Switch to Merc power boosts Lotus hopes
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 conrmed 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