Lotus F1 Team technical director Nick Chester says that he'll miss Romain Grosjean in 2016, especially at technically challenging circuits like Sochi.
The Frenchman confirmed earlier this week that he was moving to the new Haas F1 Team for 2016, and Chester wasn't about to disguise the fact that Grosjean's departure would be a big loss for the team next year.
"It’s been great working with Romain," he said. "Romain has proved to be really quick, always qualifies well and makes good choices during the races. He is a good driver who is fun to work with; for sure we will miss him.
"He had a difficult year in 2012 but he came back from that stronger and drove brilliantly the following year.
"He’s had so many great races with us with fantastic results towards the end of 2013 when he had a string of podiums and drove some stunning races just like he did in Spa this year."
Chester pointed to Sochi Autodrom as the kind of challenging circuit that relies heavily on the drivers for a good Grand Prix weekend performance.
"We know that it’s a track that is quite power- and traction-sensitive," he explained. "The layout presents a lot of slow speed corners and long straights. Braking down into Turn thirteen is very severe and you come out of the kink before you brake so it is a difficult corner to get right.
"Overall, the whole track is quite technical, so it certainly a challenging one for the drivers."
It certainly proved too big a challenge for Lotus last year in the inaugural Russian Grand Prix, when both drivers ended up a lap down and well out of the points.
"Pirelli’s softer allocation for this year along with the more weathered track surface and our better knowledge of the circuit should mean we fare far better [this year]," Chester insisted.
And the team is certainly buoyed by its double points finish last time out at Suzuka, together with the signing of the much-needed letter of intent by Renault to purchase the team which means there is finally light at the end of the tunnel after months of financial crises.
"We thought that we’d be fairly good in Suzuka, it’s the sort of medium downforce track which tends to suit us," said Chester. "We knew that we’d be quite competitive. I think that we did a good job to get seventh and eighth place.
"It was very rewarding and also very important for us in our fight for fifth place in the constructors’ championship. We closed up a little bit more on Force India
"Of course there is a bit more to do," he acknowledged. "They had a good race in Monza when both our cars got knocked out but effectively we’re one good race away where they have a bad one and we can catch up.
"It will be tight all the way until the end of the season."