Team Lotus T128 Renault
In their second year in Formula One, Team Lotus aims for regular battles with midfield teams and regular point finishes. With all the team in place, the design time for the T128 was much longer than on its predecessor. Technical lead Mike Gascoyne was therefore able to push the limits, despite the limited budget compared to the more established teams.
The team launched their car as the first of all teams by revealing it ahead of the first winter test, in 31 January. The car debuted on 2 February at Valencia, Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
The 2011 car is vastly different from that of 2010 with a higher, wider and more curvy nose cone. From the pushrod connections of the front suspension on to the driver's helmet, the upper side of the cockpit also features a bulge on each side to house the front suspension rockers and increase the cross sectional area of the nose.
The sidepods are seemingly where the team made the biggest progress. As they looked very rudimentary in 2010, those on the T128 have a considerable undercut while also running tight in the back. Together, these two properties help airflow towards the rear end of the car, and hence also the so important rear diffuser. Contrary to what other teams have come up with though, the T128 in launch configuration features rather conventional exhausts, exiting from the sidepods low above the car's floor, but without any other channeling.
Above the driver's helmet, the Team Lotus also redesigned the roll hoop completely by adopting the blade roll hoop, similar to what Mercedes GP ran in 2010 on their 2010 Mercedes GP W01. Mike Gascoyne stated this to be a "small packaging advantage".
Under the hood, the car lacks KERS, but the the team have signed new engine and gearbox contracts. The Cosworth engine was replaced by the Renault RS27-2011, whereas the gearbox of the T128 is supplied by Red Bull Racing. It's actually the 2009 RB5 unit, but after the problems they experienced with the Xtrac transmission in 2010, the team desperately needed something more reliable. Because of the gearbox casing, the team also applied the rear pull-rod suspension system.
Team principal Tony Fernandes said: "The T128 thus has the 2009 RB5 gearbox. That car was a race winner in its own right you may remember, and although it sounds a little outdated it is a better choice for this season because last year's was tailored for the now banned double diffuser, and was actually heavier than the one Lotus has acquired."
Chassis material: Carbon Fibre
Designation: Renault RS27-2011
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