Will Gray

Gray Matter: Can Lotus provide seventh different winner?

Will Gray

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After showing signs of race-winning potential Lotus have still not reached the top step of the podium this year — so why do they keep falling short and can they finally win this weekend?

Six different drivers have won the first six races so far this season and this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix has the potential to create an unprecedented seventh different winner since the season began — with Lotus looking the most likely candidate for top spot from those yet to win.

So far, however, the team has gone from the season's greatest surprise to its biggest disappointment, with their impressive turn of pace still failing to turn into the ultimate result.

Romain Grosjean has qualified on the front two rows of the grid three times and Kimi Raikkonen twice and the pair have three podiums between them, with second and third in Bahrain and a third again in Spain. They have also set two of the fastest race laps.

But while the performance is consistent (aside from a few first lap incidents for Grosjean) things have not yet come together to give them the ultimate pace to win.

Take China, for instance. The team were pre-race favourites but the track turned out to suit Mercedes better and it was Nico Rosberg who won while Raikkonen, gambling on a long tyre run, went from second to 14th when his Pirellis fell away rapidly late in the race.

At the next event, in Bahrain, Red Bull turned out to be the form team and although Raikkonen was up front again, and chased down Vettel at the end, there were simply not enough laps for him to make the late pace count.

Then in Spain, Williams stunned Lotus by taking top spot on what many had predicted would be a track to suit the E20 machine perfectly. Raikkonen's strategy of stopping late — the opposite of Bahrain - did not pay off.

So can they finally do it in Canada?

Well, the team appears to be confident and in theory it should be the perfect place for them (although as mentioned above, that's been said before). The fickle weather coupled with the unique track surface and layout — which caused Bridgestone's tyres to degrade rapidly two years ago — should throw up unpredictability again. But the Lotus has a reasonable straight-line speed, is good on kerbs and has stable braking, all of which can be crucial factors on Montreal's semi-permanent medium-speed street circuit.

That said, McLaren, Mercedes and even Force India will benefit from the strong straight-line speed of the Mercedes engine (McLaren have won four of the last six races here) and could offer a tough challenge.

But this year, tiny margins make a difference — so even if they have a strong package, Lotus may need to use the strong team-work ethos that has developed within to garner that elusive win.

So far, Lotus have rarely benefited from having both cars 'in play' during the race — Grosjean has had early exits on three occasions and also suffered a loss of performance from an early collision in Spain.

This weekend Renault needs to box clever. If they find they have two cars with front-running performance, then perhaps playing the now legal team orders game could benefit the team as a whole.

It's winning ugly, but it's winning smart. If there is the option to play out various strategies for similar result, Lotus could benefit from running the two cars differently and using one to back the field up to benefit the other. It could be hard to convince either driver to play second best in a tactical game — but if they can, then it could be a way to put that seventh different winner stat in their sights.

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