Australian GP: Lotus confident to have made a step forward, continuity key to success
By Berthold Bouman
Lotus continues another season with drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, and the black and gold team is confident to have made a step forward, despite the technical glitches during testing in Spain. For Lotus, the first race in the FIA Formula One World Championship in Melbourne, Australia, is the first real test of the season.
Team Principal Eric Boullier: 2013 is going to be as competitive as ever
For Team Principal Eric Boullier, keeping Raikkonen and Grosjean for the 2013 season, was very important. “To keep both these drivers, who are very complimentary, is the best situation for the team. Both now know the team well and it is their second consecutive year together in Formula One. With this you can build up a nice momentum for the start of the season,” the Frenchman said.
Asked how intense the competition is going be, he said, “I think it’s going to be as competitive as ever. You can see at least five teams having the potential to win races and it’s getting very tight.” But the Pirelli tyres will dominate the sport once again, and Boullier added, “The most important thing is we want to keep the strength we had from last year in that we managed the tyres well. This is one of the key points we could see during testing, but I think it’s going to be another challenge to understand these tyres.”
“We still have to try these tyres in hot conditions; we’ve only run in cold weather so far and they have been specifically designed for higher temperatures, so we may have some surprises.”
The Lotus team at the presentation of the E21 – Photo: Lotus F1
Kimi Raikkonen: Not concerned about reliability
Of course the Iceman, as he is nicknamed, is one of the most colourful drivers in Formula One. Normally he’s not very talkative and he’s not really a fan of press conferences — sometimes he just falls asleep — but he is enthusiastic about the new season and the new Lotus E21.
Testing wasn’t a complete success due to several technical problems, but Raikkonen is not worried. “I’m not really concerned about reliability or anything like that as it was the same problem which caused us the biggest problems in testing and we’re on top of that now.”
The E21 is a step forward, the Finn reckons, “I think you always want more, but this car is a pretty good starting point and we’ll see; hopefully we’re fast enough. I don’t think there’s any area where it feels worse than last year’s car; so far everything is better.”
Asked what he would like to achieve at Albert Park, he answered, “I’d like to start the season strongly and hopefully run the first races better than we did last year. We don’t know exactly what to expect so we’ll try to do the best we can; we should have a reasonable start to the season.”
Romain Grosjean: Ready for Albert Park
Romain Grosjean has learned a lot since he was banned from the Italian Grand Prix after his first-lap escapades in Belgium, and he is looking forward to another year with Lotus and Raikkonen.
He too thinks that the E21 is a step forward, “It’s a good continuation of the E20 and definitely a step forward; the team have been working hard and are doing their best to give us a good car. The answer will only be clear after qualifying in Melbourne; we looked quick during winter testing but it’s always different to race weekends, so let’s see what the first race brings us.”
And finally, asked about his relationship with Raikkonen he commented, “Kimi is a good team mate and the relationship we have is ok. We’re both quite quick and we’re always pushing the limits. In engineering meetings and internally we share everything which helps us both perform better on track and when we’re out there we push each other hard, but it’s always with respect and fair play.”
• Red Bull Australian GP Preview
• Ferrari Australian GP Preview
• McLaren Australian GP Preview
• Lotus Australian GP Preview
• Mercedes Australian GP Preview
• Sauber Australian GP Preview
• Force India Australian GP Preview
• Williams Australian GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Australian GP Preview
• Caterham Australian GP Preview
• Marussia Australian GP Preview