Lotus targets third-place finish this season

© AP, 28 January 2013
© Lotus

Lotus team principal Eric Boullier is looking to go one better than last year and get a top-three finish this season in the Formula 1 constructors' championship.

Lotus finished fourth behind McLaren with 303 points in an inconsistent campaign punctuated by one Grand Prix win and several podiums for Kimi Raikkonen, and three podiums and some reckless driving from Frenchman Romain Grosjean in his debut season.

"Third place is at least an achievement we would like to have next year," Boullier said during the launch of the new E21 car from its factory in Enstone, England. "We are really, really keen to do better than 2012. We will give everything we can to be in the top three. ... We need both drivers to bring as much as possible."

Raikkonen finished ahead of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and third overall with 207 points -- some way behind Fernando Alonso (278) and champion Sebastian Vettel (281).

Raikkonen, the 2007 F1 champion, won at Abu Dhabi for his 19th career race victory and had six other podium finishes in his comeback season after three years away from the sport -- when he switched to rally and also dabbled in NASCAR.

"It's not going to be easy to improve what we did already last year," the 33-year-old Raikkonen said, shortly before helping Grosjean remove the white covering on the car as it was unveiled.

"We try to improve on all the areas, if we can qualify higher up it gives you a chance to win more races," the Finnish driver said, adding that he had no desire to leave for a competitive team during the offseason.

"It should be a bit more easy now, because I know the people (in the team) more and they know me," he said. "I had a great year last year but of course we want to achieve better results. If you're happy somewhere I don't see the point in going anywhere else."

Grosjean finished eighth with 96 points, securing impressive podium finishes in Bahrain, Canada and Hungary and also revealing a tendency to make reckless overtaking moves at the start of races.

Several drivers criticized Grosjean's aggressive driving and he was banned for one race after causing a spectacular crash at the Belgian Grand Prix in September that sent Alonso, Hamilton and Sergio Perez off the track at the first corner at Spa. The 26-year-old Grosjean also retired from a total of seven races.

"The team did its best to improve from last year, that's what we're going to try to achieve," Grosjean said. "The car looks very nice, which is already a good starting point. ... There will be some updates coming for the first race (in Melbourne), hopefully."

Lotus is the first team to take the covers off their 2013 car. It features the same predominantly gold and black colours, but with more splashes of red -- notably on the engine air intake and sidepods -- than last year. Lotus also opted to retain the step in the car's nose.

Technical director James Allison was tightlipped about what improvements have been made to the new model.

"The team has been working heart and soul on this," Allison said. "You can expect a lot of resemblance from the 2012 car, but as ever the devil is in the detail. It's a mixture."


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