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Lotus evoke past glories as new adventure is launched
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Lotus evoke past glories as new adventure is launched
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Feb 2010   |  9:00 pm GMT  |  78 comments

Lotus unveiled their new team, car and drivers in London this evening. It was a professional and understated presentation, the key themes were passion and heritage rather than promises and hype.

Lotus 3
Team boss Tony Fernandes is a builder of brands and here he has pulled together various strands into this team, leaning heavily on the heritage of the Lotus name. But the Chapman family who founded Lotus are fully behind him and were at the launch, also behind him are Mike Gascoyne and his experienced technical team made up of former Toyota, Super Aguri and Renault staff.

There are 160 people in the team at present and most of them were at the launch. Also present were some ex Lotus drivers, Sir Stirling Moss and Nigel Mansell among them.

Most of the engineering team are ex-Toyota, with a 30 strong design office in Cologne, near the old Toyota headquarters. The wind tunnel team is based in Italy. Gascoyne claims that the car went together better in the car build stage than any car he has been involved in before.

Lotus 1
The car looks fairly straight forward without perhaps the intricate refinement of the new cars from the likes of Red Bull or McLaren. But Gascoyne says that it is a solid base on which to build for the future. He knows what it takes to succeed in F1 and is a good planner, so you have to take his word for it.

“Probably we need to take some weight out of some of the components, and we made some design decisions very early on that we’ll want to refine,” he said. “But I have to say I think we’ve designed a very contemporary 2010-spec car. It’s not out of date, it’s very well designed, so I’m not worried – I think we’ve got a very solid base to build on.

“We will be a very solid professional team. We’ll score some points and we’ll spring some surprises towards the end of the year.”

This has been a remarkable effort; the team only pushed the button on building a car five months ago and at that stage there were just four employees including Gascoyne.

The team has done remarkably well to get drivers of the calibre and experience of Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalaianen. Both will regard this as a move down and it will be interesting to monitor motivation as the season goes on. But I think they will be fired up to build this team into something – there is an infectious enthusiasm and a family atmosphere about this team, reminiscent of what teams were like in the late 1980s /early 1990s when I started working in this sport.

Lotus are the second new team to reveal their car after Virgin Racing. Team boss Tony Fernandes plans for this to be the only time this year that they follow behind Virgin and said that he has ordered the stockings for Virgin’s Richard Branson to wear when he loses their bet and has to work as a cabin stewardess on Fernandes’ airline. That is the forfeit for whichever of them finishes lower in the championship.

The other two new teams are now in a real race against time. Campos has a car from Dallara and engines, but is struggling to find the funding to pay Dallara and start the season. USF1 meanwhile seems to have the funding, but is running behind on the technical side and is in a race against time to get the car ready for the start of the season in Bahrain.

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78 Comments
  1. Josh says:

    Like the colour scheme, and the driver lineup is improbably strong/experienced for a new team, but I don’t think they’re going to trouble the frontrunners, car doesn’t look quite right somehow. I hope they prove me wrong though!

  2. Flintelli says:

    James, word on the street is that Trulli is helping to develope the new Lotus Evora. So Lotus are starting to connect with Lotus racing. Excellent

  3. Richard Smith says:

    “Probably we need to take some weight out of some of the components”

    It really is a team in the Chapman tradition, then…

    1. Martin P says:

      Best place to start…. Jarno Trulli!

  4. Neil Smith says:

    The car looks beautiful in that colour scheme doesn’t it?

      1. KNF says:

        I wonder if there’s been any enterprising Photoshoppers making JPS black and gold renders of the T127???

  5. George says:

    It’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top between Virgin and Lotus, judging purely from aesthetics the Lotus seems to have a very basic body (tall, flat sidepods and short flat nose), but a very intricate front wing, whereas the Virgin has a very basic front wing and a detailed body with swooping sidepods and the popular ‘V’ shaped nose.

    I like the fact they’ve gone back to old Lotus colours, probably the most recognisable after JPS, but ties in with their road cars better.

    Hopefully the newcomers will be more competative than Virgin have shown at the test so far this week, di Montezemolo must be incandescent right now :P.

  6. smellyden says:

    So with US F1 and Campos not looking good at the moment, and with Jean Todt coming out and saying that no team can miss a race, whats going to happen with these teams? Will Stefan GP have a chance to acutally run thier cars?

  7. Adrian says:

    James.

    Firstly how excited are people in the paddock to see the Lotus name back in F1..?? I’ve grown up with the name as my Dad had a Lotus Cortina since I was very young and at one point an old 60′s Europa too, and we frequently used to go to the Lotus show at Donington so I feel something of a draw to the brand and although I’ll be supporting McLaren this year, I’ll definitely be rooting for Lotus as well.

    Secondly, what are you hearing with regard to USF1 and Campos? Are you able to decypher any of the myriad of rumours that are on the Internet and do you think either or both will make it to Bahrain?? If on of them doesn’t then what chance do you think of Stephan GP being allowed to step into their place??

    1. James Allen says:

      I answered re USF1 and Campos in the post. As for Lotus, there were some other team bosses there tonight, Nick Fry, Frank Williams and Patrick Head. I think there is a cautious welcome. Lotus looks well run so should be an asset to the series.

  8. Trent says:

    Looks fantastic!

  9. Carlm21 says:

    I think the car is one of the best to look at with the gold rims and green paint. They have 2 good drivers in Trulli and Kovalinen, both won a grand prix each, things might start off slow but given time it should come together.

    If Mike Gascoyne stays with the team for a number of years then they will make progress. I was very surprised that Renault got rid of him and even more surprised that Toyota did the same as they never got their act together after that.

    Great so see Lotus back in formula 1.

    1. Frenchie says:

      Didn’t Renault win a couple of championships after getting rid of him?

      1. Tim says:

        Gascoyne left Renault for a big money job at Toyota, he wasn’t fired. And Renault won their 2005-06 titles using the structures and systems Gascoyne put in place.

      2. Med says:

        I think he left for a payday at Toyota rather than Renault getting rid of him; cast your mind back and he joined Jordan in 1998 and got to work sorting things out for ’99, which was their best ever season; I think he then joined Benetton in 2000 and they saw an upturn in form, leading on to Renault buying them out.

        While he left in 03, I think he was credited with sorting out their tech structure which led on to them winning. Results at Toyota apparently didn’t come because of personality clashes between him and the higher ups – it seems he’s been able to come to places, get them to raise their game, but then never been there to see it through to the end-point, so it’ll be interesting to see what he can do here.

      3. Carlm21 says:

        The point I’m making is he turns a team from doing nothing much into a team that starts getting regular podiums and close to winning, like at Renault and Toyota. You can even look at Force India to see what a good job he did there, progressing a car that was near the back of the grid to the front. Fighting with ferrari at spa was a prime example. Lotus should be close to a podium by end of the season.

      4. Frenchie says:

        Don’t get me wrong guys, this was a bit of a cheeky commment.

        That said, whilst I admire Dr Gascoygne, he has never built a title winning car unlike Adrian Newey or Bob Bell.

        Lastly, it took Spyker/Force India three years to make it to the podium. Lotus will perform but not before 2012 at the earliest. When he arrived at Spyker, there were facilities already. Lotus has been (re-)started from scratch.

        Then again, this is just my feeling. It’d be great to have James opinion on Lotus.

      5. James Allen says:

        You’ve a bit mixed up there, Bob and Mike are not designers they are technical organisers like Ross Brawn and Geoff Willis. Newey comes at it from the design side as you say.

  10. caca says:

    branson is in stakings already. 17 seconds a lap is too much even for him.

    1. Matt F says:

      You’ll find Virgin were only able to run when the track was at it’s wettest, hence the 17 second difference to Alguersari’s time which was set in the morning. They were roughly 3-4 seconds away from the others in the same conditions.

      Early days yet.

  11. Neil Barr says:

    Since this team is identified by the FIA as “Lotus F1 Racing” one must conclude that the points they score will not be added to those accumulated by “Team Lotus”.

    1. Young Slinger says:

      The FIA have accepted them as a continuation of Team Lotus – F1 website comments!

      1. Flintelli says:

        They may has well had called themselves Brabham for all the name matters!

  12. Andy C says:

    Just like virgin f1 I am very happy to see them on the grid.

    I love the old lotus link. It’s a good ploy to use a well know brand. I really rate gascoigne and I think given a free reign they will steadily progress.

    I for one will not miss the manufacturer era (i know merc gp are here and a Quasi Renault team but you know what I mean).

    I want to see a spread of teams from front to back and virgin and lotus seem to me to be credible with proper tech teams. Let’s not forget when everyone is criticising virgin that they have good commercial acumen with Branson, racing knowledge in manor and wirth.

    I worry greatly about Usf1 and camposthat they will be another forti team.

  13. Tom says:

    They’re definitely trying to get a mortgage on the underdog tag, and good on them. The team seems full of people with a point to prove. Gascoyne will be in his element…

  14. Darren says:

    great looking car, and with the chapmans blessing it is Lotus ;-)

  15. Isn’t it great to have the name Lotus back!

    First impressions looking at the car is that it’s very boxy, not very sexy looking, but I like the colour scheme!

    But do you know what? I’m happy to have the team participating in F1, maybe their design will work, I can’t judge until the car hits the track, but it’s really nice to have the name back and hear them talk about passion other than goals they might struggle to achieve in their first year!

    Heikki though is such a McLaren man though!

    Is it me or do certain drivers ‘suit’ certain teams? Alonso to me never suited Mclaren colours, where as in red for Ferrari he fits in so well! Heikki suited Mclaren overalls I think, looks fine in Lotus, but you have to admit he did have the ‘Mclaren’ look!

    Rabbling on as usual, sorry!

  16. Nick H says:

    The colour scheme looks great and it is a massive acheivement to get the car designed and produced in five months.

  17. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    Love the wheels! I hope that the car looks as good on TV.

    Let’s see how Lotus get on with the Rottweiler Gascoyne and how long it takes for them to fall out with. He seems to have worked his way down the pitlane over the last few years.

    Admire Lotus’s spirit.

    1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      Sorry I meant Mike the Bulldog!

      1. caca says:

        bulldog or rottweiler doesn’t matter. But you talk like you have a cristal ball.
        Can you tell us who is it going to win the first race of the year?

      2. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

        I asked a question and did not make any prediction.

  18. James W says:

    I really can’t see this as anything other than 1Malaysia Racing. Not that there’s anything wrong with Fernandes- he seems like a good new character for F1- but I’d actually feel a bit more positive towards the team if they’d simply called themselves that rather than dragging up a great name of the past for marketing purposes. You can buy the naming rights and paint it in classic Lotus colours but ultimately it means nothing.

    Still, strong driver line-up, good tech department and big backing from Malaysia. They should weather the difficult first few years well.

    1. KNF says:

      They’ll be accepted as Lotus when they start scoring points regularly.

      If they get podiums (unlikely though), you’ll start to see more people convieniently forget that they are really a joint Anglo-Malaysian outfit…

  19. Ian Blackwell says:

    Looking at the apparent problems at Virgin, I think it is already safe to say that the money will be on Mr Branson handing you a glass of champagne on your next flight. The Lotus car looks solid (if a bit underdeveloped) and should not prove awful. Testing inaccuracy notwithstanding, Virgin look very far off the pace. This leads me to a question – do they still have a 107% rule in qualifying or can you start a race with a car 9 seconds off the pace? Also Given all the new teams and the rain we have had at Jerez, will the FIA allow all (or just the new) teams some extra testing days to make up?

  20. Tone says:

    What happened to the Lotus logo? It’s just a pizza slice with green and yellow stripes now. Why go the heritage route with the old colour scheme but stuff up the old, famous logo?

    1. Nick H says:

      Well its not the old original Lotus team, so i doubt they could use the old Logo.

    2. Frenchie says:

      I think I remember it was a bit of a sticking issue when 1Malysian F1 team applied to enter Formula 1 with the Lotus name.

      They could not use the logo as Lotus (the car manufacturer) despite belonging to another Malaysian company (Proton) is a separate entity.

  21. Malcolm46 says:

    I think the design looks great!

    Pleased to have them on the grid. My gut feeling says that Lotus will beat Virgin over the season but we see!

  22. Rich C says:

    You guys… honestly. You’ve all gone gaga. I know every Brit in the Known Universe wants “Lotus” in F1, but it ain’t really them!

    Hell you could go find some other Big Name in History’s Dustbin … like AutoUnion or some such… and buy the name rights for $5 from the 4th cousin of the great grandaughter of the Founders 2nd Ex-wife and it would be about as authentic.

    Get a grip!

  23. guy says:

    Heikki bears a striking resemblance to circa 1974 Mahavishnu Orchestra’s John McLaughlin!

    http://en.espnf1.com/lotus/motorsport/image/8691.html?page=1

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:JohnMcLaughlin.jpg

  24. A.K. says:

    British racing green should stay in the 60′s; it’s far to bland for today’s F1.

    1. Pierre says:

      And what about the Bentley which won Le Mans a few years ago? With its british green, the car was fantastic looking.
      I find this Lotus F1 scheme very very nice looking, and much better than Virgin, Force India or Sauber.

    2. caca says:

      i have to disagree.

    3. Matt says:

      Have you seen the new Renault?

      1. Frenchie says:

        Yup. That colour scheme should definitely have stayed in the 70′s.

  25. Bayan says:

    fantastic looking car. Hope it is fast (at least faster than most people are expecting them to be),

  26. Ilanin says:

    James, can you shed any light on the T127 name? That has the ring of an official Lotus type number (certainly the Evora racer was the Type 124, putting it in the right area), giving the car rather more sanction from Lotus Cars/Team Lotus than is widely reported.

    Is the car officially the Lotus Type 127 or has it just been given a name that sounds like it would be what Lotus would have called the car if they’d actually made it?

  27. Smokey says:

    Branson may as well start dressing up now. The Lotus won’t be quick but it won’t be a slug either ( which is what the virgin clearly is )

  28. Tony says:

    It looks great. If Virgin racing don’t improve they will look very foolish, is there stil a rule where you don’t get to race if you are too slow? Used to be 110% of the pole time I think.

    1. James W says:

      It was 107% of the pole time and no, it’s not in place any more. Not sure what would happen if a team was 10-15 seconds off the pace.

  29. Frenchie says:

    What an achievement! When you think 5 months ago Lotus only had 5 employees and now they have launched a car, quite impressive.

    That said, this car looks like the Force India VJM02 at the front and the F2002 at for the coke bottle.

    Glad to see the name and colours are back. The same goes for Gascoygne, Trulli and Kovy.

    I also hope they perform better than Virgin so that Sir Dick wears the AirAsia stewardess outfit.

  30. Stu says:

    I think the livery looks excellent. The first race I can remember was Portugal ’85 so it’s great to have lotus back in F1, even if it’s just in name.

    I think this comment may be a bit much…

    “We will be a very solid professional team. We’ll score some points and we’ll spring some surprises towards the end of the year.”

    This looks like a comment that will come back to bite them on the rear.

    “We will be a very solid professional team. We’ll score some points and we’ll spring some surprises towards the end of the year.”

    The points may go up to 10th this year but not only will they’ll need to be faster and smarter/luckier than the existing teams they’ll also have to have amazing reliability. Car failures are as rare in todays F1 as a good race performance by Heikki is.

    Also, if the cosworth is really down on performance will they be able to tune it up before the first race or at some point in the season? I know there’s a freeze but having dangerously slow new teams is a special case.

    As for the side bet with Branson. I can see this being won by the team scoring the highest non points winning positions and not through points.

    Especially if Steffan GP get to race.

  31. Kevin M says:

    The new Lotus looks pretty good. I definitely like it a lot more than the Virgin car.

    Maybe once all teams have launched you should have a poll to see which car people like the look of the most? Or maybe just have the new teams (plus Renault perhaps consider their car looks so different?). I’m sure that new fans to F1 will start following some of the newer teams and the designs probably have a big impact on what teams people will choose to follow.

  32. John Gibson says:

    I have a suspicion that not only will Lotus be comfortably the best of the new teams (despite winning its entry far later than the others), but may end up ahead of Toro Rosso in the constructors’ champsionship by the end of the year. For a new team, that would be an excellent achievement.

  33. Nik James says:

    Does this mean then that Petronas Mercedes GP points will not be added to those accumulated by the old ‘silver arrows’ mercedes team. Not trying to be a smart arse just curious?

  34. caca says:

    the car looks good. Quite possibly the best of the newcomers.

    1. Frenchie says:

      Hopefully it’s front wing will remain attached! :-)

  35. David says:

    I’m delighted to see “Lotus redivivus” racing in F1 again. Love the BRG-based colour scheme, although I think the racing-stripe might have been handled more creatively (and thus the logo, too), but hey, it’s a start!

    Now if only McLaren would revert to their proper orange, all would be well!

  36. Peppers says:

    Sorry gang, but I seem to be the only one (apart from AK) who doesn’t like this colour scheme.

    The car looks like a old family car that is owned by a 19 year old who has decided to hot it up a bit, and tried to make his average car look like a classic.

    It looks really old fashioned, which may make it hard to attract sponsors, as no one will want to be associated with a old looking back-of-the-field car.

  37. Antoine says:

    I think trading on the Lotus name is a bit risky, it belonged
    to a different era and people. Still, hope they do better than Jaguar…

    1. Frenchie says:

      They have the blessing of Clive Chapman (Colin’s son) I understand. I think there might be a little bit of spirit rather than just the name.

  38. Jonathan Dye says:

    People keep moaning on about it only being Lotus in name and it has no actual link to the Lotus of past, but by the same logic is the Mercedes not just a Mercedes by name alone. Surely there is more Brawn or even Honda to that team than Mercedes?

    Same can be said for Renault. Even Mclaren and Williams dont own their team 100%.

    I think its great that they are back, even if only in name. The car looks basic, but it will be a strong base to build upon.

    What a year in prospect!!!

  39. Spencer says:

    Love the BRG colour scheme but the car really does look very boxy. Is it perhaps a evolution of the Lotus 109 rather than a new 2010 car. You can’t help but think that all those details found on a 2010 Red Bull, McLaren or a Ferrari appear to be missing here! All that said, I really hope it’s quick!

  40. S2K says:

    Lotus Racing (the new team) has no relation with Team Lotus (the old team). Just before Team Lotus went bankrupt, it was bought by James Hunt’s brother. He wasn’t mentioned in the news related to the new team at all, so he may still have the brand.

    The only relation of Lotus Racing is with Lotus Cars but this is another story.

    Anyway the car looks quite “square”. I am sure it will be off the pace.

    1. TM says:

      Yeah the tiny nose looks weird… maybe Renault and Lotus should share some nose cone material! Lol

    2. Lee Knights says:

      May well be more between Lotus F1 Racing and Lotus cars then you think

      http://www.lotus-central.com/en/news/356-lotus-evora-cup-testmedia-day.html

      1. Tom Mitchell says:

        What just because Trulli do a bit of cross-promotion?!
        If Luca di Montezemolo had sat in a Ford Escort it wouldn’t suddenly become a Ferrari.

      2. Lee Knights says:

        Proton (backed by Malaysian government), who own group Lotus have pumped money into Lotus F1 racing, Group Lotus have acquired quite a few ex Ferrari staff, with the aim of bringing Lotus motorsport up to the level of Ferrari, they are not going to go to all that expense and have a team called Lotus F1 racing which has nothing to do with Group Lotus are they? I would imagine they see F1 as the pinnacle of motorsport don’t you?

      3. TM says:

        Lee, sorry but I think you have your own argument mixed up. You originally weren’t arguing as to whether the team is committed or has good staff, or what the pinnacle of motorsport is. Your new points have absolutely nothing to do with whether this team has links to the original Team Lotus – it is the name of the team that offends many fans, not the team’s commitment or staff.

        Secondly, do you think that Proton and the Malaysian government ran the original Team Lotus? By the way I know you say ‘Lotus Cars’, but S2K’s post argues (rightly) that this has nothing to do with ‘Team Lotus’, and that a link with ‘Lotus Cars’ is another story. This is no more Team Lotus than it was Jaguar who entered 2000-2004.

      4. TM says:

        By the way – I know the team isn’t calling itself ‘Team Lotus’ before you say it. It’s the fact that it has ‘Lotus’ in it at all to take advantage of the Team Lotus history – otherwise why not just call it Proton?

  41. Rich m says:

    Think that’s a bit OTT given the big 4 teams – I would imagine they will take top 6 places at most races

  42. TM says:

    I hate that this team is called Lotus. Why did they have to call it Lotus? It’s not Lotus any more than if I make a car and call it a Ferrari. I love small and gutsy teams in F1 – I was really sad when Super Aguri left. But leave great names to their great pasts unless there really is a proper connection. It’s annoying and saddening for big F1 fans and it’s confusing to new or passing fans.

    1. KNF says:

      Here’s an analogy:

      Suppose Luca di Montezemolo, having been unable to get his way on a third car, decide to start a new F1 team. He gets a bunch of laid off Brawn, Sauber and Toyota people (unlikely, I know) and calls it Lancia, but the Lancia road car division is not involved. Would people (esp. the tifosi) accept it as Lancia???

  43. Jorge Moreira da Costa says:

    Looks beautiful (mostly for the livery) and I really hope it lives to it on track. It would be unfortunate to see a second GB famous brand just making up the numbers (as Jaguar did).

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