While having gotten a late start to its 2014 campaign, testing and development of the new Lotus P1/01 AER is now in full swing ahead of its debut in September’s FIA World Endurance Championship round at Circuit of The Americas. (En Français)
The LMP1-L car completed a successful multi-day test at Monteblanco last week, which saw Christophe Bouchut, Thomas Holzer and Pierre Kaffer handle driving duties of the black and gold-liveried prototype.
According to Boris Bermes, head of operations for Lotus LMP, significant progress was made over the week in Spain.
“The test was very positive,” Bermes told Endurance-Info. “We went to Spain to be in more favorable weather than the rest of Europe and established a program that was well respected.
“We worked on aerodynamics, electronics and also evaluated the traction control. We also worked on the performance and made long runs and the drivers tested different tires.
“Everything went well. The drivers were happy with the behavior of the car. We’ve made progress with the development program.”
The test also saw the first significant run of AER’s new V6 twin-turbo engine, the first off-the-shelf customer powerplant for the new-for-2014 LMP1 regulations.
Bermes said a decision on the driver lineup for its debut race at COTA will be made shortly.
It was announced in June that the team would utilize Bouchut, Holzer, Kaffer, James Rossiter and Christijan Albers over the course of the season, although it’s unclear if the Dutchman is still in the frame since becoming team principal at Caterham F1.
“We have very good drivers,” Bermes said. “Pierre Kaffer has a lot of racing experience in the USA with the ALMS.
“But we must also take into account the possibility of scheduling conflicts such as with James Rossiter in Super Formula Japan. We will decide [for COTA] soon.”
While LMP1-L currently only sees three entries, including the two-car Rebellion R-One effort, Bermes sees the lightweight prototypes having a future in the FIA WEC, despite its slow start.
“I think the category has a bright future,” he said. “There should be two or three more teams in this category.
“LMP1 is the [pinnacle] of sports car racing. Apart from Formula 1, it’s the largest category in motorsport with some of the fastest cars with very complex technology, especially in LMP1-H.
“But LMP1-L can be very attractive in the future for young drivers who continue to progress through their careers.
“After successfully running in lower classes, young drivers will be ready for a new challenge. LMP1-L is equipped with the greatest technological advances in motorsport and there are fantastic events.”
Bermes said no decision has been made on whether Lotus LMP will expand to a two-car effort in 2015.
“It will of course depend on sponsors, but also the support of the FIA and ACO,” he said. “The level of performance between LMP1-H and LMP1-L has to be close, so we are not at too much of a disadvantage.
“One of the [other] big problems is that LMP1 is very expensive. It’s a wonderful class but requires a big investment.
“It would be good, especially for private teams, to get a good financial return. I think there is work to be done on this side but it’s something that’s very important.”
As for the team’s goal at COTA, it’s clear and that’s to get to the checkered flag.
“As they say, ‘To finish first, you must first finish.’ Our ambition in Austin will be to finish the race,” Bermes said. “This will already be a good start.”