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Will missing the first season test hurt Lotus?

Is missing the Jerez test a mistake for the Enstone based team?
Sunday, January 12, 2014

January 12th, 2014 (F1plus/R. Baillie).- Earlier this week Lotus announced that they would not attend the first pre-season test in Jerez, Spain at the end of January, but will that hurt them or help them?

In a team press release Lotus technical director Nick Chester confirmed the news, saying they were opting out of the test to allow more time for research and development of the E22.

“We’ve decided that attending the Jerez test isn’t ideal for our build and development programme.” Chester said.

There are three pre-season tests, totaling 12 days of testing, before the first race of the season in Melbourne, which will give the teams chance to get used to their new cars and make any additional changes before the season starts.

With major rule changes for the season ahead and some new technology it seems odd that the Enstone based team would decide to miss the first test of the season.

Lotus were also one of the teams who did not attend Pirelli’s three day tyre test in Bahrain in December last year, which means the only running they’ve had on this years rubber was one session in Brazil.

Newly signed Sauber driver Adrian Sutil spoke to Reuters earlier this week and commented that he felt the decision to miss testing would put teams at a disadvantage.

“This is a very important test and we don't have much so I think it's clear that it will be a disadvantage for Lotus” Sutil said.

“But who knows why they decided it? I would say it is definitely not good.”

Speaking at Autosport International on Saturday Martin Brundle, former Formula One driver and current Sky F1 commentator, said he felt missing the first test could harm teams and that they would probably be hoping it was rained off.

“I think there’s no doubt about it, missing the first test is a negative and I’m sure Lotus, and whoever else doesn’t make it, will be hoping it’s rained off or something.” Brundle commented.

You could argue that Lotus, who finished fourth in the constructors championship last year, could take last years car to the Jerez test, but with major rule and technology changes they may not glean anything incredibly useful from it.

When you look at it that way it’s probably much more beneficial for the team to pour their time, money and resources into continuing to develop the car rather than go to a test they may not get much usable data from.

Testing will be crucial for all of the 11 teams but for Lotus is clearly better for them to miss four days of testing and turn up to Bahrain with a car they’re happy with.

Whether missing the Jerez test will hurt Lotus’s chance at the 2014 championship remains to be seen and will be a question we won’t get the answer to until a few races into the season.

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