Lotus catching up with their rivals and targetting the top three

2013 F1 season preview

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After breaking into the top four in the constructors’ championship last year Lotus has set its sights on reaching the top three in 2013.

But that will involve beating some rivals with better equipment and more resources than they have.

The team are reaping the benefits from upgrading their wind tunnel to a 60% model and improving their Computational Fluid Dynamics capabilities in the last two seasons.

The addition of a driver-in-the-loop simulator last year is a further step in the right direction, although one that lead driver Kimi Raikkonen may not be making the most use of.

The effective E20, aerodynamically sound and kind to its tyres, should have won more races last year than the single victory that came the team’s way in 2012.

But with the benefit of stability in the driver line-up, and Raikkonen having fully acclimatised to life in F1 again, Lotus should be ready to compete from the off. The fine-tuning of the new car to his driving preferences, particularly in the steering department, will also help.

In testing the E21 has looked swift but flaky, particularly in Raikkonen’s hands. The team believe the cold weather had a lot to do with its early gremlins, which included at least two gearbox failures, and they won’t be repeated once the season begins.

The team expects to make some gains with its Coanda exhaust, which was still in an early and unoptimised form when they won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with it last year.

But technical director James Allison said that alone won’t transform the E21: “I think that there’s a reason why every car on the grid has a similar-ish system on the car, that’s because there’s a lump of lap time to be had from it. It remains a very small proportion of what we used to be able to do in 2011 and it will therefore remain, relative to that, a much less important thing.”

“Whether or not it’s going to be a big story in the year, I doubt it. The rules have been steady for a year and a bit now and most of what’s to be had is already being had. So I don’t think it will be a big thing.”

“It’s a better system to use a well-developed Coanda system but it’s not like 2011 where if you didn’t have a blown floor you would have been off the pace by more than a second per lap and up to about two and a half. Whereas as you know our car wasn’t bad at all without such a system [last] year.”

Allison added he isn’t concerned about the FIA’s ruling on Renault’s engine maps over the winter, which led to theories its customer teams could be disadvantaged.

A key weakness for the team last year was its qualifying pace, though team principal Eric Boullier saw some improvements in that area late in the season: “I think Kimi’s second part of the season was delivering much in qualifying than at the beginning.”

“So I think he’s going to be ready from race one and I think both drivers will be ready from race one in better [fitness] and better race condition than last year so we should be able as a team to deliver better from race one.”

However he admitted the car’s one-lap pace is an area where they still “need some good progress”.

Boullier added he will reserve judgement on the car’s capabilities until he’s seen it in action on a race weekend, but believes they are in a more competitive position this year: “My personal belief is we are getting closer to what we want to achieve, yes.”

“We need to see now in real conditions, in the proper temperature and weather conditions for the tyres, how the car performance will be. And it looks like it’s going to be very tight. All the teams getting definitely closer to each other.”

Car 7: Kimi Raikkonen

Raikkonen and Lotus has the makings of a great partnership. He is a driver who demands to be treated a certain way, shielded from the politicking of the paddock. Lotus’s no-nonsense ‘real racers’ attitude complements that well.

Their reward was a driver who delivered points more consistently than anyone else in the field last year, and who will surely be in the hunt for race wins and even the championship crown if the E21 is at least as good as last year’s car.

A couple of years on the sidelines appears to have done nothing to diminish Raikkonen’s abilities, and any suggestion he lacks the motivation to compete at the top level gets short shrift from the man himself.

But the biggest question mark over Raikkonen remains whether he can muster the self-discipline to meet his talent with the level of application his rivals do all season long. Some of that was absent at the end of last season, but had he still been in the hunt for the championship you expect it would have been different.

Car 8: Romain Grosjean

If Lotus are going to crack the top three in the constructors’ championship this year, Grosjean is the driver who especially needs to raise his game.

He ended last year with just 46.3% of his team mate’s points total. That wasn’t the worst of the season (step forward Felipe Massa) but it goes some way to explaining why the team kept him waiting until December before confirming his 2013 seat.

Grosjean’s number one priority for this year has to be staying out of trouble. Though he wasn’t the most reckless driver last season (step forward Pastor Maldonado) he was all too often a magnet for unnecessary incidents.

This was a problem at times in his junior career as well and if he can’t kick the habit it will wreck his chances of competing at the top level.

Grosjean says he’s benefitted from having a season of F1 behind him. His potential is unmistakeable – any driver who can hold a candle to Kimi Raikkonen on sheer pace is worth putting up with a bit of trouble for. It’s just that he’s caused an awful lot of it.

Lotus E21

Lotus championship form

Having been used by the original team from 1958 to 1994, the Lotus name returned to F1 in 2010 with the outfit which is now Caterham. It was adopted by the current team last year.

The current Lotus team previously competed as Toleman, Benetton and Renault. As the latter it won the constructors’ championship in 2005 and 2006, with Fernando Alonso claiming both drivers’ titles.


Championship position64222131521315114742145758343346895610104

Lotus in 2013: Your view

Can Raikkonen mount a challenge for the championship with Lotus this year? And will Grosjean get his act together?

Have your say in the comments.

2013 F1 season preview

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Images © Lotus/LAT

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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87 comments on “Lotus catching up with their rivals and targetting the top three”

  1. I’m a huge fan of Grosjean. When he’s not attempting to decapitate his colleagues he’s incredibly fast and skillful. Lotus could have dropped him so easily for 2013, there are loads of capable drivers (without rich Dad’s/South American Dictatorships behind them) who could have stepped up. So they see potential in him. Raikkonen, for me, is a has-been now, his best years are behind him in my opinion, he’s only in F1 for the birds and the free booze.

    Car looks great, but my worry is that Mercedes development will eclipse Lotus’ in 2013.

    1. with 2013 and 2013 project working on simultaneously…..

      If lotus couldn’t sustain their car development in 2012, why would they did it in 2013??

    2. I like Lotus but I hope Grosjean will up his game and be more mature. He needs to stop running into other cars and he has been very unreliable last season. I hope this season he gives the better drivers a run for his money. Funny you should think that Kimi is a has been, coming out of retirement and taking 3rd position in drivers’ championship says more about his capabilities than his alcohol appetite.

    3. Funny how you talk about Grosjean and then conclude with labelling Raikkonen as a has been – especially considering the info given in the article about Grosjean.

      I’m very cautious about this year, cause he had an exceptional year in 2012 and to repeat the feat will be very demanding. But then again, he is a top driver and same as Alonso, when driver becomes a has been – they seem to know how to score those points like never before.

      And unlike Grosjean, great drivers had most of their DNFs not due to their mistakes, but due to technical issues.

      Its going to be a test for Romain, and I hope for him that his fast speed have zero relationship with him getting involved in incidents.

    4. If your “free booze” mean that GH mumm on the podium. I’m sure Lotus would be more than happy to let Kimi have one at every race.

  2. I so hope that Lotus have a competitive car this season, because a fight between Alonso, Vettel and Raikkonen for the title would redefine epic. They’re certainly going the right way about it, and if they have made genuine progress then I can’t imagine they’ll be too far off the untimate pace.

    1. car development remain archilles heel for them….they lose it since summer break last season.

      1. I don’t agree, they were developping a lot after last year’s summer break, just not the right stuff. They spend a lot of time and money on the passive DRS that they never raced. That meant they were late, but did bring, their coanda exhausts about 5 races before the end of the season

  3. ibra (@ibraf1)
    9th March 2013, 11:22

    Yes grosjean can cut out the crashes, yes he can beat raikkonen…bring on 2013!!

    1. Murali Dharan
      10th March 2013, 9:15

      I believe it is a either or scenario. But good luck to him. Because he needs it.

    2. Sviatoslav Andrushko (@)
      10th March 2013, 19:19

      I think, The One-Neo-Raikkonen)) won’t be defeated by his team-mate. Eric Boullier said that their target is Kimi.

  4. If I see it correctly: the graph first describes Team Lotus, than a gap, than Lotus Racing (Caterham) and 2012 is Lotus F1 team (Enstone)? I can see why you didn’t take Enstone’s results pre-2012 (Renault, Benetton…), but it looks just plane weird now.

    The Lotus name thing just has to stop. Lotus F1 Team has nothing to do with Team Lotus, they stole the JPS livery and made a complete mockery of it. And I don’t see the benefit of it: the older fans know that this isn’t the Team Lotus they used to watch, and the younger fans just don’t know what Team Lotus is. Besides, it’s really pathetic that a team doesn’t want to take the effort to create their own identity. Even the team admitted that they want to be known as ‘Team Enstone’, as can be read on their website when you click on /team/history (‘Team Enstone’ is a brilliant name by the way).

    1. @andae23 +1! Team Lotus is Colin Chapman’s team and Team Enstone is the team that have went through the various guises over the years!

    2. Renault Enstone Racing? Has a better and more meaningful ring to it

      1. Enstone is now a Renault customer. The word Renault deserves no place in the team name, whatever it is.

    3. @andae23

      The Lotus name thing just has to stop. Lotus F1 Team has nothing to do with Team Lotus, they stole the JPS livery and made a complete mockery of it.

      They’ll continue to use it for as long as they think it is of any benefit to them. When it’s no longer of benefit, they’ll abandon it, and not a moment before. They haven’t responded to outrage from fans, and constantly changing their constructor name has the potential to create confusion and will cost them prize money from FOM (there are restrictions in place to stop someone buying the naming rights and then taking the prize money and selling the team), so it’s likely they will continue using the name until the current arragement expires at the end of 2017.

    4. *than –> then

    5. Not this again…

    6. @andae23

      The Lotus name thing just has to stop.

      It does, but I don’t see it happening any time soon.

      Frankly I’m as disappointed in the FIA for allowing it to start and continue as I am in the two version of Lotus we’ve had in the last four years for perpetuating it.

      The latest Lotus barely started a couple of races last year before it turned out they weren’t even being sponsored by Lotus any more. The whole thing is utterly ridiculous.

      There are plenty of reasons to like this team, but the name thing is an open sore.

  5. TOp 4 would be good. Racing operation need massive improvement (pit stop, tyre strategies, weekend fps planning).

    Seriously, their winter looks crap, hope kimi can fight for title while romain stay out of trouble.

  6. Lotus has set its sights on reaching the top three in 2013.

    I don’t see it myself. Right now, the top three seems to be pretty firmly set as Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull, with Mercedes knocking on the door. Lotus are going to have a really difficult time breaking into the top three this year, even if they do something about their tendency to lean on a conservative race strategy that robbed them of a few wins in 2012.

    1. I think Mercedes may very well replace McLaren in the top three initially: the MP4-28 hasn’t looked brilliant, whereas the W04 has looked very fast (over one lap at least, but who knows what the tyre degradation will be like). Nonetheless though, it is going to be hard going for Lotus to challenge the top guys, but I’m pretty confident they’ll win a race (perhaps in Bahrain or one of the hotter circuits).

    2. Lewisham Milton
      9th March 2013, 12:47

      Maybe swapping race engineers with Mark Webber will help sharpen their tactics. We’ll see, but I seem to remember (for example) Ciaran Pilbeam emerging with some credit from Webbo’s win at Silverstone last year.

      1. 100% agree!

    3. firstLapNutcaseGrosjean (@)
      9th March 2013, 13:11

      @prisoner-monkeys Did you see last year before season start Raikkonen on top 3, for example. I’m sure you don’t.

      1. firstLapNutcaseGrosjean (@)
        9th March 2013, 14:43


      2. @sorin – nobody foresaw Alonso coming second or Hamilton’s championship faltering so badly, what’s your point? As a team, Lotus were behind Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren and there is nothing to suggest they will overhaul them (apart from possibly McLaren, but Mercedes are the ones looking set to replace them).

        1. Max, I don’t think Alonso would agree with you because, in his opinion (and surprisingly many on this site share his opinion) Ferrari were second to last team last year ;)

          1. @5150 – good thing I don’t buy all his political ramblings then! ;)

        2. @vettel1 – I think his “point” is that because Lotus have Raikkonen, a top three result is a sure thing. Because apparently Raikkonen can transcend the limitations of his car so much that he can leapfrog two teams all on his own, even when those two teams have strong cars and good drivers.

          1. @prisoner-monkeys – We both know that’s not possible! I agree: Lotus and Ferrari were fairly close (with Ferrari definitely ahead though), but Massa’s severe underperfoming he had that place taken, and the McLaren drivers because of operational errors/unreliabilty on both sides of the camp. So really he only beat Webber in a faster car without other influential factors.

          2. @vettel1 – I know. But try telling that to dedicated Raikkonen fans. Haven’t you noticed that they seem to think he is capable of miracles?

          3. @prisoner-monkeys – very true, although I think it’s more prevalent in the Alonso fans who believe every word he says!

          4. @vettel1 @prisoner-monkeys
            Raikkonen and Alonso fans are free to believe what they want and have the right to an opinion.
            If you can’t accept it that’s your problem not theirs – no need to litter this forum with your fixed ideas and impose them to others.

          5. Oh, they’re free to believe what they want.

            The problem is that their beliefs aren’t supported by the results of their drivers.

          6. @prisoner-monkeys
            Raikkonen finished 3rd in a 4th placed car after being out from the competition for 2 years – FACT (written in F1 history and no ifs and buts will change it). So I don’t see how his fans’ beliefs aren’t supported by his results.
            Nobody knows for sure what the pecking order will be in Melbourne and afterwards so the only thing we can do is speculate. You’re becoming ridiculous with your constant attacks on Raikkonen fans. Everyone has the right to support which driver they want and hope for the best from him – in the end it’s them who share his disappointment or joy not you.

          7. @klaas – of course everyone had the right to support their own driver, but they categorically don’t have the right to believe he can perform miracles. Nobody can.

          8. @vettel1
            Who said anything about believing in miracles? As I mentioned above we don’t know exactly how competitive the teams will be so one can’t really discount the fact that there could be at least a minor chance for Lotus to get 3rd place in WCC.

            but they categorically don’t have the right to believe he can perform miracles.

            Made me laugh really hard with this one. Or what? You’ll shoot them?

          9. @klaas – I did and PM did (although worded slightly differently) – you can’t transcend the limitations of your car.

            Made me laugh really hard with this one. Or what? You’ll shoot them?

            I’m glad that amuses you, but I am not one to resort to violence: words do just fine.

          10. @vettel1 So you’re point is? Until now you and PM were making references to each other but somehow you twisted it that it’s Raikkonen’s fans who are believing in miracles/in transcending the limitations of the car.
            You do realise what complete nonsense you are making?

          11. @klaas – it was a casual joke initially, but you’ve blown it well out of proportion. Nonetheless, no-one can perform miracles, which was the point of the discussion (Räikkönen did pretty close to what his car was capable of and no more). Now can we please stop this pointless arguement over semantics?

          12. Raikkonen finished 3rd in a 4th placed car after being out from the competition for 2 years – FACT (written in F1 history and no ifs and buts will change it). So I don’t see how his fans’ beliefs aren’t supported by his results.

            I’m referring to the way his fans seem to think that Raikkonen can drag Lotus to third overall all on his own, when all the teams around them have very strong line-ups.

          13. @prisoner-monkeys

            his fans seem to think that Raikkonen can drag Lotus to third overall all on his own

            Really, is that what most his fans are really saying or it’s just you putting words into their mouths?

          14. Really, is that what most his fans are really saying or it’s just you putting words into their mouths?

            Is that just you trying to find a flaw in someone else’s argument in the hopes that by doing so, you can continue to believe whatever you want to believe about Raikkonen’s abilities and not have to deal with reality?

            It’s ironic that you should continue this line of discussion, since all you are doing is demonstrating every trait that I have criticised Raikkonen’s fans for. The minute someone dares to challenge the idea that Raikkonen is anything other than perfect, you go on the offensive, picking at tiny little flaws in arguments in the hopes of bringing the whole lot crashing down. At least you’re being civil about it.

          15. @prisoner-monkeys I’m not trying to find any flaws in your arguments because one can’t find flaws in what doesn’t exist. You started to accuse Raikkonen fans in believing something that you think they believe and you failed to bring any real argument to back your claims. I’m not defending the idea of Raikkonen being perfect since nobody is. But admit your comments are absurd – It’s like I was accusing you (and other guys) out of nowhere that you fanatically believe in a drivers’ superabilities. Check the fans’ comments about Kimi – which of them are claiming that he can do anything more that he hasn’t done yet?
            I’m gonna end this thread now because I have a feeling I’m talking to a wall (and that’s a shame because I used to consider you a serious commenter on this site) and no matter what I say, you’re going to pretend that you didn’t understand and keep repeating unfonded claims.

    4. I guess its a matter of setting your targets high enough here.

  7. Ben (@scuderia29)
    9th March 2013, 11:53

    Top 3 will not be easy! with ferrari, mclaren, red bull and mercedes…lotus will have to beat at least 2 of those to finish in the top three and although i believe lotus will do well this year, i dont believe theyll do quite that well

  8. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
    9th March 2013, 12:08

    This is going to be difficult but if Grosjean can match Raikkonen then surely with a car as good as last year then they stand a very good chance. I wouldn’t put it past Grosjean if he can stop having accidents at the start of most races, he’s very quick.

    1. if Grosjean can match Raikkonen then surely with a car as good as last year then they stand a very good chance

      Sure – if they were the only team to make any progress. As it is, the other teams all seem to have improved on where they were last year, and almost everyone has one strong driver and one driver with the (as yet unrealised) potential to deliver strong results. If Lotus want to move up in the world, they’re going to have to do it the hard way.

      1. If Lotus want to move up in the world, they’re going to have to do it the hard way.

        Isn’t that exactly what @collettdumbletonhall is proposing @prisoner-monkeys, that if they have a car (comparative to the rest of the grid) as good as last year and Grosjean stops crashing and matches Raikkonen, then they can achieve well on track, by beating others? Not a given in any way, but surely not unthinkable or laughable to see this as a possibility

        1. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
          12th March 2013, 18:00

          @BasCB Yeah that is what I meant thanks :)
          I think @prisoner-monkeys is wrong in thinking that almost everyone has one driver with unrealised potential to deliver strong results, at least not to anywhere near the same extent that Grosjean has shown.

  9. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
    9th March 2013, 12:32

    That, in my opinion, is quite tough. Lotus , blunt truth , won’t be in the top three for at least the next 3-4 seasons. They would need better resources – continous upgrades, maybe even staff changes. Also, they need Kimi Raikkonen to give his 100%. The “cool guy” figure doesn’t win races. Not saying Kimi is a bad driver, he’s a World Champion, but when you compare him to guys like Vettel or Alonso, you feel there’s that slight bit of commitment missing. All in all, Lotus are on the right path, no doubt, but there’s still distance to cover.

    1. Cool guy??? thats how people misinterpret.

      It looks like a guy that fully concentrated on racing, and how is that kind of guy not gonna win any races?? if the team strategy is better last year, he would’ve won 2-3 races.

      1. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
        9th March 2013, 13:10

        I am sorry, but I am of a very different opinion. He is an absolutely great driver, but somewhere, there’s something missing.

    2. I think you’re right @shreyasf1fan : Alonso and Vettel are both incredibly dedicated and work very very hard, whereas Kimi frequently misses track walks and the like (which cost him in Brazil last year when he drove up a closed-off section of track. He is definitely a good driver and “knows what he’s doing”, but you do get the impression if he just put in a bit more work it would compliment his undoubtable natural talent immensely.

      1. firstLapNutcaseGrosjean (@)
        9th March 2013, 14:19

        @vettel1 I don’t understand what means for you to work hard. I hope not track walks. And didn’t cost him nothing in Brazil. What? Do you think someone, who did track walk in Brazil, saw that gate? For me to work hard, as a RACER, means to go from 11 to 2, or to be from 5 to 2 in Hungary(hard to overtake) or more situations like these, and no safety cars/red flags. Both Ferrari and RedBull were better last year than Lotus. No doubt. He did the maximum ‘work’ last year.

        1. @sorin – absolutely going on the track walk may have prevented him from making that error and absolutely he isn’t doesn’t have that uncompromising dedication that Vettel or Alonso has. I am in no doubt over his talent and he has great national speed, but there is more to the job than simply jumping in the car and driving. In that respect, Kimi is one of the most hardworking drivers, but out of the car one does get the impression he isn’t as dedicated as the two who finished ahead of him in the championship last year.

      2. Agreed with both your assessments. Kimi’s incredibly talented, but I think that while he may have a huge hunger and desire to win, he has no desire to apply and immerse himself in the job the way Vettel and Alonso do. If he had a similar approach to them I think Kimi would have won several championships by now and be considered the iconic driver of this era.

        1. Instead, I think he’s more like a driver from an earlier era, back when they weren’t necessarily expected to put in long hours working with their engineers outside the car. He would have made a great contemporary of James Hunt, but he was born at the wrong time. ;-)

          1. Yeah I believe that. If he was a driver in the 70’s or 80’s there would be no problem, and he’d probably have as many titles as his talent deserves. The nature of being a driver changed due to Senna and Schumacher. I remember an anecdote that Prost used to spend his time playing golf, while Senna was soaking up info from his engineers in the garage!

          2. @aka_robyn, @colossal-squid +1! Schumacher in particular moved the game forward, and ever since everyone has been trying to mimic that. Kimi seems a tad more relaxed about it though!

          3. Actually I am pretty sure that in the 1970’s it was just as advantageous to work intensely and closely with the ingeniers. Just think of how Clark worked with Lotus, or Brabham and Hill.

            As for that anecdote @colossal-squid its funny to read, as on the other hand it was Prost complaining that Senna was reaping the results of him doing countless laps in testing when Senna was on holiday!

    3. It’s funny that first you say that it will be tough for them to be in top 3 “in your opinion” but in the next sentence it’s suddenly the “blunt truth”. Which one is it?

      Lotus definitely has everything to break into the top. Actually, they might even already be there. Whether they can stay there depends a lot about their financial situation in the future; their sport side seems to be at good path.

      As for Kimi’s figure, he’s got nothing left to prove. He knows how to win races, he knows how to win the championship and he’s certainly just as committed as the rest of the pack (if he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be there).

      1. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
        9th March 2013, 13:56

        @tmekt : Lotus certainly “aren’t there” yet, they still have distance to cover. Also, Kimi has a lot left to prove , The way things have become nowadays in F1, one Champiosnhip title, is respectable, but not applaudable. I mean, of course, it is a huge achievement, but Alonso has 2, Vettel has 3. Also, Alonso and Vettel have more titles coming their way, for sure. Kimi – well, he is rude to his engineer ( that is nothing but a sign of arrogance) , he lost his way in Sau Paulo in 2012 – I mean, what, he needs a SatNav in that car? Why didn’t he just take a track walk like everybody else? In my opinion he does not know what he is doing.

        1. @shreyasf1fan

          You don’t know for a fact where they are currently or where they will be in the future; it’s only after Brazil that we’ll know how their season went.

          Like I said, Kimi doesn’t have anything left to prove. If you had followed his career from the very beginning you’d know. If it wasn’t for McLaren’s ridiculously unreliable cars Kimi might have one or two extra championships in his pocket by now. Would that make him any better driver? Just like if Vettel had had a few less points in 2010 or 2012, would that make him any less of a driver? They are just numbers in the end, you can’t draw that many conclusions from them.

          Kimi being rude to his engineer: that happens. It has happened before it will happen again. Driver’s and engineer’s cooperation needs to work efficiently in a racing situation and it’s usually the engineer who suffers if it doesn’t work. It’s the engineer who’s there for the driver, not the other way.

          Kimi tried to go around there because he thought the gate would be open. When the drivera had their track-walks it would have probably been open anyways, the marshals – I’m sure – have to move stuff around the track before the sessions start so most likely it would have been open. Besides, it had no effect on the race’s outcome and gave a good laugh for the spectators so why does it even matter?

    4. He is Iceman not cool guy. What the actual **** man?! He is a legend. He has got another title in him, just wait for it. Don’t lose hope.

  10. I’m curious how Grosjean will perform. He looked to have a bit more level-headedness by the end of last year, but is he fixed now?

    1. I think the issue with Grosjean is not level-headedness as such but a much more deep rooted problem: an inability to focus on multiple cars. We saw in Spa and Suzuka notably he became too fixated on one car and so hit another, with significant implications. I do hope for the sake of everyone else he has got to the root of the problem, but I don’t think it will be an easy fix…

    2. Grosjean is not a pay driver is he?

      1. @aish – no, or at least he isn’t recognised to be one.

        1. Ok thanks I needed to know that.

          an inability to focus on multiple cars. We saw in Spa and Suzuka notably he became too fixated on one car and so hit another, with significant implications.

          I completely agree with you. He did rookie mistakes and so I thought he was probably pay.

          1. Interesting thought, about the multiple cars. I will watch it closely – something extra to enjoy. If you’re right, he has a big problem.
            Grosjean is considered fast, but Total are on board at Lotus because of him, just as Santander are at Ferrari because of Alonso. The line is always thin, talent attracts sponsorship.
            I guess you can say that someone is paydriver if the team didn’t go for the best driver, but chose someone else because of money.

          2. @verstappen – that’s definetly how I see it: Maldonado when involved in collions does it purely out of aggression or just plain stupidity, but it is a decision he makes. Grosjean’s just look like short-sightedness (no pun intended) on his part, so indeed it appears to be a much bigger problem.

          3. @verstappen: Total is also sponsoring RBR, who do you think is roping that in for them? Vettel? Lotus has funny sponsors man, I mean, Rexona, All Clear dandruff shampoo. How do these companis make so much money to be sponsoring an F1 team? Their products are not so good, imho. :)

            @vettel1: I think the jury is still out on who’s better between Maldonado and Grosjean. The former does have a win under his belt. “shortsightedness” well said. :D

          4. @aish

            I think the jury is still out on who’s better between Maldonado and Grosjean.

            Undoubtably they are both very quick drivers, the jury is focusing more so on who is the most dangerous driver currently though!

  11. In my opinion at the start of the season they’l be 3rd behind Red Bull and Ferrari, but after that the McLarens and Merc’s will overtake them in the development race.

  12. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    9th March 2013, 14:16

    The championship is going to start so spiced up! 5 champions remain, all in different and competitive teams.
    I can’t wait!!!!!!!!1

  13. I agree with Max & PM. Top 3 should be their goal (along with the Mercs) but not sure if they are shifting the Red Bulls, McLarens or Ferarri’s ?? They seem to be staying put for now!!

    I really dont know what to make of Kimi Raikkonen (WDC) to be honest. As previously posted I saw him twice last year in person, being Melbourne & Suzuka. His efforts in the Paddock Club in Melbourne last year were a PR’s nightmare, but his total disregard for a few seconds with a 10 year old that idolised him mad he mad. As did he ‘barge through’ efforts at Suzuka where there were maybe 10 fans looking for an autograph or photo! I hate that Kimi!.

    The Kimi that wont do a track walk unless he gets a golf buggy also ***** me. This guy gets paid a fortune to do what we all would LOVE to do, but doesnt seem to give 100% in doing so. If I were his boss I would be fumming over this- do the track walk Kimi or PO. While the Brazil thing was funny as, its wasnt for the team. I hate that Kimi!

    **** take Kimi- all the press now know they can get a lift from some answers to their questions- all the other drivers laugh at him, he knows they are taking the **** and gives them either nothing or a comment to laugh at. I think it was India last year (when the press knew he just rocked up) and asked what he thought? “Well they took me from the airport to the hotel- so far the freeway and hotel looks just fine”. I love that Kimi!

    Social Kimi- The guy is obviously partial to a drink. Having a beer at team pit lane photo in Abu Dhabi last year is unusual for an F1 driver- they do it in small doses, but not in public. The alledged fall off his yatch at Monaco after a Ferarri win (I think??) a few years back also comes to memory. So some of these guys ARE human after all!!?? I LOVE that Kimi!!

    Racing Kimi- As mentioned I have been missing the F1 like all you out there, and watching the 2012 season again and again (Well mostly, Monaco & Silverstone seem to be the fav’s). We all know it was his comeback year but he managed 3rd in the title race. Most of the year in races he was, say, P4 to P10- in amongst the field that is. I dont recall him making one mistake in wheel to wheel combat at all (before Alonso fans start, Suzuka WAS NOT Kimi’s fault!!). It was him and Webber (cant remember the race) where they were 2 inches apart down the straight, around the corner, then the next- no mistakes, confidence and respect for another top driver. I LOVE that Kimi!!

    Dont know- he is the guy I love to hate (strong word- I dont hate anyone in this world) and hate to love!!
    Either way based on the above I am more of a Kimi fan that I was 12 months ago!!

    1. @garns – I like Kimi the driver and I admire his uniqueness (a personality is refreshing when compared to all the corporate zombies!) but I could completely see why a team would favour Vettel or Alonso, even if we say they are all equal on natural ability.

      I think the top two and Merc in particular are looking very strong, and all have very good driver line-ups (if we assume Massa will perform as per late 2012) so Lotus will definitely have a tough time breaking into the top 3 for the time being, but I guess we’ll find out in a week!

  14. watched the 3rd and 4th day on sky sports f1. and the lotus looked planted to the road not as good as the red bull but it looked good. agreed their strategy is abit flawed compared to their rivals (why didnt they pit kimi a lap after sv in bahrain? and their tyre strategy in spain) think they might win 2 or 3 races this season and will finish 4th in the wcc. grosjean really doesnt need another 2012 otherwise i dont see him in f1 beyond this season

  15. Can Raikkonen mount a challenge for the championship with Lotus this year?
    And will Grosjean get his act together?
    I hope so!

  16. My dream start for 2013 qualifying would be Hamilton, Vettel & Raikkonen clocking the same time in the Q3 for the pole position like Jerez 1998 (Villeneuve, Frentzen & Schumi) . Boy what a a start that would be !!!!!

    I really believe Kimi would be the dark horse for the WDC this year. Go Kimi Go…….

    1. @tmax – that would be epic! Arguably the top 3 qualifiers showing us why they are arguably the top 3 qualifiers: what a start to the season that would be!

    2. @tmax I’m confused Q3 at Jerez in ’98? I think you mean ’97 because there was no other races at Jerez after 97 if my memory is correct.

      1. @magillagorilla Thanks for the Correction. My bad. I meant 1997. The last and final title race of 1997.

  17. There is no set top three this year I think, and early on last year there wasn’t either. It is probably a safe bet to say with the same rules as last year, that the teams only threat are the tires and running their aero packages around it. And since the rules are the the same it is also safe to say that the teams may easily go further into the year fighting the regular big 3 for a spot at the top by season’s close. This would be due to having an established understanding of the cars because of running last years regs.

    Why? Simple you have the teams with money to burn and teams that are just going year by year. Both are going to go all out and try to win 2013, the difference is the teams with money have second squads building 2014 cars currently as to not distract from 2013 regs and championship. The teams that are season by season guys like Lotus that still claim to be (and RBR from Horner’s words) you have guys that will fight all the way through and probably worry about 2014 and the major shift at season’s end or when they see no reason to fight for 2013 WDC/WCC any longer due to being out of the running.

    Williams were strong last year, Sauber as well, and so was FI at certain moments the issue with these guys were either drivers, hit and miss aero due to varying in tracks, car failures, or a combination. FI were strong with their greatest moment at Brazil which looked to be a chance for the win. Williams actually did win, and have some other strong showings in qualifying and racing, but sadly driver inability and reliability issues (i.e. engine failure for one). Sauber had a great car on many of the more traditional tracks, but driver mistakes cost them as well. The Point, basically if these three teams can do what they did last year at their strongest moments and fix their more sour moments, this may be an even closer championship than 2008, 2010, or 2012 due to more teams being in the running.

    I think Lotus may very well have a chance to break into top three or stay in top five and be close to the top three points wise at years end. I also believe if the car is up to task it can win more so long as Grosjean has matured from end of last year to this up coming weekend and beyond, and Kimi keeps driving like he did last year but cracks the wip sooner in the season with Quali efforts. And if lotus make the right calls with aero and 1 lap setups it will make the difference.

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