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New cars from Lotus, Sauber and Renault break cover
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New cars from Lotus, Sauber and Renault break cover
Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Jan 2011   |  5:59 pm GMT  |  93 comments

Today was a busy day of launches in Valencia, with three teams pulling the wraps off their cars.

Lotus was the first, launching the car via an online web magazine called Lotus Pages. Mid morning it was the turn of the now heavily Mexican influenced Sauber team and soon after that of Renault, with a car the team themselves are describing as super aggressive.

Tomorrow Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Williams and Mercedes will launch, taking the total of new cars in circulation up to eight. We will then see McLaren on Friday, Virgin next Monday and Force India at the Jerez test. At some point the HRT car will also appear.

All the teams are commenting that there has been very little time since the end of last season and next winter will be even shorter, with the final race in November 27 meaning that the Young Drivers’ test will be in December! There is already a certain weariness and the season hasn’t started yet. The sport will have to be careful to guard against burn out of staff.


Lotus
The new Lotus bears no resemblance to last year’s car, it has a much more aggressive profile, different livery and a Renault engine in the back.

Team principal Tony Fernandes put aside for a moment the wrangle with Lotus cars over the use of the Lotus name in F1, talking of the Team Lotus project being about “daring to dream”. That is certainly something the team’s charismatic technical boss is allowing himself to do in his launch rhetoric,

“When you look at this car, it looks like a front running car in every area,” said chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne. “We said very clearly that we want to start challenging the established teams and I think that is very achievable. But that line has to continue to go up so we’ll have to target being up there with Toro Rosso, Sauber and Force India and then by the end of the season targetting Williams and Renault.”

The team is aiming to score between 40 and 50 points and score a seventh or eighth place finish in the Constructors’ Championship.


Sauber
Sauber has had a good winter commercially and is hoping that the new found stability will allow the technical team to stretch their legs a little more. Technical director James Key identified the weaknesses in the way the team was using its formidable wing tunnel in Hinwil and this is the first Sauber car produced under his management. According to the team, “One of the overriding targets is to improve aerodynamic efficiency, low-speed cornering, mechanical grip and to gain more flexibility in suspension tuning.”

Peter Sauber observed that last year was, “The 41st year of our company history and one of the most difficult. But we managed to overcome these difficulties in the second half of the season. We implemented some well-considered structural changes. The appointment of James Key as Technical Director already bore fruit last season, and he is now in charge of development of the Sauber C30-Ferrari. At the same time, we have managed to secure our business foundation for the 2011 season. In these economically straitened times that is something we can be proud of too.”


Renault
The Renault team, now sponsored by Lotus Cars and no longer owned even in part by Renault is the most aggressive looking of the three new cars unveiled today. Under technical director James Allison, the design and aerodynamic departments have been pushing hard to close the gap to the leading three teams, Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren,
“Words like ‘aggressive’ and ‘innovative’ are very much in vogue in Formula 1 at the moment, but where the R31 is concerned we feel those adjectives are appropriate,” said Allison. “It’s true to say that the car has been designed in an ambitious manner and a quick glance at the layout will confirm that its entire concept differs considerably, not just from last year’s car, but from any car this team has ever produced.”

Team principal Eric Boullier said, “In 2010 we achieved a very high rate of development and the car that finished the season was two seconds per lap quicker than the car we had at the first race. All the hard work over the last twelve months has been focussed on delivering a big improvement for 2011, and that means we should be more competitive than last year. Will we be stronger than our competitors? Hard to say, but based on the efforts of everybody here, I feel we deserve it.

“Our driver line-up is still a mixture of talent, experience and youth. Robert is clearly one of our strongest assets and we know we can rely on his speed, commitment and dedication for the long term. As for Vitaly, he showed us at the end of last year that he understands what we expect of him in 2011 and he was ready to commit to this. With a year’s experience behind him, he will be able to approach the new season with more confidence and is ready to help the team raise its game. We took the risk of investing in him last year and I’m sure we will see the benefit of that this year.”

Renault has hired two reserve drivers, Romain Grosjean and Bruno Senna, whose uncle Ayrton drove the original Lotus Renault cars in the mid 1980s in the black and gold colours of John Player Special and who the team will no doubt deploy in that capacity for promotional events, “Black and gold looked beautiful back in the 1980s, when my uncle was racing, and they look just as stunning on a current car, ” said Senna. “Also, to be able to wear the same colours that my uncle used for a few years in his career feels very special.”

Lead driver Robert Kubica was a little off-message at one stage, when asked whether it was an honour to drive for Lotus he said, “I think Lotus is our sponsor. At least from what I know it is a sponsor,” he said when asked if he dreamt to drive for Lotus. So I could also say it is my dream to drive for Total. I think it would be different if Lotus owned the team and were fully involved into the team.”

Meanwhile team owner Gerard Lopez has confirmed that his Genii Capital now owns 100% of the team and that Lotus cars has an option to buy shares in two years time.

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1

Kubica said the truth about “Lotus”, nothing wrong with that.

Thre is nothing wrong with that UNLESS someone else higher up in the team is trying to fool people by lying or by “being conservative about the truth”. That wouldn’t happen, right?

2

im curious if the exaust exiting from the side pod will be succeptible to damage, from a little wheel-banging?

3

Here’s a great close up shot of it from earlier today to judge for yourself:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/JLE0965.jpg

Any damage caused by contact around that area of the car would likely reduce aero performance to some extent anyway so it’s probably not a major concern.

Your post did get me thinking though, I wonder what measures Renault have taken with this system to ensure that foreign objects entering the exhaust pipes would not compromise the system, for example a considerable off track excursion through a gravel trap, chunks of rubber from the track and tyres over the duration of a race or even just an extreme quantity of water flowing into the pipe during a wet session/race.

Of course, Renault is far too professional a team to overlook something as obvious as a wet track to break their car, but it would be hilarious if it were true.

Most probably the major area of concern for Renault with this system in terms of reliability and performance will be the internals of the car, relating to the packaging, cooling and indeed the drivers themselves as having exhaust pipes that operate at 600+ degrees celcius either side of the driver could potentially be nigh on unbearable for the drivers over a race distance.

4

Pleased to see the two reserve drivers for Renault Lotus getting another chance in F1. If I had to chose to be a reserve driver for any team it would be them. If Kubica has a season similar to last years he will be sitting in a top car next year. If Petrov has a similar season he will be gone, maybe even earlier.

It’s not often someone is owed another chance in F1. However Romain Grosjean career almost went down the pan after being stuck in a dog of a car with no testing in the midst of the Piquet scandal playing second fiddle to Alonso. Allegedly it’s a different team now but in whatever form Renault is now they owe him another chance.

5

+1

Grosjean and Senna are two men I was sad to see kicked out of a seat in F1 as I think neither were given a reasonable chance to show their worth. Same for Chandhok.

6

One more thought: the 1Malaysia aka Team Lotus F1 car carries no “Team Lotus” stickers… Instead it carries “1Malaysia” branding on the sides of the cockpit. Looks like they decided to play it safe just in case.

I was going through some archive pictures and Lotus chassis used to carry “Team Lotus” name in the past.

PS Tony once again says he’s good one and the innocent victim of Gerard’s outrageous bullying on his Twitter (followed by the manic “ha-ha-ha”). Wonder what Nigel Mansell would do if he had Twitter back in those days…

Downloaded Team Lotus Notes – or whatever it’s called – out of curiosity: they have a good PR team, no doubt about it. Not sure if they’re still using Sine Qua Non’s services or assembled their own squad of “dream spin doctors”. It definitely sells, the whole thing smells a bit like the Rolling Stone magazine adapted to F1 with Tony impersonating the fat band manager and Mike doing the crazy (ageing) guitarist part (Cobain?); Jarno and Heikki act as Novoselic and Grohl. The masses are gonna love it.

7

There’s a Team Lotus badge on the nose.

8

There’s a familiar logo but no “Team Lotus” letters (as far as I can see). Last year “Lotus” was written all over the car.

9

Group Lotus were acting as a sponsor as well as providing the licence for the “Lotus Racing” name, hence the higher profile last year which is comparable with the Lotus branding on the Renault this year. The Team Lotus badge and level of exposure for Fernandes’ team on the car this year, in contrast, is akin to that of McLaren or Williams, neither of which have their name plastered over the car yet are still recognisable. Teams only tend to go for overt references to their name if they’re struggling to get sponsors or – as with Ferrari this year – if certain sponsors have been hit with advertising restrictions.

10

The nose badge has “Team Lotus” on it…there’s another one in the cockpit. Both are very small, though.

11

Like it, nice parallells!

12

The Lotus, Renault and Sauber look pretty nice, I can’t wait for the new season.

13

Must you put them in that order? Try Renault, Sauber and Lotus next time for better clarity.

14

James- What is the official name for Lotus Renault for 2011… or regardless of all of the miss directed support for group lotus, is this your own interpretation?

15

Lotus Renault GP Team is the name they are entered under and if one of their drivers makes it into the top three that’s how I will introduce him

16

AP, I understand Williams are using electrical curse they developed themselves instead of the flywheel system, due to reduced bulk and more flexability in the placement of components, the f/w system being one bulky unit and the battary system comprising of separate smaller components.

PK.

17

There is one thing that has really stood out in all of the launch photos – it’s those Pirelli tyres…they look really strange with their “straight” logo rather than one that curves with the shape of the tyre. They look awful – just not “right” somehow…I hope this is not their final design.

18

James, you quoted Kubica’s words without two sentences:

So I could also say it is my dream to drive for Total. I think it would be different if Lotus owned the team and were fully involved into the team. It’s a good partner to have and they have high ambitions. It looks promising

19

Sure, sure. Spin it, DannyB, spin it hard!

See my remarks up there near the top?

20

What remarks?

aaagh, those deep ones.

21

James, Danny Bahar is onto you!

22

James,

Have Team Lotus announced there reserve driver?

23

Hang on, if Mercedes’ air intake is banned due to safety concerns, why r Team Lotus showing a similar design on their T128?

24

It would be nice if Sauber had put any effort at all into the appearance of their car.

25

Brilliant response from Kubica. He must sometimes wonder what he has got himself into.

26

Loving the Team Lotus livery! First time we get CGI renders instead of pics as a form of presentation isn’t it?

I was expecting the new Sauber to look more like the Ganassi cars Rolex Sports cars champions, light blue and white. Oh well, best luck to them!

Where exactly is the exhausts in the Renault? Anyone???? Were they hiding them or are they actually beneath the car like the 80’s early 90’s car’s?

27

Does anyone know why Sauber are still carrying BMW colours of blue and white?

28

Sauber’s Adjustable Rear Wing in action::

http://img96.imageshack.us/img96/8889/c30wing.gif

29

LOL

I must have watched that piece about a dozen times, wondering what track it was, before I realized it was the same bit over and over and…

30

I quite like the look of the Sauber.

Indeed looking at it I suddenly realised that the new “shape” of F1 cars (as we’ve had since 2009) now finally looks the business and the older ones just look weird.

I think that always happens – I remember the 1998 cars being weird for a while after the wider 1997 ones and then at some point a few seasons down the line it reverses and what the sport used to be then looks weird.

Guess it’s that auto-refresh of F1 doing it’s thing!

31

James, great insight about weariness already setting in, and burn out. It appears to me that never ending resource restrictions and the equally never ending rising of stakes and lengthening of the season don’t go together well. It’s an interesting topic, and worth having an eye on.

We remember how demands increased in football due to Champion’s League and whatnot. This went hand in hand with a huge increase of resources. The football teams changed from having 11 great players and a few not-so-greats to having a full squad of 21 top players available. At the same time the players learned to accept that it’s no problem not to play each match, and in fact not possible. The managers pick and choose from the whole squad according to needs and health.

32

Hi James,

As the new Sauber looks good from what I can see on the web, I was wondering if you know if they will run Ferrari KERS? If so Ferrari will have more feedback on KERS from Sauber and TR. Do you what Willams are going to run? I recall them and Brawn working on the fly wheel couple of years ago.

Thanks again.

33

Williams said a month or two back that they’re running battery KERS (cosworth’s I think) as the flywheel isn’t practical in the current regs. I think the reason was due to space – with large fuel tanks, you can put the batteries where you want but the flywheel is just a single big object, so you can’t fit it in.

34

So is the black and gold car a Renault sponsored by Lotus even though it has Lada on the side and Rover on the barge board? Bonkers.

35

Richard Bell aka Tony Fernandes

If you took your time to look properly instead of spouting ill informed nonsense, you would see that it is a different Rover company sponsoring Lotus Renault GP.

36

Chris aka Mr Serious

I know, it was a joke.

For what it’s worth, I am and always have been against Tony Fernandes team using the Lotus name.

37

Aside from the very public bickering on who owns the privilege of using the Lotus name in F1 – I have to say that both Tony Fernandes and Gerard Lopez have really impressed me with their respective approaches to racing.

You don’t have to stretch very far back in time to recall the team owners whose only concern seemed to only be the glamour of F1 and the marketing veneer; forgetting that a racing team is fundamentally about designing and engineering a precision machine (Mr Branson – I hope you don’t fall in this group!)

On face value, both Fernandes and Lopez have gone about running their teams in the right way. Fernandes has clearly given Mike Gascopyne free rein and equipped him with enough resources – not to mention hiring two drivers who are proven to be pretty quick. Lopez probably had the more difficult job of steering the rudderless Renault after “crashgate” and rebuilding the technical department from years of underinvestment by Flavio Briatore.

I think both men have shown that they deserve to be in F1 on merit.

38

Well said, I think that Team Lotus and following their twitter/facebook have brought a breath of fresh air to F1, and Lopez for getting the team through Crashgate without doing a BMW/Toyota/Honda

39

Agreed.

40
Baron Von Awesome

The r31 sure has some interesting tricks up it’s sleeve, it’s one to watch, that’s for sure, could be this years Red Bull or Brawn.

41

I’m interested that the Team Lotus, appears (in other pictures as well) to have a Mercedes style air box (split in the middle) when there are supposed to be banned this year

42

They aren’t banned, there are just tighter restrictions governing width etc. They are still allowed but I read the benefit was less with the new regulations.

43

Oh dear, the Sauber livery looks even duller than the blank 2010 car! I was expecting more of a mexican red/white/green flavour.

44

Agree. I bit underwelming…Expected Sauber to have the biggest livery change & see more Telmex blue over the body work. Instead they’ve kept the corporate Sauber black/white/red. Rear wing is ripe for another sponsor before Bahrain…

45

I always thought the Sauber livery was rather striking last year- it always caught my eye.

The only way to improve it in my opinion would be to make the black/grey areas bare/clearcoated carbon fibre.

46

Good looking step up from Team Lotus on the initial views, although all the new teams are likely to have the most different cars from last years (unless HRT start with last years car). Interesting air box design, especially with the rule changes and Mercedes returning to a regular design on the digitally produced images so far shown. On one or two pictures the front wheel rims look to stand proud of the tyres which is odd.

Neither Renault or Sauber appear to have changed much at all from last years contenders with evolution looking like the name of the game.Understandable for Sauber – ensure they have ironed out last years woes and then a decent development push once races return to Europe would seem a likely path. Hoped for a more interesting livery this year though.

Renault at this point most likely playing it quiet, certainly expect a lot of change considering the rate of progress they made last year with regard to aero package. The revealed car is rather bland, I was expecting more with the talk of aggressive approach – must be all the hidden parts or maybe they just meant the oddly stunted looking nose. Hopefully by first race they’ll have added a few more interesting parts. Of note is how Lada is more prominent so far in the pictures. I wouldn’t have gone for the ruby slipper look on the race kit.

One thing that has struck me is how all the cars revealed have different wheels. Normally don’t notice the alloys on the cars at all but this year seems to be one of the first thing that draws my eye. Surprised nobody has copied Ferrari’s cooling hoops this year.

It’s so nice that the cars are here, testing starting and racing shortly and we can concentrate on that for next few weeks at least rather than what’s in a name?

That which we call a Lotus,by any other name would smell as sweet as high octane race fuel.

47

Personally I’m quite excited by the first glimpses of the Sauber C30. Hopefully it will allow them to close the gap to the top teams and maybe even pull of a feat like Force India at Spa in 2009.

With the exception of Renaults front blown exhaust system, the C30 appears to have the most aggressive design features of the cars which have been unveiled so far.

The car is characterized by striking angularity at several locations and appears to have a very low profile – in particular the drivers seating position and surrounding area looks lower than it does on other cars.

Most notably the sidepods, roll structure, turning veins and other auxiliary aero components are all very distinctive from those of rival teams whilst the rear of the car has perhaps seen the most significant changes.

I just hope Sauber has a solid grasp of how to extract a high level of performance from an exhaust blown diffuser as they didn’t introduce one on last years car.

Personally I’m also a fan of the livery. I hated last years livery but this year it just seems fitting as it accentuates the distinctiveness of the C30.

More close up pictures and detail on the technical aspects of the car here: http://scarbsf1.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/sauber-c30-launch-detail-and-analysis/

Just to ensure no confusion, this isn’t my blog, just one I stumbled across through James’s excellent twitter feed.

48

Cheers for the link, actually changes my mind somewhat about the Sauber. Few interesting pics and comments show that they have added a few little touches that demonstrate some more creative approaches that weren’t evident in other pictures I’ve seen. Still think the livery looks like an after thought, but there are noticeable spaces on both car and team overalls for title sponsors to be placed – come on Corona, get involved!

I shall also take the time to retract my comment about Renault not living up to all their talk of aggressive design and creating a boring car. Whilst I don’t think it looks good and think aggressive is the wrong word, they’ve certainly thought out of the box with the exhaust system. Really hope they can get it to work properly as could very well be this seasons new must have gadget.

49
NamedMyKidAyrton

Yup, the Sauber livery stinks. That’s no way to attract fans, viewers and/or sponsors.

50

I agree.

And it doesnt look like that have attracted that some serious big sponsors for this year, and I imagine Saubers real estate would be a bit cheaper then the big teams at the moment.

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