The Lotus Renault F1 team became the first team to reveal their 2013 challenger, the E21 on January 28th . The team launched their car to a live audience via YouTube and on Sky Sports as well.
The new car looks pretty similar to the 2012 car in various aspects. For one, the team has not opted to go for the optional “vanity panel” on the nose and hence, the platypus nose is seen on the E21 as well. The team has also gone for a secretive approach, with bland front and rear wings. We should be seeing the launch spec wings when the car debuts for testing in Jerez.
Lotus drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean unveiled the car to viewers and both drivers exuded optimism. Kimi in particular stated that the car had what it takes to be a world championship contender. This should come as no surprise as the E20 was one of the fastest cars on the grid with excellent race pace. It was strong on almost all tracks and its major strength was to look after it’s tyres during the race. This ability to look after the tyres better than other cars will play a crucial factor this year as well with Pirelli intending to provide tyre compounds to “spice up” the racing.
Technical director James Allison was also positive about the E21’s capabilities:
Depending on where you look, some parts of the new car are a ground-up redesign and in other areas we have further optimized the best bits of the design philosophy we’ve adopted for several seasons. The front and rear suspension layouts are substantially revised to try and give us better aerodynamic opportunities.
He was less candid about the changes that were done on the car:
We’ve done a lot. There is a lot gone into it and it is going to be an exciting car. The rules for 2013 are very, very similar to 2012 so you can expect a lot of family resemblance from the 2012 car, but the devil is in the detail and it adds up to a significant amount of performance
How big is that jump in performance going to be? Lotus have not revealed all their cards and it’s too early to predict how fast they are going to be.
This week, there are other launches to look forward too as well. Mclaren are launching their car on Thursday, followed by both Force India and Ferrari on Friday. Sauber and Red Bull will launch their cars on Saturday and Sunday respectively, while Mercedes and Toro Rosso will unveil their 2013 challengers on Monday.
The F1 circus is starting to come alive for the 2013 season and its only a matter of time before we are in the thick of the action. More to come!