Lotus do justice to historic name in first season back

2010 F1 season review

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Heikki Kovalainen, Lucas di Grassi, Monza, 2010

Of the three new teams that entered Formula 1 in 2010, Lotus were conclusively the better outfit. They were quicker and they finished more races.

This was despite them beginning their preparations later than Virgin and HRT did.

While those two teams were among the three original outfits to be granted a place on the grid in 2010, Lotus only got the nod after BMW later announced their departure.

Lotus team stats 2010

Best race result (number) 12th (1)
Best grid position (number) 13th (1)
Non-finishes (mechanical/other) 12 (10/2)
Laps completed (% of total) 1742 (77.15%)
Laps led (% of total) 0 (0%)
Championship position (2009) 10th (n/a)
Championship points (2009*) 0 (n/a)
*using 2010 system

Lotus benefited from not having originally conceived their plans under the budget cap planned by then FIA president Max Mosley.

With the budget cap ultimately not being used in 2010, and the less constricting Resource Restriction Agreement taking its place, Lotus were arguably in a better position.

In Mike Gascoyne they had a designer who had been active in F1 more recently than the other new teams did. Several ex-Toyota staff, including Jarno Trulli and his race engineer Gianluca Pisanello, helped shore up the team’s experience level.

At its launch the simple, straight lines of the T127 made it look like an F1 car from a few seasons ago.

But the conservative approach paid dividends as from the off the team had a car that could complete a Grand Prix distance. Both Heikki Kovalainen and Trulli brought their cars home in Bahrain.

Here the team also benefited from having a pair of experienced drivers who, on the whole, brought the car home when it was reliable.

Trulli stayed true to his career form by usually qualifying the best of the six new cars. But Kovalainen was often the first to finish the race.

On two occasions Kovalainen was able to keep one of the drivers from the established teams behind him. He did it to Nico Hulkenberg in China as the Williams driver made six pit stops in tricky conditions.

And he withstood an attack from Vitaly Petrov’s Renault for the last ten laps of the race in Canada.

Kovalainen posted two of the most dramatic retirements of the season. He served as a launching pad for Mark Webber’s terrifying flight in Valencia when the Red Bull driver misjudged just how much earlier the Lotus driver had to brake for corners than he did in an RB6.

Then in Singapore a severed fuel line caused a huge fire at the rear of the car. Kovalainen pulled up opposite the pits and set about the rear of his car with a fire extinguisher.

But by far the majority of the technical failures hit Trulli’s side of the garage. He wasn’t a classified finisher on seven occasions and every time it was because the car had let him down. And on more than one occasion he kept an ailing car running until the end.

If anything the team’s performance off the track was even more impressive than what they achieved on it. Reacting to a string of reliability problems involving the gearbox and hydraulics they successfully pursued a deal with Red Bull which will see them use the world champions’ systems in 2011.

This also brought about a move away from Cosworth engines next year, which will be replaced with Renault units.

Clearly the biggest setback for the team is the dispute over their use of the name “Lotus” with the company Lotus road cars. The matter is before the courts at present.

Group Lotus have advanced the Lotus name in other areas of motor racing such as IndyCars. If they harbour F1 ambitions of their own surely they would be better served by allying themselves with this outfit who have made rapid progress in 2010 and already look like an intriguing proposition for 2011.

Lotus’s 2010 season in pictures

2010 F1 season review

Browse all 2010 F1 season review articles

Image © Lotus F1

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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35 comments on “Lotus do justice to historic name in first season back”

  1. If Group Lotus ever wonders how this team managed ro endear themselves to so many F1 fans this year, they need look no further than three of the pictures in is article:

    1) “Break glass in case of Victory” Remining us of the past and the blessing the Chapman family gave the team.

    2) Heikki on fire in Singapore. Most drivers would have ran for the hills, but Heikki’s dedication to Lotus no’s no bounds!

    3) “Thanks Lotus fans” I don’t remember an F1 team ever interacting with its fans as much as Lotus Racing did his season, and that was a great little gesture.

    It’s not the name, or the history, its the teams attitude to Formula 1 that won me (us) over. Lotus Racing are a proper little racing team who went about the 2010 season perfectly, and I’ll support them in 2011 regardless of what their name is.

    Sorry to gush!

    1. Wow, spelling errors galore there!

      1. christopheraser
        28th November 2010, 10:41

        What are you a word processor?

        I agree with this thread, hopefully lotus become a permanent fixture on the grid, be good if Formula 1 nets at least one teams out of all the stuff that has gone on in the last couple of years.

        1. I’m a Lawyer…even worse! I’m also a lawyer who should be reviewing documents instead of looking at F1 sites!

      2. In terms of interacting with fans – have you guys seen the contest Lotus is running, they are giving the chance for the fans to design their Black and Gold 2011 livery, do you recall anything like this in the history of F1?

  2. As a Kovalainen fan, I am happy with Lotus’ 2010 season. One couldn’t expect much more.

    The question is: How much progress can they make in 2011? In 2010, their average qualifying pace was around 2 seconds per lap slower than the one of Torro Rosso, which had the slowest car of the established teams. I am sure that Lotus will be quicker in 2011 but how much quicker? James Allen wrote in his blog that the new package of Renault engines and Red Bull hydraulics and gearboxes should move the cars forward by at least 0.5 secs to 1 secs a lap. But one second is still not enough to catch even Toro Rosso and the latter one will obviously not stand still, too.

    I just wonder whether a lot of fans are not expecting too big step forward. They will probably be disappointed if Lotus is closer to the established teams in terms of lap times but still unable to fight for points in 2011.

    1. If the engine and gearbox/rear end package brings them up to 1 second, I would expect them to be right at the pace of the slowest mid field teams.

      Remember, this season the car was deleloped in a short period of time, so they went for simple things that are known to work. Now they have a year of team experience, fresh track data and a whole year to think about more effective aerodynamical solutions as well as lighter components.
      That should help them another second or so to the front.

      1. I agree, I think they can do a lot with their front wing still, and the basic shape of the sidepods can surely be optimised – they went back to the older shape near the end of the season didn’t they? Give them a winter and they will figure out the cooling of the smaller package the Renault handles well enough to get a lot better body shape. Not in winning league sure, but enough to battle the Torro Rosso’s surely.

        (By the way, I am somewhat worried about Torro Rosso, they didn’t improve all that much either, did they? Really conservative, didn’t have much money to spend, not yet a full team of engineers possibly, not looking great.)

    2. I agree, Although I would love them to be fighting with the lower mid field teams, It still is huge leap to actually be competitive with them.

      If I had to put money on it, I’d guess the three new teams would still be the three slowest next year. But I really hope I’m wrong.

      And even if they are the slowest, it would still be a huge achievement just to start catching the other teams, or in the current financial climate of f1, just to survive.

      1. I think theres enough experience in the team to add to that .5-1 sec that the RB package will bring to their 2011 car. This years design was as basic as they could get away with inorder to get the car on the field, theres plenty that they can improve on, and i expect that that will. Im not saying they wont be part of the slower teams next year, but they could get some points and i certainly think they can expect a Q2 appearence in some of the races.

  3. Does anyone know anything new about the ACTUAL Lotus group entering F1, Autosport said that Lotus group will construct chassis for Indy car, does this vanish any hope for a return of the true Lotus company.
    However even without the actual company, this firm made this season a lot good to the sport and to the racing history, hope for them to have a good 2011 season, they deserve it !

    1. As far as I understand it, Group Lotus will be making aero kits and engines for Indycar, not manufacturing whole chassis (which will be built by Dallara).

      1. Wasn’t their plan to supply badge-engineered Cosworth engines? I doubt they have race engine building capabilities of their own at the moment.

        1. Could be, I found it odd seeing as they use Toyota sourced engines in most of their road cars.

  4. I think the performance of the new teams show that if they have the resources the best strategy is to employ senior people and both race drivers who have recent F1 experience.

    Considering how far Lotus have come already and with a Renault engine and Red Bull gearbox and hydraulics I wouldn’t be surprised if they easily improve on 10th place next year.

    I hope the Lotus name issue gets sorted soon and that they manage to keep the name. Last year when they announced they would be entering F1 with the Lotus name I was against it and I still probably don’t class them as classic team Lotus, but if anyone gets to use the name in modern F1 I hope it is this team.

  5. i’m not sure if i’d call em the real lotus, they did well for a fresh team & with limited time….

    they are a good team and i have liked watching em race, hope they do well in 2011.

    but i still can’t understand why they need to call themselves lotus, which they are clearly not…

    1. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
      28th November 2010, 19:49

      Not this again, they have been given the blessing of the Chapman family and David Hunt to use the Lotus name, they also have been given Colin’s break glass in case of victory cap, so thats Lotus enough for the majority of the F1 fans myself included.

      1. no thats simply putting lipstick on a pig!!

        1. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
          29th November 2010, 20:06

          What on earth is that supposed to mean.

          And if we are on that subject then I propose that McLaren should not be allowed to call itself McLaren as it has no ties to Bruce McLaren at all.

          See how stupid that sounds, if they have permission and the blessing of the previous owners then surely they have the rights to use the name.

  6. “Lotus do justice to historic name in first season back”


    1. How about telling us why you disagree?

    2. Lotus do justice in first season back

      In 1994, Lotus achieved 0 points. In 2010 they achieved 0 points, but were a new team without staff, and had to draw a car from nothing.
      It was obvious that new teams would have had a tough time, but Lotus were consistently the best out of the three. Qualifying was pratically dominanted by them, and they deserved the primate of being the best new outfit because of their dedication in the sport.

  7. Keith, did you have any information about when the court hearing regarding lotus name dispute will be held?

  8. Its not the real lotus team. Its just a ripoff wannabe team.

    1. Who have the backing of the Chapman family…..

    2. And who own the legal rights to the name…

    3. If it was good enough for Peter Warr, who was a guest of the the team in Bahrain before he died, then it should be more than good enough for you.

      The break-glass/Chapman cap was one of my favorite little stories of the year, was glad it made it into the photo-collection.

  9. Not sure what will they be called in 2011 but with Mike Gascoyne & building up good relationship with Renault & Red Bull they will be the best team to come up in 2011 among the 2010 Newbie.

  10. I was admittedly cold to them at the start of the season, but by about halfway through, I was willing to begin to accept them as the “legit” Lotus as it were. I definitely want to see them stick around and I really hope someday they do return to their former glory. It’s a name worth keeping in the sport.

    1. I too am hoping they keep the “Team Lotus” name next season and they establish themselves as a competitive outfit next season and start getting some points. As you say its a name that belongs in F1 alongside the Ferrari’s, Mclarens & Williams.

  11. I think I’m with where both drivers obviously are, which is in it for the long run.

    Proton didn’t buy any rights to Team Lotus. That much is obvious. But whatever name they run under next year they’ll have my support as yet another world class collection of British engineering talent.

  12. 20101? can’t wait for the 20102 season.

    Great article keith, I’m loving these reviews, making the beginning of the off season much easier. Hopefully you can keep things going until more news about next year appears.

  13. BritishRacing
    3rd December 2010, 6:59

    Group Lotus will not use Team Lotus name in F1, so T Fernandes can use it in the next season but without Lotus logo.

  14. All this yak about Lotus. Give me a break.
    Same goes for this fight between the team and Proton.
    Lotus as anything other than an English Team is a sham!!
    Colin Chapman must be rolling in his grave.

    1. Colin Chapman must be rolling in his grave.

      His wife and son have endorsed the team.

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