Mark Smith has started work at Team Lotus in his new capacity of technical director.

Smith signed with the team last year but was unable to take up his new role until contractual commitments with previous employer Force India - where he was technical chief - had come to an end.

Now free from those commitments, Smith has started work at Team Lotus' Hingham base, where he will report directly to chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne.

"I am very excited about the challenge that lies ahead with Team Lotus," Smith, who will work on the continued development of the T128 as well as the 2012 car, said. "This is the first time I have been in the factory and I am very impressed with what I have seen across all the departments. Throughout my career I have had some interesting spells with a number of F1 teams including Jordan, Renault, Red Bull Racing and Force India and I have enjoyed the experience of winning races wherever I have been. However, I have never been involved in a Championship win with any of those teams and I see that as one of my key goals with Team Lotus.

"I was genuinely impressed at how this team reached the 2010 grid with a good functional car and a professional looking operation in such a short time. That was a huge achievement and they have built upon that in 2011, so the foundations are there for long-term success and I am looking forward to helping the team achieve its goals for many seasons to come."

Team principal Tony Fernandes was also happy to see Smith start work in his new role.

"Team Lotus is a long-term project and since we first started in September 2009 we have been focusing on laying the foundations for sustained success," he said. "Mike's long-term deal with us is an integral part of that plan and we continue to make the right investments to give him the tools to take us to the front of the grid, and Mark Smith is another good example of that strategy.

"Mark joins a group of extremely talented, passionate and hard working people at Team Lotus who have already enjoyed a number of significant achievements in a short period of time, and his input will immediately help us take our challenge to the next level this year, in 2012 and beyond."