Are Lotus serious title contenders?


Champion Elect
Last year Lotus were seen as the big surprise package of the grid and won a race eventually coming from former world champion Kimi Raikkonen. Lotus's pace last season was certainly a shock in the Armour and even in Grosjean's hands the car looked pretty darn good.

So my question is:

Are Lotus gonna be serious title contenders this year?

Because in pre-season testing apart from some minor little reliability issues the car looks pretty much better than last years car and has produced some fine lap times at the hands of both Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Could this be the first time since Fernando Alonso won them the title under the Renault name badge that the team from Enstone is taken seriously as a title rival by Red Bull, Mclaren and Ferrari?

IMHO - yes it is to early to tell however, I'm not so sure because I think Lotus did do some decent upgrades throughout the 2012 season and that with Raikkonen pushing them all the way I think they've got the best chance they've had for years to win the title. What has also impressed me is hearing Romain Grosjean has taken seriously what Lotus have asked him and gone out to get some professional help in trying to stop him making silly errors at the start of the race.

What are your thought's on this subject?
It's extremely early to tell, but I think that they will be close to the Red Bulls, Ferrari's and Mclarens. We haven't heard major grumbles from Kimi or Romain, so I think that they have a good base car, but it's just a question of how they develop it - the team faded into the midfield in the back end of last season, so that needs to be rectified if they are going to compete with the seasoned campaigners Mclaren & Ferrari, and the development kings Red Bull.
Well the car looks good, but not the best, and with Red Bull saying the car is going to suit Vettel more than last year, should be a little bit worrying for everyone else. Lotus' drivers will sure be stronger this season, as will the car, but Raikkonen has came out saying that they don't have the budget this season, and if they are going to challenge early on, then they'll need a good start to the season. They missed out on the big sponsorship of "Honeywell" which was to become their main sponsor, that's probably hampered them a bit. I for one hope they do become title contenders, and Kimi wins it, it will be a bit refreshing, however I just don't see them doing it. They'll do what they did last year, hassle the top drivers, but not quite there.
The thing is if anything Lotus were even stronger in testing last year than they've been so far this year. ignoring reliability issues in both years. I suspect they've managed to maintain the gap roughly in terms of ultimate car performance, and that Grosjean will pick up a lot more points than he did in 2012 and Raikkoenen will get slightly less, perhaps, having had such a problem free 2012.
No one's really mentioned this, but you got to wonder how strong they would have been if they didn't miss the second test last year, that was a big setback for them, yet they were still strong.
If you look at the pattern of the team from Enstone they seem to peak and trough in a decade cycle. They first peaked in the mid 80's with Berger at the wheel before gradually falling back down the field and then moving back up again to peak mid 90s with schumie before falling back down the grid and coming back to the top with Alonso and then gradually drifting back down the grid again. So if the pattern continues they should be on the rise again and they seem to be. Whether they have enough to beat the three big teams I don't know but I expect a race win or two and them to certainly worry the main teams on a few occasions.

Dare I predict a win for Grosjean again?
Well we finished last season with 12 winners out of a field of 24 which is a 50% winner to driver ratio and we're now down to 10 winners out of 22. For stats sake we need one more!

- race winners - Yes
- title contenders - No

Apparently there was a row brewing over the engineers were not getting paid at one point last season

the ownership and the finance of the team is still murky and they've struggled before in the past keeping up because lack of finance to aid development

I see this pattern happening again despite KImi and Romain's best efforts

Secondly - this is the last year of their current engine deal and it seems they certainly are not treating with as much priority as Red Bull who are defacto Renault no 1 team and WIlliams who had a great relations with Renault
For Lotus to win the drivers title they need to back one driver given their resource level and that driver needs to pull them together

It is what happened under Schumacher and Alonso .. we know Kimi is not a natural team leader and it took a bit of him time for get going at ferrari when asked and expected to

That is the only way the team can do it - the only problem is when the car is not on the pace and Kimi may be seen too relaxed and not taking it seriously like he was at Ferrari and the team don't respond to this
Agree Kimi was never going to do things the workman like way to sort out the politically messy Ferrari without having any leeway being himself


Kimi can't get the maximum out of a less than perfect car like Alonso or Schumacher did

and I still think the Enstone team need someone who can really pull them together in one direction - its obvious that their successes were down to this factor backed up by some strong clever engineers - Symonds and BRawn

unless the car is as fast as BRawn was in 2009 for at least half a season so it allows the team to defend and be consistent when the pace is not there
They can certainly win races providing their performance is relatively the same as last year. However, like Mercedes, I can see them concentrating more on the 2014 car as the season progresses (unless they are genuine title contenders this year), when they may be able to get a jump on the big three. A win or two for Kimi (or Romain) will be seen as a successful year for Lotus.
Kimi can't get the maximum out of a less than perfect car like Alonso or Schumacher did

You seem to haven't read the quotes from Ferrari engineers in 2009 when they didn't bring upgrades to the car, and when they finally focused on him.

His race engineer and others where baffled on where he got the speed from.

I think the above myth comes from the stint at Ferrari, where all was not well between the two sides.

Apparently so now that you mentioned it and I remember a couple of Autosport articles about Kimi - one done by Mark Hughes and one early in 2012 on his comeback ... I think Ferrari or Luca was more expecting the work man like approach of Schumacher not the rather ice cool approach which appears to be laid back and not taking things seriously which Luca felt

Kimi did say he thought he drove well but he was limited by the car

I think when he was being paid $50m you got to expect a lot but that was Ferrari's fault for being stupid paying such silly wages for him

I think the question has always been which Kimi Raikkonen will turn up -

Also if the Ferrari engineers saw a shift in his true performance when he was the focus then its obvious surely to Lotus they need to make him de facto No 1 to get more out of him

But I still think Lotus will still fall short
I rate Raikkonen very highly. The circumstances of his title win sometimes rob him of the credit he deserves for beating two very talented, if squabbling, drivers in a probably better car. And Massa was at a much higher level back then too.

His 2005 stands as one of the absolute best seasons to not see a title win.
I think his reputation took a hit in 2008-2009, being beaten by Massa in 2008 and seemingly losing motivation/falling out with the team in 2009.
Kimi is a driver from a different era, stuck in modern F1. I reckon the atmosphere at Lotus probably suits him better than at Ferrari (and certainly more than the super corporate McLaren - which appears to have got worse over the last few years not better). I think they will win a race or two and suspect Grosjean will break his duck but doubt they will seriously challenge for either title.

What they may be able to do is influence the title outcome by taking points and places off other teams - perhaps those which don't use Renault engines....
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