|© Andrew Ferraro/LAT Photographic/Lotus
One man feeling particularly optimistic heading to Hockenheim is technical director James Allison, who remains confident that Lotus will continue to build on a strong start as the season progresses.
How are you feeling heading to Germany?
I’m quite excited about it. The season seems to be getting stronger for us race-by-race. We should see pretty warm weather conditions in Germany, and nothing about that track should do anything other than fill us with confidence, so I’m feeling positive in that regard. I’m excited too because we’ve got some interesting new updates for Germany and we’re looking forward to see how they work out.
We’re coming up to the halfway point in the season; how’s the half-term report card looking?
We’re looking at a B+, ‘could do better,’ if we had a particularly stern teacher. Maybe a more generous one might give us an A-, ‘shows a lot of promise’. On the negative side, we’ve had too many DNFs and we haven’t been good enough in the qualifying sessions. But on the positive side, at each race weekend so far this year the car has looked pretty useful. So really we have to hope we can turn some of that promise into proper results in the next half of the year.
Silverstone wasn’t hot so there wasn’t any opportunity to really put the alternator through its paces to see if any Valencia-type problems could re-occur. Is another potentially hot race a concern?
There were no issues in Silverstone. Renault Sport reacted very quickly to the problem in Valencia and brought counter-measures to Silverstone. They also advised us about operating the car slightly differently to give the alternator more of an easy ride. Because of these factors, I’m fairly sure that we’ve moved comfortably into an area where the alternator is all right, but Viry won’t rest there. They will plough away until they’ve got something that they absolutely know is bullet-proof and that may take a race or two longer.
Romain Grosjean had something of an issue on his last lap at Silverstone?
It was a gearbox problem and we are very fortunate that Romain didn’t have the problem earlier in the race. Unfortunately for Romain it means he’ll take a five place grid penalty at Hockenheim, but he certainly showed at Silverstone that dropping down the order won’t stop him challenging at the sharp end.
Silverstone was the first race with our upgraded wheel guns, nuts and sockets - how did that go?
I’m really very pleased with those. We didn’t do the quickest stop of the weekend, but all of our stops were good. We are now on the same playing field as the other properly competitive teams in this important part of the race. I think as the season unfolds from here we’ll be banging in a few really impressive times.
How do we crack qualifying? We continually seem to show fastest race laps and consistent pace...
We’re getting there. Silverstone didn’t flatter us at all. If you look at our P3 running at Silverstone, I suspect we would have been in contention for the front row, or second row for sure. So in a qualifying session which was mixed up by the rain, I don’t think we can draw any strong conclusions. However, we are making progress in qualifying and we’ll be in the mix for the first couple of rows in Hockenheim.
Is it to do with the car not turning on the tyres in the initial laps?
Our car is notably easy on its tyres, while this is a good characteristic in the main but presents us with a little bit of a headwind over a single lap. However, as the season has progressed we have improved our knowledge about how best to handle this characteristic and we are hopeful that our qualifying performances will improve.
Final thoughts looking to Germany?
We’re hoping for a similarly strong performance from both of our drivers in the race, a bit better in qualifying, and with a little luck to start hounding Ferrari for second in the championship... maybe even opening up some clear water between us and McLaren in the process.