Lotus F1’s Boullier & Allison: May use ‘the device’

Eric Boullier

A strong end to the first half of the season means that all eyes are on Lotus F1 Team for the
second part of the year. Just how much can be achieved in the final nine races? Team Principal
Eric Boullier answers the questions.
Eleven races completed, nine to go and a fast car to compete with; things look pretty
good for Lotus F1 Team?
I think we can all be satisfied with what we’ve achieved in the first half of the season; especially
coming off the back of a difficult 2011. It’s a testament to the skill and determination of everyone
at Enstone that we’ve produced a great car which seems to be getting better as the season
progresses and we hope this continues. That said, I can’t ignore the points we’ve lost in a lot of
different ways and there is a big margin for improvement through the rest of the year.
Does the lack of a win – despite so many points having been accumulated – rankle with
the team?
A win would be nice, there’s no doubt about that. Being there or thereabouts at so many
different circuits however is very good in championship terms and certainly better than a one-off
win. Of course, we continue to push to make the car faster. We were in a very good position in
Budapest where we finished in second and third; had it been a circuit with more overtaking
opportunities then the top step would have been a possibility.
Do you think the team’s qualifying performance has sufficiently improved?
You can never have too much improvement in Formula 1, but it is fair to say we’ve made good
steps in the right direction. Both cars were in the top five in Budapest. If we can produce just a
slightly better performance for the rest of the season then we will be in a position to fight for the
win.
How is everything behind the scenes for the team?
It’s looking very promising. We used the summer shutdown to perform a comprehensive
maintenance and upgrade programme at the factory. This involved the upgrading of a number
of production machines and was no small investment. We’ve also made more investments in
our wind tunnel and a new gearbox dyno facility is being built. These are all substantial
developments to improve our performance potential and position ourselves as one of the very
best teams in this highly competitive sport.
Have the team’s expectations changed?
Our target is the same; to be better than last year. However, if we continue to show strong pace
at every race then maybe we will revise our ambitions!
Both drivers seem to be attracting attention from other teams…
I can understand why other teams would be interested! Both Kimi and Romain are performing
very well this season. For Kimi, it’s like he’s never been away. Romain is a natural talent, and
improving at a very rapid rate. It’s great to see the interest from other teams, but to be honest
they’re probably wasting their time. There is no reason for Kimi or Romain to leave and I think
they will both enjoy very successful futures with us.

James Allison

Refreshed and rejuvenated following the summer break, Lotus F1 Team Technical Director
James Allison is looking forward to the second half of the 2012 season.
How are you feeling after the summer break heading to Spa?
It’s been a slightly odd break as the gap between Hungary and Spa is so long relative to what
we’ve had in recent years. Previously you would have stopped at the end of one race, had two
weeks off, then been straight back into another. This time there has been a fallow period of a
week either side of the shutdown. The team is impatient to be back at the track and racing the
E20, but we have certainly welcomed the extra days of manufacturing since Hungary for the
new parts we’ve been creating.
What new parts do we have for the car?
Quite a lot of different bits. A big focus has been getting ready for Monza which is immediately
after Spa and requires a unique downforce package. It’s only one race but it requires a whole
new set of wings and a disproportionate amount of work. We’ve also been focusing on ensuring
that we have the capability to run the new device in Spa should we be confident enough to do
so.
Talking of ‘The Device’, do we have a name for it?
I rather like ‘The Device’ as it has a sort of Dr Strangelove appeal to it, but most people refer to
it as DDRS.
How should Spa suit the E20?
If it’s a dry weekend Spa fits the category of circuit at which we are most confident, so all of us
are excited to be going there. If it’s a wet weekend it’s a much more open question; for all
teams, not just for us. It frequently rains at Spa, so we have to be prepared for that possibility.
We’ve had various wet experiences so far this season, with the inclement weather coming
mainly in qualifying. At Silverstone we were okay in wet conditions, but in Germany we
struggled to get the wet tyre into its temperature operating window. Should we have the same
situation at Spa, the nature of the corners and the loadings on the tyres should be sufficient to
generate enough heat in the rubber, so we’re not unduly concerned. We would prefer a dry
weekend, but we should be competitive whatever the weather.
How much development is there to come with the E20?
We’ve structured our development of this year’s and next year’s cars differently to the last few
seasons to leave us with more than double our traditional post-shutdown development on the
current car. This late season freedom was paid for by having conducted a more intense
development programme for next year’s car earlier on this year. Hopefully this approach should
pay dividends for the development of both cars. The E20 certainly hasn’t fallen behind relative
to our opposition, and next year’s car is looking promising at this stage.

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