Five teams in contention for victory – Boullier

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Lotus team principal Eric Boullier believes five teams will be in contention for victory when the F1 season begins this weekend.

“I think it’s going to be as competitive as ever,” said Boullier ahead of this week’s Australian Grand Prix.

“You can see at least five teams having the potential to win races and it’s getting very tight.”

“It’s going to be interesting to see how the teams can perform on a single lap, but also how they can perform during long stints and on track. More so than last year, it will be important to fight from the front with a good qualifying position and the race pace of our drivers will be important.”

Boullier added the team has improved on one of its major weaknesses from last year without compromising a key strength of their 2012 car:

“I believe we have kept the main strength of the car from last year, which was very conservative on tire wear and degradation, and we’ve proved our capability to deliver one lap pace which is important for qualifying.”

Lotus moved up to fourth place in the constructors’ championship last year and is targeting third this year. Boullier believes that goal is achievable:

“There is a long term plan and a clear road map to the front of the grid,” he said.

“Last year we showed some peaks of good performance and were nearly always at or near the front. I feel that this year we will be even more so and the key element will be to maintain that performance and pace to fight for regular points and podiums.”

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”