Date: 13th March 2012 at 9:10am
Written by:

Many feared for the Lotus team when they had to withdraw from the first test in Barcelona after just seven laps.

Just moments into their first laps around Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, the Lotus team identified a chassis problem which was not previously noticed at the Jerez test.

The reason behind the team not previously discovering the fault during the Jerez test was explained by the higher aerodynamic loads that the car was put under in Barcelona in direct comparison to Jerez.

Cars behave differently under different conditions and tracks and the team spotted the issue almost immediately and withdrew from the remainder of that test.

Lotus driver Romain Grosjean who was the only driver to get into the car that day told Autosport Magazine at the time: ‘It felt quite strange on the steering wheel, Both myself and the team picked up the problem at the same time.’

Many experts believed it could prove to be a massive blow to the team, who had looked so good in Jerez just weeks before.

The technical pundits believed that Lotus may even require a new chassis, which would have put them in a race against time to be ready for the opening race at the Australian Grand Prix, but as it worked out, they were back out on track in Barcelona for the second test in Catalunya and the team appeared to just continue where they had left off.

‘It was a proper setback; we lost four days of testing, The good thing is that our car was very reliable in the first test so the base of the car was already strong.’ Lotus technical director James Allison told Autosport Magazine.

‘This meant we didn’t really have great doubts about whether we could run lots of kilometres once the specific failure of the chassis was addressed. However, it was lost set-up time, a lost opportunity for our drivers to get more kilometres under their belts and lost opportunities for us to learn more about this year’s tyres.

‘All of these were extremely unwelcome, but it was not a mortal blow.’

Lotus are likely to be fighting for fourth place on the Formula One constructors championship with Mercedes, but also hope to battle for podium places throughout the season.