Earlier this week, Lotus became the first F1 team to unveil its arsenal before the Great Battle of 2013. The E21 still has the stepped nose and stays in tune with its predecessor, the E20. But it does incorporate a few innovative technical solutions as well as a touch of red in its livery.
Technical director James Allison has said that some parts of the E21 are “a ground-up redesign” and the design philosophy has been optimized in the other areas of the car. “The front and rear suspension layouts are substantially revised to try and give us better aerodynamic opportunities,” Allison said adding, “The front wing is a continuation of the concepts we have worked on since the 2009 rules were published. For the rear wing system, we’ve continued to work on having a satisfactory level of rear downforce stability whilst having maximum DRS switching potential.” Allison said that the aim was to build on the E20, a car that gave good results in 2012, while continuing with the design theme to create a more efficient and faster car.
Meanwhile, team principal Eric Boullier has high expectations from the drivers – 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Given the progress the team has made between the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Boullier said that the aim is to have “strong and regular podium results”. Speaking on the driver dynamic Boullier said, “…their skills and talents complement each other. Kimi has such a wide range of experience and he knows how to react to any situation or circumstance. He’s also a superb resource technically. Romain has superb raw speed, which we are confident will be harnessed in a more effective manner during races in 2013.”
Boullier was a tad restrained while talking about Lotus’ 2013 target. Yes, the team wants to win, he said. “We want to make regular appearances on the podium, and add to our tally of appearances on the top step.” But Allison’s response was far more competitive, almost a declaration of war, if you will.
“In terms of goals and targets, we never set out to build the second-fastest or third-fastest car; we set out to build the fastest and most effective car that we possibly can,” Allison said. “We want to improve our car in all areas from last year’s and we want the improvements we make to be greater than those made by the opposition. However, having said all that, the official target established by the team’s owners is to achieve a minimum of third place in the Constructors’ Championship.”
The Ice Man and the Giraffe have much to prove as well. Kimi saw his first win post retirement return in Abu Dhabi and was 3rd in the championship standings. It is no surprise then that he raring to go. “This year will be my second with Lotus F1 Team and my eleventh season overall in Formula 1 so I’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect,” he said in a team press release. “I’m sure it will be an exciting season and I’m sure there’ll be lots to talk about. For me, I will continue to do the best I can; let’s see how good our car is, and how good the cars of the opposition are too.” He also said that he has faith in the team and believes that Lotus is most definitely championship material. “It’s clear from working with them that they are racers, and you can see in their history that they’ve won championships,” he said. “Nothing I saw last year made me think that another championship was impossible in the future. Of course, there is some pretty tough competition out there and everyone wants to win. The team has beaten everyone before and there’s nothing to say they can’t do it again.
Grosjean however returns with a bit of a hangover. He will be eager to shed the image he currently shares with Pastor Maldonado. Consistency and points seem to be on his 2013 resolution list. He said, in a team press release, “I can clearly say I want to score a lot of points for the team – everybody knows that – but I think it would be wrong for me to say I want to finish in a particular position in the championship. I really want to jump out of the car as many times as possible thinking that I did a good job. Knowing that everything I could do, I did, and feeling proud of my race or session. I hope to feel that way as many times as possible this year.”
The Giraffe will, hopefully, manage all of this and stay out of Mark Webber’s way!
(Compiled from Lotus team press releases)