Lotus aims to be the best of new teams
|By Jonathan Noble||Tuesday, September 15th 2009, 13:13 GMT|
Lotus technical director Mike Gascoyne is targeting his Formula 1 team becoming the best of the new outfits in 2010, after getting the green light for its entry on Tuesday.
The new Lotus F1 Team has beaten BMW Sauber to the 13th slot on next year's grid, and marks a historic return to the sport for the iconic name.
And although the FIA approval of Lotus's plans has come late in the year, leaving the team in a race against time to get ready for 2010, Gascoyne is sure it can still make an impact.
"It will be a big challenge to get on the grid, but certainly by mid-season I think we would clearly like to be the best of the new teams, and by the end of the year I would hope we have broken into the top ten overall," he told AUTOSPORT.
Gascoyne is overjoyed by the decision of the FIA, which comes after many weeks of efforts to secure funding from Malaysia - and get the approval for the country's road car manufacturer Proton to make a marketing push with the Lotus name.
"For me it is fantastic news," said Gascoyne. "I have had nearly a year out, which has been frustrating, but this is now a tremendous challenge. But with the team that Tony Fernandes has put together, and the backing of the Malaysian government, it has the opportunity to be something really big. We are aiming to take this team to the very top level in the long term."
Gascoyne had been part of the original Litespeed plans to get Lotus back into F1 earlier this year, but it failed to make it on the original shortlist of 13 teams that was originally picked in July.
However, despite missing out then, Gascoyne kept working on the plans – and, as AUTOSPORT revealed earlier this month, revived the Lotus plans with the support of the Malaysian government – and is now pushing flat out to get its car ready.
"Things are very tight," he said. "We are aiming at the second week of February for the roll-out, and we have got a huge amount of work considering we are starting from nothing.
"One of the good things with Tony Fernandes and the Malaysian backing is that it is a very well-funded thing. We have got a very big aero programme in place with Fondtech and Jean-Claude Migeot, and we will be expanding that. The first half of the season will be tight, but it is a great challenge."
And Gascoyne has admitted that there are special emotions both reviving the Lotus name and setting up work at a factory in his local Norfolk.
"We are based at the RTN factory and I went to school about four miles down the road," said Gascoyne. "I was born and bred in Norfolk, and there is a bit of emotion about it.
"It is the same for Malaysia, with the Proton and Lotus tie-up. It brings a famous name back into F1, and it is a good story for F1. We are not pretending to be the old Team Lotus. We are the new Lotus F1 team."