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In addition to looking ahead to Silverstone, Lotus team boss Eric Boullier and technical director James Allison reflect on the European Grand Prix.
The European Grand Prix was a race of highs and lows; not least for Eric Boullier, who saw his drivers come agonisingly close to another double podium finish. Here, the Lotus F1 Team Principal discusses his emotions on that eventful afternoon in Valencia, the meaning of coming home to Silverstone and the team spirit back at Enstone.
Eric, What's your assessment of the last race?Eric Boullier: Let me give you the "glass half full" version: it's was a good result for the team and for Kimi. Second brought a lot of points, and we also didn't lose ground on the teams ahead of us in the championship standings. Now, let me give you the "glass half empty" version : it was a disappointing day for Romain, as he was in such a good position for at least a podium finish. We also could have put both cars on the podium and moved closer to McLaren in the championship. This is racing though, and we will work closely with our partners to ensure we don't see a failure like this again in the future. In the end, both drivers and the team worked very well and we have shown that if we achieve a good qualifying position we can fight for the win.
Are you happy with the pace shown by the E20?EB: Yes, even if we constantly have to improve if we want to stay in the game. We often don't look as good as our opponents on a Friday, and this is because we are working on race pace and not just looking for one lap performance. We're doing our homework and don't take much notice of what our opponents are doing. In Valencia, the whole weekend went well. We qualified better, which set us up better for the race, and our race pace was strong. We just need to carry on in this manner for the rest of the season.
Silverstone is something of a homecoming - how does this affect the team?EB: It's good for everyone to be so close to the factory and certainly our travel expenses are lower for this event! We will have a lot of visitors from Enstone and it is fantastic to have the support of everyone who is working so hard over the year. We will have to see about the weather in Silverstone, but regardless of whether it's hot or cold we need to do well. It's a different layout and we're back to a permanent race track after the last three street courses so we'll have to see how we do.
What's the atmosphere like in the factory at the moment?EB: One year ago, I felt like everyone was motivated like never before; that every single member of the staff was ready to go the extra mile to see us do well on the track. Well... 2011 doesn't even compare to 2012, as I think we have made another step. I have to say that, apart from the performance, all the recent investments made by the team are improving our efficiency in all areas. The latest addition, which is our new engineer's office at the track, is very impressive and has had a very positive impact on the way we work. Recent results have boosted everybody's hopes and commitment in Enstone. The team is united, the expectations are high. The spirit from the late 2009 season is far, far away.
The team is very popular amongst the fans and have a very unique image in the paddock. What makes Lotus F1 Team so special?EB: It is a mixture of several things. First of all, historically our team has been used to maximising its resources. Although we have a very reasonable budget this year, we know how to use it efficiently. We don't waste money and are not seen as burning bank notes on first class flights or gold plated business cards. Also, we're keeping our feet on the ground. Humility has to be our n°1 quality. It means that we're close to our fans, we're responsive, and we never forget how lucky we are. We're racing because we want to win, but we also want to bring something special to our supporters and our partners. Corporate speeches and political games are not for us. We've got nothing to do with the corporate monsters we're fighting against on the track. This is probably why Romain's and Kimi's personalities are expressing themselves so freely at the wheel.
As the season fast approaches its halfway point, so Lotus F1 Team are maintaining their early year promise, having already scored comfortably more points than attained in the entire 2011 season. Technical Director James Allison discusses the current state of affairs.
Why does the E20 seem to go so well when it's hot?James Allison: Tyres have a certain window in which they work; get them too cold and they don't grip, get them too hot and they don't grip. There's a reasonably wide band in the middle where they work well. It seems like the E20 generates a little less heat in the tyres than some of our opponents' cars, meaning we can live with on a hotter track when some of our competitors are starting to move out of the tyre window. The downside of this comes when we have a cold track or after a safety car. Fortunately, most of the races are contested in summer conditions where you are trying to keep temperatures down rather than having to worry about generating heat, so we've probably got it the better way around - even if it can be a bit frustrating at times.
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