Boullier: Lotus is one of the top four F1 teams

Boullier is confident that his Lotus team are currently in the top four despite Raikkonen finishing over half a minute adrift of Malaysian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel.

Boullier believes that there will be many different race winners this season thanks to the Pirelli tyres and that Lotus are in the top four F1 teams along with Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull.

“It is a prediction we had after the winter testing,” Boullier explained. “It is going to be very, very tight. I think you can expect – mainly because of the tyre management situation – a different race winner each time.

“But we can say we are definitely in the top four – Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and us are very, very close.”

So why weren’t Raikkonen and Grosjean competing at the sharp end during the Malaysian Grand Prix?

“First it was [wet] qualifying and then we did not make the best start ever,” Boullier explained. “After that we lost a lot in the first stint compared to the leaders, especially Mercedes.

“If you then compare the race pace after tha, we were not bad – we were there.

“In Melbourne clearly we had an advantage because again some circumstances during qualifying and Friday practice did not help some teams to get their setup ready.”

Grosjean: Something felt wrong with my car

Romain Grosjean has said he thinks there might have been an underlying issue with his Lotus during the Australian Grand Prix.

Whilst his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen won the race, Grosjean finished in 10th position having qualified just one place behind his Finnish team-mate.

“Something felt wrong with my car,” Grosjean said. “I have to sit down with the team and analyze where this issue came from.

“It felt so good all weekend until the race itself. But, in the end, the race was long and quite difficult for me.

“We know that Albert Park can be a tricky circuit and the weather has certainly not helped today. It’s been a great weekend for the team with Kimi’s win so it’s clear there’s pace in the car. Let’s hope I can unlock that pace too next weekend in Sepang.”

Lotus to begin 2013 season without title sponsor

Lotus looks set to begin the 2013 season without a title sponsor.

Late last year, it emerged that the Genii-owned team was close to announcing a $30 million per year deal with Honeywell, the American technology giant. But last month, Switzerland’s Speed Week reported that the deal is now “a way off”.

“We’ve had discussions and some of them were quite advanced,” Genii’s Gerard Lopez, without mentioning Honeywell, told Reuters this week.

“It’s important to have the right package. And the right package is to a large extent also financial. “I guess we could probably have signed a couple of things that leaked out but we think we are better off making sure that we sign what is the right thing for us,” he added.

“We will probably end up with something during the season.”

It is believed Lotus’ 2013 livery was designed with the Honeywell deal in mind.

Now, in the highly-prominent red-coloured area on the top of the engine cover near the airbox, the stylised words ‘Kimi’ and ‘Romain’ are featured on Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean’s cars respectively.

Lotus is the only top team without a title sponsor.

Source:GMM

Lotus denies engine maps issue will slow 2013 car

Ahead of the final pre-season test and 2013 season opener, Lotus has played down a new controversy about engine maps.

We reported on Monday that, after Red Bull were told to stop using certain ‘maps’ mid last season, the similarly Renault-powered Lotus was now also embroiled in a similar controversy.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport said the FIA directive issued in August of last year still applied for 2013, despite Red Bull and Lotus assuming it related exclusively to last season’s championship. But on Wednesday, Lotus’ operations chief Alan Permane said the suggestion the impressive recent pace of the E21 will now be affected by having to remove the offending ‘maps’ is “nonsense”.

“Renault had come up with some alternative engine maps to try,” he said, referring to last week’s Barcelona test. “They talked to the FIA about it but Charlie Whiting didn’t want us to use them.”

Permane is quoted by the BBC as insisting the engine maps in question have little to do with Lotus’ impressive winter form.

“Kimi has used the new one once on an installation lap and hated it,” he said. “Romain used it in the wet last week on the final day and it finished up ok. But all his running in the dry has been without it,” added Permane.

He said the performance advantages or disadvantages from the various Renault engine maps are “tiny”.

Permane also chided Ross Brawn for describing Renault-powered teams’ approach to exhaust layout as depending on “a clever engine management system”.

He said: “For Ross to talk about it like that is utter rubbish.”

Source:GMM

‘Engine maps’ trouble for Red Bull, Lotus – report

Hot on the heels of Williams and Caterham’s dubious exhaust exit solutions for 2013, trouble could also be brewing for F1’s two other Renault-powered teams.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport reports that, after Renault and ‘works’ partner Red Bull were told to cease using certain ‘engine maps’ last year, the same issue is now back on the table.

Correspondent Michael Schmidt also said the similarly Renault-powered Lotus, who according to most pundits has been the second most impressive team of the 2013 pre-season, is also in the spotlight as the latest controversy brews.

The report said that despite the FIA issuing a technical directive about engine maps last August, “it was not clear what should apply for 2013″.

Ferrari’s engine boss Luca Marmorini was quoted as insisting “Everything remains the same”.

His Renault counterpart Remi Taffin does not agree, claiming “a new benchmark” for engine mapping in 2013 will be set down by teams in Australia next month.

“The (August 2012) directive referred exclusively to last year,” said the Frenchman.

According to journalist Schmidt, however, the FIA has confirmed that the August 2012 directive still stands.

Renault was reportedly unaware of the federation’s stance until as recently as Thursday of last week, having developed new maps to optimise the exhaust-blowing effect for 2013.

Ross Brawn, Mercedes’ team boss, thinks the situation could now harm Red Bull and Lotus, as their similar exhaust solutions for 2013 were probably designed to work in conjunction with “a clever engine management system”.

Source:GMM

Gutierrez: Lotus & Red Bull will fight for 2013 title

After spending some time from an elevated trackside vantage point in Barcelona last week, Esteban Gutierrez has tipped Red Bull and Lotus to fight for the 2013 title.

“I was out on track and had a look at a couple of the corners,” the rookie Sauber racer is quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport. “I was surprised by how different the cars are. I think Red Bull is in a very good position, which can be seen easily from the outside.

“The Red Bull and the Lotus are the most stable,” he continued, according to Italy’s Tuttosport. “They will fight for the title this season.

“I was very impressed with the Lotus in the cornering,” the 21-year-old continued. “It has incredible grip, far more than the others, not moving around at all.

“The Red Bull is also very smooth, with no uncertainty in the trajectory, very well balanced and very good at the front end.”

In Switzerland’s Blick, veteran correspondent Roger Benoit compiled the first tentative pecking-order list for 2013, with Red Bull and Lotus in first and second places. Third is McLaren, ahead of Ferrari, Mercedes and Sauber.

Mark Webber told reporters on Friday: “We are in a good position to be strong in Melbourne, as you would expect from a team that has had our results in the past few years.”

World champion Sebastian Vettel is also happy.

“It’s true that I only felt comfortable in the car in the second half of last season,” he is quoted by Sport Bild. “It’s also true that the handling of the new car is very similar.”

After testing the impressive black and red E21 in Spain, Raikkonen headed to Moscow for a demonstration ice race.

“I can’t promise that we are going to be able to fight for wins,” the Finn told R-Sport, “but I think we will be up there and we will have ourselves a chance at least.”

Source:GMM

Lopez: Lotus liked for being ‘natural team’

Lotus is happy to let Kimi Raikkonen just be himself, owner Gerard Lopez has revealed.

En route to his first victory since returning to F1 last year, the laconic Finn told his race engineer Simon Rennie in Abu Dhabi to “Just leave me alone, I know what I’m doing.” Lopez told Finland’s Turun Sanomat newspaper: “Kimi is Kimi. It was just what he felt at that moment.

“Kimi is certainly the most honest guy in F1. That’s why so many people find him so refreshing. We don’t want our drivers to come out of a mould — they are what they are and they say what they say.

“I believe that is why Lotus is appreciated as we are. We are a natural team,” said Lopez.

Lotus memorialised Raikkonen’s radio outbursts with t-shirts and memorabilia, but the 33-year-old world champion of 2007 does not look back with any particular fondness on Abu Dhabi.

“I’d rather fight for the championship, but it didn’t happen,” he is quoted as saying.

Told how popular his Abu Dhabi radio messages were, Raikkonen added: “I just try to do my thing. It was just something that happened during the race — it wasn’t planned in advance. I’m not the biggest fan of the instructions,” he confided.

Source:GMM