Team Lotus point the way
Hingham-based Team Lotus want points to make prizes as they aim for Formula One's midfield this season.
The Norfolk constructor unveiled its 2011 car yesterday – the Lotus T128 – which will be powered by Renault engines and enjoy gearbox and hydraulic systems from last season's constructors' champions, Red Bull Racing.
The battle to keep their name will not be resolved until a ten-day High Court trial in March, but the team was still buoyant as they allowed the world to look at their green and yellow liveried challenger for the first time.
This season will be a far different proposition than 2010 for Team Lotus, when they really only had fellow new teams HRT and Virgin Racing as competition at the back of the grid.
Tenth place in the constructors' championship was achieved off the back of places, and without a championship point – but that is something Norwich-born chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne wants to put right this season with the T128.
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'This year's car is a much more contemporary design,' said Gascoyne. 'The car really will be a midfield runner. It's a modern F1 car and I'm very confident it is a big step up. It's the start of a process that takes Team Lotus back to the front of the grid.
'With last year's car, and especially the first half of the season, it was just an exercise in survival. Whereas from the middle of last year it was about building the team up. That's when we started working on this car.
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'I think the thing that was a challenge this year was that the 2010 car really was a one-off because of the way it was done with the design team and the time we had.
'There's been almost no carry-over of parts for the 2011 car, whereas normally you'd have a substantial carry-over and the chance to optimise last year's parts.
'It looks substantially different from last year's car. It has a much more current feel about it, and it's the basis of our cars for the future.'
Veteran Italian driver Jarno Trulli had a tough time of it last season, struggling for finishes and out-performed by team-mate Heikki Kovalainen – but he is expecting a different feel to things in 2011.
'Sitting on the grid in Bahrain this year (for the opening grand prix on March 13) will feel very different – a different tension,' said Trulli.
'Last year we were just aiming to finish the race. This year we'll be aiming to finish in the points. But with the package we have, that should be achievable.'
And the level of ambition at Hingham was laid bare by chief operating officer Keith Saunt through the team's official unveiling of the T128 – aiming for a tally of up to 40 points in 2011.
'I doubt there will be a lot between sixth, seventh and eighth,' said Saunt. 'Depending on how the other guys are doing, seventh could be achievable.'
One disadvantage Team Lotus will have is being unable to run with the power boost system Kers until later in the season – something likely to impact on the T128's race strategies rather than in qualifying.