The Enstone family is unique in its 'human' approach to Formula 1; a strategy Team Principal Eric Boullier believes will drive the team forwards.
Eric, if you had to sum-up the Australian GP in one word, what would it be?
Eric Boullier: Pride, I think.
EB: Well, we are coming back from a tough 2011 season. From a human and a technical point of view, last year was very, very tough. We took some risks with an innovative concept that didn't pay off, and we paid the price for that. However, when we approached the subject of 2012 this experience did not prevent us from being brave once again. The team proved that they were not scared to think outside the box once again. This is exactly what I was expecting. I guess this is in the DNA of Enstone. As a Team Principal, I can only be impressed with this approach.
Were you expecting the E20 to perform so well in Melbourne?
EB: Before qualifying nobody really knew what to expect. Possibly to a greater extent than in previous years, there was very little reliable information to be learned from winter testing. We knew our car was quite quick, but as for the others we had absolutely no clue. Saturday was a relief: you don't reach the second row of the grid by chance.
What about Sepang, then?
EB: It will be a totally different track from Albert Park of course. This said, we think that the E20 should be competitive there. One of its bigger assets is very low tyre degradation. Considering the very hot conditions in Malysia, this can only be a help. We think we can be competitive there.
Romain and Kimi seem to be a very competitive line-up...
EB: Yes, and that was our target for this year. The two of them get on well and they push each other. This is an ideal situation for us. We knew it from the beginning. Romain was really unlucky in Australia as he could have fought for the top places there. Unfortunately, he's been taken out of the race by another driver. This is part of the game I guess, but it was really frustrating. Such manoeuvres from opponents are unnecessary in the first few laps of a race. This driver did not see the finish line either, so I guess there is some justice in that... Kimi managed to gain 11 places over the course of the race, which shows how motivated he is.
The 2012 championship will be decided on development, presumably. Will the team be able to cope with it?
EB: Development means resource and investment. With Genii Capital behind us, we know that we'll benefit from a strong a reliable asset. They will do whatever it takes to help us design and produce the parts we need to be more competitive. Genii did not get involved in Formula 1 to finish second.
How can the team fight against Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull? Your budget does not have anything in common with these teams...
EB: You're right, but our philosophy is that money does not buy wins and championships. For us, Formula 1 is all about being clever and cost efficient. The E20 is the first Enstone car designed with our 60% scale wind tunnel and upgraded CFD facility. In a few weeks, our brand new simulator will be operational. People in Enstone have the right tools to push forward and we're investing where we have to. That said, people should not think of us as a second class team. With Lotus, Total, Rexona, Clear and Microsoft Dynamics on board, we're clearly among the most attractive outfits around.
You have been the only team this year to announce a commercial deal with worldwide groups...
EB: Exactly. This means that our approach seduces the biggest companies in the world. When partners sign with Lotus F1 Team, they don't enter into a commercial relationship: they become part of a very special family. The human aspect of Formula 1 is usually neglected, but we make it the number one priority on our list. Our communications and marketing philosophy is unique within the sport. We are honest, open, approachable, and sometimes a bit cheeky as well. We love our fans, and we never lie to the media. This is unusual in the paddock and this is what makes Lotus F1 Team a very unique organisation. This will pay off eventually. The good guys always win in the end.
The E20 has performed well at three circuits in 2012. Can the team unlock Sepang's secrets? Technical directer, James Allison shares his thoughts.
What was your take on the first race of the 2012 season?
James Allison: A solitary seventh place from the race doesn't tell the full story. Overall we can be proud of the way that the car, the team and our drivers have performed. The E20 has looked fast at Jerez, at Barcelona, and now at Albert Park too. Romain did a terrific job to qualify in third position. He was unfortunate with his start and more unfortunate still to have suffered an impact with another driver causing his untimely departure from the race. We took some satisfaction from Kimi's solid drive which converted his rather lowly grid position into a handful of points.