Federico Gastaldi DEPUTY TEAM PRINCIPAL
The chase is on
Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi looks back on Hockenheim and ahead to the Hungaroring.
How is the lay of the land after the weekend in Germany?
It was pleasing for Pastor to have a solid race and come home on the edge of the points at Hockenheim. After a tough qualifying he dug very deep and showed his racing instincts. For Romain it was very tough to have a cooling system failure, a very rare issue to have. He was unlucky because he had a good chance to collect some points to add to his tally. It was important to get to the end of the race and collect vital data on the E22 without its non-hydraulic connected suspension system. I can’t say we are satisfied with the result because we aim to get rewarded for the effort and skill we put in to racing, but there will be days when we get those rewards I’m sure.
We confirmed over the weekend that Pastor has a long-term deal at Enstone.
We were validating the deal we have with Pastor, confirming that we have a multi-year deal, reinforcing from both sides our commitment to each other; it’s a renewal of vows after a tough honeymoon if you like! Myself and Gérard Lopez spent a lot of time with Pastor in Hockenheim, where we sat down and discussed the future which was all very positive. Pastor is very much part of the future at Enstone and it was a matter of routine for both parties to confirm that he has a multi-year deal and will be in one of our cockpits next season. We are very happy to confirm this in public, as is Pastor and his partners.
The situation with Pastor is clear but what about Romain at this stage?
Romain has been part of the Lotus F1 Team family for many years, even since his GP2 days. Let’s be honest. Romain as a top, top driver is not happy with the 2014 season and this is mirrored by everyone at the team of course. We cannot confirm anything just yet as the timing will be right when we are both comfortable to announce something. All I can say is that it’s certainly the intention for Romain to stay at Enstone and continue what has been a great partnership and working relationship.
Hungaroring is the last race before the summer break.
What will the team be focusing on during this enforced holiday? Well the technical aspects of the factory shut down but all the brain power does not! One thing I know about F1 people and especially ‘our people’ is that they never stop thinking about F1 and how to improve things for the team. We remain ultra-focused on improving the package we have in 2014 and gathering more points for the team. The philosophy is to make the maximum of what we have in 2014, but of course at the same time we have already started on the car for 2015. We are always looking to the future whether it is short or long-term.
Just how much of that focus has shifted on to 2015?
We have to take the lessons from this tough season and apply them to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But we are only 50% of the way through 2014 now, so we are still highly committed to improving our World Championship position and to start scoring more points. We know that we have two very accomplished drivers that are always capable of scoring points, but we need to provide them with cars that can achieve that. Yes, the plans for next year are in motion and the technical teams are busy on that programme, but for the team it is important to make sure we score more points so we will be chasing everyone all the way until Abu Dhabi in November.
ROMAIN GROSJEAN RACE DRIVER #8
I love Budapest
Romain Grosjean gives his thoughts on a track where he’s enjoyed good results in the past as well as looking forward to a little rest afterwards.
What are your thoughts on Budapest?
I love Budapest and I love the Hungaroring. It’s a place that I really look forward to visiting every year. It is usually sunny and hot and is just before the summer break so you give all the energy you have before you go on holiday. It is an exciting Grand Prix every year.
What is it about the Hungaroring that you particularly like?
It’s a great track and one that’s suited us in the past. It was great to be on the podium there in 2012. I can remember feeling frustrated that year as we did have a chance to be fighting for the win, but that didn’t work out because of traffic. I like the circuit with its style of up and downs and twisty corners. I like the feeling you get when driving on the track and the grip you get from it. I’ve been very quick in qualifying every time there. I did one of my best overtakes in my career in Formula 1 last year and I got penalised for a few small centimetres which was tough at the time…Nevertheless, it is hard to overtake at the Hungaroring making qualifying very, very important, as is the race strategy.
What’s the key to a good result in Budapest?
Qualifying. It’s a tight and twisty track so you do need a good qualifying result. We showed in 2012 that being on the front row certainly helps and last year’s P3 wasn’t too bad either.
What other memories do you have of the track?
I scored my first GP2 Series pole position there in 2008. In 2011 I won and finished third, which was a pretty good weekend. Driving-wise, it’s not the most physically challenging in terms of high speed corners, but the heat you experience in the cockpit can be quite an issue. It can also be a difficult circuit early in the weekend as the track is not used very much, meaning it’s quite slippery when you first go out.
How was your German Grand Prix weekend?
Frustrating as we didn’t finish the race and we also lost some pace on the car with the move away from the interlinked suspension system. In terms of my driving, I was absolutely giving all I could. I had a great start in the race, but then we struggled with tyre temperature after the safety car. Our race pace was a lot better than our qualifying pace and I know the team will make progress to reclaim some of the speed we’ve lost.
With pace so hard to come by for the team in 2014, what’s the approach to a race weekend?
You just have to maximise everything. We’re fully focused on making the very best we can in every lap of each session. Of course, the results are very different from those we enjoyed over the last two seasons but our approach is the same. We are still learning a lot about the E22 and there’s still pace to come so we just keep pushing.
After Budapest there’s the summer break – are you looking forward to that?
Of course, as a racer you always want to be out on track, but as there are no Grands Prix it would be good to get a little rest and particularly to spend some time with my family. Naturally, I’ll continue with my training as that’s something you do all through the year, but it’s important to return refreshed from the summer break as there’s plenty of travelling for the final eight races of the year.
Pastor Maldonado RACE DRIVER #13
One of the best of the season
Pastor Maldonado outlines his feelings heading to the last race before Formula 1’s summer break.
Are you looking forward to Budapest?
The Hungarian Grand Prix is one of the best of the season. We are very close to Budapest and I like the city very much. There is a big community of fans at the race weekend and the people are very friendly. On track, it can be very challenging. The weather is usually very hot there and it is very demanding from a physical point of view. It is one of the races that I enjoy best because of these demands and I really like the challenge that it presents.
What are your thoughts on the Hungaroring?
It is a very demanding circuit for drivers as it is often very hot and there are limited overtaking opportunities. It has quite a slow speed layout, so we’ll be able to see how much improvement we’ve made on this type of configuration. Qualifying is so important at this track because of the small number of overtaking opportunities, but I’ve qualified well there in the past so hopefully I can deliver a strong performance that will give the team a boost as we head into the summer break. I have won there in other categories so the track has good memories for me. The fans create a great atmosphere and it’s always good to race at a track where there is a strong feeling like this.
The team recently confirmed you for 2015?
I joined Lotus F1 Team on a multi-year deal, but there is always talk and gossip in Formula 1 about drivers and teams. We both know we haven’t had the first season either of us wanted in terms of results so this was a clear statement that we’re both committed to working together and getting results in the future. From my perspective, I’m fully behind Lotus F1 Team and I know we’ll achieve great things together.
How would you assess your German Grand Prix?
Though we didn’t score any points it was a good race as we had a reliable car and our lap times weren’t bad relative to our opposition. Qualifying was frustrating, as we didn’t get all we wanted out of the car so it’s always difficult when you start so far back on the grid. We had the suspension changes to get used to, so it was good to run the race distance and get a lot of data to help us for the next races. It was quite an eventful race; I’m happy that we made it to the end without any incidents to report.
What are your plans for the summer break?
Some time with my family of course! They are very important to me so that’s why I spend as much time as I can with them, even over Grands Prix weekends. I think the summer break is more important for the team and all the crew who do so many long hours over the course of the season. For me as a driver, I get pretty well looked after and I don’t have to work late nights on the car. There’s a lot of travel in the second half of the year so we all need to be refreshed and ready to go.
NICK CHESTER TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
Keeping a balance
Lotus F1 Technical Director Nick Chester reviews the team’s performance in Germany, analyses the removal of hydraulically interlinked suspension before looking ahead to the Hungarian Grand Prix and beyond to 2015…
What’s your view on the weekend in Hockenheim?
On the positive side it was a very good race for Pastor, going from nineteenth to twelfth. He drove faultlessly really. He looked after his tyres and we had very low tyre degradation – something of a Lotus F1 Team habit we are pleased to see returning. We didn’t quite have the pace to beat Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen, but we were close to it. If Pastor had a better qualifying he should easily have been in the points, but he drove a good race nonetheless.
How has it been adapting to the departure of hydraulically interlinked suspension?
Difficult. I’m sure we struggled with our qualifying pace because of it. Our race pace was better, but maybe that was because we were looking after our tyres well. It’s clear that we had a very developed FRIC or hydraulically linked suspension system, so we’ve got a lot more set-up work to do now to get the most out of the change.
What happened to Romain’s car?
It was a failure of the energy store cooling system, which initially resulted in a loss of power for Romain and then we had to switch everything off, meaning his race was over.
Should the tight, twisty nature of the Hungaroring suit the E22?
It’s always difficult to predict, but we are going to be running in maximum downforce configuration, which we prefer with this car. It seems to suit us more than low downforce tracks.
We are now past the midway point of the season, how does that change the development process?
We’ll obviously have a good go at getting points in Hungary and then after the summer break the development of this car will still continue. There will probably be one more sizeable package of new parts and then a series of smaller, simpler upgrades to bring fairly easy performance towards the end of the season. Looking further ahead, we are already well into the design of next year’s car. It looks quite promising with some very distinctly different features from this year’s car.
How much are we still learning about the new generation of F1 cars?
There is still quite a lot. The changes to the aerodynamic regulations in particular have made development a little trickier. On the other hand we are reasonably on top of the energy management side now. There are always areas you can improve and things that you want to do.
What are the main regulation changes for 2015?
For the cars, the main changes will be to the nose and chassis regulations. Noses are set to take on a fairly standard, low design. A change to the skids underneath the floor is quite significant. It’s drawn attention because of the sparks that will be generated by the car, but it will also mean that the car needs to run higher. That is another thing that will be a key factory in aero development. There is also a change to the power unit, with variable trumpets.
The pit crew had long days at Hockenheim working on the cars… This year’s cars are so much more complicated than the previous generation cars. There are simply more parts to be built so they definitely take more time to work on. This is one element where we’re building improvements into next year’s car. It’ll never be easier to work on than a normally aspirated V8-engined car without all the energy recovery systems that we have now, but certainly it will be a step forward in this regard.
How satisfied were you with the very fast pit stops?
It’s really satisfying. The crew did a fantastic job with the slowest of our race stops at 2.3 seconds and the fastest at 2.1 seconds. We haven’t had an easy season, but it’s a good illustration of how everyone is fully committed and pushing just as hard as if we were fighting for the title.
E22 SET UP
Frontal grip is vital at the Hungaroring, especially from the chicane to the end of the lap where a series of flowing corners mean good change of direction is important. Understeer is the arch enemy through this section and also the quick and blind Turn 4, so a strong and stable front end is needed.
Rear wing configuration will run to maximum downforce levels thanks to the relatively low speed aspect of the circuit. The tight nature of the Hungaroring ensures high downforce levels are a priority, so a similar configuration to Monaco, with developments, will be run.
The kerbs are an important part of extracting a good lap time in Hungary. The exit of Turn 4 sees the cars riding the kerb and good suspension travel will give added stability here. The chicane and the exit of Turn 11 also promote nicely tuned-in vehicle dynamics, contributing to the overall lap time.
Turn 1 is the biggest stop on the track and the only clear overtaking opportunity. The rest of the lap is not demanding on the brakes and the 2014 brake-by-wire systems should have a relatively easy time over the 70 laps.
With this race often held in hot conditions, Pirelli will bring the medium and soft tyres to the track. A good window for differing strategies should be available with this tyre/track combination. The Hungaroring is also notorious for its often dusty surface at the start of the weekend.