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Mat Coch writes:
Lotus has abandoned the Barcelona test after a suspension failure affected its car. It's understood one section of the front suspension failed, perhaps due to a structural issue within the front of the chassis. The team has now returned to Enstone to resolve the issue.
The team confirmed its decision to withdraw from the test via a press release yesterday, seemingly acknowledging that the fault existed in both E20 chassis the team has built. "Before we were due to fly chassis E20-01 out to Barcelona in replacement of chassis E20-02 - damaged this morning - we ran a series of simulations at the factory based on the data provided by our brief running on track today," said technical director James Allison. The conclusion taken from Allison's statements is that the fault affects all chassis, suggesting that Lotus will need to modify the E20 to resolve the problem.
Based on the assumption it is a chassis issue, if Lotus were to change its chassis in any way it will have to be homologated once more - a process all teams must undergo, which involves a number of crash tests, before any car can reach the track. In this instance, since any modifications will likely result in the car being stronger, it would seem unlikely that the car will need to be subjected to crash tests. Instead, it's believed the team will simply need to provide the FIA with stress calculations which show any modifications would have no impact on the crash test outcome.
Further speculation that the problem is linked to a variation on the reactive suspension system, outlawed by the FIA, has also seemingly been ruled out. One source suggested to Pitpass that had it been a problem relating to such a system it would have become apparent at last week's test in Jerez.
While a setback for the team it is not as disastrous as it could have been, or perhaps as some would have us believe. Barcelona is renowned for highlighting potential problems which may not show up at other venues, the Lotus failure is not the first such example. The team should quickly regroup, and may even be able to reclaim its lost testing time in the same way that Mercedes did last week at Silverstone when it chose to run a private session after sacrificing the final days running in Jerez.
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