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Video: How Lotus F1 team is developing
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Video: How Lotus F1 team is developing
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Aug 2010   |  6:49 pm GMT  |  53 comments

This is a video I shot a little while ago behind the scenes at the Lotus factory in Norfolk.

I’ve been in all the F1 team factories, apart from Hispania, some many times and Lotus is definitely one of the friendliest places. This is not surprising given that it is a new team, but all the same there is a family feel about the team that Tony Fernandes and Mike Gascoyne have built and there are many familiar faces from other F1 teams over the last 20 years.

Here we talk to Keith Saunt, who runs the factory and is the chief operating officer of the race team.

I asked him how the team has grown since it started racing, how real the links are to the Lotus F1 team of the past and to the road car company.

There is a poll for you to leave your views about Lotus’ progress this season.

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1

All this praise of substandard teams is fine but runnung 4 to 5 secs slower on todays tracks is a dangerous business. What we need is div2 for F1 cars and drivers, with promotion & relagation.

2

I think that the mammoth challenge of getting a car ready for race one in six months time — even 12 months for the other two new entries — is awesome.

And by Hungary; all six of the new team cars completed the race with Lotus arriving in 15th and 16th place. Down laps, for sure… but building up pace and reliability without the advantage of testing is a huge task.

My congratulations go out to all three new arrivals.

3

Hi James,

Great article, as i have become accustomed to on this site. Keep up the good work.

On a completely different subject, any idea when we can expect an annoucnement on the 13th team for next year? Surely time is quickly running out…

4

The later is goes, the less likely it is that anyone will be able to get it together. I think the fact that ART GP, the best qualified team outside F1, wasn’t able to get it together shows the scale of the task

5

Am impressed with video.

Lotus can only improve unless Virgin springs up a surprise which is quite unlikely.

Will the bet between Richard and Tony still stand.

I certainly hope so for some laughs.

6

The more I read and hear about Mike Gascoyne the more impressed I am.

He now has his wish to be in control of building and operating an F1 team the way he believes it should be done. Time will tell if he is correct in his approach, but so far you can’t help but admire how much he has accomplished in so short a time.

He’s built a good and solid foundation upon which to grow a successful team.

Kudos to Mike and the entire Lotus team. Well done!

I’ll be eagerly awaiting the 2011 season to see how much they have progressed from a conservative, basic car to a more innovative and higher-tech competitor.

7

I’m prepared to eat my words, or course… and yet, I feel that the people who insist that 3 years is unrealistic are unrealistic themselves. You gotta believe! What happens if you don’t?

8

If a competitive midfield F1 outfit could be built from scratch in 6 months we’d all be doing it. What they have done to date is pretty remarkable.

I fully expect them to be in amongst the middle of the grid teams next year given the longer amount of time they will have had to develop next years car – The Pirelli tyre situation could be a bit of a Joker in the pack for some teams next year with some getting it right and some not.

9

It didn’t quite sit with me the team using the Lotus name,though I know it’s with full consent by the Chapman family.

That as may be, you can’t knock how they’ve gone about setting up the team with a firm technical base that will only pay dividends in the future.

Compared to the other new arrivals they seem to have more of a bright future.

HRT has got the look of “Dead team walking” and I wonder when Branson is going to get bored of his new toy.

10

I like this new team Lotus and hope they will succeed. I still think they would have done better by buying the Toyota chassis (and its intellectual property) which I understand was up for sale – no doubt that car would have mixed it with the Torro Rosso’s at least – and would have enabled them to concentrate solely on building their first car for 2011. The current car was a sensible and conservative design – but staggeringly slow. But they have done well all in all and F1 needs their vision and innovation. Go Lotus 2011!

11

I’m quite enjoying the “other” competition at the other end of the grid, and Q1 is always a good time to egg on Lotus to beat a more established team for the first time. For the scale of the operation they have done astoundingly well, and I expect to see a serious improvement next year.

The real trick will be to see how they manage the growth from smaller more agile underdog, to big team with big expectations.

12

Me to. I also think it’s vital in a era of no testing to have teams where young drivers can cut their teeth. I really enjoy having so many GP2 Graduates on the grid. The majority of whom deserve to be there who might not have got a chance say two/three years ago. Two of our championship contenders started their career in the worst car on the grid. Who’s to say we might not be saying the same about Di Grassi or Senna in five years time.

13

When he said they don’t have wind tunnel facilities on site, am i right in assuming they use a wind tunnel else where and aren’t 100% reliant on CFD like Virgin?

Great insight to the Lotus team, thanks James.

I’ll be rooting for all the new teams to up their game a bit next year so they can be fighting for points on occasions. The more competitive teams after all – the more exciting the racing and the championship! Like many people, i enjoy the battle for the lower championship spots just as much as the battle for the title.

14

Great video thanks James! I love how open and friendly Lotus are and it really comes across in all their dealings with the media.

15

Winners in 3 years – he’s dreaming.

A more realistic approach would be:

Getting onto the back of the pack next year, maybe scoring the odd point.

Then two or three years of regular points, maybe lucking a podium, before challenging for regular podiums, maybe lucking a win after about 5 years.

16

I’m not so sure their target is out of reach. With F1 becoming, what is in essence, a standard engine formula, their main weakness will be in aerodynamics. They could follow the age-old method of getting research cheaply by employing someone from one of the bigger teams. It has worked for others.

A rainy day, an accident that puts some of the front runners out or at least at the back of the field, an inspired tyre choice and they could be on the top step in 2012

Out of all the new teams they seem to be the ones with the best prospects and I wish them well. I haven’t really forgiven them their name. There was no continuity so why not be honest and call the team Fernandes? That said, it is nice to see the name back.

Like Garza earlier in the thread I was a Lotus fan so appreciate his ‘innovation again renovation’ comment. And I fully endorse his final sentence.

17

The new teams have copped a lot of criticism, but I’m really interested in this ‘other story’ of F1 2010. Bernie does not speak for us all when he says two of the teams wouldn’t be missed – I’m all for a 26 car grid.

There’s three clear divisions in F1 this year, and to me this provides another dimension of interest.

It’s great to have the tail-enders back!

18

If a team could succeed on the fumes of past glories then Lotus would hit Q3 every race.

I know we all here in our F1 club, that being me, myself and I..oh, and good-dog Max, are 110% behind that glorious British racing green.

As to winning in three years…I say….why not? (that’s not a question by the way, no reply required)

19

Thanks for the video. For a brand new team I voted “quite impressed” with them. They haven’t blown anyone’s expectations out of the water so they can’t get top marks, but they’re doing more than I would normally expect for a brand new team on short notice.

20

What if any is the relationship between the Lotus F1 effort and the Exos Type 125. If any? The Exos Type 125 is a brilliant idea to raise some extra funds . One of those in the old style livery would be great. James, do you know where this fits into the picture?

21

Having Lotus Cars develop the T125 without any connections to or input from the F1 team probably also protects the Lotus F1 team from allegations of getting around the testing ban.

22

I think the EXOS 125 is a product of the Malaysian Lotus Cars side, and therefore unaffiliated with the F1 concern… Still a very cool endeavour though.

23

Ooops I accidentally voted ” They are hopeless” when I meant to click the first option! They had the least amount of time to produce their car, and they aren’t that far off the pace. I think some people expected too much of the new teams. They were starting from scratch and you can’t expect them to be up there with the Toro Rossos and the Williams. If that were the case then that means the established teams were doing a poor job.

Lotus have also impressed me off track, they communicate more with the fans, they employ their drivers so they aren’t strapped for cash. I think Lotus will become a decent team in a few years, just like Force India.

24

I’ve been impressed how they go about their business off track and the amount of interaction they have with the fans be it on twitter or factory tours. I love the look of the car and it’s great to have the Lotus name and colours on the grid. I would say they have been a welcome addition in that sense.

People have been quick to point out how slow the new teams are but considering the time and financial constraints they have all done fairly well considering and have bar the odd occasion all qualified under the 107% rule that many teams would have fell foul of back in the mid 90’s before the rule came into play so in sense this batch of new teams are no worse than any other non manufacturer team.

Next year should be interesting though, I would expect Lotus to be right behind STR given the expertises and fairly good drivers they have. The second year always brings improvements from new teams. I remember Pacific looking much better after a terrible debut season before having to pack it in.

25

I have to say I am quite impressed. I am a fan of Gazza and I think for instance Toyota made a huge mistake letting him go. If he’d stayed at Toyota and if Toyota had let him do his thing, Toyota would still be in F1 and they’d have won a race if not races.

Anyway, on Lotus. I am very impressed by Tony Fernandes. He is very right for F1, I think. He and Gazza and the rest of them have done a very good job to just get to the grid and to be the best of the new teams. Virgin had that embarrassing fuel-tank thing and Hispania has just been hanging on by the skin of its teeth (the Dallara connection was doomed to fail IMHO).

So good luck to Lotus.

26

James: an interesting video, if (if I may say so) a little long on CEO rhetoric and a little short on insight into the progress these new recruits are making in their discplines.

One small point: there seems to be an aspect ratio problem with the video – it seems it was shot and edited in 16:9 but uploaded in 4:3. The problem remains if watched on YouTube’s own site, so it is a video problem and not some strange side-effect of your site theme.

27

I think three years to become a racing winning team is way to ambitious.

I think (but could be wrong) that in the last 20 years the fastest any team has gone from nothing to winners is Stewart Grand Prix which became winners in three years.

It is interesting to note how long it took Redbull to become winners when you consider that they are descendants of the Stewart team via Jaguar.

28

Very true point about Stewart, although in 1999 they had a good car, which Rubens Barrichello in particular often scored well in, their win was a very lucky one (I remember DC, Frentzen, Schumi jnr and Fisichella all leading that race and falling by the wayside). It took Jordan nearly 8 years BAR (or Honda) had been around for more than 8 years when Jenson won in hungary.

I cant think of any other “new” teams that have won races, Renault were Bennetton, Brawn were Honda etc.

In otherwords, Lotus really have their work cut out if they want to meet their target!

29

In 1999 Stewart were running an illegal car. In the off season after the team had been bought by Ford (nee Jaguar) Mosley announced that one normally middling team overperformed and was cheating somehow. IMO the reason they were not ratted out was because of the takeover.

I’d love to hear a journalists point of view James…..

30

In what way?

31

New regs and cost caps could level the playing field though. But I agree it’s a stretch.

32

What can I say, I was a Lotus fan from the Clark/Hill Sr. era and I loved Chapman’s innovation against Ferrari’s renovation back then

Since the team dissapeared I had no preference but I know for sure I will never be a Ferrari fan since they were the ones to beat in the 60s, 70s

The new team still has to earn their stripes, but considering time and budget they are doing OK so far

33

Good luck to ’em and their family feeling, it’s what I like to see.

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