09/10/11 May 2014
DEPUTY TEAM PRINCIPAL
Closer to Home
After a top ten qualifying performance in Shanghai, Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi expects another step forward in Barcelona.
It was close but no cigar in Shanghai?
Yes, we were running in the top ten and there were many green shoots of recovery made evident over the course of the last race weekend, we didn’t get the points we wanted. Romain’s gearbox issue was something very rare for an Enstone team and we’ve quickly identified the issue and taken preventative measures and we are working hard to ensure Pastor has the car he wants underneath him.
How difficult has it been for the team to keep improving in absolute and relative terms?
It’s true, you always face a moving target in Formula 1. Just finding improvements in your car over the course of the season is not good enough; you need to find more improvements than your rivals do. We certainly have made tremendous gains in absolute and relative terms since we started the year. Definitely, we had the most gains to make, but we still look to be very much on an upward trajectory.
How satisfying has it been to see the improvements come?
We won’t be satisfied until we are on the top step of the podium! We are all racers and that is what we all want. Even then, not everyone will be satisfied, as you can only ever have one person on that top step! Certainly, seeing improvement is always a positive and our outlook is good. When you look at how our pace – particularly our race pace – has improved relative to our rivals, there is a lot to shout about.
Is there a temptation to switch focus to next year’s car?
It’s still early in the year and we are determined to achieve good results in 2014. Of course, even last year we started looking at the 2015 car and we always look far in advance. All the signs are still that the E22 is a great car wanting to come out, and we’re pushing progress and development so that everyone will see this.
Is it good for the team to move to races in Europe?
Logistically, it’s certainly easier and you don’t miss not having the long-haul flights. For me, Barcelona is a fantastic place and we missed not visiting Barcelona in the pre-season testing this year. Spanish is my first language and I have lived in Spain for many years so you could certainly say I’m a fan personally. Formula 1 always receives good support in Barcelona and it’s certainly one of the busier events on track of the season.
How are you enjoying the new role now you have four races under your belt?
I have been humbled since my appointment as Deputy Team Principal by the amount of support I have received for the team from the world of Formula 1. I’ve also been very busy, that is for sure. The role is a good one, and the team is fantastic to work with – which is something I’ve always known. Of course, it is a challenging time for all teams and for the sport, but we all keep pushing hard.
RACE DRIVER #8
Gain in Spain
After seeing a top ten start thwarted by a rare gearbox issue at Shanghai, Romain Grosjean is determined to see the team’s progress rewarded in Barcelona…
Is it a case of glass ‘half full’ or ‘half empty’ after China?
The gearbox problem was obviously a big disappointment. But the overall picture for the whole weekend was 90% positive. We didn’t get a reward at the end, but we know we made a step in the right direction with the car. Before the problem in the race we were the second Renault team, also in front of the McLarens and fighting with Force India. That was positive.
Do you think the car is now delivering its potential?
I think it is getting there. It is still not as good as we believe it can be. The aim in Barcelona is to keep improving, but we know we have a decent platform to work from and solve the remaining issues. Of course power unit wise we are not yet equal to the best and from our side we are still behind the top Renault team.
How do you explain the progression made at the last race?
On the exterior the car looks the same however we had a number of mechanical upgrades and also improvements that came from Renault Sport F1. Also, we continue to learn and understand the E22 and how to exploit areas we can continue to improve on.
It seemed the team made a bigger step than the other Renault teams in China?
Yes. On paper we made a big relative improvement in China but it wasn’t just one thing. We took the Renault updates and our own updates as well and moved forward. Altogether we made a big step, even though there were no massive changes on the car – we’re just trying to make everything work together better. There is more to come for Barcelona.
What does returning to Barcelona mean for you?
Barcelona means the start of the European season. That also means we can travel less, which is good because I’ve now seen every single movie on the plane! But seriously it’s easier for the engineers to bring new parts to the track and it’s always nice to see European fans. I’m happy to be back in Barcelona. I have some good memories and it’s a track where I finished 4th back in 2012. It is a circuit everyone knows well, so as a team we go to Barcelona intent on getting much more performance from the car. We are concentrating on this goal. We just have to push as hard as we can and stay as positive as possible even when the going gets tough. As a team we have to stay united, it will make us stronger as a unit.
RACE DRIVER #13
The Señor wants more…
After going the distance at the last two races, Pastor Maldonado is eager to pick up the pace and fight for points during the opening round of the European season in Barcelona…
What did you ‘takeaway’ from China?
We had a good start and first lap, but then because of the lack of top-end speed we were struggling to overtake and lost a lot of time behind slower cars, which compromised our final result. Lap by lap our pace was improving, but it was not enough to pass more people. I think we need to work very hard to increase the top speed so that we can attack more during the race. Otherwise the car is not too bad and it can only improve from here. We achieved a good step forward for the Chinese race. Now we have time to review the data and try to do the same again in Spain, hopefully giving us a good chance to fight for points.
Tell us about the Circuit de Catalunya?
The circuit has certainly been very good for me in the past, with the win in 2012 being the highlight. A top ten in qualifying will be our first focus and then it’ll be a very tough race in terms of tyre management, with a lot of pit stops and strategy. Last year most did four stops but Lotus F1 Team were able to make three stops to finish second. Overall Catalunya is tough for the cars, drivers and teams because everyone knows the track so well and you have to fight for every thousandth of a second. There are obviously races that are much closer to Venezuela in a geographic sense, but Barcelona is special for me because there is a huge community of Venezuelans close by and of course my mother tongue is Spanish. So I hope to see a lot of flags around the track and some great support as usual. It’s always good to race in front of your fans and I am determined to continue my good record there.
What do you remember about the win in 2012?
It was a great day in my career, a strong race and victory over Fernando Alonso in his home event. We really deserved it because we did it on merit and under big pressure from the Ferrari all race. People forget that we were outside the top ten on Friday and then everything came together. We qualified second – pole after Lewis Hamilton was disqualified – and I knew there was a chance to win the race. I just felt so calm and ready to win. That weekend, after being 17th in first practice, shows why you must never give up in Formula 1. It also gave me more confidence because my first year in F1 had been difficult, but as soon as the car was competitive I was up there, fighting with the top drivers. My mentality changed and this now drives me forward when times are tough.
What would be a realistic target for Barcelona this season?
I’m expecting to be more competitive. It will be very important to start scoring some points, but if everything goes well and we get some luck too then a top five is possible. It is going to be difficult – there are the two Mercedes and two Red Bulls and then others who have shown good pace in recent races like Force India – but if we get 100% from the car we can fight all of the other teams and come away with something good to build on.
What are you expecting from the technical updates?
Clearly we expect the updates to be positive, but it’s difficult to say how big the relative improvement will be because everybody will bring updates and nothing stands still in Formula 1. The bottom line is that we must keep improving and pushing. We won’t get to the end of this season and look back to think we could have done more. Everyone is fighting 100% to get back to the front of the grid. When we get there it will be even sweeter.
How important is it to get points as soon as possible?
It is vital because this team and the drivers are used to scoring lots of them. But more importantly it will act as a trigger for more confidence throughout the team and it will mean we can act on that and feed off it. The races after Barcelona are Monaco and Montreal where many variables usually happen. We have to be in the right place to take advantage of these and to enable a good platform for the summer.
New Parts for the Puzzle
Lotus F1 Team Technical Director Nick Chester will have plenty of new parts for the E22 to maximise when the European F1 season gets underway in Barcelona.
Describe the Chinese GP from a technical stand point?
We made some good steps on engine mapping. The car was a lot more driveable due to a much better torque delivery, which helped the drivers make a big step. On top of that we completed a lot of running on the Friday, particularly with Romain, which meant vital set-up work could be undertaken and we also confirmed aerodynamic improvements on the car. These combined factors helped us to be more competitive, including P9 during the second session. In third practice we were pretty quick in the wet, and then again in qualifying we showed improved pace. Our race performance also improved, moving us ahead of Toro Rosso and McLaren in Shanghai. We have made steady progress in terms of closing the gap to all of the leading teams since Australia.
Where might Romain have finished?
We were unfortunate to miss out on a point or two with Romain due to the gearbox failure in the race. It was a new and rare issue but we’ve made preventative measures to avoid a similar scenario in the future. Pastor’s weekend was hampered a little by his mistake on Friday and an issue on Saturday, which necessitated a change of power unit. As a result Pastor lost most of FP3 and all of qualifying, putting him on the back foot for the race. Although we’ve improved the drivability of the car, Pastor wasn’t quite as happy with the chassis balance as he had been in Bahrain. So he wasn’t as comfortable in the car as Romain, but that may simply be due to missing out on so much track time.
Was there time to assess all of the new parts?
We had a huge amount to get through because we hadn’t run much in the Bahrain test. We assessed over half of the new parts which is a positive and we have a lot more lined up for Barcelona.
Tell us more…
We’ve got further improvements on engine mapping, which should give us another step forward. We’ve got a new cooling and bodywork package coming – quite a big upgrade – plus some updates to the rear wing and various other bodywork parts. All of the developments that we’ve brought for the car so far have been an improvement, which is highly satisfying and validates the hard work being done back at the factory. We also received more horsepower from Renault Sport F1 in China and I hope we’ll get a further step-up in Barcelona, which will make a massive difference.
Where can more performance be found?
There are a lot of aero improvements we want to bring to make the car more predictable for the drivers. We also want to do more work on tyre temperatures. The latest generation of tyres are quite hard in compound and it can be difficult to keep them in the optimum operating window. On the other hand braking is definitely better now. We’ve made some good improvements in terms of how the drivers can control the brakes and manage the power unit during braking.
Last year we finished in second place after a three-stop strategy. What will be the way to go this year?
It is difficult to say because the tyre constructions are different this year and also a lot depends on temperatures. The E21 was very kind on tyres as we know, the E22 we are still really discovering so it is difficult to know for sure. What is certain is the fact that the left hand fronts at Barcelona will be key because of the long constant radius Turn 3.
Barcelona and then Monaco: Two very different tracks, will they suit the E22?
They may look very different, but they are both handling and downforce dominated circuits. Power is always important; more so in Barcelona than Monaco, but it plays a smaller role than at other circuits so we are expecting to be reasonably competitive at both events.
E22 SET UP
Sufficient front wing is needed to eliminate understeer through the first and final turns. Long right hand turn 3. Too much understeer here will kill the left front tyre.
Similar levels of downforce are required to Bahrain, which itself runs a little bit higher than Shanghai. A reasonably long straight means an effective DRS system helps, despite the straight not being nearly as long as that seen in China. There are two DRS zones at this track. One on main straight and the other between T9 and T10.
There is no particular major kerb usage meaning the car can run low.. Turn 16 is one of the essential corners. From a vehicle dynamics point of view the track is not massively demanding.
There are no real issues at all with braking here. The demands are not particularly heavy and we know what to expect.. There are no particular concerns over wear. The biggest braking zones on the track are in to Turn 1 and Turn 10.
Pirelli’s P Zero white medium and orange hard tyres have been nominated. These are the two hardest in the range and the same combination that were used in Sepang this year. With an abrasive surface and some long constant radius corners, particularly at Turn 3, Barcelona can be tough on tyres, particularly the lefthandside rubber. Ambient temperatures can be high at Barcelona. The last wet race here was in 1996 and only three of the 23 held at Circuit De Catalunya have featured rain (1991, 1992 and ’96).
ENGINE SET UP
The circuit itself is one of the medium demand tracks. Despite not visiting the track this year in testing it is primarily straightforward to prepare and teams should not expect any surprises. It is relatively easy to recover energy in Barcelona, thanks to the tight corners such as Turn 10 and the chicane where the driver will brake heavily. Both will give the MGU-K a chance to recharge while the long pit straight allows the MGU-H not to drain the battery too much. With a variety of different speed corners fuel consumption isn’t expected to be a major problem here. The key areas to performance are instead good PU response in the quick corners such as Turn 3 and Turn 8 while retaining good rear stability under braking and the downshifts in the slower corners such as Turn 10.
Human Ignition set to debut in Barcelona
Thursday May 8th will see burn energy drink and Lotus F1 Team hosting celebrities, F1 VIPs and F1 media at the premiere screening of Human Ignition.
The feature length movie has been more than a year in the making. It will investigate the future of F1, showcasing insight from great minds who share a passion for motorsport – from Lotus F1 Team drivers through to designers. Human Ignition investigates four key areas of F1 in the year 2030: the cars, the drivers, the track and the experience for fans of motorsport.
A trailer for the ambitious project was released at the close of the 2013 season, generating interest from media and F1 fans across the globe. Now the movie, which explores how advancement in technology and design could affect the sport, will be showcased to the F1 community gathered in Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix. Prinz M. Pinakatt, Global Director of Sports & Entertainment Marketing, The Coca-Cola Company said of the project, “Human Ignition is the result of hard work from some of the most creative individuals in both film making and motorsport.
The vision of F1 presented in this film is both revolutionary and explosive, presenting a potential future reality that we are sure will excite both F1 professionals and motorsport fans.”
He added, “By exploring different possibilities of the future, we hope to give new energy and add fresh creative thinking to F1.”
Together, burn and Lotus F1 Team have enlisted world-class American director Bryan Gregg to manage the project. Gregg has previously worked on the Emmy award winning Discovery Channel series “Deadliest Catch”.
Lotus F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean turned his hand from driver to movie-star in order to feature in the project. He believes that despite breakthrough technology, increasingly sophisticated design and the prospect of artificial intelligence, humans will remain at the heart of the race.
“I don’t think a robot could drive a car,” says Grosjean. “Fans need to have personality in the cars, they like to see people. Humans create good racing. If there were robots driving then nobody would miss a corner, nobody would spin, nobody would try to overtake another driver – it would just be a boring race.”
Human Ignition showcases predictions from Hollywood vehicle designer Harald Belker (Iron Man, Tron Legacy), 1978 F1 World Champion Mario Andretti and celebrated race track designer and FIA Safety Commission member, Roger Peart.
Harald Belker’s vision of a future F1 car is particularly exciting according to Gregg. The conceptualized design reduces the need for regular pit-stops with airflow designed to naturally cool the engine, a battery replacing the fuel-tank, smart tyres that have different properties depending on track conditions and front spoilers made of a memory flex composite to change the physical shape of the car.
Gregg commented: “This film explores everything from Artificial Intelligence right through to a fully moveable, conceptual race-track that can be transported to locations across the world. We wanted to create a portrayal of the sport which hasn’t been seen before.”
Human Ignition has been introduced to fans of both burn and Lotus F1 Team via an episodic web series currently available to view on the burn YouTube channel. Clocking up more than 300,000 views between the first two episodes, the response identifies a large, captive audience looking forward to the release of the full movie later this year.