New Lotus F1 adventure is all set to get underway

Michael BaileyThe much anticipated unveiling of Lotus' 2010 Formula One charger takes place in London today - the first from the Norfolk marque in 16 years. This season will see former McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen and experienced Italian Jarno Trulli at the wheel of the first Lotus F1 Racing car, which will be officially launched after 5pm, at London's Royal Horticultural Rooms.Michael Bailey

The much anticipated unveiling of Lotus' 2010 Formula One charger takes place in London today - the first from the Norfolk marque in 16 years.

This season will see former McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen and experienced Italian Jarno Trulli at the wheel of the first Lotus F1 Racing car, which will be officially launched after 5pm, at London's Royal Horticultural Rooms.

The car has been built from scratch in barely six months at the manufacturer's factory in Hingham, after the team's entry was confirmed in September.

Before today's glitz and glamour, Trulli braved the freezing conditions at Snetterton to help Group Lotus test its own new project - the Lotus Evora Cup race car - following in the footsteps of past Formula One masters, Jim Clark and Nigel Mansell, who helped Lotus develop the Lotus Cortina and Active Suspension Esprit.

The Evora Cup race car is being developed by Lotus Motorsport at Hethel and has its own one make European race series designed around it, which is set to start later this year.

But today will all be about the marque's Formula One adventure and since the first fire-up of its Cosworth engine late Saturday night and the car's shakedown at Silverstone on Tuesday, team principal Tony Fernandes is an excited man.

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'Obviously there were lots of glitches and lots of things that need to be tidied up, but they did enough work to be able to correct it for Jerez,' said Fernandes, with the Lotus to be officially tested for the first time in Spain, during a four day session that starts on Wednesday.

'We've proven a few people wrong. It was fantastic to have our car out at Silverstone and do four or five laps. There's lots of work to do, of course - we're under no illusions that we're going to be at the front straightaway - but it was great to have the car out. I think that was an achievement.

'Mike (Gascoyne, technical director) has done a fantastic job from getting the entry so late to have actually produced a car that starts. And obviously on Friday we unveil it to the world.

'It will all truly become real in Bahrain, when we hopefully finish the race - then I will say it's real. I don't care where we finish, but I would love to finish that race.

'Unveiling the car is another step forward in the reality and the world can see that it's not just words anymore - they can see it's live, and that we're here to stay.

'That I think is when we go from 'is it really there?' to 'it's there' - and that is a big step. Friday is a big step.'

The new car, whose name will also be confirmed today, is expected to be racing green with yellow trim - evocative colours and an evocative image for every racing fan.

Lotus have missed the first two official tests but will have another session to attend at the end of the month, before preparations begin for the opening grand prix, in Bahrain on March 14.

Arguably, fellow new boys Virgin Racing are ahead of the Hingham team having already launched and tested its VR-01 - but they had to cut short their test session at Jerez yesterday due to a lack of spare parts.

Virgin have so far struggled to get a decent test run under their belt and just five laps were possible yesterday at the first official shakedown of the car, which has been designed entirely by computers and without the aid of a wind tunnel.

The VR-01 finished more than 17 seconds off the quickest time in Wednesday's rain-affected session and, as Lotus technical director Gascoyne stated earlier this year, Virgin are taking a big risk relying solely on computer simulations - or Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) - to design their first car.

Speaking last month from Hingham, Gascoyne said: 'There are a lot of teams doing a lot of CFD and wind tunnel testing and if they believe they could do it just with CFD then they would be.

'But they are not and I don't think those people are idiots - and they're winning in Formula One. As a new team you are pretty bold to say they don't know what they're doing. But we'll see.'

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