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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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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

Tornillo Amarillo

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


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


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?


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


I’m working on that story, stay tuned


Ferrari’s stepped nose = ugly

Everyone elses = beautiful…

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


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


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



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?


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!


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


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


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.


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



And as for which design will win out??

Who Nose………..


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.


Aiming for fourth… wow…


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.


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.


Good idea. Will try to do that, yes


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?


Who knows what will happen in F1.

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


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.


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!


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?


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


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


Yuck 🙁


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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”.


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.


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!


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

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