Winless wonders - Lotuss mid-season report 29 Aug 2012
Lotus may be enjoying one of their best seasons in years, but theres a distinct sense of anticipation in the air at Enstone. The E20 is one of the grids strongest and most inventive cars, they have a former world champion and a bright young talent on their books, and their engineers boast boundless ambition. Lotus are a team waiting to win. Like a would-be king killing time before his coronation, Lotus know theyll make it to the podiums top step at some juncture. Even if they dont, theyve been busily scoring enough top-three finishes to make them very real championship contenders
Season in numbers
Constructors standings: 3rd, 192 points
Drivers standings: Kimi Raikkonen (5th, 116 points), Romain Grosjean (8th, 76 points)
Highest 2012 qualifying: 2nd (Grosjean, Hungary)
Highest 2012 finish: 2nd (Raikkonen - Bahrain, Europe and Hungary, Grosjean - Canada)
Lotus may have started the year down on test mileage after missing the second session due to a problem with front-suspension mountings, but the pace of the E20 throughout the season so far has confirmed they lost little ground. Boasting a punchy and innovative design, the Lotus is the gift that keeps on giving, scoring more points over the last five races than any other constructor and performing equally well at tracks as diverse as Silverstone and the Hungaroring. Qualifying may have been a bug bear, but Grosjeans second-place on the grid in Hungary suggests that hard work at the design desk and in the strategy room has started to pay off. Unlike last year, when flashes of speed were eventually drowned out by lack of development, Lotuss downforce-boosting upgrade programme has been unrelenting. The teams own take on Mercedes radical double DRS system, which came to light in Germany, hasnt even been raced yet, but many suspect it could prove highly significant to their title campaign.
Reenergized by their name change (from Renault in 2011), Lotus have been fearless this year. From signing former world champion Raikkonen after two years absence from the sport, to allowing the Finn and Grosjean to race each other as equals, this team isnt afraid to take risks. And the policy is clearly paying off. Led by team principal Eric Boullier and technical director James Allison, Lotus are still definite championship contenders. Fifty four points isnt an insurmountable deficit.
Theres no denying Lotus took a gamble with their line-up this year. Raikkonen may be a former champion, but he had been away from single-seaters since his Ferrari days and Grosjean was a virtual rookie, having made a pretty disastrous first Formula One foray back in 2009. The gamble, however, has paid off. Raikkonen may have been troubled by a power-steering issue, but there have been plenty of highs including his three podium finishes. Grosjean, meanwhile, has bounced back from his tough, mistake-laden, opening few rounds with some very mature and confident performances. No one who saw the duo ferociously battling it out at the pit-lane exit in Hungary could doubt their ambition and talent. Either of them could take that crucial maiden win for the team.
What they say: Were only just past the halfway mark in the season so its not fantasy to think that were still in the hunt in both championships. The general trend is of our car getting stronger and I hope that we can press that home in the coming races. James Allison, technical director
What we say: Okay, maybe they havent made the most of their opportunities - but the best is almost certainly yet to come.
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