German GP Preview Q&A with Gastaldi and Chester


While Lotus Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi looks ahead to the German Grand Prix and the World Cup final, Technical Director Nick Chester talks 18" tyres.

Silverstone was a bit flat in more ways than one last weekend? Any positives?
Federico Gastaldi, Deputy Team Principal: There are no substitutes for points so again we were obviously disappointed coming away from Silverstone. However, Romain's pace in difficult conditions was positive and his performance warranted a point in mine and others' opinions. His run on medium tyres later in the race gave us some really good data and if he had been enabled to get off the line in a good fashion he would have been fighting for points. We had lots of issues over the weekend, some we could control but many we couldn't. It was hugely frustrating for Pastor to be moved down the grid due to insufficient fuel for his qualifying run and then he was the victim of a misjudgement from Esteban Gutierrez in the race. These things happen in racing from time to time but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with, but once more we saw a great approach from Pastor; even though his car was damaged and his engine wasn't at full strength he kept pushing hard.

How did you view the test at Silverstone last week, particularly the new Pirelli 18-inch tyres?
FG: It was interesting. The tyres were a good technical challenge for the engineers and also for Charles too, who did a fine job evaluating and giving strong feedback. Regarding the tyres, they are important not only for the performance of the car but also how the cars look. I think that fans and especially kids want to look at an F1 car and say 'wow', it looks amazing. While it is important for us to have a technical identification with the automotive industry there does need to be certain aspects that stand out more as well, too. So maybe even larger sizes are the answer? It remains to be seen what the FIA will decide upon for the future but we were happy to help Pirelli with the first steps in the process. We are all racers at Enstone and we care about the future of the sport deeply.

Hockenheim was good to the team in 2012 with a podium. What are the aspirations for the return fixture this year?
FG: Hockenheim is always a great Grand Prix and we enjoy racing there. Like Silverstone it has some good history and with the natural amphitheatre stadium bowl it has a unique atmosphere. I remember well the third place we achieved in 2012 and the memories are happy ones. However, for 2014 we are in a different situation but as ever we will strive for the maximum and push once more to fight for points. The team is working so hard for such little points reward at the moment. We need to see that change as soon as possible.

Pastor endured some misfortune again at Silverstone, he's due some good luck isn't he?
FG: If only F1 worked like that! But yes if it balances out a little during a season then he is owed some big-time luck. Through no fault of his own he got penalised in qualifying and started further back than the position he had earned, and then in the race we all saw what happened with Esteban Gutierrez. It was unfortunate that it affected him so much through his race because Pastor was quick prior to that, and I am sure, would have been strong as the race progressed. I hope for Pastor that his luck will change from Hockenheim onwards.

A World Cup update! What will the Gastaldi household be like on Sunday night?
FG: Tense but confident! The final of the World Cup is massive and we have not won it since 1986, so it is a long wait. I know the Albicelestes (sky blue and whites) will do their best and I hope they can achieve something memorable with our genius captain Lionel Messi. Vamos Vamos Argentina!

Lotus F1 Team Technical Director Nick Chester talks Silverstone, Pirelli's 18” concept tyres and looks ahead to Hockenheim…

How are we looking forward to Hockenheim?
Nick Chester, Technical Director: It's quite a mixed track with a couple of long straights and a medium-speed final section. Two of the straights are also linked by a medium to high-speed corner, which is good for us, as is having soft and supersoft tyres for this circuit. Weather is often a factor there too. Last time we were there, in 2012, it was wet on the Friday and Saturday. The hairpin is a key area for overtaking, so braking will be important.

Will we have any upgrades?
NC: Yes, our development schedule is continuing at full pace. We will have a new front wing, which is a decent improvement, a cooling upgrade and some smaller bodywork updates to increase downforce. Between what we have learnt in the Silverstone test and these upgrades, we hope to make a good step forward.

Is Hockenheim a circuit which should suit the E22?
NC: Between Hockenheim and the Hungaroring, which is the second circuit in the back-to-back combo, Hungaroring should be more beneficial for us as it is mostly made up of medium-speed corners. It's also not known as a 'power' circuit and is a high downforce track - which are all better aspects for us!

Can you explain the technical issues for Romain and Pastor in the British Grand Prix?
NC: Romain's start was compromised by an incorrect setting which meant he didn't have full power to make a proper getaway from the grid. This was frustrating as he lost a lot of places, which dropped him behind slower cars. Pastor's car suffered from a lot of floor damage after the contact from Esteban Gutierrez, which meant the loss of a good chunk of downforce. The rear wing was also badly compromised so he was running surprisingly well considering. For Pastor, we were also losing power from his engine over the course of the race, though it was managed to keep him going as long as possible. This did mean that our exhaust temperature went up, which may have led to the eventual exhaust failure, but the exhaust will have also experienced a fair shock with the contact and airborne moment too.

Lotus F1 Team was chosen to debut Pirelli's 18” tyres in the post-race test. What changes did you have to make?
NC: The 18-inch Pirelli tyres are obviously very different to the tyres used in F1 now, so we viewed it as a shakedown run; simply a case of 'let's see' for Pirelli, rather than a performance run. The bigger size meant we had to trim the floor and change the ride height to adapt to the different loaded radius of the tyres. Some of the suspension set up also had to be modified, such as the cambers. These were very basic revisions to enable Pirelli to evaluate the concept for the future and see what the bigger wheels look like on the car.

How much preparation time would be needed if 18” tyres are to be raced in F1?
NC: Having 18-inch tyres would have a big impact on design. We would want to be testing in the wind tunnel for at least a year ahead of their introduction. The ride height and suspension packages would have to be changed and the tyre profile itself would be very different. It would be an interesting challenge.

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Published: 11/07/2014
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