Lotus E21, 2013

Upgrades at Enstone to help Lotus catch the top three

2013 F1 season

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Lotus E21, 2013Lotus team principal Eric Boullier made it clear at the launch of the E21 yesterday that he expects his team to build on the fourth place they achieved in the constructors’ championship last year.

The team’s factory has been a focus for development as it aims to bring McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull within range.

“An oft-stated truism about car development in F1 is that ‘if you stand still then you go backwards’. Although the sport tends to focus on the cars themselves, this statement is just as valid when applied to the facilities we use to design and make the cars,” said technical director James Allison.

“To build the best car, you need the best tools at your disposal, whether that be the wind tunnel, the computers which simulate and assist in the design or the wide range of specialist manufacturing equipment that is required to be able to realise those designs; all contribute to making a faster car for the track.”

Last year the team began to harness the benefits of upgrading their wind tunnel from 50%-scale to 60%, which took place in 2011. Allison says this had two significant advantages:

“The bigger the model you use, the better the results from the tunnel match those that we see in reality on the track ?ǣ this means that our upgrades are more likely to produce their intended performance improvement when they are tried on the track.

“Also, at 60%, it becomes possible to design and use various systems in the model that would have been impractically small on the old 50% model. This last point is particularly relevant around the wheels where modelling the flow of air through the rims and brake drums has become an increasingly important performance area.”

The team have also upgraded their Computation Fluid Dynamics capabilities, allowing them to develop new parts more quickly.

The major innovation at the factory last year was the installation of a “driver in the loop” simulator.

“Although conventional computer simulations are very powerful, they are still limited in their ability to tell us whether a new concept will produce acceptable handling characteristics. The driver in the loop simulator goes a long way to closing off that gap in our previous competence,” Allison explained.

Whether that adds up to a faster car for 2013 is something the team will start to discover in the next few days. But they are already thinking further ahead.

A wide-ranging change in the technical rules is on the way for 2014 and the building of a new gearbox dyno is planned to help the team prepare for the new engine and drivetrain specification.

“2014 brings some enormous regulation changes,” says Allison. “In particular, the transmission designs which have been pretty stable for the last six years or so must all be torn up and started from scratch for 2014.

“The RPM and torque range of the 2014 engine is so different to what went before it that we must replace our factory testing facilities to make sure that they are compatible with the new designs. This investment will ensure that Enstone?s 2014 gearboxes are fast and reliable from the moment that the season begins.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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15 comments on “Upgrades at Enstone to help Lotus catch the top three”

  1. Two additions:
    1. I’m not 100% sure, but I guess the latest upgrade on the CFD front allows them to reduce the time for simulation by using already computed/solved equations on certain part of the model, while just the rest is being re-done. This saves time in a pure physical fashion, but it also helps to fit in RRA.

    2. The latest simulator technology that Lotus has installed is true state-of-art and it features patented kinematic technology. Let’s see what these will bring in terms of track results.

  2. In particular, the transmission designs which have been pretty stable for the last six years or so must all be torn up and started from scratch for 2014.

    The RPM and torque range of the 2014 engine is so different to what went before it that we must replace our factory testing facilities to make sure that they are compatible with the new designs.

    Brilliant. So, to the significant costs of the new engines themselves, we can add the costs of tearing up existing transmission designs and starting from scratch.

    Seriously, if you were trying to come with regulation change to drive smaller teams out of the sport, could you do a better job?

    1. 1. Start a tyre war. State that each manufacturer must supply an amount of teams which would cause them to raise their prices. Also, regulations that state no spec of tyres may be used more than twice in a season.

      2. Unfreeze engine regulations. Teams can use whatever they like, including Turbos, V12s, but are not allowed to use the same engine configuration every year.

      3. 12 official testing events in-season at tracks outside of the continent they last raced. These are mandatory and a no-show means a fine by the FIA.

      4. Employing at least 2 rookie drivers in the testing line up. There will be rookie races at those testing events and teams are expected to bring at least 12 sets of spares for every major component of the car.

      5. Randomly reverting to old regulations. 2014 will have the same regulations as 1988, 2015 will copy 2000, etc.

      6. Team bosses are expected to compete in the FIA’s annual ‘Race of Spending Champions’, the winner is decided by spending the most amount of money on a ridiculous thing, the loser is the one who has shown that he’s willing to save money, like Ferrari registering their wind tunnel as art for tax breaks.

      7. Homologation of cars. Teams must build a street legal version and sell 50 of their F1 cars in order to race. Non-compliance will result in a season of Formula 1.5, the new official championship set up by Ferrari and the FIA for ‘new teams that have nothing to do in F1’.

      1. These are all excellent suggestions, to which I will only add:

        8. Mandatory fines for all teams finishing outside the points – starting at €1m for P11 and rising to €14m for P24.

        9. A cap on the amount of sponsorship funds a driver can bring to a team of €1m.

        10. Championship points to be awarded at each event to the team which brings the most elaborate motorhome / “brand centre” to the Grand Prix. The value of each hospitality set-up is to be valued by Eddie Jordan.

    2. And yet, I don’t hear any of those smaller teams complaining about it. Sure, they’ve said it’s expensive, but none of them have said that they cannot afford it.

      1. you can always go for loan service…something that Bernie would like to provide.

    3. Formula 1 is supposed to be the showcase pinnacle of motorsport technology, the best of the best tech developed by world’s best engineers. In that sense the engines should too, move forward at a certain rate, as well as the other parts of a car. F1 cannot afford to halt its own technical development for the sake of cutting costs so the small teams can cope.

      I too want to see the small teams stay, but if it requires F1 itself to lag behind, we might as well put all the drivers on horse carts and I’m sure the competitor teams would flock in. The sport is a competition, not a collectivised farm where everybody gets their share with mediocre tools.

    4. @tdog – I don’t want the technical aspects of the sport compromised for the sake of a few teams who can’t afford the changes. Absolutely costs need to be controlled but it shouldn’t be overdone.

    5. You’ve forgotten the rocket fuel and Beryllium @npf1! ;)

  3. pls ensure the in season car development gonna improve in 2013.

  4. It’s Autosport-like here: 11 articles for 1 event

    1. Better than no articles at all, eh?

    2. @jayfreese If I took everything from the Lotus launch and put it in one article it would be several thousands word long, have a dozen videos embedded in it, the page load speed would be horrendous and every comment would say ‘tl:dr’.

  5. This all sounds good, especially for a team without direct manufacturer backing. Exciting times in Enstone.

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