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Following a second event where both cars scored strongly, Team Principal, Eric Boullier ponders the team's expectations for the season and looks forward to the next chapter in the small Principality of Monaco.
Eric, the aim at the start of the season was to finish fourth in the Constructors' Championship - the team are currently in third place and closing on second...Eric Boullier: After a difficult first few races - where our pace on track did not convert to results at the chequered flag - it's true to say we have had two strong results and if we continue to score like this we may have to revise our expectations. That said, nothing stands still in Formula 1 and we would be foolhardy to underestimate the opposition. We have had two good results, yes, but we have not scored a win. Things change very quickly so we won't be resting on our laurels.
Heading into the Spanish Grand Prix there was a lot of expectation on the team, and Friday's pace seemed to compound that. Was it somewhat frustrating not to have achieved better in the race?EB: We did look good on Friday, but then the race is on a Sunday. Conditions change, your rivals fine tune their cars and setups. No-one wins anything from being fastest in practice or setting the best lap times on a long fuel run during a practice session. It's the race that matters and that's where our focus lies.
How difficult will it be to score a win in 2012?EB: In terms of the number of winners so far this season you could say it's easier than before! That's not the case. It's so close this season and you can be a hero one weekend and a zero the next. Our strength has been that we have been there or thereabouts at every circuit. So far we haven't suffered the performance fluctuations that some of our rivals have seen. If we continue like this we will be very well placed for scoring good championship points. Of course, scoring points is one thing. They're very valuable and whoever has the most wins the championship. But we all really want to have a win.
Do you think the team's first win of the year can come in Monaco?EB: We are celebrating our 500th Grand Prix in Monaco so what a story that would be! Monaco is a unique event and it really is the jewel in the Formula 1 crown. Historically Enstone teams have shown good pace in Monaco, but last year's car wasn't strong in slow speed corners so we may have some work to do. In terms of the team and our drivers, we're all ready for a win. We're looking at every aspect of the car and how we run it and we're all focused tremendously on achieving our goals. A win would be a fabulous thing.
What work is still to be done?EB: Both our drivers are improving with every race as they had both been away for two years. We've seen how good they are with their results, but they are both getting better all the time. It's fantastic that they are both so close on pace, in qualifying and in the races. Car development is of course an ongoing project and we have plenty of developments and refinements for what is a very good starting point with the E20. We are also focusing heavily on pit stops, in particular the tools and components used during stops to ensure we are not missing any tricks to spending the smallest amount of time possible in the pitlane.
How different is the feeling for you and the team relative to last season?EB: This time last year we also had some good feelings from podiums in Australia and Malaysia, but we had a design concept which would frustrate our potential. This year we have had a great sniff of victory and that is driving everyone forwards, making us all work harder. We're hungry and we know what we want.
After another positive weekend in Barcelona, Lotus F1 Team Technical Director James Allison reflects on the team's performance at the Spanish Grand Prix and looks ahead to the jewel in the Formula 1 crown; the Monaco Grand Prix.
How good is it to have a strong points haul from the last two races?James Allison: I think we can be very happy with the number of points we've accumulated in the last couple of races and I'm delighted with the consolidation that's given us in the Constructors' Championship. I'm also quite optimistic for the rest of the season as the Circuit de Catalunya was another location where the car has been good and both our drivers have been strong. I'm happy that we haven't suffered - so far at least - the fluctuation in form that has hit many teams this year. Given the excellent results both in Barcelona and Bahrain it seems churlish, to say the least, to express disappointment at not yet having sneaked a win! But we're hopeful that will come in time.
Why weren't we so quick in the beginning of the race...JA: It is genuinely hard to tell. Perhaps we had overestimated our relative pace on Friday. Perhaps the lower track temperatures on Sunday had a small effect. Perhaps our car did not react so well to the green track that resulted from overnight rain on Saturday evening. These are impossible questions to answer. All we can say for certain is that while we were pretty quick in Barcelona, we were not good enough to win the race. It is worth mentioning in addition that Romain's wing was really quite substantially damaged after the first corner. We were not able to recover the lost downforce that comes with losing bits of your car, but we were able to re-balance the car by cranking the front flap angle up in the first pit stop. So although he was fighting with one hand behind his back, he was able to make progress from that point forward.
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