Whatever they may say, there’s a great deal of expectation on the shoulders of the ‘new’ Lotus Formula One team. For this team carries the name of the second most successful 'manufacturer' team in the sport’s history.
Colin Chapman’s team from Hethel, winning seven constructor and six driver world championships, dominated the 1960s and 1970s. But the core of the team was ripped out following Chapman’s death in 1982 and Team Lotus suffered a slow and painful demise before finally being put out of its misery at the end of 1994.
Fast forward 16 years and Lotus has become the second of F1’s four new teams to launch its 2010 cars and its entry seems the most credible. Question marks remain over Campos’s and USF1’s ability to make the grid, and Virgin’s CFD-designed car seems worryingly off the pace, not to mention suffering front wing failure in Jerez yesterday. And then there’s the mysterious Serbians Stefan GP waiting in the wings.
Lotus’s driver line-up resembles that of a strong mid-field team. Heikki Kovalinen and Jarno Trulli are both race winners and can be devastatingly quick, although doubts still remain over their pace over a full race distance.
Lotus has also had the benefit of designing its car in a wind tunnel and seems to have some serious financial backing from Proton and the Malaysian government, as well as team owner Tony Fernandes of Air Asia fame – a man also being linked with a takeover of practically every football club in the country.