Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane has told Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso to “forget” about beating Red Bull to the world championship next year.
Permane described Red Bull’s performance advantage in Singapore as “soul destroying” after Sebastian Vettel won by 32 seconds despite having his early lead wiped out by the Safety Car.
“If I was Fernando, talking about winning the championship? Forget it, they are not even close,” Permane told Autosport. “And they won’t even be close next year, if [Red Bull] have got that sort of advantage now.”
Lotus’s lead driver Kimi Raikkonen is leaving the team to join Ferrari at the end of the season.
Alonso said after the race he was optimistic of making progress next year when new engine regulations come into force. “Really we will put all our effort and hopes into 2014, because starting from zero is our best opportunity to close the gap with all the top teams,” he said.
But Permane doubts that will prove to be the case. “Red Bull are better at building a quicker car now, so why are they not going to be better at building it next year?”
Lotus will continue to use the same Renault engines as Red Bull next year. Permane added: “I guess there is the impact of the engine, but there is no reason to believe that Renault will not do a competent job with that.”
Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.
Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.
Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.
“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.
“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”
Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.
“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.
“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”