FIA Sign

Lotus Return Surprise

by F1Fan on September 15, 2009

In a press release earlier today the FIA announced the selection of the final team for the 2010 Formula One season.

“Press Release
2010 FIA Formula One World Championship – New Entries

Following an intensive selection and due diligence process, the FIA has awarded the 13th entry in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship to the Lotus F1 Team.”

While the Lotus Name returns, their is no real involvement from the Norfolk based Group Lotus PLC other than a temporary location location in the RTN factory close by. The team itself is actually a partnership between the Malaysian Government and several Malaysian Entrepreneurs and eventually will move to purpose built facilities at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia.

“Detailed below is information about the new team that has been confirmed to compete in the Championship from next year.

Company Name: 1Malaysia F1 Team Sdn Bhd
Team Name: Lotus F1 Team
Country: Malaysia
Team Principal: Tony Fernandes

A partnership between the Malaysian Government and a consortium of Malaysian entrepreneurs, 1Malaysia F1 Team returns the Lotus name as a constructor to Formula One for the first time since 1994. The team will initially be based at the RTN facility in Norfolk, UK, some 10 miles from the Lotus Cars factory. A 50,000 square foot fully equipped facility, RTN was built by Toyota for its initial Formula One programme and then used by Bentley for its successful Le Mans programme.

The team’s future design, R&D, manufacturing and technical centre will be purpose built at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit.

Team Principal Tony Fernandes is the founder and CEO of the Malaysian-based Tune Group, owner of the Air Asia airline. The team’s Technical Director Mike Gascoyne has over 20 years of experience in Formula One having previously performed the same role for the Force India, Toyota, Renault and Jordan Formula One teams.

As part of its application to compete in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship, the team has agreed an engine supply deal with Cosworth and a wide variety of technical partnerships including Xtrac and FondTech.”

It is interesting to note that Team Lotus will become the forth new entrant that has also agreed an engine deal with Cosworth, a decision which will no doubt fuel the existing allegations of possible collusion between the FIA and Cosworth that have already been brought to light by some of the new potential teams not selected by the FIA.

This selection by the FIA must be a slap in the face for BMW Sauber who are trying to find buyer. However in the press release the FIA went out of its way to praise the BMW Sauber applicaton, which was only rejected in light of BMW’s prior announcement to withdraw from Formula One and the surrounding uncertainty in regards to participation in 2010, sort of a chicken and egg thing it seems to me, however the FIA did throw BMW Sauber a bone, awarding them a back up position in case any other team withdraws from the 2010 Grid, and also said that it would urgently consult with the existing teams and seek a change in the rules to allow 14 teams for the 2010 season.

“The FIA also received an impressive application from the BMW Sauber Team. However, given that BMW has announced it will withdraw its support in 2010, there are still uncertainties regarding the future ownership of the team.

Nevertheless, the FIA considers that BMW Sauber’s application is of high quality and would constitute a competitive participant in the Championship. As such, it has awarded BMW Sauber the ’14th place’ in the Championship meaning that it will be entitled to fill any vacancy that arises on the 2010 grid.

In addition, the FIA believes that a good case can be made for expanding the grid to 14 teams. The FIA will be consulting urgently with the existing teams regarding the introduction of an appropriate rule change to expand the grid to 28 cars in time for the first Grand Prix in 2010.”

Looks like 2010 is going to be a really interesting year.

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