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, the car company have unveiled their plans to team up with the former Renault Formula One team for 2011, under the name of Lotus Renault GP.
Group Lotus had already expressed a desire to return to Formula One, and following the Renault car company selling its stake in the F1 team back to Genii Capital, it allowed Genii to sell it on to Lotus.
Now at this point, you are probably very confused as Lotus are already in F1. Well, sort of. The Lotus team we have seen racing this season have been running under a name that they bought, they are not in any way affiliated with the Lotus Group who run the car company. This has led Dany Bahar, CEO of Group Lotus to begin court proceedings on Tony Fernandes who runs Team Lotus. Fernandes, the boss of Air Asia maintains that he will run his team in 2011 as Team Lotus, who will also be supplied with Renault engines. And just to make it more confusing, both teams are planning to run with classic black and gold John Player liveries. Excellent.
We aren’t going to get involved with who we think is right in this situation here on TheF1Fanatics Blog but we hope they sort it out as it is going to be mightly confusing next season for fans, commentators and drivers alike.
Dany Bahar told Autosport: “I can think of no better platform for automotive brand communications than motorsport and F1 is the very pinnacle of open-wheel racing.
“We’re well aware that there has been a lot of controversy around the usage of our brand in F1 and I’m delighted to be able to formally clarify our position once and for all: we are Lotus and we are back.”
Meanwhile, Gerard Lopez, chairman of Renault F1 Team and head of Genii Capital added: “We are delighted that we can now go public with the news that we will be racing as Lotus Renault GP in 2011.
“It is extremely exciting to begin a new era for the team in partnership with Group Lotus, and we will continue to enjoy a strong relationship with Renault over the coming seasons. It is a tribute to the excellent work this year by the team in Enstone that we have been able to attract both major sponsorship and new investment for a very bright future.”
Group Lotus have the rights to use their name with the Renault team until 2017.
Autosport have provided this mock-up of what the 2011 Lotus Renault GP car could look like.
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.”
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.”
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.”
Lotus are set to announce their first new driver for 2010, within a few days or potentially hours.
The Malaysian backed outfit is headed up by Tony Fernandes. He wrote on his official Twitter page;
“Malaysia Formula 1 team, aka Lotus, has signed its first driver,” Fernandes wrote.
“Public announcement soon. The dream continues.”
After a discussion between Fernandes and Autosport Magazine was published recently, it is likely that the two drievrs could be Jarno Trulli and Takuma Sato. Kamui Kobayashi has been linked to the seat and looks an increasingly likely possibility as Fernandes seems to disagree with Mike Gascoyne the technical chief on having 2 experienced drivers and suggests that one youngster would be more useful.
“If we can get a guy who has been doing it for a long time, that’s fantastic because you can’t buy experience and he can help us develop the car and the team,” said Fernandes. “And he can help us after the race, adding value to driver development.
“On the second driver, I think that it’s good to have someone young because sometimes if you have been doing it for 15 years there is a little bit of cynicism and it gets repetitious. If you’ve got an energetic young guy that rubs off on you. Ultimately, I will leave it to Mike and the team to decide.”
One of the more interesting stories of this week, although not as imporant as Toyota’s exit from F1, was the accusation from Force India’s senior management of concerns regarding the new Lotus F1 teams car.
Photos of the windtunnel model of the first Lotus were released a few weeks ago, and a paddock mole rooted out that Force India’s top management had held meetings regarding what it felt was robbery of design and intellectual property.
It is alleged, that the front wing assembly especially, and other dimensions of the model are sharing exact replicas of aerodynamic pieces and sizes used on early versions of Force India’s 2009 car.
The model, created by a company called Fondtech, a parent company of Aerolab worked with Force India until midway through 2009, when their partnership with Lotus was announced. Fondtech, based in Italy, have made this model for Lotus’ windtunnel testing use. Mike Gascoyne is the senior technical director of the team, overseeing large parts of the design and recently worked with Force India.
Following big stories like crash-gate and spy-gate this seems relatively minor, and considering Scuderia Toro Rosso used repaints of Red Bull’s cars and have done since their entry into F1 in 2006, it seems almost trivial. But it is interesting to see this element of design carried over, and with a ruling stating no two cars can have the exact replica designs to cut out “customer cars” as part of the 2010 regulations and FOTA’s preferred regulations, it will be interesting to see if the FIA take any action over the allegeations.
Mike Gascoyne gave a short interview to Autosport Magazine who brought these allegations to the public eye. He claims that generic wings were used on the model, almost suggesting that because of Fondtech’s recent partnership with Force India that the designs could be very similar.
“It [The Windtunnel Model] is based around a 2010 chassis, because there is a big fuel volume in it, it has a Cosworth engine, an Xtrac gearbox, our suspension, and other stuff designed by us. The Fondmetal guys put some generic bodywork on [for the tests].” Gascyone told Autosport
“Some of the staff had been working on different projects. And whereas you cannot copy anything or take anyone else’s IP, you can use your expertise – and you will base that on what you know and what directions you know have been happening. That is what has happened.”
Aerolab, the front base of operations for parent company Fondtech have not taken the criticisms lightly and are now sueing Force India over breaches of contract.
“It is quite unusual for us to comment on negative matters but we have been given no other choice but to make public the facts after press reports in recent days suggested that Aerolab has passed on information to parent company Fondtech which enjoys a close technical relationship with Lotus F1 Racing,” said Aerolab’s managing director Jean-Claude Migeot.
“These rumours are designed only to tarnish the company’s reputation and professionalism and to divert attention away from the facts.
“The truth is that Aerolab is suing Force India for not fulfilling its obligations.”
Quite a storm has been created down the end of the grid, so we shall keep looking at what occurs with the allegeations, in a week where Force India recieved nearly $5million payout from Etihad Airlines for cutting short its contract and swapping to sponsor front runners Scuderia Ferrari.
The above winglet from the Force India is a telling design when compared to the Lotus, apart from the two tier winglet which goes towards the nose from the end plate, the design of that winglet is replicated onto the Lotus. Te curved end plate with small carbon upright is also evident on the black Lotus aerodynamic model above. As are the sweeping carbon pieces which direct airflow under the car.
Kamui Kobayashi has stated he is now targetting getting a contract with one of the four new F1 teams, preferably with the Lotus Grand Prix team.
Kobayashi was a Toyota test driver, who completed the last 2 races for the Japanese outfit who pulled out of F1 earlier this week. Kobayashi, who admits he has no budget for next season and is concerned about going back to work in his father’s Sushi restaurant, has been seen as a potential new world champion after valiant performances.
“Obviously, my place at Toyota is lost,” the 23-year-old is quoted as saying.
“I was close to signing a contract for 2010, but there are four new teams and still options,” Kobayashi added. “If I could choose a team I would choose Lotus.”
However, Mike Gascoyne who is the new head of technical design at Lotus, and who has already landed himself in hot water and an argument with Force India about whether he has put their 2009 wing on the new 2010 Lotus, reckons he wants some experienced drivers.
“We are looking for two drivers with experience,” he told Autosport.com
“We are not looking for pay drivers or new drivers. We think that is very important for the team.”
Gascoyne also confirmed the rumours that Jarno Trulli is at the top of the wanted list for the team. “He [Trulli] is one of the guys we would like to have. Jarno has, over one lap, always been sensational. That is even more important in a new team because you need to know where you are on a Saturday. Jarno can always give you that.”
Jacques Villeneuve and Christian Klien have also held talks with Lotus over a potential future drive.