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Lotus expects another strong race in Spain
Lotus technical director James Allison is confident his team will be competitive at the Spanish Grand Prix next weekend but has played down the upgrades coming to the E21.
The Spanish Grand Prix marks F1's return to Europe after the first four flyaway races and traditionally sees teams bolt major upgrades onto their cars. With one victory and three other podiums for Lotus so far this year, Allison is confident his cars will again be quick this weekend but is wary of how the order may change with major upgrades up and down the grid.
"We're pretty well placed. Barcelona is similar in many regards to Bahrain; it's hard on the tyres with some challenging fast stuff thrown in," he said. "It's not so obviously rear-limited as Bahrain, but is nevertheless a circuit that challenges the tyres which has been a strength of the E21 thus far. That said, the start of the so-called European season - where many teams unleash a raft of their latest upgrades - could shake up the order somewhat.
Asked what Lotus would bring to its car, Allison said: "Nothing revolutionary, but plenty which should help us go faster. We have new front wing endplate detailing, new aero around the rear drums, modifications to the diffuser and a different top rear wing so there's plenty to help keep us in the hunt."
One of Lotus' strengths this year has been protecting the car's tyres from degradation, giving the team an advantage on the softer compounds in Pirelli's range. However, for the Spanish Grand Prix the Italian tyre manufacturer will bring its two hardest compound tyres - a decision that Allison is surprised at.
"We've used Pirelli's hard and soft compounds for the last few years, so we were slightly surprised to see them opt for the more conservative hard and medium this season; albeit with the hard compound revised from what we have been using so far in 2013.
"The new hard is akin to last year's rubber; giving its best grip at lower temperatures than the one we started the year with and being more in line with the working range of the other compounds in use this season. It should work well for us in the race and the gap between option and prime in qualifying should be smaller than in previous years, giving more choices about how to tackle Q1 and Q2."