2011 Team Reviews - Team Lotus

Slyboogy

World Champion
Contributor
Sorry if this one is a bit sloppy, I am a bit knackered at the moment :yawn::sleeping:.


Team Lotus season review

Lotus was the big success story among the three new teams this year. It was the pacesetter in its group virtually all last season, wrapped up the critical 10th place in the constructors' standings, and snapped at the midfielders' heels on several occasions.

Having secured Renault engines, Red Bull transmission systems plus KERS and some handy new technical signings for this year, it looks set for a very promising future .

As part of a major technical team upgrade many Force India staff were leaving their jobs to join the team and aid with car development. The team in October last year, confirmed that it will build a dedicated wind-tunnel facility at its British base. In addition, the team and its GP2 outfit Team AirAsia will expand operations at the existing factory site to take over a further two units, giving Team Air Asia a permanent home alongside the Lotus operation.

The FIA released the entry list for the 2011 season in which Lotus Racing were listed under the "Team Lotus" name.To show that the team was pressing ahead with its plans, they rebranded their factory, changed their official website and introduced a new team logo. Chief executive Riad Asmat announced that he expected the car to be a genuine midfield runner and challenge for point-scoring positions. Jarno Trulli said that the Lotus-sponsored Renault team had given Team Lotus plenty of motivation to perform more consistently. Lotus announced that they were going to launch their new car, the Lotus T128 – online, instead of a physical launch, and was unveiled online on 31 January 2011.

In March, it was confirmed that Luiz Razia and Davide Valsecchi – drivers for Lotus' sister outfit Team AirAsia in the GP2 Series – would join the team as third driver and test driver respectively, and will take part in a number of Friday practice sessions during the season. Ricardo Teixeira also joined as a second test driver. On 22 March 2011, Karun Chandhok also joined as the team's reserve driver.

It was far from a flawless season, with reliability issues hard to shake off, and a row developing over the Lotus name which could yet see Tony Fernandes' squad rebranded over the summer, but overall, this was a triumphant second full season for whatever this alliance between Malaysian and Norfolk talent ends up being called long-term.

Although the relative pace of the T128 was an improvement on that of its predecessor, the team were unable to bridge the gap to the lower midfield over the course of the season, generally being slower than closest rivals Toro Rosso and Williams but solidly ahead of HRT and Marussia Virgin, with Kovalainen's performances putting him under the gaze of rival teams.

With a closely followed battle with Virgin Racing last year at times, the team annihilated its rivals this year round, with 12 class wins to Virgin's six, and 14 class poles to Virgin's five. This year it was just total domination by the Malaysian squad. This year it was 16 wins to Team Lotus wins to Virgins 3 and 19 poles to Virgin's zero. The statistics clearly show how much they have improved compared to Virgin who should be their closest rivals.

By the end of the season, Lotus had scored the highest of any of the new teams had finished 3 times, which was 13th place, 3 positions away from the last point, and had the three new teams been in a championship of their own, Lotus' Jarno Trulli would've won it by a colossal 280 points, with team-mate Heikki Kovalainen in second.

Lotus also claimed the highest placing for a new team in the constructors' championship, claiming the vital 10th place in the standings for the second time running.

This was always likely to be decided on a tie-break of best results as for any of Lotus, Virgin or Hispania to actually get into the top 10 in a race was a long-shot.

Trulli's 13th place in Australia gave Lotus an early headstart in this quest, and it then pretty much put its position beyond doubt by taking 13th in Monaco and in Italy.

While Lotus had its rival backmarkers under control, one thing it couldn't do was get on terms with the rest of the field.

The T128 was a deliberately more creative than the T127, but it wasn’t enough to get to the tailend of the midfield, the team expected much better pace with it’s upgrades. A revamp for the Spanish Grand Prix shaved off some of the car's excess weight, but the fundamental redesign it really required to get near the points was never on the cards, with Lotus declaring early on that as it was confident it had enough in hand to see off Virgin and Hispania this year, it would focus all its efforts on its 2012 car from the summer.

There were a few occasions when Lotus had a shot at some giant-killing.

Reliability issues for the front-midfield runners helped Lotus and Kovalainen get into Q2 in both Spain and Belgium, while Kovalainen gave his absolute utmost to get through in the dry in several times, it just wasn’t to be as a midfield runner would put in a fast lap near the end to deny him.

Overall, Kovalainen emerged from 2011 with his reputation fully restored after a disappointing McLaren stint, having been the class act among the new teams.

His team-mate Jarno Trulli struggled in qualifying, but got two crucial 13th place finishes which helped Team Lotus secure 10th place in the constructors. Always a perfectionist who is only at his best when the chassis handles to his liking, Trulli admitted very early in the season that the T127 was not ideal for his style and that this was going to be a poor season for him.

Yet while he was very open about the problems with Lotus' 2011 package. Lotus had done the very best that was possible, and that while he was writing this year off, he was very optimistic about the team's future.

Plans for the future dominated much of Lotus' season.

Next year it will receive the Renault V8 and Red Bull transmission system along with the KERS system - effectively giving it a large part of the package that took Sebastian Vettel to this year's world title.

The Malaysian declared that fan support - and Lotus seems to be earning a level of crowd affection reminiscent of Jordan's 'favourite underdog' status from its glory days - had convinced him to fight on, and if there's one thing this team has proved in its first year, it's that it shouldn't be underestimated by its rivals, whatever the battle...

Highlights: Finishing 10th in the constructors championship in two consecutive years, being much closer place to its nearest rivals ahead.

Lowlights: Reliability, and the supposed ‘1 second’ upgrades under-performing.
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
The team didn't run KERS this year and to some extent I think the advance they made throughout the season to hunt down the midfield was that much more impressive. In Brazil, Kovi missed out on Q2 by a shade over 4 tenths of a second to the Williams car. (compare that to almost 2 seconds behind in Australia at the start of the season).

What it shows however, is just how hard it is for any team to catch up on entering F1 with the rules and regulations as they stand (Chassis and Engine development freezes etc). Next season Caterham as they will become, are set to run the complete Red Bull / Renault Engine and KERs package so the midfield should have cause to be worried.

To my mind, Kovi has shown consistant pace and performance in the car while keeping his chin up in what must be a difficult position for a driver who has tasted race winning cars. Trulli has kept up at times but you can't help to thnk that going forward Loturham would benefit from a strong, young charger in the second seat. (and not a rent a ride like Karun sorry).

All in all, it's been a strong developmental year for TL but as you said, too many "1 second" upgrades proved to be false PR. Next season though is looking good. (Could we dare to imagine that the Group Lotus Renault may be in for a shock? Actually, I hope so!)
 

MCLS

Anti F1 fan
Valued Member
For them it's been a season of evolution more than revolution, they're far and away the best of the three 'new' teams, with things like KERS for next season I think a lot of midfield teams will be looking over their shoulders.
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
Trulli let Lotus down.. if he was fired up then maybe the team would got forward further he was a liability this year and clearly does not want to be near the back of the grid

Heikki has shown admirable loyalty and has said he will not leave the team unless it is a front runner so has no interest to jump to "Lotus Renault" or Willams
 

Andy Karter

Rookie
Could it not be that they just spent more money than those behind them? There doesn't seem to be much in the way of innovation come out of them, just a collection of bits and bobs from others.
 

Il_leone

Champion Elect
Could it not be that they just spent more money than those behind them? There doesn't seem to be much in the way of innovation come out of them, just a collection of bits and bobs from others.

possible as Lotus was more financially stable than the other two definitely but one felt they could have maybe sneaked some points as well
Like I said Trulli and no Kers did not help
 

Andrea_Moda_Rules

Podium Finisher
Average, 100%, completely, utterly, undeniably average. time is so hard to find today with everybody developing on a race by race basis, where they were on Track was exactly what i expected. It is always going to be a long term project to compete with the rest of the Grid.

Next season? The introduction of KER's should claw a little back and they should mingle with the old runners more I think. Weather that means they get any higher in the Champ tho is debatable. I'll be suprised if they got a point next season though.
 

Slyboogy

World Champion
Contributor
Trulli let Lotus down.. if he was fired up then maybe the team would got forward further he was a liability this year and clearly does not want to be near the back of the grid

Heikki has shown admirable loyalty and has said he will not leave the team unless it is a front runner so has no interest to jump to "Lotus Renault" or Willams

Trulli got the teams highest finish twice while Kovalainen only got it once. He may have been liability, but if it wasn't for him, they could have lost out to HRT in the championship.
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
Trulli got the teams highest finish twice while Kovalainen only got it once. He may have been liability, but if it wasn't for him, they could have lost out to HRT in the championship.

Technically, Kovalainen lost out to Trulli in the Championship because Sauber were disqualified in Melbourne.
 

Bus Stop Chicane

Points Scorer
I may have been in the minority but I was really expecting Lotus to be snapping away at the points positions in a few races this year, maybe ending the season with about 4 or 5.

At the end of the day they had the exact same season as they did in 2010, there was no noticeable improvement from what I was watching.

If they keep qualifying 19th and 20th next season and make no headway in the races then quite frankly they're wasting everyone's time.
 

sportsman

Sidecar racers have the biggest cojones
Contributor
Even with Renault engine and Red Bull gearbox and KERS I can't see them doing much next year.
Gascoyne in eyes is the weak link in their team and until they can find a better designer they wont improve much.
Gascoynes record is far from impressive (he has spent a great deal of his time on "gardening leave" and has never designed a successful car.
He worked with Doc Harvey Postlethwaite at Tyrell so he should be much better.But Postlethwaite was responsible for the first high nose F1 car.Tyrell 019.
38_-_tyrrell_019_-_1990_alesi.jpg
 

Slyboogy

World Champion
Contributor
Really? I am not a fan of Gascoyne at all as he irritates me with his big talk especially for a little guy.

But an article on F1 Racing showed that whenever he joins a team, the team improves, an when he leaves, they go downhill.

I'm not sure though, haven't followed his career at all.
 

The Pits

Harumph. Again.
Valued Member
As I understand, Gascoyne was brough in to Jordan in 1998, after a poor start to the season, and they won their first race, then went on to their most successful season in 1999, with HHF challenging for the WDC until the penultimate race. He joined Benneton in 2001 and we all know what happened, and when he was in the lead at Spyker, one of his cars were too (maybe a little OTT!)

I agree that he is not the most sought after, but I think he would be a useful addition to any team, and is certainly no slouch.

On a side note, I think that the communications with the fans at Lotus is far better than many of the other teams, and Gascoyne gets personally involved in a lot of that, via twitter.

It was my understanding that the Lotus cars were a lot quicker relative to the opposition than they were last year, indeed a Kers system may have made the difference, I was a little disappointed that they were not closer, and did not score a point, but they were still moving the right way, and were able to upset the lower midfield at times.

of all the new teams, they seem the most structured, and secure, and the most able to improve, and I expect points this coming year.
 

Slyboogy

World Champion
Contributor
Lotus never had KERS this season.

In my opinion, what kept them ahead, was the Renault engines and the EBD, something that HRT and Virgin couldn't cherish as they were with Cosworth.
 

The Pits

Harumph. Again.
Valued Member
Lotus never had KERS this season.
.

I was aware. My point was that the KERS may have made the difference to the midfield if they had it this year. They will have it next year, so we shall see.

In my opinion, what kept them ahead, was the Renault engines and the EBD, something that HRT and Virgin couldn't cherish as they were with Cosworth.

I am not sure how well developed the EBD was, or even if they were fully able to take advantage of the aggressive mapping which was available. they were certainly well behind many other teams in the development of the EBD. The Renault engine was no doubt to their advantage over the other two teams though.

My understanding is that the key issues for the team this year was qualifying pace, which to a point was ascribed to the DRS solution, and reliability.

I think that the car was ahead of the other new teams in most areas, not just engine and diffuser.
 
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