Lotus prioritising 2016 car development

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In the round-up: Lotus has switched its focus to next year’s car while a potential takeover by Renault remains unresolved.

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Comment of the day

As far as potential American F1 drivers are concerned Guenther Steiner reckons there is “nobody out there at the moment”:

Clearly he couldn’t care less about the impressive seasons Rahal and Newgarden had had in Indycar. Or the very good season Rossi is having in GP2. As he’s the most F1 race-ready US driver, clearly the best option would be to put him in a race seat alongside Vergne/Gutierrez (preferably Vergne), and Rahal/Newgarden as test and third driver. If they don’t have an American driver, the general public in the US won’t care, and why should they? It’s essentially a mostly foreign team with an Austrian in charge and race base in the UK.

An American driver could change all that, but the big question is, does Haas care? He stated publicly that his goal in establishing team, was to promote Haas Automation products worldwide. In the US he might think that his NASCAR team is enough. All in all, a very sad situation for US open-wheel fans. They’re being discounted completely and US drivers are suffering too as a result

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60 comments on “Lotus prioritising 2016 car development”

  1. A thought crossed my mind: Do Ferrari develop their 2014 PU for Manor or is it just this year’s one they’re allowed to?

    1. @stigsemperfi
      I don’t know what the regulations say, but I doubt Manor could afford to pay the development costs, and there’s no incentive for Ferrari as they’d need to find a couple of seconds per lap of extra performance just to get them off the back row (before penalties).

    2. You can only run a homologated engine which means the one from 2014 and 2015 and even then the 2014 one is only being allowed with approval from the other teams to assist Manor because of their financial state.

      The in season development is still subject to available development tokens Ferrari have left after the loophole was found this year. I think the tokens can only be used on the 2015 spec engine but even if they could be used on the 2014 Ferrari wouldn’t waste them.

      Manor are only using the 2014 engine to save money this year, they would also run the 2015 engine if they could afford it. I’m assuming Ferrari is selling off the 2014 leftover stock cheap to them.

      1. Actually Manor is only running the 2014 engine because they didn’t have the money or time to redesign the car completely / make a new car for 2015 and the current engine would not fit with the old car (Turbo, piping for coolers etc) and that is why they got a special dispensation to run an old engine with the old car @philipgb @stigsemperfi @beneboy.

        If they had brought the originally planned 2015 car, it would have ran the new engine. But off course they chose not to (probably for money reasons) and instead focus on building a new car for next year that should have a normal 2016 spec engine. But so far its not clear what brand of engine they would use yet, but it would be a “standard” 2016 spec engine

        1. “If they had brought the originally planned 2015 car, it would have ran the new engine. But off course they chose not to (probably for money reasons)”

          I think the issue was they had sold everything off during the asset auctions. They literally had no 2015 car to bring any more.
          It’s a real shame because from the accounts I have read they really believed they would have had a decent stab at a strong mid field running this year, given the performance increase from the new Ferrari engine, the 2015 tyres and the step they had made over their 2014 chassis.

        2. What’s the point in them wasting money on a 2015 engine? Without another F1.5 team to race against, they are finishing last regardless so they might as well save their money. It’s only the difference between being lapped 3 or 4 times and being lapped 2 or 3 times!

          1. @petebaldwin How about trying to beat McLaren?

    3. Manor is simply driving around to collect the pay check froms bernie. As long as manor can make it inside the 107% rule they won’t be spending one dime on the car. And getting inside 107% is super easy because the front runners are driving slowly while manor can kit out their car for qualifying only to guarantee a 107% time. They will do the same thing next year too because they are now tenth so manor will get the bernie money from that 10th spot. Manor are so far behind anyways that just to challenge the 3rd last car they’d need totally new car and new engine. New drivers probably too. Not going to happen.

      The reason why they are doing this is simply free money. Doing it as cheaply as possible they basically get money from bernie just by being there. Top 10 teams get bernie money and there are just 10 teams. If they get silly lucky they may get a point or two once in a decade.

      In 2016 they will finish 11th because haas will kick their behinds. But manor will still probably use that 2014 car in 2016. And in 2016 they will still get money from bernie because they finished 10th in last season. 2017 manor will quit. They have lost some of their bernie money (haas is now 10th, 11th gets nothing except the last season money), they don’t have funds to make new car (2017 is going to be year of change in f1) and hopefully they have sold the team and their f1 entry by then. That f1 entry is worth TONS of millions so not letting it to go to waste by not racing is their key agenda at the moment. Even if they could not sell the entry by 2017 they have at least recouped some money back by driving around.

      It is good to see them finally go. They don’t add anything to the sport. Only “positive” they add is the simple schadenfreunde aspect when they take out some leading car or disrupt a race for the points or win. One of the manors almost hitting kimi in monza is the “best” thing manor can offer as far as achievements in f1 go…

      Good riddance.

      1. Your ignorance makes you seem foolish. If you only new the operating cost of doing a full F1 season you would have realized that this “free money”(how is money that they earned free is beyond me) do not exist in the least.

    1. Thank you for posting.

      Looks like Red Bull front elements are flexing 10 mm at high speed. I guess this is legal since only the main elements are restricted??

      At 18 min, someone had to change their shorts when they nearly collected the Ferrari on the way into the pits.

      Good stuff/ thanks

      1. The moment with Kimi braking far too early (he thought the first line was the pit-entry so activated his pit-limiter) and forcing Mehri to evade was shown during the race I think, or maybe it was shown during the Sky after-show?

        1. Only 2 absolutely fundamental driver errors from Kimi this week then….

          1. But he knows what he’s doing (sorry, sorry).

          2. @petebaldwin @john-h Only if they really happened. The start, I’ve not seen anywhere confirmed that it was KR’s fault and not a faulty clutch. The pits, was Brundle’s assumption, but I’ve not seen it confirmed anywhere either. If you have proof for either, I’d gladly see it

          3. @montreal95 It’s a desperate fan move to request proof for what happened at the pit lane. Congratz.

          4. You presume too much kanan. Can’t say I can congratulate you on that approach. Good luck next time

    2. I am glad they show the Justin Wilson sticker. But it would have been good had they shown at least some images of the short moment where all drivers got together for that.

    3. I think Raikkonen just didn’t select first gear at the start :((( that was NOT a case of clunking into anti-stall. The car didn’t move when he dropped the first clutch and increased throttle… engine was totally unloaded. Shame. (by the way thanks for link @sato113)

      1. So then why did Raikkonen complain something went wrong? If the car was actually in neutral he would have known it was his own mistake.

    4. @sato113 Pity the footage of the Bottas/Massa battle starts just after the significant moment Bottas described after the race.

  2. So…..is Lotus developing their 2016 car for a Merc engine, or a Renault engine??? :)

    1. @daved I suspect neither, it’s unlikely they have enough cash to do any real development at all for 2016 at the moment. It’s just that saying “we are focussed on 2016” sounds better than “we are so poor we can barely survive the year never mind actually develop anything”.

      They also have the slight luxury of having run the Renault engine in 2014 so they probably have a reasonable idea of what the impact of either engine would be.

      1. @jerseyf1 LOL I completely agree with:

        sounds better than “we are so poor we can barely survive the year never mind actually develop anything”.

  3. I wonder if Alonso’s cart has more power than the Honda…

    1. Button’s triathlon bike is faster as well!!

    1. Cool article.

      Re: Vettel – “currently he is the only driver competing in Formula 1 who can prefer one particular set of brakes over another due to different types of carbon.”

      1. That’s some attention to detail :P

        1. Wonder how hamilton fans are gonna react to that

          1. @egorov
            I think most of his fans will remember his public criticism of Brembo, and his preference for Carbon Industries products, and take this review with a very large pinch of salt.

          2. Yep, we remember.

          3. Let’s also remember Lewis @ McLaren trialing various master cylinder sizes to get the perfect amount of bite & feel. Hamilton has always been particular & discerning about all aspects of his car setup. He gets no credit for it, however. A lot of backhanded compliments about “natural talent”, but a lot of the other things get overlooked.

    2. excellent stuff. i find the detail of driving styles really interesting. the way it describes alonso fits with most people’s view of him i.e. he can get the maximum out of any situation.

      similarly, hamilton is just on the ragged edge all of the time, and very much ‘on the nose’ with the car. this is how schumacher drove in the benneton/early ferrari days though he later said that was just due to car inefficiencies (early turn-in to compensate for overall lack of grip/stability) – in the later ferraris he drove in a more linear, late apex way.

    3. Saw that before. It’s as poor as bad internet articles get. It was like reading a bad amateur blog. Expected a bit more of Brembo that pasting cliche lines like “natural ABS” together.

  4. With regards to the COTD from Montreal95 – how many of the drivers named in that list would actually be eligible for a superlicence, either under the current system or the upcoming points system? I would have thought that neither Rahal or Newgarden would qualify for a superlicence, leaving just Rossi: I might be mistaken on Rossi, but I think that his superlicence would then be dependent on securing 2nd place in the GP2 Championship (I think that his current superlicence would lapse under the new regulations), which is not entirely certain.

    1. Good point and you’ve got the situation spot-on – Rahal and Newgarden won’t have enough points, Rossi only will if he stays at least second in GP2.

  5. I’m glad to see Enstone team preparing for the future, current situation notwithstanding.
    Although many think Renault’s comeback would be solution of all Lotus’ problems I don’t share that opinion. First reason would be splitting from RBR. Reflecting on the last year of their partnership it reveals a lot about Renault’s dedication to the sport. I’m not approving what RBR guys said about people who made them world champions four times but it still reveals a lot. Renault entered new era of F1 propulsion unprepared – that’s the fact. Renault can build an engine capable of annihilating the competition – that’s the fact two. But, under contemporary rules they have to build a Power-unit, which is a different story altogether. They have a problem on the electrical side of PU with a domino effect. I wonder if they couldn’t get atop of PU problems by now, when it will happen?! If they buy LotusF1Team and continue to struggle the scenario of withdrawal might repeat leaving Enstoners in the same situation they’re facing now. Pinning their dedication to the sport on old man’s prize money just reveals how determined they are. Huge part of the whole situation with LotusF1team in my opinion is based upon poor Bernie-Gerard relationship. Bernie wants Gerard out of F1, even tried to lure Renault with prize money to finish the job. Obviously, they are not biting and Bernie is not so quick to reach for his wallet. I have to admit, the situation is more exciting than a thriller but I don’t like it. Neither do people working in Enstone.

    1. Team Enstone are too good a team to disappear. However it works out, someone will buy them even if it’s not Renault.

      1. “Team Enstone are too good a team to disappear” – I couldn’t agree more but I wonder what would be possible if they had a more stable situation. They are one of five teams that managed to achieve a podium finish this year in circumstances known to all of us. I hope they’ll bounce back to the level of competitiveness they enjoyed before.

  6. @montreal95 I actually think we need to credit the Austrian in question for realizing the quality of driver needed in order to be competitive in F1. The American drivers you mention – Rossi, Newgarden and Rahal – simply can’t represent similarly competitive options to a Magnussen or a Vergne. Also, if they were to make the step up to F1, the sole justification they would have would be their nationality.

    Alexander Rossi is in his sixth season of top tier single seater racing, and yet still has no title to show for his efforts. It has only really been the US flag that has prevented him from clattering through the experience ceiling. For Rossi to have been considered a remotely viable option for Haas, he needed to be closer to Vandoorne this season; with his experience, he certainly should have been capable of being closer.

    Is Graham Rahal going to be tempted away from a likely competitive future in IndyCar with a good team for a year propping up the grid in F1? The only other American candidate, Josef Newgarden, did not flatter himself when he raced in Europe (a single Hockenheim pole in GP3 his only notable effort), and despite the fact that he has enjoyed an exemplary 2015 season in IndyCar, and regardless of the fact that IndyCar success is awarded more FIA super-licence points than GP3 or FR3.5, there is little in the way of overlap between F1 and IndyCar.

    Let us not kid ourselves – single seater drivers that cross the Atlantic are unlikely to return.

    1. Let us not kid ourselves – single seater drivers that cross the Atlantic are unlikely to return.

      The Brazilians, Mexicans and others do still need to cross the Atlantic, right? ;)

    2. @countrygent, you’re spot on! Besides, Haas want drivers with actual F1 experience. It’s not only about raw speed or talent. They want experience to help the team develop. That only leave a couple of drivers.

    3. @countrygent You have valid arguments, however you missed my point. I’ll get to it later, but first let me reply to your point regarding the 3 drivers mentioned:
      Would Rahal or Newgarden be tempted to become test drivers with Haas? They might be. F1 is every single seater driver’s dream regardless on what side of the pond they’re on. I know Rahal was close to winning the Indycar title this year, but seriously, what are the odds for him on replicating such a performance next year in a 1-car team? And Newgarden’s team despite his breakthrough season is short on funds too, and the odds of him securing a spot in a top team are not too high. Besides, after this year’s performances, if they fail in their bid to secure a permanent holding in F1 they can always go back to Indycar

      Now about the quality of the drivers: Rossi has been a frontrunner in every championship he participated in. He’s perfectly capable of doing a decent job, more so than the likes of Charles Pic, Max Chilton, Will Stevens,Marcus Ericsson. He’s not remotely on Vandoorne’s level of course, but he shouldn’t be judged in comparison to him but rather to other drivers at the back of the grid in F1 who bring additional value besides their driving ability

      I’ve watched every Indycar race this season and my opinion is that Rahal and Newgarden are both worthy of a chance on F1 level. Judging Newgarden on his single GP3 season as you did is unfair. But, regarding the quality of the drivers in absolute terms, it’s my opinion against yours with no way to prove anything so let’s put it to one side at this point and instead discuss the main point of my argument that you missed:

      From the perfectly objective team’s perspective that your opinion represents it makes no sense to employ an American driver in this new team instead of someone like Gutierrez, who brings cash, Ferrari connections and a couple years of experience , even though he was utterly unconvincing in both of those. But this is supposed to be an American team and nationality does matter. A lot. If Haas wants to be a really American team it has to employ an American driver at least in some role. Preferably a race driver. Otherwise the general public won’t care and then comes the question of why does Haas base is in Carolina, despite the logistical nightmare it will bring if he doesn’t care about the US public? If his team is solely an out of USA advertising project for Haas Automation, then it would do perfectly well with a base fully in the UK, and leave the US solely for his NASCAR team to promote him. But it’s neither here, not there so my conclusion was that Haas might have wanted to appeal to US public too but then he saw that the openwheel’s state in the US is bad and the coverage so poor that he shouldn’t bother. And because of that, US drivers who might have hoped that with new US team coming to F1 their hopes of getting a chance there have risen, because there’s nothing wrong with your nationality helping you along(is it worse than money?), are left with nothing and that saddens me

      Finally I have nothing against Steiner. He approaches this matter with complete disregard of nationality and why should he? It’s not even his own nationality. My questions are to Gene Haas alone. He’s the team owner and ultimately it’ll be his decision. Let’s see what it is, and if this sad and inexplicable barrier between 2 sides of the pond that you’ve mentioned at the end of your reply, is allowed to stand as if it’s the natural order of things

      1. @montreal95 Whilst I am largely in disagreement, you make some interesting points. I will according split my responses across each of the drivers.

        Alexander Rossi – really the only American driver to have notable single seater successes in Europe since Scott Speed. And his ability to maintain six consecutive seasons in top tier single seater racing is obviously inherently related to his native sponsors. That aside, the feasibility of his progression to F1 is not in doubt. However the feasibility of seeing him competitive in an F1 car probably can be questioned. I was genuinely expecting him to throw the towel in after his second season in FR3.5 in 2012, when he was ranked 11th, and behind five series rookies. For most, such a terrible season, having performed well in 2011, would have been fatal to their career – it certainly was for Da Costa’s F1 hopes in 2013. For me, ever since Rossi so emphatically failed to progress from a good 2011 season, I have only ever been able to understand any success he’s accrued in terms of his experience.

        That aside, he is an experienced, credible racer and until recently a genuine contender. However is he a) the driver Haas needs, and b) the driver American fans want? In terms of the former point, the answer can only be “no”. Yes, he flies the right flag, and yes, he brings a budget, but what Haas need is Grand Prix experience for their first season. Gutierrez, the dead cert for one of the seats, can only offer that to a certain degree; Sauber attributed many of his struggles to failing the navigate the setup options. Since Ferrari has made Gutierrez’s appointment mandatory (as has his Telmex budget for a new team), Haas need a more credible name alongside him. Rossi is not that man. In reality Newgarden and Rahal aren’t either.

        Nor is Rossi the home hero I think you believe he is. There were plenty of Spanish F1 drivers before Fernando Alonso, but none of them drew the attention of native fans and sponsors to the sport. Native drivers need to perform to inspire the native market, and I simply don’t envisage Rossi being able to do that.

        Josef Newgarden – maybe Josef would be more capable. He has been brilliant in IndyCar this year, he is young and his searing road course pace this year bodes well for being competitive in F1. And yet, just how comparable is F1 to IndyCar? Well, they are certainly more comparable this year with the extra downforce from the aero-kits, but a) IndyCar is not designed to promote F1 relevant skills [unlike GP2/GP3/FR3.5] and b) there is always the curious case of Sebastien Bourdais. And whilst its perhaps not 100% fair to point this out, it’s nonetheless true to say Josef was completely anonymous in his single season of GP3.

        Also, why would he want to trade IndyCar stardom to prop up the order in F1?

        Graham Rahal – that is a question probably best to discuss in tandem with the other American star of 2015. Why would either Newgarden or Rahal want to compromise an enviable and hard-earned IndyCar career? Because both are currently driving for small teams? Newgarden is already being linked to Helio’s Penske seat, and Rahal stands an equally excellent chance of advancing up the grid. Of course, a cameo in F1 is of course worth it if you can be confident of resuming your IndyCar career; but can they be? Numerous talented single seater stars from Europe are finding the doors of F1 padlocked and instead opting to a career in the States. British F3 champion Jack Harvey will likely win the Indy Lights championship this year, and no less than Magnussen, Da Costa, Vergne, Sutil and Calado have talked about a career in the states. I think it would be difficult for Rahal or Newgarden to slide back into IndyCar after an F1 stint.

        But is the pull of F1 too strong? Is it the ultimate goal for all single seater drivers? In the American context, perhaps not.

        That is speculation though. What is not speculation is that there is no American driver that suits Haas’s circumstances, and at the vulnerable early stages of team development the necessity of experience must overrule nationalistic preferences. With Gutierrez and Magnussen, Steiner has selected an admirable combination of experience, budget and speed. It is only a shame that Ferrari didn’t recognise Esteban’s hopelessness and subsidised JEV instead,

  7. In response to the COTD: why would Rahal or Newgarden leave their strong reputation in IndyCar to go around and drive a simulator for a year? It does not seem logical to me.

    1. @craig-o Please, see my reply right above this to countrygent

  8. If that was Lewis Hamilton shown in a tweet today shooting a gun, some sad guy would have linked it to the 9/11 atrocities by now, claiming how much he lacks any sense of sensitivity and empathy. Ahhh…..

    1. Did you see Hamilton’s photos? They did look pretty different.

      1. Nonsense. I’m looking at the daily fail pictures right now and, just like the picture above, they show a man shooting a rifle at a shooting range. The difference of course is the lack of salacious captions. Double standard.

    2. I fail to understand why you would even hint at that.

    3. Agree 1000%

  9. I wonder if all that work will mean nothing when they put the Renault PU in =/

  10. BBC report on Honda engine was a great read.
    Regarding the COTD, Newgarden is a interesting name. Rahal i don’t agree at all. Reckless driver at various times. But i don’t believe they would leave Indy to drive simulators at F1. Unless if they would be able to maintain both jobs, which i think would be impossible. Other thing is that Haas wants drivers with some experience.

    Rossi could be a third driver indeed.

    1. @edmarques Rahal almost won the Indy title this year with a 1-car team! He’s had more podiums than anyone else and was the leading Honda driver in front of all the Andrettis. Wasn’t reckless at all in the process either. I agree he was that in the past but this year he really came of age and finally managed to extract true performance from the talent he obviously has. He’s only 26, so not too old either.

      I don’t know if it would be impossible or not to do both roles , especially given Haas’ main base being in the States, but even if it is, every single seater driver’s dream is to be in F1. And if things don’t work out, their Indycar reputations won’t be tarnished by 1 year absence

  11. Early development of the 2016 car – is this by order of Renault I wonder.

    1. And then STR sends their people home because they can’t continue work on the 2016 car when they don’t know which engine it’s going to use.

      I guess Lotus does know which engine they get or they don’t think it matters for car development.

  12. And have they money for the next year development?

    1. If the Renault takeover has already been sealed behind closed doors.

      Lookout for Grosjean and Alonso in Renault 2016. You heard it here first ;)

  13. Hamilton’s interview is very strange.

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