A year ago, Lotus bagged a double podium at the German Grand Prix. Kimi Raikkonen was a hard-charging second with teammate Romain Grosjean just behind him at the Nurburgring.
A year later and much is different. Obviously the circuit is (it’s back to the Hockenheimring), one of the drivers is different (Pastor Maldonado in for Raikkonen), and the car has struggled to score points this season.
Grosjean estimated that the low-speed corners at the new Hockenheim will provide a good measure of how far the Lotus E22 Renault has improved.
“We’ve worked hard to improve performance in the low-speed corners, so Hockenheim will be a good test of how much we’ve progressed,” Grosjean said in the team’s pre-race advance. “Apart from the run down to the hairpin there are no real straights to speak about so power unit emphasis will be on acceleration rather than top speed.”
Added Maldonado, “There’s potential for it to be a tough weekend for us. The surface is very smooth, there are some slower corners with strong traction demands out of them as well as several straights where you need as much power as possible.”
Both praised the stadium atmosphere at the track, even though they admitted the newer circuit (came into play in 2002) lacks much of the character of the previous one.
Lotus technical director Nick Chester hopes the team’s new front wing for this race will improve fortunes.
“Our development schedule is continuing at full pace,” he said. “We will have a new front wing, which is a decent improvement, a cooling upgrade and some smaller bodywork updates to increase downforce. Between what we have learnt in the Silverstone test and these upgrades, we hope to make a good step forward.”
With only Grosjean’s eight points on the board this year for the team, a double score would be a welcome surprise and an achievable goal.