Eric Boullier: “We need to maintain momentum”

Eric Boullier: “We need to maintain momentum”

17.04.2013: BAHRAIN Grand Prix 2013 Sakhir International Circuit After another podium result, Team Principal Eric Boullier knows the key to a successful

BAHRAIN Grand Prix 2013  Sakhir International Circuit




After another podium result, Team Principal Eric Boullier knows the key to a successful championship campaign is maintaining that all important momentum



The team must be pretty upbeat heading to Bahrain?


We left Malaysia a little downcast after the high of Australia, so having Kimi back on the podium in Shanghai was the perfect antidote to that. There’s nothing like a Grand Prix podium to make you feel good.



What’s your evaluation of the race in China?


It was great result, but not a perfect one. Kimi showed once more why he’s one of the very best drivers in the world by being one of the fastest on track despite sustaining damage to his car. As a team we were able to give him a strong strategy allowing us to beat Lewis [Hamilton] and Mercedes in a close battle.


 Were it not for a poor getaway from the line at the start of the race and the damage caused by the incident with Sergio [Perez] he could have been fighting Fernando [Alonso] and Ferrrari for the win. That’s where we want to be. Romain had a more difficult day, but he scored points which is positive and we feel he’s reached a turning point now where things will start coming together.


Heading straight to Bahrain, can another strong result be achieved?


We’ve started the season with a strong car so there’s no reason why not. The Bahrain Grand Prix is just seven days after the Chinese race and we performed well there last year so we have everything on our side. However, you can never take anything for granted in this sport so we’ll be approaching Bahrain as we do any Grand Prix.



There has been a lot of talk about tyres again this season; is this a good thing?


As a sport we asked our tyre supplier, Pirelli, to provide us with tyres which encourage different strategies and adapting to this is part of the competition. We’ve seen some great racing so far this year and Pirelli can take some of the credit for this.


 We are all allocated the same tyres so it’s up to us as teams and the drivers in the cars to make the most of them.



Kimi seems to be at the top of his game at the moment, but Romain seems to be struggling a little?


Romain faces the very tough challenge of driving the same car as one of the most gifted driver around in Kimi; a driver with tremendous experience who returned to the sport last year and was very good straight away. If he was very good from the start of last season, Kimi’s been excellent from the start of 2013.


 He gives everything you want from a driver at every moment on track. This will be frustrating for Romain at times as it’s very, very difficult to beat the Kimi who arrives at the track this season, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity as he’s learning from the very best. If he can learn these lessons whilst bringing home points for the team, then he’s doing the job we want from him.


Can the team sustain its championship charge?

Once again, we’ve shown that we can fight for podiums, but nothing stands still in Formula 1 and the challenge is ongoing. Maintaining momentum is what we need to do, and we’ll leave no stone unturned in our quest to do this. Our competition is strong and they have a lot of resources at their disposal.


We have to maintain the relentless pace over the course of all 19 races this season. Everyone at Enstone is up for this challenge and celebrate every success we see on track. We hope to celebrate many more.




James Allison: “There are things that are special about Bahrain which might make us more optimistic”



Technical Director James Allison talks us through the difference between Kimi and Romain’s cars, how changing the damaged nose in China wasn’t worth it and why he’s cautiously optimistic about the forthcoming Bahrain GP


We’re 2nd in the Drivers’ Championship and 3rd in the Constructors’ Championship which isn’t a bad place to be; talk us through China from your perspective.

It’s not as good as 1st and 1st but it’s definitely ok! The race was good. Considering we had a grim start and were then involved in a tangle with [Sergio] Perez on lap fifteen, it was a reasonably strong second place so we can be quite happy with that.


It’s also satisfying to see that the cars have gone adequately well at a number of tracks now; albeit slightly masked by the rain in Malaysia. Having said that, I think we’ll only be properly happy as a team when we’ve got both our cars up where they need to be, and that’s really the main focus now.



Tell us about Romain and the problems he’s having with the car.


The truth is that it’s certainly not Romain causing the problem. Romain is fast, smooth and good at looking after tyres, however we have not yet managed to give him a consistent car that lets him bring his talent to bear.


It’s not him; it’s that we haven’t got it quite right for him yet and what seems to be clear from Kimi’s weekends is that the car is a tricky little beast to get just right. We have managed that with Kimi in two of the three races and we need to make sure we’ve giving Romain all the opportunity to shine as well.



Some people might ask why you wouldn’t set up the car exactly the same as Kimi’s if it seems to be working for him. What are the complications between the two different cars?


First of all, both drivers don’t want the exact same thing out of the car. Kimi has a driving style which uses the front tyres a little heavier than Romain, while Romain uses his rear tyres slightly more than Kimi, so they need a different set up anyway.


Secondly, we’re not completely certain that even if we were to bolt the same setup onto both cars that we would get the same result in any case, so it’s not just as straightforward as saying we’ll put the same set up on and everything will be fine.



Kimi had a bit of trouble with his nose in China too after that tangle; did it affect his performance and why did we decide not to change it?


We definitely shouldn’t have changed his nose. It probably cost around a quarter of a second a lap and he did it on lap fifteen, so if we multiply that by the remaining forty laps then we lost about ten seconds by the end of the race. A pit stop with a nose change would have cost and extra seven seconds over a standard stop, so you might say we should have changed it and saved ourselves 3 seconds to Fernando [Alonso].


The reality however, is that with Kimi’s position in the race a pitstop would have dropped him down into all the traffic and we would have paid a much heavier penalty than the three seconds difference. The best option was what happened; Kimi adapted his race to make the most of what he had and drove very strongly with a damaged car to come second.



Based on recent form, Bahrain is potentially a strong track for us; do you think it will suit the E21?


We certainly went well there last year and I hope it will be good for us this year as well! There are things that are special about Bahrain which might make us more optimistic. For example, it is one of the most aggressive tracks on the rear tyres and if we have a particular strength it does seem to be that when we get the car set up just right it does seem to use the tyres rather gently.


Secondly, in Kimi in particular, we have a driver who is able to get the car to go quickly without really burdening the rear axle. While we are looking forward to the weekend, it is abundantly clear that there are several very strong teams this year, so we can expect a tough fight as always.



What’s in the Bahrain goodie bag?


We won’t be bringing anything particularly revolutionary on top of the China upgrades, but we will trial a suspension modification – internal rather than to the wishbones – which is an evolution of something we ran to good effect during pre-season.


You’re always trying to find the right compromise between the mechanical grip that the suspension’s articulation offers to the tyres and holding the aerodynamic platform at the optimum height from the road, and we believe this is a step forward in helping us achieve that.



When could we see the DDRS making an appearance?


Not for this race as we still have work to do with it. We’ll be trialling the DDRS again between the first round of flyaways and the start of the European season when we have an opportunity to do some straight line testing.


- Lotus F1 also photo

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17.04.2013 / MaP

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