Lotus unveil 2012 Formula One challenger – E20

Lotus aim to make 2012 a year of progress as the Hethel-backed outfit unveiled their challenger on Sunday – the E20.

The Norfolk marque – and in their previous guise as Renault, world champions – came a disappointing fifth last year despite a couple of early season podiums, as they failed to come to terms with the winter loss of lead driver Robert Kubica.

This term, the return of Kimi R�ikk�nen to Formula One has sparked hopes of a revival at Enstone and team owner Gerard Lopez wants the E20 to deliver performances nearer the front of the field for a sustained period.

'We're trying to bring the car up to the front of the pack,' said Lopez. 'We are trying to aim for fourth as a reasonable goal for this season.'

Due to new rules, Lotus have had to ditch the ultimately flawed exhaust system that hampered the R31's development last season, while the E20 also features a stepped nose – working around a further new set of technical regulations brought in by the FIA.

McLaren are the only team so far to unveil a car with a front nose that sweeps down without a noticeable – and some would say ugly – step.

Team principal Eric Boullier said: 'It's true that the team's reputation is good in terms of innovation and we brought through the last years some nice ones, and some more delicate ones, but definitely we have some this year.

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'My biggest hope is to bring this positivity back again and to make sure this team is again at the front of the grid and for many years.'

Frenchman Romain Grosjean, winner of last year's Formula One feeder series GP2, will race alongside R�ikk�nen this season – his second shot at F1 after a poor seven-race stint with Renault three years ago.

Belgian driver and former Virgin racer Jerome d'Ambrosio will be in reserve.

'In the case of Kimi, we clearly wanted a driver with experience,' added Boullier. 'He's been with big teams and has huge experience. He's eager and he's fast.

'And for Romain, we want to nurture a young driver with great talent. He achieved a lot in the junior categories. We monitored him a lot and we know what he's capable of.'

The E20 gets a demonstration run at Jerez on Monday before the first winter test starts 24 hours later.

'It will be something slightly different than it used to be, with a different team and different regulations,' said R�ikk�nen. 'But I was pretty happy after the first test we did a few weeks ago, it felt pretty normal already so I think it will be OK. I'm happy so far.'