The Lotus F1 Team Chairman sets out the team’s ambitions for the year ahead.
New season, new name. We are very proud to kick off our 2012 campaign under the name of Lotus F1 Team, continuing with the evocative black and gold livery which made such a well-received return to Grands Prix in 2011.
As well as a new name for the team we have a new chassis designation: E20. The E is for Enstone, our state of the art Formula 1 facility nestled in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside. More specifically, it’s for the personnel that make up Enstone to highlight the pride we have in every single employee who shares our beliefs and goals.
We have two new race drivers too, with Romain Grosjean promoted to a race seat after impressing us with his potential after just two Friday runs in the car in 2011.
Racing alongside Romain will be 2007 Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen. After two years contesting the World Rally Championship Kimi returns to Formula 1 fresh for a new challenge, and with 156 Grand Prix race starts, 18 wins and one world championship we are convinced that Kimi will provide a vital ingredient in driving us forwards.
In 2011 we pushed on with developments behind the scenes, and the addition of the 60% wind tunnel which was implemented during the course of last season should pay dividends for this year’s car. We’re not standing still either, and our next exciting resource to go online will be a ‘Driver in the Loop’ simulator to enhance our assets at Enstone yet further.
Last year we saw flashes of strong potential from the R31 and the team, but ultimately we fell short of our goals. That is the nature this highly competitive sport and we are pushing forwards leaving no stone unturned in our quest to reinstate Lotus as the team to beat.
Our aim for 2012?
If you look at the history of Enstone, there were World Championships won in 1994-95 and 2005-6. This ten year cycle obviously appeals and we are set on repeating this history. We want a step nearer our goal in 2012. If we finish in fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship we will be disappointed. If we finish fourth we can reflect over a good step forwards. If we finish in third position we will be very happy. We know the competition is intense, but that is why we compete.
What’s new about the E20?
1. No forward blown exhaust – replaced with top exit exhausts
The 2011 generation of blown floors are discarded. For 2012, the exhaust must exit in a prescribed box that is in a similar location to the top exit exhausts of circa 2008. It is also subjected to particular exit angles and diameter as a means of providing further restriction.
2. Lower noses
The nose regulations have changed, so the high-tip nose isn’t allowed for improved safety.
The car noses are lowered to 550mm above the reference plane (previously they could be 625mm high). This is to ensure that all parts of the nose are definitely below the height of the cockpit sides in the event of a T-Bone type of crash.
3. Repositioned track-rod
Last year the track rod was aligned with the lower wishbone, now it’s separate.
4. Single apertures for suspension legs
Each suspension leg that emerges from the rear bodywork may have just one aperture. Suspension apertures allow the team a certain amount of aerodynamic development possibilities and from an aerodynamicists point of view, the more apertures the merrier.
5. Captive wheel nuts for quicker pit stops
With no refuelling, the speed of the pit stop is defined by how quickly the tyres can be changed so every saving of a tenth of a second is invaluable. The nuts are now held to the wheels. As an aside, helium is banned for use in the pit stop guns for 2012 – the use of this low density gas enabled the guns to spin up to 30% faster, but it’s very expensive.
To give better protection to the driver in the event that a car T-bones him from the side, the homologated intrusion panel is increased in height to 550mm above the reference plane (the same height as the highest part of the new nose regulation above).
7. FOM cameras
Recent seasons has seen the FOM nose cameras located in a manner clearly aimed at promoting the performance of the front wing rather than to deliver effective TV pictures. Now there is a minimum standard for the field of view of any nose mounted camera. A similar minor change is made to the roll hoop camera location to ensure that a clear picture is not sacrificed on the altar of downforce.