Lotus technical director Nick Chester believes that the team faces a close fight with Force India for fifth place in the constructors’ championship that will rage on until the end of the 2015 Formula 1 season.
Lotus currently ranks sixth in the teams’ standings, 17 points behind Force India in fifth with five races remaining this year.
Finishing fifth in the constructors’ championship would not only secure some much-needed additional prize money for Lotus, but it would also secure it a place on the F1 Strategy Group for 2016 when it is poised to become Renault F1 Team.
Reflecting on last weekend’s race in Japan, Chester said he was pleased with the double-points finished achieved by Lotus drivers Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean, and believes that the team can catch up in the coming weeks if Force India hits trouble.
“[Japan] was very rewarding and also very important for us in our fight for fifth place in the constructors’ championship,” Chester said. “We closed up a little bit more on Force India and of course there is a bit more to do.
“They had a good race in Monza when both our cars got knocked out but effectively we’re one good race away where they have a bad one and we can catch up. It will be tight all the way until the end of the season.
Looking ahead to the upcoming Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, Chester spoke of the challenge posed to both the teams and the drivers by the tight and twisting circuit around the site of the old winter Olympic park.
“We know that the surface is very smooth and last year we struggled generating temperature with the tires, partly through the smooth surface and partly through what was a conservative tire allocation,” Chester said.
“Pirelli’s softer allocation for this year along with the more weathered track surface and our better knowledge of the circuit should mean we fare far better in this regard. In terms of its needs, we know that it’s a track that is quite power and traction-sensitive.
“The layout presents a lot of slow speed corners and long straights. Braking down into turn 13 is very severe and you come out of the kink before you brake so it is a difficult corner to get right. Overall, the whole track is quite technical, so it certainly a challenging one for the drivers.”