Team Lotus (the one who raced last year) have become the second team to officially pull the covers off their new 2011 car.
The green and yellow liveried machine will start be raced by Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen this season under the name of Team Lotus as the management’s row with Group Lotus, now affiliated with Renault, continues.
The new car retains the 50’s yellow and green livery that fans came to know and love last season. New sponsors stand side by side with old ones, on the now Renault powered machine.
On the technical side, Mike Gascoyne has said that the T128 is far more exciting, intricate and advanced than last seasons T128. There is much more thought and special design in the front wing roll hoop and on the side pods especially. The rool hoop/air box design is very similar to the blade design used by Mercedes in 2010, although this had been outlawed by the FIA – Lotus have found a way around the regulations.
“I think that basically this car looks like a frontrunning car in every area,” Mike Gascoyne said. “We said very clearly that we want to start challenging the established teams and I think that’s very achievable.”
“With last year’s car and especially the first half of the season it was just an exercise in survival, whereas from the middle of last year it was about building the team up – that’s when we started working on this car
“I think the thing that was a challenge this year was that the 2010 car really was a one-off, because of the way it was done with the design team and the time we had.
“There’s been almost no carry-over of parts for the 2011 car, whereas normally you’d have a substantial carry-over and the chance to optimise last year’s parts.”
Elliot Dason-Barber, head of R&D added: “The area that intrigues me the most is the front suspension, and the rear as well actually. We’ve tried to push the boundaries with a few things to make it a bit lighter and more efficient.”
The team’s aim this season then looks to be fighting at the front.
Veteran Jarno Trulli, who endured a torrid 2010 campaign with the team said this morning: “Sitting on the grid in Bahrain this year will feel very different – a different tension,”
“Last year we were just aiming to finish the race. This year we’ll be aiming to finish in the points. With the package we have, that should be achievable.”
Lotus are set to change their green and yellow paint scheme to a black and gold one for 2011, evoking memories of the famous John Player Special liveries the team used in the 1980’s.
Of course the team won’t be sponsored by John Players – tobacco advertising is completely banned in the sport now – but the livery will bring reminders of drivers like Ayrton Senna and Emerson Fittipaldi who became synonymous with the cars.
A fan will be designing the livery in a competition to be launched by the team.
The team’s chief executive, Riad Asmat, said: “When we first unveiled our 2010 car there was unanimous praise for our decision to bring the historic green and yellow livery back to the modern F1 grid.
“I know the return to the track of the legendary black and gold will be met with even more universal support as it strikes such an emotional chord with fans around the world.
“Giving those fans the chance to help us bring it back to the contemporary grid is true to our core belief of putting our supporters right at the heart of Lotus Racing – we can’t wait to show the world what we come up with.”
Red Bull Racing and Lotus will both use Renault engines for the 2011 F1 season, it was confirmed today at Interlagos.
Red Bull are already supplied with the French manufacturers units, however there had been speculation that the team would abandon their deal and use Mercedes Benz power for 2011.
The deal signed today means they will continue the partnership that started in 2007. Previously the Austrian energy drink backed team had used Cosworth and Ferrari power units. The team will also increase the presence of Renault branding on the cars, with Renault badges being place on the nosecone of each Red Bull and text to be places on the visors of each driver.
“We’re pleased to announce this extension,” said team boss Christian Horner. “We have always enjoyed a very straightforward relationship with Renault and they have supported us extremely fairly during the past four seasons, contributing to our thirteen grand prix victories so far.
“The relationship continues to evolve and we look forward to working with them during our 2011 Formula One World Championship campaign.”
Lotus had already announced that they would be dropping their Cosworth power supply for 2011. The new team had also signed a deal to use Red Bull transmission in 2011 so this move to Renault power is a sensible one.
“I am absolutely delighted that we can now officially talk about the partnership with Renault,” said Lotus boss Tony Fernandes.
“There has obviously been a great deal of speculation about which engine will be powering our cars from 2011 and now the announcement has been made I think everyone can see just how ambitious we really are.
“The combination of the Renault engine and the Red Bull Technology gearbox and hydraulics gives our design and aero teams a successful, tried and tested platform to work with for next year’s car.”
Renault will be supplying the same amount of teams with engines that Ferrari and Mercedes Benz shall do next season. Cosworth are the other major engine supplier in the sport.
Reports from Brazil are suggesting that Bruno Senna is “likely” to be replacing Italian driver Jarno Trulli at Lotus for next season.
Senna, who is the nephew of the late three time world champion Ayrton, has had a difficult rookie season in F1 racing with the Hispania team. He has talent, but needs a car to show it in – and the Lotus would certainly give him the backing to do so.
According to Globo Esporte talks between Senna and Lotus are “advanced”. He would be partnering former McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen at the Malaysian backed team.
Jarno Trulli is a stalwart of the F1 paddock, having been in the sport since 1997. He has raced for Minardi, Prost, Renault, Jordan, Toyota and most recently Lotus.
Mike Gascoyne, one of the best known technical figures in the F1 paddock has been rewarded with a new contract with the Lotus team. It will keep him with the Norfolk/Malaysia based outfit until 2015.
Having worked previously with Jordan, Toyota and Spyker – Gascoyne brought a wealth of experience to the table as he helped Tony Fernandes realise his dream and get Lotus into Formula One for this season.
“Mike’s five-year deal is a major announcement for the whole Lotus Racing team,” said team boss Tony Fernandes.
“It shows just how serious we are, not only about how far ahead we are setting our aspirations, but also as a reward to Mike for the incredibly hard work he and the team have already put in to get us from literally four people back in September ’09 to our current position as a serious F1 player with a very bright future ahead of us.
“On a personal level, I’ve really enjoyed the last year that we’ve been working together, and I’m very excited about working with Mike for many years to come.”
Gascoyne added: “Having started the team from scratch with Tony it was always my intention to finish my career here, so it’s great to have formally agreed a five year deal. I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to Tony, Din, Nasa, Riad and the whole team, and I’m extremely grateful to everyone involved in Lotus Racing for having the confidence to take this into a long-term contract.
“We’ve had a great start to our partnership together, and I’m looking forward to continuing that for the next five years, and even beyond that.”
Bernie Ecclestone has said today that he believes the Formula One grid will shrink before the end of the season with one or two teams falling by the way side.
The ring leader of F1 was talking to The Daily Telegraph in an exclusive interview about the state of the teams in F1 today. While there had been a lot of concern surrounding Renault recently, Ecclestone canned fears that they might be leaving the sport by stating that Genii Capital who own the team were in good financial condition.
”All that was [the Renault situation] was the fact that one of the shareholders didn’t want to take money from another one of his companies because that would have meant convening a board meeting,” Ecclestone said.
“But I never gave them the money. And they got over the crisis so everything is fine.”
However Ecclestone was no so bouyant about the state of other teams in F1. He reckons that one team is very likely to leave, and another may well follow. He also downplayed the significance of the new teams that entered the sport at the start of 2010 claiming that Lotus were the only serious and important team.
“I would not be surprised if one or two of them did not make the end of the season. I think there are a couple of teams in Formula 1 who really shouldn’t be there. They are a bit out of their depth at the moment.”
“All we ever want is 10 teams,” he said. “Lotus is a good name. I wouldn’t want to lose them. But in general this year has been a bit of a nuisance because it has cost money to keep these [struggling] teams in. It has cost a lot of money to pay for them to compete.
“The bottom line is they haven’t really and truly given us value for being there. If suddenly these teams don’t turn up at races then I don’t think the crowds will get any smaller, or the TV sets will turn off, or the newspapers will stop writing, will they?”
With F1 looking for another team to take the empty place of the failed USF1 project for 2011, it really devalues their position. With regard the team that is most likely to leave, that is almost certainly a reference to Hispania. HRT were a last minute team, and have already been in financial struggles. There is great paddock rumour that Bernie himself paid out for the team to continue running, but they had to use Indian driver Karun Chandhok. Now he has been dropped from the team, Bernie seems to be telling it how it is.
He also didn’t seem convinced then about Virgin Racing in the sport, despite the fact that Timo Glock is near the pace of the Lotus’. It would be a big surprise if they were packing their bags and leaving F1 at the end of the season.
Fairuz Fauzy, the Lotus test driver will once again be given the opportunity to test the F1 car taking over from one of the permanent race drivers in free practice for this weekend’s German Grand Prix.
Fauzy, a Malaysian national, will once again drive the car after he hit major mechnical issues during his practice at Silverstone.
Team boss Tony Fernandes said: “It’s an exciting day for all of us in the Lotus Racing team – being able to tell Fairuz he has another Friday run a week before he thought he’d be back in the car is a great way to start the week, and we all know he’ll deliver for us, both on track and in the feedback he’ll provide the team.
“He’s an inspiration to young drivers around the world, proving that being determined to make your dreams come true can make very exciting things happen!”
Lotus are on the verge of signing a deal with Renault for the French manufacturer to provide the team with customer engines for the 2011 season, according to the BBC.
The team, which returned to F1 this season, is currently locked into a deal with Cosworth the popular British engine manufacturer. While Mike Gascoyne says he wants to work with Cosworth, during the weekend at Silverstone both he and team boss Tony Fernandes were spotted having talks with Renault engine technicians.
Renault currently supply their own works team, and the successful Red Bull Racing team. Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, Lotus’ two current drivers who are confirmed to be racing for the team next year are former Renault drivers.
When asked about the situation, Gascoyne refused to comment, saying: “We have a contract with Cosworth and we’re discussing with them ways to work together in the future.”
Lotus’ technical director has revealed an array of new technical team signings for the British/Malaysian team, with all of the signings coming from rival team Force India.
The Force India team have lost Mark Smith, one of their top designers who joins Lotus to team up with Mike Gascoyne once again. Also coming into the green and yellow squad are Lewis Butler and Marianne Hinson who will take the roles of chief designer and head of aerodynamic development.
“I’m exceptionally pleased to welcome Marianne and Lewis to Lotus Racing, and I’m very excited to once again be teaming up with Mark Smith who I have previously worked with at Jordan, Renault and Force India,” said Gascoyne.
“Lewis and I were together at Force India, and Lewis also worked with Mark Smith at Red Bull, and Marianne and I have known each other since 1999 when I gave her her first job in F1 at Jordan, so we all know each other very well.
“Mark Smith and I were first at Jordan together where our first car was the 199, Jordan’s most successful F1 entrant, and then he came with me to Renault where we helped put them back on the top step of the podium, and put in place the team that went on to win two world championships.
“Most recently we were together at Force India, and I’m delighted he sees the potential we have here, and has seized the opportunity to work with me, Tony [Fernandes] and the whole team on helping Lotus Racing reach the front of the grid.”
Mike Gascoyne, the technical chief at Lotus has said he is very proud of the new team following their first race in Bahrain yesterday.
The man who helped bring the Lotus name back to F1 said that his team had done exactly what it said it would, bring a near competitive car, with good drivers and that would be reliable. Lotus were the only team who had both cars finish out of the new teams, indeed Hispania and Virgin had neither car finish.
While Jarno Trulli was suffering with technical issues, Heikki Kovalainen had no such problems and dived in to overtaking manouevres only being lapped once.
“As we said, it does what it says on the tin,” he told Autosport this morning.
“We said we would be a professional team, we would turn up, we would be ready and we would be reliable. Then we could work on the performance.
“I think actually in the race, the performance of our quickest lap was not too bad. A 2m02, while a lot of guys didn’t get below two minutes. Our pace wasn’t bad and we felt from all the running we had done actually that single lap was our problem, and we were better over longer runs. It was just good to get to the flag.”