By Berthold Bouman
To win the first race of the year is always the best way to start the season, and Lotus are confident they can keep up with the best now. In Melbourne they beat Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren, as Kimi Raikkonen took the easiest win in his career.
Eric Boullier: Lotus a real top team now
Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier was proud to have won the Australian Grand Prix, and he reckons Lotus has acquired the status of ‘top team’ now. “I think Lotus F1 Team is truly a top team now. If we can be in the position where we can compete for wins, then that is where we wanted to be. From what we’ve achieved in the first race we can build on that nice momentum to one day become World Champions again,” Boullier proudly said.
Having the fastest car at Melbourne had everything to do with the tyres, Boullier explained, “We worked very hard to make sure that we kept the strengths of last year’s E20, and it’s true that with the 2013 tyres and the fact that they degrade a little more, has put us in a better position. This said, Melbourne is such a special track that we should wait a bit more before knowing our potential better.”
Quizzed about the progress star driver Raikkonen has made, the Lotus team boss jokingly said, “Well he’s smiling more! Kimi is Kimi, he builds himself up — he had a strong season last year, and he ended it even more strongly than he started. He’s starting this season as he finished last year, so he will keep building. I don’t think there is anyone on earth who can tell Kimi what to do, so I’m not going to start!”
First victory of the season for the Iceman – Photo: Lotus F1
Kimi Raikkonen: Melbourne victory is a good sign
Asked whether winning the first race of the season is really that important, Raikkonen said, “A win’s a win, it doesn’t really matter when in the season you get it. Of course I’m happy that we didn’t really have to go full speed all the time so it’s kind of a good sign, a good race for us, but it might be a completely different story in Malaysia.”
Sepang is a special place for the Iceman, as he won his first Grand Prix in Malaysia in 2003, while driving for McLaren. But it doesn’t really mean much to the Iceman, and he commented, “I would not say that circuit is more important for me — it’s not that special for me — but it’s quite a nice place to race at. I like it and the challenge is always at the highest level in the beginning of the year in the heat. It’s also one of those circuits where it usually rains sometime during the weekend.”
Asked whether Lotus can keep the momentum he said, “There was a big question mark last year over whether our team could keep up with the development of the bigger teams and I don’t think we did a bad job. Of course it’s not going to be easy for us. I’m sure we have the people and all the tools to make it happen. Budget is always a factor and it’s no secret that we don’t have the same money as Ferrari, Red Bull or Mercedes.”
And finally, asked about his chances for this weekend he replied, “Our car worked well in Australia and usually — at least last year — in hot conditions it’s been good for us so hopefully it will turn out to be a good weekend.”
Grosjean confident car problems have been solved – Photo: Lotus F1
Romain Grosjean: We’ll work hard to achieve the maximum
Frenchman Romain Grosjean experienced problems during the race in Melbourne, but he has sat down with his engineers to analyse the problem, and he’s confident his problems have been solved. “The car felt so good at times over the weekend, but then at other times it wasn’t where I wanted it to be. It meant that the race felt long and pretty difficult for me,” said the former GP2 champion.
The Lotus E21 looks strong, and Grosjean is adamant that things will turn out better in Malaysia, he’s, therefore, confident of a good performance this weekend, “Clearly Kimi’s car worked very well in Australia and the fact that mine felt good at times over the weekend gives us a clear target for where we want to get the set-up and a guide of what the car is capable of. I want to be scoring 25 points in a Grand Prix for the team!”
• Red Bull Malaysian GP Preview
• Ferrari Malaysian GP Preview
• McLaren Malaysian GP Preview
• Lotus Malaysian GP Preview
• Mercedes Malaysian GP Preview
• Sauber Malaysian GP Preview
• Force India Malaysian GP Preview
• Williams Malaysian GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Malaysian GP Preview
• Caterham Malaysian GP Preview
• Marussia Malaysian GP Preview
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
By Berthold Bouman
Romain Grosjean has something else to celebrate after winning on Sunday the title Champion of Champions during the annual Race Of Champions (ROC) in Bangkok, as Lotus today announced they have retained the services of the young Frenchman for 2013.
Grosjean will race alongside his 2012 team mate Kimi Raikkonen who recently also signed for another year with Lotus. Team Principal Eric Boullier said, “Romain is a great talent and we are pleased that he is continuing with us for a second season. With the continuity of two exceptional drivers like Romain and Kimi we are well placed to build on our strong 2012 with even better results in the year ahead.”
Boullier of course hopes for an even stronger season next year and added, “Both drivers worked very well together in their first year as team mates, and I think there is the potential of even better things from the season ahead. We were regular visitors to podiums in 2012 and we certainly intend to continue with this trend in 2013.”
Lotus decided to keep the Frenchman, who has been under fire due to his first lap crashes this season, but Grosjean has recently shown that he’s a very fast driver and a winner, who took eighth place in the 2012 Drivers’ Championhip and scored two podium places in his first full Formula One season.
Romain Grosjean to stay another year with Lotus
“It’s fantastic for me to be continuing with Lotus F1 Team for 2013. It’s superb to have the support of everyone at Enstone. I’m really looking forward to rewarding their faith when we take to the track in Australia,” said Grosjean.
About the problems he had this season he said, “I learnt a lot in my first full season in Formula One and my aim is to put these lessons into practice with stronger and more consistent performance on track next year.”
He’s also confident Lotus will again have a fast car in 2013, “There are a lot of exciting developments occurring behind the scenes at Enstone and I am very excited with the prospect of the E21. I’ve already had my seat fitting and spoken with all the personnel involved with the build of the new car; I just can’t wait to get behind the wheel.”
Listen to what Grosjean has to say about his new Lotus contract below
By Berthold Bouman
Marussia’s test and reserve driver Maria de Villota has sustained serious injuries during a private test at the British Duxford Airfield, Cambridgeshire. The accident occurred at 9.15am BST during a straight-line test, according to a team statement de Villota crashed into the back of the team’s stationary support truck.
A statement issued by Marussia read: “At approximately 09.15hrs BST this morning, the Marussia F1 Team’s Test Driver Maria De Villota had an accident in the team’s MR-01 race car at Duxford Airfield where she was testing the car for the first time. The accident happened at the end of her first installation run and involved an impact with the team’s support truck.
“Maria has been transferred to hospital. Once her medical condition has been assessed a further statement will be issued.”
The 32-year old daughter of Spanish ex-Formula One driver Emilio de Villota was at Duxford Airfield for a two-day test, and had not tested the Marussia car before. According to a spokesman from the East of England Ambulance Service, a specialist medical team was sent to the airfield and de Villota was transported to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
It has also become apparent the facial and head injuries de Villota sustained are life-threatening. According to eyewitness BBC Cambridgeshire presenter Chris Mann, the car ‘suddenly accelerated’ after it had slowed down and then slammed into the tail-lift of the truck.
To the BBC Mann said, “The top of her car and her helmet seemed to take the brunt of it. It was an absolutely awful moment. I was surrounded by people that knew her very well, including family, friends, engineers, and her manager.”
Chris Mann’s report: