Lotus Racing has revealed that a dedicated wind tunnel at its Hingham base will form the foundation for an ambitious programme of growth in the next year.
The Anglo-Malaysian squad has announced that it will soon start work on the design and build of the development facility at its Norfolk factory, as well as expanding operations at its existing factory site to take over a further two units in order to provide a home for the sister Team AirAsia operation that will compete in next year's GP2 Series.
“To compete at the highest level in F1, it is important to have all of the key elements involved in the design, manufacturing, testing and development of our cars under our direct control and on the same site," chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne explained, "Today's announcement about the wind tunnel, which will be combined with additional production, office and administrative elements, gives us both the facility we need to lay the foundations for long-term success and is a clear sign that we are very serious about competing at the sharp end of the grid as quickly as we can.
“We have already achieved a phenomenal rate of growth for the team, and now have all the main functions in place to take the next step up, but I think it is important to also see that we are using our budget effectively, and focusing expenditure where it counts. Investing in our own wind-tunnel, to work alongside our substantial in-house CFD facility, is a key element in establishing complete control of one of the most important aspects of the design and manufacturing process in our sport, and it is clear to see that this sort of investment points towards a very bright future for the team.”
Both Lotus and Team Air Asia began advertising vacancies this week, and the addition of the wind tunnel to its task list only serves to underline how seriously it is taking its return to F1, according to deputy team principal Kamarudin Meranun
“We are very serious about not only competing at the highest level on the global motorsport stage, but also having the infrastructure in place for sustained future success," he noted, "Having our own wind tunnel, and a permanent base for Team AirAsia right next door to Lotus Racing, gives us the opportunity to attract the best talent from around the world to join us in making our dream come true, and puts us on a par with some of the most famous, established names in motor racing.
"There is one key point to note, and that is that we are lean and focused, and are using the experience of our senior management to make sure our resources are directed into areas that provide positive, quantifiable returns. This is the key to long-term success, and we are going about it in the right way.”
For Tony Fernandes, the latest announcement highlights just how far his baby has come since being confirmed as a member of the F1 fraternity late in 2009.
“Just over a year ago, there were four people in the factory in Hingham, a team working in Cologne on the design of this year's car, and a third group working in Italy on our aero programme," he recalled, "We have reached where we are today because of the hard work all of those people, and those who have joined us since, put in in the early days, and I want to thank them for helping us get to where we are today.
"Now it is about the future, and today's announcement shows just how serious we are about taking the next crucial step in the continuing development of both Lotus Racing and Team AirAsia. My fellow shareholders Din, Nasa and I see the expansion of our base as not only the very best home for both teams, but also as the inspiration for future talent from around the world to follow their dreams and join us to compete at the highest level.
"One day very soon, we see our cars in F1 and GP2 being designed, built and raced by teams of people from Malaysia, Europe, South East Asia and from around the world. This is a very exciting time for our teams, and the dream is growing bigger every single day.”