|© Andrew Ferraro/LAT Photographic/Lotus
The ebbs and flows of performance are all par for the course in Formula 1 and never more so than in the rollercoaster ride that has been the 2012 season so far. For Eric Boullier aiming high is always the name of the game, but the Lotus team principal is also keeping his feet firmly on the ground...
How was the Singapore race weekend from your perspective?
It was a pretty challenging weekend for the team to be honest. From Friday we could see that the car was not performing as we expected and so we needed to do quite a bit of evaluation work before the race on Sunday. I’m pleased with how well the team worked together to overcome the difficulties, however I think there was more performance in the car and we were unable to make the most of the circuit because we only found our problem on Saturday morning. It is extremely difficult to overtake around Singapore, so as we qualified in the middle of the grid we knew that to be on the podium would be a challenge. Both drivers raced very well, and each brought the car home with some solid points for the team. Unfortunately, Kimi (Raikkonen) was quite significantly held up by Michael Schumacher during the race and the first safety car didn’t help our strategy. Otherwise, I think we could have been in a position to fight for higher positions.
The last three races have been disappointing by your standards. Would you agree?
As I have often said, it is important not to get carried away in this paddock. When things are good, people have to remain calm and remember what the initial objectives are. When times are tough, being overly pessimistic does not help either. With the E20, we can rely on a tidy and reliable racing car and I think we have surprised a few people this year, but we need to progress one step at a time. We’ve always said that our target this year was to finish fourth in the championship. I’m not saying that we won’t chase Ferrari until the end of the season, or that we don’t want to, I’m just putting things back into context. People should remember where we’re coming from. Pushing too hard or reviewing our objectives in the middle of the season could only have a negative effect. This is not a lack of ambition, it is down to experience: rushing things in F1 will – more often than not – mean collapsing. We’ll keep pushing; we’re doing our best and the 2012 season has been good for us so far. We’ll then see where this takes us.
How are you looking forward to Japan?
I know that both Romain (Grosjean) and Kimi enjoy the Suzuka circuit so we’re all looking forward to the race weekend. Kimi still holds the lap record from back when he won there in 2005, so he should feel confident and we are of course looking to provide him with a car to achieve the best that he can. I could tell you that the target is the podium, which it is somehow, but the relative level of performance between the teams is constantly evolving. We’re bringing a few promising updates including our “device”, we think that the track will suit our car, and we’re hoping for a gentle build up to the race, with no technical drama or dodgy weather.
Kimi is still 3rd in the drivers’ championship. How did he manage to do that after 13 races?
Kimi is a special animal. His racecraft is always fantastic; he manages to extract 100 percent from the car on Sunday and to make the most of every opportunity. Who would remember, today, that he’s been out of this sport for the last two years? Now, the priority is to score points regularly with two cars because the constructors’ championship is really important to us. Romain has shown in Singapore that his raw speed is still there. He did not make any mistakes and will be able to build on this experience in Suzuka. Something tells me that the end of the season will give us quite a few nice surprises.