6 Mar 2014
The Renault powered teams have had a particularly tough time of the pre-season tests with various powerunit, ERS and installation issues. Lotus came late to the party deciding to miss the 1st test in Jerez and probably haven't hurt themselves too drastically with the lack of running their counterparts did. Having established a baseline at the 2nd pre-season test the team have reacted in terms of their cooling options, reshaping the Sidepod inlets to provide more cooling. Of course this may well have been something the team were going to address anyway given the rapid response of new parts for the final test.
The new inlets (also magnified in the lower left inset, with the older specification in the lower right) have had their profile reshaped in the upper outer corner, whilst the outer curvature of the pod which shapes the undercut has also been extended outward. These changes will of course have an impact on the aerodynamic characteristics of the car but as we know, to finish first, you must first finish. The cooling issues seen by the Renault teams is enough to warrant a small percentile loss of aero performance for gains in cooling the car. Reducing the thermal footprint of the car can also lead to bhp/performance gains and so rather than just thinking of the aero consequences sometimes it's better to give a little to mechanical performance.