(© Ben Johnston 2015)
The Lotus F1 Team head into next weeks’ opening race of the 2015 Formula One season in Melbourne Australia having completed a successful winter test programme.
The Enstone outfit have made the switch from Renault to Mercedes power units and this has resulted in the team seeing a vast improvement in their on track performances. Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean also topped the time sheets over the course of the final winter test in Barcelona last week.
Ahead of the opening race the team took part in a Q and A session starting with deputy Team Principal Frederico Gastaldi:
How would you describe the team on the cusp of the start of the season?
We’re eager and excited. The Australian Grand Prix represents the start of a new era for us as we embark on a new journey with Mercedes as a partner. We’ve seen positive things through pre-season testing so we can’t wait to be tested in the heat of competition. We have a dedicated team at Enstone who have been working very hard to put the challenges of last year behind us and they’ve created an exciting new car in the E23 Hybrid. We have two race drivers who are very motivated to perform and a great set-up and infrastructure which has enjoyed considerable success in the past. We’re ready to be fighting for points at every turn.
Has the pre-season gone to plan?
We’ve been very pleased with progress. We did miss one day of pre-season testing but once the car hit the track it’s proved reliable and has plenty of potential. Both Romain and Pastor have said they are very happy with the way the car feels and this is crucial for our drivers to be able to deliver their best performance.
What are your expectations for the first race of the year?
I think it’s going to be very exciting and I know that we’ll be fighting for every opportunity. The Australian Grand Prix is a great event, superbly organised, and one which always provides a great spectacle. Melbourne is a fabulous city with warm and welcoming people, so it’s a wonderful place to start the season. In terms of the team performance, we know the package we have, but once we’re in Australia we’ll be able to see how much performance our opposition has too. I don’t think anyone expects to start the season able to beat the reigning champions, but we expect to be fighting hard in the chasing pack!
What’s the vibe of the team heading to Melbourne?
We’re ready to surprise a few people and show everyone what we can do. We had a somewhat quiet season in terms of results last year, so 2015 is all about getting back to strong results. There’s a strong determination at Enstone and we’re ready to remind everyone of our potential.
How determined are Romain and Pastor?
It’s going to be great to watch our driver pairing this season. It’s Romain’s fourth full season with the team and Pastor’s second season. Both drivers really want to be at the thick end of the action and you can see they’ve both spend their off-seasons training and working hard. In testing it was fantastic to see them both in the car plying their trade once more with smiles from both of them. It’s clear that this year’s car is much better than last year’s and that certainly helps our drivers to do their jobs.
Talking of drivers doing their jobs, what will be the roles of Jolyon and Carmen at Grands Prix?
Jolyon is our Third and Reserve Driver so he’ll be very closely shadowing our race drivers and attending all meetings and briefings so he understands every detail of the race weekend and is ready to stand-in if either of out race drivers can’t race for whatever reason. He will also be running in FP1 sessions later in the year so he needs to be completely up to speed. Carmen’s role sees her going through a development driver programme which means she will attend meetings and work with the team over the weekend to help her understanding of everything required of a Formula 1 driver.
What do you want to see from the team in the first race of the season?
Points would be great! Certainly this is our aim from every race this year. Albert Park can be a difficult mistress as it’s a non-permanent race track and the Melbourne weather can always play tricks on you, but we want to run reliably and show strong pace across the weekend. If I see that and we open our points account I’ll consider that a good start to a new era for Enstone.
The team will be hoping that with their new car the E23 Hybrid they will be able to climb back up the grid having scored just eight 10 points last season finishing the season in eighth place in the championship.
© Ben Johnston 2015