Inside Lotus, Interviews

Q&A: Eric Boullier on German GP

“We’re completely behind any tyre changes for safety”

A fifth place finish saw Kimi notch up a few more points at Silverstone, but the potential for more was , and is there. Germany should offer an opportunity to make amends, reckons Team Principal Eric Boullier.

Not the best of weekend in Silverstone for the team?

The outcome of the race wasn’t rewarding with the amount of work that has been done by the team recently. Most of the upgrades we brought seemed to be working which is a positive sign, although we did struggle a bit in qualifying to generate good grip from the tyres. Our strategy was great until the last safety car. We should have called Kimi in to save at least one position and make the podium. Unfortunately, we made the wrong call for which we apologised to Kimi and to the team. This sometimes happens and it isn’t easy to manage when you have so many safety car periods. In Germany we’re confident we will be competitive and aiming to make amends. For Romain, it was a frustrating race after a strong Saturday performance where he’d outqualifed Kimi. It’s very unusual for us to have a part fail, so we’re looking very closely at his front wing to ascertain what went wrong.

How was the post-race debrief at Silverstone?

We’re all grown-ups and we’re all pretty frank with each other. It was pretty obvious with hindsight that we made the wrong call. No team can say that they make the correct call on every occasion; whether in race strategy, car design philosophy or any other aspect of the sport. Kimi was pretty frustrated when he got out of the car which is understandable, we wouldn’t want a driver who wasn’t frustrated after what happened, but there’s no point sitting in the corner sulking; we’re focused on getting a good result in Germany.

It wasn’t the best advertisement of the team’s calibre to keep Kimi for the future…

Kimi’s an intelligent guy and he won’t let a single pit stop call define a decision like where to drive for 2014. One of his psychological strengths is that he clearly lets you know when he’s upset about something, then he refocuses and gets on with the next challenge very quickly. He seems to like being with Lotus F1 Team and we’re doing everything we can to show him this is the place to be for next season and beyond.

What are the positives for Germany?

There’s nothing about the Nürburgring to cause us any concern so we should be in the hunt again in Germany. We brought plenty of upgrades to Silverstone and we have a lot of data from the weekend so there should be some more pace to extract there. Another positive for the team to take from Silverstone was that all our race pit stops were completed in 2.5 seconds or under. It’s great to see the hard work in this area making improvements, so a big thanks to the pit stop crew, who practice their stops so many times both at the track and at the factory, as well as the design and manufacturing departments for all the equipment and relevant car parts too.

How is on-going development of the E21?

We’ve raced with the Device now and we are happy with it. It should make appearances again this season. We have also developed a new aerodynamic package which also brings benefits. Now we’ve used both on track and are happy with the results, the next step is to combine the two. We also have plenty of other developments continuing with this season’s car and we’ll keep pushing till the end of the season.

Can we mention tyres?

They’re quite a topic of discussion these days aren’t they? Obviously, we saw more tyre failures than we’re used to seeing at Silverstone and Pirelli are analysing all the data available. It’s something that’s very much in the media, but the important thing is that the sport has tyres which are firstly safe and secondly fair for all competitors. The tyre failures in Silverstone were a concern and we’re doing everything we can to assist Pirelli. Once they have completed their analysis, then decisions can be made based on the available information. We’re completely behind any changes which could be required on the grounds of safety and always have been. We’ve never pushed to race on tyres which Pirelli have told us could have the potential to be unsafe.


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Lotus proActive is an e-magazine published quarterly by Lotus Engineering, covering engineering articles, industry news and articles from within Group Lotus (Cars, Engineering, Originals and Racing).


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