On the back of another point-less weekend in Monza, the Lotus F1 Team arrive in Singapore this weekend hopeful that their car will be stronger and more competitive than it has been in recent races. Romain Grosjean has not scored points since the Monaco Grand Prix in May, while Pastor Maldonado is still awaiting his first points for the team since moving from Williams at the end of last season.
Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi knew Monza was always going to be a tricky affair for the team, but praised the way Maldonado drove, while also being happy with a two-car finish, something that has been hard to achieve at times in 2014. He also believes that the Marina Bay circuit in Singapore should show the team in a better light, and with both drivers openly admitting to liking street circuits, Gastaldi is hoping they can make the most of the weekend.
“Monza was always going to be very hard for us,” said Gastaldi. “Pastor drove a very strong race at Monza; he had a great start and his pace was pretty good throughout. I thought he dealt with some difficult circumstances very well during the whole event. He had the measure of the Sauber’s and brought the car home in a solid finishing position.
“It is also nice to get both of our cars to the finish line, especially after some technical issues in recent races. Romain had a few concerns, including other cars hitting him but we take some satisfaction in getting more data and ensuring we can go to Singapore hopeful of a much stronger overall weekend.
“Singapore should see an improvement in pace as the track characteristics will suit us more. The drivers are fighters and they really enjoy street circuits, so I think we have the potential to extract a good level of performance from the E22 there. Pastor and Romain will have a stronger package relative to Monza, so I am sure they will grasp this and make the most of it.”
Gastaldi insists the team are still working on maximising the 2014 car but admits the primary focus is now on 2015, and is hoping next season will be far better than this season.
“There is a lot going on behind the scenes and a lot of positive plans being made to ensure we are still pushing right to the end of this season,” said Gastaldi. “A lot of technical and commercial work being undertaken also for 2015, as you would expect. We are doing things step by step but at the moment but already things look positive for next season.”
Technical Director Nick Chester feels the team will have a fair idea of how to set the car up before arriving in Singapore, but knows the practice time will be crucial to tune the cars even better. With the number of corners, Chester is not worried about the energy recover systems, but is concerned more with the brake wear.
“There are many low speed corners, so good performance in these areas is key, as is stability on the brakes,” said Chester. “Good turn-in and traction are important too at what is a fairly unique circuit. It will be down to the drivers to report back what the car is doing and let the engineers re-balance the car as the track temperature come down. With previous years’ experience we have a fair idea of what sort of adjustments we need to make.
“It is a high downforce track, so everybody will be running toward their maximum downforce set-up. Then it really is all about how you manage the mechanical set-up to get the best out of the car in terms of handling the kerbs. Ensuring a good level of grip in the low speed corners is also crucial at Marina Bay.
“In terms of energy management there is a lot of recovery on the brakes enabling you to recharge the battery quite nicely as there isn’t as much time full throttle as other tracks. It is probably more important to look after the car under braking here.
“The temperature does fall quite a bit, changing the grip and balance of the car somewhat. As the track temperature comes down the grip difference front to rear can change and make it tricky to get the car balanced following the earlier hotter practice sessions.”