Chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne remains confident that Lotus Racing can pose a threat to F1's midfield pack, despite revealing that the team will start the 2011 campaign without the supposed advantage of a KERS system.
The seasoned technical director revealed that the Hingham-based team's strategy would be affected by the amount of time and manpower that could be devoted to new systems and, with 2011 also heralding the advent of adjustable rear wings, there is already enough for the design and engineering operations to focus on as Lotus prepares the successor to this year's T127, even though KERS will be implemented as the season goes on.
“We will have the adjustable rear wing but not KERS for the start of the season," Gascoyne confirmed to the local Norwich Evening News newspaper, "It's in development – really because of engineering resource. Over one lap, it's still not a big plus for its effort, involvement and negatives. Strategically off the start and in races, then yes but, at the start of the year, KERS is not going to be the thing that gives us the step up.
“It's all the other things, and we've taken the choice to concentrate on all those because, if we don't get them right, KERS isn't going to make a difference. Renault are very keen on green technologies and KERS, so it's something we will be pushing.”
While finishing as the best of 2010's three new teams, Lotus failed to score a point - similar to Virgin Racing and HRT - but is confident that it can up its game and challenge midfield regulars like Sauber, Force India and Toro Rosso in 2011, particularly after signing a deal to run the same Renault engine and Red Bull rear end as this year's F1 world champions.
“We've got to do it all again, but now as the big boys are doing it – you've just got to step up to that level,” Gascoyne admitted, "So there is that element of saying 'yes that was nice boys, well done, but now we've got to get on with it and do it properly'. There is an element of 2010 being a dress rehearsal; in some ways that's quite a good way of putting it.
“I'd like to point out Red Bull have spent seven years, investing probably three times what we're investing - and they bought the Jaguar team, so they had a bit of a head start. But, ultimately, it is up to me and the team. We've got a very direct mark of how well the chassis is performing. Whatever the time difference is at each race, that's what you've got to make up.”
The Lotus cause will be helped by upgrades to its facility at Hingham, which ultimately includes an on-site windtunnel, and Gascoyne is optimistic that having a longer lead time than the six months that produced the T127 will allow him to create a stronger package for 2011.
“The main part of the job in 2010 was securing tenth place [in the constructors' championship] but, once we had done that, it was building this place up to be one of the established teams, because you're only a new team once,” he pointed out, “That's it, it's gone now. We're all established teams, so you've got to go and race with them. To me, the difference that singles us out from Virgin or HRT is, if you walk around here - or Force India or Toro Rosso, the other smaller F1 teams – you see the same thing: 200 people on site, all doing the things you should be.
“At this stage last year, we had probably done a couple of hundred hours in the wind tunnel and the car was effectively finalised for the first race, and you knew you were going to be slow. In 2011, it will be a much more refined product. One thing you know from experience is that, once you've done proper work in the wind tunnel and you've done it correctly, you will become much more competitive.
“If you take the second division, [where] Williams were sixth, [ahead of] Force India, Toro Rosso, Sauber, that's who we've got to go racing with. End of.”