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Sporting director Steve Nielsen to boost Team Lotus
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Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Nov 2011   |  11:21 am GMT  |  25 comments

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’s arrival strengthens Mike Gascoyne’s position at the team as he has been a close working ally of the technical boss at several teams in the past.

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.

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25 Comments
  1. Andrew Carter says:

    Looks like they’re putting together a strong team at Lotus/Caterham, I dont think it’ll be that long before we see them move up the grid.

    1. wayne says:

      I wish them all the best. They are ‘making their own luck’ by making all the right moves to progress. Add to that, Fernandes comes across as eminently likable. They are the only ‘new independant team’ that I have any confidence in at all. Next year I think we’ll see these guys move onto the back on the midfeild and leave HRT and whatever Virgin will be called in a sunday league of their own.

  2. vvipkho says:

    Huge welcome to this big family Steve Nielsen.
    Thank to Dieter Gass for this 2 year.

  3. DMyers says:

    There seems to be a never-ending outflow of key staff from Renault at the moment. I wonder how much of a destabilising effect this will have on the team and where they will end up in next year’s pecking order.

  4. coefficient says:

    This is great! Of all the new teams, Lotus (soon to be Caterham) seem to have the best approach. I can’t remember a new team ever operating such a frenzy of hiring and investment. The technical team must now be one of the finest in the paddock and with wind tunnel developments coming on stream Tony Fernandes has shown us that he is willing to heed the advice of Gascoyne and invest in the necessary to get this team moving. I’m really happy about this, it’s so depressing when you see a team come in to F1 and fold almost immediately due to lack of funds/pragmatism. I hope Next years Caterham will be firmly in the mid field and scoring points, if effort is deserving of reward then they’ve got some fun times ahead of them!

  5. Tom in adelaide says:

    They are an easy team to cheer for. I just wish they’d put a talented rookie in Trulli’s seat.

    1. PeteRI says:

      Yes, like Alexander Rossi. That kid is quality and a great racer. Just the young blood they need.

  6. Mitchel says:

    So he’s going from Lotus Renault to….Lotus Renault!

    1. Stu says:

      Or as many would say, Renault to Lotus Renault?

  7. AK says:

    James, you should have (explicitly) said that he used to work for Renault before you said “Enstone” and “Eric Boullier”!! It took me a good few minutes to figure out what was going on- I thought you’d confused Team Lotus and Lotus Renault GP!

  8. Keith says:

    James,
    So instead of jumping ship, he seems to be pushed out. Enstone appear to be leaking key people. Is this natural wastage or just movement in the business which happens in most business?
    Hard to tell given all the names changes and ownership issues surrounding this team.

    1. K says:

      I’d say the problem lies with Eric “Bully” Boullier. He isn’t one who motivates people well (recall his comments on his drivers earlier this year?), and causes destablising effect.

      Maybe it’s time to change the leader of the pack here rather than getting the talented people pushed out.

  9. rob says:

    You can have all the back room staff and name changes you want,but whats the point when you are wasting a seat filled by Trulli ?

    1. jmv says:

      exactly.. then in that case take Rubens Barichello. At least he is interesting to listen to.

    2. K says:

      AHhahahaHAHAH :D
      +1 on jmv. And at least Barrichello is faster and better than Trulli. That guy gave M.Sch a run for his money on occasions during his Ferrari days.

  10. Tommy K says:

    I agree with with a few of the posts here. Kovalainen is a very good driver, he might not be the best on the gid, but he’s likeable, consistently performs, and is a good image for the team. I can’t get my head around why they’re insistant on keeping Trulli though, he’s well past his best, consistently fails to perform. If Lotus/ Caterham want to be in the midfield, they need to release his seat for a talented rookie such as hulkenberg who has race experience and can further develop the car.

    1. K says:

      Well past his best? Had he ever been good? LOL… I have no idea why he is in F1 or how he got there in the first place!

      I’d say Trulli is only here due to his friendship with Mike Gas.

  11. Dan Orsino says:

    James, can you explain what a ‘sporting director’ actually is? and does every team have one?
    regards,Dan

    1. James Allen says:

      I did that with the Sam Michael story when he went to McLaren. Look in October stories

  12. Darren says:

    James do team lotus keep the green and yellow for next years car or does that go to lotus

  13. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    James any insight as to the causes of the further decline in the staff at Renault/Genii?

  14. Phil says:

    Ha Ha – good old ‘Oaf’..the parts boy at Tyrrell done good.

  15. Janis1207 says:

    Trulli must be a great development driver.
    He likes to tinker with car setup and is capable of setting it up very well. When it is actually possible to tune the car to his liking, he can be blindingly quick.
    In Renault he was beating Alonso until Briatore axed him.
    So, don’t underestimate him!

  16. Leen says:

    Team Lotus does well to keep experience drivers to start up the team for the first couple of years. an experience drive can give allot more feedback about the behavior of the car than a rookie can do. Im sure that this is the only reason why Trulli stays on. to help to develop the car further

  17. Formule 1 says:

    I don’t think it will work

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