Lotus team boss Eric Boullier shares his thoughts on the new E20 and his goals for the season, which include fourth in the Championship...
Q: How are you looking forward to 2012 and what do you hope can be achieved? EB: Obviously 2012 is very welcome after a poor 2011 and very hectic year. It's clear we've maintained our ambition on track and we want to carry on the full restructuring, progress and change that we started one year ago. We now have a clear target.
We know that we have a strong commitment from our shareholders, that we want to be a top team and seen as a top team. 2012 will be the year of our final adjustment to be ready and fully operational from 2013 with an ambitious plan. For 2012 we expect to be in a position to fight for fourth place for the championship.
Q: What lessons learnt in 2011 have been applied looking forward to the 2012 season? EB: We learnt many things last year because we went very far in term of creativity with our forward exhaust. We also went too far maybe by developing some very nice concepts, but being unable to revert back sometimes. I think it's just a question of process and how we handle all the projects and new ideas we have for the future. We definitely learned our lessons and our group is getting much stronger than before. It was a tough year, but a good year to learn from our experience.
Q: Two new drivers including a former world champion who has been away from the sport for two seasons; is this a brave approach to the driver line-up? EB: I think our driver line-up reflects the ambition of this company and this team. It is clear that to have Kimi back on track - on top of being a nice media and PR action - we need a driver of the caliber of Kimi to be able to fight for the top positions. It is also good to have Romain joining us because he has clearly demonstrated his value, talent and speed over the last 18 months.
He is definitely now mature and ready. He is good for the French market, for Total and for Renault. It's good to see him with us. He is our future. Additionally, we have a tried and tested third driver in Jerome D'Ambrosio. He contested every race last season and did a good job with the tools at his disposal. He is fresh and motivated and will be looking over the shoulders of our two race drivers; to assist them at the tracks and also to learn as much as he can. He's a great addition to the squad.
Q: What other assets can the team draw on for 2012? EB: Our new 60 per cent scale wind tunnel which went operational last year has made a great contribution to the development of the E20 and we are using this resource as much as we can to push development of the car forwards. From April we should have our 'Driver in the Loop' simulator active and this is another superb resource to assist our engineers in developing the car. These are two areas which further demonstrate our intentions.
Q: What's the team's overall approach to 2012? EB: We have conducted a very long and deep process since 2010. You cannot return to being world champion in one day or one month. You need time. We had a complete review of our process and structure. 2012 will be the final step towards building a winning and ambitious team, as I've said before; a clear target for 2012 and also after 2014.
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