Lopez: We got caught on the back-foot, the car is nowhere near where it should be 25 March, 2014 Lotus Chairman Gerard Lopez has admitted that that his team was caught on the back-foot at the season opening Australian Grand Prix earlier this month, and although he expects difficult times ahead, he also “sees light at the end of the tunnel”. Speaking to The National during a function in Dubai to announce the extension of the team’s sponsorship deal with property developer Emaar, Lopez said, “We got caught on the back-foot. The first race was like a half-length testing session for us.” “The car is nowhere near where it should be and yet, even then, had we finished the race with an adequate performance level, we could have been [in the] top 10. That is not catastrophic, but it is also not where we want to be.” Lotus missed out on the first Formula 1 test of the season, opting to fine tune their radical E22 design instead of going to Jerez. Since then have been playing catch-up to their rivals. Their plight was not helped by severe early problems with the all new Renault V6 turbo Power Unit which affected affected all teams using the French manufacturer’s F1 engines. In the end a frustrating pre-season for Romain Grosjean and team newcomer Pastor Maldonado who was drafted in to the team to replace Ferrari bound Kimi Raikkonen. As for the turnaround for the Enstone based team, Lopez has set a deadline for the team, “The big one for everybody is Barcelona. We already have a new rear wing, new front wing and new floor for this weekend’s race in Malaysia, so we are pushing, but we must be cautious too. We don’t want to be left behind. By Barcelona, we must be absolutely performing.” “Like everyone else, we had a major switch in technology and engines this year,” said Lopez. “At the next two races, we will do everything we can to do a good performance, but we are also very cautious about what to expect.” “We will first try to finish, then score points, then score podiums. We know the car is competitive, so as soon as the engine is ready we should be back to where we believe we should be.” “We are definitely still looking to take podiums eventually, but we appreciate that it could take some time,” concluded Lopez. (GP247) Subbed by AJN.