|Lotus Cosworth T127
The Lotus name is making its return to the F1 championship for the first time since 1994, with a Malaysian consortium now at the helm and hoping to revive the heyday of this once-great F1 team.
Care has been taken by its new owners to stress that this outfit is not a revival of the legendary team run by the great engineer Colin Chapman, but rather an entirely new team inspired by Lotus’ legacy, and respectful of the heritage carried with the use of the name itself.
The current team structure is a curious multicultural mix: it hold the classic British name and sports the team’s 1960s colour scheme from the pre-sponsorship era. Its technical head Mike Gascoyne is also British. The management is thoroughly Malaysian, as is the list of companies and organisations helping bankroll its entry.
With an Italian and a Finn at the wheel, it is a mini united Nations all contained in Norfolk. And with this melting pot, there exists a true sense of purpose and pride in making this operation work with credibility.
The team has moved mountains since its entry was accepted in September, and to fund, design and build an F1-spec machine in just a matter or months is a huge testament to the strength and resolve of the team, ably overseen by AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes.
Critically for a new team, its T127 car has proved reliable in testing, albeit not particularly quick. The power steering has misbehaved, and the downforce is lacking.
But they appear to be the clear leader of the new teams, but there still exists that 4-5 second gap to the established teams.
The T127 is a deliberately conservative and straightforward design to give the team a solid platform upon which to build and develop a proper championship campaign. With Mike Gascoyne heading the technical operations, and with his proven track record with the likes of Tyrrell, Jordan, Toyota, Spyker and Force India, he clearly has the faith of the team and its drivers.
Its driver line-up is made of two solid and experienced performers, who have each won a Grand Prix. That neither Jarno Trulli nor Heikki Kovalainen has looked like winning once since their respective maiden wins is neither here nor there. Both will aim to build the team to a more solid footing, and give it a reasonable chance of beating the newcomers and occasionally picking off the lower end of the established teams.
Perhaps a point or two is on offer in high attrition races or where the initial deficiencies of the chassis won’t be so evident. Should they achieve that in 2010, it’s a job well done.
- Well-funded with plenty of Malaysian backing
- The clear leader of the rookie teams pack; the car is steady and reliable.
- Two experienced drivers in the cockpit who will drive the team forward and have a lot still to prove. Jarno Trulli’s qualifying prowess might be dynamite on the slower tracks like Monaco.
- Mike Gascoyne leading the technical team, his experience and nous is crucial.
- The T127 is seriously lacking in downforce, which will need to be cured pretty quickly if it wants to start snapping at the heels of the established outfits.
What defines success in 2010?
- Bag a couple of points’ finishes
- Score a few surprise results, particularly in qualifying at the hands of Jarno Trulli
- Develop the T127 so it can break away from the new teams and start challenging the lower-midfield.