The 2011 F1 season was really dominated by one team – Red Bull – with Mclaren and Ferrari hanging on as runners up. However, many teams used their anonymity to prepare their setup for next year and aim to capitalise upon the rule changes that will be put in place.
One of these teams is Renault which had a strong start to the season but failed to keep pace with the developments in the other teams. Robert Kubica’s rallying accident at the start of the season was a real drawback and lead to a shifting driver set up featuring Nick Heidfeld, Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna. They showed flair but a lack of experience, which lead to finishing fifth in the constructors championship, just behind Mercedes.
…will be reincarnated…
However, Lotus – as the Renault establishment will be reincarnated next season – boasts a far stronger dynamic than it offered this year.
Kimi Raikkonnen has signed a two year contract which will see the former world champion’s return to Formula One after a two year stint in the world rally championship. He brings a wealth of experience and looks like a solid foundation around which the team can build a second driver.
…found real success…
Renault has recently announced that Romain Grosjean, who has been associated with Renault’s test driving stable for many years, will partner the Finn. Romain brings experience from a variety of racing disciplines but who found real success in the Formula 3 and GP2 series.
The team is also in negotiations with Maria de Villota over the third driver position – she has been testing with the team since August.
Overall, the changes at Lotus look positively towards the future. Having concluded the debates with the Lotus team (now Caterham) over naming rights and having established next years driver make-up so early on there is real room for improvement.
Team principal Eric Boullier has set his sights on establishing Lotus in the top flight of teams within the next few years. He is aiming for a comfortable fourth position in 2012 followed by challenging for titles – as the team’s pedigree would require.
…heart in his mouth…
He has developed a dynamic team with a balance between experience and youth and, most importantly, a knowledge of how to win in formula one. He will, however, have had his heart in his mouth over the news that Raikkonnen was involved in a snowmobile crash this week. He escaped with a bruised wrist but, with Lotus’s path to success built around him, the team will be terrified of losing another lead driver before they even reach the track.
Image courtesy of Renault