Lotus Team Principal, Eric Boullier, has announced that the team predicted a drop in form following the Australian Grand Prix and were unsurprised by their poor race pace. Kimi Raikkonen could only reach P7 in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix, from P10 on the grid. Meanwhile, teammate Grosjean could only finish one position higher in P6.
Lotus supposedly anticipated this lapse in form, as they realized that some circuits (such as the Sepang International Circuit) would not support the E21’s strengths. The venue did not allow Lotus to exploit their superior tyre management attributes.
Boullier stated, “It is a prediction we had after the winter testing. It is going to be very, very tight. I think you can expect, mainly because of the tyre management situation, a different race winner each time. But we can say we are definitely in the top four. Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and us are very, very close.” Many people suggested that Lotus’ poor performance was linked to the E21 struggling in the wet conditions. Boullier did not deny that the car requires some development in order to improve its wet weather performance.
“First it was wet qualifying and then we did not make the best start ever,” Boullier continued. “After that, we lost a lot in the first stint compared to the leaders, especially Mercedes. If you then compare the race pace after that, we were not bad. We were there.”
If Lotus are to challenge for both titles this year, they need to develop some consistency irrespective of tyre performance. It may be a difficult task, but in the E21, the team have an excellent baseline upon which to develop the car into a constant performer.