Road and Track magazine recently invited Dario Franchiti to drive a few laps of the brickyard in Jim Clarks winning Lotus 38.
Archive for November, 2010
GGLC attended the North America launch of the new Lotus range at the LA Auto Show and got a chance to speak to senior management about their plans for Lotus and the challenges in launching 5 new cars in a short span of time. Short descriptions of the interviews and their major points are below but we recommend you watch the actual videos to get a sense about the future direction of Lotus
First up we spoke to Dany Bahar, the CEO of Group Lotus about his vision for the future of the company and why they were launching so many cars in such a short timeframe. Major points that he confirmed were:
- Not all cars will be going to aluminium skins, the Elise will remain a composite body
- Motorsports activities will include Evora GT4, Evora GT2, IndyCar (bespoke engine and aero)
- Simultaneous worldwide launch with an intended volume of 6-7000 cars per year
Next up was Donato Coco, Head of Lotus Design and the man behind the 5 cars on display. He spoke to us about the challenges in designing iconic cars like the Esprit as well as the goals for the design language for the Lotus range. Our favorite quite here was that the design for the new front ends has been inspired by the original Lotus Seven and if you look at the cars (especially the Elise) it does actually come through.
Finally we spoke to Wolf Zimmermann, CTO of Lotus about the challenges in rapidly developing 5 new cars. This was a great interview with reasons behind various decisions and we recommend you watch the whole video below. Significant points include:
- Aluminium bodies are required because composite cannot provide the required quality and shapes for the new designs
- Engines are not yet confirmed but will be decided in the next few months
- VVA architecture and manufacturing will have to be upgraded to meet targets
- Lotus Engineering is already involved in some of the design processes
Lotus Racing secured its primary goal of tenth place in the 2010 FIA Formula One™ World Championship when Heikki Kovalainen finished the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 17th place. Jarno Trulli’s race came to an unfortunate end on lap 51 and finished in the garage after his car suffered a rear wing failure with just three laps left.
Heikki Kovalainen (Chassis T127-03) 17th, fastest lap 1.45.378: “What a fantastic end to our season. The race itself was just great, right from when the lights went out. I got the best start of the season, made up places immediately and from that point on I just got my head down and got on with it. Everything went perfectly according to plan. The tyres weren’t really degarding and as the car got lighter and the fuel burnt away I was able to keep putting in what felt like qualifying laps throughout the whole race. I was able to pull away a gap to the cars behind me and we managed the traffic really well all race. After I came out of the pits I had to let a few cars past which cost me several seconds, but that wasn’t a problem as I could keep pulling away from my direct rivals. This is the perfect way to end our first season, and gives us a huge boost for next year. We finished on a high, achieved all our goals and we have a very exciting future ahead of us. Thank you to the whole team for a fantastic season – I can’t wait for next year.”
Jarno Trulli (Chassis T127-02) DNF, fastest lap 1.45.979: “First of all congratulations to the whole team. Everyone has done an amazing job this year and while it’s been long and tough, for a brand new team it’s been special. My race was one of the ones I’ll want to forget. I had a problem with the front wing to begin with, and then a rear wing failure finished the race so I’m pretty glad it’s over! This year I’ve had all sorts of bad luck but I’m very confident about next year as the package that’s been put together is very good and it gives everyone in the team a chance to take the next step forward.”
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: “Job done. When we started out on this project the first target was to be best of the new teams. When you think how late our entry was confirmed that was always going to be a good challenge, but we have done it. We gave Tony, Din and Nasa tenth place and that makes me very proud of the whole team. On a personal level I’d like to thank my partner Silvi. We did this together and I could not have done it without her or the whole team. However, this is just the beginning. Next year what is important is the steps we take forward, but for tonight we will enjoy the achievement. We have earned it.”
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: “I am completely relieved, completely ecstatic, completely happy and completely vindicated in making the decision to go into F1™. What we have achieved today is what dreams are made of. To complete 19 races after having just five months to build a car and finish in tenth in style is something that is truly magical. It shows you that even in the modern age where money and power counts for so much, there is a chance for ambition and dreams to shine. 2010 is a year that we can be proud of. We brought Lotus back into F1™™ after many had talked about it, but we did it. I can confidently say that everyone associated with the Lotus history can be very proud of what we have done this year. This is the first chapter of a long career ahead and we will create our own future, destiny and history from here. I am thankful to all the incredibly special staff we have in Hingham, Malaysia and here in Abu Dhabi for what they have done this year and my abiding memory of 2010 comes from one of our engineers, who told me he had achieved higher grid positions with other teams, but never with a team that feels as special as this. To all the Lotus fans thank you so much for your support – we could not have done it without you. I am thrilled that Lotus Racing has opened up F1™™ to everyone out there, and we cannot wait to see you next year.”
Lotus Racing are now back in the middle-east for the last race of the 2010 season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The team is in buoyant mood after another solid performance in Sao Paulo saw them tighten their grip on tenth place in the Championship, moving ever closer to achieving their primary goal in their debut season.
The Lotus Racing story is nothing short of spectacular. The team has already won an army of fans worldwide, gained huge respect within the notoriously tough F1 paddock and in the wider commercial world, and gone from a workforce of just four in September 2009 to over 200 now, all focused on taking a major step forward in 2011 to take on and beat the established teams ahead.
Fairuz Fauzy (driving in place of Heikki Kovalainen in FP1): “I’m looking forward to getting back in the car and I think it will be a very special atmosphere, on track and in the garage. The twilight running obviously makes the race very interesting, but as I’ll be going out in FP1 the real challenge for me is to try and push on what will be a very green track. I’ve spent a bit of time in a simulator to prepare for the run on Friday, but it will obviously be different when I get out on the real thing.”
Heikki Kovalainen: “Abu Dhabi is a great track and I like the fact we race in the fading light. I think it will be a good fight up at the front, and for us it’s the end of a very long, but so far very rewarding season. Everyone in the team has done really well all year, pushing us along to where we are now, and this weekend is all about maintaining concentration and giving it one final effort before we start focusing entirely on next year. I’m excited about the race and I think we’ll be in good shape to keep up the pressure on the guys around us.”
Jarno Trulli: “It’s the last race but for me it’s still all about getting my car across the finish line with Heikki so we can tie up tenth place. The track isn’t a huge challenge – it’s not as rewarding to drive on as somewhere like Brazil, but we’ll be ok there as our car should be pretty much as far ahead of those around us as we have been in the last few races.”
Mike Gascoyne: “Down to the last race and I don’t think we could be going there in any better shape. Abu Dhabi should be another track where we can take the fight to our nearest rivals, and all season long we have seen that the investment in experience throughout the whole team has held us in very good stead in our first season. You could see in Brazil that both Heikki and Jarno were able to pull away from Timo throughout the race, and that is down to excellent work all year by the team at the track and the factory, and in the two cockpits, and we are aiming for that to be repeated at the last race. The goal is obviously to finish tenth, and we would like to do that in the same style we have shown all season – by beating those around us, so everyone will be putting in one last big effort to repay the faith shown in us by our fans all year and everyone who has helped us reach this point of the season.”
Tony Fernandes: “As we approach the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix I feel a great sense of accomplishment and delivery. In just one year we have delivered a team that has presented itself and behaved like one that has been racing for a long time. We made the bold decision to bring in two experienced drivers who have helped us push our way up as quickly as possible, on and off track, and from the earliest days of our team we have respected the heritage of Colin Chapman and his family and treated them both with the honour and style they deserve. It will be an incredible feeling to see the culmination of our first season back at another track where the Lotus Racing dream took shape. We came to the 2009 race, and while I hoped then that we would be where we are now, I could not have predicted we would have come quite as far as we have. Our future is extremely exciting. We have everything in place to take a big step forward next year, and I truly believe we have already exceeded our own expectations in our first season. For a team that had only five months to build our first car, as well as an entire race team and factory, we can hold up our heads up high to our fans, the Chapman family, the paddock fraternity and most importantly, to ourselves. There has been a huge amount of discussion about Lotus re-entering Formula One for the first time since 1994, but we spent this year looking ahead and not engaging in the talk about bringing the Lotus brand back. We went about our business in our own unassuming way, letting our actions speak louder than our words, and we will continue to do just that. We have a unique style and will always stay true to that as we move forward, up to the ultimate position of one day being World Champions.”
In a move that is certain to excite Lotus fans and followers of Formula One™ around the world, Lotus Racing has announced this morning that its cars will be running in a black and gold colour scheme from the 2011 Championship onwards. This move echoes the evolution of Lotus Formula One™ cars of the past by moving from the iconic green and yellow paint scheme of the first season to the much loved black and gold.
Lotus Racing has already won an army of fans worldwide whose support for the Anglo-Malaysian squad has been fuelled by the team’s open, honest approach to racing, and its efforts on track which has seen the team edge ever closer to securing the ‘best of the new teams’ title in its debut season.
To bring the fans even closer to the team in its second season Head of Marketing Silvi Schaumloeffel today explained how the 2011 livery will be designed: “We have worked all year to make sure our fans are given unprecedented access to our team. We are all very excited about the move to a black and gold paint scheme for next season, and we want our fans to help us design the livery that will be racing around the world next year. We will shortly be announcing exactly how the fans can take part in our design process, so keep an eye on our website www.lotusracing.my for more details. The person who designs the livery we finally choose will be joining us at our first test next year to see the car out on track for the very first time, so for Lotus and F1™ fans it is the chance of a lifetime to help us take the next step forward in our amazing story in 2011.”
Riad Asmat, Lotus Racing Chief Executive, added his thoughts on the next step in the Lotus Racing story: “When we first unveiled our 2010 car there was unanimous praise for our decision to bring the historic green and yellow livery back to the modern F1™ grid. I know the return to the track of the legendary black and gold will be met with even more universal support as it strikes such an emotional chord with fans around the world. Giving those fans the chance to help us bring it back to the contemporary grid is true to our core belief of putting our supporters right at the heart of Lotus Racing – we can’t wait to show the world what we come up with!”
It’s not enough to simply provide people with the gorgeous multi-award winning Evora, Lotus wants people to be able to drive the car come hell or high water (perhaps not too high water!). So after a great deal of careful thought and consideration, Lotus has united with four-time world rally driving champion Juha Kankkunen to develop the ultimate winter driving programme – Ice Attack – and it’s not for the faint hearted!
Based on the winter ice tracks of Northern Finland just 60km south of the Arctic circle, in what has often been described as one of the world’s most beautiful settings, the Lotus Ice Attack programme has been designed to offer the thrills and spills of powering around in the ice and snow.
During the trip drivers will learn first hand how to navigate safely in low grip conditions, how to brake and change direction effectively, as well as experiencing the limitations of driving in the most extreme conditions. Drivers will also explore the handling characteristics of the Evora.
A series of white-knuckle exercises have been designed to take the driver and the car to the limit on a safe and controlled track. Each session, with a professional instructor, can be tailored to meet individual needs throughout the day.
Commenting on Lotus Ice Attack, Juha Kankkunen said: “I’m delighted that Lotus chose my driving academy to partner with for this extreme weather driving event. I think that the Evora is the perfect car to put to the test in the special winter conditions created in Kuusamo and I’m very much looking forward to welcoming people to this incredible arctic experience.”
Today’s announcement by Bernard Rey, President of Renault Sport, of the engine partnership with Renault from the 2011 season and beyond finally confirms one of the most interesting stories of the 2010 Formula One™ season and is a clear sign of the strength of the Anglo – Malaysian team’s ambitions to move up the grid as quickly as possible. Team Principal Tony Fernandes, Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne and Chief Executive Officer Riad Asmat gave their thoughts on the announcement today.
Tony Fernandes: “I am absolutely delighted that we can now officially talk about the partnership with Renault. There has obviously been a great deal of speculation about which engine will be powering our cars from 2011 and now the announcement has been made I think everyone can see just how ambitious we really are. The combination of the Renault engine and the Red Bull Technology gearbox and hydraulics gives our design and aero teams a successful, tried and tested platform to work with for next year’s car. 2010 has been all about building up our team from scratch and in just one year we have laid the foundations for many exciting seasons to come and the partnership with Renault will dramatically accelerate our development plans, both on and off track. That is an important point – we have started a partnership with Renault and, much like taking on experienced drivers in our first year, we will be working with people who know how to win and who will help push us even further forward towards the front of the grid. We are realistic – we know what needs to be done to be challenging for ultimate honours in Formula One™ and this partnership will play a very important role in helping us push ahead.”
Mike Gascoyne: “Today’s announcement is the latest confirmation of how far this team wants to go in Formula One™. Having worked with Renault before I know exactly what they will bring to our team and I am delighted that they will be playing an integral role in the next chapter of our story. The engine itself gives our designers, engineers and drivers an excellent platform to work with – it is very drivable, has good reliability and comes with a track support team who have a wealth of experience and knowledge. We are all looking forward to working with Renault and are very excited about the future for our partnership and our team.”
Riad Asmat: “This is a very big day for everyone in our team, in Malaysia and in the UK. Just over a year ago there were four people in an empty factory, and now we have announced an engine partnership with Renault, one of the most successful manufacturers in our sport’s history, a gearbox and hydraulics deal with Red Bull Technology and the start of the process of building our own wind tunnel at the factory in Hingham. We have come such a long way in a very short period, and today’s announcement will give the whole team even more enthusiasm for the challenges that lay ahead.”
The organizers at Hooked on Driving have a VERY special day in store for all drivers and paid guests on November 12th, at Thunderhill Raceway. Event Chair John Edwards has been working feverishly and has put together an amazing experience with spectacular opportunities to enjoy driving this world class road course while benefitting the Prostate Cancer Foundation. The event honors HOD member Derric des Marteau, lost to prostate cancer last year and now painfully missing from our grid. The main features of the day will be:
• $100 of each registration is being donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation
• A silent auction will have cases of wine, dinners out, racing books, pro sports collectibles such as a Dusty Baker signed jersey, pro race corner weight set up for your car and TONS more great items
• A live auction – David Vodden, auctioneer, with a set of Pirelli tires, Maui Condo vacation, TW Steel Dario Franchitti edition watch, arrive and drive in the FFR GTM-R, a track day in a Spec E30 race car, sail the Bay on a 37 footer with you and 5 guests, Shasta and Lake Almanor getaways, a private horse sanctuary getaway, tasting for 6 at exclusive Delectus Winery, Oakland A’s Field Pass ticket package and LOTS more….
• Lifetime memories in special cars – paid “Rides for PCF” in a Terry Labonte Winston Cup car (raced at Infineon – #94 Sunoco), Porsche Carrera Cup race car, Ariel Atom, Miller Challenge Mustang race car, brand new ZR1 Corvette, Audi R8, and other race and exotic cars. At $100 for a full session riding in these cars, you will come away saying “PRICELESS.” Guests will be welcomed to participate in this program!!
In addition, Corvette Magazine will be there doing a comparison of the new Corvette carbon fiber Z07 package with a ZR1, and the BMW CCA Golden Gate drivers will be joining us to get ready for their weekend of racing.
REGISTER TODAY!! Look for the Nov 12 “Derric’s Day” event.NOTE: There is a separate guest registration for $25 that gets you a great lunch and bidder number for the auctions – invite your friends – WE NEED BIDDERS!!
Lastly – if you would like more information about this cause, please visit the Prostate Cancer Foundation.