Lotus team to use pull-rod suspension in 2011 Lotus Racing have recently announced a switch of suppliers for both their engine and their drivetrain packages after feeling disappointed with the performance of the current package. The Lotus 2011 car will therefore be powered by a Renault engine fitted to a Red Bull Racing gearbox.
When talking to Red Bull's website, Mike Gascoyne explained the decision to go for the Red Bull gearbox as being very straightforward:
"When you’re choosing to use someone else’s gearbox – designed for someone else’s car – you are forced down the route of following their suspension layout. The gearbox Red Bull were offering is a lightweight composite box at the cutting edge of Formula One technology – but it fits into the suspension architecture route that we wanted to go down. Obviously it fits the Renault engine too, so it was a very simple decision to make."
When asked about the pull-rod rear suspension design that Red Bull have employed on their Red Bull RB5 as well as this year's championship winning Red Bull RB6, Gascoyne replied:
"That’s what we’ve been working on in the wind tunnel for a while now. Any of the other solutions on offer would have required us to compromise that, potentially for the whole year but probably for the first few months of the season – and there are huge cost and design implications attached to that. We want to get to [the first race in] Bahrain next year and hit the ground running. As I say, it made the Red Bull decision very straightforward."
As such, Lotus decided a long way back to go for the pull-rod rear suspension, and only had to make a deal with Red Bull to make the perfect fit. Apart from the obvious performance and reliability improvements the new gearbox could offer, the reduced weight could help Lotus a lot.
"The reliability is massively important but I expect the Red Bull gearbox to be quite a bit lighter too. I’m not exactly sure by how much, but I think it will weigh around 5kg less. For a component of a Formula One car is a very significant chunk, but when you add in what that means for weight distribution, it’s a very significant step forward for us."
Gascoyne concluded that such a deal was only possible thanks to current resource limitation rules for the teams. Every team is now more willing to go into deals like these as they like to earn money to fund their own operation.