I n last year, the Renault R30 drew everyone's attention on yourself. It had an exhaust that blew into the open at the beginning of the side pods. What at first looked like a clever idea turned into a huge blow in the course of the year. Blowing on the diffuser right in front of the rear wheels turned out to be more efficient. 'We showed courage, and we paid for it,' said James Allison, chief technology officer. Nevertheless, the successor team Lotus does not fall into the other extreme. 'The culture in our company remains as it is. We can continue to show the courage to take risks.'
Lotus E20 with bold detail solutions
You can see the new Lotus E20 the courageous solutions only appear at second glance. The step on the nose is a bit more subtle than on the competing products. 'We have the nicest of the ugly cars,' jokes Allison. He attaches little importance to the influence of the hump on the flow to the rear. 'On top of the chassis, the shape of the surface is relatively uncritical for aerodynamics. This level is nothing compared to vehicle components that follow later, such as the wind deflector, the entire cockpit or the after-protection for the driver. If we add that to the Get a grip, then this step is not a problem for us. '
Two outwardly curved baffles, reminiscent of a Red Bull idea, catch the eye under the nose. They transport part of the air into the cooling ducts, which, like the Red Bull, are quite powerful. Between the front wheels and the beginning of the underbody, a huge runner is attached under the chassis that divides the flow.
Side pods are more complex
And this is where the Lotus E20 shows its first specialty. The side crash structure is there separately. The side pods don't start until ten centimeters later. This leaves more space for the baffles, which can be set up in front of and next to the side boxes. They are also much more extensive and complex than the baffles of the competition.
The side parts themselves are less drawn in at the rear than is now standard. Part of the paneling is still fairly wide just above the underbody and is open to the rear. This transports the outflowing hot cooling air to the diffuser cord. The majority of the hot exhaust air from the cooler escapes through a stovepipe at the end of the airbox, as with the Red Bull. TheThe exhaust pipe ends at the rear of the side pods below a bulge in the fairing. It appears to be aiming at the lower rear wing element.
Allison admits that the summer of 2011 had to rethink the concept of the car. When the FIA threatened to put an end to blowing the diffuser, the plans made before went into the trash. 'The exact data on the exhaust position and the restrictions in the engine management were only available in November. We therefore had to be flexible during development.'
Fight for every Newton downforce
Allison indicated that his team had made great strides, particularly in fine-tuning the aerodynamic surface. 'That was one of our weak points last year. We lost a lot of aerodynamic efficiency because we didn't take the necessary care to the surfaces. This time we fought for every newton of downforce.'
That's not the case with the exhaust last word spoken. 'The area where the exhaust is allowed to escape is still relatively large. Therefore there will be gray areas. Our position is not yet controversial at the moment, but we will keep a very close eye on how far the competition goes and how much the FIA will then allow will. '
The reactive landing gear is history after the ban beam of the world association. Allison admits: 'It wouldn't have been in the car from the start anyway. For us it was part of the development program.' The Lotus tech boss doesn't seem particularly sad that his engineers worked on the trash. That would confirm the story that the test results had not produced satisfactory results.
Kimi Räikkönen's first test drive
Kimi Räikkönen was as always calm. He was allowed to do the first 100 Drive kilometers with the new car. Officially declared as film day, it was more of a first trial gallop. However, Pirelli only supplied show tires whose shape and mixture differ from the real soles. The Finn curbs expectations that are too high: 'Of course I want to win again. If that is not possible, we have to work harder on the car.' Team boss Eric Boullier said: 'We have to be better than last year.' That means fourth place in the World Cup. Team owner Gérard Lopez plays the optimistic part: 'Kimi should be world champion again in our car.' That could be a longer program though.