McLaren upgrades as Lotus runs Super DRS
20 July 2012 – Despite the rain, there was a lot to talk about as F1 resumed at Hockenheim on Friday morning. As we knew before the weekend, McLaren rolled out a selection of updates including new sidepods, but it was Lotus grabbing most headlines as the Enstone team became the first to run its own version of the Mercedes Super DRS concept.
At McLaren, ‘crucial’ is a word much used in Germany as the Woking squad strives to close up the difference and return to the front of the field. As well as the new sidepods, the cars of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button also featured a new rear wing as well as numerous, less visible differences. The cars finished first and second in the opening 90-minute practice period, but lap times remain misleading as four showers affected the session.
“I just hope these upgrades can get us back on track,” Hamilton explained to reporters in the paddock. “We want to be fighting for wins and top points positions again.”
Further down the pit lane, a crowd of mechanics did their best to prevent cameras from entering the Lotus garage, in which Kimi Räikkönen sat with a much updated E20. The Super DRS in question is not identical to that of Mercedes, instead boosting the rear wing effect by channelling air through holes located on either side of the roll hoop. As the holes in question are too large to be cooling devices, thoughts of Super DRS were immediately evoked.
As the 2007 World Champion sat in the pits for most of the session, the true effect of the Lotus Super DRS remains to be seen. Furthermore, when the Finn finally posted his sole flying lap as the chequered flag flew, he was forced to lift off the throttle in the stadium section after Williams reserve driver Valtteri Bottas beached his car at Sachs Kurve.
Curiously, Lotus – which in its press previews to the German Grand Prix hinted that it would experiment with ‘interesting’ new developments - was the only team to lodge an official protest into the Mercedes Super DRS earlier in the season; the complaint was duly rejected by Formula 1 governing body the FIA, who repeated that the innovation was legal.