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.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

Audi Sport
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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”