Lotus Technical Director James Allison on the British Grand Prix
By Berthold Bouman
Mixed feelings after the European Grand Prix for Lotus as Kimi Raikkonen scored his third podium place but Romain Grosjean had to retire when his Renault engine suddenly stopped. The Frenchman was in second place and thus missed a podium place, Lotus Technical Director James Allison explains what happened.
“Put simply, the alternator failed. This meant the electrical supply to the engine and ancillary systems ceased and so the car stopped moving.”
But he is adamant Renault will get to the bottom of the problem, “One of the really good things about working with Renault Sport is that they feel the pain of something like this just as keenly as we do. At Enstone we are doing all that we can to assist with the resolution of this problem, but we know that Viry will leave no stone unturned in bringing a good solution to the next race.”
It is no secret the Lotus E20 performs best in hot conditions, the Pirelli tyres seem to work best in those conditions as well, and Allison explains what the secret is. “Tyres have a certain window in which they work; get them too cold and they don’t grip, get them too hot and they don’t grip.
There’s a reasonably wide band in the middle where they work well. It seems like the E20 generates a little less heat in the tyres than some of our opponents’ cars, meaning we can live with on a hotter track when some of our competitors are starting to move out of the tyre window.” But there are also disadvantages Allison admitted, “The downside of this comes when we have a cold track or after a safety car.”
Silverstone, certainly not being one of the hottest places on this year’s calendar could of course pose problems for the E20, but Allison thinks the nature of the track will also help to warm up the tyres, “The track itself will put plenty of energy through the tyres thanks to its layout of high-speed corners and the abrasion of its surface. Low track temperatures would only cause us grief in qualifying, and if we can manage that ourselves rather than needing the track to heat up our tyres then it will be okay.”
Allison also revealed there are a few car updates available as well, “The updates we used in Valencia went reasonably well. We had three or four bits that certainly improved matters and a couple of parts we’re still looking to improve. For Silverstone there are some additional tweaks on the car which only those with the very keenest eyes would notice, but we’re hoping they are a step in the right direction.”
Lotus is currently third in the Constructors’ Championship, thus leaving main rivals Sauber, Mercedes and Ferrari behind them. Raikkonen is sixth, and Grosjean seventh in the Drivers’ Championship.