Team Lotus launched its car online in the early hours of Monday morning, a move aimed at stealing a march on rivals Renault which is also laying claim to the Lotus name.
Renault is due to launch its own black-and-gold car, a throwback to the classic JPS colour scheme, at Valencia later in the day.
“This year’s car is a much more contemporary design,” technical director Mike Gascoyne explained over images of the new car in classic Lotus green-and-yellow livery. “The car really will be a midfield runner. It’s a modern F1 car I’m very confident it is a big step up and it’s the start of a process that takes Team Lotus back to the front of the grid.”
Referring to the design of the T128, Gascoyne said it was a completely new build. “There’s been almost no carry-over of parts for the 2011 car, whereas normally you’d have … the chance to optimise last year’s parts. It looks substantially different from last year’s car. It has a much more current feel about it. And it’s the basis of our cars for the future.”
“There has been so much focus off-track it’s a thrill to be able to get back to talking about racing,” added team boss Tony Fernandes.
Lotus has kept the same driver as it had in 2010 – Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli – and both will be testing in Valencia this week.
“Sitting on the grid in Bahrain this year will feel very different … a different tension,” admitted Trulli. “Last year we were just aiming to finish the race. This year we’ll be aiming to finish in the points. But with the package we have, that should be achievable.”
The most bullish comments came from Keith Saunt, the chief operating officer, who said the team would be looking to score 30 to 40 points in 2011 – against none last season – and to finish in the top eight. “I doubt there’ll be a lot between sixth, seventh and eighth,” he said. “Depending on how the other guys are doing, seventh could be achievable.”
He also explained Lotus would not be using KERS, which some of the leading teams would be. “If KERS was going to get us from eighth to sixth then we’d have it. But when you look at the weight of it and some of the engineering challenges, I think it’s a good decision not to start with it. We might end up with it, who knows?”