The Lotus F1 Team will be missing in action from the first of the 2014 Formula 1 season’s pre-season tests at Jerez, which is set to take place from 28-31 January.
The Enstone outfit will instead delay the launch of its E22 challenger until February, where it will put the new car through its paces over the remaining eight days of available running at Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit.
The news was confirmed by the team’s new technical director, Nick Chester, who confirmed that the E22 still needed to pass the FIA-mandated front-end impact crash test, although it had passed all of the other tests so far.
“We’re going to keep our car under wraps a little longer than some other teams,” he said.
“We’ve decided that attending the Jerez test isn’t ideal for our build and development programme.
“We are likely to unveil the car before attending the Bahrain tests, and in Bahrain we should really be able to put the car through its paces in representative conditions.”
While Chester’s justifications do make sense overall – as little understanding of the 2014-spec Pirelli tyres will be gathered in the near-freezing conditions in Spain – the announcement does suggest that the team’s finances are still not in order.
Much of the back of its 2013 campaign was clouded by rumours over a buyout by the Quantum investment consortium, a deal that ultimately never went through. There was continued talk of the team’s poor financial health, which was underlined by Kimi Räikkönen’s confirmation that the team hadn’t paid him a cent that year.
A number of senior technical staff defected to rival outfits over the course of the season as well, including former Technical Director James Allison, who followed Räikkönen to Ferrari.
While the team will be impacted by not running for the first four days of pre-season testing, Chester indicated that the outfit was upbeat about the E22’s prospects for a successful 2014 campaign.
“From our perspective the figures look promising and development has been positive,” he added.
“That said, we are very much working with very little idea of what the other teams are doing.
“This is the first year of radically different regulations which means that all teams are developing their cars along potentially quite different avenues.
“It’s fascinating for us engineers and I hope it is fascinating for the fans too. We think we have a very good solution to the challenge and hopefully this will be seen when the E22 turns its wheels in anger.”
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