(Eric Vargiolu DPPI - Renault Sport F1)
The Lotus F1 Team head to next weekend's Chinese Grand Prix with the sole aim of achieving their first championship point of the season. The Enstone outfit have endured an extremely well publicised difficult start to the 2014 Formula One season and have yet to score a point. Last weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix was in fact the first race this season that the team managed to get both cars to the chequered flag.
The team's technical director, Nick Chester believes they are within sight of regularly challenging for top ten finishes despite the tough start to the season. Speaking following this week's two day test in Bahrain, Chester said:
'The E22 has tremendous potential even if we are only gradually unlocking it," Chester said. "In the Bahrain Grand Prix we were closer to Mercedes, Williams and McLaren than we have been previously. Our race-pace gap to the Williams and McLaren is now half a second and it was over a second in Sepang, so we've made a decent incremental improvement.'
Chester feels that the circuit in Shanghai will suit the E22 better then last weekend in Bahrain as the Sakhir circuit is very much an engine orientated track and the Renault power plant is down on performance compared to the Mercedes power unit. The team have already said that they expect that they will certainly be more competitive from the start of the European season next month.
Lotus are one of two Renault powered team's who have yet to score a point with Caterham being the other team while the Sauber and Marussia F1 Team's are the others who have not scored points yet and they are powered by 1.6 litre V6 engines.
Lotus had a difficult test session in Bahrain this week, however they are confident that they can put their poor start to season with a good performance in China having brought both cars home in Bahrain close to a point's scoring finish.