Drafting the Circuits
Formula 1 Report
January 20, 2015
Lotus Season Review
By Steve Aibel
Lotus was one of the most disappointing teams during the 2014 campaign. Struggling with an underpowered and unreliable Renault power unit, Lotus fell from 4th place (315 points) in 2013 to 8th place (10 points) in 2014. This was absolutely dreadful and the reasons for this seem to point toward lack of funding, personnel leaving, and preparedness on top of major reliability problems.
In 2013, Lotus was awaiting a deal from Quantum Motorsport Group, which would bring needed funding to the Lotus F1 team. In short, this never arrived and the owner of Genii Capital, Gerard Lopez, has carried the debt.
This caused delays in development of the E22 entry and some major shifting of personnel. Kimi Raikkonen left for Ferrari. Team Principal Eric Boullier left for McLaren and although money was brought in by Pastor Maldonado’s close relationship with PDVSA, Lotus was still struggling to produce a car ready for the first test in Jerez.
In fact, the twin-tusked E22, never made it to the first test. This lost track time was crucial as the team worked to integrate the new power unit from Renault. The E22 was a devil to deal with all season. It was an aero sensitive car, which was often a victim of track conditions such as wind. Both drivers remarked on the unpredictability of the car throughout the season. It would feel good one lap and then extremely poor the next. This was especially the case in some of the lower downforce tracks.
Drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado only scored points in 3 races and only reached Q3 3 times. This lack of qualifying pace relegated Lotus to the back of the pack frustrating Grosjean throughout the season. For a team that had scored approximately 15 points per race the past two seasons, the 2014 points haul had to have been disturbing for the entire team from Enstone.
An agreement made with Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains to supply Power Units should instantly change the fortunes of the Lotus team for 2105. Lotus have been developing the 2015 E23 for most of the season after seeing the lack of competitiveness of the 2014 contender.
Technical Director Nick Chester believes that Lotus can make a “massive step” much like Williams did this past season. “The way the Mercedes engine is laid out is quite nice in a few ways for how we do the back end of the car. Our whole cooling system layout will be different, so it opens up quite a few possibilities for us.” said Chester.
But Mercedes power won’t make up for a poorly designed aero package and a team that is lacking funding. It will be interesting to see how Lotus fares in the opening test on February 1 at Jerez. If they show up, it will be a step forward from last year!
At this point, Lotus has paid their entry fee, but the payment was late. It has also been reported that Lotus might be changing their name and adding a title sponsor. In the world of Formula 1, you wait and take in the swirling rumor of the day. Lotus has been competing in Formula 1 in various guises since 1958. If there is ever a team that can reinvent itself, it is Lotus. Let’s all hope they are ready to bounce back as the Lotus name is one, like Ferrari, that is fun to have at the front.
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