Team Lotus has announced that Steve Nielsen will be joining the team as Sporting Director next month. He will perform a similar role to Sam Michael at McLaren and Ron Meadows at Mercedes, overseeing the way the team operates at the race track, liasing with the FIA Race Director, attending stewards meetings and working alongside the engineers to get the most from the package at any given race weekend.
He worked most recently at Renault and was offered the job at Team Lotus last Autumn and turned it down, but then things changed at Enstone this season as the new management team of Eric Boullier launched a review of race operations by John Wickham. This led to Nielsen being released by the Renault team.
Nielsen is a popular figure in the F1 paddock and is well respected among his peers. His hiring is a boost to the team, which has added names like designer Mark Smith in the past year and now has to produce a car capable of challenging the midfield in 2012.
“It is excellent news for the team that Steve has accepted the offer to join us as Sporting Director,” said Gascoyne. “I have worked with him extensively in the past at both Tyrrell and Renault, where we played our parts in helping to build Championship winning teams, which is what we are aiming to do with Team Lotus.”
Team boss Tony Fernandes said, “I first met Steve in Singapore 2010 and offered him a job then which he turned down, so I am delighted he has finally taken up the chance to join us. It is a good mark of our team that we can attract people of Steve’s calibre.”
Nielsen replaces Dieter Gass, who worked alongside Gascoyne at Toyota and who will return to Germany.
Team Lotus will rebrand as Caterham F1 Team next season, following approval of the name change by the F1 Commission recently.