Lotus Deputy Principal Federico Gastaldi and Technical Director Nick Chester look forward to the first European race of the season eager for more points and success.
How much does the team look forward to racing in Spain?
Federico Gastaldi: We all love Barcelona and the surrounding countryside. Spain and the Spanish people are wonderful and I have a lot of friends as well as family there. In terms of a racing challenge, it's a fascinating event as it's where every team should be operating at their maximum potential at this time of the season as the circuit is so well known to us all. There are no excuses if you can't get your car set-up or working well at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya!
What has been keeping the team busy since Bahrain?
FG: We've been working hard on improving the E23 and how we use it, whether through the progress made in our technical debriefs, or the parts being fabricated here in Enstone. Elsewhere we also took the car to Brands Hatch for our filming day, which we opened to the public. This is something we've done historically behind closed doors where we have contractual obligations with partners for moving images and the like so it's a full day. We looked at things a little differently this year and asked 'why don't we open the doors to fans who want to attend'. Thankfully we have a fantastic relationship with Jonathan Palmer and MotorSport Vision and they shared our vision. It was fantastic to have so many fans take a day off work to come visit us and it's definitely something we'll do again.
Anything exiting planned for the first European race?
FG: There's potential for some things which could open some eyes in Barcelona and then at the next race in Monaco too. It's fair to say it's busy times at Enstone.
What are your thoughts on Romain's championship charge?
FG: Romain delivered another textbook driving display in Bahrain and he continues to impress us and other seasoned F1 observers with his on track prowess. He is very focused this year and this means he's making the most of every moment in the car. We know as soon as we can unlock a little more pace from the E23, there will be even stronger results to come.
Pastor has had more of a difficult start to his year, what are the team doing to ensure he can get the maximum from the E23?
FG: We're still waiting for those first 2015 points with Pastor and no-one wants them more than the man himself. Pastor is driving really well and has been the victim of other drivers' mistakes rather too much this year. We know he likes the E23 and can get it to deliver very good pace. Pastor enjoyed great success in Barcelona a few years ago so hopefully that is a good omen for him.
Jolyon is being kept busy in and out of the car?
FG: It's always a notable step for a driver to go from focusing on contesting the GP2 Series championship to having a very different role at a Formula 1 race team. We're keeping him very busy with his in-car duties and he has impressed us with his pace, application and feedback from his FP1 sessions so far. Out of the car there has been a lot of interest in him and he's kept busy with media duties. Of course, like any driver, he'd like to be racing, but he's definitely not sitting about being bored!
It's Carmen's home race - how is she gelling with the team?
FG: Carmen has gone down really well with the team and it is a pleasure working with her. It's been a surprise just how much attention she's received. She has been hard at work in the simulator this week at Enstone and I think some aspects of the F1 set-up have been eye-opening for her. Certainly the step from GP3 - where she raced for the past three seasons - to Formula 1 is a large one but she's applied herself well.
Heading to a familiar foe in the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Technical Director Nick Chester dissects what the team needs to do to move up the order.
What can the team expect from Barcelona and will we see a traditional big upgrade package for this race?
Nick Chester: It will be an interesting weekend as many teams will bring decent upgrades to the first European race of the season and we are working on bringing a reasonably significant package in terms of bodywork upgrades ourselves. There's a certain amount of anticipation to see what everyone turns up with. In terms of our expectations, there's nothing to say that we shouldn't have another strong race in Barcelona, just as we did in China and Bahrain.
Last year we saw a strong qualifying performance from the team in Barcelona in what was generally a very character-building season - why the 'freak' strong result?
NC: Indeed, we did have a good weekend last year in Barcelona. The E22 was good in high speed corners but not so good in low speed corners. This year's car is much more consistent in all corners. The drivers are complimentary about the handling of the car finding it much easier to drive on the limit and we seem to be in a similar position at each track we have visited so far this year. It's far more what we all want from a car.
Are the practice sessions treated any differently with the sheer breadth of knowledge that teams and drivers have of the circuit?
NC: Not so much. We tend to spend a lot of the first session checking out new parts and working on new ideas. This is now common practice for us on Friday mornings. Barcelona tends to be that bit easier as the drivers and the team know the circuit so well. Also, Romain, Pastor and Jolyon have all come to Enstone these last few days for simulator sessions based on the track. The work we are doing is proving very useful for the team and is great for pre-event preparations.
What do we know of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and what challenges does it present?
NC: It's a circuit that needs really strong downforce which really is key in Barcelona with so many high speed corners. The third sector is slightly different in that the car needs to be able to ride the kerbs well through the chicanes. That said, you can't get away from the fact that the main element is the amount of downforce you have on the car.
Romain's had two P7 finishes now - how can we help vault him and Pastor further up the order?
NC: It's been good for Romain to have had these two strong finishes. He has a car that he's happy with and a good solid baseline in terms of set-up and performance. Pastor will benefit from a clean race to collect points. Both cars are capable of strong results. For stronger finishes than P7 we need to continue to develop the car to make it more competitive: put more downforce on the car and continue with our upgrade programme.
How competitive is the field overall this season?
NC: Certainly, it's pretty competitive in the midfield and fighting to be at the head of the chasing pack. Mercedes are still the team to beat this season although Ferrari is giving them a chase at the moment. There is a fairly big gap to Williams who are followed by Red Bull and us - there is a smaller gap there and we can race them.