Lotus aim to compete in midfield in 2011

2011 F1 season preview


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

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50 comments on Lotus aim to compete in midfield in 2011

  1. 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

    • Patrickl said on 13th March 2011, 21:12

      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.

  2. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 13th March 2011, 22:33

    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.

    • Jarred Walmsley (@jarred-walmsley) said on 14th March 2011, 4:59

      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

  3. Mike said on 13th March 2011, 22:51

    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.

  4. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 14th March 2011, 1:19

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

  5. BROOKSY007 (@brooksy007) said on 14th March 2011, 3:56

    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?

  6. Guelph35 said on 14th March 2011, 4:18

    Trulli and Kovalainen will be the loneliest drivers on the grid.

    A long way behind the midfield teams, a long way ahead of Virgin and HRT, and not getting lapped nearly as often as the other new teams.

    Any time they aren’t 19th and 20th on the grid (before penalties) will be a shock.

    • Jarred Walmsley (@jarred-walmsley) said on 14th March 2011, 5:01

      No, I reckon they could quite easily break into Q2 occasionally, especially once Buemi gets replaced midseason as I’m sure he will be. And even if they don’t 18th is still very achieveable.

  7. Vettel to stay at Red Bull until 2014.

  8. I’ll say it again. Fernandez is a genius and he is great at making bold moves. Better to be midfield for a season buying the red bull rear end and the Lotus engine then be fighting it out in back again.

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