Q&A with Lotus' Alan Permane

Tuesday 04-June-2013 08:23

Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane looks at the ins and outs of this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.

Q: Alan, now we've had some time to digest, what's the feeling after Monaco?
AP: "Kimi [Raikkonen] qualified and raced where we expected him to at a circuit where it is virtually impossible to overtake, although some drivers were a little bit - shall we say - ambitious in their passing attempts. He would have finished fifth were it not for Sergio [Perez] being too aggressive. Romain [Grosjean] had a weekend he'd rather forget, but now heads to a circuit where he performed excellently last year with his second place. There's no reason why he shouldn't put in another excellent performance this year, albeit with the added challenge of his ten place grid penalty."

Q: What are the considerations for Montréal?
AP: "It's the first circuit we run at with a medium downforce level. Monaco is super high and everywhere else we've visited so far is high, so it will be interesting to validate our performance with lower downforce levels on the car. There are similarities to Monaco; no real high speed corners, with most turns taken in first or second gear and the kerbs used for the majority of them. As most of the corners are chicanes, you have a set-up trade-off between sufficient roll stiffness to allow the driver to have a sharp car for change of direction, but with suspension soft enough to ride over the kerbs. The track used to be very bumpy - especially under braking - but recent resurfacing has improved this enormously."

Q: Talking of brakes, they're used rather a lot around Montreal?
AP: "It's the highest brake energy circuit of the year, but this won't pose any significant problems. In years gone by we would have spent a lot of the weekend focusing on brake wear and ensuring we weren't running too hot. Brake disc development over the past five years means this isn't an issue or concern anymore. Our focus will be ensuring the brake temperatures are in the optimal range for operation and ensuring the brakes are matched at both front and rear for stability."

Q: Let's talk about tyres...
AP: "Traditionally this circuit is fairly easy on tyres thanks to a smooth track surface. We'll use Pirelli's super soft and medium compounds to the original, non-revised 2013 constructions for the race. In the practice sessions we will have an opportunity to sample some development tyres; two sets per driver with a new rear construction."

Q: What about race strategy?
AP: "Last year was a mixture of one and two stop strategies and it's reasonable to expect a similar approach this year; depending on the conditions experienced in the race of course. For Romain we will be looking at all the options and seeing if there's anything different we can do to help vault him up the order, as he will be starting out of position thanks to his penalty. We went well with both cars last year and there's nothing to suggest we shouldn't go well this year."

Q: It's fair to say the weather can sometimes throw a curve ball in Canada?
AP: "The weather can be pretty variable and it's not unlike Melbourne in this regard; it can be really hot one day, then freezing cold the next day. Average temperatures would be in the mid 20s, but you can have 15°C or 30°C."

Q: What about the groundhogs?
AP: "Fortunately we don't see too much wildlife on track, but it is a circuit where we tend to pick up a lot of debris - whether from the long straights or the park location - and this is something we factor in when setting cooling levels, as car temperatures will increase during the race through radiator blockage from rubber, leaves and other assorted debris."

Q:. Anything new to bolt on the car?
AP: "We have a revised aero package, with track specific front and rear wings as well as an update to the floor. There aren't too many changes for this race, but looking ahead to the subsequent Grand Prix we have a revised bodywork package for Silverstone."

Source - Lotus

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