(Lotus F1 Team)
The Chinese Grand Prix is an exciting event in a country which holds tremendous potential now and for the future. Looking at the automotive manufacture, China leads the way in terms of volume by a considerable degree so it’s reasonable to expect that interest will continue to grow in the world’s premier racing series. Certainly as a team we are receiving increased interest from China. We have a new development driver, Adderly Fong, who has Chinese heritage and we are also involved with a number of other initiatives with Chinese companies. China is obviously a huge market to explore commercially so it’s very important for the business side of Formula 1 to be there. We’ve seen a growing fan base in China over the years and we have a lot of younger fans there which illustrates a great future for the sport.
What can you tell us about Adderly Fong’s role with the team?
Adderly joins us as a Development Driver and has a structured programme with the team over the course of the season. His programme is slightly different to that we’re running with Carmen to reflect that Adderly will also be racing over the course of the year in the GP3 Series and GT Asia. We’ll see Adderly at some Grands Prix and in Enstone where he will undertake simulator work to help him progress his racing as well as us develop the E23.
In China we will see Jolyon Palmer take to the wheel of the E23 in FP1, how important is this for the team?
Jolyon is a crucial part of the team for this season so it was important for us to see him in the car over the course of a Grand Prix early in the season. For the first two races, it made sense for our race drivers to get as much time as possible in the car, but now we can start exercising some of Jolyon’s talents in the FP1 session and we’ll see him out in action quite a few times over the course of the year.
How do you feel about the competitive nature of Formula 1 in 2015?
The Malaysian Grand Prix was a great race in terms of the spectacle on track and if we have races like that for the rest of the season we’re in for a pretty good time! Just like any year, we’re sure to have some races which have people on the edges of their seats as well as some which are far more tactical and appeal more to the connoisseur. That’s the nature of Formula 1. And, just as we see a variety of different natured racing over the course of a season, it’s also often the case that we hear lots of opinions about the sport as we have done already this year. No matter what people’s opinion, it’s great that people are talking about Formula 1.
What are your feelings on the calls to influence the competitive performance of teams such as pegging back performance?
We heard these calls after the first race of the season which was maybe a little early to be making such noise. Now after two races there have been two different teams who have taken race wins, so the idea that Mercedes will have it all their own way this year was a little premature. Formula 1 is always very competitive and it doesn’t matter which year you’re in or the circumstances of a team in any given year: we all want to win and will do everything we can to become as competitive as possible. Of course, we have a promoter and a regulatory body which are both very attuned to the various needs of the sport, so every aspect is always very closely scrutinised.
What’s the wish list for the team from the next races?
At the top of the list is, of course, points. We have the pace so we just need to be there in the correct position when the chequered flag falls. Both Pastor and Romain are operating at the top of their games so it’s just a question of having a race without any issues or contact from other cars. We’ve had a couple of reliability issues which we’re addressing so we expect to be out there and scoring very soon.
© Ben Johnston 2015