The team opted to miss the first test in Jerez and when the Renault-powered E22 eventually took to the track in Bahrain, it proved to be extremely unreliable. Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado failed to complete any long runs due to the problems and head to Australia with very little race preparation in the new car.
“There is a degree of frustration coming away from winter testing,” said Chester. “Clearly, we would have liked to have done more mileage and had an opportunity to run our race preparation programme as planned.
“On the positive side we can see plenty of potential in the chassis. However, as was evident in Bahrain, we have much more work to do with the power unit itself to ensure that it is working correctly with the chassis.”
He added: “We are starting further back than we would like to be. I think that the first two races of this season will be very challenging for us, however it also depends on the solutions that Renault Sport F1 will be able to bring to the table too. Overall, and for all teams, we will see much more reliance on the power units than we have seen in the past.
“Despite this initial challenge, I think that over time those gaps will get smaller and the chassis differences will start to come through, and I believe that the E22 will be a very strong proposition. The start of the season will certainly be interesting for everyone.”
The main aim for the Enstone-based outfit is to finish the first race in Melbourne. Chester believes the new cars will improve rapidly throughout the season and expects the competitive order to change as teams get used to running under the new rules.
Image courtesy of Lotus F1 Team