Lotus seek to regain horsepower with exhaust tweak
Lotus Technical Director, James Allison, gives an overview of the current state of play with the E20, when we expect a return of the infamous Double DRS, and how there are still gains to come from the new Coandă exhaust system.
How much straight-line pace do you think can be regained for the final three races – Lotus seem to have struggled in this area at the last two Grands Prix?
"It is not really the straight-line pace that is the issue as we can set that wherever we like simply by choosing the rear wing setting. It is the power that we need to recover. Our first version of the Coandă system is rather power hungry. With Renault Sport’s help we expect to claw back around one third of the loss in Abu Dhabi, and would be able to get around half of the loss back eventually."
How should the Abu Dhabi circuit, Yas Marina, suit the car?
"Yas Marina doesn’t have a very wide range of corners, and in fact they are all rather slow speed. This hasn’t been our favourite type of track over the season as a whole, but it is not dissimilar to Valencia and we went pretty well there."
Are there any developments and updates to arrive at this second of a back-to-back combo?
"We aim to introduce an exhaust pipe that keeps all of the Coandă downforce benefit, but sheds some of the horsepower penalty that we suffered with for our first iteration design."
What went wrong for qualifying in India - it looked more promising coming into the session…
"We were looking pretty promising in P3 with Kimi, a little less so with Romain. However, we expected to be mixing it with the McLarens and Ferraris. A small step in the wrong direction with the setup on Kimi’s car, and a minor error from Romain saw us qualify a little lower than we had hoped."
What were your thoughts of the Indian Grand Prix?
"Our pace in the race was strong, with both drivers reporting that the car was excellent, which was good. Unfortunately Kimi spent most of his race looking at the back of Massa’s car. We briefly got past him at the pit stop but only to be overtaken in the DRS zone down the straight and then really sat behind him without the speed or power to overtake him again. Kimi could comfortably drop back and then come up behind Felipe, so it was clear we were definitely faster than the Ferrari. This confirmed that we had qualified somewhat put of position with both cars. Sadly, with the compound choices being so conservative at this race, it was very hard to build up the necessary head of steam to force an overtake."
We know we will see the DDRS at the Young Driver test at Yas Marina which follows the Abu Dhabi Grand prix. How much progress can we hope to make and could we expect to see it in subsequent races?
"Our plan is to work on understanding how to make it act in a sufficiently predictable manner to be deployable in a race. Given the difficulty we have experienced so far, I think it would be optimistic to see it used in anger this season, within the final races remaining."