Like most teams, Lotus Racing is looking forward to the Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul this weekend. Unlike most teams, Lotus has announced that they are officially moving their focus to the 2011 car.
While some teams may sense a futile battle for improving their position against the Red Bull’s, McLaren’s, Ferrari’s as well as Mercedes GP; they have not officially announced their intention to switch the focus to next years car development. One suspects that with the announcement of separation between HRT and Dallara, that the team may be more efficient moving forward immediately with Geoff Willis and the 2011 design.
One can only assume that Virgin Racing too is looking at next year already as the prospects of beating Lotus may still be present but climbing the next hurdle may be expensive and pointless at this stage of the season. Virgin has already taken a hit with an mistake in fuel tank size and had to incur the cost of a whole new chassis so perhaps they still would like to develop the 2010 challenger.
While we can presume a 2011 focus and with Lotus’s announcement that they are officially already looking to the future, Technical Director Mike Gascoyne says Turkey will see a few developments:
â€œLooking back on Spain and Monaco weâ€™ve taken a good step forward in those races and here in Turkey weâ€™re looking to keep on improving and racing the cars in front, not those behind. Weâ€™ll be using our new pillar mounted rear wing here, and have some new parts which will enable us to optimise the weight distribution, so again, Iâ€™m quietly confident weâ€™ll bridge the gap to those in front that little bit more.â€
Even with the 2011 focus publicly announced, the team is still bringing new kit to Turkey and looking for a better result. Even the drivers are excited about the new development parts and looking for a better weekend:
â€˜The track in Turkey is good â€“ turn eight is challenging but the rest of it is relatively simple, and definitely not as tricky as Monaco! Iâ€™m looking forward to getting out on track and having some better luck this weekend. My confidence in the car is growing all the time so I hope a bit of luck and the updates weâ€™ve put on here will help me have a better race this weekend.â€™
And what about the effervescent, golfing nut Heikki Kovalainen?
â€œItâ€™s good to be back in Turkey, the weather is usually nice here and it seems the same this weekend. Turkey itself is really cool – Istanbul is a huge city with some great places to go. The harbour area is nice and itâ€™s good to try and take some time and have a look around there in the evening â€“ Iâ€™m staying on the Asian side this weekend, so Iâ€™m not sure Iâ€™ll get much time off, but itâ€™s still good to be here.
â€œThe track is great – itâ€™s a big circuit and we get back to a normal open race course after Monaco. Weâ€™re fully prepared and Iâ€™m looking forward to practice tomorrow to see what the new wing gives us, and where we are after seeing such good pace in the car in Monaco.â€
Dieter Gass, Sporting Director: â€œLooking back on the year so far I think we can be extremely satisfied with what we have achieved. Weâ€™ve completed all the targets we set out at the beginning of the season, and from the first time we started testing we have been reliable, which is a testament to the hard work put in by everyone in the team, and our partners. But now we are working on making the car quicker and improving the gap to the established teams â€“ we are getting there, and this weekend, and at Silverstone, weâ€™re looking to take more steps forward.
â€œTurkey is a track the drivers like as it presents a good challenge – some high and low speed corners, and the famous triple apex corner eight all test the balance of the car, and the aero performance. Itâ€™s always a challenge for the engineers and the drivers to set up the car so itâ€™s going to be an interesting weekend here â€“ we have very experienced people throughout the team, so Iâ€™m confident weâ€™ll put on a good show. I wouldnâ€™t say Istanbul Park either suits, or doesnâ€™t suit our car, and I think weâ€™ll be pretty much where we were in Barcelona, but with we are looking to take another step forward with the next batch of updates on the car.
Lotus is still in 10th place in the champioship and the next jumpe could be passing Sauber who are having reliability problems rivaling epic tragedy. Beyond Sauber lies Toro Rosso and with 4 points in hand, Lotus would need to experience a renaissance of sorts or attrition to see them into the points.
Ultimately, here is hoping for a better weekend for Lotus Racing…not too mention Virgin Racing. I wonder what Richard Branson is going to wear at the end of the year? A skirt of pant suit?