Davide Valsecchi has been announced as the Lotus team’s third driver for the 2013 season. The 26 year old Italian was Team Lotus (now Caterham) test driver in 2011, and made his F1 weekend debut at the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix when he replaced Heikki Kovalainen for the first Friday practice session. He then went on to win the GP2 championship in 2012 and tested for Lotus at the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi at the end of last season, impressing the management and engineers sufficiently to secure a more permanent role with the team.
Lotus team principal Eric Boullier said, “… we have tested Davide during our Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi, so we could have a clear picture about what he is capable of and what he is doing… I think he did perform well, but not only performing, he did the job the engineer was expecting him to do, so that was a clear tick in the box.”
“I’m really happy that the team want me on board and I’m excited about the future,” Valsecchi said. “I hope that this is a really good start to a career in Formula 1.
“Every day I will do the very best job that I can to give Lotus F1 Team the same passion and commitment that I showed last year. My last season in GP2 in 2012 was something I really focussed on, and in the end I succeeded. Now in Formula 1 my target will be a little different, but my focus to do the very best is still the same.
“I very much hope, step by step, to get into Formula 1 as a race driver, and being here as third driver is as near as you can get. It’s a great opportunity here – If I do the best job I can this year then it will open up my chances for the future, and we’ll see if I’m good enough.”
The Lotus driver line-up seems to be continually expanding – Valsecchi is now the team’s third driver, joining current reserve driver Jerome d’Ambrosio, development driver Nicolas Prost and race drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean to bring the number of drivers at the team to five. With testing limited to just 12 days in the pre-season and only some limited straight-line testing during the season, the three non-race drivers are unlikely to spend much time in the E21 that was unveiled yesterday.
Lotus have become the first team to launch a 2013 Formula One car – the E21 was revealed a few minutes ago live on the Lotus F1 YouTube channel and right here on chrisonf1.com. At first glance, the most obvious feature of the new car is that it has retained the stepped nose that was characteristic of last year’s F1 cars. In general, the car looks very much like an evolution of the E20 that was raced in 2012.
Perhaps the most important technical feature of the new car is the Coanda-style exhaust that was pioneered by Red Bull in 2012. Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn predicted at the end of 2012 that all of the cars would make use of this exhaust technology that allows the teams to direct the exhaust gases with high degrees of accuracy towards aerodynamic pieces of the rear of the car. Lotus have so far proven Brawn’s prediction to be correct. The livery of the E21 is dominated by the black and gold colour scheme used for the past two seasons, although the sidepods now bear prominent red signage for Genii Capital, who own the team. The air intake has above the driver’s head is now red as well.
Lotus technical director James Allison assured Sky Sports News, who covered the launch, that the car contained plenty of innovation under its familiar looking skin:”I can assure you we’ve done a lot… The whole team here has been working heart and soul on this thing for a long time… there’s a lot that’s gone in to it and it’s going to be an exciting car.”
Allison revealed that the stepped nose has been retained as there would be no obvious performance advantage to be gained from covering the step. He was unwilling to add weight to the front of the car for cosmetic purposes. It is likely that Lotus are not the only team to follow this line of thinking, but that will only become clear as the other teams launch over the next week.
Lotus are targeting third place in the Constructors’ Championship this season. Considering how strong the team’s performance was in 2012 – Kimi Raikkonen finished third in the drivers’ table and the team finished fourth overall – that aim seems quite conservative. Whether or not it is achievable will remain largely unknown until the season starts in Melbourne on 17 March, although pre-season testing – starting on 5 February – will provide some indication of the pecking order.
Click here to see photos of the new car.
Lotus are set to be the first team to launch a 2013 Formula One car. The new Lotus, named the E21, will be revealed in an online launch on 28 January 2013 at 19:15 GMT. The launch can be watched live on the Lotus F1 Team YouTube channel.
The E21 will be powered by a Renault 2.4 litre V8 engine, and raced by Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Based on the team’s 2012 form – Raikkonen finished third in the drivers’ championship and Lotus came fourth in the constructors’ championship – this should be a competitive car. How good the new car is will begin to become clear when testing gets underway in Jerez, Spain on 5 February, but the real pecking order will not be known until the first race in Melbourne on 17 March.
In terms of appearance, the E21 car is likely to do away with the stepped nose that characterised the 2012 cars, as new regulations permit the teams to cover the step. The black and gold livery, which has been on the cars for the last two seasons, is likely to be retained. Most of the aero development will be focused on the rear end of the car, where the exhaust exits will be designed to direct the hot exhaust gases towards aerodynamic pieces around the rear floor. Those changes will deliver performance, but will not be visible to the casual observer, particularly when the cars are at speed. The most noticeable change will be the smooth nose.
Lotus have already fired up the engine in the E21 in preparation for the launch and start of testing. The sound of the engine being fired up for the first time can be heard here.
The schedule of launches (as revealed so far) and testing can be found here.
Lotus have fired up their 2013 F1 car – the E21. It’s unlike anything you will ever hear on the road. The engine revs high, generates ridiculous power, and sounds magnificent. Hear it here: