With the celebrations from Abu Dhabi having subsided, Team Principal Eric Boullier reflects on the achievements of Lotus F1 Team so far and the opportunities which lie in the future.
How was the response to the victory in Abu Dhabi?
Eric Boullier: I received over four hundred messages at the track after the chequered flag! It was a pleasant surprise to see that a few of them were coming from our rival teams saying how happy they were for us. It was nice to hear that people in the paddock thought we deserved the victory. Also, standing on the podium as Team Principal of the winning constructor was something really special. It was a very emotional moment. I hope we get used to it very soon.
What was the feeling at Enstone once you returned to the factory?
EB: People are happy and have a new spring in their step; even if the weather outside the factory is very cold now! There's a fantastic feeling of excitement and we have two races yet to go. We did it once and we can do it again this season. It took us time to get this win but we all knew that we could do it. It did arrive at a time when more and more people start working on next year's car, which is good timing.
Is it in some ways an even stronger endorsement of the team for the victory to come so late in the year as it shows Lotus F1 Team can keep the development battle going season-long?
EB: Our team is far from having the biggest budget on the grid, but I see it as an advantage. It forces us to be clever and it is one of Enstone's trademarks. Bringing upgrades in October which made our car faster again and catching the best in the sport on pace proves that this team can deliver.
Talking of delivering, Kimi certainly did the business behind the wheel?
EB: This was maybe a surprise for anyone on the outside of the team that doubted him, but for everyone on the inside it was not. Kimi has certainly made his mark and shown that he's back in Formula 1 and back at his best form. Having him back getting podiums and a win is great for him, great for the team and great for the fans. Moreover, "Leave me alone, I know what I'm doing" has already become a Formula 1 classic!
How difficult was it for you on the pit wall seeing his lead disappear with the safety car then watching Fernando [Alonso] relentlessly hounding him to the end?
EB: It was certainly the longest race of my short Formula 1 career! The last twenty-two laps in particular were very long. We could see that Kimi had built and was continuing to build a nice gap but the safety car destroyed that. He built a gap again at the restart, but then Fernando started closing meaning that the last lap was quite scary.
On the other side of the garage can Romain take heart from the pace in the car?
EB: Romain had another learning experience in Abu Dhabi, but he showed that he could deliver well with the strategy we chose after changing tyres following the puncture he received on the first lap. He exited the race because of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
How does it feel for Formula 1 to be heading back to the States?
EB: We as a team are very happy to be returning to the USA especially as we strongly believe that it's a market where Formula 1 should be. We already have some American partners, so it's good to be racing in their home country. It a land of tremendous opportunity for Formula 1 and we hope to build on this opportunity in the future. Also, we took part in the opening ceremony of the track two weeks ago, and the buzz it has generated was quite surprising. I'm sure that America likes Formula 1 more than people think.
Fourth in the championship was our target for the season - we now have more than double the points of the fifth-placed team. Is that a good endorsement of where we stand looking ahead to 2013?
EB: Fourth was obviously the target we set ourselves at the start of the year and that's where we are in the standings right now. Obviously, you can be fourth and close behind third position, or fourth and just in front of fifth. Our position relative to fifth-placed Mercedes is quite flattering. Being fourth and fighting with teams like Ferrari and McLaren - by having a win on the board and a number of podiums - has clearly put us in a position where we could develop a stronger image of a team growing and maturing; a team on the up. This is certainly appealing from a commercial point of view and the numbers of partners joining us this year is a proof of that. On the other hand, fourth is still fourth, and we know how much harder we need to push in developing our resources and the company to ensure we can break into the top three next year.
Entering the nineteenth of twenty races in the 2012 season, Technical Director James Allison outlines what's still to come from the car and why the race in Abu Dhabi came good.