Lotus F1 team is the first F1 team to launch its 2013 F1 car with the E21 being unveiled on Youtube this evening. The car is, inevitably, a development of last year’s E20, given that this is the last year of the current Formula 1 and regulations are very tight. The team hopes that development over the winter will result in better performance so that Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean will be able to score better results than last year, when the team finished fourth in the World Championship.
“We are lean and hungry,” says team boss Eric Boullier. “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.”
What is noticeable is that the team does not have the much-rumoured sponsorship from Honeywell, however the appearance of much more red on the car (Honeywell’s corporate colour) suggests that the deal is still on the cards.
Kimi Raikkonen says that the aim this year is to do better than in 2012.
“I’ve not driven the E21 yet so it’s difficult to say what could or could not be possible,: the Finn says. “We know we had a good car last season, but everyone is working hard to make the best car. I will be working with the team to help get the car as strong as we can, then in Melbourne we’ll have our first taste of results. It’s a long season from there. 2012 was a good start; let’s see what we can do in 2013. It’s clear from working with them that they are racers, and you can see in their history that they’ve won championships. Nothing I saw last year made me think that another championship was impossible in the future. Of course, there is some pretty tough competition out there and everyone wants to win. The team have beaten everyone before and there’s nothing to say they can’t do it again.”
The E21 has been designed by James Allison and his team at Enstone.
“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,” said Allison. “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 potential.
“2014 brings some enormous regulation changes. In particular, the transmission designs which have been pretty stable for the last 6 years or so must all be torn up and started from scratch for 2014. The RPM and torque range of the 2014 engine is so different to what went before it that we must replace our factory testing facilities to make sure that they are compatible with the new designs. This investment will ensure that Enstone’s 2014 gearboxes are fast and reliable from the moment that the season begins.”
The team has benefited from a great deal of investment at Enstone in the last couple of years. The ‘driver-in-the-loop’ simulator went live at Enstone in 2012 and enables a driver to give input into the development process.
“Although conventional computer simulations are very powerful, they are still limited in their ability to tell us whether a new concept will produce acceptable handling characteristics,” said Allison. “The driver in the loop simulator goes a long way to closing off that gap in our previous competence.”
The team also has a new gearbox dyno facility.
“We are developing and enhancing the fantastic facility we have nestling in the Oxfordshire countryside,” he said. “Where in 2011 we implemented a 60% wind tunnel, so 2012 saw our ‘Driver in the Loop’ simulator go live. For 2013, it’s the Gearbox Dyno facility which adds to our operation, and this has particular relevance to the developments for the 2014 change in regulations.”