THE historic marque of Lotus is to return to Formula One for the first time since 1994. Motorsport’s world governing body, the FIA, granted Lotus the 13th slot on the grid from next season.
Although the team is based in Norfolk, some 10 miles from the Lotus Cars factory, it is funded via a partnership between the Malaysian government and a consortium of Malaysian entrepreneurs.
Lotus, which competed in F1 from 1958 through to 1994, was awarded its place ahead of BMW Sauber and Epsilon Euskadi following an intensive selection and due diligence process conducted by the FIA.
However, the FIA added: “As such, it has awarded BMW Sauber the ‘14th place’ in the championship, meaning that it will be entitled to fill any vacancy that arises on the 2010 grid. In addition, the FIA believes that a good case can be made for expanding the grid to 14 teams. The FIA will be consulting urgently with the existing teams regarding the introduction of an appropriate rule change to expand the grid to 28 cars in time for the first grand prix in 2010.”
Lotus will have Tony Fernandes as team principal. Mike Gascoyne returns to F1 as the team’s technical director, with 20 years experience in the sport after working with Jordan, Renault, Toyota, and most recently Force India.
The team will use the RTN facility in Norfolk. However, the team’s future design, research and development, manufacturing and technical centre will be built at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit. Lotus will use Cosworth engines. In the past, the team contested 491 grands prix, winning 79 en route to seven constructors’ titles, helping Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt and Emerson Fittipaldi become world champions.
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