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Lotus gears up to buy technology from Red Bull
Lotus gears up to buy technology from Red Bull
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Oct 2010   |  8:32 am GMT  |  75 comments

The ambitious Lotus F1 team has announced that it will use gearboxes and hydraulics from Red Bull Technology next season – which it will marry with a Renault engine. The engine deal is likely to be announced shortly.

Effectively it will have a back end similar to the one which is competing for the championship this year and this will provide not only better performance but also better reliability. This year, in common with all the new teams, Lotus has been using Xtrac gearboxes and hydraulics and the hydraulics in particular have proven unreliable.

Lotus - tie up with Red Bull (Photo: Darren Heath)

Lotus and Cosworth announced their separation earlier this week. The Malaysian backed team will have had to buy its way out of that contract, which was valued at around £6 million per year. The Renault engines will be a little more expensive than that, so it’s quite a significant step financially.

It is interesting that Lotus has done the deal with Red Bull, there was consideration given to doing the whole back end deal with Renault, but that has not happened.

Lotus technical boss Mike Gascoyne, who last week signed on for another five years with the team, says that this is the right move, not least from the point of the 2011 rules which ban double diffusers, changing the space available to work with the gearbox,
“The gearbox / hydraulics package obviously plays a critical role in the performance of the car, not just on track but in design and packaging terms, and this deal gives our design and aero teams a very exciting platform to work with,” he said in a statement today.

“The removal of the double diffusers in 2011 will allow the whole grid to tighten up the rear bodywork and mechanical structures around the gearbox, and this supply deal will allow us to capitalise on that with our 2011 car. Exciting times lie ahead.”

For Red Bull Technology, a separate entity from the Red Bull Racing team, established to help the drinks company get around the rules regarding customer chassis, this is the first supplier deal of its kind and reflects the class leading technology they are producing.

Although the technology is coming together, the name and brand is still up in the air as the row with Group Lotus continues. There has been some intervention from the Malaysian government, getting both sides to stop issuing statements and put a lid on it, while they work through a process. The Lotus F1 team has indicated its willingness to go to the High Court in London to sort out who is entitled to call itself what. We wait to see whether it will actually come to that.

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  1. Stevie P says:

    There is some impressive “positioning” going on at Lotus Racing. Sure they’ve got to bolt all the components together, but Gascoyne’s been there and done that before… if I were Sauber, Torro Rosso, maybe even Force India and Williams I’d be looking over my shoulder at them as potentional challengers to their positions – which is something I wasn’t expecting to happen so quickly.

    1. Simon Emms says:

      Quite agree. Further evidence that Lotus are the only new team who are doing F1 correctly

      1. Jonathan De Andrade says:

        I would also keep an eye at Virgin. This year they waste too much time with reliability problems and could not proove their real potential. I would wait till next year to agree or disagree with you. Hispania is definitely not doing the right job Id say.

      2. Frenchie says:

        Virgin has indeed shown improvements in reliability over the last few races.

        And with having to build a new car after the first fly away races at the beginning of the year, it must have hurt their performance development.

        Despite not being convinced by the ‘all CFD’ R&D I’d expect them to do better next year but not to the level of Lotus Racing (as they are still known I think), who are for me the outstanding new team this year.

      3. tank says:

        agreed – controversy is the norm. Name disputes, allegedly using Toyota’s wind tunnel models…

    2. Stevie P says:

      But I have no idea what “potentional” means ;-)

  2. martin_tf says:

    Lotus look to be showing a lot of potential for next year. Hopefully they can get into regular points scoring positions.

  3. Proesterchen says:

    Are there any implications from this deal on the use of KERS on either Teams’ 2011 entry?

    Good on Lotus, it’s great to see at least one of the new entries taking sincerely to the challenge of building a competitive F1 car!

    1. Andy C says:

      Presumably they would use the Renault version of KERS, along with Renault and Redbull.

      1. Frenchie says:

        Knowing Gascoyne, I think he’d decide to get the basics of the car right before going ahead with KERS.

        Just look at the sidepods of this year’s car – he’s just not taking any risks.

      2. Andy C says:

        Possibly but I think the very conservative design was down to time from getting the go ahead to having to have it on track.

        I expect the designs and engineering to be much better on the new cars next year.

        If you remember the comments of Geoff willis when he saw the hrt car that he was very surprised at the low level of tech and design on the hrt dallara design.

  4. Young Slinger says:

    Potentialy a great move. Anything that removes/improves the slower cars is good for the sport. If the bottom teams want to remove the blue flags from races, they should all improve or leave, and not act as mobile chicanes!

  5. PaulL says:

    You would never have heard about Colin Chapman buying technology. The genuine Team Lotus were pioneers, this one is a mere merchant.

    1. Wrexter says:

      Couldnt agree with you more. Seems like flashing money around is proof of ability to perform in F1.

    2. Stevie P says:

      That’s true Paul, but I don’t see any other way of making such big strides, do you?

    3. Peter Jones says:

      I think you need to read up on the original Team Lotus a bit more. When they started in F1, they used engines bought from Coventry Climax before switching to BRM and then Ford Cosworth when F1 switched to 3 litre engines. Even the transmission and gearboxes were bought from ZF in Germany.

      It looks like the new Team Lotus (Proton permitting) are following in the same, sensible, footsteps by purchasing reliable and strong equipment to help build the team up and earn some success.

      1. Andy C says:

        Well said!

      2. Paul L says:

        There was hyperbole in my remark.

        Obviously I didn’t mean that Chapman invented everything he ran, but I don’t believe Lotus got to the top by buying successful intellectual property off the top teams.

        There seems so little that’s genuine or authentic about this Lotus outfit. They’ve come into F1 with a mediocre pedigree in the junior formulae, taken it upon themsleves a great name of the sport with no justification in terms of links to Team Lotus, and now they’ve buying successful technology because they want to prop up their unsuccessful cars.

      3. Frenchie says:

        I’ll reassure you on one point: buying the Red Bull gearbox and hydraulics is not going to take Team Lotus Racing (delete as appropriate) to the top but it will help them moving away from the bottom of the grid.

        I’d expect them to fall just behind Force India, ahead of Toro Rosso and maybe TelMex Sauber.

      4. Philip Taylor says:

        They have the support of the Chapman family. Surely that’s enough justification in terms of links?

      5. Paul L says:

        Put it this way, I admire Virgin more for bringing something new to F1.. the first all ‘CDF’ designed car. And well.. they’ve beaten “Lotus” on some occasions this year.

    4. john g says:

      didn’t he use cosworth DFV engines?

      anyway, times have changed, and there’s absolutely no point spending $20 million and a year developing a gearbox when there’s a better one off the shelf, proven and ready to go for $5m or whatever.

    5. Robert in San Diego says:

      That is BS! Who used the first Cosworth DFV? Don’t get me wrong, I loved Colin Chapman and his creations, but they were full of technology from outside.

    6. haj says:

      Did Lotus ever build their own engine in an F1 car????

      1. James Allen says:

        No. They used Coventry Climax, Ford DFV, Renault

      2. monktonnik says:

        Perhaps Lotus should rebrand themselves as Coventry Climax! Another great name on F1 :)

    7. Rich says:

      Difficult for anyone to be a pioneer with 3 million pages of F1 rules and regs!

    8. Mark Vincent says:

      That’s a little harsh. In Chapman’s day the numbers involved were far less than today, even so Lotus were rapidly running out of working capital towards the end of his life – hence the involvement with de Lorean. From what I can see the “new” Lotus are approaching the sport in a professional, ambitious and realistic manner – more power to them.

    9. Andy C says:

      Should all F1 teams build their own engines, gearboxes and hydraulics then?

      You could say the same thing about Torro Rosso, Force India, Sauber etc.

      There is no sense whatsoever of having 12 different hydraulics systems on the grid, with on a small number of different engines (especially for the smaller teams).

      1. Werner says:

        That is the reason why I love Ferrari ! They are the only team that have build everything. In French we say : “chapeau” ! That’s why the Prancing Horse F1 team is so special…

      2. Andy C says:

        Let’s not be precious about external suppliers.

        Ferrari buy components for braking and suspension components, and run mclaren electronics and pretty sure they run magnetti marelli ignition systems.

      3. Frenchie says:

        I agree with Andy C.

        Ferrari have loads to suppliers and don’t manufacture everything themselves. Ever heard of Momo steering wheels, Magneti Marelli electronics, Carbon Industrie brakes and so on and so forth?

        Just look at their suppliers’ name towards the Coke bottle end of the car.

      4. Frenchie says:

        ‘Chapeau bas’ that is. :-)

      5. Werner says:

        This is ridiculous ! Ferrari has always made their own chassis, motor, gearbox and so…
        They are the only team who did that. Of course they buy from other suppliers but there is a big difference in buying carbon brakes than buying an engine, isn’t it ?
        Whether you like it or not (I am not English but Belgian…) Ferrar IS THE ONLY TEAM THAT MAKE THE ENGINE, CHASSIS, GEARBOX themselves and because of that they do get the respect of everybody on the grid. Beside their Formula one occupations they are able to produce one of the best supercars of the world. I would say : “CHAPEAU” !!!

      6. john g says:

        mercedes also now make their own engine, chassis, and gearbox. doesn’t make anyone respect them anymore, and doesn’t make them any more successful than teams that concentrate fully on what they are good at, like red bull or mclaren.

      7. Werner says:

        I am very sorry but you cannot compare Mercedes to Ferrari in that perspective. They bought Brawn, which was Honda and so on…
        For sure they are building their own motor but in fact it is a British engine, developped in England by Illmor if I am right…
        I wanted to say that Ferrari has always been doing that and they are the only ones. Only for that reason they do have a lot of respect of the paddock. Martin Whitmarsh has told before that they would like to the same (or better) and that this is a huge task which will take quite some time.
        I know that in England there are not so many Ferrari-fans but it is a fact that Ferrari is a very particular team. For me the only team that you can compare with them is Mc Laren, Williams and of course the former TEAM LOTUS.
        I must say that I am very impressed with what Lotus cars are doing at the moment and I believe they should have their own Formula one team as this a supercar manufacture with the same kind of image as Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin. I found it so wrong that they sold this huge name of motorsport for one year.
        I really hope they create their own team as I have always had a lot of affection to the team of Sir Colin Chapman !

  6. Jack says:

    Hopefully we’ll see them challenge the midfield next year then, considering they started on this car so early and they have these new deals with Renault and RBR they’ll almost definitely move clear of the new teams

  7. Just A Bloke (Martin) says:

    Well done to the senior management of the team. I am hugely impressed with this, it marks an impressive ambition and harks back to the garagiste days of a small focussed racing team doing an innovative job on the chassis and aero. Never mind HRT and Virgin, a reliable drivetrain package, coupled with a Mike Gascoyne lead, tightly knit tech team should really put the wind up the Torro Rosso, Sauber and maybe Force India and Williams as well.

    Now for the name…

    1. Mark Vincent says:


      1. Young Slinger says:

        Oh, well shot!

      2. malcolm.strachan says:

        BRM? Vanwall? Cooper? Connaught?

        Might have to battle it out with BMW for the Cooper name…

      3. Frenchie says:

        Alfa Romeo, licensed from FIAT for a one year deal of course.

  8. Andy C says:

    That is excellent news. That is an area they have really suffered with this year, and Redbulls technology has to be right up there with the best of them.

    Putting a Renault and Redbull tech package in the back of the car has got to give them a good base.

    This allows them to spend their time on the rest of the package. If you remember the leap forward Force India made when they signed their deal with McLaren, the rest of the field might want to start looking behind them.

    It adds another exciting factor for next years racing.

  9. Matt H says:

    This sounds like Force Indias technical tie in with McLaren, i’d expect Lotus to be in the points on a regular basis towards the middle/end of next season. Impressive progress and it looks to be a long term project too. Great news

  10. James says:

    Regardless of whatever name they will be racing under next year, there are indeed some encouraging noises and signs coming from the Lotus team. I just hope that this is all built on something solid. We’ve seen hard-up teams making boasts about deals and agreements in the past, without all the funding in place for the next season.

  11. Rob says:

    Pullrod suspension at the rear for Lotus in 2011?

  12. KNF says:

    Why can’t Lotus Racing and Group Lotus come to an agreement, where Tony Fernandes runs the F1 team while Group Lotus maintains a presence in GP2 through ART (with some competition from Team Air Asia), and Litespeed staying in F3?

    That way, the risk of the F1 team is not borne by Group Lotus, a career path exists for aspiring Southeast Asian drivers and engineers and the famous name is represented in all ladders of motorsport… Doesn’t sound bad to me!

  13. Tov says:

    Here is a dumb question. What exacly does the hydraulics do in f1 car? Is it just water pump oil pump etc or smth else?

    1. KNF says:

      Brakes, steering and the gearbox (clutch and gear selection) use the hydraulics, they would become unbearably heavy to use otherwise…

    2. Elio says:

      The hydraulics are used to control several systems on a car. Currently they control: the gear shift, the clutch, the differential, they open\close the throttles and power assist the steering. Up until last year hydraulics even opened the fuel flap….!

      1. Elio says:

        Read this analysis of the Lotus gearbox set up, he says the gearbox is bespoke for lotus and not simply the Red Bull version


    3. Shane says:

      Everything on the car is controlled by hydraulics. Power steering, gearbox, clutch, fuel door cover, basically anything that needs to move. One exception maybe being the moveable front wing?

      The main reason that hydraulics is used is they can get a great deal of power from them for very little weight. The hydraulic servo motors are tiny. They also operate well at the high temperatures experienced in F1. They get that power to weight ratio by using extremely high pressures, one site states that they operate at 200 bars (900+ PSI), which is mind boggling!


      1. Tyler says:

        Not to diminish the very cool technology that is F1 hydraulics, 900 PSI is actually a low pressure system. Aircraft systems commonly operate at 3000 psi and much higher pressures are seen in other applications.

      2. Ace Racer says:

        Not completely true…., the steering is electrically assisted not hydraulic.

      3. Shane says:


        Power steering systems are allowed, but these must not be electronically controlled or powered. Four-wheel steering is forbidden. The car’s steering wheel, steering column and steering rack all have to pass an FIA impact test.

      4. Elio says:

        I can be sure F1 steering systems are hydraulic assisted and definitely not electric. Check the moog link posted above, it even shows the hardware associated with it

    4. PjT says:

      Literally everything that is not related to aerodynamics, mechanics or electronics (wings, bodywork, suspension, ECU) is run through hydraulics.
      So, cooling (oil & water), steering, brakes, gears, engine valves…

    5. Tov says:

      Thank you very much for the answers, now all is clear :)

  14. KR says:

    This is brilliant stuff from Lotus . Though the original idea of this seems to be from Force India .

    Shows how far Red Bull has come too.

  15. Paul says:

    Do you think this deal with Red Bull could open the door for an F1 drive with Lotus for Dan Ricciardo?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not heard that, but he definitely deserves a chance

  16. Spencer says:

    Great news for Lotus. When all said and done bolting Renaut engine to Red Bull tech is what RB have been doing for some time.

    I may be confused but it was only a couple of seasons ago when red bull were a mid field player that they finally announced a seamless shift gear box. Now they are able to sell their tech. How times change in such a short time.

  17. midnight-toper says:

    All they need now is a decent driver.

    1. Frenchie says:

      They have two experienced drivers and this will still be much needed next year. New engine, new hydraulics, new gearbox – that’s a lot to take in.

      Let’s not forget that Trulli wasn’t exactly slow last year (didn’t he finish 2nd in Japan?) and there’s no reason why he’d be slower this year.

      Considering he is being soundly beaten by Kovy, I guess he is not slow either.

  18. Nilesh says:

    Lotus is making waves while Force India seems to be waning. James, how much of that is down to the staff migration between the teams? I’d read Gascoyne pulled a number of personnel from Force India over to Lotus. Also, Force India seem to have a void in James Key’s position now.

    I also read that Lotus is looking to sign up Chandhok in place of Trulli considering the sponsorship he might bring in for the Indian GP next year. Could you shed some light on that James?

  19. Kenny Carwash says:

    I think this could be one of those inspired decisions Mike Gascoyne has a way of turning up periodically and Lotus could end up being one of the key beneficiaries in the post-double diffuser year if they play their cards right.

    What odds on Lotus rocking up to the first winter test sporting pull rod rear suspension, I wonder?

  20. Mark Vadnais says:


    At this time, can you confirm that Jarno Trulli will not be driving for his current team in 2011.


    1. James Allen says:

      As far as I know, they intend to retain both drivers for 2011

  21. Kishan says:

    What is in it for red bull tech? Just money.

    1. Red5 says:

      Could be they can generate more data by having components on other cars. Not sure how much this would help if gearbox is homologated but the testing ban and reduced practice make it hard for teams to test new parts.

      More interesting is whether this partnership could develop into an off the shelf KERs solution. I haven’t heard if McLaren and Force India will use KERs next year, I think this is still an open issue.

  22. monktonnik says:

    This is a great move by Lotus. The Renault engine is good and having the same gearbox as Red Bull gives them the same aerodynamic platform for the rear end as the one Adrian Newey is going to have.

    James, how much does the shape of the gearbox dictate the rear end aero package and will this give them an insight into what Red Bull are doing?

    1. James Allen says:

      Size of gearbox has a bearing on it and on the mountings for rear suspension of course.

      1. Andy C says:

        Does that mean they run pullrod suspension next year? Or would redbull change the casing for lotus? Assume they’d change it.

      2. monktonnik says:

        From todays coverage of the qualifying that wasn’t, it sounds as though they will use a similar suspension design.

  23. Luca says:

    James, what do you think bout legal battle between Fernandes and Proton? Why Lotus Cars want renounce to gratuite publicity? And inyour oinonwho will win?


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