Interview with Lotus’ Eric Boullier
8 October 2013 – Lotus team principal Eric Boullier looks back on Korea where Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean finished 2-3 and gave the Enstone-based outfit its third double rostrum of the season...
How good is it for the team to be able to show its potential so late in the year?
It doesn’t matter what’s said about you away from the track, it’s on track that you have to deliver and we certainly delivered in Korea. It’s a testament to the strength and the breadth of the team that we were able to get both drivers on the podium in quite an emphatic fashion in Korea.
Did you expect the team to be so strong?
We expected to put in a good showing, but it’s always difficult to know exactly how well you will compete relative to the opposition. To be honest, a double podium tastes like a race win this late in the season. All credit is due to everyone back at Enstone for delivering us extra performance from the long wheelbase car, as any gain towards the end of the year is especially beneficial as we fight for position in both Championships. The race team delivered a great strategy and pit stops, whilst both drivers drove exceptionally well. This is what we want for the remaining five races of 2013.
What’s the approach from the team with regards to team orders?
We want our drivers to race for the best results for the team, so if you have the opportunity of a 2-3 with both drivers – and there is no Drivers’ Championship consideration – you will let them fight for the positions and rely on their good sense not to take each other off. Of course, we have had occasions where one driver is on a different strategy from the other and has the pace to challenge for positions ahead – which is when you might ask the slower driver to make the sensible decision – but this wasn’t the case in Korea; we let Kimi and Romain fight for position. We may have been a little nervous occasionally on the pit wall, but both drove superbly to help achieve a great result for the team.
On the broadcast in Korea, it sounded as if you could have been favouring Romain for the result?
You have to remember that the television feed only takes certain edits from radio transmissions between the driver and the pit wall. We had Romain asking for Kimi to let him by as he felt he was faster, but we wanted to leave the drivers to determine their positions by racing on track which is why we were telling Romain to race Kimi. As we know, Kimi doesn’t want to talk too much to the pit wall and doesn’t need words of encouragement; he knows what he’s doing and we saw that once more in Korea.
Talking of drivers, there’s a lot of discussion about the importance of driver weight; will this have an impact on any decision as to our 2014 line-up?
We’re more interested in the talent and potential of a driver rather than the difference of a few kilos. We have confidence in our development team to be able to produce a car for the 2014 regulations which should be competitive in the hands of any driver we consider for next year.
Looking to 2014 there are a lot of challenges; ranging from radically different cars to potentially the biggest calendar in the sport’s history. What does the future hold?
I think there will be a lot of interest next year. Before the season starts of course, we will see the unveiling of the new cars and then their first outing on track when we go testing. It’s sometimes difficult to look too far ahead when you are in the midst of an exciting season, but of course we have been preparing for 2014 for a long time. It’s clear from our recent history that there’s a lot of potential in Lotus F1 Team, so let’s see what the future holds.