The Lotus F1 Team (previously known as Renault F1 in another life) has confirmed that the problems with the E20 was related to the front suspension mounting points. The team hit trouble in Barcelona last week when Romain Grosjean reported a problem on his first flying run.
“We saw immediately that we had a problem with the mounting of the upper front wishbone rear arm,” said James Allison, the team’s technical director. “We were using chassis 02 for the first time, so our initial reaction was to consider the possibility of a manufacturing issue affecting that particular chassis. We made the decision to take chassis 01 – which had run successfully in Jerez – from the UK to Barcelona. Before we sent it, we launched an investigation programme at Enstone to ensure there was no risk of a similar issue. Unfortunately, our investigations concluded that there was a possibility of the same problem reoccurring. We then decided, quite reluctantly, to cancel the test and make the necessary changes to both our chassis before running again.
“It’s been an intense few days, but I have to say that everybody has completed their tasks in tremendous fashion. On the first day back at the factory, I spoke to the entire Enstone personnel and clearly explained what happened. Everybody understood that the situation was unfortunate, but under control. We designed the new parts, manufactured them, and fitted them to the chassis. We then completed the necessary tests satisfactorily and the chassis left for Spain.”
Allison says that the modified chassis is now 1kg heavier than it used to be.
“It won’t have any significant impact on handling or performance,” he added.
The team says that chassis 02 will remain as the spare from now on and that it will run chassis 01 in Barcelona. A second chassis (03) is now being completed.
“Missing four days of testing is not ideal,” Allison concluded. “We need mileage at this stage of the year, as does any other team. That said, there are reasons to remain optimistic. First of all, we completed many troublefree laps in Jerez and gained a good understanding of the car. Also, some of the small issues we identified in Jerez needed to be fixed, and the parts were not available last week. On Thursday, the car will run with all the required redesigned parts. We’re looking forward to being back on track.”