Gascoyne at Lotus Racing for long haul
Mike Gascoyne has committed his long-term future to Hingham's Lotus Racing by signing a new five year deal.
With the Malaysian-backed Formula One team hoping to rebrand as Team Lotus from 2011 – something set to be decided in the High Court following protests from Group Lotus over the rights – their chief technical officer has made his intentions clear.
Lotus Racing look set for a top 10 finish in the constructors' championship on their first season, ahead of fellow new teams, Hispania and Virgin Racing. Former McLaren, Tyrrell, Jordan, Benetton and Toyota employee Gascoyne, who grew up in Norwich, started the current Hingham unit with team principal Tony Fernandes 18 months ago.
'Having started the team from scratch with Tony it was always my intention to finish my career here, so it's great to have formally agreed a five-year deal,' said Gascoyne.
'I'm extremely grateful to everyone involved in Lotus Racing for having the confidence to take this into a long-term contract. We've had a great start to our partnership together, and I'm looking forward to continuing that for the next five years, and even beyond that.'
Fernandes added: 'Mike's five-year deal is a major announcement for the whole Lotus Racing team. It shows just how serious we are, not only about how far ahead we are setting our aspirations, but also as a reward to Mike for the incredibly hard work he and the team have already put in to get us from literally four people back in September 2009, to our current position as a serious F1 player with a very bright future ahead of us.'
Should Lotus finish in the top 10 constructors, they will pocket millions of pounds in prize money – a big help towards next season's budget.A wager between AirAsia founder Fernandes and his Virgin counterpart, Richard Branson – owner of Virgin Atlantic – also rides on which team finishes 10th, with the loser spending a day dressed as a stewardess from the other's airline.
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But Virgin driver Timo Glock – who needs an unlikely finish to leapfrog the Hingham outfit – thinks both his team and team principal's chances of coming out on top are slim.
'It will be very difficult,' said Glock. 'Maybe if there's a crazy wet race or something like that. Otherwise I don't see any chance.'
Confirmation of their 2011 engine supplier – widely tipped to be the Renault package Red Bull Racing benefit from – and Lotus racing's driver line-up is still to come.