With a frustrating weekend at Spa now in the past, Lotus F1 Team heads to the very different challenge of Monza; whose distinct character certainly presents a challenge, but Alan Permane appears not to be concerned at all.
What can you say about Monza?
"It’s a circuit that teams and drivers understandably enjoy visiting. The character and challenge are there for everyone to see. In terms of the car, Monza requires a unique approach targeting minimal drag so you can make the most of the long straights. This means we have Monza-specific rear wings while utilising the front wings in a complementary configuration. As well as what you can see on the car externally, there’s also the challenge of getting the gearing right to make the most of the circuit’s unique flavour."
How should it suit the E21? "There’s certainly nothing which jumps up and causes us any great concerns. You need an aerodynamically efficient car – which we have – and a powerful engine which Renault supplies us with. You also need a car that has good change of direction for the interruptions to the straights. Some of the challenges of Monza have diminished over time; an example being the kerbs which are not as aggressive as they once were. You still need to have the suspension sufficiently compliant to enable kerb usage, but it’s not as much of a consideration as before."
Will we see a longer chassis? "This is certainly something we have looked at with the lessons learnt this season and we could see a longer wheelbase configuration make an appearance in Monza."
What about the Device? "Monza is precisely the sort of circuit where the Device would not offer any real advantage as the rear wing is running in low-downforce / minimal drag configuration, so the difference the Device could make at different speeds would not be so great. For the same reason, the impact that DRS makes here is not so significant."
What about overtaking at Monza? "Although the long straights can lend themselves to slipstreaming, overtaking at Monza is not actually that easy – not least for the diminished effect of DRS – so drivers still have to work hard to seize any opportunity."
Are you hopeful of better weather than that experienced in Belgium? "As a team the challenge is obviously to build a car which works in all weather conditions, but it’s no secret that we’d prefer dry and warm conditions to cold and wet."
What did the team learn at Spa? "It was a frustrating weekend and we simply weren’t fast enough in qualifying or the race. Neither car was in a great position at the end of the first lap and we were fighting a difficult battle to try to move forwards with both. For Romain we opted for a one-stop strategy, which required some good tyre management skills from him. This presented the best opportunity to try to gain an advantage, but the speed simply wasn’t there from the car. Kimi was driving as you’d expect him to; making some great overtaking moves before he had to retire."
What can you say about Kimi’s retirement? "Our brakes were running hot in Spa but everything was pointing to there being sufficient durability to get Kimi to the end of the race once we were on top of the situation. What we didn’t realise initially was that a visor tear-off strip had become lodged in the brake cooling duct of his front left-hand wheel. This meant that the brake disc was never able to cool sufficiently and ultimately we saw a component failure. It was a hit for both Kimi’s and our Championships, but we’ll fight on."