Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus T128, Valencia, 2011

Lotus aim to compete in midfield in 2011

2011 F1 season previewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine


Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus T128, Valencia, 2011
Car: T128
#20 Jarno Trulli
#21 Heikki Kovalainen
Form 2006-2010: n/a, n/a, n/a, n/a, 10
2010 points: 0

While most attention will inevitably be focussed on the battle for the world championship, there are other significant themes waiting to unfold in 2011.

One of the most interesting is whether the three new teams that arrived last year can catch up to the established teams.

Lotus are the team who look most likely to be able to do this.

They were the quickest and most reliable of the new teams over the majority of 2010, and even managed two finishes ahead of a running car from one of the leading teams. This year they need to be able to do that consistently. Lotus have produced a much more purposeful looking car and the drivers have had positive things to say about it.

After driving the T128 for the first time Heikki Kovalainen said it “feels like a proper Formula 1 car”.

In order to solve the gearbox problems that plagued them last year the team are using a drivetrain supplied by Red Bull. This also allows for a pull rod rear suspension layout, following the trend set by the world champions.

Technical director Mike Gascoyne has also adopted a less popular trend started by Mercedes last year and picked up by Force India in 2011: the ‘blade’ roll-hoop and split air intake.

The air is now being fed to a Renault engine, replacing the Cosworths used last year. Given the scale of the changes involved the team have elected to avoid the added complication of running KERS.

Jarno Trulli, Lotus, Barcelona, 2011
Jarno Trulli, Lotus, Barcelona, 2011

That could be a wise move given the reliability problems they experienced in testing. These were aggravated by delays in getting new parts from the factory.

Nonetheless Lotus persevered and they were rewarded on the final day of testing when Kovalainen racked up an impressive 138 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya – more than two race distances.

Originally the car was going to be called a TL11 and painted black and gold. The team’s plans have been disrupted by their ongoing row with Renault over the rights to use the name ‘Lotus’, which will go before the high court next week.

That particular argument reflects poorly on all concerned and will hopefully be concluded in short order, leaving us to concentrate on the real story.

The prospect of a team which only came into existence 18 months ago being able to compete for points is more than just exciting – it’s essential for the long-term health of Formula 1.

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Image ?? Julien Leroy / firstlap.be

50 comments on “Lotus aim to compete in midfield in 2011”

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  1. I have no doubt they will, I can’t help but feel Sauber are not as quick as people think and will possibly be down in the bottom 3 along with Virgin and HRT.

    Lotus’s package looks good at the moment, here’s hoping they do well and get some points.

    1. Lotus have done nothing at any test to show that they are anywhere near either the pace or reliability of Sauber.

    2. I want some of what you are smoking to think they could ever touch a team like Sauber, 5 times the infrastructure.. their own wind tunnel, One of the world most powerful super computers, JAMES KEY!! and PETER SAUBER the guy saved is team from certain death with his own money look at it now.

      Keep dreaming.

      1. People thought that last year…then they were at the back of the Midfield. Now Lotus have a good basis to perform so yes I still hold firm that Lotus will best Sauber and that they will be in the bottom 3.

  2. I must admit I am very exited about the new season and seeing how Team Lotus and HRT will fare, with Virgin a bit in between.

    As for the Team name and Chassis, I think it should be a very clear thing and hopefully the court will be able to confirm that before the race season starts.

  3. C’mon Lotus! Bag us some points!

    1. My thoughts exactly.

  4. more purposeful looking car :-D ingenuity or what? – Students learning english visit f1fanatic

    1. What’re you trying to say? I don’t see anything wrong with the sentence structure!

      1. Sush Meerkat
        14th March 2011, 13:07

        What’re you trying to say? I don’t see anything wrong with the sentence structure!

        Looks like a spambot to me.

        What say you Keith?

        1. I have frequently reported spam wherever it occurred. Facebook, email services, … you name it. I have received many “thank yous” for that.

      2. I meant to praise. It’s a great expression! I don’t see anything wrong with my comment. Thanks for your thought anyway.

        1. I’d recommend picking a user name and sticking to it.

  5. I can see consistent finishes at the bottom of the midfield group and I can’t see Marusia Virgin or HRT challenging them much at all.

    1. Agree. I see them in the same spot as well. However, a few slip ups from the midfield teams, and Lotus should be within striking distance.

  6. I hope they do well, the car certainly looks like it belongs in an F1 race more then last and Testing seems to show they could get some nice results in the coming season.

    Im looking forward to this year as much for seeing how the new(er) teams have progressed since last season as I am for who will win. Good luck Lotus.

  7. Lotus knows what it’s doing.

    The team are using a drivetrain supplied by Red Bull. This also allows for a pull rod rear suspension layout,

    That + the Renault motor means that the car is now is exactly the same as the RB7 except the aerodynamic/Adrian Newey part? way to go Lotus!

    1. well that plus the chassis, hydraulics, electronics and general design…

      1. Yeah, the gearbox and engine are among the least important parts of the car due to how standardised they are.

      2. Actually, I believe the hydraulics are a part of the Red Bull/Lotus package, and the electronics are fairly standard.

        And I believe the general design falls under the Adrian Newey part

    2. The aero was the biggest selling point of the RB6.

    1. Goodness, if Jarno is being upbeat about something it must be great :-)

      When he is upbeat, it means it must be the best car in the paddock LOL.

      I have never known anyone be so vocal of a cars shortcomings over the years. And less vocal about their own level of consistency :-)

  8. While their car sure looks better than last years, it still looks way behind older teams like Sauber and force India.

    1. The Lotus will definitely have a ‘tighter rear end’ than either of those two. ;)

    2. i think they could embarrass Force India, feel Sauber is slightly ahead at the moment thanks to James Key. Lotus got potential, they will be the only non-KERS serious team. if midfield teams can’t figure out optimum package with KERS then they have a shot.

      1. I agree. If they’re challenging any team it’ll be Force India. I think Lotus will be the Torro Rosso of this year, bringing up the back of the midfield, with points scored on rare occasions, and a big gap back to Virgin and HRT.

        1. I can’t see Force India making any new progress. Their performance during the tests has been the same like last year, so, Lotus, if they have improved tremendously, can compete with Force India!

          1. I guess most underestimated team at this point is Force India. I know it did not stand out in testing, but that does not mean Sauber will be ahead and I done even consider lotus. Last year Sauber did same low fuel laps in testing and made impression like it is dam fast.

            You cant predict anything from testing. Also considering the Pirelli tyre this year, it is best chance for FI and Torro Rosso to get some podiums.

  9. Erm lotus may have that blade roll hoop since they nicked people from Force India’s technical department. Since only those two teams are using it.

  10. they may have red bull technology but force india have mclaren technology and yes they have made a drastic improvement over their first season but they still arent the most amazing team. i do think lotus can be successful but it will take time and the same goes for force india. just because a team has a link up woth another sucessful team doesnt mean they will set the world alight.

  11. btw i believe Group Lotus Vs Team Lotus will be up for hearing on 21st? any idea if the naming issue will be resolved before the season starts. ..

    1. Whatever happens, it will be hard not to call one Renault and the other one Lotus.

  12. Jamie Franklin
    13th March 2011, 18:32

    I would love to see Team Lotus do well, they’ve shown that they have worked hard enough, and clearly are a much better racing outfit than both Marussia Virgin and HRT put together.

    I’m not sure how much of a leap forward they have made this year, as no-one really will, but if they’ve managed to sort out their reliability issues, then they have a real shot of some points in the early part of the season. A few of the teams in the midfield may have some problems with KERS, which would indeed make them inherit a few good positions.

    Good luck to them!

    1. and clearly are a much better racing outfit than both Marussia Virgin and HRT put together.

      A considerably larger budget will do that…

      Don’t get me wrong Lotus have been nothing other than incredibly impressive. But it’s no coincidence that the struggling HRT is the team with the least funding…

  13. I love the look of their car this year : ) and I for one care not a bit who is named Lotus, but it will certainly be good when and if it’s quickly settled. Bring on the season!

    1. I’m gonna be stubborn and call the Renault > Renault regardless of the court case.

      The reason I can feel Team Lotus is “the Lotus” is because they have started from scratch, I think that is the single most important indicator of their intentions in the sport [sic].

  14. Will be interesting to see whether a lack of Kers means they can’t compete, or will it be that this could help them, as JT and HK can focus on the driving, and not fiddling with the gadgetry on the steering wheel!

  15. I believe that the naming thing will hit TL hard, and they will be force to change it to ‘Team Fernandes’ or ‘AirAsia Racing’ or something. This is because whilst they supposedly have naming rights (something which is now being contested) Renault have Group Lotus as a paying title sponsor, and money makes the F1 world go round after all

    1. Team Lotus and Lotus Group have always been independent companies. I really doubt Team Lotus will be told they cannot use that name.

      The fact that Group Lotus offered Team Lotus money is pretty indicative that even they realize this.

  16. Can’t see them in the midfield. Yes, they made significant progress, but the midfield teams made even a bigger one. I think they will easily distance from Virgin and HRT, but will not be able to score points, considering no disaster for the rest of the field happens. There are 10 places awarded with points and at least 14-16 cars capable of taking them. Just no room for Lotus.

    I think Team Lotus simply forgot, that when you start far behind in F1, development on par with low-midfield teams is not enough, you need to develop significantly faster. Renault proved it last year, when they were needed to be one of the best if not the best in terms of development in order to occasionally take podium finishes, starting from the midfield earlier season.

    Conclusion: Team Lotus did well. But not good enough.

    1. I think with a bit of luck they should be able to score points at least once or twice this season. But I agree, they won’t be consistent challengers this year, 2012/13 however, I think they could be

  17. The prospect of a team which only came into existence 18 months ago being able to compete for points is more than just exciting – it’s essential for the long-term health of Formula 1.

    That is very true, if we can see Lotus be a “success” then it would lead to other groups considering giving F1 a go as well, as they will believe they can do anything Lotus could do.

  18. As Keith said among the new teams last year this one looked the best,so I have high hopes from them this season.

  19. Personally I hope that this lotus team kills the renault lotus team just because I think these guys deserve it. I feel that renault made a mistake taking on lotus as a sponsor, and my feeling towards the team – especially since robert cannot compete is very negative. The 1st team lotus had a great 1st year in f1 and for some shifty businessman to try to steal their hard work is unacceptable! I know its big business and all but where are the morals of this sport going when the FIA do nothing?

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