And now a ‘trade war’ of sorts appears to be surfacing with Lotus poaching Ferrari’s aerodynamicist Nicholas Hennel – who may just be jumping at the chance to work with a properly calibrated wind-tunnel. On top of this, the tribal drums beating to Ferrari ‘undergraduate’ Nico Hulkenberg’s tune appear to indicate a Lotus drive may be on the cards.
Hulkenberg might be a secure option for Lotus at the moment, but an even safer option would perhaps be Felipe Massa, who has proved adept at the kind of development work (certainly from Fernando Alonso’s appraisal) that will be imperative during a major technical regulation change. As quick as Hulkenberg is (on occassion), he just doesn’t have the experience that Massa can bring to the table in terms of car set-up.
On the off-chance Lotus did enlist Massa, the slightest opportunity of a Smedley defection wouldn’t be completely out of the question either, given the strength of the two men’s nexus. Smedley is a Lotus-man man if ever there was one and his approachable style would be a good fit at Enstone.
So according to our hypothosis, this would leave room for a young hotshoe to off-set age and experience. The ‘what-if’s’ surrounding Romain Grosjean’s potential are giving way to what is a known quantity – which is fine if you’re hiring at Force India – but not a team intending on blooding youth and fighting for world championships.
On this front, Eric Boullier has been more than gracious benefactor of Grosjean’s career and the time might have come for another driver to receive such backing. There is no better placed driver of that ilk at the moment than Dutchman Robin Frijns. Having driven for both Sauber and Red Bull in the Young Driver Tests, Frijns’ only crime is lack of financial backing – one that has halted his impressive 2014 GP2 run.
Now is not the time to be conservative at Lotus – that will always leave you mired in the midfield. It might be a fanciful notion, but it’s notions like this that can reap big rewards.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic.