Inside Lotus, Interviews

Q&A: Nick Chester – Technical Director of Lotus F1 Team

Technical Director Nick Chester explains how the team is shaping up ahead of the final testing programme this week.

Nick Chester

Nick Chester, Technical Director, Lotus F1.

What’s the view following the first test for the team in Bahrain?

We started slowly but we’re making strong progress. Certainly, we started from a position very far from where we want to be. On the first day we completed a mere seven laps, then 18 then next, 26 and 59 by the final day so we are heading in the right direction in terms of track time, and time on the track is what we need to understand and develop the car.

How representative are the lap times seen so far?

There is still a lot of pace to be found from the E22. We’re working with Renault Sport F1 on the operation of the power unit, we only ran the power unit at representative power levels during the last day of the test and there is more time to come from optimising power delivery and allowing the drivers more time to get used to it. We haven’t started looking at car setup yet which will unlock more performance.

Why did the car spend so much time in the garage?

We have to remember this is very sophisticated new technology we are running and we are adopting a cautious approach to understanding how everything should work. Certainly the problems we have had relating to the energy store unit have meant lengthy amounts of time in the garage as we change components.

What are the positives so far?

The correlation of how the car looks in the wind tunnel and in simulations relative to how it performs aerodynamically on track seem to be good which is encouraging for your future developments with the car. The last day of running was very productive and has given us a lot of data to work with going forwards.

What’s the plan for the second Bahrain test?

Hopefully more laps. We’ve identified a number of issues which emerged at the first test and we’ve rectified them. For the second test we want to move on to better understanding progress made on the drive-train and start working on setup of the car as well as race and qualifying simulations.

What has been the driver feedback?

Romain was unfortunate as he had the bulk of the time consuming issues last week so it’s a little early to conclude his feedback on the car. Pastor had more laps and has been positive about the car. We’re working on areas like brake mapping to improve braking stability as this is very different with the energy recovery and brake by wire system on this year’s car.

Any new parts?

We certainly have a reasonable amount of bits to bolt to the car. These will be both modified and new parts based on the lessons learnt in the first Bahrain test and also parts related to the ongoing development programme.

How well prepared could the team be when it arrives in Melbourne for the first Grand Prix of the season?

Clearly it’s a different scenario to this time last year for all teams. All teams will be concentrating on race simulations at this week’s Bahrain test to prepare for Melbourne.

Lotus F1 Team

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