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Jun 04, 2014 - 06:52 AM
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2014 Canada GP: Lotus Formula One F1 Race Preview
Posted by: ASkyler on Jun 04, 2014 - 06:50 AM
F1 Weekend & Testing Team Reports
2014 Canada GP: Lotus Formula One F1 Race Preview


Federico Gastaldi DEPUTY TEAM PRINCIPAL

Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi looks at his inbox and addresses the topics of the hour.

What’s the outlook heading to Canada? We’re looking forward to heading to an event which is a real favourite for many people and one which historically gets a lot of attention and great television viewing figures. Montréal is a superb city and we really experience a fantastic welcome from everyone when we visit. It’s a race where we have many guests and it’s our first visit to North America of the season. In a commercial sense this is a strong event. On track, it could be something of a challenge for us as it doesn’t look to be a track which plays to our current strengths, but whether that is the case or not we will soon find out. Monaco didn’t go the way we wanted… Monaco was a frustrating experience. Having Pastor on the starting grid and the car not working was negative for everyone. Romain did a good job to bring the car home in the points again, which is very good, but I think Pastor could also have been in the points too. The team did a great job as usual - engineers mechanics, all the staff and the people in the factory - but it was frustrating for many of us. I know everyone back at Enstone has worked very hard to ensure we won’t have the same problem that Pastor experienced again.

For Pastor in particular, the start of the season must be very frustrating? Certainly it’s been a tough, tough start to the year and Pastor has really suffered from reliability problems. We know that he is a fast driver with good experience and like all drivers he wants to be racing on track. Monaco was a cruel blow. Even though we weren’t able to extract the speed we wanted from the car, there was a good strategy in place for Pastor to make gains in the race. As we know, it wasn’t to be. We don’t expect to experience an issue like we did in Monaco again. Cost cutting seems to be an ongoing hot topic - what are your thoughts? There are a lot of discussions. The problem is that while we seem to be in the same boat, we are not yet on the same page. We all have different agendas and different things to worry about. Ultimately, Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and we all try to spend as much money as available to try to beat the opposition. If you have a massive budget and good people you place yourself well to be able to produce a very good racing car. It is true that Enstone has a history of punching above its weight in regards to creating very competitive cars on smaller budgets than the opposition, but cost cutting can be beneficial for all. The crucial aspect is that it needs to be done so there are no loopholes.

Ultimately, we need to ensure the sport in the current economic and sponsorship climate is sustainable. If we don’t do this we could find a situation where Formula 1 has only four teams. We need to make sure we, as Formula 1, produce a solid business model for the future. How hard are sponsors to come by in the current climate? For sure it is never easy and certainly title sponsors are something of a rare breed at the moment. As a team we have a number of strong partners and we have a secured operational budget for the season, notwithstanding that we don’t have a title sponsor as such. What we have been able to do - and we’ve seen more of this happening elsewhere too - is secure additional support from new and existing partners. In Monaco, we saw Saxo Bank on our sidepods and they were very happy with the value they received from this activation. In Montréal we have EMC in this position and we know they will be happy with the activation they can leverage from this.  

ROMAIN GROSJEAN RACE DRIVER #8

After salvaging points around the claustrophobic streets of Monaco, Romain Grosjean is ready to let the E22 stretch its legs at the Canadian Grand Prix…

Do you have good memories of Montréal? I have very good memories from 2012 when I went from seventh on the grid to my first second place in Formula 1. It was a really great day and it was really a strong team result as we used a one-stop strategy to get on the podium after a disappointing qualifying session the day before. Last year wasn’t so good and we struggled with the wet weather and conditions but the place itself? Montréal is a wonderful city to visit. There are obviously a lot of French speakers so it’s like another home race for me, and the fans are so welcoming and knowledgeable. There are also some very good restaurants in Montréal which is always a bonus. How much of a challenge is the Gilles Villeneuve circuit? Montreal is in-between a normal circuit and a street circuit. The walls are very close in some places, while other parts are similar to a European circuit. It’s definitely unique and we normally bring a different downforce package for that reason, which adds another unknown factor to the weekend. The circuit is not used for the rest of the year so the grip will change a lot - something we’ll have to adapt to - and the weather can also be tricky. Hopefully it’ll be nice and sunny because it’s a race I really like - and it’s my favourite circuit to race on the Xbox. The last chicane is a notable feature and overall it’s a good track. What is it about street or street-esque circuits that you like? I enjoy the sensation of being close to the walls. Montréal is different from Monaco as there are some long straights and some big braking moments. The track surface can also present challenges as we’ve seen in other seasons, so it will be interesting to see what the grip level is like this year and that will certainly be on your mind as you take to the track for the first time over the weekend. How would you sum up Monaco given that the car wasn’t reacting as you wanted, but you still matched your best result of the year? The start of the Monaco Grand Prix was a nightmare because I was hit on the first lap and suffered a puncture. Then I was stuck in traffic and couldn’t overtake. Of course when you have a predictable car with plenty of grip it is easy to attack, but we struggled to find a base set-up and it clearly wasn’t good enough in the race. But anything is possible in Monaco, we didn’t give up and managed to recover from 19th to 8th. We scored points and we know where to improve the car, which is not quick enough in low speed corners and certainly we’re trying to get more power for Canada too! And the high speed corners? They are not a concern. The aerodynamics are stable and the power unit management is getting better so now we are more focussed on the suspension side. Last year we had a very good car in that aspect, so we’ll compare the E22 with the E21 and possibly revert to some previous settings to make it better at low speed. I believe our downforce is pretty good so it’s mechanical grip we’re after. Even at Monaco we improved the car, even if it didn’t look like it on the timesheets. In previous seasons the car was good out of the box, while the E22 has required a lot of development. How does that change things in terms of your approach? It’s always easy to go quick when the car is good. You just have to concentrate on your driving. When the car is a bit more tricky you have to think about your driving and what the car is doing, because it can react unpredictably. Add to that all the different systems management we now do in the car, it becomes a real mental test! That’s not ideal for Monaco, so it was a very demanding Grand Prix, but at other tracks with more margin for error you can push more. I’m happy we made it to eighth at Monaco and we go to Canada with more confidence.  

Pastor Maldonado RACE DRIVER #13

Pastor Maldonado puts a rather short Monaco Grand Prix behind him and turns his focus to Montreal and the new challenge of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Monaco was definitely one of your shortest races. How frustrating was it? I was very disappointed because I was expecting to be in the points and the car did feel strong performance wise. The chances in Monaco are always very high and I was ready to do a great race, but unfortunately it was not to be. As you saw, we were not the only team to have technical problems at the last race, however we just need to work harder to try to solve all of the small issues and get better with each race. They are frustrating, absolutely, but we are getting stronger and stronger each time the car goes out on track. In terms of performance, the E22 didn’t seem to like low speed corners? It didn’t in Monaco, but that is such a unique track. But, yes, we need to work very hard in the low-speed corners. In medium and high-speed corners, such as at Barcelona, we were very competitive. It was only in the last sector in Spain that we were losing a little bit against the other teams because it is the slow part of the circuit. Top speed and slow corners are probably the weakest points of our car now. Unfortunately Canada has long straights followed by low-speed corners… It could be a difficult weekend for the team, for sure. We are not expecting to be at the top, simply because of the type of track and how we understand our car and its performance strengths and weaknesses. It’s not very aggressive on the tyres either, so we’ll see how it is when we head out to track. Anything can happen and our guys are all working very hard to adapt the car to find more traction in the slow corners and squeeze out some more top speed. Do you like the Montréal track? It’s amazing and I always enjoy being there. Canada is a great race not only because of the track but because of the people who come to support it. There is a great atmosphere all weekend and the city is quite close to the circuit which means there is a great vibe all round. There is also a lot of history to the Grand Prix as well and it has been around for a while - it is one of the great GPs during the season. You seem to be keeping calm despite the difficult start to the year? When you have a hard time it is vital to be completely focused on trying to solve the problems. I’m trying to do better from my side and also to help the engineers improve the car. This is a crucial moment for the team, approaching the middle of the season. We need to push very hard to recover what we lost at the beginning. We always knew it was going to be tough to start with, but the key is not to panic, we’ll just keep our heads down and quietly work harder, do more and do better to catch up, and overtake the other teams. We’re capable of it, there’s no doubt about that, and while it’s always frustrating not to be on the podium where we belong, this is part of the story. It’s very easy to just give up, but I think it will make us stronger in the end. There’s a cool quote I heard - ‘there’s no shortcut to any place worth going’. That’s pretty true I think. How good was the Barcelona test in terms of seeing the potential of the team? It was super good. To be honest it was my first real test with the team and it was great to work through the full programme and see what the team is capable of in a normal situation. Everything ran well. I felt more confident with the car just because of the mileage and I think the team felt more confident. Monaco wasn’t reflective of how much the team has progressed and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to really show how strong we’re becoming. Which other circuits do you think will suit the E22? Circuits where you need a lot of downforce like Silverstone, Budapest, maybe Hockenheim as well. These kinds of circuits can be more efficient for our car. We’re improving every day, so with more time we will be back at the sharp end of the grid and not only at preferred tracks. What do you want in Canada? I think it would be good to have a trouble free weekend and finish the race strongly in the points. With the variable weather we’ve seen there in the past, anything can happen in Montréal, however I would like to see us bringing home some good points for the team. It will be tough as it’s going to be such a tricky track for us, however if we can put in a solid performance and get the most out of the car then I think we could be in a good position.  

NICK CHESTER TECHNICAL DIRECTOR

Lotus F1 Team Technical Director Nick Chester is taking nothing for granted ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix…

Should Canada suit the E22? It’s probably going to be a bit of a tricky one. On the one hand we’re going to have the soft and super-soft tyres, which should be better for us. On the other hand Canada’s got long straights, which we feel might not be great for us. There are also some big braking points and at some races this year we’ve felt our braking isn’t as good as it should be. So for the E22 it’s a balance between performing quite well on the softer tyres and maybe losing out on power and braking. We’re going to do all we can to improve those areas before we go. Tell us more about the braking? With such long straights followed by big stops into low speed corners, getting the braking performance right is critical in Canada. Obviously this year with all the energy recovery systems there is quite a lot of tuning that can be done to enhance performance. It’s definitely an area we are looking at and we’ve got some things we want to test on the Friday to hopefully improve the braking. Why did the E22 have a tough time in Monaco? Honestly we expected to be pretty quick in Monaco. The bottom line is that we were off the pace in the low-speed corners. So we feel we were losing out on mechanical grip, which may be a function of suspension - including how the car rides over any bumps - or of us not getting the tyres in the right operating window. Part of our response has been to do work on the suspension rigs before we go to Canada, to see if we can rectify this. How much do aerodynamics play a part in low-speed corners? In low-speed corners you still need to be generating sensible downforce on the car. Even though you’re not going to feel it as much as the medium and high-speed corners it still plays a part. The conditions that the car operates in for downforce in low speed corners are quite different to medium and high-speed corners. For example the ride height is different, the steering, the yaw angle. So it can be that you lose some downforce in a low-speed corner, but when the car has less
steering, less yaw and different ride heights it’s better in the medium and high-speed corners. There are a few areas that can cost you in low-speed corners and rest assured we are looking at all of them! Did the weather at Monaco have an impact? It was a bit cooler on race day, but in qualifying the track temperature was quite good and we were not quick enough. So I don’t think the weather had a huge effect in terms of our issues.

What happened to Pastor’s car? The fuel pump stopped working. It worked initially on the way to the grid but when they tried to fire the car up again the pump stopped. We are still investigating to be absolutely sure, but we are confident we know what the problem is. It is unrelated to the power unit. What new parts are planned for Montréal? There’s a new medium downforce package and we’ve also got a few new mechanical parts, one of which will hopefully improve the grip of the chassis. There’s also a small update to the cooling package which will give us a little more downforce. How about the power unit? We will continue to run with the latest fuel from Total as we did in Monaco so many power unit improvements will be focussed around modifying the mapping to get the most from this specification fuel. Mapping has brought significant progress this season. How do you manage some of the technical frustrations in relation to the drivers? To be honest both our drivers are now sufficiently experienced not to let frustrations impact upon their performance. Both Romain and Pastor have been extremely professional as you would expect and can see that the team and our suppliers are all pulling in the same direction. Pastor has gone through two races this season where he has not started, which has to be one of the toughest things a driver can go through. His resolve and fighting instinct have been notable. Romain has shown incredible spirit and fortitude as well. His performance in all the races have been fantastic, especially considering the relative lack of mileage in the first four races. Canada has historically been an unpredictable race. Will Romain and Pastor be in a good position to take advantage should it be so again this year? That is the plan, yes. There can be a lot of variables at Montréal like rain, reliability and incidents. Romain and Pastor are exactly the kind of drivers you want on your side to exploit any opportunities. However, we hope to be able to challenge for a good points finish irrespective of any of these variables.


 

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