Lotus E20 chassis crisis bigger than they want to admit?

Romain Grosjean

Romain Grosjean stopped his Lotus E20 during Jerez testing

Feb.22 (GMM) Lotus is grappling with a major flaw on their E20 chassis with less than one month before the start of the 2012 Formula 1 world championship season.

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 Team. Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday 7 February 2012.

Kimi Raikkonen will miss out on valuable track time

The former Renault team has sensationally abandoned this week’s Barcelona test and returned to its Enstone headquarters, after an unspecified chassis fault was detected on the new E20 car on Tuesday.

“We’ll put the right measures in place and we will be able to fix the problem before next week,” said technical director James Allison.

But Gary Anderson, formerly the designer of Jordan and Jaguar cars, believes Lotus is playing down the problem.

“You would have thought they could have fixed it overnight – chassis are made of carbon fibre composite so you’d be looking to bond new strengthening parts on,” he told the BBC.

“In my experience, if you can’t do it in 24 hours, I don’t think you can do it at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if this meant they needed a new chassis, which would make it touch and go for the first race.”

Auto Motor und Sport thinks Lotus did not discover the fundamental problem at Jerez last week because the track is not as demanding as the Circuit de Catalunya,

The problem means that Kimi Raikkonen, who was set to take over the E20 for the final two days in Barcelona, will miss out on track time made more even more valuable by his two year absence from F1.


  • Obvious

    Im not so sure… We all know that simulator and track is a different beast… But, if it was a chassis stress problem as Gary mentioned above.. It would have been exploited throughout the production and simulator phase… On EVERY circuit with a 2x or even 3x leniency…. It must be they didn’t want the car out,for whatever reason… Probably to keep some things secret, and without those parts, couldn’t run.. I feel they are confident enough and trying to play a big hand.. Maybe over confident.. Time will tell.

  • Barlow

    Yes, I think so too. Their car is great and Kimi doesn’t need that much practice. The E20 had the fastest time the first day of testing with Kimi driving. The strength of the car is to be kept secret till right before the season begins, to get the jump on the other teams. I’ve worked with carbon fiber and it is very easy to add strength and stability to it’s underlying components. With all the design and engineering work in the E20, if the chassis was that out of balance or unstable it would have become apparent during the first week of testing.

  • Jeffrey

    I am surprised that no one has pointed out that perhaps they don’t know exactly why #2 behaves poorly and want a side by side comparison with #1 car to sort out what went wrong in production. They could just want to tear them down in a controlled environment….

  • PaulinChicago

    I think they are not so bold as to fake a problem and keep their car under wraps after it’s been out in the sun. It must be a pretty big problem.

    Could they run Kimi’s old test car if the E20’s are not fixed? Seems they could get him more seat time and experience with the tiers. Maybe too much of a PR disaster than it’s worth though?

  • onecog

    no team would give away track time, how about it does not meet the regulations… did nick wurth draw it?

  • Obvious

    Only my opinion, it was gamesmanship… They new that Merc got an extra day.. So they took their chances… As I said below, they may be over confident. Can’t rule that out… But honestly, what other possibility is there?? They couldn’t roll the 20-01 chassis out for tire time at least?? C’mon…..