“Definitely, we had the most gains to make, but we still look to be very much on an upward trajectory,” said Lotus deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi ahead of next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The first European Grand Prix always sees lots of upgrades and developments on the cars. But as every team makes them, usually it has the effect that everyone moves forward without necessarily changing the order much.
This year, with such new technology as we have this year in F1 – and a big disparity in performance and readiness at the start of the year between teams and engine builders – there is the possibility of some quite significant changes in the pecking order next weekend. As Gastaldi says, Lotus has the most gains to make, given their previous standing. It will be interesting to see if they can keep moving back towards the front.
The Enstone team has yet to get off the mark this season, in contrast to last year, where it won a race and scored podiums in the early flyaway races, amassing 93 points.
But after a nightmare start to the season in testing and the early races, the team was running in the top ten in China, thanks to improvements particularly on the Renault power unit side and for Barcelona it will be interesting to see if the upward trajectory continues.
“We made a big relative improvement in China but it wasn’t just one thing. We took the Renault updates and our own updates as well and moved forward,” said lead driver Romain Grosjean. “There is more to come for Barcelona.”
As for what Lotus has planned for the next race, technical director Nick Chester has identified some key areas of the upgrade package.
“We’ve got further improvements on engine mapping, which should give us another step forward. We’ve got a new cooling and bodywork package coming – quite a big upgrade – plus some updates to the rear wing and various other bodywork parts.
“All of the developments that we’ve brought for the car so far have been an improvement, which is highly satisfying and validates the hard work being done back at the factory. We also received more horsepower from Renault Sport F1 in China and I hope we’ll get a further step-up in Barcelona, which will make a massive difference.
“There are a lot of aero improvements we want to bring to make the car more predictable for the drivers. We also want to do more work on tyre temperatures. The latest generation of tyres are quite hard in compound and it can be difficult to keep them in the optimum operating window. On the other hand braking is definitely better now. We’ve made some good improvements in terms of how the drivers can control the brakes and manage the power unit during braking.”
The team is also set to premier a new film called Human Ignition, which has been funded by one of its sponsors, Burn, which looks at visions of F1 in the future.