Lotus appoints new ambassador, considers becoming a sovereign state..

Sorry I couldn’t resist the headline – it was inspired by Lotus’ announcement this morning that the Senna name is once again united with Lotus as Bruno Senna signs with Lotus Renault GP as third driver and also becomes the latest ambassador for Group Lotus.

I’ve lost count of how many ambassadors that makes now, but the illustrious roll-call includes Alesi, Mansell (Leo, Greg and Nigel) and now Senna. On second thoughts, rather than forming his own principality, perhaps Dany Bahar and his team are working their way towards forming a separate world F1 Championship with all the big names past and present. All he needs to complete the set is a Schumacher, Prost and Hill – Ralph Schumacher must surely have some spare time in-between DTM races, and Nicolas Prost (son of Alain) and Josh Hill (son of Damon) would no-doubt welcome getting a step closer to F1. We eagerly await the press release…

Meanwhile back on Planet Earth. Bruno’s test driving role with Group Lotus is described as “..very development focussed and will see him provide valuable input into all Lotus cars, both track and road.” He’ll certainly have plenty of spare time in his F1 role, given how little time is available for testing in F1 these days.

[two_columns ]

Commenting on the announcement Bruno Senna said: “It’s a really exciting opportunity from both Group Lotus and Lotus Renault GP. To be able to develop my Formula One career within a World Championship winning organisation and to do so in conjunction with some hugely interesting work for such an iconic sports car company as Lotus is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“Lotus has placed a great deal of faith in me and I am looking forward to beginning work on the technical side of our relationship. Giving feedback into the development of the Lotus road and race programs will be a fun but challenging way to spend time between my Formula One commitments as a reserve driver for Lotus Renault GP.

[/two_columns] [two_columns_last ]

I’ve been trying to get into a good Formula 1 programme for a couple of years so it feels great to be joining such an established team – Bruno Senna.
[/two_columns_last]

“My relationship with Lotus is just at the beginning, for me the aim is to continue to make progress in my Formula One career whilst at the same time contributing to the success of the various Lotus projects I will be involved with. There are some fun times ahead!”

Lotus Director of Motorsport Claudio Berro said: “We’re delighted to have Bruno on board. In his young motorsport career he’s built up a great armoury of skills and experience. He’s a fast learner and this talent combined with his ability to shift between different types of race car will make him a great asset to Lotus. Normally people like to talk about the ‘technology transfer’ between F1 and road cars but in Bruno’s case we’re opening this up to an intellectual transfer – we’re certainly going to keep him busy!”

Lotus Renault GP reveals it’s 2011 challenger, the R31

Meanwhile Lotus Renault GP’s 2011 challenger, the R31, was presented live on the internet from Valencia circuit, as the team prepares for the first winter test of the season beginning on Wednesday.

Drivers Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov joined Gerard Lopez (Chairman of Lotus Renault GP) and Eric Boullier (Team Principal and Managing Director) to pull to present the car, introduce its driver line-up and discuss their hopes and plans for the upcoming season.

“For Genii Capital and Lotus Renault GP, the 2011 season will be the one in which we achieve our aims,” said Gerard Lopez. “We now have 100% ownership of the team, and we’re tackling the coming championship with the intention of continuing to do things our way – but always with humility. I would like to welcome Lotus Cars, a new ambitious title sponsor with us for the long term. Renault and Total have also chosen to accompany us again in this adventure and we thank them for their valuable contribution. Our aim for 2011 is to continue our march towards the front of the grid, seize the slightest opportunity and do better than last season in both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships. We feel we are well prepared for the challenge ahead.”

Eric Boullier echoed those sentiments and paid tribute to the enormous effort back at the team’s base in Enstone: “All the hard work over the winter has been focused on delivering a big improvement for 2011. The result is a car with more than 92% new parts compared to the R30. But technical innovation isn’t the only key to performance. Since last year, we have reviewed all our internal processes and our overall efficiency has now improved by 15%. That means we should be more competitive than last year, on the track and at the factory.”

Technical Director, James Allison, explained how the team approached the design of the R31: “Words like ‘aggressive’ and ‘innovative’ are very much in vogue in Formula 1 at the moment, but where the R31 is concerned we feel those adjectives are appropriate. It’s true to say that the car has been designed in an ambitious manner and a quick glance at the layout will confirm that its entire concept differs considerably, not just from last year’s car, but from any car this team has ever produced.”

Both Robert and Vitaly were enthusiastic as they got acquainted with their new car and eager for the season to get underway.

“After a long winter break you always feel ready to jump back in the car,” explained Robert. “At the moment it’s difficult to know just how competitive our package will be, but the engineers have decided to go for an innovative design, which is good.”

Vitaly said: “It feels exciting to be starting my second year of Formula 1 and I can’t wait to try this beautiful car for the first time tomorrow. Now that I have a year of F1 experience behind me, I feel more confident and ready to deliver. I’m determined to do well and fight hard for this team.”

The team’s new third drivers were presented as well, with Romain Grosjean joining Bruno Senna and adding further strength to the team’s driver line-up.

Photo Gallery