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Lotus launch new era and target fourth with E20
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Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Feb 2012   |  6:36 pm GMT  |  80 comments

The team formerly known as Renault officially launched its new Lotus era today by unveiling its new car with the relatively low-key target of moving up one place to fourth in the constructors’ championship in 2012.

The Genii Capital-owned outfit revealed the E20 – the ‘E’ in reference to Enstone, the team’s home of 20 years – on the internet but, rather than a live stream, released a novel pre-recorded broadcast from its factory which included the car’s unveil, interviews with drivers and management, along with behind-the-scenes footage.

The black and gold-liveried challenger features the in-vogue stepped nose, but is less dramatic than the one on the new Ferrari that caused a stir on Friday with a more attractive curved slope. The E20 is certainly sleek around the sidepods and rear, with the exhaust exits, as is mandated, considerably higher and further back on the car than last year when Renault pioneered the complex forward-exhaust concept which proved troublesome.

Having been able to finally draw a line under the team’s largely successful decade-long Renault era and rebrand as Lotus for this season, the team is looking to deliver more consistent results in wake of a 2011 campaign that started promisingly but ended up with the team just clinging on to fifth place in the constructors’ championship ahead of Force India.

Team owner Gerard Lopez said: “I think the hopes are to be able to get one season together in the way that we were already expecting last year. That is to have a strong car, strong drivers –of which of them is obviously an ex-world champion – and to bring the car up to the front of the pack, probably trying to aim for fourth as a reasonable goal for this season.”

The world champion Lopez referred to is of course Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 title winner returning to F1 this year after two campaigns spent largely in the World Rally Championship. Although Michael Schumacher famously struggled to get back up to speed after three years away, Raikkonen is characteristically downplaying the challenges presented by his own re-acclimatisation process.

Asked if he was nervous about his return in wake of the difficulties Schumacher faced in 2010, the Finn, who will partner France’s Romain Grosjean, replied: “Not really. It will be something slightly different than it used to be when I was in Formula 1 with a different team, little bit different regulations.

“But everyone’s different. Some people have more difficulties to get used to the new stuff, and it depends a lot on the car also. If you have a good car it makes your life a lot easier than if you have an average car. So I was pretty happy after the first test we did a few weeks ago and it felt pretty normal already. But before the first race it’s pretty difficult to say still. So we wait and see but I’m happy so far with the way things are going.”

Although the team’s plans to run an innovative braking stabilising system on the car were kyboshed by the FIA last month, and on the outside the attractive E20 doesn’t appear overly radical, team boss Eric Boullier has promised the car has some additional secrets. “It’s true that the team’s reputation is good in terms of innovation and we’ve brought through the last years some nice ones. But definitely we have some this year,” he said, before adding: “[My] biggest hope is to make sure this team is back at the front of the grid for many years and a long time.”

Lopez, meanwhile, additionally confirmed the arrival of two new sponsors from the male grooming product world in Rexona and Clear for 2012, while expressing his relief that the team can now clearly move forward as Lotus following the end of the naming row with Tony Fernandes. “We’re also extremely proud that the Lotus name is a clear concept for everyone in Formula 1 now,” he said.

Although the Group Lotus car company is currently the team’s main sponsor, there have been suggestions that Lopez’s Genii investment firm has been looking at raising funds to buy the Proton-owned business.

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80 Comments
  1. Jon says:

    Possibly the best looking car so far. The Mclaren, didn’t look that innovative.

    This looks dead aggressive.

    I like it.

    1. Wayne says:

      That’s just the black I reckon :)

      Targetting fourth? So they have (on last season’s form) Mercedes in their sights… Interesting.

    2. Kevin Green says:

      +1 even despite the questionable unconventional nose I think it looks better than the Mclaren. Just the Red Bull and the Mercedes to come of all the important cars :)

  2. Bill Nuttall says:

    The more I see everyone but McLaren do the stepped nose thing, the more it makes me wonder: Have McLaren got it spectacularly wrong or come up with a genius design?

    I have absolutely no idea, but I’m looking forward to the first test with added interest. Knowing how they work, McLaren might even have a contingency plan going back at the factory.

    1. Dmitry says:

      As James posted in one of his previous posts – it’s mainly for their aero philosophy…

      And you can clearly see it yourself by comparing MP4-27 with their previous cars.

      The most notable example (from my point of view) is MP4-23 – with very low nose.
      Also you can notice, McLaren’s front is more tightly packed compared to others, so (and because of that) they don’t need such a huge “bump”.

      1. Wayne says:

        Also, do not forget that the stepped nose is a work-around resulting from a NEW challenge. They would not have gone down this path were it not for a regulation change. If McLaren’s nose was already low enough last year they may even have an advantage?

        Additionally, of all the cars released to date, McLaren’s looks the most like a dummy car designed for a PR release and little more.

    2. Chris_NZ says:

      I suspect the Red Bull nose will look just like this (like the Lotus)

      Who knows who has it right, but it’ll be much more then a front wing design which will win a world championship.

      I would of thought the step nose would create more drag overall then the Mclarens curved nose though.

      1. Brisbane Bill says:

        Re: increase drag – not necessarily. Yes, it will certainly be higher than a smooth nose but will cause a compression wave that may actually smooth out the airflow further back on the car due to the “lumpy bits” being in a negative pressure area, with a nett LOWERING of drag. That’s what all those wing appendages of a couple of years ago were aimed at. Ugly, but effective.

        The McLaren may well have such a nose ready to use at the track. James already said that the launch configuration was not how the track would appear come the first test!

    3. The nose on last year’s McLaren was already compliant with the new low nose regulations for this year (the only car that did), so they haven’t had to modify it very much. It may prove to be a masterstroke as while everyone else will be running their stepped noses for the first time next week, McLaren have already had a year to refine theirs.

      They will only be in trouble if the other front runners come up with significantly better solutions, but even then it’ll be a relatively small performance deficit compared to last year’s ‘octopus’ exhaust as the low nose is already tried and tested.

      Like the McLaren, the new Lotus looks more evolution than revolution to me but that’s probably no bad thing. The R31 was a fundamentally sound design, made undriveable and difficult to develop by the forward facing exhausts. Now it’s a more conventional platform, Lotus’ designers will have been able to incorporate a lot of the updates they couldn’t implement last year and I’d be surprised if they aren’t up there with Mercedes again in Melbourne.

  3. Brad says:

    I thought the step-nose cars were really horrendous till this car was launched. It looks great and aggressive!!! Great job LotusRenault!!!!

    1. Shane says:

      I thought the same until I saw pics of the Sahara Force India car on track, it looked so much nicer in a pic pointing towards the exit of a corner than stood still outside a garage. And the Lotus looks nice right away. That’s gonna look stunning on track I think.

    2. Peter Scandlyn says:

      Have to second that. Great looker!

    3. daphne says:

      It is a pretty, pretty car alright.

  4. Jeremy Smith says:

    Nice looking car, we will of course get used to the steo down to the nose on these cars..

    So far the McLaren MP4-27 is the real beauty though..

    By the way James I disagree, I don’t think for one moment that Kimi’s WRC campaigns were “underwhelming” at all…

    1. etcyu says:

      those who understand rally….will agree with you~~! Those who underestimat the sport will think that any wdc in F1 can easily win in WRC….

    2. Baktru says:

      I thought Kimi did okay in WRC seeing how that is a completely different discipline, but he didn’t exactly stun people with great performances either. I’m glad the Iceman is back where he belongs, in F1.

    3. JAG says:

      Agreed on kimi’s rallying. When on a stage where he had similar course knowledge to the other drivers he was as fast as, and sometimes faster than, loeb. Other WRC drivers had been doing the same stages for years, while Kimi had to learn the courses and push at the same time.

  5. Dan Orsino says:

    Let the Battle of the Noses commence.

    I firmly expect the Iceman to make a difference, but as we know, F1 is about man AND machine and both have to be tip top. When one of them is below par little can be done about it. So 4th is realistic.
    Unless Brawn has found some crafty innovation or other? I’m half expecting Merc to spring a surprise

    1. Space junk says:

      Battle if the noses? I betcha Lotus really wishes they had Kubica. That is one serious stepped nose (and the car doesn’t look to bad either!)

  6. Dmitry says:

    Hey, it definitely doesn’t look as ugly as previously launched platipus-nosed cars!

    Well done, Ren… Lotus =)
    It will be interesting to see Kimi back in action and where they will end up in the end of the year.
    Though I think 4th in Constructor’s championship is a bit too ambitious target for them. But we’ll see.

  7. Gdon says:

    Well seems like i am getting over the nose shock thing already, but in terms of innovation it seems Ferrari, so far, is the most daring but will it be fast? Time will tell and looking forward to what Red Bull have in store.

    1. Gareth says:

      When is the RB8 launch? Today?

  8. tim says:

    Stepped nose actually adds to the visual appeal on this car.

    1. Brisbane Bill says:

      Did your Labrador tell you that as he fetched your white stick? Clearly, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder but I suppose I can’t talk – I love boxer dogs and they have got one hell of a stepped nose, so perhaps I should be loving these new cars.

  9. Giuseppe F1 says:

    Any news on whether Dany Bahar was invited to/in attendance at the launch James or re things really getting nasty between him and Lopez?

  10. Giuseppe F1 says:

    I see ‘new’ Lotus F1 website rather sloppily still listing Senna, Petrov and Kubica under the DRIVERS section!

    1. mo kahn says:

      When I saw just an hour ago it was Kimi and Roman maybe you went on some other site… Try this link http://www.lotusf1team.com/

      1. Giuseppe F1 says:

        nope….theyre still there! :)

      2. MelB says:

        Fixed now at least.

  11. Rob Newman says:

    It’s pay back time. I am sure Lotus has given Kimi a decent car with which he can finally beat the Ferraris.

    I couldn’t help noticing Rexona and Clear on the car. After the silly Head and Shoulder adverts by some F1 Champions, I think we are going to see some new Rexona ads.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/lrgptv

    1. Jon says:

      Head & Shoulders are sponsoring Williams this year, judging by Bruno Senna’s overalls. We might see him in some H&S ads yet…

  12. goferet says:

    Well, at least I am impressed with the Lotus car, it looks quite elegant and as mentioned, has a nose that doesn’t draw too much attention i.e. The kind of nose somebody sits back & stares at for ages.

    Maybe, we have seen the worst & can only expect slightly better looking cars from now onwards – I wish!

    So this Lotus team are targeting 4th in the constructors table, hmm… some how I don’t see that for this team feels like it lacks a strong man personality, a Flavio kind of personality that can push the drivers and engineers to produce their best, the kind of problems Ferrari too is facing at the moment too.

    Plus it isn’t a great start to a season when you have a device that you had been working on for some time getting banned, that also has the ability to throw off the development curve, just like what happened last season when this team dropped their forward facing exhausts.

    And lastly there’s the engima that is the Iceman for we are all eager to know what Kimi we shall get on the grid.

    So no, 4th seems very optimist to me considering Mercedes have the most technical directors in the same cooking pot plus both their drivers weren’t shabby last season whereas both Lotus drivers are infact Pirelli virgins + F1 cars with full with tanks virgins.

    1. cosmosxiv says:

      The banning of the braking device will make no difference. It’s a bolt on thing, take it away and the rest ofthe car still works. The exhaust concept last year was totally different, the car was developed around it, so when it began to get difficult, there was no way back.

      Whereas Kimi is a ‘Pirelli virgin’ as you so beautifully put it, everybody seems to forget that Grosjean was the Pirelli test driver at some point, so he’ll probably know more about the tyres than most.

      I do agree that 4th is optimistic though – I think to maintain 5th is very realistic and if they do manage 5th it will be quite some achievement.

    2. Andrew Kirk says:

      4th maybe optimist with the reasons you have given but at the sametime Mercedes have yet to produce a quick car. Plus I really can’t see how having a number of techincal directors on your books is a good thing. Surely at some point egos and personalities are going to clash with different people wanting to pull the development of the car in different ways.

  13. peru-kowalsky says:

    does it look better, or are we the fans just getting used to the uglieness of the step nose design?

    1. Laurence H says:

      I think the difference is in the shape of the tip. The Caterham and FI have flat, plank-like noses, whereas the Ferrari and Lotus are more of a wedge shape. Personally I love the fact that the cars are no longer identikit. I like it when you can strip the paintwork and still tell which car is which!

  14. Derek Nickels says:

    Looks good but most cars do in black! Interesting that Kimi is comfortable after 1st test maybe.they have a better than 4th car and he knows it. Could the champ of old be back

    1. Brisbane Bill says:

      You’ve gotta love the eternal optimist. I want to be one, but I don’t think I could sustain it.

  15. M says:

    Best looking car so far. An aggressive looking racing car.

    Dunno why so many British fans rave about the boring looking McLaren..oh wait..British, being the keyword :P

    1. Jon says:

      Lotus race with a British licence and are based in Oxfordshire… I’m fairly sure they count as British too. ;)

  16. Spike says:

    Kimi will make that car fly. Just you wait and see.

  17. gorgonzola says:

    Hmmm, a rather safe attempt. Long fan of Enstone built cars here and I am dumbfounded they chose not to tamper with the exhausts like Ferrari and McLaren did could prove their undoing.

    The stepped nose is all about some sort compromise Ferrari took the simpler approach which is by NO means a wrong approach but the rest of the car is completely re designed so is the nose shape. Shows the drew a car from scratch.

    The big boys are left to show their Newey latest baby …

  18. mo kahn says:

    A beautiful driver like Kimi deserves a beautiful car and Lotus has delivered just that, So thank you Enstone and every single individual there :)

  19. Jo Torrent says:

    My remark isn’t on Lotus form. I can’t yet predict but I’m stunned by the low standards of teams launch ceremonies in F1.

    It’s a trend nowadays and I don’t see why do they spare money for ceremonies which might be broadcasted on motorsport media or even on news channels for big teams.

    The problem with those launches is that they don’t look humble. They rather look cheap and very cheap in Lotus case.

    Please spare money elsewhere and take care of your launch ceremonies F1 teams. Flavio is missed in that respect.

    1. Rick says:

      Couldn’t agree more. The Lotus launch seemed particularly ‘bargain basement’. The good old days are gone! I still remember the McLaren launch in Valencia, I think it was in 2007. Must have cost a fortune, but fantastic entertainment!

  20. Kevin Green says:

    Ok it is becoming more clear as I said after the 1st 2 car comparissons of Caterham and Mclaren either mclaren have got it so so wrong or so so right??? or there release car is a bluff but cant see how with the upper nose being part of the chassis cast, think opinion on Mclaren’s car will be set from whatever Red Bull release.

    1. Phil C says:

      McLaren run a lower chassis than all of teh other teams, which means they don’t need to ‘step’ their nose down at the point where teh regulations require it to be 55cm from the ground.

      So McLaren have’nt got it wrong, nor has anyone else. They’ve just designed their own car to the regulations.

      1. Kevin Green says:

        But there must be something into how the rest of the teams have come up with much the same solution in the same place at much the same angle, note the Force india’s concave in the middle though wonder if this will be an advantage over the rest.

        Certainly going to be a very interesting start to the season My reckoning is its going to be Ferrari and Mercedes that are going to be the most noticable improved of the front runners.

      2. JAG says:

        The bulkhead can be 65cms the teams are given a 4cm area to drop down to the 55cm nose height, so most teams are going down 10cms in 4cms which means they all have relatively the same angle. Check out scarbsf1.wordpress.com he has a complete explanation on the rules. The mclaren starts lower so the drop to the 55cm height isn’t as much so it can be worked into a smooth continuous curve from the bulkhead to the point where the 55cm height is enforced. The mclaren has a COMPLETELY different front end aero philosophy than all the other teams, this is why their nose is different, not because they’ve “missed something”.

      3. Kevin Green says:

        Thanks for that JAG, be interesting to see if the spoken of step actually turns out to be noted as being a benefit as such.

  21. AuraF1 says:

    I like it. As mentioned above the stepped nose here actually looks right. Maybe it’s because it’s more needle like with less of a gaping shovel effect like the Ferrari and caterham (I don’t say anything about performance purely aesthetics). I still think the mclaren looks great mainly as it looks more like an older simpler formula one.

    It’ll be good if Mercedes have stepped up and we get some close battles here. I don’t expect either team to be attacking the big three yet but a close run B championship will make the whole season more fun viewing.

  22. Michael S says:

    Best looking car launched so far… not sure why, but the nose does not look bad at all on E20.. paint scheme is outstanding!

    If they can take 4th this year I would be thrilled

  23. Andrew Carter says:

    Nice looking car, but nose and exhausts aside it looks very similar to last years car as well.

  24. Dominic J says:

    I will say that the colour scheme really helps with the visuals of the stepped nose. I wonder which other teams’ liveries will do such a good job?

  25. Methusalem says:

    Silvester 2011 have shown us which team is going to dominant this year: Ferrari. It was a mistake for Kimi to be back — he will be demoralized by Romain Grosjean, mark my words!

  26. Craig D says:

    Not bad I guess considering some of the other noses!

    As more and more cars opt for the ugly nose, I expect more and more McLaren fans to get agitated that McLaren has got it wrong! I doubt it’ll become that critical a performance differentiator. McLaren have just taken a different approach rather than missed a trick (which they have followed for the past few years really with lower noses than Red Bull, say).

    We just comment on this difference in design (and fret!) because it’s so obvious to see. I expect there’ll be other design choices between the cars that will have a much bigger influence on who got it right, it’s just we can’t comment on them as we either can’t see them, or they aren’t so obvious. But take Ferrari and their pull-rod front suspensio.n for example compared to everyone else. That may turn out to be a win/lose decision.

  27. Vipin says:

    Who knows what will happen in F1.

    What if Kimi wins the 2012 World Championship in this car?

  28. Roo F1 says:

    Here’s a conspiracy for you:

    Who do some people say that the FIA help?

    Why have they made new low noses rule mean that teams have this nose?

    Who has the most pronounced nose and is willing to be most exaggerated with it? A red team?

  29. Roo F1 says:

    Also FAO James:

    James, is it possible for you to get a linear ‘side by side’ photo of last year’s tires and this year’s?

    They say there is hardly a difference to notice, but I wonder if the human eye can notice a SLIGHT difference when they are side by side?

    Many thanks if so.

    1. James Allen says:

      Good idea. Will try to do that, yes

  30. Dave Aston says:

    Aiming for fourth… wow…

    1. JAG says:

      Well it’s a bit unrealistic for them to set their goal at beating 4 teams who have been ahead of them for 5 seasons without there being a major change to the regs.

  31. JohnBt says:

    The E20 stepped down nose does not look so blocky as the flow seems more gradual towards the front. The livery colour scheme sure helps alot as it’s more black with gold borders, makes a difference visually.

    Looking aggressive and waiting for Kimi and Grojean to show us how good the E20 can be.

    Somehow I’m getting used to the hump, and look forward to the rest of the teams and observe the variations of the stepped down effect.

  32. Davexxx says:

    And as for which design will win out??

    Who Nose………..

  33. G says:

    If Lotus now win a GP, what anthem will they play?

    French (still registered there from Renault days)

    Malaysian (Proton)

    British (Lotus heritage)

    ???? (Whatever or wherever Genii are from)

    Just a thought
    G

  34. Glennb says:

    Quite frankly I can’t wait to see what Adrians had on his mind for the past 12 months ;)
    At least then we’ll all know what a winning F1 car should look like in 2012.

  35. jeffrey says:

    If you did not like the Caterham and Lotus noses, you are not gonna like the new Sauber…

    1. jeffrey says:

      I mean the Caterham and Ferrari noses, of course.

      BTW I must say the McLaren looked rather boring to me, but looked quite spectacular in the last few years. I like that Ferrari has gone for the aggressive approach, I love to see them challenge RB

  36. McLaren78 says:

    James/all,
    Could someone please explain to me in simple terms all this stepped nose concept?

    From what I understand, the regulations dictate the tip of the nose to be lower, not the body of the car. So, why do people have a step between the cockpit and the nose? Wouldn’t it still be legal if the cockpit area carried on smoothly till the nose tip without a step? What’s the advantage of that step? Or is a fattish nose a disadvantage?

    1. James Allen says:

      Lotus Renault TD James Allison puts it like this: “The height of the nose has been coming up and up.

      “The reason for that is that there is more downforce if you raise the bodywork at the front of the car.

      “But the problem with that high nose is that eventually the nose can get to a height that if there were to be a T-bone crash the tip of the nose could be so high that it exceeds the height of the cockpit of the other car.

      “Clearly that’s a very poor situation as you don’t want the driver’s head having a nose slamming into it from the side.

      “And so for this year we agreed that the tips of the noses all had to be lowered by a considerable amount. But the rule itself doesn’t require the front of the car to be lower, it only requires the tip of the nose to be lowered.”

      So the designers have kept the chassis level high – to help airflow – but stepped down to the low nose as there’s no significant aero loss in doing so, just an aesthetic loss as they look terrible!

  37. Richard D says:

    Paint it whatever colour you like and call it what you like, at the end of the day it is not a Lotus!

  38. Michael P says:

    Ferrari’s stepped nose = ugly

    Everyone elses = beautiful…

    Can anyone else see how biased people’s percetion is????

    1. Kevin Green says:

      You might do well to look at the Caterham and the Red Bull again!

  39. Mark Smith says:

    Hi James,

    I was wondering what if any rumours are circulating about the proton sale of lotus, and the future prospects of it’s sponsorship of Lopez’s Genii F1 operation. It is rumoured that Lotus is being shopped around, and would that mean Tony Fernandes could purchase it to grow his car company and rebrand his team Lotus-Chaterham?

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m working on that story, stay tuned

    2. Kevin Green says:

      I doubt Tony Fernandes would have the funding to buy the Lotus team with the heritage/Value it has through the Renault guise.

      His funds must surely now be stressed Between the Caterham team ambition for the car sales and His as i View it foolish expensive long term aquisition of QPR.

      Whoever bought the team now would surely want it on the basis of using the Lotus Name rather than change it unless it turned out to be a manufacturer interested

  40. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    So, what should be the target for Mercedes this year?

    1. Kevin Green says:

      I reckon its going to be them and Ferrari that are the noticeable movers at the front this season. :)

  41. Manan says:

    Where there is black there should have been golden n where there is golden , should have been black!

    In this way the LOTUS would look like Mclaren’s Brother

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