Lotus wind tunnel plan for Norfolk

A Formula One racing team has revealed that a dedicated wind tunnel at its Norfolk base will form the foundation for an ambitious programme of growth in the next year.

Lotus Racing has announced that it will soon start work on the design and build of the development facility at its Hingham factory.

The Anglo-Malaysian squad will also expand operations at its existing factory site to take over a further two units in order to provide a home for the sister Team AirAsia operation that will compete in next year's GP2 Series.

Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer, said: 'To compete at the highest level in F1, it is important to have all of the key elements involved in the design, manufacturing, testing and development of our cars under our direct control and on the same site.

'Today's announcement about the wind tunnel, which will be combined with additional production, office and administrative elements, gives us both the facility we need to lay the foundations for long-term success and is a clear sign that we are very serious about competing at the sharp end of the grid as quickly as we can.'

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Both Lotus and Team Air Asia began advertising vacancies this week, and the addition of the wind tunnel to its task list only serves to underline how seriously it is taking its return to F1, according to deputy team principal Kamarudin Meranun

He said: 'We are very serious about not only competing at the highest level on the global motorsport stage, but also having the infrastructure in place for sustained future success.

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'Having our own wind tunnel, and a permanent base for Team AirAsia right next door to Lotus Racing, gives us the opportunity to attract the best talent from around the world to join us in making our dream come true, and puts us on a par with some of the most famous, established names in motor racing.'

For Tony Fernandes, the latest announcement highlights just how far his baby has come since being confirmed as a member of the F1 fraternity late in 2009.

'Just over a year ago, there were four people in the factory in Hingham, a team working in Cologne on the design of this year's car, and a third group working in Italy on our aero programme,' he said.

'We have reached where we are today because of the hard work all of those people, and those who have joined us since, put in in the early days, and I want to thank them for helping us get to where we are today.

'Now it is about the future, and today's announcement shows just how serious we are about taking the next crucial step in the continuing development of both Lotus Racing and Team AirAsia.'

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