It's been fifteen years since Lotus last competed in Formula One, but that dry spell is about to come to an end as the British engineering firm and sportscar maker is set to join the grid once again for next season as one of four new teams in the series. Preparations appear to be going full-steam ahead, and Lotus F1 Racing (as the team will officially be known) has released a pair of images depicting a full-scale wind-tunnel model of the car they'll be running next year.
Like the other new entries – and possibly a handful of veteran teams – the Lotus F1 car will be running under Cosworth power, taking advantage of the low-cost engine package commissioned by the FIA. Having worked with nearly every team on the grid, Mike Gascoyne serves as technical director for the new outfit, with Air Asia owner Tony Fernandes temporarily serving as team principal. The team is being fielded by a consortium of Malaysian investors including the aforementioned airline, the government, Lotus owner and local automaker Proton, the Sepang circuit and the national motorsport and automobile associations.
There's been talk as well of Malaysia's former A1GP team folding into Lotus F1 Racing now that it has withdrawn from the series itself, while speculation continues regarding who'll drive for the team. Toyota's Jarno Trulli is tipped to be one leading candidate, while Malaysian driver Fairuz Fauzy – who has won races in A1GP, GP2 and World Series by Renault over the past couple of years – could prove a compelling choice for the team's Malaysian owners and sponsors, which could as well include national oil consortium and former Sauber sponsor Petronas. Follow the jump for the full press release from Lotus, and check out the images in the gallery below.
Related Gallery2010 Lotus-Cosworth wind-tunnel model
[Source: Lotus F1 Team]
LOTUS F1 RACING TAKES TO THE WINDTUNNEL
Wednesday 14 October 2009
Just one month after confirmation of its entry into the 2010 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, Lotus F1 Racing is already heading into the windtunnel with a scale model of its first Formula 1 car. The as yet undesignated model is the product of the recent collaboration between Lotus F1 Racing Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne and the team's technical partners, and represents an important step in the team's preparations for next season.
Interview with Mike Gascoyne ‐ Lotus F1 Racing Chief Technical Officer
How important is the completion of Lotus F1 Racing's first windtunnel model?
"The start of any windtunnel testing is an important step in the development of a new Formula 1 car, but it is particularly exciting for us as we continue preparations for our first season. It has been a very busy time since our entry was confirmed by the FIA. We had been working on the entry for several months so we already had aspects of the team infrastructure in place; the finances, the factory and the top management. Once our entry was confirmed in mid‐September, we were able to accelerate our recruitment and car development process and this is really where we are at now."
What precisely is the involvement from Malaysia?
"Our entry has only been made possible thanks to financing from the Malaysian private sector, so Lotus F1 Racing will be a Malaysian team through and through. Additionally we have valuable support from the Malaysian government through its 1Malaysia initiative, so we will essentially be flying the Malaysian flag in Formula 1. I am liaising with our Team Principal Tony Fernandes about our plans on a daily basis and am currently spending some time in Malaysia interviewing potential candidates for technical roles. The team is also in the process of recruiting Malaysian employees for other positions, including administration, marketing and PR."
The team is currently based in the UK, but is there a long‐term plan to move to Malaysia?
"The longer‐term vision is to create a centre of technical excellence at the Sepang circuit which we have already started planning together with Tony Fernandes and his associates. Naturally this takes time, so we have opted initially for a UK base at the RTN facility in Hingham from where we will run the F1 operations while we establish our Malaysian facilities. Ultimately, the team will be headquartered in Malaysia, but we will keep a small UK base which will give us a logistical advantage when we are racing within Europe."
What technical partnerships do you already have in place?
"We have been working with Fondtech to develop the aerodynamics, as well as with gearbox specialists Xtrac. We have an engine supply deal in place with Cosworth and we also have the support of engineering and composites teams in Malaysia who will play an integral role in developing the car."
Is there really enough time to get a car and a team up and running before the first race in Bahrain?
"There is no escaping the challenges that we face simply to get the car ready for the first race of next season, but I am confident that we are up to the task in hand. Our target is to get the car ready for a roll out by the middle of February so that we can carry out pre‐season testing in preparation for Bahrain in mid‐March."
What are your expectations for the first year?
"We need to remain realistic in our aims for the first year. We are a new team and we are starting our development late, so it will be an achievement just to get two cars on the Bahrain grid. I hope by the middle of the season we will have established ourselves as the best of the rookie teams and then continue to make forward progress for the rest of the year."
How integrated will the F1 team be with other Lotus groups?
"It is a big honour to be associated with such an historic and prestigious Formula 1 brand as Lotus for whom I have a lot of respect. We will have a close relationship with other Lotus groups and we will do all we can to ensure that the Lotus name is treated respectfully with our new team."
Finally, has there been any decision made on drivers for next year?
"We have been looking closely at the driver market to determine our best options for next year including Malaysian drivers, but no decisions have been made yet. We need versatile drivers. We need reliable and technically‐minded drivers who can help us develop the car during the season, but at the same time we need drivers who are hungry for results and who can extract every little bit of performance from the car at all times."