Lotus Racing's Mike Gascoyne has hit out at the rival Lotus Group's imminent move into F1 with Renault, but insists that whatever the developments between Hethel and Enstone, his own operation would remain true to its roots.
The chief technical officer was quick to sing the praises of his Malaysian paymasters and the work that is going on at Lotus Racing's Hingham base, stressing that the squad, now moving into its second season in F1, had no intention of relocating as it chases a spot in the grand prix midfield. The team, which reintroduced the Lotus name to the top flight after an absences of 16 years, emerged as the best of the three newcomers introduced to the grid in 2010, but has since run into conflict with the Lotus Group, which allowed it to use the famous name, but then revoked the licence it was running under and revealed its own F1 ambitions for 2011.
Despite the uncertainty that the naming row has caused - with Lotus Racing hoping to run as Team Lotus after buying that title from a third party - the team owns its Norfolk base and recently revealed plans to both build its own onsite windtunnel and bolster the 200-strong workforce. Last week's 2011 F1 entry list showed the determination to appear as Team Lotus, with both 2010 pilots - Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli - retained for a second year in the interests of continuity.
“Our long-term future is here,” Gascoyne told the Norwich Evening News
, “There's a slight hiccup with the name but, that aside, what you see now is an established F1 team, and that is probably the greatest achievement of this year.
“We're very pleased, working with the planners, how keen they are for us to develop the site. We now own the factory, we've got two buildings on the site we are renting, the [new Team AirAsia] GP2 team is based here, there is the new wind tunnel - and it won't just be that, but production for the car as well. That will lift the whole standard. We're painting the building, redoing the reception, putting mezzanines in everywhere...."
While the Lotus Group moves ahead with a planned investment in the Renault F1 team, and deals that will see the iconic green-and-gold colours championed by Lotus Racing in F1 this year appearing in sundry junior formulae, Gascoyne remains positive about the future at Hingham.
“We have Malaysian owners, three great shareholders [in team principal Tony Fernandes and compatriots SM Nasarudin and Kamarudin Meranun] who have put their money where their mouth is," he points out, "One of the messages Tony has given here is, whatever the name, it doesn't change what the team is. The team is the people that build it up."