Lotus F1 Singapore Preview

Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi looks ahead to the Singapore Grand Prix

How beneficial is it for Formula 1 to visit an important business hub like Singapore?

It is a very important market for us as a team. We have seen increasing attention and interest from Singapore companies and have regular contact with many of them. The business centre of Singapore is one of the best, influential and most active in the world so we undertake lots of meetings and hospitality at the race. I must say the Singapore people have embraced F1 completely. They are passionate about the sport and they are proud to have a race right in the heart of their fantastic country.

We knew Monza would be tough but Pastor’s race in particular saw some positives?

Pastor drove a very strong race at Monza. He had a great start and his pace was pretty good throughout. I thought he dealt with some difficult circumstances very well during the whole event. He had the measure of the Saubers and brought the car home in a solid finishing position. It is also nice to get both of our cars to the finish line, especially after some technical issues in recent races. Romain had a few concerns, including other cars hitting him but we take some satisfaction in getting more data and ensuring we can go to Singapore hopeful of a much stronger overall weekend.

Will there be more expectation for a stronger showing in Singapore?

Yes, Monza was always going to be very hard for us. Singapore should see an improvement in pace as the track characteristics will suit us more. The drivers are fighters and they really enjoy street circuits, so I think we have the potential to extract a good level of performance from the E22 there. Pastor and Romain will have a stronger package relative to Monza, so I am sure they will grasp this and make the most of it.

What is the latest on plans for next season?

Firstly, there is a lot going on behind the scenes and a lot of positive plans being made to ensure we are still pushing right to the end of this season. A lot of technical and commercial work being undertaken also for 2015, as you would expect. We are doing things step by step but at the moment but already things look positive for next season.

The flyaway schedule from now until the end of the season is challenging. How do you prepare the team?

For sure it is a tough, tough schedule. The team are away from their families for a long time. But they are highly professional people and experienced in this level of intensity in F1. It is my job to ensure that we have a high level of morale in the team. This year has been a challenge on many fronts, but the Enstone team is famous for being tough, highly-skilled and having the focused aim of making things better when times are tough. We are collectively looking forward to the rest of the season because we know that hard work and application will put us in the best position to achieve our goals and reap some rewards.

Romain Grosjean looks forward to the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix

How much do you enjoy the challenge of Marina Bay?

The track is really impressive with some technical parts and some classic street circuit ‘ninety degree’ turns. There are a few decent straights but it is mainly busy, busy, busy for us, with corner after corner. Going over landmarks like the (Anderson) Bridge and down the Raffles Boulevard make for a fantastic sight from both the cockpit and also for the TV viewers. This year will be interesting with the new cars. As we saw at Monaco, I am sure that the drivers will be working very hard in the cockpit, especially getting the power down out of the tight turns. And if it is wet at any stage then it will be particularly interesting.

Any special preparations for the physical demands?

The key elements are sleep and water! It is well known that we stay on European time. Once you get used to waking up in the afternoon and then going to bed early morning, then it gets to be just routine. The race is long and I ensure that plenty of liquids are taken on board before the start of the race. It is crucial because if you get dehydrated then your thought process slows down and mistakes can easily be made. Like every Grand Prix I make sure that every last detail is in place before Sunday evening arrives.

What about the atmosphere of the place on Grand Prix weekend? I really love racing at this track and in fact I love the country as a whole. The Singapore people are very friendly and it is nice to see so many coming downtown to the race. It has a completely unique vibe for the Grand Prix weekend and it takes on an ambience like nowhere else we go to.

What memories stand out for you at Marina Bay?

Qualifying in third place last year was nice, but then I had to retire, so the memory is a little mixed. Actually, it is still a good memory to have such a strong qualifying because I think that at a street circuit like Marina Bay, a driver always makes that little bit of difference to the ultimate lap time, a little more so than permanent tracks. In 2012 I got points for seventh place, after some good battles. So I have some nice recollections of racing here.

What were you able to take from Monza?

It was another difficult race after a bad start and then a few incidents. All in all it was important for the team to get two cars to the end but we will be hoping for much better at Singapore and I think we can head in to it with some renewed confidence.

Can you see Singapore offering a better chance of a result?

Compared to Monza the answer is definitely yes. Last weekend was a difficult one for us because the nature of the Monza track was like a penalty. Singapore offers less in terms of compromising the downforce for straight-line speed, so we should be able to fight higher up the grid. We managed to get some points at Monaco, so I am hoping we can achieve something similar on this street circuit too.

What are your aims and objectives for the remainder of the 2014 season?

Just to do the best we possibly can. It has been a tough season as we all know, but there are still some opportunities to get points. I will be racing as hard as ever to make sure we are in the best position we can be to achieve the maximum. I know this team well and they will be doing exactly the same.

Pastor Maldonado looks forward to the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix

What do you think the key will be to a good lap at Marina Bay this year?

The traction will be fundamental at Singapore, a really big factor. This is because the corners are generally slow and tight, so it means the way we exit them will be critical to ensure a good lap time. The 2014 spec cars will make it very interesting out there and I expect it to be very tricky, especially the first and third sectors. This is where a lot of time can be won or lost. It will be tough to regulate the torque and the traction out of the slow speed corners. It will be a good challenge but a tough one lap after lap. It should look good for the spectators and TV viewers though. Marina Bay is a test, but this is the reason we love to be F1 drivers. There is something new and challenging every year for us to get to grips with, literally in this case!

A night and day improvement for us at Singapore?

It should be better at Singapore for us and a step forward from Monza. At this stage of the season it is not going to be a massive step, but we expect better things for sure. We will do our very best to make sure that we find a good balance for Singapore because it is a very particular track with lots of different challenges. Of course the one big challenge is the race and most of the other running happens later in the day.

Is Marina Bay a big physical challenge?

Yes it is. Overall it is a very demanding track where you get no rest at all really. You are constantly turning or braking and there are only two short straights, not enough to really have a proper rest. But I like it this way because you get a rhythm going quickly. Physically it is tough because the humidity is so high and the race so long, much longer than Monza for instance.

Do you enjoy racing at night?

To be honest it is not too different to racing in the day or at night. The main reason is quite simple – when we drive we do not look upwards, we are always focusing on what is straight ahead. The big change is the temperature of the tarmac which is slightly cooler at night. So we have a slightly different approach because of this. We have to adapt our styles a little and make sure we create heat in the tyres as much as we can.

Any issues with the body clock re-set?

As everyone knows, we stay on European time. Although some people say it is tough, I find it not to be too difficult. Once you have experienced it you get used to this way of living and it is only for a few days anyway. The physical demands are much harder because of the extreme humidity so I make sure I am very well hydrated in the days leading up to the race and of course during time in the cockpit. It is probably the most important part of our preparation. Any stand-out moments for you in Singapore? Probably qualifying second there in 2012. It’s a relentless track so putting together a lap good enough for the front row of the grid is extremely satisfying. Starting that race from P2 was brilliant and I was running high enough to be in contention for a podium-finish until the first safety car came out. It’s such an intense circuit to drive; getting to race it from the front end of the grid is great fun.

Technical Director Nick Chester talks us through the challenges of the Singapore Grand Prix.

We are heading to Singapore, what are the main characteristics of Marina Bay?

There are many low speed corners, so good performance in these areas is key, as is stability on the brakes. Good turn-in and traction are important too at what is a fairly unique circuit.

How will the drivers compensate for the relative lack of track temperature in night running?

It will be down to the drivers to report back what the car is doing and let the engineers re-balance the car as the track temperature come down. With previous years’ experience we have a fair idea of what sort of adjustments we need to make.

What are your conclusions post-Monza?

We knew that it was going to be a tricky race for us and you could see some of that on the other cars which also struggled. We knew that with the drag level of our car on tracks like Monza it was going to be challenging, but actually on Sunday our race pace was better than expected. Pastor had a pretty decent race but with his qualifying position, it was always going to be difficult to make up a significant amount of places. However it was positive to see the race pace on Sunday. Looking at the car set-up for Singapore,

what are the key elements?

It is a high downforce track, so everybody will be running toward their maximum downforce set-up. Then it really is all about how you manage the mechanical set-up to get the best out of the car in terms of handling the kerbs. Ensuring a good level of grip in the low speed corners is also crucial at Marina Bay.

Is Singapore a torque management critical circuit?

In terms of energy management there is a lot of recovery on the brakes enabling you to recharge the battery quite nicely as there isn’t as much time full throttle as other tracks. It is probably more important to look after the car under braking here. What are we expecting to see on the car for Singapore? There will be some new bodywork parts and some new mechanical parts for this race that we will evaluate in the free practice sessions. Do the changes in the track temperatures from day to night have a significant impact? The temperature does fall quite a bit, changing the grip and balance of the car somewhat. As the track temperature comes down the grip difference front to rear can change and make it tricky to get the car balanced following the earlier hotter practice sessions.

Are there any particular challenges that the team face working at night and in the hot temperatures?

The team doesn’t seem to find it particularly difficult. In fact, we are finding it reasonably easy, as we stay on European time! Before the very first race there in 2008 we had long discussions on how to prepare for it, as it contrasts so much with any other venue. But in the end it was okay. Singapore is a very popular race on the calendar and everyone in the team always enjoys coming back to this fantastic venue. It has a very vibrant and unique atmosphere which the whole paddock seems to like. TECH TALK - E22 SET UP

FRONT WINGMaximum downforce once again, as understeer could prove costly with the walls so close. REAR WINGThe Singapore streets reward good levels of downforce and efficient torque management. The tight confines of Marina Bay require a relatively high downforce set-up with most of the corners being low and medium speed. SUSPENSIONAn all-round soft car is the optimum set-up for Marina Bay, as drivers have to ride the kerbs and generally be aggressive on the street circuit. The vehicle dynamics are an essential ingredient as the car has to be agile enough to manage some of the severe kerbs, particularly around the turn 1-4 section and at Raffles Avenue. BRAKES The circuit is tough on brake wear due to the relentless nature of the track and also because this is one of the longest Grand Prix of the year. The calipers, discs and pads all require close attention on cooling as they get little rest during a lap. TYRESFor Monza the medium (white) and hard (orange) tyres are provided by Pirelli. This is the same combination as used in 2013 and reflects the need to cater for the high-energy loads that the rubber goes through due to the high braking demands and the significant level of traction need to exit the three chicanes.

POWER UNITSingapore has the most corners of any circuit this season so we need to provide a PU that is very driveable and responsive under braking and acceleration. With few straights the emphasis is on low speed torque rather than outright speed, so it’s possible to use an ICE on one of its last races. The ERS will be working flat out through the braking points, but it will need to as with all those braking events and acceleration, fuel consumption is the highest of the year.

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