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Lotus F1 Team

Formula 1 team

Lotus F1 Team
Credit: LAT
Team information
CountryUnited Kingdom
F1 debutSan Marino Grand Prix, 1981
Season line-up
Race driverRomain Grosjean
Race driverPastor Maldonado
Key members of staff
Team principalGérard Lopez
Deputy team principalFederico Gastaldi
Technical directorNick Chester

Lotus have their roots firmly planted in Formula One and very much entwined with Renault. This may not do them any favours if early 2014 results are anything to go by, but they have had strong results over the last couple of seasons, and have a mixture of experience in Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado. Crucially, they have lost team principal Éric Boullier to McLaren, with Genii Capital boss Gérard Lopez taking over.

F1 history

In 1981, the Toleman company entered Formula One for the first time but failed to qualify for all but two of the races. Ayrton Senna made his F1 debut with the team in 1984 but left after one season. The team were bought out by clothing retailers, Benetton, and in this guise they saw championship success with Michael Schumacher. In March of the 2000 season, the outfit were sold to Renault, who returned to having a works team after withdrawing in 1985.

More championships awaited Renault, with Fernando Alonso managing to break the dominance of Michael Schumacher (now at Ferrari) in the mid-2000s. Alonso made a brief move to McLaren before returning to Renault but found the results were not as strong. The team were found guilty of race-fixing after a bad decision during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, and the sponsors fled. Renault also wanted to distance themselves from the drama, and took a step back, selling a majority stake in the team to Genii Capital.

Entered as Lotus Renault, the team endured an extended battle over naming rights with the Tony Fernandes-owned Team Lotus but soon ended up the sole representative of the brand – eventually called Lotus Racing. Éric Boullier was announced as team principal, despite not having any experience of running an F1 team, and their initial results were good, if inconsistent.

Ahead of the 2012 season, Lotus confirmed Kimi Räikkönen would be making his comeback with them, the Finn fresh from time out spent rallying. Partnered with Romain Grosjean, the pair continued to see success, with Kimi winning a couple of races and both drivers a regular feature on the podium. Towards the end of 2013, the team’s relationship with Kimi soured, harsh words were spoken over the radio and it emerged that Räikkönen wasn’t being paid according to his contract. He departed at the end of the year, two races early.

The team got the 2014 pre-season off to a sluggish start, missing the first testing week, and struggling with the Renault power unit. Grosjean continues with the team in 2014, whilst they have signed Pastor Maldonado from Williams. Crucially, ahead of the season Éric Boullier also left for McLaren, leaving Genii boss Gérard Lopez to take up the team principal role.

Learn more about Lotus with the Pocket F1 Handbook.