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Lotus F1 team to miss first pre-season test

Lotus Formula One team pose during a photo call before the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix at Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo November 25, 2012. REU
Lotus Formula One team pose during a photo call before the Brazilian F1 Grand Prix at Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo November 25, 2012. REU

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Lotus have decided to skip Formula One's first pre-season test in Jerez this month to give themselves more time to work on their new car, the team said on Monday.

"We're going to keep our car under wraps a little longer than some other teams," technical director Nick Chester said in a team release. "We've decided that attending the Jerez test isn't ideal for our build and development programme.

"We are likely to unveil the car before attending the Bahrain tests, and in Bahrain we should really be able to put the car through its paces in representative conditions."

The first pre-season test at the Spanish track is due to start on January 28 with two further tests in much hotter conditions in Bahrain before the opening race in Australia on March 16.

In the past, some teams have participated in the opening test of the year using cars from the previous season but there is nothing to be gained from that now with the introduction of a new engine.

However, given the extent of the technical changes and the limited opportunities to test cars with the new 2014 tyres before the season starts, most teams still want to get as much mileage as possible even if the weather in Jerez can be variable at this time of year.

McLaren's Jenson Button warned last month that testing in southern Spain could prove "hilarious', given the cold temperatures and likely lack of reliability.

"It will be cold, the tyres aren't going to work, the cars probably won't work either and when you do get a lap it is probably going to feel weird because you are running higher gears," said the 2009 champion.

Formula One has replaced the previous 2.4 liter V8 engines with a 1.6 liter turbocharged V6 unit with energy recovery systems.

Chester, whose team had financial difficulties last year, said development of the new E22 had been positive and the figures looked promising.

"That said, we are very much working with very little idea of what the other teams are doing. This is the first year of radically different regulations which means that all teams are developing their cars along potentially quite different avenues," he added.

"We think we have a very good solution to the challenge and hopefully this will be seen when the E22 turns its wheels in anger."

Renault-powered Lotus finished last season fourth overall, with Kimi Raikkonen winning in Australia.

Raikkonen has since gone to Ferrari, complaining before he left that he had not been paid, with Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado joining Lotus alongside Frenchman Romain Grosjean.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Martyn Herman)

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