How do you think the season ahead is looking?
It looks positive. At testing you never know what people are doing but from the Lotus F1 Team perspective our drivers were happy with the car’s easiness to drive and overall performance. The E20 reacts well to driver input and engineer changes so the whole package is a decent basis for us to work from. Of course, we don’t know where we are standing relative to the other teams. We certainly believe that this year the competition will be much closer and we hope we’re at the right end of that competition.
The team has two new drivers which could be seen as something of a risk?
Continuity is certainly good sometimes but we also have to make some decisions. Our two drivers are fantastic. Kimi, is a World Champion. His return is good for Formula 1, good for the fans and fantastic for our team. His experience is definitely valuable and his commitment is better than ever. He is leading the team in a positive direction. With Romain we have a very talented driver who has already shown that he is embracing the opportunity he has. He’s developing very fast and I think he will do a very good job this year too. We have a superb driver line-up.
How do you view the team’s pre-season testing?
Our designers and the whole team did a very good job this year. Testing showed that the whole car is clearly a step up in terms of fit and finish, and it was reliable straight out of the box. We’ll never recover the four days we lost at the first Barcelona test, but that is behind us. We completed great mileage in Jerez, and a decent mileage in the second Barcelona test. The E20 is reliable, and we made the best of what we could do with the eight days before heading to Melbourne.
What are the goals and objectives for the team in 2012?
We want to be seen and performing as one of the top teams in this highly competitive sport. For me this year will be monitored by the progress we make during the course of the season. That will be much more encouraging than any expectation of results or particular figures. If we can finish higher in the rankings I will be very happy and that would be the best reward for our sponsors and for our team. That is clearly a target. We want to do better, we want to be better, we want to score more podiums and if we have a chance to win any races we’ll be more than happy. The way we progress over the course of the season is the main goal.
Were you encouraged by the way the team reacted so quickly and positively to the chassis problem?
It was an unexpected issue and we would have been pleased to avoid this kind of drama, however it’s clear that the way the team handled this problem showed us in a very good light. Everyone pulled together and focused on the solution rather than what went wrong. We and the right approach to solve the problem and everything was turned around very quickly and to the same high quality we see in the rest of the E20. We leave this issue behind us now and that should be it for surprises.
2012 is the building block for 2013 and beyond – what’s the longer term plan?
We have an efficient and strong organisation. We now want to reinforce our strengths and ensure that we are capable to use the best of our resources to develop more concepts and a more efficient car with every subsequent year. Every year if you set your targets and objectives higher you will continue to improve. The team has been building its assets well – bolstering the CFD facility, upgrading to a 60% wind tunnel and with a simulator due to come online very soon… We have a great selection of assets to assist us in our goals and everything required to be a top team. Investment is the key and it’s a constant in our organisation. By the end of this year we will have further new projects to further our objectives. These are the next steps to enable us to be even stronger.
How do you feel personally on the brink of the start of the 2012 season?
After a difficult 2011 season – my second year in Formula 1 – I certainly feel much more positive and encouraged by everything I see in the team. We are headed in the correct direction. Last year was a tough experience from which everyone involved learnt a lot. Let’s get racing.