Romain Grosjean admits the emphasis for Lotus pre-season is simply ensuring reliability
Frenchman admits set-up work will have to wait until Melbourne
By Mike Wise. Last Updated: 19/02/14 6:11pm
Romain Grosjean has admitted that Lotus's late start to pre-season testing leaves them struggling in the wake of rivals ahead of the first race in Melbourne next month.
Speaking after handing the team's new E22 its official debut in Bahrain, the Frenchman admitted that, for Lotus at least, the emphasis ahead of the Australian GP is purely on ensuring the car's reliability.
It appears increasingly the case that some teams, particularly those using Mercedes power, who have enjoyed a relatively trouble-free start to F1's new technological era will have greater leeway when it comes to extracting performance.
Others - principally those powered by Renault - have meanwhile struggled. Lotus fall into the latter category and after being limited to just nine laps of the Bahrain International Circuit on Wednesday, Grosjean said that set-up work will, by necessity, be left until the last minute.
"I think it will be important to put some mileage on the car, see how the brakes, the tyres and all these things stay in one piece; getting everything we can sorted before Melbourne," he said.
"I don't really care about set-up work and things like that: that's going to be in free practice. It's just fixing all the issues and making sure the car is in one piece when we do long runs."
The 27-year-old is remaining optimistic, however, adding: "It is what it is. We have a car and we know that with all these changes, it could have some issues. On the other hand, if the car is well-born we have three practice sessions in Melbourne to put it on the right footing and start from there."
Although the day turned into a frustrating one as engine problems intervened, Grosjean said what little time he had in the car had been enjoyable.
"It feels good, I'm happy to be here. Not as many laps as we would have loved but it was good to be back in the car. It was a few laps but I enjoyed the time," he enthused.
Of sampling V6 turbo power for the first time, Grosjean added that the biggest surprise was "the noise in a straight line - you hear the wind more than the noise. It reminds me of the time I was in Formula 3".
The belated arrival of Lotus means Renault have more chance to get to the bottom of the battery and boost control problems they've been suffering with their power unit.
By close of play on Wednesday, the French manufacturer had totalled just 246 laps, lagging way behind Ferrari (593) and Mercedes (1113) in particular.
"To be honest, I think there is so many things going on in the rear of the car; I don't understand everything, but it was related to engines and batteries and stuff like that," Grosjean said. "Nothing too crazy but we need to understand and then hopefully we can get a better solution for tomorrow and then the day after.
"I don't personally understand everything between the MGU-H and MGU-K, or whatever it's called - all those things. I just go on track and when it goes wrong I just pick up the radio."
Grosjean also - up to a point - gave the thumbs-up to the E22's design, which features a distinctive 'twin tusk' nose.
"It's interesting. I like our car - I think the design has been very well thought out and it's good to have this nose," he added.
"I wouldn't say these cars are beautiful, because they are not. But that's the regulations and we have to get the most out of it."
Bahrain test, Day One timesheet:
1. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:36.880, 78 laps.
2. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:37.879, 64 laps.
3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:37.908, 74 laps.
4. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 1:38.295, 81 laps.
5. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:40.224, 14 laps.
6. Adrian Sutil, Sauber, 1:40.443, 82 laps.
7. Robin Frijns, Caterham, 1:42.534, 68 laps.
8. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:44.346, 5 laps.
9. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:44.832, 8 laps.
10. Felipe Massa, Williams, No time, 5 laps.
11. Jules Bianchi, Marussia, No time, 3 laps.
Total pre-season laps by each team:
Mercedes - 383.
McLaren - 326.
Ferrari - 315.
Sauber - 245.
Force India - 224.
Williams - 180.
Caterham - 144.
Toro Rosso - 59.
Red Bull - 35.
Marussia - 33.
Lotus - 8.
Total pre-season laps by each engine manufacturer:
Mercedes - 1,113.
Ferrari - 593.
Renault - 246.
The Sky Sports F1 Online team will be providing live commentary of all three winter tests, with live updates from trackside also on Sky Sports News.