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 Lotus reviendra en F1... 
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Message Lotus reviendra en F1...
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Lotus granted 13th slot on 2010 grid

A new Formula 1 venture backed by the Malaysian government and running under the iconic Lotus name has been handed the 13th slot on next season’s grid, the FIA announced on Tuesday morning.

The Lotus F1 team, which is being funded in partnership between the Malaysian government and a consortium of Malaysian entrepreneurs, was granted the vacant position at the expense of BMW Sauber – the FIA saying that with uncertainties remaining about the team’s future ahead of BMW’s planned exit it couldn’t grant the existing F1 operation the place outright.

However, following what it described as an “impressive application” from the Hinwil-based squad, the governing body has awarded the team the ‘14th place’ on next season’s grid, meaning it will be entitled to fill any further vacancy that arises.

But the BMW team could still remain on the grid in any case as the FIA has revealed it is keen to increase the already expanded 2010 grid to 28 cars and will be “consulting urgently” with the existing teams to try and get the rules revised.

"Following an intensive selection and due diligence process, the FIA has awarded the 13th entry in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship to the Lotus F1 Team,” the FIA said in a statement.

"The FIA also received an impressive application from the BMW Sauber Team. However, given that BMW has announced it will withdraw its support in 2010, there are still uncertainties regarding the future ownership of the team.

"Nevertheless, the FIA considers that BMW Sauber’s application is of high quality and would constitute a competitive participant in the Championship. 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.”

Having announced its shock decision to pull out of F1 at the end of the current season in July, German car giant BMW opted not to sign the new Concorde Agreement which would have contractually committed its team to the sport until 2012.

The move prompted the FIA to reopen the 2010 application process for the vacant grid slot, new entrants US F1, Manor and Campos having already gained places on an expanded grid during the first round of applications earlier in the year.

BMW Sauber still submitted an entry as its German owner remained in the process of trying to secure the team’s future.

However, with the Hinwil-based operation’s future still not resolved, the FIA has opted to give an automatic place to the Malaysian-backed entry which means the historic Lotus marque will return to F1 for the first time since 1994.

Although its company name is 1Malaysia F1 Team, the squad will run under the Lotus banner – something made possible by the fact that the British manufacturer is owned by Malaysian national carmaker Proton.

The outfit’s team principal will be Tony Fernandes who is founder and CEO of the Malaysian-based Tune Group, owner of the Air Asia airline.

Former Toyota and Force India man Mike Gascoyne will return to the sport as the team’s technical director, the Briton having been part of Litespeed’s bid to get the Team Lotus name back on the grid during the initial round of 2010 applications.

The team will initially be based at the RTN facility in Norfolk, some 10 miles from the Lotus Cars factory, the RTN having been originally built for Toyota’s initial F1 programme and then used by Bentley for its Le Mans assault.

Meanwhile, its future design, R&D, manufacturing and technical centre will be purpose built at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit, which is home to the country’s grand prix.

The new team will join its three fellow new 2010 entrants in running Cosworth engines.

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Mar Sep 15, 2009 3:06 pm
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