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A strong end to the first half of the season means that all eyes are on Lotus F1 Team for the second part of the year. Just how much can be achieved in the final nine races? Team Principal Eric Boullier answers the questions.
Eleven races completed, nine to go and a fast car to compete with; things look pretty good for Lotus F1 Team?Eric Boullier: I think we can all be satisfied with what we've achieved in the first half of the season; especially coming off the back of a difficult 2011. It's a testament to the skill and determination of everyone at Enstone that we've produced a great car which seems to be getting better as the season progresses and we hope this continues. That said, I can't ignore the points we've lost in a lot of different ways and there is a big margin for improvement through the rest of the year.
Does the lack of a win - despite so many points having been accumulated - rankle with the team?EB: A win would be nice, there's no doubt about that. Being there or thereabouts at so many different circuits however is very good in championship terms and certainly better than a one-off win. Of course, we continue to push to make the car faster. We were in a very good position in Budapest where we finished in second and third; had it been a circuit with more overtaking opportunities then the top step would have been a possibility.
Do you think the team's qualifying performance has sufficiently improved?EB: You can never have too much improvement in Formula 1, but it is fair to say we've made good steps in the right direction. Both cars were in the top five in Budapest. If we can produce just a slightly better performance for the rest of the season then we will be in a position to fight for the win.
How is everything behind the scenes for the team?EB: It's looking very promising. We used the summer shutdown to perform a comprehensive maintenance and upgrade programme at the factory. This involved the upgrading of a number of production machines and was no small investment. We've also made more investments in our wind tunnel and a new gearbox dyno facility is being built. These are all substantial developments to improve our performance potential and position ourselves as one of the very best teams in this highly competitive sport.
Have the team's expectations changed?EB: Our target is the same; to be better than last year. However, if we continue to show strong pace at every race then maybe we will revise our ambitions!
Both drivers seem to be attracting attention from other teams...EB: I can understand why other teams would be interested! Both Kimi and Romain are performing very well this season. For Kimi, it's like he's never been away. Romain is a natural talent, and improving at a very rapid rate. It's great to see the interest from other teams, but to be honest they're probably wasting their time. There is no reason for Kimi or Romain to leave and I think they will both enjoy very successful futures with us.
Refreshed and rejuvenated following the summer break, Lotus F1 Team Technical Director James Allison is looking forward to the second half of the 2012 season.
How are you feeling after the summer break heading to Spa?James Allison: It's been a slightly odd break as the gap between Hungary and Spa is so long relative to what we've had in recent years. Previously you would have stopped at the end of one race, had two weeks off, then been straight back into another. This time there has been a fallow period of a week either side of the shutdown. The team is impatient to be back at the track and racing the E20, but we have certainly welcomed the extra days of manufacturing since Hungary for the new parts we've been creating.
What new parts do we have for the car?JA: Quite a lot of different bits. A big focus has been getting ready for Monza which is immediately after Spa and requires a unique downforce package. It's only one race but it requires a whole new set of wings and a disproportionate amount of work. We've also been focusing on ensuring that we have the capability to run the new device in Spa should we be confident enough to do so.
Talking of 'The Device', do we have a name for it?JA: I rather like 'The Device' as it has a sort of Dr Strangelove appeal to it, but most people refer to it as DDRS.
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