AUGUST 1, 2012
Lotus well placed for title bid?
The Formula 1 constructors' championship, not to mention the drivers' competition, is poised for a fascinating second half of the season after the summer break. The Lotus 'double DRS' tweak is destined to make its debut at Spa despite planned regulation changes which wil outlaw it in 2013.
Fernando Alonso and Red Bull must now be looking over their shoulders a little nervously at Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus. It is not inconceivable that both will launch strong title bids in the second half of the season.
Raikkonen is 48 points behind Alonso in the championship table, but only eight points adrift of second place, and Lotus is 54 behind Red Bull in the teams' championship, both perhaps paying the price for a slow start to the season.
In the last four races, Ferrari has scored 92 points; Lotus, 84; Red Bull, 82; and McLaren, 60. But with McLaren having made a significant step in the last two races and Lotus expected to debut its aerodynamic development in Belgium, where it is expected to translate well at the high-speed Spa, not to mention the following Monza, the championship is opening up.
The Lotus rear wing system tested by Kimi Raikkonen in practice at Hockenheim and Budapest, with encouraging results, is understood to be a type of fluidic switch, which will reduce the drag of the car -- and all the time, not just when DRS is deployed.
Both that and the Mercedes 'double DRS' system will be outlawed in 2013 if changes agreed in the technical working group are adopted. But Lotus believes that with almost half the season still to run, it could play an important role in th remaining races.
Of the drivers in the championship top five, only Alonso has scored more points than Raikkonen in the last four races. The Spaniard has taken 78 to the Finn's 61, Mark Webber (45), Sebastian Vettel (37) and Lewis Hamilton (29).
With Romain Grosjean 40 points behind Raikkonen in the championshiop table and the 2007 champion renowned for his consistency, Lotus may also soon take the decision to have the Frenchman support Kimi's title bid, putting him in a similar position to Alonso at Ferrari.
That can't be taken as a given quite yet, however, with Grosjean having shown more raw speed than Raikkonen at many races and his career guided by Gravity Sport Management, of which Lotus team principal Eric Boullier became CEO in 2009.