Lotus F1 team technical director, Nick Chester gives an insight into the development of the E22 as the countdown to the first race of F1 2014 in Australia in March continues…
Nick, how is Enstone placed heading into the 2014 season?
Our E22 development program has been ongoing for over two years and it has been illuminating watching it grow. The backbone of Enstone is strong and we are relishing the challenge of the new season ahead.
How is progress with the E22?
From our perspective the figures look promising and development has been positive. That said, we are very much working with very little idea of what the other teams are doing. This is the first year of radically different regulations which means that all teams are developing their cars along potentially quite different avenues. It’s fascinating for us engineers and I hope it is fascinating for the fans too. We think we have a very good solution to the challenge and hopefully this will be seen when the E22 turns its wheels in anger.
Although the regulations are different, are there good lessons which can be carried over from the E21?
Yes, and I think we can still reflect on what a good car the E21 was as it finished the season still looking particularly competitive, and it was the only car able to get close to the Red Bull. There are certain concepts from the E21 which are still valid for the E22, but in particular our development methodology and synchronization with our various simulations is especially relevant and promising.
How close is the E22 to completion?
We’ve made very good progress with the various homologation tests which took place before Christmas including chassis squeeze and side impact loading tests as well as the rear crash structure, meaning we just have the nose test to complete the car’s homologation. We’ve undertaken chassis fits for Romain [Grosjean] and Pastor [Maldonado]. Certainly, our partners who have seen the car have reported themselves to be very impressed with the layout and various solutions to the new technical challenges.
When are we likely to see the E22?
We’re going to keep our car under wraps a little longer than some other teams. We’ve decided that attending the Jerez test isn’t ideal for our build and development program. We are likely to unveil the car before attending the Bahrain tests, and in Bahrain we should really be able to put the car through its paces in representative conditions.
01/06/14 (GMM) Lotus will not take its new 2014 car to the first official test of the pre-season, the Enstone based team has announced.
Last month, we reported that Lotus, having completed the 2013 season amid reports of financial trouble, had asked the F1 Commission to consider delaying the opening test at Jerez late in January for a week.
In a team press release on Monday, technical director Nick Chester revealed: "We're going to keep our car under wraps a little longer than some other teams.
"We've decided that attending the Jerez test isn't ideal for our build and development program.
"We are likely to unveil the car before attending the Bahrain tests, and in Bahrain we should really be able to put the car through its paces in representative conditions," he added.
Chester this year replaced his predecessor James Allison, who moved to Ferrari.
France's Auto Hebdo also reported on Monday that Patrick Louis, who until now has been Lotus' chief executive, has resigned.
Chester, however, insisted Lotus is on track for a competitive 2014, with Pastor Maldonado joining the team to replace Kimi Raikkonen, who has returned to Ferrari after revealing he was paid "zero euros" last season.
He said the E22 passed some mandatory FIA crash tests before Christmas, with only the "nose test" still to complete.
"We've undertaken chassis fits for Romain (Grosjean) and Pastor," added Chester.
"Certainly, our partners who have seen the car have reported themselves to be very impressed with the layout and various solutions to the new technical challenges.
"From our perspective the figures look promising and development has been positive," he said, referring to the E22 car.
"We think we have a very good solution to the challenge and hopefully this will be seen when the E22 turns its wheels in anger."