Among the stories from last weekend's season opener at St. Petersburg was the performance of the engines from the three manufacturers. Lotus' story is probably most interesting, with their relative tardiness and the drama behind Dragon's engine supply issues. Contrary to many predictions, not one of the Lotus engines wound up scattered on the Florida asphalt. That's not to say they didn't have their share of issues. I've always found Lotus' participation as an engine builder to be curious. Lotus is not historically known as an engine company, unlike both Chevrolet and Honda. In fact, Lotus does not build any of the engines in its road cars-they all come off-the-shelf from another supplier. So what marketing advantage does it gain as an Indycar engine producer?
Anyway, based on my own pure speculation, observation by Television, and comments by actual professional racing journalists, here are some notes about the Lotus-powered cars:
It might not be surprising to not see any engine failures. Lotus may have felt most comfortable (especially as the sure backmarker) simply de-tuning the engines to a guaranteed safe level to prevent the embarrassment of a 'blowed motor' live on TV during the season opener.
It was reported that the cars with Lotus power were a few mph slower than the rest of the field at the end of the longest straightaway. Elsewhere, it was mentioned that they were unable to reach their 12,000 rpm redline thanks to a software problem. I would think this is an issue that would be quickly resolved.
I'll also speculate that Barber's smooth surface will be kinder to electrical systems than the very bumpy streets of St. Petersburg.
I'm not saying to expect a Lotus victory come Sunday, but I'll be looking for them to be performing notably better.
Until next time,