With Williams becoming the fist team to unveil its new 2015 car last week, we now have the first look at fellow English team Lotus’ car. Entitled the E23 Hybrid, the car marks the first year the Enstone based team is competing under Mercedes power. After finishing a dismal 8th in the Constructor’s World Championship last year, Lotus has a lot riding on this year’s design.
Lotus’ engine deal with Renault spans back to 1995, including several owners of the team. One of the reasons the team decided to switch to Mercedes power was the stated superiority of the German power unit; the Mercedes unit won all but three of the races of last season. Lotus technical director Nick Chester gave extensive comment as to the decision,
“It’s no secret that we struggled with last year’s car, so we’ve targeted every area that caused us an issue. We’ve made strong progress in the wind tunnel as well as in areas such as packaging and cooling. We expect the E23 to perform far, far better than its predecessor. In terms of what’s new, obviously a massive change for us is a new power unit supplier.
“We made this change as it looked and looks to be the one area of the car which could bring us the greatest performance gain. It’s not just performance, but reliability and driveability as well as packaging and cooling too. The E22 did deliver good figures in the wind tunnel, even if it was difficult to unlock its potential, so we’ve paid more attention to making the characteristics of the car more adaptable. In terms of the suspension, we were delivered something of a blow last year when the front-rear interconnected suspension was outlawed mid-season.
“The E23’s suspension design is specific to the updated regulations so we’re not trying to update a system originally intended to work a different way. We learnt a lot in many areas of the car over the course of 2014 so there are many lessons which have been applied. We know we’ve made a big step. We won’t know how our car will fare in relative terms until we’re out in action at a Grand Prix, but we certainly expect to be much more competitive than last year.”
Of note was the decision to upgrade the suspension of the E23, using an entirely different and updated design over last year. The team was forced to improvise its suspension package at the last minute, due to its use of the Front Rear Interconnected Suspension(FRIC) system which was banned mid-season, as it violated regulations; suspensions cannot be used to impart an aerodynamic advantage, as FRIC reportedly did.
The car also has a visibly altered nose design, diverging from the unconventional two-pronged design seen last year; the FIA sought to ameliorate this issue by imposing additional nose regulations for 2015.
Formula 1 engines, or “power units” as they are now called, employ a 1.6 liter turbocharged V6 that produces around 750 combined horsepower and revs around 19,000 rpm. One of the advantages to the Mercedes power unit is the innovative turbocharger design which allows for a reduction of lag, a better center of gravity, and a narrower aerodynamic profile.
More information on the Mercedes power unit and their innovative turbocharging design can be found here.