FRIC ban still hurting Lotus ahead of F1’s return at Spa

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Lotus technical director Nick Chester has revealed that Formula 1’s ban on the front-rear interconnected suspension devices (FRIC) is still hurting the team ahead of the second half of the season.

The final run of eight races in fourteen weekends kicks off at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium next Sunday, and Chester has called for the team to up its game and build on its current total of just eight points.

However, he admitted that the team is still looking to bounce back from the FRIC ban, even though few of the other teams and drivers have raised any concern about not using the system.

“We have made some progress in reducing the deficiency from losing the interconnected suspension but we are still hurting a little bit,” Chester conceded.

“We have some revised mechanical parts for Spa including some new springs and enhanced suspension settings which should help. It was a highly developed system on the E22 beforehand so it is hard to claw all of the performance back straight away.”

The team will not have been able to make up much of the lost time over the summer break, as all of the eleven F1 teams are forced to shut down their operations for two weeks. However, Chester feels that the opportunity to lay down their tools is important for the team to prepare for the final run-in.

“There are two sides to this really,” he said. “As an engineer you actually want to keep on attacking and extract the maximum you can out of the package you have.

“On the flipside, the F1 season is very demanding so actually in the long-term and throughout the whole season it is probably a benefit in terms of human performance.”

F1 2017 driver review: Max Verstappen

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Max Verstappen

Team: Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 33
Races: 20
Wins: 2
Podiums (excluding wins): 2
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 168
Laps Led: 133
Championship Position: 6th

Max Verstappen rise as a once-in-a-generation talent continued through the 2017 Formula 1 season, even if reliability issues meant we were made to wait for his best form to arrive.

Verstappen stole the show in a wet-dry Chinese Grand Prix by charging from 16th to seventh in the opening lap before ultimately finishing third for Red Bull, yet he would not grace the podium again until the Malaysian Grand Prix at the start of October.

A combination of power unit problems and on-track clashes saw Verstappen retire from seven of the 12 races in the intermittent period, with incidents in Spain and Austria being avoidable.

Perhaps most embarrassing of all was his stoppage due to a power unit failure in front of a grandstand swathed in orange at the Belgian Grand Prix, a race tens of thousands of Dutch fans had attended to cheer Verstappen on.

But when Verstappen got things right, it was – as he frequently quoted – simply, simply lovely. There was plenty left in the tank, as proven by his sheer domination of the races in Malaysia and Mexico as he took the second and third wins of his career.

Perhaps even more impressive was Verstappen’s victory over Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the qualifying head-to-head battle this year, an area the Australian has traditionally been strong in. Verstappen outqualifed his teammate 13-7 – it wasn’t even close…

All in all, Verstappen once again proved that on his day, he is one of the finest talents to grace F1 in recent years. With the right car underneath him next year, a title fight is certainly possible and will be the target – but there is always room for improvement.

And that is the scary part: Verstappen is only going to get better and better.

Season High: Dominating in Malaysia after an early pass on Lewis Hamilton.

Season Low: Crashing out on Lap 1 in Austria.