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Gascoyne admits T127 had to reflect Lotus past

Mike Gascoyne has revealed that there was a strong desire for the new Lotus F1 car to reflect the amrque's illustrious past.

Lotus F1 chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne has admitted that the team's first car had to bear the hallmarks of the famous brand's previous involvement in the top flight - even if the two aren't connected by much more than a name.

The new Lotus operation, which will be one of four start-up teams on the grid this year, has no direct link to Team Lotus, which was founded by the late Colin Chapman and bowed out of F1 twelve years after the Briton's untimely death in 1982. However, it has been granted the right to use the Lotus name and is funded by a Malaysian consortium which includes Proton, the current owner of Lotus Cars, and Gascoyne admits that, while purists may be divided on the subject, in his opinion the first Lotus car designed under his guidance had to pay homage to the past.

"I think it needed to be a green-and-yellow car, and it needed to have the chassis designation T127, which is the next Lotus type number," he claimed, "If it didn't have either of those, it wasn't a real Lotus. Clive Chapman asked [team principal] Tony Fernandes 'when you win will it be the first win for Lotus Racing or Lotus' 80th win?', and Tony was very clear - it would be Lotus's 80th win."

Not included on the original list of newcomers to the sport named by the FIA, despite F3 team Litespeed having launched the idea of returning the Lotus name to the top flight, the Hingham-based operation was given a second chance when BMW pulled the plug on its works team. That decision, however, came later in the season, leaving Gascoyne and his team with precious little time to get on with the process of designing and building a car that could not only make it out before the first race, but also be a credible addition to the field.

In the event, Lotus became the second newcomer to hit the track and unveil its 2010 racer, beating both Campos Meta and the high-profile USF1 programmes, and Gascoyne is delighted with the progress made by the Malaysian-backed operation.

"I think I just feel a bit shell-shocked at the moment," he conceded, "You always think you can do it, but you are always aware of the pit-falls and, when you have done it, it is great. Given the time, I don't think we could have done a single thing better than we have done.

"We always said that we wanted to produce a good, solid, professional car. A 2010 car, not one three or four years old, one that is current and not too far off the back of the established teams. I think we've got to wait and see, but I am confident we will achieve that. From when we heard that we had got the entry on 12 September, it is not possible to be in better shape than we are now."

Hoping, ambitiously, to match a previous record that saw the majority of his teams achieve a podium finish relatively early in their relationship, Gascoyne makes no bones about the fact that attempting to push a start-up operation into the points will be a tough undertaking, especially in the current climate of near-flawless reliability in F1. But he is confident that his team will have done the best they can with the T127, even if rival Virgin Racing's initial footsteps have been dogged by gremlins.

"Up until Force India, every team I joined in a senior position from 1994 had been on the podium within 20 races," he confirmed, "The longest it took was at Toyota, but maybe that was a sign of how Toyota operated. [Emulating that record] is probably a little bit of a challenge from where we sit today, but we like a challenge.

Tagged as: Cosworth , launch , Lotus , Mike Gascoyne , T127

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus F1 [pic credit: Lotus F1 Racing]
The new Lotus T127 [Pic credit: Lotus Racing]
Lotus Cosworth T127 F1 Launch, Royal Horticultural Hall, London, GBR
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Duncan Snowden - Unregistered

February 15, 2010 3:04 PM

I'd guess one of them will be the new Esprit that's been talked about. Anyway, to me Gascoyne was always a reason to feel confident that the new Lotus team would respect its heritage, and it's good to hear that Fernandes himself recognises it too. I'm getting more and more of a sense that for all the “Team Malaysia” stuff, they understand that they're custodians of something important in F1's history, not just the purchasers of a good brand name. There seems to be some real crossover with the car firm now too, with Jarno Trulli testing the Evora Cup car last week (I don't recall seeing it mentioned here - apologies if it was). All to the good.

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