The outfit has won championships under the Benetton banner with Michael Schumacher behind the wheel, and as Renault with Fernando Alonso driving. Its track record has fallen off considerably since then, but this year it's back with new owners, new drivers and this, its new car.
Wearing the same black and gold livery as the R31 campaigned last year under the transitional Lotus Renault GP handle, the new car bears that same stepped nose employed by most of the teams on the grid so far to make the most of the latest technical regulations. In a nod towards continuity, the car is dubbed the E20 – as the 20th car to be built by the Enstone-based team – rather than starting from scratch with a new nomenclature.
The team's former owners at Renault continue to provide the engine that will power 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen in his the long-awaited return to F1 and his junior team-mate Romain Grosjean in his second stab at F1 after dominating the GP2 series, with former HRT race driver Jerome D'Ambrosio joining as test driver. Check out their new ride in the high-res image gallery above and the video after the jump.
Lotus F1 Team today unveiled its 2012 FIA Formula 1 World Championship challenger, the E20, on its website www.lotusf1team.com at 17:00 CET. Continuing with the evocative black and gold livery, the E20 heralds a new nomenclature to commemorate the twentieth chassis designed at the team's Enstone base through its Benetton, Renault F1 Team and Lotus Renault GP history.
E20 – new name, new concept
The E20 incorporates ground–up redesigns and optimization of previous Enstone design philosophies. Most notably, the forward facing exhausts of 2011's R31 have been abandoned, both through regulation and necessity. The E20 also features a 'step' on its nose, this layout also being the result of a regulation change.
The front and rear suspension layouts have been substantially revised in the quest for ever- better aerodynamic efficiency whilst the front wing is a continuation of concepts used by the team during recent seasons.
The E20 has been designed utilizing the team's new 60% scale wind tunnel as well as its enhanced CFD facility, with both resources located on site at Enstone.
Rexona and CLEAR, two of the world's biggest personal care brands, are the latest partners to join the Lotus F1 Team. The brands, part of the Unilever portfolio, represent a perfect fit with the high levels of competition and performance associated with Formula 1 as a sport and more specifically with the Lotus F1 Team.
A proud history
This season will see the 500th Grand Prix contested by Lotus F1 Team, including those contested through its previous incarnations of Toleman, Benetton, Renault F1 Team and Lotus Renault GP.
Toleman Motorsport entered Formula 1 in 1981 and started 57 Grands Prix, until in 1986 the team was renamed as Benetton. In this guise 260 races were contested, until in 2002 the team became Renault F1 Team. As Renault F1 Team, 159 Grands Prix were started, with the team becoming Lotus Renault GP for 2011, contesting a further 19 events. The current total of Grands Prix stands at 495.
Kimi Räikkönen, Romain Grosjean and Jérôme D'Ambrosio comprise a strong driver line-up which includes a world champion in Kimi, and two success-hungry hungry young guns in Romain and Jérôme. Kimi returns to Formula 1 eager to put the talents which have won him 18 Grands Prix and a World Championship to good effect in black and gold.