Having admitted the team have practically given up updating their E22 challenger, the Lotus F1 Team head into the Japanese Grand Prix with some confidence that Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado could have a competitive weekend at Suzuka.
Technical Director Nick Chester feels the team should be competitive around the Suzuka circuit, and believes the team should be able to challenge for points again this year in the remaining five events. He knows the compromise between high and low downforce, plus the suspension set-up in Japan is crucial for a good lap, and with the number of high speed corners on the Suzuka circuit that usually suit the team, he has high hopes heading into the weekend.
“Japan gives us nothing to fear and we should be competitive,” believes Chester. “The challenges are the high speed corners. You can’t run maximum downforce in Suzuka – as you will end up a little too slow on the straights – so you need to give the driver sufficient downforce to give confidence in the fast twisty bits whilst not clipping their wings down the straights.
“This is part of the reason why Suzuka is such a driver favourite, as drivers can be absolutely on the limit without the car totally stuck to the ground through maximum downforce. It’s not just having sufficient downforce, it’s ensuring that this is delivered in a balanced nature. Getting the suspension set-up spot on is essential here too. You need to extract all of the grip that’s possible from the car.
“Looking at the E22, we think that it should be reasonably matched to all of these challenges especially as we’re generally quite good in high speed turns.
“I think all of the remaining circuits offer opportunities for us being more competitive and I think we have a good chance for more points this season. The car has improved since Hockenheim when we took our front-rear interlinked suspension off and lost a chunk of performance. We have gradually fought back since then so we are in a position where we think points can be scored, if the races go the right way.”
The team have been hard at work creating the E23, the 2015 car that will come to replace the E22 from the Australian Grand Prix in March, and Chester said it will be a very different car than the one seen in 2014.
“It will be quite different,” insists Chester. “There are rule changes to the front of the chassis and the nose, so all the cars will look different next year. On top of that, our engine installation and cooling layout will change quite a lot meaning that the car will be significantly different under the bodywork.”