Lotus on schedule to test in February
Lotus' new car will hit the track for the first time at the third official test on February 17 at Jerez.
The legendary name is making a return in 2010 under Malaysian ownership and the team has spent the winter preparing at its base in Norfolk. Owner Tony Fernandes has recruited Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen as its drivers and has clear aims of being the best of the four new teams debuting in 2010. Technical director Mike Gascoyne told Autosport that Lotus is on target to run its new car at two of the pre-season tests before the Bahrain Grand Prix.
"We are actually a week ahead of schedule," he said. "When we got the entry on September 12, our schedule said we would fire up on February 12, and we are now scheduled to fire up on February 5. After that, we will be at the second Jerez test and then the final one at Barcelona.
"That will be the first time the world will see the car in action - and we are hoping that chassis two will run for the last two days of the Barcelona test."
Gascoyne is bullish about Lotus' chances and said he wanted to be competing against the established teams by the time an update was brought to the car at the fifth round in Spain. He added that he intended to capitalise on the changes of ownership and drivers at some of the bigger teams.
"We have made pretty rapid progress, and if we can maintain that then we will be in pretty good shape come Barcelona mid-season - that is really where you have to target where you've got to be.
"Yes, there is the getting there - but we've done the getting there now, we are going to be there, and we are going to be in professional shape and we are going to be okay. Now it is about where you are mid-season, where you are end of season, and I want to end the season beating Force Indias and Toro Rossos and whoever is struggling - maybe Saubers. I want to be picking them off."
He also revealed that F1 teams are hoping to ban double diffusers in 2011. Brawn, Williams and Toyota all found a loophole in the technical regulations at the start of 2009 that allowed them to run a double layered and more effective diffuser. Their rivals protested, but the innovation was considered legal by the FIA's International Court of Appeal, forcing the other teams to completely revise the rear end of their cars.
"I think it is exactly right," he said about the potential ban. "It is what we should do, and it is what both FOTA [Formula One Team's Association] and the FIA are looking at for 2011. I think it is very sensible and very easy to do - just tighten up the regulations and it is done."
He added that banning them would not necessarily increase overtaking but would likely reduce lap times by around a second at most circuits. The proposal won't please all, however, as it will require an expensive redesign of the car's aerodynamics, rear suspension and gearbox packaging.