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Hungary preview with Eric Boullier and Alan Permane

NEWS STORY
20/07/2013

A double podium at the Nurburgring was exactly what the doctor ordered, with the same again in Budapest being most welcome reckons Team Principal Eric Boullier.

We're approaching the half-way mark of the season; what are your thoughts on the team's performance so far?
Eric Boullier: It's clear that we've had some good weekends and some weekends which have fallen short of expectations. Our last outing in Germany clearly falls into the former camp and that's the sort of weekend we want to have in the coming races to get our championship fight back on track. If we can continue that push and refine the car we should be well placed for the second half of the season.

Why was the E21 so effective in Germany when it hasn't gone as well in the previous few races?
EB: I think the only place where the car hasn't worked well is in Canada, which can be attributed to cooler temperatures and the energy that circuit puts through the tyres. Elsewhere, we've certainly had the potential for good results so there is no sense of panic. Germany showed what can happen when everything goes well and seeing both drivers on the podium - especially when both were fighting for the race win at different points of the race - was especially rewarding.

Talking of drivers, there's a lot of discussion about the driver market at the moment…
EB: It's clear that Lotus F1 Team is a desirable place to be and we know there's been a lot of talk about Kimi's future. We all know that Kimi is an individual and he will make his decision in his own time. Naturally, we want him to continue in the sport and continue with Lotus F1 Team so we're doing everything we can do to make that happen. Romain did a fantastic job in Germany which showed he is capable of mixing it with the very best in the sport.

What are your feelings looking back on the German GP?
EB: It was a very good race from the team and one which validates all the hard work that has been going on back at Enstone. There's been a lot of time and energy put into bringing upgrades to each race and getting the car back to the front after three difficult weekends, so it was very satisfying to see the result of all that hard work being rewarded.

How did you rate the team performance overall?
EB: The E21 worked very well and both Kimi and Romain drove superbly. We had a good strategy from the pit wall, some fantastic pit stops, and were it not for losing some time behind both Mercedes with Kimi and then the safety car with Romain it's possible that we could have won.

How much of a boost is a result like that for the team?
EB: Being back on podium was exactly what we needed. We need to continue like this to make up for lost ground in both championships. It's good to have this extra motivation for a strong race in Budapest before the summer break.

How much use was the Silverstone test?
EB: It was good for us to get some mileage in lovely conditions at Silverstone. We were able to utilise Nico [Prost] and Davide [Valsecchi] to run the type of programme we haven't been able to implement over the past few seasons where the Young Driver Test occurred at the end of the year. We did intend to run Kimi, but when the limitations on what race drivers could do in their testing for Pirelli became evident, it made more sense to be able to run a normal test programme with Nico.

What effect do you think the latest tyre specifications will have?
EB: Budapest will be the real test, but we're confident we have enough data to say that there shouldn't be any nasty surprises. We performed well in Hungary last year and we're eager to do the same again this season too.

After a strong race for the team in Germany, the question for many was 'could we have won?' Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane gives the team's analysis of that race, and the potential for Budapest.

Now we've been able to go through all the data and simulations, was a win possible at the Nurburgring?
Alan Permane: Reflecting on that race and having run the possible scenarios through our strategy analysis software as per every weekend, we firmly believe that both Kimi and Romain would have had a far superior chance of catching and passing Sebastian [Vettel] were it not for the emergence of the Safety Car 36 laps from the end. We would have been much more comfortable with the idea of running Kimi on a two-stop strategy; sending him deeper into the race on his second stint rather than being forced into an early change by the Safety Car. There has been a lot of debate over whether we should have left Kimi out in his final stint, but it's very clear from our simulations that - had his tyre degradation level continued at a steady rate - Seb would have quite easily been able to reel him in. While we are in no doubt about that, what is questionable is what would have happened if the degradation level had increased towards the end of the race. This was certainly the case for a number of other drivers who opted for that strategy, who we then saw being passed quite easily in the latter stages; something that would likely have happened to Kimi and subsequently dropped him back to fourth behind Fernando [Alonso] rather than a comfortable second with a fighting chance of victory. Taking all that into account, we're very comfortable that the decision taken was the correct one.

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