Sauber's Key headed for Lotus UPDATE
James Key, the former technical director of Sauber says that he has a job in England waiting for him. Having done a little homework, it seems that Key is not going to be a Formula 1 technical director any longer but instead is going to another high profile in the industry.
My spies tell me that the Englishman will be heading to Norfolk, for a new role as technical director of all motorsport activities at Lotus Cars, where he will probably report to the director of motorsport Claudio Berro.
The car company’s approach to motorsport in the last 18 months has been to slap a badge on anything that money can buy. The firm is contracted to pay large sums of money to the Lotus F1 Team, although it does not own the Enstone operation, even if Dany Bahar, the Lotus CEO, has a seat on the board.
In addition to that Lotus is supplying Lotus-branded Judd engines to IndyCar teams, several of which will run in Lotus liveries in 2012. These will include the works team Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, which will field Oriol Servia and one other; in addition to Bryan Herta Autosport’s Alex Tagliani; Dragon’s Sébastien Bourdais and HVM’s Simona de Silvestro. There is the possibility of individual aerodynamic kits for teams in the future, so this is one area where Key could make a difference.
Lotus is also funding teams in GP2 and GP3, in association with ART Grand Prix, which has recently changed its name to Lotus Grand Prix (an interesting development given that Lotus does not own its own Grand Prix team and ART has long had F1 ambitions) and the French squad will be running teams in black and gold livery with GP2 cars for Esteban Gutierrez and James Calado, and GP3 cars for Daniel Abt and Aaro Vainio.
In addition Lotus Cars is paying for Lola LMP2 cars, which will appear in black and gold colors in 2012 with Colin Kolles’s Kodewa team. This is instead of the original plan for Lotus to build its own LMP2 prototypes, that project having been shelved in October. Joe Saward02/07/12 (GMM) Sauber's departing technical boss James Key appears headed for Lotus.
On the eve of its 2012 car launch, the Swiss team announced that it will not replace the departing Briton Key, who has accepted an offer to work in the UK.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said it is rumored Key is headed for Lotus.
Not the Enstone based F1 team, however, but sponsor Group Lotus' motor racing program, including Le Mans.
Sauber managing director Monisha Kaltenborn denied the Hinwil based team cannot afford to replace Key.
"If we look back 20 years, the team have always lacked funds," she insisted.
Kaltenborn defended the bare look of the 2012 car's livery.
"We are in negotiation with new partners so I am quite confident our livery will look different by the time we hit the first race," she said.
As for Key, "For some time both sides had the feeling that things were not working any more, and what has happened is the outcome," La Gazzetta dello Sport quotes Kaltenborn as saying.