Lotus technical director Nick Chester thinks that Ferrari’s win at last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix should give the rest of the Formula 1 field hope in the face of Mercedes’ dominance in the sport.
After winning a record-breaking 16 races in 2014, Mercedes looked poised to enjoy a similar advantage over the rest of the field this year, with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg easing to P1 and P2 at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
However, the Silver Arrows were upstaged in Malaysia when Sebastian Vettel stormed to victory for Ferrari, proving that, contrary to Red Bull’s claims, it was possible to beat Mercedes in a straight fight.
Speaking ahead of next weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, Chester explained how he thought the result was not only good for F1, but also proof for the rest of the field that Mercedes could be caught.
“It’s a long season ahead and we’re all trying to do exactly that,” Chester said. “We’ve seen in this year that Ferrari have improved significantly over the winter months and it seemed that the hot track in Sepang suited them well.
“They had an improving car, a good strategy and they put it all together to take the win. It shows that with enough development Mercedes can indeed be beaten which is good for the sport.
“Rest assured, we’re doing everything we can at Lotus F1 Team to challenge Mercedes, Ferrari and every other team as best we can over the course of the year.”
Chester confirmed that Lotus would be bringing some minor upgrades to China to aid the E23 Hybrid’s performance, with the main focus being on tire temperature in Shanghai due to the cold conditions.
“We have bodywork upgrades at the front and rear of the car,” he said. “In combination, we have a reasonable upgrade package for Shanghai which mainly focusses on improving our downforce.
“The range of ambient temperatures can vary significantly in Shanghai from around 10ºC to 30ºC so that’s quite significant. We can’t know for sure in advance what the weather will be like but yes it will certainly be cooler than the last race!
“We will put emphasis towards generating the right tire temperatures. And we’ll certainly pack our fleeces.”