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Lotus to get Renault engines and gearboxes for two years
Lotus to get Renault engines and gearboxes for two years
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Sep 2010   |  10:10 am GMT  |  97 comments

The Lotus Formula 1 team is making some bold moves forward as it nears the end of its first season in Formula 1.

The team, established exactly one year ago by Tony Fernandes, the Malaysian music to airlines entrepreneur and F1 engineer Mike Gascoyne, will soon be renamed Team Lotus and this weekend it inked a deal with Renault for a technical collaboration involving two years supply of engines, gearboxes and KERS system.

Lotus are teaming up with Renault (Darren Heath)

The technical deal is similar to the one Force India enjoys with McLaren Mercedes. For a small team to get the entire drive train from an established front runner is a guaranteed boost to performance and reliability.

When Force India made the switch for 2009, they immediately moved up from the back of the grid and even took pole and challenged for the win in the Belgian Grand Prix. Typically in 2008 they were 1.7secs to 2 secs off the pace. A year later they were around 1sec off the pace early in the season and ended it 0.5 sec off.

This step, which may even involve closer ties than just the technical partnership, will give Lotus a proven package around which they can finesse the aerodynamics and move up the field to challenge Sauber, Toro Rosso and maybe others next season. It is a strong challenge to Virgin Racing and Hispania.

There has been no official statement yet, but the deal is done.

Fernandes said on the BBC yesterday,
“Lots of negotiations have gone on over the last couple of weeks and we’re very happy with the outcome. We want to move up the grid and we want to be up there with the Red Bulls and Ferraris in years to come – we’re not going to do that overnight but we’ve got to make those constant steps forwards.”

This season Lotus, like all the new teams, has been using Cosworth engines and suffered greatly with reliability problems around the gearbox and hydraulics provided by Xtrac.

The Cosworth engine has been pretty reliable and has steadily improved through the year – in its most serious test so far at Monza, a Cosworth engined car was 9th fastest through the speed trap at 341km/h, comparable with the Renault engined cars.

The other breakthrough has been that Fernandes has managed to acquire the rights to the name Team Lotus from David Hunt, brother of 1976 world champion James. This will allow them to use the original Lotus logo, with Colin Chapman’s initials in it, and has other heritage benefits.

The team will be able to claim a direct connection with the Team Lotus which raced from 1958 to 1994, winning 79 races and six constructors’ championships. It is brand with a strong racing pedigree, evoking memories of great drivers like Jim Clark and Mario Andretti and it will be interesting to see how Fernandes leverages it in Asia and developing markets.

What has been pleasing about the way Lotus have conducted themselves this year is that they have made some strong moves, like hiring experienced drivers and now the Renault deal and the rebranding to Team Lotus, but have done so in a humble way, acknowledging the fact that they are new kids on the block.

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Renault engine and the other stuff clearly means a huge step forward for Lotus. Well done to them.


James it is possible that the original brand (with initial ACBC) will appare on T-127 cars during 2010 F1 season?


Shame for Cosworth to lose a customer – Lotus Cosworth was very evocative, even more so than Lotus Renault, I think, despite that also having a famous heritage.

Lots of people have said nice things about the Cosworth engine and it’s plainly been reliable and reasonably competitive on performance. I got the impression from Fernandez’ interview that it’s perhaps the whole gearbox-engine package that Lotus more attractive (with emphasis on words *gearbox* and *package*).


rubens deserves at least one more win before he retires,a little compensation for letting schumacher win some races


James I have a question: how is the real power difference between renault, mercedes and coswhort?

Renault saids that the distance from Mercedes is about 40 hp, it’s admissible?

And how many hp Lotus will gain with renault?


I don’t think it’s that much.


Its great to hear the Lotus name on the grid. The purchase of the whole drivetrain will certainly be a considerable boost. Well done chaps.



In ’03 Group Lotus (Proton) tried to get their hands on the ‘Team Lotus’ trademarks by using the ‘non-use’argument.

David Hunt managed to keep them due to his supposed efforts in trying to enter F1, just!

Considering another 7 years of ‘non-use’ have passed, do you know if this has any bearing on the deal with Tony Fernandes getting a deal.

What I mean is if David didn’t allow the the name to be used then he would probably lose it anyway under the Trademarks rules anyway?


Group Lotus are trying to get them again, which probably moved things along


Thanks very much James, I waited for the return of Team Lotus since 1994, in my opinion the most cool brand in F1 history! More than Ferrari…


I havent had a lot of time etc for the new teams so far but good on lotus and their team…. great job and good luck to them!!


I thought it particularly telling to the atmosphere at Lotus when Fernandes was seen smiling and laughing while giving high fives and handshakes to the crew in the garage after qualifying. What a contrast to over serious corporate shadow that seems to loom over most of the F1 garage. Refreshing…im a fan.


Is the Lotus team registered as a British team or is it still actually Malaysian which seems a bit silly.



What is your view on the use of the Team Lotus name?

There are many who believe that the name died with Chapman.

Fernandes’ team probably has as much right to use the name as the outfit circling around the mid-field and below two decades ago.


Mate, what’s with the “JAMES ALLEN”??


Did Ferrari’s die with the passing of Enzo? Sure, they had some tough years following his death, but they came back.

What’s to say some kid in Formula Ford now isn’t going to end up joining Team Lotus in 2018 and make the team virtually invincible (similar to Schumacher’s involvement in Ferrari)?


After Enzo had passed away, the team was still there at the same place, with the same people. This is rubbish ! There is only one team that was always at Formula one and that is Ferrari. AFter all they do build the engine, gearbox, chassis and so… Nobody else did the same ! Do you believe that when, Demontezemolo will pass away, the team will not be the same team anymore ?

Fur sure Enzo was Ferrari and Collin Chapman was Lotus but Ferrari has never stopped producing F1 cars and production cars.


You completely missed my point. Ferrari didn’t die with Enzo’s passing, nor did Lotus die with Champman’s passing. Same with the passing of Ken Tyrell and Bruce McLaren; the team lived on and after several ups and downs, and a few changes here and there, have come back to achieve success.

Ferrari kept the same passion after Enzo died, but they just became less competitive for a while. They brought on Berger, who brought Jean Todt. They then hired Schumacher, who brought Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne along. This definitely changed who was in charge, changed how the people worked, and they went from being mediocre to battling for championships again.

Lotus went through a similar phase. After Chapman died, the team began to fall off. They gradually lost competitiveness. Unlike Ferrari, they didn’t resurrect themselves in time, and closed. Now new management has come along, with new people, and they are trying to bring the team back.

Both teams have had major changes in management and engineering, with Ferrari’s happening more gradually than Lotus, due to the nature of the team closing and restarting.

Personally, I see major parallels here, and I could see Lotus regaining the form it had back in Champman’s days, much like Ferrari is enjoying successes similar to during Enzo’s reign.


What great news. It really looks like Lotus is a team very much on the up. I would be surprised if they weren’t consistently beating Torro Rosso next year, as with a great design team behind them, and a proven drive terrain from Renault the drivers will have everything they need to take the fight forwards. Very exciting times for Team Lotus.


I hope they do well. I think it shows how serious lotus are. I’ve never thought virgin was a serious team. In fact I had a bet with my wife that Branson will abandon F1 in less than two years


Yip, we’ve seen it all before, I’ll join you with a fiver. The wife had better start hedgeing !!


James do you think that F1 will lose Lotus name, the next year? In other words it is possible that Prton will oblige Tony Fernandez to renounce to Lotus brand?


No, the opposite. He’s got the rights to Team Lotus, so he’s entitled to the history that comes with it.


Although it may seem a bit of a cheap trick to simply buy the Team Lotus brand from David Hunt, it should be borne in mind that both of the current drivers have been to Hethel driving versions of the current road cars (certainly the Evora at least). It is a shame that the Team Lotus name wasn’t used after some more obvious involvement of the factory, but who knows what may happen in the future.


Like Mercedes and Renault? How many engineers from either company have done anything beyond engine work for the team?

BMW, Toyota and Ferrari were realistically the only ones that were true factory teams (perhaps Honda, but even then, the BAR bones were still there).


This is great news – I will have to resurrect my old Renault engined Lotus Europa that has been languishing in the back of the shed for the last 25 or so years!


Those things were not just small but tiny …. it took me 5 min to squeeze my 6’3″ in to it and I still have the bite marks on my knees and flat head to prove it … The question is …. Will the salad dodging allow you to get into it again ??? ( How strange … the one I got into was in the Gold Leaf ( cigarette) colours …. How un PC .. would you be prosecuted these days driving it round without a big warning notice on it … LOL. )


This is great to hear. It is funny that the moment Lotus announced that they would not be using Cosworth power (which they were forced to in order to compete by the way) every F1 site said that it meant they were leaving F1…. I am glad to see that J.A. at least does some background check on the rumours he gets and reports. Thanks again James!


This is 100% kosher.


James, do you think that they are moving because of the Kers element of the package? What are Cosworth supplying in this respect?


No. I think it’s the whole technical package, engine, gearbox etc which is attractive.


James, there is an intriguing “point score” that is hard to find information on: the constructor standings for the three, currently, non-scoring teams in 10th to 12th place. I understand 10th receives a sizable purse, and judging by most website listings Lotus seems to be number 10 at present? How is this non-score calculated and how close is this little duel-within-a-duel down the back of the grid?

Another “point score” that becomes fascinating at this time of the year is the number of fresh engines each driver has left – Alonso is rumoured to be very low?


It’s done on best position. Lotus are 10th as their best result so far is 13th. HRT have scored 2x 14th places and Virgin have a 14th place, putting them last. Assuming Lotus don’t score higher than 13th again, the other two teams could beat them if they scored a 12th place or if Lotus don’t get another 13th, the other 2 teams could move ahead by scoring 2 or more 13th places before the end of the season. If they tie on best result, it counts back to the next best result to see who has got more.

You can see all driver results here


Alsono took his 8th engine in Monza, but has only used his 7th for one race as well. Choose “engine cycle” on the following link to see complete engine usage for each driver



Great informative link, ty.

On this basis Webber is looking pretty handy, of the drivers running for the championship.


I’m italian Lotus fan and I have fear to lose one more time team lotus in f1 competitions: what is the probability that Lotus cars obliges tony fernandez renunce to the Lotus name???



Now get rid of Trulli and get somebody of use to the team


Getting the car designated as a T127 was the first coup – now having the ACBC badge goes even further in making the team ‘Lotus’. I’m sure the cynics will still carp on about exploiting a name etc but I think Tony & Mike have gone about it in a very proper manner. Look forward to a push up the grid with the new complete engine/gearbox package next year!


Any rumours that for this super technical stuff that Renault will provide Lotus with, Renault will add for example Petrov in exchange for Kovalainen?

What are your thoughts James regarding the position of Petrov within the team?

the second question may be a little off topic, but I can’t find a better place to ask it.


Yes, as soon as I heard rumours of that, I thought it may be a logical move.

Petrov gets time to improve with less pressure, and Renault gets the more consistent driver.

Alternatively, Renault could take Trulli for a swansong year before taking Petrov back in 2012. Kovalainen would want a longer contract presumably, which could limit the deal.


Regarding Kovalainen, you definitely have a point. But still I don’t think Renault would want to take Trulli. In my opinion Heikki is for Renault a far more prospective driver



Do you have any idea what the relative power levels of the Cosworth and Renault are?

As you point out, a Cosworth-engined car was fast through the speed traps – much to the chagrin of Webber!

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