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.