Exclusive Eric Boullier Q&A: Lotus can still win in 2012 27 Sep 2012
Lotus have been 2012s dark horses. They may still be waiting on that elusive first win, but with the team just 14 points shy of Ferrari in the hunt for third in the constructors table and Kimi Raikkonen P3 in the drivers standings, everythings ticking over nicely at Enstone. Team principal Eric Boullier, however, cant help wondering where they might have been had they not chalked up quite so many DNFs and hes hoping things will settle down enough over the remaining six races to ensure a strong final push
Q: Eric, Lotus are 14 points shy of Ferrari in the fight for P3 in the constructors standing. Can you give us three reasons why you can finish third?
Eric Boullier: Three reasons? Lets see. Our determination, the excellence of the cars design and our consistency.
Q: Why will you finish higher than Ferrari?
EB: Their package is fast but they are mainly relying on one driver. That is fine if you are chasing the drivers championship, but its not the strategy if you are chasing the constructors championship. We are chasing the constructors championship to give one of our drivers the chance to fight for the drivers championship. And Kimi is now in a position where we will do everything to push him.
Q: Raikkonen is this seasons miracle man, as hes third in the drivers championship but hasnt won a single race. How has he done it? He used to be known as a win at all costs kind of driver, but now seems to have morphed into one capable of playing the long game
EB: His miracle is that has built up his race weekends very cleverly. At the start he needed a while to get back up to pace and he probably didnt make the best out of qualifying. But in the race he proved himself to be a very good finisher. He had so many podiums in a row. And about his metamorphosis, maybe its because he is getting older? Can I say that? I can at least say hes more experienced and more mature. (laughs) I think another reason for the change might also be that he is happy with his environment. I think he likes it around here.
Q: Romain Grosjean made quite an impression in Spa. What did you tell him when he returned to the pits?
EB: I had to be constructive. We had a long face-to-face chat on the Monday after the race. I wanted to put everything on the table - my opinion and his opinion. I wanted him to do the talking more than me. And we reached a consensus that will enable him to step up.
Q: How much did his one-race ban affect your plans in the constructors championship?
EB: Ha, we had quite a number of DNFs on Romans side and they have all affected our championship plan. So the goal from now on is to not miss out on any opportunities any more.
Q: The general opinion is that Lotus will win this year. So which race are you going to win?
EB: Its always the next one. We hoped to win in Singapore. It didnt happen, so we will move our ambitions to Japan and so on
Q: What about your 2013 driver line-up? When will you announce it? Will it be Raikkonen and Grosjean again?
EB: I think it will look pretty much the same as what we have this season. With Kimi we have a two-year contract, with an option.
Q: If you were playing devils advocate, what would persuade Raikkonen to stay or indeed leave Lotus?
EB: First of all you need to make sure that your drivers want to race for you and that should answer your question. I would say that Kimi feels very good here.
Q: If he hadnt decided to make a comeback with you, what was your Plan B?
EB: Ah, we had many plans. They probably werent so good though. Theres no question that it was a pretty cool move to get Kimi on board. We get more than the sporting results. He has brought motivation back into the company. You can feel that people admire him. Admiration can do fantastic things and its something that we never anticipated before. Sponsors, for example, love him, even though they know about his reputation for being a person who is difficult to handle. But that in itself is no issue at all. Kimi is playing the game. So the whole package, the whole momentum, is what makes us move forward.
Q: Whose idea was it to get Raikkonen back? It carried a lot of risks
EB: I think it was (team Chairman) Gerard (Lopez). We had a meeting with our senior staff to speak about the future of the team and we had a list of drivers that we were thinking of signing. Kimi was on the list. I think that Gerard wanted Kimi more than anybody else - and he pushed for it. In fact it was a very simple, rational discussion.
Q: In an ideal world where would you want Lotus to finish the season? Would Lotus deserve it?
EB: In an ideal world we would finish second in the drivers championship. And we would deserve it. Everybody in this team would deserve that position.
Q: Who do you think would win the title in that case and who would make way for you to take second?
EB: That I dont want to know. And second place would be in an ideal world. It is probably what we could have achieved in an ideal world where DNFs and crashes dont exist! (laughs)
For tickets and travel to 2012 FORMULA 1 races, click here.
For FORMULA 1 and F1 team merchandise, click here.