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Happy faces at Lotus and Renault
After four days of pounding around Jerez de la Frontera, during the first pre-season test of the 2012 Formula 1 season, the Lotus E20 emerged as one of the better packages out the box. The teams trackside operations director, Alan Permane, talks about the test in southern Spain and the days ahead for Kimi Raikkonen’s team.

With the first test at Jerez now behind us and Barcelona coming up next week, what’s happening here at Enstone during the break?

This week we’ll be building our second car up. So it’s chassis two that will be going to Barcelona, while chassis one will be rebuilt and taken to the seven post rig in our research and development facility for suspension development work.

Having time to reflect on the event in Jerez must be a welcome break before Barcelona. Have the team had a chance to relax before heading back to Spain?

It’s given some of us the chance to have a weekend off which is always nice after an intense few days at the circuit. Having said that, while we’re not quite experiencing the full-on 18 hour days of last week, everyone is straight back to working hard in preparation for the next test. The engineers will be analyzing set-up options, reflecting on what we learned in Jerez and how we can apply that knowledge in Barcelona and throughout the season. There’s a long list of improvements we’re looking to make. We had a few minor issues with radiator leaks and so on but nothing major, and certainly nothing we won’t have fixed in time for Barcelona.

After an encouraging first outing in Jerez, have you noticed a difference in terms of the atmosphere back at Enstone?

You can definitely feel the effects around the factory. Everyone seems to have a smile on their face. Having said that, we’re not going to try and run before we can walk. We’re very conscious that there’s a long way to go. The car is certainly reliable and well balanced, but it’s too early to say any more than that at this stage. It’s impossible to predict performance after just one test.

There were clearly a lot of positives last week. What would you say is the most important thing we can take away from the first test?

I would say there are two things. I really can’t separate one as being more important than the other. The first as we’ve mentioned before is the reliability of the car, which has been very impressive so far. Although we had a few niggling issues there was nothing that stopped us running for a significant length of time. The second is the way the car responds to set-up changes. The E20 is clearly a nice package. When we make changes to the car the drivers can feel it, whether it be positive or negative, which means that further down the line it will be a much easier car to set up and dial pace into.

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