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.

"We are very vigorous in the design and proof-testing process. I have always said that we will be a professional F1 team, even if we are a small one and even if we started late. Part of that is a rigorous design and testing process and, touch wood, I think we have done everything very vigorously. When I allow a car the first time to go on the race track, they are entrusting me with their well-being and, when I sign it off to go out, it has to be right."

Gascoyne also revealed that he has no qualms about using the Cosworth engine some are claiming was a mandate of entry for new teams to F1 in 2010, claiming that the deal was in place even before pen touched drawing board.

"When we were making that choice, the only thing we were aware of in the whole process of entry to F1 was that we had to have an engine, and we had to have a contract in place," he pointed out, "And, when I looked at the design resource that I had, and what was being offered by Cosworth and Xtrac - with a gearbox that fitted directly to the engine, with a hydraulic pack and everything that all mated together and tested together - from an engineering perspective, there was only one choice to make.

"From the moment I was asked by Litespeed to look at designing a car, we approached Cosworth and had draft contracts in place. And, with those draft contracts in place, they supplied all the engine details so, from May, we were designing a chassis to fit a Cosworth engine and Xtrac gearbox. There was only one way of being on the grid on time and that was going down that route, so it was a very simple engineering design choice to make."

The T127 should join its rivals for a maiden group test when the Jerez session resumes later this week.



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