Lotus’ Boullier: We won’t be the only team missing Jerez

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A few days after his team made headlines for announcing its absence from the first Formula One preseason test of 2014, Lotus principal Eric Boullier has told the BBC that his group won’t be the only one missing at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain next month.

“You will see, we will not be the only team not being in Jerez. I know this for a fact already,” he said to the BBC’s chief F1 writer, Andrew Benson.

“We already said a month ago that it is going to be tight. Actually, most of the teams agreed it was going to be tight. Then it was a decision we took.”

On Monday, Lotus technical director Nick Chester said the team wouldn’t take part in the Jerez sessions because it didn’t fit with the “build and development program” on the new E22 chassis.

Today, however, Boullier has admitted that the car simply “will not be ready on time.” But by his estimations, the matter isn’t entirely a problem for Lotus – even though he too has concerns about missing a third of preseason testing.

“We will be ready shortly after [Jerez] – and in some ways, it is not bad because we will have time to watch what the others are doing and nobody will be able to watch what we are doing,” he told the BBC’s Benson.

“Remember, this year it is a big regulation change, so everybody will be watching very carefully what the others have done.”

Still, the Enstone gang would appear to be up against it during the lead-up to the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 16. The team, which finished fourth in the constructor’s championship last year, will have just eight days of testing at Bahrain (Feb. 19-22, Feb. 27-March 2) to prepare for the new season.

It’s a time crunch for sure, and we’ll see how Boullier and his squad handles that over the next couple of months.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.