If you’ve been following this morning’s announcement of the acquisition of Caterham Cars by Team Lotus Enterprise (TLE), then you’ll already have spotted this tasty looking Caterham Seven – decked out in the Team Lotus Formula One squad’s colours – posing for photos with the official 2011 Team Lotus F1 cars.
Well it was perhaps the worst kept secret of the week, and yet the buzz and anticipation at this morning’s press conference was palpable as the gathering of journalists awaited the Headmaster (Tony Fernandes). We’ll bring you a separate report from Steve Hindle, who attended the conference plus some insights from his interview with Andy Noble, Sales and Marketing Director for Caterham Cars.
It’s been no secret that Corven, the private equity group who funded the buy-out of Caterham from the Nearn family, have long been seeking to retrench their investment. Despite a barrage of gilded PR, the introduction of new models, and ventures with household names ranging from Top Gear to Marks & Spencer, life since 2005 has not been easy for the Dartford outfit.
Well it’s been a fascinating few days since news of a tie-up between Team Lotus and Caterham emerged. The Hingham-based outfit announced a major press conference to be held at Duxford Airfield next week , prompting rumours about what’s likely to be on the agenda.
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal of Team Lotus and Group CEO of the low cost airline AirAsia received a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) from the Queen this morning, in recognition of his services to promote commercial and educational links between the UK and Malaysia.
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.
We couldn’t help smiling at the by-now obligatory picture of the current/past F1 star next to a Lotus Evora – it has become a rite of passage for famous motor racing visitors to Lotus’ Hethel headquarters, although we can’t help wondering why one of the New Era models wasn’t used instead (at least for the photo call).
This is steadily becoming the biggest motorsport pis**ng contest of recent times and clearly goes well beyond the bounds of gentlemanly competition… Welcome to Round 3 of the Lotus-vs-Lotus spat.
We were already aware that Group Lotus were in discussions with Genii Capital – majority shareholders in the Renault F1 team – about bringing a tie-up for 2011. The announcement was due at the final grand prix in Abu Dhabi, but there’s been much lobbying and negotiation in the background prior to this morning’s announcement.
The FIA’s official entry list for the 2011 Formula One championship was revealed this afternoon, with the most significant news being that the FIA has accepted the change of name of Tony Fernandes’ 1 Malaysia Racing Team from Lotus Racing to Team Lotus.
We seem to be writing a lot about Lotus this year, but then they’ve been making the headlines – usually for all the right reasons. Up until recently we were praising Lotus for the incredible albeit pricey Evora, their collaboration with 1 Malaysia Racing Team in F1 (licensed under the name ‘Lotus Racing’) and then the nostalgic return of the Lotus-brand to Indy Car Racing, run by KV Racing and driven by ex-F1 pilot Takuma Sato. 2010 looked like being a pretty good year for Lotus fans.
And then it all went horribly wrong.
The F1 teams are back testing at Jerez and Lotus F1 Racing are first to file their report.
The green and yellow livery is back! Lotus launches its T127 F1 contender.