Lotus, novità e speranze
British GP: Lotus set for its biggest upgrade of the year
Kimi Raikkonen’s hopes of getting his Formula 1 world championship challenge back on track at the British Grand Prix have been boosted with Lotus planning to run its biggest upgrade of the year.
The Finn has lost ground to points leader Sebastian Vettel in recent races, and a collision with Sergio Perez in Monaco plus disappointing form in Canada have proven extremely costly.
Raikkonen and Lotus are convinced that the return to high-speed tracks like Silverstone will help the team rediscover its form and a major upgrade package is also arriving.
Speaking about the developments, Lotus track operations director Alan Permane said: "We have a tighter, figure-hugging bodywork package which should give some benefit; especially if the weather is quite cool at Silverstone.
"There’s a new front wing, suspension profiles and suspension upgrades in addition to various other aero upgrades, which combine to give us what should be our biggest step forward of the year.
"This is a good thing, of course, but we’ll be running them in the context of all our rivals probably unveiling significant upgrade packs too."
Raikkonen himself sees no reason why Lotus cannot head to the British GP with a degree of optimism.
"Silverstone is a more normal circuit and we’ve been OK at every other permanent circuit so far this year," he explained.
"There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be back to the positions we should be with this package.
We just have to be patient, do our very best over the entire weekend and step by step we can start catching the leaders."
Analysis: Kimi Raikkonen’s 2013 Formula 1 title bid in the balance
Kimi Raikkonen may insist that Lotus cannot dig any deeper, but the squad needs to address its form quickly as its Formula 1 championship challenge risks stalling.
The Finn established himself as Sebastian Vettel’s main title threat early on, as Lotus’s excellent tyre management helped him win in Australia and regularly finish on the podium.
Raikkonen held second in the standings until Spain, at which point he was only four points shy of Vettel.
But the Lotus driver has been unable to keep up his consistent form, and his cause was not helped by a collision with Sergio Perez in Monaco and then tyre struggles in Canada.
The extent of Raikkonen’s woes is highlighted by his points tally from the last four races, where he has not only been outscored by Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber, but he has also lost a whopping 41 points to Vettel in the standings.
From breathing hard down the neck of Vettel early on, Raikkonen is now 44 points adrift of his Red Bull rival.
With a gulf now opening up between Raikkonen and Vettel, Lotus is well aware that it will need to start producing race wins if it is to close that gap quickly enough.
Raikkonen’s laidback attitude off track may give the impression that he is as relaxed on it when it comes to results, but he is adamant Lotus is giving nothing less than 100 per cent to try to win more races.
"We always try and win," said Raikkonen. "It is not going to just change our race result if we try to do something different.
"We have mostly had the speed, and we will keep trying, but there is not just a way to be more aggressive and you have a better chance. We always try that.
"It has just not been possible. We have been up there and been OK. Monaco was not as good as we hoped. But there is still a long way to go."
Lotus boss Eric Boullier told AUTOSPORT in Montreal that he expected his team to be back at the front at the British Grand Prix, thanks to a speed boost from car updates and F1’s return to more normal high-speed tracks.
"We have some good developments coming for Silverstone so that should help us keep up and close the gap to the leader," said Boullier. "With normal tracks we should be able to get the best out of our car."
The statistics from the last few races have highlighted, however, how essential it is for Raikkonen to do exactly that, just as his strong form earlier in the year has left rivals not ready to write him off just yet.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said: "I think ultimately you cannot write off Kimi.
"If he can put together a run of race results, just as Lewis, or Mark could, he can get himself back in the championship hunt."