Formula 1 2013 team guide: Lotus
With Kimi Raikkonen once again dictating affairs from the drivers' seat, can the black and gold car break the power trio of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren?
Constructors' titles: 3
Drivers' titles: 4
2012 Championship position: 4th
Team principal: Eric Boullier
Technical director: James Allison
Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean
Lotus is a name almost as evocative as Ferrari for those familiar with the madcap early years of Formula 1. This 2013 outfit does not have any connection with Colin Chapman’s iconic team of the 1960s and 70s bar the logo and black and gold livery. However, the signs are that this team could smash the front grid status quo just like Chapman managed with racing legends like Jim Clarke, Graham Hill and Emerson Fittipaldi.
This Lotus team actually traces its roots back to Toleman racing in 1981, and features a lauded family tree all of its own. Toleman was the team that gave Ayrton Senna his F1 debut, and when Toleman later adopted the name Benetton, one Michael Schumacher ensured the team took its fair share of chequered flags in the mid-90s.
Ten years later, now competing as Renault, Fernando Alonso brought success once again, with the team winning back to win drivers’ and constructors’ championships in 2005/6. In short, the racing pedigree is there.
Lotus today have another marquee name in the form of enigmatic 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen. When they hired him in 2012 it seemed like a desperate move, bringing back a renegade star who had spent most of the previous year throwing rally cars round dirt roads. Their second driver Romain Grosjean didn’t help matters, involving himself in a number of first lap crashes including the messy pile up at Spa.
But as the team and its two drivers settled into their new surroundings, the results started to rack up, with Raikkonen emerging as an outside title contender and Lotus themselves beating Mercedes into fourth.
For 2013, the ambition is bold: to break the podium stranglehold of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren. The car was the first to be revealed to the world’s press; its sleek black and gold lines immediately caught the eye, and testing threw up some impressive times, making McLaren in particular scratch their heads at their lack of pace in comparison.
Raikkonen is famously dour when sat in front of a microphone, but even he managed to crack out grunting admiration for his new wheels. How far he can take them, only time will tell.
Did you know?
The four letters on the Lotus logo are the initials of founder Colin Chapman, full name: Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman.
Radio Ga Ga
Lotus’s engineers will know better than to try dictate strategy to Kimi Raikkonen this year: in 2012 the broadcast live feed caught Raikkonen’s brilliantly petulant “Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing” as he drove to victory in Abu Dhabi.