|Team||Lotus F1 Team|
Lotus F1 Team
In search of a return to form
The Lotus team is no stranger to ups and downs in fortune with the name set to be forever associated with the brilliant achievements of designer Colin Chapman and champions such Jim Clark, Emerson Fittipaldi and Mario Andretti, and later with the black-and-gold cars that carried Ayrton Senna to early success. The current team also has its own history that has won championships under several different names in the past.
The team traces their lineage back to the Benetton team which gave Michael Schumacher his first two world champions’ titles back in 1994 and 1995. In 2002, the team was taken over by Renault, who added to their immense heritage in motorsport by clinching the world championship with Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006.
After the departure of top team personnel in 2010, Renault ceased to be team owners and it was taken over by Luxembourg financial company Genii Capital and rebranded as Lotus. The 2012 and 2013 seasons proved to be a success, with Kimi Raikkonen returning to the sport alongside Romain Grosjean and the outfit securing two victories and around 20 podium finishes.
But high-profile financial issues at the end of 2013 saw the team lose its star driver Kimi Räikkönen, its Technical Director James Allison to Ferrari, and former Team Principal Eric Boullier to McLaren. Last season proved to be a struggle with their Renault engine no match for their rivals.
Grosjean managed just eight points, while his team-mate Pastor Maldonado scored just two and the team finished eighth in the constructors’ championship. Hope for a better season in 2015 remains, though, with Grosjean having transformed himself from the crash-prone “enfant terrible” of Formula OneTM to become a well regarded and respected driver.
Maldonado sticks with the team, having carved a similar reputation for impetuosity, a reputation not helped by a lacklustre 2013 season at Williams which tarnished the shine of his one-off victory for the team in Spain in 2012. A switch to Mercedes-power, the class leader in 2014, should boost the team’s fortunes. Can they return to the podium once more?