Switch to Merc power boosts Lo­tus hopes

F1 Racing - - F1 INSIDER -

The long-time Re­nault team look for­ward to a fresh start in 2015, with im­proved fi­nances and more com­pet­i­tive power units

Lo­tus hope that a switch to Mercedes en­gines will help them move up the grid after a dispir­it­ing 2014 sea­son.

The team have nished fourth in the con­struc­tors’ cham­pi­onship in the past two sea­sons, tak­ing just one race win in 2012 and another in 2013, both thanks to Kimi Räikkö­nen.

A lack of in­vest­ment dur­ing the sec­ond half of 2013 as the team strug­gled with cash ow im­pacted badly on the de­sign of the 2014 car. The E22 has suf­fered from a lack of over­all down­force and in­con­sis­tent be­hav­iour on cor­ner en­try. Re­nault prob­lems pre-sea­son, when the en­gine failed to run cleanly for most of test­ing, took their toll, with the E22 ap­pear­ing too late to make the rst pre-sea­son test.

But after a sea­son spent get­ting to grips with the car’s prob­lems, Lo­tus chiefs be­lieve they can take a step for­ward. The team are also now on a more sta­ble nan­cial foot­ing. After a £64m loss in 2013, owner Ger­ard Lopez says they will “pretty much break even” this year.

The switch to Mercedes has buoyed op­ti­mism. The en­gine al­ready has at least a 50bhp ad­van­tage over ri­vals Fer­rari and Re­nault this sea­son, and sources claim that Mercedes will add in the re­gion of an ex­tra 50bhp ahead of 2015.

Lo­tus have al­ready conrmed that Pas­tor Mal­don­ado – and his £35m of Venezue­lan back­ing – will be re­tained in 2015, and, after look­ing around for a bet­ter drive and not nd­ing one, Ro­main Grosjean looks set to stay on, too.

“Ro­main is in pole po­si­tion for that place and hon­estly it’s a case of us nal­is­ing a few de­tails,” said Lo­tus’s deputy team prin­ci­pal Fed­erico Gastaldi. “We ex­pect to have an an­nounce­ment very shortly.”

The En­stone-based Lo­tus team has run Re­nault-built en­gines since 1995, when they were known as Benet­ton. The team was later bought by Re­nault and ran as the French rm’s of­fi­cial works en­try be­tween 2002 and 2011.

Lo­tus’s last ti­tle was as Re­nault in 2006 (right), now, after be­ing out­per­formed by Mercedes (be­low) they will switch to Merc power in 2015

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