Japanese GP: Lotus will run double DRS at Suzuka
By Berthold Bouman
The last three races have been disappointing for Lotus, and Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier stresses it’s important to not get carried away and focus on the target: scoring points for both championships. “When things are good, people have to remain calm and remember what the initial objectives are. When times are tough, being overly pessimistic does not help either. With the E20, we can rely on a tidy and reliable racing car and I think we have surprised a few people this year, but we need to progress one step at a time,” he said.
“We’ll keep pushing; we’re doing our best and the 2012 season has been good for us so far. We’ll then see where this takes us.” The Frenchman is looking forward to the race in Japan, round 15 of the FIA Formula One World Championship, meaning there are still six races left to catch up with their rivals.
“Kimi Raikkonen still holds the lap record from back when he won there in 2005, so he should feel confident and we are of course looking to provide him with a car to achieve the best that he can, said Boullier, and added, “I could tell you that the target is the podium, which it is somehow, but the relative level of performance between the teams is constantly evolving.”
Which brings us to the next subject, the new Double DRS system Lotus has developed, but due to the weather circumstances the black and gold team hasn’t been able to properly test it. “We’re bringing a few promising updates including our “device”, we think that the track will suit our car, and we’re hoping for a gentle build up to the race, with no technical drama or dodgy weather,” Boullier said.
Technical Director James Allison explains how difficult it is to test upgrades, every part starts its new life on the simulator. “The simulation methods in the factory are good, allowing around 70% – 80% of the upgrades that we put on the car to work straight away with no problem. Of those that suffer birth pangs, a fair proportion are eventually found to perform as expected when given a second hearing.”
So, why was the Double DRS not on the car on previous occasions? “There’s a whole raft of variables you’re not in control of. The drivers might not get clear laps and with the track constantly evolving plus tyres not always being a new set for each run you do not have a stable baseline to compare against,” Allison explained.
And he added, “These factors can cloud the assessment of a new part; so if you are struggling then you very often remove them from the car out of an abundance of caution and look for a suitable opportunity in the future to have a second go with them.”
And that second go will be during the Japanese Grand Prix where Lotus finally hopes to make good use of their DDRS system, if the FIA will approve it that is. Because it is not a DRS system per se, the system works at high speeds, and not only when DRS is deployed, therefore the system could be banned if the FIA scrutineers rule it is an illegal device.
Lotus is currently fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, While Kimi Raikkonen is third, and Romain Grosjean eighth in the Drivers’ Championship.