Experienced Formula One designer and engineer Mike Gascoyne has admitted that he is relishing the challenge of reintroducing the Lotus name to the top flight, especially having been involved in helping to build the team from the ground up
An unashamed fan of the marque from his youth, Gascoyne confesses that there is a personal elements to his latest role, as chief technical officer of Team Lotus F1, and admits that it is nice to find a home after a turbulent few years in the sport. Nicknamed 'the Rottweiler' by his peers, Gascoyne has a no-nonsense approach to the sport, but insists that he has been unfairly pictured as a difficult employee, particularly having parted company with both Toyota and Force India in recent years.
"I think, after my last two jobs, it became pretty clear that no-one wanted to employ me, so I thought I'd better set up my own team," he told the official F1 website, "I don't think I have a confrontational approach, but I am very straightforward and I say what I believe. At Toyota, the direction I wanted it to go technically wasn't where the management wanted, and that's fine. It's their choice, so we went our separate ways. You could say the consequences of their decisions weren't necessarily that great..."
Despite the acrimony that accompanied the split from Toyota, however, Gascoyne admits to a tinge of disappointment at seeing the Cologne-based programme curtailed this season.
"I do have mixed feelings about them leaving," he conceded, "In one respect, I'm very
disappointed. When I went there in 2004, it was a fantastic opportunity to take the team forward, to win the world championship and, in 2005, I exceeded the goals that were set for me.
"They wanted to score a podium and reach 40 points - we scored five podiums and 88 points. The idea was to move on to score the first race win in 2006, and then the championship in 2007. But it was clear the senior management wanted the company to operate in a way I didn't feel would bring them the results. The bottom line was that they didn't get the results. In some ways, you could say 'I told you so' but, in other ways, I feel it is a terrible shame for the people out there. Really, my overriding feeling is of disappointment."
Among the benefits of Toyota's demise - and to some extent that of Renault - is that staff from both who previously worked under Gascoyne's leadership are now looking to rejoin him in his latest venture.
"One of the great things here is the number of people coming on board who want to work with me," he confirmed, "At Jordan, Renault and even Toyota, I built some very strong teams. That was resented at Toyota because the management didn't see that as the way to go, so it's nice that a lot of those people are coming over to Norfolk now."
The opportunity to rebuild the Lotus brand clearly energises Gascoyne, and he is confident, not only that the team will have two cars on the grid in Bahrain for the 2010 season-opener, but also that it won't be disgraced.