The newly-named Lotus Renault GP team has become the fourth F1 team to reveal its new car for the 2011 F1 season.
The covers came off the R31 during a launch event at the Valencia circuit ahead of the three day test which will begin on Tuesday.
After an impressive return to form with the R30 last year, Renault will now hope to challenge for victory again this season with team chairman Gerard Lopez saying he was confident that the team can hit its target of improving in both the drivers' and constructors' championship.
“For Genii Capital and Lotus Renault GP, the 2011 season will be the one in which we achieve our aims,” said Gerard Lopez. “We now have 100 per cent ownership of the team, and we're tackling the coming championship with the intention of continuing to do things our way – but always with humility.
“I would like to welcome Lotus Cars, a new ambitious title sponsor with us for the long term. Renault and Total have also chosen to accompany us again in this adventure and we thank them for their valuable contribution. Our aim for 2011 is to continue our march towards the front of the grid, seize the slightest opportunity and do better than last season in both the drivers' and constructors' championships. We feel we are well prepared for the challenge ahead.”
The R31 features a new suspension layout on the rear end as part of a raft of changes compared to the R30, with technical director James Allison insisting it was difficult to compare the two cars.
“2011 is a different year with a new set of regulations and that's why the R31 is a very different car,” he said. “For example, KERS is back this year and the car has been completely re-engineered to accommodate that system in an efficient way. We've also chosen to change the layout of our rear suspension by opting for a pull rod system for the first time in decades. As I said before, anyone can see that the treatment we have given to some specific areas is completely new compared with anything we have done previously. All of those things are aimed at trying to maximize the R31 under the 2011 rules.
“There are many teams that know how to produce a good car and we're under no illusion about the scale of the challenge facing us in 2011. I think that last year we perhaps exceeded the expectations of some people in the pit lane, but we certainly didn't outperform our own expectations. While we were happy to be moving back in the right direction, we would be frustrated if we started 2011 operating at the same performance level we showed last year. That means we want the R31 to be competitive right from the off and in with a chance of scoring podiums or better from the first race. Considering the tremendous effort that has gone in at all levels to produce this car, that would be a fitting reward for all concerned.”
Renault R30-2010 Engine:
* Capacity: 2400 cc
* Architecture: 90° V8
* Weight: 95 kg
* Max rpm: 18.000 rpm
* ECU: MES SECU
* Fuel: Total
* Oil: Elf (a brand of TOTAL)
* Battery: Renault F1 Team
*Molded carbon fiber and aluminum honeycomb composite monocoque, manufactured by the Renault F1 Team and designed for maximum strength with minimum weight. RS27-2010 V8 engine installed as a fully-member.
* Front suspension: Carbon fiber top and bottom wishbones operate an inboard rocker via a pushrod system. This is connected to a torsion bar and damper units which are mounted inside the front of the monocoque. Aluminum uprights and OZ machined magnesium wheels.
* Rear suspension: Carbon fiber top and bottom wishbones with pushrod operated torsion bars and transverse-mounted damper units mounted in the top of the gearbox casing. Aluminum uprights and OZ machined magnesium wheels.
* Transmission: Seven-speed semi-automatic titanium gearbox with reverse gear. “Quickshift” system in operation to maximize speed of gearshifts.
* Fuel system: Kevlar-reinforced rubber fuel cell by ATL.
* Cooling system: Separate oil and water radiators located in the car’s sidepods and cooled using airflow from the car’s forward motion.
* Electrical: MES-Microsoft Standard Electronic Control Unit.
* Braking system: Carbon discs and pads (Hitco); calipers and master cylinders by AP Racing.
* Cockpit: Removable driver’s seat made of anatomically formed carbon composite, with six-point harness seat belt by OMP Racing. Steering wheel integrates gear change and clutch paddles, front flap adjuster.
* Front track: 1450 mm
* Rear track: 1400 mm
* Overall length: 5050 mm
* Overall height: 950 mm
* Overall width: 1800 mm
* Overall weight: 620 kg, with driver, cameras and ballast
Lotus Renault GP man Vitaly Petrov looks ahead to his second season at the pinnacle of the sport as he looks to build on a tough debut year and prove he deserves the coveted place alongside Robert Kubica.
Vitaly, you’re entering your second season of Formula 1 as a Lotus Renault GP driver. How does it feel?
I’m really proud to be here and I hope together we can achieve some great things. The team has shown a lot of faith in me and it’s my chance to show everybody that they were right to believe in me.
Do you feel ready to deliver?
Everybody knows that 2010 was not that easy for me, but after a year in Formula 1 I feel more confident and ready to face the challenge of 2011. I know what I need to change, where I can improve and I’m determined to do well and fight hard for this team.
You’re no longer a rookie and you’ve seen how Formula 1 works. Will that change your approach this season?
2010 was a long season and I learned a lot, so it’s natural that I will come back with more experience and as a better driver. I now understand how difficult Formula 1 is on every level and I know that even a small mistake can have a big impact on your weekend. My focus this year is to make sure I put everything together, maximize all the sessions and stay concentrated all weekend long.
What do you think about the new rule changes that have been introduced this year?
I think it’s good for Formula 1 and I know that the team has been working for a long time to make sure we get the most from the new technology on the car. For me it will be more things to learn and adapt to because I’ve never used KERS before and the adjustable rear wing is new for everyone. But I think the biggest challenge is getting used to the new tires and a big part of winter testing will be trying to understand them. I think this is the biggest task facing the team.
What goals do you have in mind this season?
That’s always a very difficult question to answer, especially before the start of winter testing. And even when you start testing, it’s difficult to know who is really the strongest and how you compare. It’s only when we get to the first race in Bahrain that we will find out who has done the best job over the winter. So it’s difficult for me to set objectives until we know the facts.
How have you prepared for the new season?
I went home to Russia for a holiday with my family and friends. It was a chance to simply relax and switch off for a while. Then, I started doing some training, things like football and even some cross-country skiing to maintain my fitness. At the start of January I moved to England and I’ve been spending a lot of time in Enstone with the team. I think this is important because it helps strengthen my relationships with the engineers, mechanics and the people around me. By living near the factory and being there during the week, I hope that I can be as prepared as possible for the new season.
Senna and Grosjean
Bruno, congratulations on your new role with Lotus Renault GP – how does it feel to be part of the team?
It’s a great moment for me. I’ve been trying to get into a good Formula 1 program for a couple of years so it feels great to be joining such an established team. I’m proud of this achievement and thankful for the opportunity that I’ve been given.
What do you think of the team’s new livery – will it feel special to wear these iconic colors?
It’s probably the most attractive color scheme in Formula 1 history. Black and gold looked beautiful back in the 1980s, when my uncle was racing, and they look just as stunning on a current car. Also, to be able to wear the same colors that my uncle used for a few years in his career feels very special.
You visited Enstone recently, what did you think of the facilities?
I was very impressed. When you walk around the factory you can see how much is going on behind the scenes and how hard everybody is pushing to take the team forward. Everyone is optimistic that the team will take a big jump forward in performance this year.
What do you hope to learn in your role as third driver?
This year will be all about integrating myself with the team and extracting the most I can from being in such a competitive environment. Being part of this project will give me so much valuable experience and it’s down to me to make the most of it. I hope that I can develop myself and prove to the team that I should be given an opportunity for the future.
Romain, you will be a third driver for Lotus Renault GP in 2011. Tell us what it means to be given this chance?
It’s a great opportunity for me to be back in Formula 1 because my dream is to try and get back on the grid. It’s a good time to be here because this team is getting stronger and everybody saw how much the car improved last year. Now, with the arrival of Lotus as a partner, there is a real buzz about this team and it’s exciting to be a part of it.
You have had a long association with Enstone through your links with Renault – did it feel special to go back there?
Returning to Enstone felt just like coming home. It brought back a lot of happy memories because I know the place so well and I have a lot of friends there. It’s also special because this is a new beginning for the team and everybody is really motivated and excited about the year ahead.
You’ve already been around Formula 1 for several years, but what more can you learn in your role this year?
There are always things to learn in Formula 1, especially these days when drivers have even less time in the cars. Just going to the engineering meetings will be valuable and I know I can learn a lot by listening to Robert and Vitaly talk about the car.
What are your objectives for 2011 and will you continue racing alongside your F1 duties?
Yes, I will be racing for DAMS this year, starting off in GP2 Asia and then doing the main GP2 series. It’s something I’m really looking forward to because there is a new GP2 car for 2011 and new Pirelli tires, so it will be a fresh start for everybody. The team is very motivated and we will be pushing hard to try and win the title.
Lotus Renault GP Team Principal and Managing Director Eric Boullier looks ahead to the challenge facing the Enstone-based outfit this season following the launch of the squad’s new car, the R31, today in Valencia, Spain.
Eric, the start of the 2011 season is just over a month away. How excited are you about the year ahead?
I think there is a great deal to be excited about this year, especially as we begin an important new era for this team. 2010 was a useful year; a time to rebuild and prepare for the future, but at the same time everybody in the team put in an amazing amount of effort and we saw the results of that on the racetrack. Now, with the arrival of a long-term partner in Group Lotus, we have the financial stability to build on these strong foundations and ensure a very competitive future. That is incredibly motivating for everybody in the team and gives us all the belief that we can continue to compete at the sharp end of the grid with the strongest teams in the sport. Over the last twelve months, we have all worked so hard to prepare for 2011 and I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved and looking forward to getting the season underway.
The winter months building the new car are always some of the busiest of the year – how has the factory handled the creation of the R31?
In fact, Formula 1 never stops. With the R31, work started before the R30 had even done a single race. In 2010 we achieved a very high rate of development and the car that finished the season was two seconds per lap quicker than the car we had at the first race. During the winter, that same determined approach to the workload has continued, which is a testament to the spirit and commitment of the people we have in this team. Yes, the workload is huge at this time of year, but if we keep our heads down and maximize the winter test sessions, I’m pretty sure we will have a strong start to 2011.
Can the team repeat last year’s high development pace in 2011?
The plan is to take exactly the same approach to development this year, although our expectation is to start the season in a much stronger position. That means we will have to be even more creative and will look to investigate some new technical areas that we have not examined before. But technical innovation isn’t the only key to performance and over the last 12 months we have reviewed all our internal processes and left no stone unturned. Today we can say that our overall efficiency has improved by 15%.
The team is fielding an unchanged driver line-up. How important is that stability for taking the team forward?
Stability is important in any industry and especially in the very fast-moving Formula 1 environment, which is intensively competitive on every level. Having stability in our drivers is one of the key elements in bringing this team back to full competitiveness. It will allow us to capitalize on what we learned last year. The new management, the drivers, the engineers and mechanics have all been working together for a year now and have spent that time understanding each other. Now is the time when we can capitalize on that bond and team spirit, which will only make us stronger.
What do you think Robert [Kubica] and Vitaly [Petrov] are capable of achieving in 2011?
Our driver line-up is still a mixture of talent, experience and youth. Robert is clearly one of our strongest assets and we know we can rely on his speed, commitment and dedication for the long term. As for Vitaly, he showed us at the end of last year that he understands what we expect of him in 2011 and he was ready to commit to this. With a year’s experience behind him, he will be able to approach the new season with more confidence and is ready to help the team raise its game. We took the risk of investing in him last year and I’m sure we will see the benefit of that this year.
Are you confident the team can take a significant step forward and challenge for wins in 2011?
We live to race and our goal is to win. It’s the core of our philosophy. All the hard work over the last twelve months has been focused on delivering a big improvement for 2011, and that means we should be more competitive than last year. Will we be stronger than our competitors? Hard to say, but based on the efforts of everybody here, I feel we deserve it.
Lotus Renault GP number one driver Robert Kubica talks about his excitement for the season ahead and reveals his thoughts on the new regulations following the launch of the team’s 2011 F1 car, the R31, today at Valencia in Spain.
Robert, the new season is just over a month away. How excited are you about the challenge that awaits you?
After a long winter break you always feel ready to jump back in the car and I’m really looking forward to this season. As well as my car having new colors, there are some big changes to the regulations, such as the removal of double diffusers, the introduction of adjustable rear wings and new Pirelli tires. So there are a lot of new things to get used to before the first race, but we will do our best to be as ready as we can for the start of the season.
This is your second season with this team. Does that make it easier to extract the maximum from yourself and the car?
Obviously when you join a team everything is new and you have to get to know the people and how they operate. So it’s good that we don’t have to worry about that this year because I know what to expect. That will make it easier to concentrate on extracting the maximum from the car and trying to improve performance.
How different do you think the sport will be in 2011 as a result of all the rule changes?
I think it will be quite a bit different, but I wouldn’t say it will be more challenging because taking an F1 car to the limit is always a challenge. The drivers will definitely be busier with KERS and the adjustable rear wing, but it probably won’t be any more difficult than last year when we had to operate the f-duct. In fact, it will be good to have both hands back on the steering wheel for a change! We will certainly have to concentrate hard during the first few days of testing to understand the new systems, but I’m sure we will soon get used to them and everything will become automatic.
Is the adjustable rear wing something that excites you as a driver?
I think it’s clear it will create the opportunity for more overtaking, which is good for Formula 1 and the show, but we need to be careful that it does not give too much advantage to the car behind. If we see overtaking on every lap of the race because the wing is giving too much advantage, then I don’t think this will be exciting. The other thing we have to think about is the gear ratios because it will be a big challenge to find the ideal settings, especially for sixth and seventh gears. Even if you find a good setting for qualifying, when you can use the wing as much as you want, you also need to find a good compromise for the race, when its use is restricted.
How difficult will it be to get through the workload during winter testing to be ready for the first race?
It’s never easy because the number of days we have for testing is limited, but I think there is just enough time to be ready for Bahrain. It all depends on how well things go in the early tests and you have to hope there are no big surprises that cost you time on track. Also, with so many changes this year, the task facing us is bigger than in previous years and understanding KERS, the rear wing and the new tires will need a lot of laps. In fact, learning about the tires will be the most time-consuming of all because you need to run each compound in different conditions and with different fuel loads, and there is so much to discover. I have my fingers crossed for a good, smooth start to testing so that we can begin performance work as soon as possible.
What are your hopes and expectations for the year ahead?
My aim, as always, is to deliver a good and consistent performance across the year. That is the goal for any driver. At the moment it’s difficult to know just how competitive our package will be, but the engineers have decided to go for an innovative design, which is good. Also, we had a strong season last year and we hope to move forward again this year and be closer to the front. That means we will have to race against teams like Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull, and we know this will not be easy, but we will be working hard to make sure we can be part of that fight.