The Enstone-based Lotus team are the first to unveil their new car for the 2013 season. The event was covered live on their YouTube channel at 7:15pm GMT, on Monday January 28 through Sky Sports News. It sees continuity of the iconic black and gold livery they have sported since 2011, harking back to Lotus’ John Player Special branded cars from the 70s and 80s. The former Renault team still hold their rear wing sponsor in Total Oil. This was the only part of the livery in the past two seasons which seemed not to fit in, being red. However, front wing elements, the airbox and sidepods now join the rear wing in their rouge appeal, giving the car a fresh new look. See for yourself:
Contrast that with the livery from the past two seasons:
The team have opted not to use the new optional ‘Vanity panel’, an FIA-approved largely aesthetic addition to the nose section, that would make the cars look more like the R31 (Bottom above) rather than the later incarnations with the universally abhorred “Step/Platypus nose”.
Lotus have retained their race drivers in 2007 Drivers’ champion Kimi Raikkonen; winner of last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and Romain Grosjean; the speedy but crash-happy Frenchman who you can bet is on his very last chance. Junior Series champion Davide Valsecchi has been appointed as Third driver. He took four wins on the way to conquering GP2 last year with the DAMS team. Jerome d’Ambrosio who raced in Italy for the suspended Romain Grosjean remains part of the Lotus team in a reserve driver role.
Team Principal Eric Boullier is aiming for a solid third in the constructors’ championship. When you consider they beat the technically, financially and resourcefully superior Mercedes well and truly into midfield mediocrity last season, it doesn’t sound like they’ve got their heads too far into the clouds.
Granted, the top three have established a status quo in the past few seasons. Ferrari and McLaren have become synonymous with longevity and prestige, and Red Bull’s fizzy drink-derived billions look set to cement the Austrian outfit in well and truly at the sharp end of the grid. But Boullier believes that they can learn from last year’s steps in the wrong direction.
“On the team front, last year we lost a little bit of ground during the summer, but we know where and we know why it happened. We learned from our mistake and we will not do the same strategy with next year’s car development.
At the same time, we performed well at the end of this season, and found some of our performance back, so it was a good fight until the end. It was good to see Enstone was capable of delivering as much as the bigger teams.”
The next car to be launched will be on January 31 (Happily coinciding with my Birthday) when McLaren unveil their MP4-28 challenger in Woking.