Tag Archives: Lotus

Renault sale still not done says Lotus boss Carter

Lotus F1 CEO Matthew Carter says he still doesn’t know when the planned takeover by Renault will be finalised.

After Suzuka both sides announced that a letter of intent had been signed, but cautioned that the deal would only go through if certain conditions were met.

“I honestly don’t know,” Carter told this writer when asked about the likely time scale. “We’re working on things. It’s clear that all the parties involved want to get this resolved as quickly as possible, and we’ll work thing through as quickly as we can.

“It’s the same for us anyway, it really doesn’t make a helluva lot of difference. We get on with doing our job on the race track. We’ve been confident for a long time that things are going to be resolved. It’s just taking a long time.”

However, he admitted that the delay was not positive: “It’s not helping, but at the end of the day as we’ve always said we’re here, we’re racing, we’ll be at all the races. What happens behind the scenes or what happens above our level will happen.”

The letter of intent has bought Lotus more time with its ongoing legal case, and Carter admits that some of the pressure is off: “The legal process was the legal process, we were always confident that it was going to be resolved and we were going to get through it. But it’s hard to say too much and talk too much when you’re in the middle of things.”

Carter insisted that Renault’s attempt to get a better deal with Bernie Ecclestone is not the cause of the hold up.

“To be perfectly honest I don’t think there’s a sticking point. I think it’s just a case of everyone working as hard as they can and as fast as they can to get the thing resolved as quickly as possible.”

Meanwhile when asked by Motorsport.com why the process was dragging on Ecclestone himself claimed he didn’t know.

“No idea,” said the F1 boss. “They say they’re going to buy it, I’m sure it’s not that they’re running out of money, I’m sure there are other reasons. Maybe the sellers aren’t really sellers.”

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Renault and Lotus deal still only a “potential acquisition”

Renault and Lotus have made the first formal public acknowledgement of an impending future takeover deal by confirming that a letter of intent has been signed.

The news comes on the day of a the court case in London involving HMRC, the UK tax authorities. The judge had previously told Lotus that there would be no more extensions involving the £900,000 claim.

The letter involves Renault and Lotus F1 parent company Gravity Motorsports. It makes it clear that it is still only a “potential acquisition,” and that it will proceed only if “all terms and conditions are met between them and other interested parties.” The latter group clearly includes Bernie Ecclestone.

The full statement read as follows: “Renault Group and Gravity Motorsports S.a.r.l., an affiliate of Genii Capital SA, are pleased to announce the signature of a Letter of Intent regarding the potential acquisition by Renault of a controlling stake in Lotus F1 Team Ltd.

“The signature of this Letter of Intent marks Renault’s first step towards the project of a Renault Formula 1 team from the 2016 racing season thereby extending 38 years of commitment of the brand to world’s premier motorsport championship series.

“Renault Group and Gravity will work together in the coming weeks to eventually turn this initial undertaking into a definitive transaction provided all terms and conditions are met between them and other interested parties.”

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Lotus able to run after making Pirelli payment

Lotus will be able to take part in the Hungarian GP weekend after Pirelli released the Enstone team’s tyres this morning.

A commercial issue, understood to involve a late payment, meant that Pirelli held onto the tyres overnight. The tyres had not even been mounted and prepared, as the rims and blankets remained at the Lotus truck.

Although the team was able to indicate last night that payment would be made, it was only this morning – presumably as a result of the banks opening in Europe – that the transfer was confirmed.

Team principal Matthew Carter was in phone contact with Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery, who was still en route to the track, and at 9.10am the team was given permission to take possession of the tyres. Deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi even helped to transport the crates of empty rims to the Pirelli truck.

Hembery would only say: “They will be in P1. Everything’s fine.”

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Lotus: Verstappen was “silly” in clash with Grosjean

Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane is adamant that Romain Grosjean did nothing wrong prior to being hit by Max Verstappen at Monaco’s Ste Devote corner.

The stewards decided that the Dutchman was at fault, handing him a five-place grid penalty, but he has since claimed on Twitter that he was “brake tested” by Grosjean.

“It was fairly clear,” Permane told this writer. “Verstappen did a bit of a brainless move. It was very obvious from the video. Romain doesn’t move, or he moves a little bit, and you are allowed to move a little bit, but it’s not like he’s wavering all over the track. He’s not braked early or anything like that. It’s very clear that Verstappen’s just been silly.”

Permane has that Grosjean braked 5m later than on the previous lap, and that the stewards acknowledged that evidence when penalising Verstappen.

Although Grosjean was able to continue his subsequent pace was compromised by the incident: “It damaged the floor a little bit, but he was hit fairly square-on on the wheel, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. He was also on very worn soft tyres that had cooled down after the safety car.”

Another disappointment for the team was the early retirement of Pastor Maldonado, who had made Q3. The Venezuelan was in brake trouble even before Verstappen’s successful pass at Ste Devote.

“Pastor had a hydraulic leak, which manifested itself straight away as braking problems, and we retired him because we were worried about the safety of the braking system. He was having to brake very early and had a very long pedal.”

Meanwhile Permane believes that both Canada and Austria will play to the strengths of the E23.

“We should have had both cars in the top 10, we thought we would struggle a little bit more than that. We should have come away with a point and a bit of damage limitation, but we’re pretty confident that the next races will be pretty strong.

“Canada is about straightline speed, which we have in abundance, and it looks like we have good slow speed. The engine performance will help us in Canada and Austria. I think we can be reasonably competitive everywhere.”


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Pastor Maldonado: “I think we are not that far from Williams”

Pastor Maldonado says that Lotus is not far off the pace of Williams – and says he is hoping to make Q3 in Monaco, a track where he has shown well in the past.

Maldonado has yet to make the points in 2015, while team mate Romain Grosjean has scored in each of the last three races. He is officially last in the World Championship, behind the two Manor drivers.

“It’s difficult to say,” he told this writer when asked about his Monaco hopes. “We were expecting to be a little bit more competitive in Spain in quali, we weren’t, but we did a great strategy on saving tyres for the race at the same time.

“Monaco is very particular. We know we are going to be on the supersofts, but they are not very supersoft. We’ve been struggling in the past to put temperature in the tyres. Quali is very important there, it’s not only one lap, but it’s difficult to say. I hope to get 100% from the car, and be in the top 10. That would be awesome.

“The car is not bad. It’s not the best, or the second best, but I think we are not that far from Williams. They are still a little bit ahead of us, especially in qualifying. In the races we are coming very close. In some stints we are a bit quicker, not a lot, maybe one tenth. I think they have more degradation than us, so at the beginning of the stint they are quicker, at the end of the stint we are quicker. We are quite close to them, but we need to get closer.”

Maldonado’s Spanish GP was spoiled by wing damage after contact with Grosjean, but not before he’d caught the eye with some good passing moves.

“I was just trying to get the best from the car. It’s possible to do it, but it’s never easy. I was driving quite well in the last sector, just trying to get close. That was the key.”

Barcelona’s Sector 3 is seen as a useful test for Monaco: “The traction was quite good, maybe not the total speed in the corner because of the downforce compared to the top teams, but the traction was really good.”


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Lotus much easier to drive on limit now, says Chester

Lotus technical director Nick Chester is confident that the team has made a big step with the E23, and not just as a result of the timely switch from Renault to Mercedes power.

Chester says that the chassis is much improved, and compliments the stronger power unit.

“This year is looking a lot better, the power unit is a big step forward,” said Chester. “The chassis is also a step forward, the drivers can get a lot more from it and it’s easier to drive on the limit, as well as being more predictable.

“We spent some of the test exploring the E23’s suspension geometry and it has a lot of effect on the balance of the car in the middle of the slow speed corners. We’re also making the car less sensitive for the drivers so it’s easier to extract performance.

“The power unit has strong performance and response and it’s extremely reliable, we’ve only used one unit throughout testing. Its installation is nice which gives us some benefits, such as the way we’ve organised our cooling system.”

Chester admitted that there had been some challenges associated with the change of supplier, especially related to cooling and installation: “The response of the power unit in addition to peak power does play a significant role and we have found that tuning our control systems has been made easier with a very responsive power unit.

“I don’t think our approach changes as we’re always aiming to make the car better. The area where we didn’t take too many risks was the engine installation. We wanted to be reasonably comfortable with cooling and we’ve been quite conservative ahead of Melbourne. The rest of the car is our usual approach, pushing the boundaries as we try to keep finding improvements.

“It’s been a challenge to fit the engine as the rear surface of the chassis is quite different and we had to do a lot of work to have a neat installation. We’ve gone back to air to air charge air cooling because the packaging switch to Mercedes power on a short timeline meant we had to find a simple solution.”

Chester says that the E23 has already been significantly upgraded, and that bigger updates are coming for Malaysia and China.

“It has changed, there’s been some updates throughout testing and some more minor ones are on the way for Melbourne, with the bigger upgrades planned for rounds two and three.

“We have a normal programme through the race weekend, it won’t be particularly conservative and will be about maximising the car. We take a view based on risk for fitting development parts, sometimes there is minimal risk for extra performance so parts can be introduced immediately. Sometimes there can be a downside and you need to accumulate mileage for a few practice sessions before fitting for qualifying and the race.”

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First look at the new Lotus E23 – and its conventional nose

The Lotus looks a lot neater at the front than its predecessor

The Lotus looks a lot neater at the front than its predecessor

Lotus has released the first images of the new E23, the first Enstone car to be powered by Mercedes.

The most notable visible aspect of the car is its conventional nose, the first to be seen on a 2015 car.

“Improvements within our Design, Aero and Simulation departments have all contributed to the development of a car which is a huge step forward,” said team CEO Matthew Carter. “As a team we are confident that the new car coupled with additions to the Race team will enable a huge leap forward and we are full of optimism going into the new season. It is time to put the disappointment of last season behind us and benefit from 12 months of hard work; we are ready to return to our rightful place at the pinnacle of the sport.”

“The E23 Hybrid represents a massive step forward for us,” said technical director Nick Chester. “It’s no secret that we struggled with last year’s car, so we’ve targeted every area that caused us an issue. We’ve made strong progress in the wind tunnel as well as in areas such as packaging and cooling. We expect the E23 to perform far, far better than its predecessor. In terms of what’s new, obviously a massive change for us is a new Power Unit supplier.

“We made this change as it looked and looks to be the one area of the car which could bring us the greatest performance gain. It’s not just performance, but reliability and driveability as well as packaging and cooling too. The E22 did deliver good figures in the wind tunnel, even if it was difficult to unlock its potential, so we’ve paid more attention to making the characteristics of the car more adaptable. In terms of the suspension, we were delivered something of a blow last year when the front-rear interconnected suspension was outlawed mid-season.

“The E23’s suspension design is specific to the updated regulations so we’re not trying to update a system originally intended to work a different way. We learnt a lot in many areas of the car over the course of 2014 so there are many lessons which have been applied. We know we’ve made a big step. We won’t know how our car will fare in relative terms until we’re out in action at a Grand Prix, but we certainly expect to be much more competitive than last year.”

Lotus E23 c (2)

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Williams turnaround an inspiration for Lotus

One of the most intriguing aspects of 2015 is the switch by Lotus from Renault to Mercedes power, a move that gives the team that won a race as recently as 2013 a much stronger power unit than it had at its disposal last year.

Trackside operations director Alan Permane is adamant that the team has learned from its disappointing season, and will make a step forward.

“It was hard work but for very little reward, unfortunately,” he told this writer. “We will learn from it and move on. We’ve got a very nice looking package for 2015, so hopefully we’ll do a better job.

“I think after a year of experience we know what you need from these power units and how to operate them. Of course it will be subtly different with the Mercedes, but we’ll be in a better position than we were a year ago.”

Permane draws some inspiration from the way Williams turned things around when it moved to Mercedes: “We hope to do that, quite honestly. Let’s not pretend it’s just engine with them, they did a very nice chassis as well, and we need to do the same.”

The key difference is that Williams brought in some new technical personnel over the past couple of years, that has not been the case at Lotus. However Permane says that is not a concern.

“It’s also good to have continuity. People will tell you what you want to hear. We had a fantastic season in 2013, we did a great car, and you’d say to build on that you’d want to keep the same people and keep going.

“Williams had many years in the doldrums and changes things for the better of course, and did a great job. You look at Red Bull they had the same team for all those championship years. I don’t think changing stuff around for the sake of it is what you want to do.”

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Lotus Mercedes deal is done, announcement due soon

The deal for Lotus to use Mercedes power units from 2015 will be confirmed in the next few days.

The new arrangement, which was predicted here on June 24, sees Lotus take over the supply made available by McLaren’s move to Honda for next season.

At one stage an announcement was scheduled for yesterday, but after a delay it could now come at the start of next week. Lotus had an ongoing contract with Renault, and a legal accommodation has had to be made between the two parties.

Meanwhile sources close to Mercedes confirm that the Stuttgart manufacturer has received the financial guarantees that it required from Lotus. It’s no secret that the team has been late with payments to Renault over the last couple of years.

In similar situations in the past funds owed to teams by FOM have been directed straight to engine suppliers in order to guarantee payment.

The Mercedes deal means that the Enstone outfit will end a connection with Renault that began with Michael Schumacher’s 1995 World Championship, and lasted for 20 seasons. The prospect of a more competitive power unit will clearly allow Lotus to keep its sponsors happy, especially PDVSA.

Here’s what I wrote last week: https://adamcooperf1.com/2014/06/24/could-lotus-switch-to-mercedes-power-from-2015/


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Lotus and Renault finally confirm deal

Renault has finally officially confirmed that it has concluded a deal with Lotus for “2014 and beyond.”

Although the two parties have prepared for this season as normal the contract was not signed until commercial arrangements were completed.

Lotus team CEO Matthew Carter said: “Lotus F1 Team and Renault Sport F1 have enjoyed a successful partnership these past few years and we look forward to continue to build on our relationship and collaboration in 2014 and beyond. It is the beginning of a new era in Formula 1 and we are pleased to embrace it together with Renault Sport F1.”

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