Tag: Lotus

F1: Barcelona Test Day 4: Grosjean fastest as Mercedes starts to show potential

Romain Grosjean made it three out of four for Lotus at this week’s pre-season test in Barcelona as he topped an eventful day marked by Fernando Alonso’s unusual crash in the McLaren.

Half an hour before lunch, Alonso went off the circuit at the exit of Turn 3 and came to a stop on the run down to Turn 4. A lengthy delay followed and after being taken by ambulance to the medical centre a conscious Alonso was airlifted to hospital for precautionary checks. CT scans in the afternoon confirmed the Spaniard was uninjured, although he will be kept in hospital overnight.

Alonso completed just 19 laps before his accident and McLaren was not able to get the car back out on track in the afternoon when Jenson Button was scheduled to drive. It means McLaren finishes the second pre-season test with just 129 laps to show for its week in Barcelona and just one week of testing left to rectify its problems before the first race in Australia.

day4-alonso-crashes-out

Alonso’s accident was just one incident in an eventful final day at the Circuit de Catalunya, which saw four further red flags in the afternoon. First Nico Hulkenberg stopped on track under a cloud of smoke from his 2014 Force India. Carlos Sainz then spun off at Turn 4, snapping the Toro Rosso’s front wing on impact with the wall. The accident was heavy enough for him to have to pay a brief but routine trip to the medical centre for checks. Valtteri Bottas stopped in the same spot a few moments after the green flags came out and with ten minutes to go there was another red flag when Felipe Nasr pulled up with a problem with his Sauber.

Grosjean’s headline time of 1:24.067 was set on the super-soft tyre, and marked a day with 111 laps and a race simulation for Lotus. Mercedes added to its sizeable winter mileage count with 131 laps for Nico Rosberg as it continues to look for a step forward in reliability this season. In the final hour Rosberg put in an impressive 1:24.321, set on the medium tyre and just 0.254s off Grosjean’s time. The lap was roughly a second faster than Lewis Hamilton’s pole position time on medium tyres at last year’s Spanish Grand Prix, but unlike Hamilton’s was set on used tyres and most likely with a heavier fuel load.

After focusing on pit stops and race starts on Saturday, Williams spent the day focused on longer runs. Valtteri Bottas started a race simulation after lunch but it was interrupted by a visit to the Williams garage and Hulkenberg’s stoppage. He then continued the long run before stopping at Turn 4 himself, though it did not end his day. It was obvious Williams was not chasing times and his race simulation and 129 laps was an impressive way to round off the second test.

Sebastian Vettel’s second day this week in the Ferrari garnered a solid 76-lap haul, though his day was punctuated by several long spells in the garage. Ferrari still has plenty of reasons to be optimistic after eight solid days of testing so far. Felipe Nasr’s day was blighted by an early pit-lane stoppage which kept him in the garage for an extended period before lunch, though he did recover to record 73 laps. Sainz’s spin ended his day after 88 laps, while Hulkenberg finished his first F1 run of the year with 36 laps. Force India hopes to arrive at the third test with this season’s challenger but will have gained valuable 2015 tyre data from this week’s test.

Day 4 Times:
1. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:24.067 111 laps
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:24.321 131 laps
3. Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:24.941 104 laps
4. Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:24.956 73 laps
5. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:25.345 129 laps
6. Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:25.605 88 laps
7. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:26.312 76 laps
8. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:26.591 36 laps
9. Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:27.956 20 laps

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F1: Barcelona Test: Day 1: Maldonado tops eventful first day

Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado topped a scrappy opening day at the second pre-season test in Barcelona, which featured the unusual sight of two cars colliding and saw McLaren and Mercedes hampered by problems.

Maldonado leapt to the top of the timing screen with a 1:25.011 less than one hour from the chequered flag, a lap he set on the soft tyre. Maldonado had a frustrating start with two separate stoppages out on track in the morning but the red flag waving was not limited solely to Lotus.

There was more woe for McLaren-Honda as a faulty seal on the MGU-K forced the team to change the whole power unit and end its first day early. Jenson Button’s start had been promising as he accumulated 21 laps in the first two hours but it was yet another setback for McLaren and its new engine partner.

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There was also early difficulty for reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, who completed just 11 laps before ending his day early due to a fever. A neck injury for Nico Rosberg meant Mercedes had to wait until after lunch for reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein, who completed 32 laps in the morning driving Force India’s 2014 car, to step into the breach. A fuel pump problem after lunch hampered Mercedes further, but Wehrlein managed to add another 48 laps before the close of play.

The afternoon session started with an unusual sight for testing as two cars collided. Damage to the left front of Susie Wolff’s Williams and the right rear of Felipe Nasr’s Sauber was the tell-tale sign the two had come together on the run down to Turn 5, with the Sauber beached in the gravel just before the tyre barrier. It is unclear exactly what happened in the crash, though Wolff was on an out-lap when it occurred. Nasr and Wolff both made it out for late runs but the Sauber finished the session early when it stopped at Turn 9, an incident which brought out a late red flag.

wolff-nasr-crash

Kimi Raikkonen continued Ferrari’s solid start to winter testing, completing 73 laps, though it is still hard to gauge whether the team has made inroads to Mercedes because fuel loads are unknown. However, it will be another morale boosting day of testing after topping three of the four days in Jerez earlier this month.

Daniel Ricciardo had been at the foot of the timesheets for much of the morning without recording a time, but the camouflaged Red Bull was one of the more active participants after lunch. The Australian accumulated 58 laps, though rarely in stints longer than five or six at a time. Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen also had a disjointed morning and early afternoon but still clocked 93 laps overall with some solid running late in the day. Sergio Perez continued Wehrlein’s good work in the afternoon at Force India and by the end of the session had recorded a 1:26.636 to go 4th, although headline times are still of limited significance.

1. Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:25.011 69 Laps
2. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:25.167 73 Laps
3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:25.547 58 Laps
4. Sergio Perez Force India 1:26.636 39 laps
5. Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:27.307 78 Laps
6. Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:27.900 93 Laps
7. Jenson Button McLaren 1:28.182 21 Laps
8. Pascal Wehrlein Force India 1:28.329 32 Laps
9. Pascal Wehrlein Mercedes 1:29.489 48 Laps
10. Susie Wolff Williams 1:28.906 83 laps
11. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.429 11 Laps

Read more at ESPN

F1: New Lotus E23 breaks cover in Jerez

The new Lotus E23 broke cover for the first time on Monday morning in Jerez.

The team had to skip the opening day of the test while it waited for the recently-finished and crash tested chassis to arrive in Spain. The team put in a hard night’s work to get the car out on track in just the second hour of running and it completed an installation lap with Pastor Maldonado at the wheel.

The team admitted on Sunday that they were not likely to complete any meaningful running until Tuesday, so Monday’s early lap represents positive progress.

The E23 is the first Lotus to be powered by Mercedes after the team swapped from Renault following a torrid year at the back of the grid. The car features a sleek nose after the regulations forced the team to ditch its two-pronged nose of 2014.

Lotus is also confident it found and addressed a fundamental aerodynamic flaw on the car that caused it the handling to be unpredictable last year.

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F1: Lotus expects ‘big step’ from E23 Hybrid

Lotus thinks the combination of the lessons learned in 2014 and the arrival of Mercedes power will make the E23 Hybrid much more competitive than its predecessor.

Lotus scored just 10 points in 2014, prompting a switch from Renault to Mercedes. The team unveiled its 2015 challenger on Monday and technical director Nick Chester expects big improvements after the team assessed exactly where it went wrong on the aerodynamic side last season.

“The E23 Hybrid represents a massive step forward for us,” Chester said. “It’s no secret that we struggled with last year’s car so we’ve targeted every area that caused us an issue. We’ve made strong progress in the wind tunnel as well as in areas such as packaging and cooling. We expect the E23 to perform far, far better than its predecessor.

2015-car-side

“In terms of what’s new, obviously a massive change for us is a new power unit supplier. We made this change as it looked and looks to be the one area of the car which could bring us the greatest performance gain. It’s not just performance, but reliability and driveability as well as packaging and cooling too. The E22 did deliver good figures in the wind tunnel, even if it was difficult to unlock its potential, so we’ve paid more attention to making the characteristics of the car more adaptable.”

A bad season was made even more challenging mid-way through 2014 when the FIA banned Front and Rear Interconnected (FRIC) suspension. However, Chester says the team has worked extensively to refine this area of the car for the coming season.

“In terms of the suspension, we were delivered something of a blow last year when the front-rear interconnected suspension was outlawed mid-season. The E23’s suspension design is specific to the updated regulations so we’re not trying to update a system originally intended to work a different way.

“We learnt a lot in many areas of the car over the course of 2014 so there are many lessons which have been applied. We know we’ve made a big step. We won’t know how our car will fare in relative terms until we’re out in action at a Grand Prix, but we certainly expect to be much more competitive than last year.”

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F1: GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer joins Lotus as reserve driver

Lotus has confirmed GP2 series champion Jolyon Palmer as its reserve driver for the 2015 season.

Palmer, son of former British F1 driver Jonathan, was unable to secure a full-time drive after his success in the F1 feeder series but did test for Force India at the Abu Dhabi test in November. He has been picked up by Lotus for its first season with Mercedes power and the team says he will feature in a “significant number” of FP1 sessions throughout 2015, as well as contributing to testing and development.

Palmer, who won the GP2 title in record-breaking fashion, thinks the move gives him the best chance of finding a senior drive in 2016.

“I’m delighted to be moving into F1 with Lotus this year as third driver and I’m very grateful for the opportunity they have given me,” Palmer said. “My goal has been to become a race driver in a competitive F1 team for 2016 and Lotus is a great opportunity for me, particularly with Mercedes engines now. To be able to learn with a major F1 team by working closely with them in every area and getting a lot of mileage in the car is the best way possible, as Valtteri Bottas proved. I am delighted to be joining Lotus at such an exciting time and my objective is to earn a long term future with them.”

The move means Lotus has three former GP2 champions on its books next year, with Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean winning the title in consecutive years (2010 and 2011). Lotus chairman and team principal Gerard Lopez is excited to see how Palmer makes the step up to a Formula One team.

“Jolyon is a fantastic talent and a very credible driver to fulfil the role of third driver at Lotus,” Lopez said. “Romain and Pastor are both GP2 Series Champions, so we know what a fantastic proving ground GP2 provides. For Jolyon to have enjoyed such a successful season as he took his title last year shows his superb potential for the future. We are looking forward to seeing him in team colours and behind the wheel of our 2015 car, the E23 Hybrid, which represents an exciting new era for Lotus.”

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F1: Grosjean to stay at Lotus in 2015

Lotus has confirmed Romain Grosjean will partner Pastor Maldonado at the team next season.

Grosjean has raced at Lotus since 2012 but in the past few months has been waiting on confirmation of his position at the team in 2015. After a breakthrough year in 2013 with six podiums and 132 points, he has struggled this year in an uncompetitive car, but is confident the arrival of Mercedes engines in 2015 will boost the team’s competitiveness.

“It’s fantastic for me to be continuing with Lotus F1 Team for 2015 and it’s superb to have the support of everyone at Enstone,” he said. “It’s no secret that we’ve had a really tough season this year, but the team has remained focused and we’re all determined to return to regular points-scoring in 2015.

“I have been spending a lot of time recently at Enstone and I’m feeling very positive about the potential of the E23, which should represent a return to form for the team. We have one race left in 2014 so I’ll be pushing to do the best job possible in Abu Dhabi before my focus switches fully to 2015.”

Team boss Gerard Lopez said Grosjean had proved himself worthy of a new contract this season.

“It is with great pleasure that we can formally confirm that Romain Grosjean will continue with Lotus F1 Team alongside Pastor Maldonado next season. You really learn something about a driver when they have the chips against them and Romain has delivered impeccably in 2014 despite the very big challenges he has faced. We know that Romain will always get the most out of the car at his disposal, which is why we can’t wait to harness his potential with Mercedes-Benz power in 2015.”
Read more at ESPN