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Team Lotus set to return to F1

Famous name returns to its roots
Saturday, June 06, 2009

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Jim Clark in his Lotus at Indy in 1965 with Lotus Founder Colin Chapman (sunglasses)
It is the news that millions of fans across the globe have waited 15 years to hear – the prospect that the familiar British racing green and gold marque of Team Lotus may be back on the F1 world championship grid in 2010 AutoRacing1.com has learned.

This announcement will come as a surprise to those who have dreamt, but dared not believe, that the iconic Team Lotus name would once again appear in the championship in which, to this day, it remains the 4th most successful constructor of all time. But for Nino Judge, Team Principal of Team Lotus (previously known as Litespeed GP) and Steve Kenchington, Director of Engineering, both ex Team Lotus F1, it was always to be the Team Lotus name under which they would want to submit the FIA team application.

‘Most people already know that MGI Ltd and Mike Gascoyne are undertaking design activities for the new 2010 chassis,’ said Judge. 

Mario Andretti in the Lotus 49
‘What has not been public knowledge until now has been our desire to secure the Team Lotus name. Team Lotus is synonymous with great British engineering and F1 innovation, such as the Lotus 25 being the first monocoque chassis in F1 and the introduction of groundbreaking sponsorship, both of which easily demonstrate why ex Lotus personnel would want to bring this championship-winning name back to the formula. Litespeed was born from a similar British background - a factor that was at the core of Colin Chapman’s beliefs and subsequent success.

‘David Hunt has been the custodian of the name for so many years and we thank him for entrusting us not just with its safeguard but, more importantly, its development in the racing world of tomorrow.’

Reiterating his support for the FIA’s proposed budget cap, Judge said, ‘The FIA’s new regulations are a bold initiative which allow for a level playing field in the sport for the first time. It underpins our objective to re-establish the Team Lotus name and paves the way for us to introduce a competitive car.

Mario Andretti won in this Lotus 78 at Long Beach in 1977
Is this the final piece being placed into a contemporary F1 team puzzle? Of course not – that would be to underestimate the vision of Judge and Kenchington. The team has recently taken on the RTN facility in Norfolk, a county that is associated not just with the Lotus name, but with racing per se.

‘I am Norfolk born and bred,’ said Gascoyne. ‘For me to continue my F1 career under the banner of the Team Lotus name and help to bring it back to its deserving place in the world championship is a fantastic feeling and something that I am extremely proud to be doing.’

Mario Andretti won the 1976 Japanese GP at Fuji in this Lotus 77
So the real story behind Litespeed’s application is twofold: Norfolk and Team Lotus. It should then come as no surprise that Johnny Herbert – ex Team Lotus F1 and arguably the most popular person in the F1 paddock - has joined the team as both driver manager and global commercial ambassador.

The momentum is building, the team is growing, and for the loyal Lotus fans around the world, their dreams will be determined on June 12th.

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