Grosjean: Lotus won’t be ready for Melbourne

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Romain Grosjean has conceded that Lotus are behind schedule ahead of the new Formula 1 season, and that due to the nature of the technical regulations this year, it may take another month before they are finally ready.

The seismic change in the technical regulations has put enormous amounts of pressure on the design teams in the sport. Most notably, world champions Red Bull have struggled to adapt during the winter testing period. Despite having few problems in Bahrain, Lotus missed the opening test in Jerez, immediately putting the team behind schedule. Now, Grosjean has admitted that it is taking longer than expected to prepare for the 2014 season.

“The problem this year is that when you break something it takes between two and three hours to solve the problem, so if you have three issues in a day that’s the end of the day,” Grosjean explained to journalists in Bahrain on Saturday.

“In terms of preparation we are not quite yet ready.”

Like many drivers, Grosjean is focusing on merely finishing the opening round of the season in Australia (live on NBCSN on March 16) before the E22 car can really be put to good use.

“It’s not going to be perfect for Melbourne, and probably not for Malaysia, but we will do our best and try to do things as good as we can do them to steadily improve everything.

“The list is too long to have ticked everything before Melbourne, and in Melbourne we won’t have time to get everything we would like to.

“At the moment this is the situation and the best we can do is take the most serious one, put that right and then finalize the thing. It’s not going to be an easy first few races I guess.”

Grosjean enjoyed a successful second half of the 2013 F1 season, but he will be hard-pressed to carry this form over into the first few rounds of the coming year. Given that both Lotus and engine supplier Renault are behind schedule, it might be a case of ‘damage limitation’ for the Frenchman to begin with this year.

However, most drivers and teams are in the same position; the drastic changes made to the technical regulations are set to shake-up the pecking order and perhaps give teams such as Williams and Force India a chance to battle for podiums and race wins in 2014.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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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.”