Lotus boss Boullier pleased by early season form

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Lotus team principal Eric Boullier is pleased with the start that his team has made to the 2013 Formula One season, believing that they have built momentum going into the European races.

“Achieving a one-off result is one thing, but keeping momentum is a far bigger challenge and I’m pleased to say we’re doing a great job of that so far this year,” Boullier said in a team statement. “It’s such a finely balanced and competitive season.”

The Frenchman echoed Kimi Raikkonen’s belief that the team needed to improve its qualifying form, but he is pleased with the race pace that has seen the Finn claim one win and two podiums so far this year.

“If we look to our most recent race in Bahrain, on Saturday it looked like maybe we had lost our edge having qualified below expectations. Fortunately, we were always confident in our race pace and that confidence proved to be well placed.”

Romain Grosjean also impressed in Bahrain, fighting through the field to finish on the podium, and Boullier is sure that he can build upon this result.

“Consistency has been there already for him [Grosjean] in the first three races, but I think fighting at the front again will come as a big relief to him after a difficult start to the year. His season really starts now.”

Lotus’ start to the season suggests that they will be in the running for both championships, with Raikkonen being the only driver within one race win of current leader Sebastian Vettel. However, if Grosjean fails to match the form of Red Bull’s Mark Webber, the team may struggle to keep up in the constructors’ championship.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.