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Lotus 'could be lead Renault team'

Sunday 23-February-2014 04:31

The days of Red Bull being Renault's lead team could be over with Lotus taking over as the ones to beat, that's according to Nick Chester.

Despite winning four World titles on the trot with Renault power, Red Bull have struggled to come to terms with this season's new regulations.

While some of their issues have been engine related, others have belonged solely to the RB10 and its tightly-packed design.

Red Bull's woes could yet bring a change in the guard at the Renault-powered teams with Chester, Lotus' technical director, believing his team has the capability to edge ahead.

Lotus had a solid final day of testing in Bahrain, covering 59 laps while Pastor Maldonado's 1:38.707 was the fastest time set by a Renault runner this week.

"I think we could be the lead Renault team," Chester told Autosport.

"We certainly haven't gone badly this week in comparison to the other Renault teams and I know they are having a few problems.

"All we can do already at the moment is just focus on ourselves and do the best job that we can do.

"Even if we are the best Renault-engined team, we have still got to push on and catch the other guys so we have just got to think about ourselves and move forward."

But while Lotus may be the lead Renault team they are by no means the leading team with the honour going, at least on paper, to Mercedes.

The Mercedes-powered teams topped all four days in Bahrain with the works team ahead on days three and four. Nico Rosberg finished up with a 1:33.283, 5.4s quicker than Maldonado's best.

Chester added: "It's going to be tough by Melbourne, for sure.

"But they [Mercedes] have had a couple of very good tests now and have got themselves to a good level whereas we have still got a lot of progression.

"So I don't imagine they are going to make so much more improvement before Melbourne and we have got a lot to make [up].

"But it is still quite a big gap to close."

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