F1: Lotus releases images of its new Mercedes-powered E23

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Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado will take the Mercedes-powered E23 into battle this F1 season. Credit: Lotus F1 Team.

After tumbling down the Formula One pecking order in 2014, Lotus hopes the new Mercedes-powered E23 can help it climb back up.

Today, the Enstone team has given the world a first look at its 2015 challenger for drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado.

Last year, that driver combo squeezed just 10 points out of the Renault-powered E22 through two eighths from Grosjean (Spain and Monaco) and a ninth from Maldonado in the U.S.

Lotus technical director Nick Chester feels better days are ahead for Lotus with the E23, which he says “represents a massive step forward.”

“It’s no secret that we struggled with last year’s car, so we’ve targeted every area that caused us an issue,” Chester said in a release. “We’ve made strong progress in the wind tunnel as well as in areas such as packaging and cooling. We expect the E23 to perform far, far better than its predecessor.”

Chester acknowledged that the new Mercedes power unit “looks to be the one area of the car which could bring us the greatest performance gain.” However, he says power isn’t the only improvement to the E23.

“The E22 did deliver good figures in the wind tunnel, even if it was difficult to unlock its potential, so we’ve paid more attention to making the characteristics of the car more adaptable,” he explained.

“In terms of the suspension, we were delivered something of a blow last year when the front-rear interconnected suspension [FRIC] was outlawed mid-season. The E23’s suspension design is specific to the updated regulations so we’re not trying to update a system originally intended to work a different way.

“We learnt a lot in many areas of the car over the course of 2014 so there are many lessons which have been applied. We know we’ve made a big step. We won’t know how our car will fare in relative terms until we’re out in action at a Grand Prix, but we certainly expect to be much more competitive than last year.”

As for driver reaction, Grosjean and Maldonado have both expressed on social media that they’re looking forward to working with the new car.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III