With Andre Lotterer in the Caterham for Friday’s free practice, the first thing I wanted to know was exactly what Sky Sport F1 asked him—what is the difference between a world championship-winning Audi LMP1 car and a Formula 1 car?
“There is a lot more power – it would be nice to have that much power in an LMP1 car – but then in the corners it is the opposite,” Lotter told Sky Sports F1.
“I think our Michelin tyres are a bit better, we can push them much harder and do over 700km on one set of tyres and more downforce as well so you can push an LMP1 car a bit more in the corners. So that was the surprising thing, but we did come a bit low on downforce here so I expect the car to become better. But you do have to restrict yourself and apply yourself a lot.”
In Pirelli’s defense, their tires are purposely made to degrade quicker and not last as long or take the kind of punishment a triple-stinting Audi LMP1 car might hand out so you have to forgive that comparison.
On the other hand, a much heavier LMP1 car can handle being pushed harder in the corners and one might expect that to a point as the horsepower is lower. This leads to the notion that the 2014 F1 cars are, indeed, a handful to drive but Andre admits that it is restricting yourself and that’s one of the issues F1 is facing at the moment—lift and coast and holding back. However, some of that could be the low downforce settings for Spa.
From the World Endurance Championship (WEC) standpoint, it’s great having Andre in the car and drawing comparisons. What we have learned so far is that the LMP1’s can be pushed much harder and allow for non-restrictive racing in the series. This adds praise to the series as a competitive sport for eyeballs.
Lotterer did well in practice and seemed to offer very good feedback to the team and he’s no stranger to single-seater racing as he does a fair bit of that in Japan. If you haven’t watched the WEC, you might consider doing so as the racing is top-shelf and the cars are epic. Lotterer is proving that while drivers don’t hop from one series to the other like they used to, they still haven’t lost the ability to do so.