With the next test at Barcelona looming large for teams, Lotus boss Eric Boullier gave his thoughts on Jerez which provided an intriguing start to the 2013 Formula 1 season schedule and a busy few weeks ahead as testing resumes at Circuit de Catalunya.
Lotus left Jerez bouyed by the fact that their drivers – Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, topped the timing sheets at the end of their respective stints in the E21.
With the E21 now having made its inaugural on-track appearance, were there any points which stood out to you looking back at last week’s running in Jerez?
Eric Boullier: I would say there are a couple of things. First of all, the feedback from the drivers after their first few laps is always very important; if you see them step out with a smile on their face you know the baseline of the car should be good and it was pleasing to see that from both Kimi and Romain. On top of that, we managed to complete some decent mileage which is always encouraging when you bring a brand new car to the track for the first time. Finally, the general pace of the car looked promising with each of our drivers. Of course, lap times are not representative of the order at this early stage of the season, but to be at the front of the pack without deliberately setting out to do so is always a plus. It doesn’t mean we will be World Champions, but we know the car works well and that’s a big credit to everyone involved.
Romain came flying out of the blocks last week; how pleasing was that to see from your perspective after a challenging end to last season?
EB: Romain did a good job during his first two days with the E21 and has started the year full of confidence, which is exactly what we expected from him. The difference is clear; he knows what he needs to do and the early signs look promising for the future.
As you’ve highlighted already, we now know that the E21 is in good working order; what are the team now looking to take from the next test at Barcelona?
EB: One of the main priorities now is to ensure that the reliability of the car matches up to the demands of the season ahead. Barcelona is much more similar to the kind of format we will see throughout the year, so the information we gather here will be more relevant to our requirements at the different circuits on the calendar. Another focus for the team will be to continue our analysis of the 2013 tyres to give us the best possible understanding of how the car will work with them.
This period of the year inevitable being a relatively intense work load for anyone connected with the sport; how do you see things coming together as the countdown to Australia ticks away?
EB: At this time we effectively have two main groups operating within the team. There are those who are travelling to the tests – reporting on progress from the track and getting a better understanding of the car for the first race – then there are those back at the factory who are working very hard to build not just one, but four cars ready for Melbourne. What gives me the most satisfaction is to see everyone pulling together towards achieving our goals. Walking around the factory, I’m very proud to see the level of commitment that everyone brings to what we do; it’s great to be working with such a dedicated group of people and to have seen their efforts rewarded with some good results last year. I hope we will be seeing even more of that when the season starts next month. (Lotus)