Coming to Europe with second position in both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championship shows that Lotus F1 Team is performing well, but it’s no time for complacency says Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier
The team currently holds P2 in both championships; what’s the secret to sustaining that challenge?
The secret? Good strategy, a good car and two good drivers! Achieving a one-off result is one thing, but keeping momentum is a far bigger challenge and I’m pleased to say we’re doing a great job of that so far this year. It’s such a finely balanced and competitive season. If we look to our most recent race in Bahrain, on Saturday it looked like maybe we had lost our edge having qualified below expectations. Fortunately, we were always confident in our race pace and that confidence proved to be well placed.
The race in Bahrain was a pretty special one for the team: do you ever get a feeling of déjà vu? It was just like in 2012! Having Kimi second and Romain third was a great result, but just like in 2012 there was Sebastian [Vettel] on the top step. This year’s result was much more difficult, especially after our qualifying performance, but we showed flashes of pace throughout the weekend and confirmed that speed when it mattered in the race. To come away with a double podium when the top six would maybe have been a more realistic pre-race target was a great performance from everybody involved. There was a pretty special feeling in the race team and that was just magnified when I got back to Enstone to see everyone in the factory. It was a well-deserved result.
Kimi is right there in the Drivers’ Championship battle... Kimi is a fantastic driver and you can never rule him out in any race. In Bahrain, he drove a strong race to manage the tyres and was comfortable in second by the chequered flag. In Australia he won the race and said it was one of his easiest wins. We want to ensure he has more easy races in the future.
How pleasing was it to see Romain back on the podium? Very. Consistency has been there already for him in the first three races, but I think fighting at the front again will come as a big relief to him after a difficult start to the year. His season really starts now.
What’s been the secret to unlocking his pace? We sat down with Romain to assess where things weren’t quite working and the team did a good job to find a few little things which helped him get back that positive feeling with the car again. He clearly enjoyed every second on track in last race – making a solid start and pulling off some strong overtaking moves – and I think that enjoyment showed in his performance.
When could the next win come for the team? We always want to win and our podium successes this year seem to have made us all the more hungry to taste the champagne. We know we are facing other equally competitive teams and only one team and driver get to stand on that top step at each race. Of course, it would be fantastic to start our European season with a win.
There’s always a lot of talk about the development battle; are you confident the team can match the pace of improvement of the other teams? This is just another aspect of the sport. We have a strong development programme for the E21 and I’m confident we can continue to improve it through the year, just as we did with the E20 before it. Most teams tend to bring a fairly major upgrade package to the first European race of the season and we’ll be no exception. I’m very pleased with how the development of the this car is progressing and I think there’s plenty more to come from us.