Lotus Racing set aim for Formula One midfield
The 'dress rehearsal' that was Lotus Racing's 2010 season was 'job done' as far as Mike Gascoyne is concerned – but the real deal starts in 2011.
Renault engines and Red Bull Racing's hydraulic and gearbox systems mean Lotus Racing's 2011 car will have the same make-up as defending constructors' and drivers' champions Red Bull – promising a big improvement in the team's competitiveness and extra pressure on the shoulders of the Norfolk marque's chief technical officer.
'We've got to do it all again but now as the big boys are doing it – you've just got to step up to that level,' said Gascoyne. 'So there is that element of saying, 'Yes that was nice boys, well done – but now we've got to get on with it and do it properly'. There is an element of 2010 being a dress rehearsal; in some ways that's quite a good way of putting it.
'I'd like to point out Red Bull have spent seven years, investing probably three-times what we're investing, and they bought the Jaguar team, so they had a bit of a head start.
'But ultimately yes, it is up to me and the team. We've got a very direct mark of how well the chassis is performing. Whatever the time difference is at each race, that's what you've got to make up.'
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The use of his own wind tunnel facility at Hingham within the next two years will certainly help Gascoyne's cause, and having knocked up 2010's Lotus T127 in barely six months after gaining their Formula One entry, he is glad for a proper run at 2011's black and gold effort.
There are now 70 people working 60-hour weeks at Hingham – straight through to Christmas – to get the 2011 car right, time Gascoyne knows will be worth it.
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'The main part of the job in 2010 job was securing 10th place, but once we had done that it was building this place up to be one of the established teams, because you're only a new team once,' said Gascoyne. 'That's it, it's gone now. We're all established teams, so you've got to go and race with them. To me, the difference that singles us out from Virgin or HRT is if you walk around here, or Force India or Toro Rosso – the other smaller F1 teams – you see the same thing: 200 people on site, all doing the things you should be.
'At this stage last year we had probably done a couple of hundred hours in the wind tunnel and the car was effectively finalised for the first race, and you knew you were going to be... slow.
'In 2011 it will be a much more refined product. One thing you know from experience is once you've done proper work in the wind tunnel and you've done it correctly, you will become much more competitive.
'Our aim is...if you take the second division, Williams were sixth, Force India, Toro Rosso, Sauber, that's who we've got to go racing with, end of.'