And The Thirteenth Grid Slot Goes to: The Lotus F1 Team.
The moment I utter the words “Lotus,” a single, thick, surge of visual and musical scenes cloud my mind as I reminisce the teams’ previous attempt at F1 glory. Their name also appears briefly alongside words like Formula Two, Formula Ford, Formula Junior, and IndyCar racing. But we don’t want to preoccupy our selves with all that.
With seven Formula 1 Constructors’ titles and six Drivers’ Championships to their name, Lotus remains one of the most successful racing teams of all time. Their first F1 victory came, in style, at Monaco during the 1960 season.
Later in 1961, Jim Clark drove his Lotus 25 to seven wins and a well deserved World Championship. He repeated that achievement once again in 1965 at the wheel of a Lotus 33. The season-opening 1968 Grand Prix of South Africa was to be Clark’s last drive to glory, winning the race with his teammate, Graham Hill, in second. On April 7th, 1968, one of the most successful and popular drivers of all time (Clark), was killed driving a Lotus 48 at Hockenheim in a non-championship Formula Two event. Graham Hill took the Formula 1 World Championship in his Lotus 49 that year.
Team Lotus was the first team to ever achieve 50 Grand Prix victories. Ferrari was the second team to do so, having won their first Formula One race in 1951, seven years before the first ever Lotus F1 car was born.
Lotus enjoyed handfuls of success in the 1980s with the help of Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna, and as the 90s slowly crept closer, their evolution was starting to slow. Their pace was not that of a top team, occupying fifth in the 1992 Constructors’ title fight (with Mika Hakkinen at the wheel). At the beginning of that year, the team had announced a shortage of money, which were to cripple their performance. They did well nevertheless. In October of 1993, the team was sold to David Hunt, brother of 1976 World Champion, James Hunt. In February 1993, they announced a mergence with Pacific Grand Prix and that is where the Lotus F1 Team came to an end.
The 2010 Lotus challenge will be backed by “a company called 1Malaysia F1 Team Sdn Bhd, with Tony Fernandes as team principal. Fernandes is the founder and CEO of the Malaysian-based Tune Group, owner of the Air Asia airline,” the latest news on Autosport.com reads.
The FIA announced that Mike Gascoyne will be stepping in as Technical Director and that Lotus will have their engines supplied by Cosworth.
“For me it is fantastic news. I have had nearly a year out, which has been frustrating, but this is now a tremendous challenge. But with the team that Tony Fernandes has put together, and the backing of the Malaysian government, it has the opportunity to be something really big. We are aiming to take this team to the very top level in the long term,” Gascoyle said.
The team and all its activities will be centered at their manufacturing and technical center which will be built at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
“Things are very tight. We are aiming at the second week of February for the roll-out, and we have got a huge amount of work considering we are starting from nothing.”
This is a team I cannot wait for. Can you?