Chester: Silverstone will suit our car better
"Silverstone is a very different track to Austria"
After an uphill struggle in Austria, Lotus F1 Team Technical Director Nick Chester welcomes the team’s home round at Silverstone.
Austria wasn’t a pleasant experience for Lotus. Was there anything to smile about?
The main positives were the performances of the drivers, especially Pastor, who did a great job over the weekend. The car wasn’t working as well as we’d like, particularly in the low speed corners, but he drove well in qualifying and the race. Twelfth wasn’t where we wanted to end up but he did a pretty good job. Obviously it was a struggle for Romain having to start from pit lane due to a gearbox change caused by an ECU reset and he was further compromised by power unit sensor failures during the race.
Should Silverstone be better for the E22?
Obviously Silverstone is a very different track to Austria, with many more high-speed corners that will suit our car better. We’ve also got a few updates, including a front wing and floor, some different combinations of aerodynamic parts to try and some new set-up concepts to explore. It’s a home race for the team so we’d like nothing more than to put on a good show in front of our factory staff and all the loyal fans in the grandstands.
Are you getting the most from the 2014 tyres?
A lot of teams seem to be struggling to consistently get the best from the tyres this year. At some events certain teams and drivers get it right, only to drop down the order at the next event. It’s one of the challenges we have every season, to maximise tyre performance from the latest cars, but this year seems to be particularly difficult. We do have very different cars this year and we also have very different tyres so it’s an area that has a lot of potential for improvement as, after all, the tyre is the only part of the car in contact with the road. We’ve shown the car can work well on the medium and hard tyres at Barcelona, another high energy circuit, so that gives us added confidence for Silverstone.
Would you class Silverstone as a power circuit?
Austria and Montreal are critical circuits in terms of power. Silverstone on the other hand has a larger percentage of time spent in corners so engine influence is more diluted and the high-speed corners mean that downforce plays a bigger role.
How is the quest for low-speed performance progressing?
We have done a lot of work on the rig and mechanically the car is performing well and comparably to our recent cars. Now we are paying more attention to other areas such as aerodynamics and tyres. It’s a case of narrowing it down and hopefully making significant improvements along the way.
Silverstone is close to Enstone, does that help with developments?
It’s easier to get new parts to the track, so that is an advantage in terms of any last minute developments as you can get them straight down the road. However teams are taking whatever upgrades they can to each and every race so Silverstone is not particularly biased in terms of upgrade packages. Barcelona always has a flurry of new parts simply because it’s the first European round. The pace of F1 means that no-one sits on a development if it has been shown to offer an advantage during in-house tests and simulations.