Q+A with Lotus' Nick Chester

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Lotus Technical Director Nick Chester revealed that the team have a number of 'significant' updates lined up for this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, including aerodynamic and suspension developments.

Will we see new development parts on the Lotus E22 at Spa? We have a fair amount of new development parts for Spa such as new bodywork and some smaller modifications centred around the front of the chassis which should give some good downforce benefits for us. We will still have plenty of developments to come as the season goes on. Front and rear wing developments are planned for Spa.
The rear wing upgrades may be tight for Spa due to the time lost in manufacturing during the summer shutdown but we are pushing for it to be in Belgium. The key thing is that we are continuing to push development of the E22 in the coming races with some fairly substantial upgrades. We know that there are some very sensitive areas of the car where we can make some good gains so we will be focusing on these areas too.

What are the secrets to getting a good set-up at Spa? Like most things in F1 there are no specific secrets just hard work and good engineering. Because there is so much time spent at full throttle at Spa you need a reasonably light downforce level, so it is a tricky one because this has to be countered with what you face in sector two, which is a relatively slower section. This means there is a reasonable compromise to be made but ultimately you need to have a car that provides confidence for the drivers in the high speed corners. You also need good mechanical setup to get through the high compression sequence at Eau Rouge and Raidillon, which is still very demanding on the car.

Spa and rain are two words often heard together. How will we fair should the weather revert to type this season? Spa always throws up the possibility of wet or damp conditions. We have seen some promise with the E22 in these conditions already this season but most recently at Hungary that really wasn’t the case. We struggled to generate good grip on intermediate tyres but then so did many others so it looked like a function of the track surface.

How is the team adjusting to life after the interconnected suspension (FRIC)? We have made some progress in reducing the deficiency from losing the interconnected suspension but we are still hurting a little bit. We have some revised mechanical parts for Spa including some new springs and enhanced suspension settings which should help. It was a highly developed system on the E22 beforehand so it is hard to claw all of the performance back straight away.

Is the summer break a help or a hindrance for the team? There are two sides to this really. As an engineer you actually want to keep on attacking and extract the maximum you can out of the package you have. On the flipside, the F1 season is very demanding so actually in the long-term and throughout the whole season it is probably a benefit in terms of human performance.

Spa and Monza are two legendary tracks and they are really popular with the fans. How about engineers? Of course we love going to these ‘spiritual’ tracks. They are part of the fabric and history of F1 and indeed racing in general. You feel the drama and excitement at both Spa and Monza despite them being very different in nature. As an engineer Spa is a massive challenge but a satisfying one. Monza is totally unique as it is the quickest track of the year. This year will be tough for us as we are not the quickest on the straights but as ever we are up for the challenge.