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Lotus' United States GP preview with Gastaldi and Chester


Lotus F1 Team Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi looks to America and beyond and gives his unique insight.

Welcome to America Federico; do you feel good?
Federico Gastaldi: There's an underlying confidence and strengthening resolve at Enstone as we have a positive outlook for the future, all of which will become evident before too long. There's no point dancing faster than the music, but our dancing shoes are being polished in readiness. Do I feel good? Yes, I feel positive and know we're doing everything we can to capitalise on the opportunities ahead.

Is the team any closer to disclosing who will be driving alongside Pastor in 2016?
FG: The remorseless passing of time means that you always get closer to something in the future, so yes, we are closer to making an announcement. I would say something will come sooner rather than later. We won't be disclosing who it is before we announce it, but we certainly have been speaking to drivers with good provenance and we have a pretty good idea who we will have in the car.

It is the fourth time we will race at Circuit of the Americas. What are your thoughts on the facility and also F1 generally in the US?
FG: It's fair to say that myself, the team and pretty much everyone in Formula 1 - at least those I speak to - reckon that Austin is a highlight on the calendar. We arrive to a great welcome and experience a fantastic event with superb support from all the fans. It's good for Formula 1 to be building its presence in the US as it is a great marketplace for us to be. We've also experienced some exciting racing at the Circuit of the Americas. All in all, there's nothing not to like.

Pirelli have been confirmed as continuing as the official tyre supplier; what does this mean for the sport?
FG: It's great to get this confirmation. Pirelli have put a lot into Formula 1; not only through their on-track activities, but also through their marketing and activation in the world at large. Formula 1 needs strong, proactive partners and Pirelli is certainly one of these. They're also a great bunch of people to work with, clever, funny and good looking. I hope that this is enough praise for the team to be rewarded with some extra special tyres for Austin. Conspiracy theorists please note; that last sentence was just for fun.

Imagine the United States Grand Prix runs to the script of a Hollywood blockbuster: What would you like to see in the script?
FG: I think much of Formula 1 already runs like the script of a movie! We have the drama, intrigue and emotion at every event, with the plot twisting and turning to captivate audiences worldwide. We've seen some pretty surprising storylines over the years and not much would surprise me. That said, I would be very surprised if we see Federico Gastaldi driving an F1 car through the streets of downtown Austin.

Technical Director Nick Chester explains that Romain will have a race-ready car in Austin as he previews the United States Grand Prix.

What are the main characteristics of the Circuit of the Americas?
Nick Chester: The circuit has an interesting layout with a high speed sector one that has an interesting combination of high speed corners. Towards the end of the lap there are more slow speed corners and there is a reasonable back straight. It's a track that is quite mixed; it is a good technical circuit and one that the drivers like.

Which downforce levels are required for the Circuit of the Americas? Tyre-wear?
NC: The downforce levels are medium to high. We won't be using maximum downforce as it would slow us down in the first sector and on the back straight. Regarding the tyres, we will have the medium and soft Pirelli compounds in Austin. The wear will be pretty standard - the tarmac is still relatively smooth - and we are probably expecting a race with two stops but no extreme tyre-wear.

The team has been successful in Austin in the past - will it suit the E23?
NC: The E23 should go quite well in Austin. It has proved to perform at most tracks and I think that again it should suit the Circuit of the Americas quite well. Hopefully we can qualify in the top 10 and score a good haul of points.

Looking back at the team's performance in Sochi, was our level of competitiveness expected?
NC: Our prediction had been to be pretty competitive in Russia and Romain proved that by qualifying in eighth on Saturday, only a tenth off sixth on the grid. We thought that we would be pretty good around there. Pastor's race pace on the soft tyre was reasonably good; on the other hand he wasn't as strong on the super soft tyres. Overall the performance on track was solid, of course it is a shame that Romain had a difficult first lap and then a crash, otherwise he'd have been racing Sergio Perez.

Has the team shed light on what happened to Romain on Sunday, the cause of the high speed impact?
NC: There is no indication in the data and in the parts that anything broke and subsequently caused the accident. It isn't easy to draw conclusions in any accident investigation but it looks like Romain was maybe a little bit close to the McLaren and lost some downforce, running out of grip effectively. There is nothing that we can see that makes it a car failure.

What is the extent of the damage?
NC: It is quite significant but still the car stood up well to the impact. The right hand side of the car suffered the damage - front and rear suspension right hand side, the nose, the rear wing, crash structure. We haven't seen anything however that should stop us getting the car back together.

The cars won't come back to Enstone until after the last race of the season...
NC: That's right, it's a long haul for them! Any work that needs carrying out on the cars is done at the track now until Abu Dhabi; this means that the mechanics will be busy in Austin rebuilding Romain's chassis.

Austin is a popular venue for the team...
NC: Absolutely. It's a great city with a lot going on. When the guys do get away from the track, they'll enjoy some Texan food for sure. It's a race with a great atmosphere. The fans are amazing and when they see team members, they ask about the racing with a genuine interest. It's really nice.


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