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Analysis: Lotus wins the race to unveil first 2013 F1 car, but what’s it like?
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Jan 2013   |  9:53 pm GMT  |  140 comments

Lotus became the first F1 team to unveil its new car, when it pulled the wraps off the E21 in front of an audience live online via You Tube and on Sky Sports News in the UK.

The launch was handled by team owner Gerard Lopez and team principal Eric Boullier, while technical director James Allison together with the drivers Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen pulled the wraps off the car. Raikkonen said that he believes the team has what it takes to win the world title.

Boullier said third place is the target for the 2013 season, which is ambitious, but builds on their success of 2012. He said that he expects Grosjean to deliver in 2013, having kept faith with him after some rocky times in 2012, with crashes and a race ban.

So what of the first car to break cover in 2013?

Well it is a direct descendant of the 2012 car, that is clear. This makes sense as the Lotus was one of the most competitive cars last year. They were late to the party on the Coanda exhausts, which channel exhaust gas down to the diffuser, so there is more to come for them in this area than their direct competitors.

There were places on the car where the engineers had clearly placed a “launch specification” part in order to give nothing away of their true intentions. The front wing, for example was rather vanilla and less aggressive and complex than the one which finished the 2012 season. The top element of the wing, for example, was very simple in comparison. That will surely change for the first test next week.

That said, the FIA is pushing the teams hard with stringent anti-flexing tests on the front wings, so it will be interesting across the board to see how they deal with this.

The nose itself is quite narrow and on launch specification is missing the bulbous underbelly which was present last season to help create balance.

The passive DRS air intake was missing from the air box, while the rear wing endplate was identical to the car from the end of last year.

The venue was dimly lit (probably on purpose!) so it was not possible to see the floor in detail. Last season Lotus had a very aggressive rear floor, angled away from the car to pull the rear tyre wake away from the floor. They were one of the most aggressive teams in that respect.

The suspension looks similar, which makes sense as the Lotus was one of the best cars last year at using its tyres.

Despite relaxation of the rules on the stepped noses, to remove the ugly blight on many of last year’s cars with a cosmetic panel, the bump on Lotus nose is still there; for the moment. This is likely to change. But at this stage, Lotus do not want to show their hand. There is an aerodynamic gain to be had from a plate which has been designed into the car, but we will have to wait to see Lotus’ solution.

“We have not done it yet because a cosmetic panel would weigh a few grammes and that’s anathema,” said Allison. “However if we find one which looks nice but more crucially which gives us a few more points of downforce we’ll put it on the car as quick as you like.”

Asked if this was basically an evolution of the 2012 car, Allison said,
“We’ve done a lot. There is a lot gone into it and it is going to be an exciting car.

“The rules for 2013 are very, very similar to 2012 so you can expect a lot of family resemblance from the 2012 car, but the devil is in the detail and it adds up to a significant amount of performance,” said Allison.

“There are lots of new ideas and same concepts we have been pushing on with for a few years.”

The use of the word “significant” to describe the performance step is interesting and implies that they feel that the gain is of the order of half a second per lap or more.

The car had the black and gold livery, but with red accent colour on the air box and rear wing, with a scaling down of Total branding, a small amount of branding from Coca Cola energy drink “Burn” on the front wing endplates and the name “Kimi” on the air box, which looked like a holding sticker for a prospective sponsor.

Raikkonen said that he enjoyed his comeback last year and is open to a conversation later this year about extending his contract with Lotus. He added that he believes Lotus has what it takes to win the world title,

“I think they do. It’s clear from working with them that they are racers, and you can see in their history that they’ve won championships,” he said. “Nothing I saw last year made me think that another championship was impossible in the future. Of course, there is some pretty tough competition out there and everyone wants to win. The team have beaten everyone before and there’s nothing to say they can’t do it again.”

The third driver is reigning GP2 series champion Davide Valsecchi. Alain Prost’s son Nicolas will be the Development Driver. Jérôme D’Ambrosio will continue with the team as Reserve Driver.

[Additional technical input: Mark Gillan]

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

what cars did jim clark (F1) race at watkins glen? what one at indy?


James – Any chance of Adrian Newey joining secondier teams in the likes of Lotus and Mercedes after 2013?


Never say never, but I can’t see why


Has anybody noticed that the pictures released by lotus are two different cars, look at the exhaust area and front wing pillars in these two pictures

Notice any changes (all pictures

The wing pillars are differnt again in

Any if you look at the side on pictures from this site

its differnt to the one on espn (released by lotus) in the nose pillar and exhaust area

So why do they bother with launches ….



Your sexy and you know it!


Sorry guys above- the red is rubbish and has no place on a Black & Gold Lotus- ( perhaps around the wing tips for Burn and Total only). Side pods should be black & gold or grey/pearl white-for something different -(Im chanelling West Mclaren MP4 18 side pod)

As for the car I don’t really mind the stepped nose- it somehow looks ok on the Lotus. What I don’t get is why designers can’t design a nose come that tapers down like the Mclaren did- ( diff design concept i know) ! None of the cars need a “vanit panel” In any case I think there will be wholesome changes to the nose , both wings and rear floor come Jerez time. No one gives up all their secrets so soon- it’s just sponsor & pr commitments for the launches !


If you get the chance check out the picture of the steering wheel on twitter – it’s pretty funny (e.g. a GPS button for Kimi in case he gets lost)


Just checked it out, suits him perfectly.

Let’s hope they get the power steering sorted for him from the get go!

Val from montreal

Great ! Lucky no 7 will be on Raikkonen’s car this year , it used to be MSC’s since 2010 … Hopefully it will bring more luck for Lotus and Raikkonen …..


Not according to goferet’s stats…“With Lotus having finished 4th on the table last season, just realized Kimi will have the number 7 car in 2013 and seeing as the #7 car has never won the driver’s title… Well, you know the rest.”

Had to dig this up for you…

Well, you can argue that there’s always a first hey


After some of the thrilling races last year, I dont recall any of the fans complaining about the stepped-nose 😉


There is a particular attraction in seeing F1 cars looking cool and deadly; sleek in brutally efficient, high tech ways.

They shouldn’t look like angled afterthoughts and something “Finger Fred” would use as an oily getaway ride after robbing the bank at the corner.


Just out of curiousity, do you support a particular driver or team?


My team is McLaren, my driver is Lewis.

Maybe some of my support will be going to Merc now because of Lewis.


Great read as always James, it appears that Lotus however have several specifications of the E21 to take testing with the one on display differing to some of the elements on the renders. Will be interesting to see the development of the E21 during testing, here’s my short article on the technical differences with the Physical/Rendered car:


another great article Matthew.

I hope Lotus’ DRD will work well and propel the car to the front of the grid.


James – you haven’t shown the fantastic other image of Kimi’s steering wheel (it’s on the Daily Mail website). They’ve had some fun with Kimi’s wheel with some of the buttons labeled “nap time”, “ice cream”, “Jenson”, “sat nav” [he needed that in Brazil this year], “tweet”, and “smile”.


Yes it was hilarious. Any idea what “Jenson” is referring to?


It’s a Jenson… button…

… geddit? Jenson Button?

Yeah it’s terrible, but I still laughed when I saw it.


OK, I’ll officially place the first bet: Four hours until Sri gets it.


I guessed it was Button. But why? They are not friends either. So what characteristic of Button is being referred to here?


His surname?


Hello? It’s Jenson “Button” right. This made me really laugh.


that must be the one that conserves fuel, de-tuning the car a bit, and maximizing conservation of the tires.


Thank you for the analysis James.

One thing I’m interested in is the name of the car. Last year, ‘E20’ was selected to honour Enstone, a choice that the multitude of ‘brands’ based there hadn’t allowed for, before. This year, either by choice or… inertia, the principle continues.

Are we to infer something from this, with regard to the commitment of the heads in Lotus to F1?

Thanks again.


Lotus Elise, Lotus Elan, Lotus Esprit, Lotus Evora, Lotus Europa, Lotus Excel, Lotus Eclat..

– notice something?


Good one! I hadn’t.

But what is their commercial relationship with the people (do they make them still?) selling those cars?


Good point, but that’s not what they said last year! Or am I missing something?


Wow, a lot of people are missing the point here. Pre season launch’s are not for showing of inovations, but to show of new sponsors and to sell new team gear. The added media coloums of a new looking car is advertising for all those company’s. You have to remember the car is a mobile advertising board and the faster it goes the more tv air time it will get. And that is the top and bottom of the “sport” for the teams. You dont think your Austrian fella that owns Red Bull cared about winning for the sport do you? He enterd F1 to sell cans of drink.


and bottles of drinks, too.


Hello everyone !

Beautifull to read everyone’s comments on the launch of the E21.

James, thank you very much for all your hard work and the attention to sharing information with us through your website. I’ve been enjoying it for years and as all of us I also have all your books and have all read them. I enjoyed every single one of them. I’m even reading them all over again.

I very much like to read all the different ways of reacting on this topic.

First of all it’s obvious that Lotus wasn’t going to show the real E21 as it will be running at Melbourne.

It never is.

Given the fact that the presentation on their Youtube channel was only about 15 minutes says it all.

It means that the E21 really isn’t the E21 and that it doesn’t need the full attention.

My view on this is clearly about exposure of their brand and sponsors.

Being the first to launch the ‘new car’ is to assure everyone sits up and pays attention.

The second thing is that they want to compete for victories and who knows the world title.

This is a message to their nearest rivals to tell them to certainly take them into account.

As to the red colour on the car, well it is certainly a hit as everyone before me talked about it, it had reached it’s purpous didn’t it.

You have noticed it and that’s exactly what it was meant to be.

The black and gold are fabulous but if you want more brand exposure these days you need accents on the car that will get noticed by the entire world.

Last year you could spot the car in the field during the races but with that extra touch of red it can be seen from miles away and everyone will know that those are the Lotus cars.

Brand exposure and colour are everything in marketing and publicity and of course to the F1 teams. Marketing and publicity brings money and money makes the car go out on track and win races.

This presentation was just about getting a message through to the media and the F1 world.

You could also see it in the drivers eyes that they knew that it wasn’t the car they where going to drive.

The abscense of enthousiasm and hapiness on their faces told a story of itself.

If it really was the car that was going to challenge for race wins and who knows even the championship they wouldn’t be able to take their eyes of the car.

This time they where looking straight at the cameras and interviewer without letting the car distract them. The tension and anxiety was missing.

Exept for Kimi, he never shows his true emotions so that can be ignored but as to Grosjean it was the same attitude as was with Boullier and Lopez.

Pay attention to the next launches and look at the body language of the drivers and team members and you can tell if it’s the actual car that will go out on track or if it’s all about publicity.

Drivers tend to get a sparkle in their eyes when they unveil the car.

Look at the pictures of the launch of the ‘E21’ and you can analyse it and see through the smoke curtain.

To me it was a succesfull launch as they got maximum attention, exposure and publicity. Everyone is already talking and writing about Lotus.

The dim light is of course to give the whole an extra dimension of brand exposure but also to give way to suggestions and speculation to what might or not might be on the car.

Talking and speculating about it is also a form of brand exposure.

The dim light alos works in favour of the red accents in contrast to the black and gold livery which makes the car look more agressive but a little mystirious at the same time.

Jerez will certainly tell us more about where Lotus stands.

I personnaly got used to the stepped nose and I rather would like to see battles for victory until the last lap than a beauty contest.

Beauty is one thing but it doesn’t bring in results.

I also would like to see more fan attention and opening up to them instead of becoming even more closed and secretive.

I’m looking forward at seeing the McLaren Launch on thursday and analyse it as it will give me personnaly a better view at what will happen at Jerez.

As you all know, presentations are never a clear indication of who is strong and who isn’t. A beautifull car can llok fast but isn’t in reality and the same goes for an ugly duck as was the the Ferrari of 2012. But it still ended second in the championship.

Enough said, I all whish you a nice day.

Kind Regards,



great comment david, very thoroughly considered (so it seems must be the case to me) and expressed, as is evident.

beauty is the wheel-to-wheel dueling, some times across laps, Kimi often one of the combatants.

That’s beauty.

I’ve not given it too much thought, but having read, it seems often, that the F2012 was ugly, I find I definitely disagree; I thought the red car was very handsome, but never more than when it won the race.


Dave P has already said it, but I felt I had to say it again:–


– in ‘revealing’ a car that will NOT look like the actual car they will be racing with???

It takes away my entire interest in watching this circus prior to Race One, and thus reduces my overall passion for F1.

Sorry to be so pessimistic, but maybe from now on the teams shouldn’t waste their money (and our time) on these phony unveilings, and we all just wait till Race One – with perhaps an extra 1-hour ‘intro’ pre-race program – to see the TRUE racing cars.


Not too long ago, teams would launch the ‘new livery’ of the year (presenting the old car painted in the new colours and decals), not bothering to launch the new car itself until the first test. It seemed a bit silly then. Not anymore…


I bet they don’t waste too much any money since they got a coverage by Sky. Launch involved sponsor and keep them interested and money would be flowing like a faucet (and attracted potential sponsor ofc).

I mean, come on.

They race to win. Not to please the audience. For crying out loud, they don’t even sell this car to public!

For those who labelled stepped nose as ugly… I don’t know whether I get used to it or from the first time it looked okay to me. Not all of stepped noses are ugly. Maybe on F2012, yes, it’s ugly. But not on Lotus.


I think sponsership has something to do with rather then showing off the car to an audience. Like it was already sad before and i quote “the name “Kimi” on the air box, which looked like a holding sticker for a prospective sponsor”.


What’s all the fuss about ‘ugly noses’. The entire point in F1 is to get the maximum gain. Looks should come last in priorities.

As for the car itself, it looks just fine. I don’t get why everyone is complaining, the team wants to hide some small parts until the test – big deal? As for the livery; sponsorship brings money, money brings speed, right? So where is the issue???


I agree with you that it’s all about gain, with looks coming last. For me it’s an exercise in pure function, not form. Elegant form comes from a superb execution of function.

However, it seems some (vocal) fans are more interested in the looks and, dare I say it, the sound of F1 more than the worldclass racecraft and engineering warfare it represents. It’s funny because it’s often the same fans which complain about F1 being more about showbiz than racing these days. And they say it without a trace of irony!


exactly. excellent, well considered comment.

the most beautiful car to me is the one that wins and is not successfully challenged by regulations’ compliance tests.


Well I´m not going to lie. It is not what I expected to see. In fact the more I look at new Lotus the more I miss the good old days of the John Player Special. Anyway the most important thing is to see the car fighting for the championship with Ferrari, RB and McLaren.



has the FIA said or done anything with regards to the Red Bull rubber nose concept. If not, surely that’s something teams will add to their designs.



IF Kimi wins in it, I love it.

These early launches are bout marketing and business development. Anyone who thinks that here is anything on this car to give any developmental advantage to the competitors has not been paying too much attention to how this cycle is now working.

Ferrari, who haven’t launched, are saying that the car in Melbourne will be quite different to the one that is presented to the public during their ‘launch’. I expect the red car to be fast out of the blocks this year.

I am very interested in seeing the Mercedes, they are a wildcard, and may have advanced greatly, or not.

But with the constancy of the rules, expect the races to be very competitive, and multiple race winners to be the norm, as early as the fourth race.

For a team to dominate, it will likely have to come with a unique innovation that nobody else has, and requires a significant time frame to develop by competitors.

Who knows where that could come from in this year’s tight pack, Sauber, Williams, Force India. If there was a year that a previous year’s mid-pack team could win, this has got to be it.


Spot on. It’s not as if this car had to immediately go to FIA scrutinity. It’s more of a ‘livery launch’ than actually a ‘design launch’. Like HRT in 2011, they launched the very same 2010 car with the 2011 livery and that was about it.

People need to relax and appreciate what a great moment F1 is being through with great cars, drivers and tracks. We’re set for a great season.


Close up of rear bodywork around the exhaust seems to show they are following cues from the RB8 in terms of tunnelling air flow from sidepods under the exhaust and blowing onto diffuser so not exactly the E20!


I came to rather like some of the noses on last year’s cars. They had a lean, military look about them. Very purposeful, which is exactly how they were designed to be.


That last shot is a view we will see a lot of next year, guaranteed

Tornillo Amarillo

Nothing interesting on the pictures, on this unveiling, nothing exciting really, but…

if they win races, wow! this same Lotus will be amazing for everybody!


I can’t understand why the car is still so damn ugly, especially as this years rules allow for farings to cover the nose humps.


This is just an E20…

New chassis rolling out next week I suppose!


So it is confirmed Honeywell has withdrawn the sponsorship? Can’t see the name anywherer on the car.

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