Following the launch of the Lotus F1 Team E21
earlier this evening, Team Principal Eric
Boullier and Technical Director James Allison
discuss their thoughts on the season ahead.
Eric Boullier: “Great things are possible”
The Team Principal wants to play with the big
boys in 2013
How are you looking forward to 2013 and what
do you hope can be achieved?
I think it is fair to say that great things are
possible. The leap we made from 2011 to 2012
showed what we are capable of. Add to this the
continuity and potential of our driver line-up
and we have a very powerful cocktail for the
season ahead. Our ambitious plan to turn
ourselves into one of the top teams in Formula 1
is coming to fruition and now we need to harness
this with strong and regular podium results.
What advantages does the team have compared
to its championship rivals?
We are lean and hungry. Enstone knows how to win
championships, but it is a while since we have
won so we are very eager to taste glory again.
We have a fantastic facility at Enstone and one
which has benefitted from significant and
strategic investment over the past couple of
years. We have a highly accomplished technical
and design team who last year produced a
fantastic car, the E20. The E21 builds on this.
We have a superb driver line-up with the 2007
champion, Kimi, and a hungry young gun in
Romain. We have further strength in our partners
and we are certainly primed and ready for action.
How do you see the driver dynamic evolving
through the course of the season?
We know that both drivers work well together and
their skills and talents complement each other.
Kimi has such a wide range of experience and he
knows how to react to any situation or
circumstance. He’s also a superb resource
technically. Romain has superb raw speed which
we are confident will be harnessed in a more
effective manner during races in 2013. Both are
competitive individuals – as racing drivers are
– and this pushes each one of them and the team
to better things. It was clear how much we
benefitted from having two very talented drivers
in 2012 and I can only see this getting even
better in 2013.
Where does the team’s focus lie in 2013?
It is certainly an interesting year. On the one
hand, we have the season ahead and the very
strong desire to achieve great things. On the
other hand, we have significant technical
changes around the corner in 2014 and an element
of resource will naturally be focused on this
area. On the track we want to achieve the very
best results possible and this is true off track
too. In every element of our operations we want
to be the best.
Are there formal targets for 2013 and what
We want to do better than we did last year. 2012
was a good season for us – certainly in the
context of the previous season – but we, like
every team in this highly competitive sport,
want to win. We want to make regular appearances
on the podium, and add to our tally of
appearances on the top step.
James Allison: “There is an element of
expectation from the E21”
Lotus F1 Team Technical Director James
Allison looks to the season ahead
How different are the 2013 regulations
compared with 2012?
After a string of quite eventful rule changes
and interpretations in the years since 2009 it
looks as if 2013 is going to be a year of
regulatory stability. There are only a few, very
limited changes which comes as a considerable
relief to the entire grid given the size of the
transformation bearing down on the sport for
2014. Mind you, even with no changes to the text
of the regulations, we never stop poring over
the rules to look for new loopholes. Quite often,
young engineers fresh from university will point
out an ambiguity in the text of a regulation
that has been settled for decades because they
are looking at what is written with fresh eyes
and no preconceived ideas about what is actually
Will the cars we see in 2013 look much
different from those we saw in 2012?
I’m guessing not. There is one rule which opens
the possibility for a change as we will now be
permitted to fit a non-structural ‘vanity panel’
on the upper surface of the nose as a means of
avoiding the duck-bill style designs that we saw
in 2012. However, such a panel is optional and I
would not be surprised if the majority of the
grid chose not to make use of it. The panel will
add a few grammes of weight and so is only
likely to run on the car if a team can find a
performance benefit for doing so.
Does continuing with two drivers give the
technical team benefits?
The best thing about sticking with our 2012
pairing is that they are both fast! Fringe
benefits also include not having to re-invent
the seat, pedals, steering wheel and so on. Not
having to establish fresh relationships between
engineers and drivers is also welcome.
What is completely new and what is more
familiar on the E21?
Depending on where you look, some parts of the
new car are a ground-up redesign and in other
areas we have further optimised the best bits of
the design philosophy we’ve adopted for several
seasons. The front and rear suspension layouts
are substantially revised to try and give us
better aerodynamic opportunities. The front wing
is a continuation of the concepts we have worked
on since the 2009 rules were published. For the
rear wing system, we’ve continued to try to work
on having a satisfactory level of rear downforce
stability whilst having maximum DRS switching
Talking of DRS; what about the so-called
Double DRS Device?
This is an area we continue to work on and the
passive nature of the switching of our device
means it is not outlawed by the latest
regulations. It is not something which will be a
silver bullet to transform our car, but it is
something which could add performance as part of
the overall design.
Are there likely to be any further ‘secret
weapons’ in the arsenal for 2013?
That would be telling.
Does the E21 have great expectations on its
The E20 proved itself to be an effective racing
car, so there is an element of expectation from
the E21. We have continued with our design
themes and tried to build a more efficient and
faster racing car based on all the lessons we
learnt last year. How successful we have been at
this we will only know once we take to the track
at Grands Prix.
What can we expect from Pirelli’s 2013 tyres?
We had a brief taste of the development tyre on
track at Brazil and it did appear to be a step
forwards. Pirelli have also published the
compound list for 2013 and we are happy to see
that they are sensibly aggressive choices.
Pre-season testing will give us a much better
idea of what to expect, but most of the
indications suggest that the tyres will play a
helpful part in making another attractive season.
What are the goals and targets for 2013?
In terms of goals and targets, we never set out
to build the second-fastest or third-fastest car;
we set out to build the fastest and most
effective car that we possibly can. We want to
improve our car in all areas from last year’s
and we want the improvements we make to be
greater than those made by the opposition.
However, having said all that, the official
target established by the team’s owners is to
achieve a minimum of third place in the