|Based in: Leafield, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom|
Founded: 2009 (active since 2010)
Team principal: Tony Fernandes (2009-2012), Cyril Abiteboul (since Nov 2012)
Chief Executive Officer: Riad Asmat
Chief Operating Officer: Keith Saunt
Chief Technical Officer: Mike Gascoyne
Technical director: Mark Smith (since May 2011)
Dpty. technical director: Dieter Gass
Head of Aerodynamics: Marianne Hinson (May 2010 - Oct 2012)
Chief designer: Lewis Butler (since Jun 2010)
Head of vehicle dynamics: Elliot Dason-Barber
Head of R&D: Frank Ramowsky
Head of electronics: Rob Reeve
Chief engineer: Jody Eggington
Lotus F1 Racing is a Formula One team often referred to as 1Malaysia F1 Team due to the name of the company that runs the team. It gained entry into F1 after BMW announced its withdrawal from the sport at the end of 2009 and is part of the '1Malaysia' project initiated by the local government to promote unity between Malaysians.
Despite its name, the Malaysian team has nothing to do with the original Team Lotus inaugurated by Colin Chapman. Its only relation to the Lotus name is due to the fact that Proton, the owner of Lotus cars is an investor in the project. The team itself finds its origin in the Litespeed F3 team that approached Tony Fernandes after it failed to get into Formula One on its own.
The team is initially based at the RTN (Racing Technology Norfolk Ltd.) facility in Norfolk, UK, 10 miles (13 km) from the Lotus Cars factory. The team’s future design, R&D, manufacturing and technical centre will be purpose-built at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit.
On 14 December, the team confirmed Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen as its race drivers, partnered with Fairuz Fauzy as their test driver. A deal was also done with Cosworth to provide its engines while XTrac provides the gearboxes.
Although the team is initially more than 2 seconds behind the pace of the slowest of the established teams, Lotus early presents itself as the quickest of the new teams. In early June 2010, the team also proudly announced new signings in its technical departments and is bound to switch car development towards 2011 early on in the 2010 season.
When at the end of the 2010 season the team's license to use 'Lotus Racing' as a name was terminated, it was decided to start operating as 'Team Lotus', identical to the original Team Lotus founded by Colin Chapman.
What followed was a ridiculous fight in the press and court after Group Lotus started to sponsor the Renault F1 team, renaming it to Lotus Renault GP. Their intention to run the historical black and gold livery crossed Team Lotus' aims to run this livery itself, forcing them to stay with the green and yellow livery, one that was also used by the historical Team Lotus. Both teams were allowed to continue using their intended names however, creating a situation with 2 Lotus named teams in F1.
On the sportive front, Lotus Racing were getting their grips to F1 as they attracted Dieter Gass and Mark Smith to the team. Renault engines were also secured while Red Bull started supplying reliable gearboxes for the Team Lotus T128 after the team struggled badly with the durability of the Xtrac boxes.
In 2011, the T128 proved a serious step forward. The car was reliable all the way through the season while they had it easy to stay ahead of Virgin and HRT, the other two teams that entered F1 in 2010. The connection with the other teams didn't come yet, but there were clear improvements towards the end of the season.
Along the season, the team also strenghtened its technical department by hiring Mark Smith, an old time friend of Mike Gascoyne, while in June 2011 it was announced that a deal with Williams F1 had been signed to make use of their secondary windtunnel.
After sorting out the dispute with the Lotus Group that had by now taken over the former Renault F1 team, Riad Asmat and Tony Fernandes decided to rename the team to Caterham F1. Fernandes had already acquired Caterham cars earlier on in 2011.
One month later, shortly before the launch of their new 2012 car, the team also announced it would move from Hingham to Leafield during the summer break in August. Mike Gascoyne was meanwhile appointed CTO of Caterham Group, reducing his direct influence into the F1 team whereas Mark Smith saw his function extended.
At the end of the year, after the team secured 10th in the constructor's championship in the final race at Brazil, Cyril Abiteboul was appointed team principal of the F1 division as Tony Fernandes moves out to only be chairman of the Caterham group.
|Car designation||Race years|
|Team Lotus T128||2011|