history in the making.

    I really admire McLaren. Their heritage and the winning on their terms attitude (even if it costs them sometimes). They seem honourable. Despite my love for Ferrari, McLaren to me are how and F1 team should operate. But I can’t muster any excitement for Button or Perez and they have a serious weakness in their line-up now.

    Mercedes, well that team seems a bit melancholy and unsure of if it is a works Mercedes effort or not. Respect Hamilton’s mega talent, but not his persona.I respect his drives but he is too up and down form wise. I guess in a similar way to Vettel/Webber, It was nice watching him put manners on Alonso as a rookie in 2007.

    If I like the team, I don’t like the star driver. If I like the star driver, I don’t like the team. Maybe I am a bitter old prick but I seem to have more drivers that I DON’T want to win than driver I do want to win.

    Anyway, Kimi and Lotus 4 WDC. That’ll do I guess. ;)
    Kimi, please don’t go to the caffeine crew!

    1. F*ckYeah says:

      How on earth could Alonso NOT have known about Singapore 2008 ?

      When you have a fast race car, but poor quali, the only way forward is to stay out long to leapfrog the early stoppers.

      Alonso did not, he just pitted bizarrely early, all on his own, then the very next lap… “purely by chance” his teammate stuck it in the wall.

      Given Alonso’s close attention to fuel loads and strategy, it is utterly impossible that he was not totally aware [mod]

      1. [kame] says:

        +1 Completely Agree

      2. Mingojo says:

        It’s pretty silly to try to blame Alonso when the main people involved have said several times that Fernando did not know about it. Nelson Piquet Jnr, Pat Symmonds and Flavio Briattore all stated that Fernando didn’t know about this incident. Even Max Mosley, FIA president at the time, has said several times that Fernando didn’t know anything. To say otherwise is libellous. Move on!

      3. Scuderia McLaren says:

        Sorry Fernando – lol

      4. Elie says:

        So everyone in the team bar poor Fernando knew about it.. And you believe the people who decided to put the car into the wall in the first place is that right ?? .. Honestly some people here…he must have known something was going down when he was told to pit early..ok they would not have said ” we are going to put piquet into the wall” but I don’t think he would have been at all surprised when it happened and indeed his expressions at the time did not circumvent this.

      5. Mitori says:

        There are historical racing sites where you can talk about these things.

      6. Chris says:

        Suppose he didn’t know about blackmailing McLaren – on a side note – isn’t that illegal? I guess he was also really surprised to hear Massa’s FIA seal was broken in Texas.

        Don’t hate it him for it though, as Brad said in Moneyball, I hate loosing more than I wanna win, and that’s Alonso, what ever it takes, and that’s why he’s the best out there (and I honestly mean that)

      7. Scuderia McLaren says:

        Well we like to talk about them here also.

        Fernando – Singapore 2008
        Fernando – Singapore 2008
        Fernando – Singapore 2008

        “Uh uh. Oh no he didn’t…”

    2. Charlie says:

      Great comment. Says it all.

    3. Random 79 says:

      I can understand that a bit.

      I still cheer on Webber – and there is still several teams I would like to see do better – but mostly I just like to sit and watch, and whoever wins, wins.

      I’m not too bitter, and I’m getting older, so for now one out of three isn’t bad… ;)

    4. Chromatic says:

      I think what you say goes for a lot of fans, but I would just differ slightly only on your view of Alonso.
      I’m going the other way and starting to like the chap more because of his tremendous ability on the track, not his personality so much.

      1. Scuderia McLaren says:

        Oh his on track ability is amazing, of that there is no doubt.

    5. W Johnson says:

      +1

    6. Quade says:

      Oops! That would be “Mica” with a K.

    7. Miha Bevc says:

      You explained your nickname perfectly :)
      And I share most of your thoughts.

    8. matthew says:

      i thought lewis was very consistent last season.
      it was car reliability and mistakes by the team that cost him.
      alonso and lewis were my top 2 drivers last season.

    9. DC says:

      What an excellent post – sums up my relationship with F1 exactly too!

    10. Mingojo says:

      I don’t think you’re very accurate with your analysis. You think you know about driver skills and their personalities, but you don’t have a strong ground to talk about them. In fact, you’re quite despective about drivers you don’t like.

      1. Scuderia McLaren says:

        Hi Mingojo. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I prefer to comment on F1, not other posters personally as you have done.

        It seems almost all others have found some value in my post as you can see above. Thanks to all by the way.

        Not sure what “despective” is but I will take it as deceptive, though could be disrespect perhaps? Anyway did you read my post? I am hiding nothing at all. I have said who I like and why and who I don’t and why. Same for the teams. I was very open and honest I feel. The opposite to deceptive.

        As for having a strong ground to talk about the drivers, this is a place where fans can talk and discuss. Is there any more prerequisites I need to give a comment on an F1 blog? Do you know me? No. You don’t know what I may know.

        Clearly I struck a chord in relation to Alonso judging from your other protests to my post. All I can say is it is clear in other comments posted here and on other articles in JAonF1 that many agree. Singapore is a stain he will carry for ever, proven or otherwise.

      2. Mingojo says:

        Please, if you have any new evidence about Singapore 2008, contact FIA and publish it. Otherwise, just accept you’re being defamatory about a driver you don’t like. I said above what the main characters and the official investigation about Singapore 2008 said at the time. However, you ignore it because doesn’t suit you.

    11. Sebee says:

      Scuderia,

      I think you are just getting older. And like Neo in the Matrix you now see.

      This is why 18-30 demographic is so important to advertisers, and to F1. Eventualy, we get older and we feel a bit disconnected or don’t get as wrapped up in it. I find that for me it comes in waves. I care, then I don’t.

      Imagine how Bernie feels after all these years.

      I pointed out as well that as you get older you have a much harder time relating to these guys. And as they get younger and younger, it gets harder and harder. There is one heck of a discussion to be had on age of audience, relating to drivers, driver-fan connection, retaining an audience.

      1. Sebee says:

        Now that I mention it, I wonder what that data is.

        I wonder what the viewership is in terms of age and income demographics. I bet you it’s mostly young people watching F1, yet very few are Ferrari or McLaren customers. Those customers don’t really care that much or know that much about F1 I bet. They probably know more about banking, investing, off-shore, etc.

      2. Scuderia McLaren says:

        Yeah Sebee, I think you might be right.

    12. Sebee says:

      Scuderia,

      I looked for some data, and only Bernie and 007 seem to have it. Clearly the BI about F1 is a guarded secret and no one can brake it down in detail. There are UK figures showing big drops since SKY, but no breakdown by age or income or country – which would clearly be most interesting. I would be intered in figures from 10 countries myself as a sampler. US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Brazil, Australia for example.

      I imagine that there is only one reason why such figures would be that closely guarded by FOM and broadcasting partners. [mod]

      1. Scuderia McLaren says:

        Interesting Sebee.

        Yes it would most enlightening to see that data on the countries you mention.

        Though tbh it doesn’t surprise me that it’s not publicly available in the detail you mention.

        Perhaps in the F1 prospectus if it floats?

  11. Irish con says:

    I think lotus ran without enough rear wing in sepang. They were very fast in a straight line but u could see Perez pulling away from kimi in the traction zones and also kimi running off the track a few times and also in the wet they were very slow. I still think in a normal dry weekend kimi would have won that race with Fernando challenging the bulls for the last 2 steps of the podium just from judging from Friday practice and also red bull admitting winning was a surprise to them. Kimi isn’t quite as fast over 1 lap as he was In his mclaren days but I think his race craft and experience makes him a better Sunday driver now.

  12. Fazly says:

    Good to see lotus fight with RBR, SF and McLaren…

  13. Scuderia McLaren says:

    Tech Question:

    Does anyone know why the Lotus has a buldge either side of the air intake above the drivers head?

    It is very clear in the photo provided in the article above. It is also quite prevelant on side view photo’s.

    Any tech links would be appreciated. Cant find any information on it, and to me it is quite an unusual development in that it has definite seams (seems like a seperate part) and is not moulded to the actual air intake.

    1. AuraF1 says:

      That’s the passive DRS inlets.

    2. Brad says:

      “Does anyone know why the Lotus has a buldge either side of the air intake above the drivers head?”
      Look very “aero-unfriendly” to say the least…

    3. Elie says:

      It is a passive DRS system air intake.Underneath those side inlets are slots that direct air to a tube that blows on the rear beam wing once a certain speed is achieved it opens/closes via a fluidic switch.

      It’s currently not active ( closed) because it is technically complex for the switching to work reliably without upsetting the car balance in the braking zones. But is obviously a work in progress and too cumbersome to instal/ remove each race.

      1. Scuderia McLaren says:

        Thanks Elie. Great explanation.

  14. Kimi seemed to be pushing very hard at certain times during Malaysia (I think he went off twice in the same area) which suggested to me he was not 100% happy with the car

    1. Elie says:

      He lost a bit if his front wing at the start (on Hulks Sauber) / that didn’t help either – but the iceman said he struggled with the set up change they made for quali and the race,

  15. Candice says:

    thats the thing to build the car around the tyres……you ended up sacrifising qualifying pace and wet pace.

    your car become selective to condition rather that versatile and more robust.

    1. Random 79 says:

      The cars have always been selective to condition, but if anything they’re less so these days.

      Back in the day if the teams knew it was going to be a wet race they’d run a completely different set-up on the car, whereas nowadays there only minimal changes.

      The most significant change is probably just fitting the wet tyres themselves, which makes the ride height of the cars 5mm (I think) higher.

  16. Random 79 says:

    Several of you have asked about the bulges on the side of the air box. I did a little digging and found this:

    http://www.f1technical.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=410061&f=12

    Not sure if it’s 100% trustworthy, but it is interesting…

    Oh – and for those who are interested, by accident I found a hi-res image of Kimi’s steering wheel:

    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/e21-steering-wheel.jpg

    Still funny :)

    1. radohc says:

      rofl, thanks for that steering wheel!!!

      “open gate”, “smile”

      these really made me laugh :D

    2. Scuderia McLaren says:

      Thanks heaps!!!

  17. Simon Haynes says:

    It’s early days yet, but how long before Lotus offer Webber a drive for 2014/2015?

    1. MelB says:

      Why should they?

    2. Miha Bevc says:

      … and RedBull offer Kimi a drive…

      1. Miha Bevc says:

        Seb & Kimi, my two favorite drivers :)

      2. Stephen Taylor says:

        Kimi should not touch Red Bull with a barge pole. Why risk a good off track relationship by falling out after being teammates? They cannot be in the same team for the same reason Hakkinen and Schumacher could not be teammates – they are both Number 1s.

      3. Stephen Taylor says:

        Why on earth would the iceman go in that mad house?

      4. Robert says:

        And who will, most likely, be smart enough to turn it down. RB want WDCs, and in this environment of near parity you can’t have your drivers splitting the wins. That means that one driver will always be favoured, and THAT as we know means Vettel. Kimi is smart enough to do the maths on that…

  18. Paul D says:

    Kimi will be a contender this year I’m sure.

    Both he and Lotus have been like a breath of fresh air over the past 12-18 months.

    1. Random 79 says:

      +1

  19. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    IMO second drivers like Grosjean, Massa, Webber, Perez will fight a lot this year and they can be ahead of their teammates many times, so incidents and/or team orders could occur more in 2013 than in any other session of F1.

    They are focused this year and because there are many candidates to take their seats, they know they can be replaced if they don’t get good results in the points.

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      Have a funnyb feeling RG will be beating Kimi by this years end . I fear the return of the ‘Massa Syndrome’ for the iceman.

      1. Basil says:

        Dream on!

  20. cometeF1 says:

    I would not mind to see Kimi, Romain and therefore Lotus do well. The next couple of races will reveal if they are up to it or not.

    2 races, 2 winners so far this season. Last year we got 8 race winners. How many would your guess be for this season?

    For me, other than the already winners, I feel many seem to have a shot at victory: Alonso of course and likely Massa as well for SF. Webber, Grosjean, Hamilton, Rosberg all have a fair chance it would be okay to assume.

    I know better than just overlook McL. They will get a win at some point. If it is the case, it will be Button. If they bring the car to be a contender, than I can’t think why Perez would not be able to bring the silverware.

    If there is an outside change of a “lesser Team” getting a race win, Sauber with the Hulk would be my pick.

    So that’s 11 winners for me this season. If only. Marc

  21. sandman says:

    Watching free practice, i have noticed kimi is very quick when the track is dirty even faster than the redbulls IMO while last year they had to wait for the track to rubber up unleash their pace. A sign that the E21 has loads of grip compared to the E20.

  22. Paige says:

    I still think Lotus has the best car in normal racing conditions in F1 right now, even after Malaysia. The wet start to Malaysia didn’t allow for their ridiculous advantage in tire conservation to shine through, as everyone started on inters. The analysts said they would also be able to do Malaysia in one less stop than normal before the weekend, so we can assume that this will be the case for the forseeable future.

    Folks, being able to do a race in one less stop is a monstrous advantage. You are basically given a 20-25 second advantage before the race even starts. And as long as you are usually within .3-.4 seconds of the fastest lap time lap-after-lap, which Lotus certainly is, then you are not going to lose that advantage.

    Furthermore, I would argue that the fundamental balance of the car is most important thing to have right in order to have good tire conservation at competitive speeds. Tire degradation occurs, as we all know, when the car slides around and pressure is put on the tires. I would say that this is also the most fundamentally important thing to have in order to have a good-handling car. Could it just be that Lotus has the fundamentals in their car’s characteristics down better than anyone else? You can have a car that produces the downforce it takes to push the car hard and do a very quick lap. But if you don’t have the fundamental balance of the car right, then the car will slide around in one direction or the other and the tires will suffer. It seems nowadays that, rather than make the race completely about tire management, it could be the case that the new tires have made it mainly about who gets the balance of the car right. And Lotus seems to be this team right now.

  23. Sebee says:

    HILLARIOUS!

    The grand prix circuit promoters, led by Australia’s Ron Walker, are also worried.

    “As Bernie will attest,” Walker told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt, “it (the V6) sounds like a lawnmower engine, and we will be fighting this tooth and nail.”

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ve heard the Merc V6 – it sounds great!

      1. Sebee says:

        James,

        Obviously we believe your feedback on the sound. However, some serious figures are raising concerns and causing public to be suspicious. Considering the investment involved in this significant change to the engine formula, why not release some data? It is not as if the sound will give up secrets to the engine.

        Clearly the V6 is on the bench as you have seen it. And so are the V8s still. Why not put both on the rig, create a reference 0-max RPM ramp up curve, sample the sound from same distance to exhaust, while also frequency analyzing it and measuring for db loudness level, graph the two samples for frequency, loudness and publish this along with the sound samples to end the doubts and concerns about these new V6s? This is not 1982, we live in a world where if this engine sound concern could be shut down in a day.

        Mind you, not that we have a choice in the matter for next year. But would it not be better to defuse the concerns before the new engines hit the track?

      2. Elie says:

        [mod] Ecclestone- doesn’t want it. I’ve heard enough fantastic sounding V6 engines in my time to know that if you have 11 of the best teams on earth spending €100m+ each on these new power trains that they will sound just fine.

        If JA has heard it and he says they sound good then Im more than happy. What I think is that there is a certain RB and Ferrari team who are now a little concerned about the Mercedes Benz renewed confidence in the 2014 regs- which one Mr Ecclestone finds somewhat unsettling given their current and support and investment in F1.

      3. Sebee says:

        It is true that one of the goals of the V6 was to bring manufacturers in. And beside the Honda rumors, on this front it is a failure. Perhaps that is why Bernie is not doing the change any favours?

  24. Sebee says:

    Multi21gate keeps on giving!

    Webber low on fuel during Vettel attack
    http://www.grandprix.com/ns/ns25123.html

    Webber lucky to escape penalty
    http://www.grandprix.com/ns/ns25111.html

    1. Mingojo says:

      Um! have you realised the news coming from two German magazines? ;-)

      1. Sebee says:

        Does British media hold a monopoly on F1 coverage?

        Are these not valid points? Not sure I remember anyone mention these possibilities.

        You don’t think Webber may have been low on fuel like Lewis? You don’t think the move was dangerous and drivers have been punished for less?

      2. Mingojo says:

        No, I don’t think British media should hold a monopoly on what is coverage in F1. I believe Michael Schumacher at certain point in his career refused to talk to part of the British media, or elements of the spy saga in 2007 were not publish widely, etc…
        Regarding to your question about if they are valid points, I don’t speculate and less so when Vettel has recognised he didn’t follow team orders. These papers have a reputation of defending Seb (as yourself), the problem is they haven’t showed any evidence of their claims.
        There’s been similar moves in the last few years to the one you mentioned, some get a penalty, others don’t. Seb did something similar to a Ferrari driver a few years back, he didn’t get a penalty.
        Anyway, I think this topic is done and dusted. Seb wasn’t right. I feel sorry for Mark as he should have won.

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