The team believe they are capable of winning 30 to 40 points in the forthcoming season and are eyeing seventh or eighth place in the constructorsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ championship after finishing 10th in 2010.
The Norfolk-based team have reiterated that their 2010 car, the T127, was not an indication of their true capability but more of a makeshift chassis that would allow them to take to the grid just six months after having their entry to the sport approved.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s car is a much more contemporary design,Ã¢â‚¬Â said technical director Mike Gascoyne. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The car really will be a midfield runner. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a modern F1 car IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m very confident it is a big step up and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the start of a process that takes Team Lotus back to the front of the grid.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The T128 features a radical new design compared with last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s car, with features comparable to those used by frontrunners in 2010.
The monocoque is more sculpted, particularly around the side pods and rear, while the design incorporates the airbox further behind the roll hoop, similar to that pioneered by Mercedes. The front wing has also been redesigned, while the nose is flattened and raised, a feature introduced by Red Bull Racing.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There’s been almost no carry-over of parts for the 2011 car, whereas normally youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d have a substantial carry-over and the chance to optimise last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s parts,Ã¢â‚¬Â added Gascoyne.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It looks substantially different from last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s car. It has a much more current feel about it. And itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the basis of our cars for the future.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The team have opted not to use KERS due to the weight and engineering required, claiming that the benefit it brings will not make enough of a difference for them to realise their ambitions.
Despite continuing with Renault engines for 2011, Team Lotus have switched to Red Bull-supplied gearboxes after suffering a spate of failures with Xtrac in 2010.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There has been so much focus off-track that it’s a thrill to be able to get back to talking about racing,Ã¢â‚¬Â said team owner Tony Fernandes.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The launch of the T128 is a big step forward for Team Lotus, and I want to thank the whole team for the amount of hard work that has already gone into the car. I also want to thank Renault and Red Bull Technology for their tremendous support in helping us make this step forward and for being such great team partners.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Off the track, the team are embroiled in a legal battle with Group Lotus owner Proton over the rights to use the Lotus name, with a hearing due to take place in the High Court in London in late March.
Meanwhile, Group Lotus have entered F1 with a title sponsorship and partial takeover of the Renault team, who will also race in iconic Lotus colours black and gold.
F1 will see two Lotus teams for the opening race at least but due to the existing Concorde Agreement Lotus Renault GP will race as Renault, in the same way Sauber raced as BMW Sauber in 2010.
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BIOGRAPHY: Eric Bailly