The Lotus F1 Team E21 has been unleashed today from the team’s Enstone base in Oxfordshire, England.
Revealed to team partners on site, streamed live on YouTube and broadcast live on Sky Sports News in the UK, the E21 will contest the 2013 FIA Formula 1 World Championship with drivers Kimi Räikkönen (E21 No.7) and Romain Grosjean (E20 No.8).
With only limited changes to the technical and sporting regulations from 2012, the E21 continues the design themes seen in its race-winning predecessor, the E20. However, it is pushing last year’s concepts even further as well as incorporating some innovative technical solutions. The new car also features a slightly tweaked livery, incorporating an extra touch or red.
Joining the team as Third Driver is reigning GP2 series champion Davide Valsecchi, whilst Nicolas Prost will perform Development Driver duties. Jérôme D’Ambrosio will continue with the team as Reserve Driver.
Eric Boullier, Team Principal:
"I think it is fair to say that great things are possible from the team and the E21. The leap we made from 2011 to 2012 showed what we are capable of. Add to this the continuity and potential of our driver line-up and we have a very powerful cocktail for the season ahead. Our ambitious plan to turn ourselves into one of the top teams in Formula 1 is coming to fruition and now we need to harness this with strong and regular podium results."
James Allison, Technical Director:
"The E20 proved itself to be an effective racing car – particularly towards the end of last season – so there is an element of expectation from the E21 and plenty to build upon. We have continued with our design themes and tried to create a more efficient and faster racing car based on all the lessons we learnt last year. How successful we have been in this task will only be discovered when we take to the track at the winter tests and – more significantly – at Grands Prix."
Kimi Raikkonen, Race Driver:
"Of course, I’ve not driven the E21 yet so it’s difficult to say what could or could not be possible for the year ahead. We know we had a good car last season, but everyone is working hard to make the best package. I will be working with the team to help get the car as strong as we can, then in Melbourne we’ll have our first taste of results. It’s a long season from there. 2012 was a good start; let’s see what we can do in 2013."
Romain Grosjean, Race Driver:
"I can clearly say I want to score a lot of points for the team – everybody knows that – but I think it would be wrong for me to say I want to finish in a particular position in the championship. I really want to jump out of the car as many times as possible thinking that I did a good job. Knowing that everything I could do, I did, and feeling proud of my race or session. I hope to feel that way as many times as possible this year."
Following the launch of the Lotus F1 Team E21, drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean look to the season ahead.
Kimi Raikkonen: “2012 was a good start; let’s see what we can do in 2013”
The 2007 Formula 1 World Champion talks of his hopes for his second season with Lotus F1 Team after a successful comeback to the sport
What are your thoughts heading into your second season with Lotus F1 Team?
I’m feeling pretty good. Last year was my return to Formula 1 and it went pretty well. This year will be my second with Lotus F1 Team and my eleventh season overall in Formula 1 so I’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect. I’m sure it will be an exciting season and I’m sure there’ll be lots to talk about. For me, I will continue to do the best I can; let’s see how good our car is, and how good the cars of the opposition are too.
Is the continuity of going into your second season with the team beneficial to you?
It helps. It’s not a massive thing which will suddenly mean you start winning all the races, but it’s nice to be at the same team as you understand how they work, and they understand how you work. We quickly developed a pretty good way of working together last year and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue this season.
Are you still learning as a driver?
I don’t think you ever stop learning, but there is less to learn than if you’re a rookie. I don’t think I could say I’m a rookie. We had new tracks last year; that’s always something nice to learn and for me best learnt on the tracks themselves. There will be a new car which we’ll want to develop and get working at its best. There are always changes in the sport; some small, some big. Generally everything’s pretty similar, and the feeling of racing on track is pretty familiar.
This is the second year of a two-year deal; are you thinking of 2014 and beyond?
I’m not really thinking beyond this season at the moment, but I’m sure there will be talk before the end of the year. I enjoyed my comeback to Formula 1 last year and there’s no reason to say I shouldn’t enjoy the 2013 season too. I know there will be big changes to the cars and regulations for 2014, so who’s to say that won’t be exciting.
Have you set yourself targets and objectives for the season?
To do the best job I can. I’ve not driven the E21 yet so it’s difficult to say what could or could not be possible. We know we had a good car last season, but everyone is working hard to make the best car. I will be working with the team to help get the car as strong as we can, then in Melbourne we’ll have our first taste of results. It’s a long season from there. 2012 was a good start; let’s see what we can do in 2013.
Do you think the team has what it takes to win a championship?
Yes, I think they do. It’s clear from working with them that they are racers, and you can see in their history that they’ve won championships. Nothing I saw last year made me think that another championship was impossible in the future. Of course, there is some pretty tough competition out there and everyone wants to win. The team have beaten everyone before and there’s nothing to say they can’t do it again.
Are you looking forward to working with Romain again?
We had a pretty good relationship last year and it’s clear he’s fast and motivated. On track we were pretty close to each other at times but we didn’t have any issues. It’s good when you have a team-mate who’s fast and works hard. I think we should be fine in 2013.
Do you think you proved a point in 2012?
Maybe for other people, but not for myself. I knew I could still perform well in Formula 1 given the right opportunity; it was only other people who had doubts.
Romain Grosjean: “I want to score a lot of points for the team”
With his first full season of Formula 1 now in the bank, Romain Grosjean looks ahead to 2013 and a chance to build on a promising start to his second Lotus F1 Team career
How is the Romain Grosjean that starts the 2013 season different from the Romain Grosjean who started the 2012 season? How have you changed?
Well first of all I’m older! No, it’s clearly different for me this year. I have much more experience in Formula 1 and even if I knew the team before, I now know how to work with the engineers much better on the technical side. I also know all the tracks and understand better the various challenges of a season. Generally things worked out pretty well, although some things didn’t always turn out as good as we wanted. It’s going to be very interesting to start the new season.
What are your targets or objectives for 2013?
I can clearly say I want to score a lot of points for the team – everybody knows that – but I think it would be wrong for me to say I want to finish in a particular position in the championship. I really want to jump out of the car as many times as possible thinking that I did a good job. Knowing that everything I could do, I did, and feeling proud of my race or session. I hope to feel that way as many times as possible this year.
What did you learn most last season?
It’s tough to pick just one thing. You start your career in Formula 1 thinking ‘Okay, that’s a new challenge, a tough challenge’ but then you work into the season and you think ‘Whoa! This challenge is even bigger than I thought!’ All the elements of a Formula 1 season including the travelling – energy-wise, managing the jet lag – the media and marketing stuff, the physical demands and preparation for driving the car are quite something. I know what I need much better now and that’s what I’ve learnt from last year.
How good did it feel to finally get confirmation for 2013, which came very shortly after you became the ‘Champion of Champions’ at the Race of Champions?
There were a few things which we had to go over before a decision was made and for sure it wasn’t nice waiting, but it was certainly very nice to get the confirmation. The timing was good too; just after the Race of Champions win, which was a coincidence. It allowed me to have a much better winter.
How much input have you had on the E21? Did you have a wish list of what you would like?
All through last year, the feedback given about the E20 was interpreted by the development team for the E21. This means there’s a lot of information from me and Kimi which went into this car. It’s difficult to say after the season ‘we would like this or that’ for next year. I think it’s more about the work done during the whole season; discussing this or that, or an idea about this or that. After twenty races you know more-or-less what has been good with the car and what hasn’t. Hopefully we’ve made the right calls for this year.
How exciting have the developments been behind the scenes at Enstone?
I like the development process and I really like seeing the new car ‘growing up’. You see the first design, you see it being tested in the wind tunnel and then finally after a long time you see the finished car. It’s very interesting and I really like to follow it and understand as much as I can, without being an engineer. It’s always good.
Do you think you have a point to prove in 2013?
I think everyone is waiting to see if I’m able to be consistent, which is where I was lacking a little bit last year. I know it and I’ll do everything I can to prove to people that I’m able to achieve this goal.
Following the launch of the Lotus F1 Team E21 earlier this evening, Team Principal Eric Boullier and Technical Director James Allison discuss their thoughts on the season ahead.
Eric Boullier: “Great things are possible”
The Team Principal wants to play with the big boys in 2013
How are you looking forward to 2013 and what do you hope can be achieved?
I think it is fair to say that great things are possible. The leap we made from 2011 to 2012 showed what we are capable of. Add to this the continuity and potential of our driver line-up and we have a very powerful cocktail for the season ahead. Our ambitious plan to turn ourselves into one of the top teams in Formula 1 is coming to fruition and now we need to harness this with strong and regular podium results.
What advantages does the team have compared to its championship rivals?
We are lean and hungry. Enstone knows how to win championships, but it is a while since we have won so we are very eager to taste glory again. We have a fantastic facility at Enstone and one which has benefitted from significant and strategic investment over the past couple of years. We have a highly accomplished technical and design team who last year produced a fantastic car, the E20. The E21 builds on this. We have a superb driver line-up with the 2007 champion, Kimi, and a hungry young gun in Romain. We have further strength in our partners and we are certainly primed and ready for action.
How do you see the driver dynamic evolving through the course of the season?
We know that both drivers work well together and their skills and talents complement each other. Kimi has such a wide range of experience and he knows how to react to any situation or circumstance. He’s also a superb resource technically. Romain has superb raw speed which we are confident will be harnessed in a more effective manner during races in 2013. Both are competitive individuals – as racing drivers are – and this pushes each one of them and the team to better things. It was clear how much we benefitted from having two very talented drivers in 2012 and I can only see this getting even better in 2013.
Where does the team’s focus lie in 2013?
It is certainly an interesting year. On the one hand, we have the season ahead and the very strong desire to achieve great things. On the other hand, we have significant technical changes around the corner in 2014 and an element of resource will naturally be focused on this area. On the track we want to achieve the very best results possible and this is true off track too. In every element of our operations we want to be the best.
Are there formal targets for 2013 and what are they?
We want to do better than we did last year. 2012 was a good season for us – certainly in the context of the previous season – but we, like every team in this highly competitive sport, want to win. We want to make regular appearances on the podium, and add to our tally of appearances on the top step.
James Allison: “There is an element of expectation from the E21”
Lotus F1 Team Technical Director James Allison looks to the season ahead
How different are the 2013 regulations compared with 2012?
After a string of quite eventful rule changes and interpretations in the years since 2009 it looks as if 2013 is going to be a year of regulatory stability. There are only a few, very limited changes which comes as a considerable relief to the entire grid given the size of the transformation bearing down on the sport for 2014. Mind you, even with no changes to the text of the regulations, we never stop poring over the rules to look for new loopholes. Quite often, young engineers fresh from university will point out an ambiguity in the text of a regulation that has been settled for decades because they are looking at what is written with fresh eyes and no preconceived ideas about what is actually intended.
Will the cars we see in 2013 look much different from those we saw in 2012?
I’m guessing not. There is one rule which opens the possibility for a change as we will now be permitted to fit a non-structural ‘vanity panel’ on the upper surface of the nose as a means of avoiding the duck-bill style designs that we saw in 2012. However, such a panel is optional and I would not be surprised if the majority of the grid chose not to make use of it. The panel will add a few grams of weight and so is only likely to run on the car if a team can find a performance benefit for doing so.
Does continuing with two drivers give the technical team benefits?
The best thing about sticking with our 2012 pairing is that they are both fast! Fringe benefits also include not having to re-invent the seat, pedals, steering wheel and so on. Not having to establish fresh relationships between engineers and drivers is also welcome.
What is completely new and what is more familiar on the E21?
Depending on where you look, some parts of the new car are a ground-up redesign and in other areas we have further optimized the best bits of the design philosophy we’ve adopted for several seasons. The front and rear suspension layouts are substantially revised to try and give us better aerodynamic opportunities. The front wing is a continuation of the concepts we have worked on since the 2009 rules were published. For the rear wing system, we’ve continued to try to work on having a satisfactory level of rear downforce stability whilst having maximum DRS switching potential.
Talking of DRS; what about the so-called Double DRS Device?
This is an area we continue to work on and the passive nature of the switching of our device means it is not outlawed by the latest regulations. It is not something which will be a silver bullet to transform our car, but it is something which could add performance as part of the overall design.
Are there likely to be any further ‘secret weapons’ in the arsenal for 2013?
That would be telling.
Does the E21 have great expectations on its shoulders?
The E20 proved itself to be an effective racing car, so there is an element of expectation from the E21. We have continued with our design themes and tried to build a more efficient and faster racing car based on all the lessons we learnt last year. How successful we have been at this we will only know once we take to the track at Grands Prix.
What can we expect from Pirelli’s 2013 tires?
We had a brief taste of the development tire on track at Brazil and it did appear to be a step forwards. Pirelli have also published the compound list for 2013 and we are happy to see that they are sensibly aggressive choices. Pre-season testing will give us a much better idea of what to expect, but most of the indications suggest that the tires will play a helpful part in making another attractive season.
What are the goals and targets for 2013?
In terms of goals and targets, we never set out to build the second-fastest or third-fastest car; we set out to build the fastest and most effective car that we possibly can. We want to improve our car in all areas from last year’s and we want the improvements we make to be greater than those made by the opposition. However, having said all that, the official target established by the team’s owners is to achieve a minimum of third place in the Constructors’ Championship.