The legendary Team Lotus name has returned to Formula One™ for the 2011 season with its new chassis, the TL128. It’s been a long while in the making and we’re told it’s very different from last year’s car, the TL127. “With last year’s car and especially the ¬first half of the season it was just an exercise in survival, whereas from the middle of last year it was about building the team up – that’s when we started working on this car.”, says Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer.
The team revealed their new car this morning via their website and a new special new car launch edition of Team Lotus Notes – the team’s exclusive free fans magazine that will provide unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to Team Lotus on and off track. Fans can subscribe at www.teamlotus.co.uk/ and receive more than 20 editions during 2011 and if you sign up now you’ll gain your very own invitation to the launch of the brand new T128.
Marianne Hinson (Head of Aerodynamics): In aerodynamics, we’ll start thinking about a new car before any of the other departments, and we started looking at this car around Spring last year. We begin by sitting down with the new regulations because there’s almost always something new. Normally, you’d take the previous year’s car as a basis, talk about what engine and gearbox will be used and roughly what will need to be packaged inside the car, then move on to where the aerodynamic regulations have changed the most.
Lewis Butler (Chief Designer): In my role, I started looking at this car around June last year while I was working on iterations of the 2010 car.
Marianne: I have to say that the start of the process is a really fun period, when you’re looking through the new rules, thrashing out ideas and trying to find loopholes.
Elliot Dason-Barber (Head of R&D and Vehicle Dynamics): It’s a very complex process – take the front wing, for example. The Aero department would’ve started working on it during the middle of last year, trying to make it generate as much load as possible. Design will then focus on making it stiff enough so that it isn’t too flexible on track. Between them they’ll refine the design by going through a number of iterations. At the same time, I’ll start looking at the nose section and by crashing test pieces into a wall we can start to see if it’s a ‘little too stiff’ or ‘not stiff enough’ in the event of a real crash. It’s conflicting requirements from three different departments that make the process so complex. You’re probably looking at 20 people being involved in the design of one part.
Mike: I think the thing that was a challenge this year was that the 2010 car really was a one-o , because of the way it was done with the design team and the time we had. There’s been almost no carry-over of parts for the 2011 car, whereas normally you’d have a substantial carry-over and the chance to optimise last year’s parts. It looks substantially different from last year’s car – it has a much more ‘current’ feel about it. And it’s the basis of our cars for the future.
Lewis: I think people will be quite impressed with the shape of the bodywork compared to last year.
You can read more about the T128 from those who’ve designed and built it in the current edition of Team Lotus Notes.
Meanwhile, after the launch of Ferrari’s F150 last week we’ll get our first glimpse of Team Lotus’ main competition in 2011 – Lotus Renault GP, who will unveil their 2011 car at 12:30 CET (11:30 GMT) today. Visit launch.lotusrenaultgp.com to get your first peek in just over half an hour from now.
The new TL128 will take to the track at Valencia on Wednesday, which is the first F1 winter test of 2011.