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.”
Team Germany ran away to success in the Race of Champions Nation Cup last weekend, a victory on home soil in Dusseldorf for the pairing of Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher.
The pair overcame stiff competition from top motorsport countries of the world, as drivers from all motorsport disciplines tried their hand in a variety of cars on the circuit.
Meanwhile in the individual classification there was a surprise winner in Filipe Albuquerque, the relative unknown driver who has spent the last two seasons racing GT cars in Italy. He previously raced in Gp2 and Formula Renault 3.5.
“I was not really expecting to win. I just came here to do my best. I don’t know if it will open doors. I think I know what I want. But let’s see, take it day by day.
“I came here, did my best, when it counted it was good. Even if I had not won, even being so close to Sebastien [Loeb] in the end was already really good for me.”
Meanwhile there was drama for 2004 champion and Lotus F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen. Following victory in an Audi R8 race, the Finn crashed and knocked himself unconscious.
“Hardcore shunt with throttle jammed and rear suspension damaged, got knocked out, now some medical checkups,” he wrote on his Twitter page.
“Head’s a bit sore, I was unconscious for 30 seconds”
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.”
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.”
Lotus Grand Prix Racing are back in Formula One after a 16 year absence.
The team, reformed by Malaysian business magnate Tony Fernandes, the owner of Air Asia, launched their car – the T127 – in a lavish ceremony in Central London just a couple of hours ago.
The new car is decked out in swathes of green and yellow which will be familiar to any followers of classic Grand Prix, back in the hey-day of drivers like Jim Clark.
Looking a little sponsorless, despite its beautiful livery money will not be an issue to the multi-millionaire Fernandes, who has a bet on that his team will be better than rival airline owner Richard Branson’s new Virgin team.
Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen will be racing the car, a great pairing with plenty of experience for the team – with Fairuz Fauzy, the rated rookie as test driver.
“Words cannot express how I feel today,” said Fernandes. “It is an amazing job to get an F1 licence, have five people in Hingham and turn up today with this car.
“I was thrilled when Clive [Chapman] said that this was just like te beginning of Lotus back in the early days.”
He added: “We know we have a huge burden on our shoulers, standing on the shoulders of giants – Clark, Moss, Hill, and Mansell. We know we have a tremendous journey in front of us, we are honoured and cherished to be a part of history – we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts and we will do our best to return Lotus to its glory days.”
Mike Gascoyne, the former Toyota technical director was bouyant on the new car.
“The launch of the car is a very proud moment for the design team and the whole team,” said Gascoyne. “This one is very special for me personally for two reasons – firstly the Lotus name coming back into F1 is something very special.
“I grew up in Norfolk and went to school five miles down the road from the original factory. I grew up in era when Lotus was winning races and championships, so the opportunity to work with this team is very special. But also it is the challenge of bringing a new team and a new car into F1 in such a short space of time.
“What this is about for me, and it is the first launch I have been to where the whole team is here, there is a fantastic buzz about this place, the whole team has given their heart and soul to this project. I want to thank Tony on behalf of the whole team to have the courage to back us and trust us.
“We have a fantastic driver line-up who have put faith in the whole design team. I am proud to be up here on stage as a representative of that team, they have done a fantastic job.”
Meanwhile Italian driver Jarno Trulli said the whole event was very emotional.
“It is a very emotional moment for me – it will be great to take Lotus back on track where Lotus belongs and I think we have a big challenge, but it is what we are aiming for. I am really fired up for it,” he said.
Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen have been confirmed as the Lotus F1 Team’s drivers for the forthcoming 2010 season.
The pair, both refugees from their former teams will join up with the newly formed, Malaysian backed team.
Trulli comes from Toyota who have left Formula One for good, and Kovalainen comes from the end of his contract at McLaren where he was replaced by current World Champion Jenson Button after some largely unimpressive seasons.
Fairuz Fauzy, a Malaysian driver will be the teams third driver.
“Trulli will bring us a lot of experience to develop the team. Heikki is a young driver with a lot of experience so I think we have fantastic drivers, with Fairuz as well. It is a wonderful mix of experience, youth and passion.”
Jarno Trulli will work with Mike Gascoyne again at Lotus, the third different team the Italian has worked with the British technical chief.
“I have been impressed by the long-term vision of the team management and technical staff,” Trulli said in a statement. “Tony has set out very ambitious plans and I am ready to help the team achieve these high targets.
“I am also pleased to be back working alongside Mike Gascoyne, someone with whom I have enjoyed previous success at other teams. I get on very well with him and I respect his working style.”
Kovalainen admitted he was very happy with the progress of the new team.
“I recently visited our factory and was so impressed by seeing how far the team has come in such a short time since it was launched in September, and by how determined everyone is to meet Tony’s ambitious targets.
“I knew immediately it would be a fantastic opportunity to help them achieve their goals.”