Thursday, February 9, 2012

Big and ability to strike

I mostly look at this through Finnish glasses.... however in Jerez press room the non-Finnish media gang is more and more assured that Kimi Räikkönen could drive for very good positions in this year's serie.

I got the best enforcement when sitting at Red Bull's coffee table and hearing Adrian Newey himself praise the new Lotus as a cool and smooth-looking new car.

Last year ended with Heikki Kovalainen fighting for Lotus' positions with Vitali Petrov and Bruno Senna from Renault. Now Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean have that new car that changed from Renault into a Lotus. At least the Caterham that changed from Lotus is far behind.

When leaving home on Wednesday evening Räikkönen adviced me to forget about staring at the laptimes. They only matter in the first qualification in Melbourne. Before that everyone concentrates on their own things and comparing them to others is only a waste of time.

Still the pondering over laptimes offers it's own world. Usually a good car is fast right from the start - like this Lotus.

The Spanish reporters have followed the new Ferrari's stumbling with worries, since the car that was praised as a radical car seems to bee too radical for the whole team to understand. At least at this stage Ferrari is slower than Lotus - even with same amounts of fuel.

Still the Spanish media-brothers quickly remind that when the new Williams was in last year's tests in Jerez, even Alonso made a mistake by putting it up as the season's toughest competitors. The end result was a complete pancake - and it was the worst season in Williams' long history.

So that I wouldn't limit this blog to only my own thoughts, I asked once again from a few reporter colleagues about their opinion about Lotus.

Giorgio Piola who is respected as the media-world's most famous technical expert classified the Lotus as too big even before the tests began. Has his mind changed at all?

– Lotus is too big-lined in my eyes but it seems to be good on the track: easy to setup and efficient, Piola admits.

– Even during Renault's time they had their own philosophy. The cars Fernando Alonso won championships with were big, the sidepods differed from others by size alone. But they were all effectively competitive though.

– Still one also has to look at the other side of the coin. Although they did well with Renault in the first two races, the development curve ended there and the rest of the season was diving. Although this car probably is better they have to find potential to also develop it during the season. Otherwise the good basic work is sort of wasted.

Auto, Motor und Sport's Michael Schmidt keeps up a neverending Kimi-competition with me. But when discussing seriously he admits that Lotus offered a positive surprise.

– At this time of the year the estimations of the cars usually go wrong, but it's a fact that the times that this Lotus has made cannot come with a bad car - no matter what the fuel-level is. Lotus is one of the most pleasant surprisers. With that car Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean can race for even top 5.

F1 Racing's Tom Clarkson is known for his Finnish sympathies. The new Lotus also got sympathy:

– I have always rated James Allison highly. His cars always have their own label. At this stage we can't possibly know what the real competitiveness is and how good Red Bull is or how bad Ferrari is. But at least the new Lotus is reliable and also good in the tyre-department. Those are two important features.

– At this moment Lotus is in the top 3 but it's still uncertain what the situation is when the season begins. They stopped their development work for last year's car when seeing that they went the wrong way with their exhaust-systems and concentrated on designing this E20. I'm sure it was a good decision, Clarkson sums up.

Source: Heikki Kulta Blog
Courtesy: Nicole

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