Lotus’ Chester explains team’s prep plans for Renault to Mercedes switch

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Things haven’t come easy for Lotus in 2014, but as witnessed by Williams this season, a change in power unit could be a big key to a one-year turnaround the following season.

Such is the hope for the Enstone-based squad, which will swap Renault for Mercedes power next season. Team technical director Nick Chester outlined the development plan in a Q&A on the team’s website.

While the 2014 car started more than two years out given all the new systems coming into play this year, Chester said the 2015 car is on a more conventional timeline, with plans for the car having begun in January. He also expects the nose, engine cover and rear wing to look quite different; the team experimented with a new nose during the United States Grand Prix weekend in Austin’s free practice one.

And then there’s the power unit. The all-conquering Mercedes this year has been the measure of the field and while McLaren moves on to Honda next year, that opens up a slot which Lotus has taken with open arms. Chester described the changes that will come with the packaging to accommodate the Mercedes in the back end.

“There are a number of differences that we need to take into account like the packaging, the heat rejections, and the cooling requirements,” Chester said. “At the same time, had we continued with Renault Sport F1, there would also have been modifications in the package for 2015. My feeling is that it won’t represent significantly more work. It is more a matter of adapting to a new type of packaging and different requirements.

“In some ways, it will be relatively painless as Mercedes are quite fixed about what they need for their power unit installation. It means that there won’t be too many iterations, at least less than when the V6 was introduced last year. It is a more defined program.”

The hope is that Lotus can recapture the form that made it a podium regular and occasional race winner the last couple years in 2015. Likely to come eighth in this year’s Constructor’s Championship, there’s nowhere to go but up.